As if we needed any more proof this is the most unforgiving and competitive tournament in Starcraft II – especially after the events of Group A – tonight's games further demonstrated how quickly your fortune can change regardless of who you are.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead, Obviously.
Heading into today there were two clear choices when it came to determining who "should" get out, provided you were going off name value alone – GuMiho and Zest – but on the other side stood a pair of dangerous underdogs (admittedly one more so than the other). By the end of the night, you could certainly say things didn't go "according to plan" for the favorites.
For the third straight Code S season now, Impact has made it to the Ro16 and today he did it with a flawless 4-0 record to finish 1st, partially thanks to a very fortunate upset in the other initial match. After his phenomenal performance at the Super Tournament, GuMiho looked to be the clear pick to get out first in this group, which is why it felt really surprising when instead he found himself battling for survival after falling convincingly against Trust – yet the Towel Terran still ultimately managed to regroup in time to take down both Protoss players in order to sneak through in 2nd place.
GuMiho vs Trust | Mad World
It was kind of shocking to watch Trust play out of his mind on Kairos Junction, where he tore the Towel Terran limb from limb. The relentless early pressure, Tank snipes with his Blink Stalkers, denial of Stim and overall immaculate play from the Protoss made this first map look utterly unwinnable for his opponent. If you had told me we were watching Stats or Zest or Classic playing against GuMiho here, I would have believed you without any hesitation.
The story on New Repugnancy was basically the exact opposite. Trust made mistake after mistake, got unlucky, supply blocked himself to directly counteract his own strategy with the Blink Stalkers and in general looked to be in shambles. If you had told me we were watching a Diamond ladder game on the NA server, I would have believed you without any hesitation. This is why it felt extremely disheartening to watch GuMiho refuse to go into a later game or even up in tech and instead tirelessly try to smash through a Protoss player who'd had everything that could possibly go wrong for them happen (including losing a Warp Prism full of Templar to a random Mine).
I have to give some credit to Trust for keeping it together on that last map of the series despite everything going wrong for him, but it's also impossible to overlook the fact GuMiho was the driving force behind that outcome. After what he'd shown us against the likes of Stats and even Classic, I found myself in utter disbelief that he could lose a game from such an amazing position. Regardless, just like that, Group B was busted completely wide open.
| Impact vs
Zest | Stylistic Destruction
Rivalries can be a funny thing to follow, there are some which are incredibly back and forth – GuMiho vs Dark comes to mind – and others which seemingly only ever go one way (Group A's decider match in a nutshell). I hadn't been aware of Impact's dominance in this particular clash until it was recently pointed out to me and I think today's games were a clear indicator as to what type of rivalry this is.
In an effort to make a point of establishing this as a victim/nemesis relationship, on Cyber Forest unfortunately Zest decided not to go for the new brand of PvZ he'd refined from Stats, instead the Protoss just went for a regular Stargate build. Impact likely grinned his face off when he saw this, since that resulted in his early rush Queen / Roach / Ravager / Ling bust completely smashing Zest's defenses, which took us immediately into the next game.
Being already up in the series, the Zerg then decided to play out a more normal game on King's Cove – and Zest pretty much let him, going for old standard play of his own, granted featuring some impeccable Warp Prism Archon harassment – but then Impact took the space given to him to get very fancy (something that always makes me worried, see Armani's last game of the tournament) with Drop Overlords and Hydra Lurker.
In what felt like a checkmate move out of nowhere, the Zerg managed to siege up his army in a terrific position and inch by inch Zest was made more and more desperate, until eventually the pressure reached a tipping point which resulted in the Protoss walking his forces into the Lurkers, getting utterly destroyed and being sent down to the losers match.
| Impact vs
Trust | Ladder Level Mistakes
When both underdogs win, it usually makes for a weird winners match, where no one seems to have an edge. Impact was having none of it, though, looking completely uninterested in getting Protossed throughout this series.
Trust's early game on Port Alexander looked on another level, it genuinely seemed like he had recovered after that terrible second map against GuMiho. The sneaky proxy Gate that got great early damage in, coupled with his smooth transitions and very fast follow up Immortal push were all steering this
boat ship in one clear direction. As soon as the proverbial final push arrived at Impact's base, though, things changed. Trust's control faltered, his Warp Prism got sniped and as a result the game instantly flipped, with the Zerg armies eventually pushing across the map and running over the follow-up-less Protoss.
As we watched Impact queue up Lings on King's Cove before his Speed was even done, I'm sure many of us thought back to our first ladder games, back when we didn't think walling off was that big of a deal. In what can pretty fairly be described as a glorified second Diamond level game from Trust, the Zerg completely smashed his opponent in record time to effortlessly waltz his way out of the group in first place.
| GuMiho vs
Zest | Day Of Reckoning
I may as well have chosen "Wreckening" as the title of this match, considering how smashed Zest got by the end of the night.
The proxy Stargate on King's Cove that started off this series did fuck all, which was really unfortunate for a variety of reasons, one of the most important ones being that GuMiho was going for mech this game. In spite of taking a slow third and getting contained for the majority of the map, the Towel Terran leaned on his Speed Cloaked Banshees to win the war of attrition and steadily built up an incredible army that completely destroyed the Protoss when the inevitable battle took place. Zest did his best not to go for a later game, expand or tech up his army – the plan, it seemed, was to crush GuMiho before he could get to the later stages of his build, but the Terran was bulletproof.
Kairos Junction after that was a weird one, with Zest hiding/saving three Oracles that would go into the enemy base at the exact perfect time to cause incredible damage and essentially make GuMiho "all in" with a TY-esque push he'd planned. In a bit of a mind boggling turn of events, though, when the Protoss pulled his army back to defend for whatever reason it wasn't enough to prevent the Towel Terran from causing significant damage to his opponent, eventually snowballing the game back into his favor and sealing the deal on Zest's nightmare of a day with the abysmal 0-4 score.
| GuMiho vs
Trust | Close But No Cigar
The best game all night from Trust would ironically end up being the first one he played, his immaculate play was nowhere to be found in this rematch he choked away.
Make no mistake, on Kairos Junction it was clear GuMiho had made the necessary adjustments – the Towel Terran's positioning, control and timing were much better than in their original clash – but it still felt like Trust was stuck playing the same style and hoping it would work. Considering what happened next, in hindsight I don't blame him. Nevertheless, on this first map, it was clear GuMiho would remain large and in charge, forcing the reluctant gg from his opponent.
New Repugnancy, however, felt like a replay from their original encounter here. Trust stuck to his guns and GuMiho likely thought to himself "this guy is choking so hard right now, all I have to do is push again and he'll crumble". The Towel Terran was almost right, which in Starcraft means you lose. It's a very binary game in that regard, there's no consolation trophy for playing well, you either win or you're out.
Thankfully for GuMiho, the decision that would decide the outcome of this series came down to his opponent letting the jitters get the best of him. Automaton was where Trust decided to mix things up by going for proxy Gates and essentially putting himself all in – understandably, since he'd basically done the same build four games in a row prior to this, although he did win three of them so there's that – but that basically gift wrapped things for his reasonably paranoid opponent, who was not only ready but pretty much checkmated his way to a win as soon as the Banshees showed up and there was nothing to deal with them. Trust started off the day with a bang, but regrettably – one more time – went out with a whimper, to Terran fans' utter relief and joy.
Listen, today definitely didn't feature the best games, it's hard to pretend otherwise – but it was still a really cool show largely off the back of Impact's clear hunger to win, coupled with GuMiho's recovery after tedious play and circumstances presented themselves.
- Match of the Night – I have to give it to Impact for the way he completely styled on Zest, this was the clearest "I know what you're going to do and I'm going to wreck you" series I've seen in a while. If there were "performance bonuses" handed out to the players, he would be earning one tonight after the complete annihilation of both his opponents (granted, Trust's mistakes were a lot more clear which is why I went with the first match).
Finally, here are some of my Takeaways from Group B:
Impact wasn't tested at all today. It feels harsh to say, but that doesn't bode well for his chances in the Ro16. Still, you can only beat the opponents put in front of you and he did a marvelous job today. Here's hoping he can keep it up and eventually push his name next to the likes of Dark, soO, Rogue.
GuMiho gave us all a scare or two tonight, I'm sure, but you have to give him credit for adapting to his opponents and doing the best with what he had to work with. The Towel Terran definitely didn't look as good as he did in the Super Tournament (where he was facing arguably better competition) so I hope for his sake he picks up speed in the Ro16 because I know he's capable of so much more.
Trust has to be kicking himself, surely, since this was probably one of the most beatable versions of GuMiho he'll ever get to play against. It really felt like after his flawless performance on the first map he played a different player took his place. I definitely feel sorry for him that he didn't manage to make it out, clearly his skill level is high enough, but the intangibles can be a bitch – choking in particular is an awful thing to experience, something GuMiho himself can attest to and sympathize with, surely.
Zest seems to be on a quest to make Rogue's 2019 not look so bad. I do feel for him, since he lost to a nemesis and then had to play against a GuMiho who got woken up after a terrible start to the day, but in the end the buck has to stop with you when you're a former GSL Champion and generally widely considered one of the best players for your race (especially when seemingly every other Protoss with less name value than you is doing great at the same time).
Keep in mind these are just my observations. As always, if you feel differently let everyone know why in the comments below.
See you tomorrow for Group C, where Classic will need to extend his PvZ dominance in order to make it to the Ro16 and possibly start walking on the path towards a Maru-less Code S Final!
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