There was no question whatsoever who Group C belonged to heading into today, but when it came to deciding who would come out second there was an argument to be made for all three of the remaining players and while there was no upset to be found in terms of the clear favorite moving on, the winds of change were blowing at full speed all night long in order to reject history itself, which in this case meant flipping an extremely one sided rivalry on its head.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead, Obviously.
Classic has been on an absolute tear in Korea and to no one's surprise he came in today looking completely uninterested in giving his opponents any room to maneuver or chance to speak of as he mercilessly swept through the group with the 4-0 score to secure 1st place. There are certain buzzwords people love like "potential" or "promise" that don't actually mean anything unless you can make them manifest when it actually counts and thankfully for Hurricane tonight he did just that to take down his nemesis twice in order to come out 2nd.
| Classic < 2 : 0 >
TRUE | Annihilation
I love going with the cliche "there are levels to this game" line, but even that one wouldn't have done justice to describe what Classic did to the Zerg in this joke of a match, this looked like watching a Code S veteran in his team house warming up against the Code B talent.
TRUE is generally known as a cheesy aggressive player, which is why when he didn't do any of that on Port Alexander to kick things off it kind of felt like the biggest cheese of all. Instead of getting thrown off, though, Classic just built a Stargate and pooled some Oracles & eventually used them along with his Adepts to kill about 30 workers. Naturally, the Zerg was utterly dead at that point and the follow up push that came shortly after that breezed through the defenseless base to secure the extremely straightforward win.
After that absolute annihilation, it was clear the Protoss player was feeling it on Cyber Forest as he decided to proxy the Stargate this time, which resulted in even earlier worker kills with the Oracles and the follow up Adept Glaives attack not only did further critical damage but it also killed the third Hatch. By the end of this series, Classic had basically killed about 60 workers and a base over the course of two maps in what felt like less than ten minutes, genuinely horrendous mismatch.
Solar < 0 : 2 > Hurricane | Perfect Timings
Heading into this series, Solar had never lost offline to Hurricane in Legacy of the Void – a testament to his longevity and skill against such a dangerous opponent – however as we already got to see at the Super Tournament, this Protoss player has finally started to evolve.
In what felt like a Wings of Liberty slash MC-esque push, Hurricane built a bunch of Sentries and Stalkers on New Repugnancy extremely early in the game seemingly out of nowhere. While the Zerg was caught with his pants down, part of the reason why he couldn't hold the first real attack from his opponent was the dastardly use of Hallucinations utilized by the Protoss to completely throw off Solar and steal the map before he even knew what hit him. Just like that, Hurricane gave "history" the finger.
On the very small Cyber Forest we got to see the Protoss player already show more depth than you would expect from him, going for an interesting different build with +1 Armor and Adept Glaives to support his push with Immortals. It would be hard to deny Hurricane's control was far from perfect – something most painfully felt when he lost his Warp Prism – but the push looked strong enough on its own all the same, with his army tanking forever in order to buy his significant Immortal count ample time to wrap things up with the
dirty clean 2-0.
| Classic < 2 : 0 >
Hurricane | Valiant Effort
The expectation for this match for me was to watch Classic do to Hurricane what he'd already done to TRUE, but that's not what really happened. In fact, I'd argue Hurricane could have ended up stealing this one away too, if it hadn't been for his senior opponent's veteran savvy and mental fortitude.
Automaton was where the Twilight and Dark Shrine proxy came in from Classic, but although he did catch Hurricane without any detection, through the power of Force Fields the game stabilized and even got slightly tilted into the underdog's favor thanks to doing some great harassment while he was also desperately buying time for his Robo. After regrouping his forces, Classic did a scary push on Hurricane's expansion, but again the underdog held his ground and seemingly even came out ahead, which is when the veteran started using guerrilla tactics – trading army for economy – in order to claw his way back into a good position. Fortunately for him, it worked and just as Hurricane was doing an oddly timed switch into Disruptors while also going for +2 Weapons, Classic's final attack and killing blow came in to wrap up the fairly surprising back and forth game.
Unfazed by his opponent's resilience, Classic decided to proxy again on New Repugnancy and this time the weapon of choice was a Stargate. Using a combination of Oracles and Adepts like it was PvZ all over again, the veteran basically put his foot on Hurricane's throat early into the game with a bunch of worker kills. The desperation counter attack from the underdog did decently enough to slightly slow down Classic, but the favorite continued using slightly better tactics, had a superior position in the most important fight of the game and built a better overall gameplan to wrap up the day for himself and move on to the Ro16, as he should.
| Solar < 2 : 0 >
TRUE | The Zerg Punching Ball
I thought what had happened to Armani and Zest was bad, but in hindsight it was nothing compared to TRUE's suffering.
In order to continue the trend of nothing going right for him, the designated victim of Group C lost his third Hatch early on Kairos Junction to Solar's small attack of Speedlings because TRUE's Banelings were either out of position or weren't morphed in time – does it really matter, at this point – which made him fall infinitely far behind in larvae, economy, the entire game so to speak & when Solar's follow up Roach push came there was nothing TRUE could do to stop him.
As if to put the final nail in the coffin, literally the same thing happened early in the game on New Repugnancy and at that point I don't think it even mattered what TRUE would go for or whether Solar would move into a longer game or not. There's a tipping point when it comes to tilting/choking when it literally makes no difference at all what you do i.e. nothing's going right and there isn't anything you can do about it at the moment, so you just have to wait for it to be over and move on.
Solar < 1 : 2 > Hurricane | It's My Turn Now
Even though we all watched Hurricane crush Solar in their first match of the day, how many times have we seen the rematch go the other way after that? In this case, it felt even more inevitable when you took into account their incredibly one-sided history. For whatever reason, today was going to be different because Hurricane would will it into reality.
To directly contradict what I just wrote, on New Repugnancy things did not kick off too well for the Protoss. The timing attack he'd planned came in just about when you would expect – featuring +1 Weapons this time with the Adept Glaives and Immortals – but when Hurricane arrived at the Zerg base he didn't like what he saw (the counter attack with Lings on his third Nexus didn't help either), so he reluctantly pulled back. Unfortunately, when you force a Zerg to build a bunch of units and then you don't shave off some of that army, guess where that swarm is going to end up. In what can only be described as an extremely optimistic attempt to switch into Disruptors, Hurricane was completely crushed under the endless tides of Solar's army after losing his own economy – in spite of an admittedly valiant and frankly slightly ridiculous effort to micro his way to a win – and that meant he was then down on match point with his tournament life on the line. If you've built yourself a reputation of being considered a choker, this is literal hell for you.
Instead of crumbling to pieces as you would expect, however, Hurricane somehow kept his composure on Kairos Junction – did some decent damage with his Stargate opener, perhaps a bit inspired from Classic's shenanigans – and eventually dug deep into his pool of Wings of Liberty builds to go Blink Stalker Sentry all in against a Zerg trying to build an Infestation Pit versus an opponent uninterested in going beyond the 10 minute mark. After the signature Victory Blink, very reluctantly Solar tapped out and took us into the final map of the day.
You can bet your ass everyone's boats were ready on Port Alexander, because it was now time to put it all on the line, one map to decide who gets to move on to the Ro16. Fully embracing the Classic way of life, Hurricane did a proxy Stargate this time and used Oracles along with Glaives Adepts to cause significant damage to the Zerg economy and disrupt Solar's gameplan. Speaking of which, Hydra Bane was on the menu for the Zerg and if it hadn't been for some brilliant Warp Prism harassment – delaying the push from Solar – there would never have been enough time for Hurricane to stabilize by going into Colossus tech to perfectly counter his opponent. Although the Protoss was caught not looking at his main army, losing a bunch of Sentries as a result, not to mention Solar's push taking out the third Nexus – Hurricane's relentless pressure and damage with his Adepts and Prism gave him enough wiggle room to recover. Despite some cheeky Lurker play, Solar didn't have the engine necessary to compete with his opponent, who built up a ridiculous amount of Colossi and even managed to include some Disruptors in order to hold on to his remade third base and as a result tournament life, eventually building up a large enough force to stomp the Lurkers and along with them Solar's hopes and dreams.
At times it didn't feel like it, but this Group really delivered in the end. Classic was on point and Hurricane was a man possessed tonight, not much more you can ask for.
- Match of the Night – The rematch between Solar and Hurricane has to take this one away, that last map in particular was a knife fight in a phone booth. Incredibly impressive resilience from the Protoss in order to overcome such a dominant nemesis.
Finally, here are some of my Takeaways from Group C:
Classic is genuinely on his way to a Maru-less Code S final, isn't he? The translators keep using the word "desperate" when talking about his play, I think a more appropriate term for it would be "enlightened". Classic is well aware he doesn't have any more time to lose and as a result I don't think he's ever looked scarier than he does here and now at the twilight of his career. An absolute monster.
Hurricane really showed the difference between him and say a Trust, if you will, purely when it came to build selection and execution. The preparation he did for today was impressive, his mental fortitude even more so and I really hope we get to see more of him in this version, as opposed to the player who got banged out 0-3 against PartinG.
Solar's showing today reminded me of Zest's performance in S1 of Code S, where he got banged out twice by the same opponent, in spite of being the on paper favorite. This was definitely not a scenario where you can excuse it away by saying "he just threw" like what happened against Bunny, the Zerg got comprehensively outplayed by pretty much all metrics throughout the day by an opponent he'd dominated. Really hoping Solar can get out of this slump, he's certainly capable of so much more, but it seems tonight belonged to someone else.
TRUE likely had one of the worst days of his life. It doesn't even make sense how "missing" he was on the server, there was no trace of the dangerous underdog to be found. You could say "that's how ZvZ goes sometimes" or "it's Classic, what did you expect" but it's inarguable not even the biggest TRUE hater likely expected it to go down quite like this. Lets put it this way, if you told me TRUE got banged out 0-4 I would have at least asked if any of his weird builds were close to winning – instead he did none of that, went for a pretty sub par version of standard Z play, which was never going to work against this caliber of opponents. Here's hoping he recovers by the time next season's qualifiers come around, because with this kind of performance he's not making it back to Code S.
Keep in mind these are just my observations. As always, if you feel differently let everyone know why in the comments below.
See you a bit later on Saturday for Group D, where we'll get to see who ends up upset next or alternatively if Dear/soO will be the first favorites to make it safely into the next round!
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