I'm returning slightly ahead of schedule & what a day to come back to.
This has already been the craziest Code S season in recent memory and we're not even in the Ro16 yet, incredible time to be a Starcraft fan.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead, Obviously.
Seeing as he was arguably the most counted out player in Group H, it was very satisfying to watch RagnaroK dig deep today in order to slap down some serious Terran shenanigans from both his opponents to come out 1st and give some hope back to Zerg supporters worldwide. Extending the two themes of upsets and adding a dash of hope to the next round, SpeCial was the one to comfortably get out in 2nd after going 4-0 in his TvP to whiners' utter denial and resentment.
sOs < 0 : 2 > SpeCial | Jedi Mind Tricks Fall Short
There was a proxy Twilight from sOs to kick things off on New Repugnancy, which he used to get Blink and did a pretty decent contain on the Terran while teching up to Colossi and getting double Forges to set himself up for the lategame. When the 9 minute push came out from SpeCial, though, it almost looked like the Protoss had forgotten to build anything other than Gateway units which is why the game basically immediately ended with the Terran smashing the weak army from his opponent to take us to everyone's favorite map.
Don't get me wrong, I definitely think there should be four player maps in the pool, but taking out Year Zero feels like such a random and poor choice. In any case, on GSL Cobalt it was time for more proxies from sOs, this time with a Gate in the middle of the map next to the Scouting Tower. It almost felt a little too predictable, however, which is why when it immediately got scouted and SpeCial built his Bunker in time the game already looked to be going only one way. In spite of doing some pretty cool moves with DTs and having a decent hold during the initial Terran assault (which admittedly was much less committed this time, no SCVs), it was SpeCial who kept up the pressure relentlessly – eventually killed the third base from the Protoss – and as he was getting over 50 supply ahead the Jin Air madman reluctantly tapped out, in hindsight completely setting the tone for this Group.
TY < 1 : 2 > RagnaroK | Game Of Throws
The rush to Battlecruisers on Kairos Junction that got scouted by a single Ling because there wasn't a second Supply Depot at TY's ramp really made it feel like we weren't watching a GSL game. Nevertheless, very soon after RagnaroK went into a predictable Nydus all in to smash the defense-light Terran but despite having made a ton of Queens he still took far too much damage to his economy before his own attack launched and when it eventually did in spite of having made a Baneling Nest he didn't actually morph any, which is why TY got to win the game by literally using almost every SCV to repair his single BC forever and the Zerg eventually tapped out around the time when the Terran Hero Unit had reached 40 kills or so. Utterly bizarre mess of a game from both players.
TY looked stuck on replay for Port Alexander when even after successfully doing an amazing Hellion Drop with his proxy Starport, he decided that wasn't enough to go into a normal macro game so he still then rushed to BCs, killing even more workers as a result with the two pronged pressure from his Tank push and Battlecruiser. As he was killing more and more economy for the Zerg throughout the game, he also decided to transition into mech but then thought it would be a fun idea to push onto creep with a very low supply army. Due to a very timely Muta switch, some truly stellar creep spread and the previously mentioned foolish attack from the Terran – it was actually RagnaroK who ended up winning this game after slowing it down a bit, teching up significantly after that and crushing the maxed out, late and wrongly composed TY army.
Seeing as he probably thought this should have already been a 2-0, the Terran player went for BCs again – got a significant amount of damage done again – and even easily held a pretty lackluster Baneling bust attempt. In spite of combining his Battlecruiser with the Tank push this time around to take out the fourth base for the Zerg at around 8 minutes, the creep spread from RagnaroK and early committal to double Evo Chambers really started spiraling the game completely out of control (to the point where Zerg's 2/2 was actually faster later on). Using the classic Ling/Bane/Muta style to go with his creep, RagnaroK did some fantastic counter attacks and kept clearing wave after wave of weak overeager Terran armies – while sacrificing Hatches and positioning when required – to ultimately completely stomp his opponent and be up almost 100 supply by the end, leaving TY to wonder where it all went wrong.
| RagnaroK < 2 : 1 >
SpeCial | Battlecruiser Awareness Day
I don't know if the two Terran friends made a bet coming into today or something, but it certainly looked like it when SpeCial also went for BCs on King's Cove with his own little twists added on (one of the most important ones being Yamato). RagnaroK seemed completely done with these shenanigans as he made an Overseer to confirm the madness was continuing and even went for Corruptors this time around to reduce the damage he would inevitably have to suffer & actually saw it was going to be mech from the Terran so he also went for Roaches in time (so he didn't need to rely on a terribly timed push from his opponent like the previous mech encounter he'd already had). SpeCial's decision to go for more of a battle mech composition while going hard on Battlecruisers, however, let him build up a giant deadly fleet – which couldn't be stopped by the Zerg's cheeky attempt to make the Infestor not worthless in 2019 – resulting in the very reluctant and surely more than a little salty tap out from RagnaroK.
With the possibility of the 4-0 on the table, it was of course time for Battlecruisers by the Terran on Cyber Forest – in spite of this being the smallest map in the pool and his opponent already basically primed to expect it every game at this point – and while this game resembled the one with TY on Kairos Junction where RagnaroK went for the Nydus all in & failed, the Zerg had slightly better placement for his Worms this time around and executed his attack well, eventually forcing SpeCial out of the server (as you'd expect, considering how rock/paper/scissors is supposed to work).
In something resembling a more normal game, we finally got to see the Terran go for an alternate TvZ strategy on New Repugnancy, this time using Liberators as the airship of choice (and still doing some pretty decent early damage while tag teaming in a multi pronged attack with Hellions). After that the game slowed down quite a bit, however, with RagnaroK once again starting to take over control using his unrelenting creep. When the Zerg's fourth base got killed, the Swarm's counter attack temporarily denied the Terran's third from mining. The composition of choice once again was Ling/Bane/Muta and the relentless counter attacks from RagnaroK and willingness to let Hatcheries die while taking alternate bases resulted in over 30 worker deaths for the Terran back home – since it seemed SpeCial was almost exclusively watching his army, seeing as it was virtually always on creep – and it kind of forced a perpetual and hopeless all in push to stop the Zerg. Unfazed by the army knocking on his gates, RagnaroK kept counter attacking and ended up getting around 20 more worker kills before actually killing the Terran's third base while only losing his own fifth & eventually rallied his forces, cleaned up Special's surrounded army and earned his spot in the Ro16 for the first time ever in the GSL Code S as only the fourth Zerg player to make it in this season.
| sOs < 2 : 1 >
TY | Self Inflicted Nightmare
sOs showed he wasn't going down without a fight on Port Alexander, proxying every tech building he could think of. The drop harassment with Dark Templar, second Warp Prism and DT Blink truly reminded us what this Jin Air Protoss can do. TY tried using some Liberator counter harassment and held on to his own bases to the best of his ability, but he wasn't really doing enough in the end. Ultimately, though, the game was still basically two base vs two base and that's why when sOs eventually tried taking his third the Doom Drop & follow up push on the basically undefended Nexus by the Terran looked like it would flip the game completely. It turns out the Raven's disable is pretty good and Widow Mine shots are actually sick, which is why TY found himself significantly up in army supply after clearing every significant Protoss unit at the third, shortly before he typed in GG and pulled an IdrA.
Now down a map and displaying peak defeatist attitude, TY showed he was basically done with today when he decided to cross his fingers, proxy two Barracks and build only Marauders on Kairos Junction. Possibly to his surprise, it actually worked since sOs got a little fancy himself – proxying his Robo in a very weird spot just outside his own base – and the Terran managed to Bunker push his way to a win. Funnily enough, this could have been a 2-0 for TY at this point, quite ironic when you think about what happened next.
Things calmed down on Cyber Forest, where the Terran decided to play out a more normal game – even though he did overreact slightly near the start of the game after spotting a few Adepts – but it was actually sOs large and in charge this time around, not going for a Glaives all in, instead just building up his Colossi count and taking his third. The tilted two base push from TY was so slowed down and weak it almost looked like a foregone conclusion this game was over when he basically got stopped in the middle of the map after wasting three disables from his Raven while still letting sOs have a superior position. I honestly can't recall if the Terran even made it to the Protoss player's side of the map, because the fight that ended it all was so one sided it felt comical & resulted in TY being the first player eliminated to many people's utter disbelief, surely.
sOs < 0 : 2 > SpeCial | Tempered Chaos
Reminding us that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over & expecting a different result, sOs did the exact same proxy on GSL Cobalt to kick things off in the rematch against SpeCial – which got scouted, again – but then he put down a Nexus in the top right corner of the map in vintage fashion. Maybe that's why, however, that proxy also got caught by the Terran, further snowballing the game in his control. SpeCial looked completely unafraid throughout this game – building his own fast third base and even landing it – eventually using his GuMiho-esque mech to rock the Jin Air madman, up nearly 100 supply by the end of the first map.
Automaton was where we got to see a bit of the Terran's own wild side, as he started proxying buildings himself. Despite his Barracks getting scouted as it was trying to land inside the Protoss player's main, the fast Reaper did some work all the same and the follow up proxy float in Factory which didn't get found out made two Hellions that caused significant damage to the economy for sOs. As if to catch up on the crazy side of things, the Protoss proxied a Stargate and Nexus next to the Gold minerals but the follow up harassment from the Terran's Banshees really made it feel like he would have been better off playing a more tempered game, as he seemed spread out way too thin and the endless waves of harassment from SpeCial almost inevitably snowballed the game completely out of control. Eventually up a ridiculous amount of supply again, the Terran pushed to seal the deal and the answer-less Protoss reluctantly tapped out.
I honestly can't think of a more wild Ro32 we've ever had in Code S – which is likely just recency bias on my part, but still, what a crazy tournament it's been so far. It seems the Super Tournament wasn't a one-off after all, no one is safe.
- Match of the Night – I think it's fair to say RagnaroK versus SpeCial in the winners' match was the best series we got to watch all day, with every map bringing something different to the table and the Zerg actually showing himself to be the better player for a change. Really refreshing change of pace, considering people likely assumed this would have been the losers' match.
Finally, here are some of my Takeaways from Group H for each player:
RagnaroK had actually never made it to the Ro16 before, which isn't something I knew off the top of my head (I was honestly surprised, he's quite a dangerous player, but obviously has his own faults when it comes to choking in a very Impact-esque way). It was very impressive to watch him figure out the BC play from his opponents, try different things and eventually close the show against two very worthy opponents. The creep spread, though, was the highlight of his play (it's genuinely scary how good Zerg can be when basically uninterrupted). I doubt he'll have an easy time in the next round, but I'm looking forward to him causing a few more anomalies before getting knocked out, hopefully he comes in around this level again and leaves his demons behind.
SpeCial played perfectly today against historically/provably the most unpredictable opponent in Starcraft, to the point where he didn't even lose a map against him and only fell to a RagnaroK playing at the peak of his ability. Very admirable performance from the Terran & hopefully he can keep it up in the Ro16, being in the season of upsets I don't see why he would necessarily have to stop there (but I admit it's likely going to be a rough Group selection for him, for both the winners from today to be fair).
sOs was probably a bit confused with today's results, considering when he does this sort of shit it usually works, but it feels like stylistically he just wasn't ready to handle the hungrier Terran. As a side note, how the mighty have fallen, with Jin Air's Trap being the last player from the team still in the tournament. Maybe something's going on behind the scenes, but hopefully sOs and the team can recover for the upcoming events.
TY went from being one map short of winning his first Code S, to getting bopped in the Ro8 of the next season and now basically being smashed in the Ro32 after also failing to even qualify for the Super Tournament. It's definitely on theme with "how the mighty have fallen", but hopefully the "real" TY can show up soon because this version of him is hard to watch.
Keep in mind these are just my observations. As always, if you feel differently let everyone know why in the comments below.
I'm kinda salty I missed the recaps for 2/3 pretty crazy groups, but here's hoping nothing gets in the way for the Ro16 and rest of the tournament! Also hopefully the Group Selection is finally going to be a bit more interesting with Maru on the bench for a change.
Thanks as always for reading & see you when I see you! (:
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