In what's going to be remembered as the "Season of Upsets" unequivocally by now, it felt pretty satisfying to watch this match play out like it should since I think we've all had more than our fair share of unexpected results already.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead, Obviously.
Hurricane | ★★☆☆☆ | Annihilation
Ruthless aggression is how you dictate the pace of a series regardless of what race you play and Dark is the living embodiment of that fact. Furthermore, it's also very difficult to choke your tournament life away when putting all the pressure on your opponent from start to finish, the perfect workaround to a terrifying problem if you think about it. In other words, if anyone thought this match would be Dark trying and sometimes failing to hold off Immortal pushes all night long, they simply haven't been paying attention.
Frankly, it's not a secret Hurricane was already fortunate to even make it this far – via a bullshit Ro8 pairing lest we forget, which was only possible due to our imperfect format – as a result achieving his highest ever placing in the GSL Code S, however just like many other underdogs before him he had to learn the hard way that getting one over on Dark would be infinitely easier said than done.
Still, these two hadn't clashed yet in 2019 and while their recent
history dictated Dark was the clear favorite – to be fair, off name value alone you could tell as much before ever having to look it up – if this Season had taught us anything it was to never count your chickens before they've hatched. Thankfully, this Zerg had little interest in throwing away the incredible opportunity to walk the easiest path to a GSL final he's ever had and came in at peak form to make short work of what was essentially the last stepping stone in front of him.
- M1 | King's Cove | Relentless
Dark already looked to be setting the tone early despite being forced to take his third base as his first expansion as he somehow managed to sneak in some Lings multiple times into his opponent's base to scout literally everything, even before doing so via an Overlord drop. Hurricane must have already felt pretty shitty, seeing as he was trying to utilize a few DTs before going into Archon Drops, however the cherry on top was definitely the Zerg's commitment to mass Queen/Ling/Nydus play, completely throwing off the pace of the game even further. After the all in basically failed, Dark leaned on his signature ability to play the low econ game perfectly and thanks to a sneaky Roach Nydus squad he bought some time for his fake Muta switch, causing an overreaction from Hurricane both times to ultimately make it so the Zerg caught back up at home macro-wise so he could then comfortably start bashing his opponent to pieces via endless waves of vintage Nydus ping-pong play he's already shown himself to be proficient at many times on this specific map, forcing the Protoss to tap out seeing as he could no longer keep up at that point.
- M2 | Turbo Cruise '84 | No hesitation while crashing into a brick wall
The early Pool almost got pulled off here, since the Zerg did a nice enough job throwing the scouting Probe off, but Hurricane still saw the Lings in time to set up his wall back at home – despite the fact we almost didn't get to see any of this due to the camera showing us crowd signs for about 30 seconds or so during the crucial moments of the game. Dark then made the best of a bad situation and decided to stay on one base while denying information to his opponent via his Speedlings & used a follow-up flood of Lings supported by a few Ravagers to give busting the Protoss wide open one last go. While there was a truly terrible misplay by Hurricane to get some of his units surrounded by the incoming attack right outside his base that made it look closer than it should have been, the build order decision to take the Zerg very seriously instead of going up in economy payed off as he still had more than enough units to hold on and ultimately end the game with his Warp Prism Immortal counter attack after easily cleaning up.
- M3 | Thunderbird | So many Banelings
It was Hatch block time but other than that things were pretty uneventful in the early game here, certainly when compared to the previous games. Hurricane decided to try DT drops again into a much easier third Nexus this time around and while his harassment was held quite comfortably by the Zerg he did get to scout the incoming Spire very early, which must have felt great considering he was already going Blink even before doing so. Dark decided to build 10 Mutas off basically just three bases anyway and while they didn't get to do any real damage they did get the Protoss player to turn around instead of denying the Zerg's 4th base, buying enough room for Dark to saturate his Hatcheries and max out on Ling / Bane / Ravager. While the first attack from the Zerg coming in at around 10 minutes into the game basically did fuck all, it almost looked like Hurricane didn't get the Ling/Baneling memo, so when Dark returned not even a minute later with a perfectly timed out Bane Speed +1 Attack timing and there were barely any Sentries to stop him, the Swarm did its thing & the Protoss quickly found himself down 100 supply almost instantly before he was forced out of the server.
- M4 | GSL Cobalt | Build order Win, into Lose
There are a few universal choking
signs you can look out for, one of which undoubtedly has to be losing to an early Pool after you've already basically stopped the rush. Hurricane got both his early Zealots surrounded by slow Lings and as a result killed, pulled Probes way too late and didn't even get as many as he needed either & the final nail in the coffin was misplacing a Pylon in all the panic which meant one of his two Gateways wouldn't be powered for a good portion of the game. After getting this map basically gift wrapped by his opponent, Dark chilled out with an extremely slow two base play into a later third, building up his Roach count and setting up a perfectly timed Burrow Movement play that utterly wrecked the detection-less underdog when the Zerg's Swarm popped up inside his natural, fully surrounding the entire Protoss army to instantly end the game (the Overseer Contaminate was a nice touch too).
- M5 | New Repugnancy | Checkmate
The classic 3x Hatch Gas before Pool build is stylish enough on its own, but it's even more ballsy when one of those buildings is used to block your opponent's expansion instead, the zero fear play from Dark here was real. The follow-up Overlord drop play with some Lings again was used to prime Hurricane for an attack that never came, with the Zerg opting to go into a much more macro-focused game as opposed to what he did on King's Cove, with Hydras being the main weapon of choice here during the midgame. Hurricane finally got to do some damage to the Zerg when he moved out at around 10 minutes into the game to snipe his fourth base, along with a nice drop he did in his main while simultaneously defending his own bases to the best of his ability – the multitasking levels from both players went off the charts for a moment or so there – however Dark used his Ling / Bane / Hydra to surround the main Protoss army while dancing around his opponent's Storms to force the recall, getting rid of more than enough key units to enact his next step safely. As soon as the pressure was mostly dealt with, the Zerg went into the Lurker Den and Hive & used his more than sufficient creep spread to control the map. Hurricane did his best to keep harassing his opponent while trying to take a very late fourth base of his own, however I don't think he anticipated just how committed the Zerg would be with his Lurkers. Without showing any hesitation, Dark strolled his 20+ Lurkers into Protoss territory and burrowed them between the third and fourth bases while using a small squad of Hydras with an Overseer to snipe Observers, setting up an unbreakable position to seal the deal and move on to his first ever GSL Code S final, incredibly 5 years after his debut in the tournament.
At a time when everyone's finding new and creative ways to disappoint, it's nice to see Dark staying strong. While this was clearly the Zerg's series to lose, his reputation for choking things away certainly left me more than a little worried he wouldn't stick to his style and/or do something weird to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory even against Hurricane, not gonna lie I'm very glad that didn't happen today.
- Map of the Night – Seeing as the Protoss player was a non-factor this series, hence the poor overall match score I gave, the best map of the night should go to Dark's most impressive performance and for me that was the closing game on New Repugnancy, where for a while I thought it might slip away from him but it turns out when you inspire fear in your opponent for the entire series they might give you enough room to build up to 20 Lurkers or so and then smash their face in, really was the perfect time to pull out a legit macro game after showing so much aggression in the first four.
Finally, here are some of my Takeaways for each player:
- Dark held up his end of the bargain, the Zerg has essentially smurfed his way into a Code S final after having to face only one opponent who was playing at an elite level at the time (INnoVation, just in case you were wondering). The surprise opponent there is even more good news for Dark, seeing as the alternative would have been Classic who had been getting the upper hand in their rivalry as of late while instead Trap is also going to be a first time GSL finalist & a much more beatable opponent for the Uncrowned King – this title fits Dark so well, I really appreciated it during today's match promo, seeing as an SSL Championship from 2016 shouldn't really count for much when you honestly consider how many more trophies this guy could have lifted by now. I'm definitely not expecting this to be easy, historically these two have been pretty even, however I think right now this Zerg has the perfect style to deal with any opponent in the matchup that doesn't live rent free inside his head.
- Hurricane got to see what it's like to play against an elite opponent in the GSL Playoffs and while this is an invaluable bit of experience I'm sure he'll appreciate after some time goes by, it likely doesn't feel that great at the moment. It's really hard to blame him for losing this one regardless despite some crucial mistakes I can't ignore, since at the end of the day that's what pressure does to you – something Dark himself is well aware of, hence why he didn't let Hurricane execute any of his plans basically all night long. Congratulations to Hurricane for making it all the way to the Ro4 for the first time ever, he's been grinding since 2013 and it's finally starting to pay off, hopefully next time around he comes in better prepared – or against a more stylistically favorable opponent – so he can show off his skill a lot more than he got to do tonight.
Keep in mind these are just my observations. As always, if you feel differently let everyone know why in the comments below.
On a bit of a side note, while we were all busy talking about this Code S title being seemingly destined to go to Classic, it's kind of true we didn't really notice how straightforward of a run this has been for Dark too. I'm sure many people will be rooting for Trap as well since he has stepped out of his teammates' shadow – it's hard to shine when you have Maru, sOs and Rogue to compete with – and has his own amazing story unraveling, however it's genuinely going to be just as cathartic if we get to see Dark lift the trophy as it was when soO got to do so at Katowice this year, I'm genuinely hoping Zerg demons don't get in the way & one more curse gets lifted.
In any case, catch you next week for what should genuinely be a great Final & while I'm still a bit down on the fact it won't be Classic vs Dark, what we're getting instead has so much more potential to go either way so here's hoping we get an incredible series as we crown a brand new GSL Code S Champion either way.
Thanks as always for reading & see you when I see you! (:
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