The unfortunate reality of competition is that sometimes you get nights like these.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead, Obviously.
We opened the day up with the hypothetical #7 and #8 seeds in the Ro8 getting to play each other to see who would make it to the Ro4 – totally reasonable, if I do say so myself – and while this was a rematch from the recent Super Tournament & as a result a lot of people were already busy writing fan fiction about one of the worst players left in the tournament winning it, Hurricane decided instead it was time to make some of that potential he's always had manifest and so utterly destroyed his opponent in what felt like record time.
After that incredibly lopsided beating of a series we got to witness, you would think things were bound to only get better with two decorated veterans clashing next, especially considering their shared reputations for aggression and general unpredictability – but you'd be wrong. In place of a tightly contested match I'm sure most of us wanted to watch, it was Dark who showed uncharacteristic restraint and immaculate play to make short work of the Smiling Assassin, ending the shockingly underwhelming day of Code S early.
PartinG < 0 : 3 > Hurricane | ★★☆☆☆ | Revenge at its finest
- Kairos Junction | PartinG looked poised to set the tone early in everyone's favorite mirror matchup with his proxy Robo, unfortunately for him Hurricane decided to sit back and defend after scouting his plan – even better, the lesser known Protoss set up some Adepts to counter attack while he was getting pushed that ended up giving him the lead in economy & essentially snowballed the game in his favor. At that point PartinG tried some cheeky Warp Prism play, but it was honestly all Hurricane this map, it felt like every decision he made was correct & the aggression against him was beautifully deflected throughout the game – he even planted down the "victory Nexus" at one point, which could have been confused for an expansion. Hurricane then eventually used the strategy of having more Immortals than your opponent to go up in the series, making it look genuinely easy despite being the supposed underdog.
- Turbo Cruise '84 | The once upon a time World Champion got off to a slightly better start here, with his proxy Stargate doing its best to distract Hurricane enough in order for him to hold back at home against the enemy army of Stalkers trying to end the game early & then having to settle for cancelling PartinG's Nexus instead. After getting to clean up the attack & actually putting up his Nexus successfully, PartinG found himself so far ahead it felt unreal, at one point he was up almost 20 Probes for no good reason – it honestly looked like Hurricane kind of forgot how to build workers. What happened next, though, was PartinG decided it was his turn to push – while up in economy & down on army supply – so he lost a bunch of what little army he had to some cheeky Disruptor/Phoenix play & got chased all the way across the map back to his own base. Hurricane was left with no other options at that point, down almost 30 Probes, but pretty much equally up in army now that PartinG had donated to the cause, meaning he won the deciding fight of the game (Warp Prism vs no Warp Prism certainly helped) & stole this map in style.
- Thunderbird | With both players deciding to proxy a Twilight this game, Hurricane had set himself up for a build order loss when he went for Blink while PartinG was going for Dark Templar to get the free win. What happened instead was that not only did Hurricane hold his ramp, he also cancelled PartinG's expansion and then put down a Forge to go into a later game. When this plan was scouted by PartinG it looked like he wanted to follow suit by putting down his own Forge, but Hurricane's response to that was a third Nexus which meant it was time to decide whether you wanted to keep following your opponent down the rabbit hole or bet this month's salary on black. Naturally, PartinG cancelled the upgrade and assembled his forces & A-moved across the map but after a few money Disruptor shots from Hurricane's army not only was the attack completely shut down, the underdog mercilessly chased what was left of it down looking for some sweet revenge. To put the cherry on top, shortly before ending this incredibly emphatic beating of a match, Hurricane warped a few DTs of his own & got 14 worker kills with them and his first ever GSL Code S Ro4.
| Dark < 3 : 0 >
herO | ★★☆☆☆ | Assassinating the assassin
- Thunderbird | Showing some inadvisable balls of steel, herO opened up with a very forward wall that dies to 12 pool every time against one of the most aggressive Zerg players in Korea (which he somehow got away it throughout the series). It was then time for an insanely early Robo push not even 5 minutes into the game, but it seemed like at that point he was shit out of luck against Dark's incredibly tight defense – the creep was pushed out perfectly, the Zerg's Queens were controlled brilliantly, Drones were pulled instantly and finally the snipe on the Warp Prism really sealed the deal. At that point herO did what any Protoss would do, take a third Nexus and pretend you haven't already lost the game after your terrible push failed, however Dark was having none of it – he quickly went up to a more appropriate Drone count after being incredibly reserved at the start and even set up some Swarm Host & Nydus play. The move that pretty much ended this game, though, were a bunch of Lings making their way inside herO's base because of the opening in his wall (alas, this wouldn't be the last time it happened) so the Protoss then felt compelled to push into a nearly maxed Zerg on creep, seeing as he'd basically just lost all his Probes. There were some spooky Disruptor shots, but Dark looked largely unfazed, regrouped his forces and swarmed his way to a pretty straightforward victory none the less.
- Kairos Junction | The only reason I didn't bring up the "Game of Throws" tagline when talking about Turbo Cruise '84 in the previous series was because this game also happened tonight. Once again herO opened up by getting away with a risky wall, which Dark seemed uninterested in punishing throughout the match for some reason, and actually got to deny the Zerg's attempts to proxy Hatch block / take his Gas. The inexplicable decision by Dark to then put himself even more behind economically by building a bunch of random Lings was only topped by the Protoss player's seemingly transparent wall which they got through twice. Bizarre events kept unfolding when the Zerg held down the R and Z keys instead of getting ahead economically off those mistakes in what looked to be an apparent all in attempt, only to feel justified as the entire Protoss army walked out and got fully surrounded – not once, but twice. Having thrown the game 4-5 times already, herO decided it was time to tap out.
- King's Cove | As I was watching herO get away with his forward wall play for the third consecutive game, the prevailing thought in my head was "get me out", I can't believe how much Dark let him get away with during this series (very likely caused by their practice matches, there's literally no other explanation). This time around herO went for a Stargate however the Zerg once again built a bunch of Lings early on, which did help with the Adepts but definitely felt a little forced or overly defensive – tonight was either Dark showing an incredible amount of respect to his opponent's micro or an over-correction to the normally greedy Zerg builds that get killed by all ins all day – so for the third time in a row Dark was playing with a very low Drone count. The pack of Oracles herO utilized put an even bigger strain on the Zerg economy, although the answer from Dark to go into Hydras & actually start building some workers certainly helped. While the Protoss then took a third Nexus, it was clear to anyone paying attention this was the definition of a fake – with the Probe count sitting pretty around 40 against Zerg's 60+ and fourth Hatchery on the way – so when herO took his gigantic army of Immortals and Sentries out and decided to knock on Dark's door he definitely looked scarier than he had all night. The perfect response to literally cancel any upgrade he could to eek out some more resources & set up the hold by the Zerg was just marvelous to watch, Dark even utilized Baneling Drops to take out some of the Sentries and once again pulled Drones right on time in order to protect his Hydras & as a result hold on quite comfortably against the deadly attack. It was then his turn to walk across the map & dance on his opponent's grave one last time tonight, completing only the first step on his journey to accomplish what he's never been able to do before.
It was quite a disappointing day of Code S games overall and I also can't help but feel bad for NoRegreT and RAPiD since today's matches had potential to be so much closer than this & it's not like they get the opportunity to cast GSL that often. All in all – if you missed the show today – don't worry about it, you didn't miss that much worth mentioning.
- Map of the Night – I think you'd either have to go with Dark's Hydra/Bane hold on King's Cove or one of Hurricane's unlikely wins when PartinG snatched defeat from the jaws of victory consecutively on Turbo Cruise'84 and Thunderbird. It's definitely not an easy choice, since the overall level in tonight's games was pretty low, but I do think Dark showed enough cool stuff against a pretty deadly push from herO to take this one away.
Finally, here are some of my Takeaways from Day 2 in the Ro8 for each player:
- Hurricane winning here is just too perfect if you're someone who can't stand insufferable fans who think reality can be whatever they want. Don't get me wrong, I thought once again we would see him crumble under the pressure – even more so considering how much more prestigious Code S is compared to the Super Tournament – but instead Hurricane played at his absolute best and took down one of the other bottom 3 players if you were to seed the people that made it to the Ro8 (with him obviously sharing in that low tier). Like I've already mentioned previously, though, definitely not his fault the bracket worked out this way – fair fucks, he gets to say there was one time he made the Ro4 in GSL now – and to be honest it's not as impossible as you'd think for his run to continue here, seeing as usually when you get to the final stages of a Code S you have to go up against someone ice cold (Maru, Classic, INnoVation etc.) but instead he'll only have to cheese out a notorious choker in Dark, who himself has never made it to a Code S final. Lets put it another way, since I expect there's likely to be a counter circle jerk that Hurricane was suddenly always an Elite player, if he's indeed really this good – and so his Ro4 isn't a fluke – here's a perfect opportunity to prove it, put Dark under pressure, make him crack & reach your first ever GSL final. Simple enough, no?
- PartinG's repeated mistakes tonight getting slapped down and punished by arguably the worst player in the entire Ro8 – taking aside the revisionist history, which some fans are going to try utilizing – is definitely a nice reminder we're actually living in 2019. It's hard to imagine what could have been an easier scenario for PartinG to win at this point & then he could have bragged about his totally real back to back Ro4s in Korea (it would've been a hilarious moment if he would have subsequently declared himself a top 4 player in Seoul, I must admit) but fortunately we got to watch a nice course correction tonight instead. Although I'm sure lots of people wish results alone could dictate reality, the Eye Test is always going to be king in the end & our boy PartinG has been failing that one like a motherfucker for a while now. Here's hoping eventually that changes i.e. he actually starts playing up to his potential, but frankly I think nowadays he's more focused on being an Entertainer than a Champion and I think it really shows (which I don't blame him for btw, you just have to reap what you sow at the end of the day & he/his fans should be okay with that, provided there isn't some grand delusion keeping them from achieving acceptance).
- Dark looked ready for war tonight, it's a shame his opponent didn't bring anything to the table, it takes two to tango & the Zerg was dancing pretty much solo tonight. Beating out INnoVation for this spot in the bracket was honestly the real victory, the three worst players in the Ro8 were all on Dark's side so this should genuinely be his easiest road to the Code S final imaginable & he showed tonight he wouldn't pull a Rogue and lose anyway despite that. All that's left now is for him not to pull a Dark in the Ro4 i.e. choke it away there against the most beatable opponent he's ever had to face at that stage in Hurricane & then the last step would be not to pull a soO in the final i.e. try to win more than three maps. In totality, if Dark doesn't pull a "Korean Zerg" moment out of the hat, there's a real chance he gets a taste of gold again – something which has now eluded him for years, despite always being an incredibly skilled player & getting deep in almost every tournament he takes part in – and even get to be a Code S Champion finally in the process, but to do that he'll likely have to take down one of his most bitter rivals in Classic, certainly easier said than done (even before taking the intangibles into account).
- herO's first words in the interview before the match were "I'm in trouble" and while I'm a strong advocate for not believing a single word that comes out of a pro player's mouth at this point, this was definitely some glorious foreshadowing. I was so excited to see what he could do against Dark – their last match in the GSL was incredibly entertaining, it felt so unlikely we wouldn't get a sick repeat of that – but instead we got some unfortunate confirmation that herO's under-performances throughout this season weren't going anywhere (and you could tell he himself knew, that shot of herO after the numerous throws on the second map tonight really said it all). That said, Ro8 is still not a bad finish considering he did have to go up against the second best player left in the tournament who also had his number, but I definitely feel like we had to watch an underwhelming version of herO tonight, I expected him to go down swinging while instead he got utterly bopped (the 0-3 doesn't do it justice, which feels incredibly sad to write, here's hoping next time it's an actual contest again between these two).
Keep in mind these are just my observations. As always, if you feel differently let everyone know why in the comments below.
Catch you next week for what're hopefully going to be much better series than the ones we witnessed today!
Thanks as always for reading & see you when I see you! (:
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