Zest and Impact Survive the PartinG Gimmicks to Advance in GSL Code S Group E

In one of the more interesting nights of the Code S season, Won “PartinG” Lee Sak came with a cheese build for every map, against any player. Kim “Impact” Joon Hyuk and Joo “Zest” Sung Wook eventually figured out PartinG’s strategy and were the two to advance, but watching PartinG try out every build in his repertoire was quite the show.

Starting against Zest, PartinG was able to get an early game one victory going with early aggression, but later on, in the same set, Zest turned that same aggression on PartinG running dark templars into his main base and PartinG, unfortunately, started building Phoenix’s and an Oracle making it nearly impossible to hold unless PartinG was able to kill all three Dark Templar’s with a single revelation, which was not the case.

Making an Impact

The real story of the day, however, was the sheer impressiveness in which Impact disposed of Byun and last season’s runner-up, Zest, with excellent macro-oriented play. Impact made his moves in smaller, less noticeable ways. Denying any early expansion and keeping it that way with excellent creep spread helped build that lead. Against both Zest and Byun, he didn’t have to worry much about engagements because he always held the supply lead in both worker and army count.

With this in mind, Impact could use many different types of units to move into his bases and do damage to his worker line. In his two wins, he got tons of mileage out of Zergling run-bys and even had a single Ultralisk take out a whole command center. It was incredible to watch the timing of his counter-attacks. At no point did it feel as if Impact was not in control of either match. He had little issues dealing with Byun’s bio-micro and with his massive leads in the economy, it put them constantly on the back foot.

Zest Holds Off PartinG

PartinG certainly didn’t make it easy on Zest, but at the end of the day, he won four of six matches against PartinG in the Protoss vs. Protoss matchup. As Artosis put in the broadcast, by the sixth game against Zest, PartinG essentially ran out of builds to try. Even if he had more builds, Zest seemed prepared to handle any early, cheese builds. It also featured some serious PartinG blunders, including an Artosis pylon, named after the same man commentating this very match.

It wasn’t Zest’s strongest round of Code S, but in the end, he moves on. Seeing Zest back into the round of 16 isn’t a welcomed sight for other competitors as we saw him make a very deep run, but he will have to improve against the likes of macro-intensive Zerg mains like Impact. Both players should be a threat to make the round of eight.

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Serral gets the comeback win over Scarlett at WCS Valencia

Two of the better players in the entire event faced off early in round one of the playoffs and it went the distance to a game five, with an impressive comeback. Joona ‘Serral’ Sotala, the best European SC2 player, fell down 2-1 off a suffocating aggressive style from Sasha ‘Scarlett’ Hostyn, that ultimately was her downfall on game five

It was a back-and-forth affair from two of the most exciting Zerg players, who approach the game differently. For Serral, it’s all about acquiring enough of the economy to feel safe in moving out. In Scarlett’s case, at least in the loss today, she would constantly try and cripple that economy. Unfortunately for Scarlett, if early aggression was held then it was a complete uphill battle to try and recover compared to Serral’s economy.

Losing in the macro-game forced Scarlett into whole scale changes to her gameplan. It wasn’t a move to cheese or gimmicks, but a notice to win the game before Serral can amass any type of big, macro army. And on a map like Redshift, where the normal second hatch for Zerg is ridiculously close to their opponents allowed for some fantastic early Zergling, Baneling, and even some spine crawler aggression. In these micro-intensive moments is when Scarlett shines and that’s how she worked her way to a 2-1 lead.

On the third map, Scarlett really showed her technical prowess and ability to read the situation. Switching into early muta’s and using them to pick off Serral units moving out of the home base. And once she was able to impact the Serral economy with Muta run-by’s, the zerling and baneling all-in came to finish the job. Killing off all Hydralisk with the baneling’s allowing the muta’s to pick off queens and the rest of the army ended the fight swiftly. Unfortunately, Serral adjusted to Scarlett’s adjustments just in time to save the series.

Scarlett did her job by winning the smaller, two-player maps, but switching to the bigger maps flipped the advantage back over to Serral. He wasn’t able to hold off the early-game unit aggression, but turning away Roach’s and stifling Zergling attacks on hatcheries and the main-base kept pushing Serral farther and farther ahead. Scarlett wasn’t able to gain any sort of advantage, meaning she has to fight a full-supplied Serral army.

Looking at the last map, after a tough loss on Darkness Sanctuary where Scarlett played more standard, she once again tried to catch Serral with an all-in on Catalyst, a medium-sized map. However, the attempt was sniffed out early and by the time the all-in took place, Serral had already acquired more roaches. Scarlett was one map win away from being the first person in forever to beat Serral at consecutive tournaments. Her style is somewhat of a yin-and-yang type feel with Serral, and after a glorious set today, these look two of the best Zerg’s by a long shot.

Featured photo courtesy of StarCraft 2

WCS Valencia could pin Reynor and Serral against each other in round two of the Playoffs

WCS Valencia playoffs are here and our attention turns once again to the European slayer, Joona ‘Serral’ Sotala, in his quest to win another WCS title. His last win came only a month prior to Valencia at WCS Austin and he’s now got his sights set on winning four of his past five WCS events.

However, the path to another title will already be layered with the worlds best non-Korean talent. He not only has to start off against one of the most threatening opponents in the entire event, Sasha ‘Scarlett’ Hostyn, and play a Zerg vs. Zerg in round one, but will have to follow it up with a likely matchup against GSL Code S wunderkind, Riccardo ‘Reynor’ Romiti, who looks like the next big player at the ripe age of only 16-years old.

The potential faceoff between two of the perceived most talented players in Europe will be a big moment. Serral’s essentially taken over Europe without any issues and now Reynor could bring in his heavy harass Zerg style and make things more interesting in the SC2 Europe landscape.

In fact, this would be one of the few times the two have actually played at an event. The only recorded match I could find was from Assembly where Serral swept him 3-0. That match dates back to two years ago, so by the looks of it, both players will come in almost blind to the others traits and playstyle. But with all the data on Serral, Reynor enters as more of a mystery.

Rest of the Bracket

While most of the attention will be focused on the top half of the bracket, the bottom half also will provide some excellent matchups. Starting Neeb facing Bly in round one, a matchup that could come down to the wire. Neeb will be looked at as the odds-on favorite to make all the way through to winners finals. Secondly, Nerchio, who’s had a recent resurgence in play will be a threat. He will potentially get Has in the second round.

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Looking back to Scarlett, she has a massive opportunity to beat Serral and get momentum heading deep into the bracket. This entire article could be moot if she brings her best Zerg vs Zerg micro and builds to the table.  It could be Scarlett vs Reynor that would steal the show, but obviously getting through the European champ won’t be easy.

It’s the most stacked WCS event I’ve seen all year and should provide not only great StarCraft 2, but upsets. Expecting the unexpected as Serral eyes back-to-back titles. Reynor is clearly a player to watch after beating the likes of Classic in Code S just last week, but Serral is also an entirely different beast. Either way, Serral will have to earn his victories against two of the worlds best Zerg players.

Featured photo courtesy of WCS

 

Leenock with a strong showing as he qualifies for GSL Code S Round of 16

Leenock finished his day in impressive fashion over Dear after falling to Maru in the winner’s match of the group. The four straight wins over Dear in the group stages pushed him back into the round of 16 in a Code S. One of StarCraft 2’s most talented and dedicated individuals is looking like much more than just an average player. More performances similar to tonight will lead to a deep playoff run.

Now, Dear is absolutely no joke as a Protoss player. One of the few players to a royal road a Code S in GSL, and at one point in time the best player in the world. Leenock had his hands full with the matchup but still managed to win both sets quickly. Dear tried different things, working in some all-ins and more macro intensive strategies, but each time it was sniffed out by Leenock.

The first map, Leenock fell into a small deficit with Dear’s macro being so efficient, but once he noticed it, it only took a few effective baneling busts to flip the worker count heavily in Leenock’s favor. The metagame surrounding Protoss vs. Zerg is geared heavily towards constant pressure with Zergling run-by, Overlord drops and spreading out a Protoss army between three bases. Leenock did this to perfection on the map Lost and Found.

Taking out 28 workers with two baneling’s is quite the impressive feat. It was clear, that despite having somewhat of a lesser army, in terms of composition, Leenock still found ways to win with his harassment. It was essentially the perfect way to play Zerg in this matchup especially in more of a macro-game.

In the last game, Dear was feeling the immense pressure of losing four straight to Leenock. Entering that game it felt as if Dear’s spirit was broken and the proficient Zerg player completed the full-sweep holding a last-ditch charge all-in.  As the video entails, Leenock held strongly by taking out the warp prism early, shutting down any possibility of the attack working out.

It was a quick 2-0 of Dear and must have had the same effect of mouthwash: it got the bad taste of barely losing to Maru out of his mouth. If Leenock plays anything like he did today, he will make a deep playoff run in this season of Code S.

Featured Image courtesy of GSL

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Maru Sneaks by Leenock to move into GSL Code S Round of 16

Leenock looked dominant tonight up against the worlds best in Maru. As Artosis put on the broadcast, he looked like a god even in the loss and with a few minor adjustments, he walks away as the top dog in group B.

Let’s focus directly in on map three, a map that Leenock had the clear advantage for almost the entirety of the map. Maru simply outclassed him in some of the late game engagements, and with better handling of the hellion harassment early on, Maru is probably the won in losers.

Here’s the exact moment the match turned from Leenock’s favor over to Maru’s side. Two siege tanks parked on the high-ground, with Leenock not having an overlord or anything else to help spot those tanks. In all likelihood, if Leenock can spot those tanks sooner than it’s a complete wipe of Maru’s base.

However, that’s the brilliance of Maru. Fighting into the base like that gave Maru positional advantage. He will move on, as expected, to the round of 16. Leenock still has a serious chance of making it into the next round, but it will take a win over either Dear or Forte. Leenock already found success against Dear, and he showed his ability to fight against Terran so he seems to be the heavy favorite of moving on.

Featured image courtesy of GSL

Overwatch Contenders Season Two starts with a bang as Mastermind GC and British Hurricanes fall in day one

The Overwatch Contenders season is back. Seven regions, 84 total teams, 6,048 players all looking for a chance to make it to the big leagues. Overall, contenders is flushed with talent and much like season one should bring some high-level Overwatch.

Yesterday marked the start of the European and Australian seasons. The same teams enter season two as the prohibitive favorites to win the league in almost all respective league. Starting in Europe, the season one champion British Hurricanes actually fell in their first matchup at the hands of Young and Beautiful. In the Australian region, similarly to the British Hurricanes, the season one Australian champ, Masterminds GC, losing to Dark Sided team who held them to only four points in four maps.

Europe

Looking back at the reason the British Hurricanes lost turns the focus to the meta switch and how these teams adjust to the move away from dive-compositions. In the first game of the season, Matt “Dids” Didehvar on Widowmaker and Mateusz “MATTH” Prymas on Hanzo gave the Hurricanes fits all afternoon. It was a constant barrage of picks onto the squishy characters. Hurricanes had no answer despite solid performances out of the damage department.

In the next few matches, the Angry Titans took care of business against Orgless and Hungry, followed by an exciting third match between two of the teams who qualified through trials. These two teams have a history: 6nakes being the trials champions and Bazooka Puppies barely sneaking into the top four. During trials, these two teams played a close five-game set, but 6nakes still got the better of them. In the loss today, it was a complete team effort, getting strong performances all over. However, without the ferocious Hanzo aggressive out of William “Asking” Vetter, the win was likely not happening.

In terms of teams to watch out for coming out of trials, 6nakes is undoubtedly that team. Similarly to Young and Beautiful, 6nakes is more inclined towards the snipers and with the meta being the way it is, Asking might be one of the newest threads in that division. It’s a balanced team, but the test will be against the contender’s teams and seeing how they stack up.

Australia

Australia got the jump on the rest of the contender’s leagues this week and have concluded week one of matches. With the Masterminds falling, the league has a different look extremely early into the season. The rest of the results were as expected, with the season one champion Sydney Drop Bears winning it easily over Blank Esports.

I wanted to take a second to recognize a most excellent play pulled off on first point Illios. As you’ll see in the video, this team boost the right heroes and move in the right direction, in-sync to dive directly onto the healers without being seen. Kanga Esports, fortunately, won the game because of this maneuver and avoided the reverse sweep out of Serenity.

Serral Wins Second Consecutive Event – Takes WCS Valencia EU Challenger over Namshar

Less than 12 hours after Maru swept Zest in the GSL Code S finals, Joona “Serral” Sotala made a similar statement winning the WCS Valencia challenger and moving on to Valencia, Spain to play in the finals. Serral, coming in as the second-ranked player worldwide, displayed his dominance once again and looks like a real threat to win it all.

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Serral’s winning streak moves to 15 with the 4-1 win over the Swedish Zerg, Christoffer “Namshar” Kolmodin, and earns himself his second consecutive WCS event win, after winning WCS Austin over MaNa. As his winning streak in Europe grows, the focus will turn to Korea and how these players will try and handle this explosive Zerg.

However, the top four all qualified for the WCS finals. Three Zerg players and one Protoss will be headed to Valencia along with Serral. Snute, Namshar, and MaNa will get another chance to win a WCS title, but at this point, picturing anyone other than a Serral vs. maru final feels impossible. The worlds best Terran and the world best Zerg are headed on a collision course.

In the win over Namshar, it was a mix of heavy-macro defense, while holding off Namshar’s desperate attempts on offense. Serral showed his ability to win in every type of game, and adjust his gameplan accordingly. He came in as the heavy favorite and followed suit.

Next stop: Valencia

Photo credit to https://twitch.tv/wcsEurope