GSL Finals: The Genius and The Machine

It’s finally nearing the climax of this Season’s GSL and we start out the Semifinals with a showdown between the two best Protoss players on planet Earth. Representing opposing sides of the Protoss coin, we have GSL Champion Kim “Stats” Dae Yeob, the rock of Protoss – the immovable Macro Giant that represents the pinnacle of standard Protoss play in Legacy of the Void.

In the other corner we have Kim “sOs” Yoo Jin – the Cucaracha himself, two-time Blizzcon Champion and the most feared man in all of Starcraft 2 – a man who is smarter than everyone he plays and a cold-blooded killer with a bottomless bag of tricks.

 

Stats vs sOs

 

Game 1 set the stage appropriately, a fitting introduction to these two very different Protoss players. The bloodthirsty sOs opened with four Adepts looking for probe kills while Stats went with a standard Oracle expand. Stats managed to kill an initial 10 workers with great control while never missing a shade block on sOs’s Adepts.

Hopelessly behind in economy, sOs chose to shove all his chips in the pot with a Glaive Adept all in. Stats smartly sacked his third Nexus with his almost 20 Probe lead and after a few attempted Shade-bys, Stats had an overwhelming Adept advantage and forced GG.

 

In Game 2 Stats seemed to get a bit overconfident. After crushing sOs’s two Stalkers with his four, Stats got an easy kill on the natural Nexus while his own was comfortably mining – an almost impossible position to lose from. Instead of asking himself “but how COULD I still lose” Stats built a Twilight council instead of a Robotics, a move Tasteless called a “Win-more move”. The mistake would cost him the game, as two Dark Templar would descend on both his Stalker Army and main base, neither of which had detection. Checkmate.

 

 

The Cucaracha would come out swinging in Game 3, proxying a Stargate and killing eight Probes with his first Oracle. His second Oracle would accomplish nothing and die to the Phoenix of Stats. Thinking he had air supremacy, Stats went to kill the proxied Stargate. Seeing that it wasn’t producing, he had every reason to believe his Phoenix couldn’t be defeated… wrong. SOs had made TWO MORE Stargates at home and now has the Phoenix lead. Hitting with Phoenix Range a few minutes later would send the air battle snowballing into sOs’s favor and force Stats to tap out.

 

 

If there was ANY doubt at all that sOs is the smartest human to ever play Starcraft 2, Game 4 put an end to that nonsense. The brilliance, creativity and poker-like psychological deception displayed in this game was truly remarkable.

SOs appeared to open up with an extraordinarily standard build and one of the safest in all of PvP: a two Gate expand into Robo. Stats poked with four Stalkers to find no damage. Soon sOs was chasing Stats across the map, picking off a stalker and appearing to be making a committed push – allowing Stats to assume a Warp Prism was in play and an all-in was immanent. SOs then showed that Warp Prism – a hallucinated Warp Prism – push was a complete ruse.

Here’s where it gets really interesting. Any player in Stats’ shoes would think “Ok that push was entirely fake, he must be getting me on the defensive while he does the opposite – he probably has a third nexus finishing up and is taking a commanding economic lead. I have to take my own third Nexus and research +1 attack to catch up.” In other words, why would you want to make your opponent THINK you are going all in… RIGHT BEFORE YOU ALL IN?


 

But sOs is playing Starcraft 2 in the year 3017 – he’s not expanding at all he’s adding five gateways, Charge and a Templar Archives on two bases, a COMPLETE all in.

 

Right before attacking, sOs finds Stats’ FULL energy Mothership Core with a REAL warp prism, drops out one High Templar, feedbacks it to death, and turns that baby into a Forcefield-crushing energy ball. Blasting into Stats’ natural base with a superior Charge/Archon force with Guardian shield support against no overcharges whatsoever, Stats had only a line of forcefields to keep from getting swarmed by Psi Blades. It works for only a second before sOs dropped a single Archon on them, opening the floodgates and winning one of the coolest games all year.

 

 

 

 

This is why sOs has been my personal favorite player of all time. He’s always thinking levels deeper than his opponents. He’s not only keeping information from you – he’s feeding you a false narrative that makes you think you’ve figured him out right up until you’re dead.

Sickest nerd chills all over my body Tasteless.

 

By Game 5 the Cucaracha already knew he was going to the GSL finals, so he just built a Robo and Warp Gate in spitting distance from Stats’ base, walked in and killed him.

 

One of the most talented and full rounded players in the whole game – bludgeoned to death before he even had a chance. As Tastless put it, “You just never get to play the PvP you practiced for.”

 

Innovation vs Dark

Next up we’d get another world class showdown. Playing for Terran, two-time GSL Champion and contender for G.O.A.T., Lee “INnoVation” Shin Hyung, a.k.a. the Machine. Trying to bring him down, Park “Dark” Shin Hyung, the best Zerg in the world, the man who just slaughtered TY 3-0. Despite being one of the world’s best for years now, he has yet to win a GSL title.

 

Game 1 we saw Innovation showcase his new favorite Mech Build: two Port Speed-banshee into Tank-heavy Mech.

It wouldn’t find much damage beyond some Ravager snipes, however, and a devastating Roach/Hydra push would dismantle Innovation’s aggressively postured Mech army with the help of some choice Vipers spells.

 

Innovation didn’t lose hope in his practiced Mech just yet, opening the exact same in Game 2.

 

 

Some ling harassment and mutli-pronged burrowed-roach attacks would slow down the booming Terran economy somewhat, but Innovation’s mech would have no problem cleaning up Dark’s Broodlord army and taking the map.

 

 

 

Game 3 was one of those one-in-a-million type games. Innovation started the game by proxying a reactored barracks, a tech lab Factory and a Starport. Before long the Pool and the main Hatchery were dead and it looked like Dark would follow soon.

 

In a brilliant hail-mary of a play, Dark put not only his entire army but also a whole base of Drones into his Nydus Worm. Innovation evacuated his buildings and floated them across the map to meet his army, and Dark began mining from Terran’s former main base.

 

Behind in mining against a now 3-base Zerg, Innovation attacked. A baneling landmine and some well placed Biles would knock Inno’s cheesy army off the map and secure a very bizarre win for the Zerg.

 

Innovation kept the cheese wheel rollin in Game 4 with a Proxy Two-Rax. Despite just barely not killing the natural hatch with Marines, the follow up Hellbat/Banshee push would kill the Zerg.

In Game 5 Innovation went for a Macro mech style, building Tanks and early double mech upgrades at home while Hellions and a Raven patrolled the map. Dark’s Vipers managed to pick off a few Tanks but Innovation’s first push would take only minimal losses before sieging the Zerg natural and smothering him.

 

Innovation wasn’t done with the cheddar in Game 6, and went for a double Proxy Rax on Mech Depot. It didn’t go much better than Game 3 however, as a Dark Nydus counter attack would land the KO.

Game 7

Dark and Innovation would go to the rubber match. Innovation returned to his 2-Port banshee build with mild success. His Hellion hit-squads wouldn’t do much better. The map began quickly to look like Game 2 – Vipers pulling Vikings into Hydra, and Roaches killing SCV from underground. Broodlords would fall to Vikings and Thor, while small groups of Mech units sniped satellite bases. Innovation would march his menacing Mech force onto a pressure point of the Zerg – between the fourth and fifth bases – and crush Dark’s hopes of a GSL title.

 

HOLD ME TASTELESS

Innovation and sOs are two of the most legendary names in SC2 History. They have not faced in a Grand Finals of any kind since 2013, when Innovation swept 4-0. Will we see cunning mad-scientist builds from sOs to take down the raw macro power of Innovation’s mechanics? Will we see the robotic Terran out-cheese the cheese master himself? Maybe we’ll get 40-minute Tier-3 Air showdowns or some down and dirty scrap-fests. Either way, pray to Nestea it goes to a Game 7.

 

 

The Grand Finals between sOs and Innovation will be on Saturday September 16th – see you there!

 

Photos courtesy of AfreecaTV

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