Fnatic win quarterfinals over H2K

Fnatic Quarterfinals Highlights and the Road Ahead

Fnatic played a stellar series against H2K last weekend, finishing 3-0. While H2K looked out of sorts, Fnatic played calm, coordinated League of Legends. This was their best series so far in the 2017 EU LCS. Here is a compilation of their best plays from the quarterfinal match-up.

While Fnatic should be proud of this achievement, they have a challenging playoffs road ahead. Their next opponent will be G2, a squad which has suffered only one series loss thus far. Hypothetically, if Fnatic wins that match-up, they will still need to face the winner of Misfits vs. Unicorns of Love in the finals.

G2 does exhibit some playstyle similarities to H2K, but with fewer weaknesses. H2K’s biggest issue seemed to be communication in their quarterfinal loss. Shin “Nuclear” Jung-hyun and Choi “Chei” Sun-ho were not on the same page with each other or the rest of the team. Many of Fnatic’s advantages came from Nuclear and Chei’s poor positioning. Fnatic should not expect Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez to make the same mistakes.

Fnatic also surprised H2K, and spectators, with lower priority marksmen picks: Twitch, Vayne, and Kennen. Martin “Rekkles” Larsson’s Kennen pick is not surprising, but hardly any other bottom laners look as comfortable on the pick. Twitch and Vayne, though, came out of nowhere. Though these picks most likely threw H2K for a loop, G2 now have the advantage of knowing Fnatic is able to draft and win with such picks. The surprise is no longer a factor.

Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen and Paul “sOAZ” Boyer will need to continue to demonstrate high levels of pressure in the jungle and top lane. They will also need to remain coordinated with the rest of the team to properly rotate, pressure objectives, and counter-gank.

Jesse “Jesiz” Le should try to remain on support champions with strong engage potential. He stood out as a highly impactful player throughout the quarterfinals. If Fnatic are able to replicate the strategies they used against H2K, then their series against G2 this weekend should be a treat.

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Phoenix1’s Playoff Profile: Roster Swap Trial By Fire

With Phoenix1 playing against Team Dignitas this Saturday, fans should be speculative over the performance of their newest roster additions.

After Adrian “Adrian” Ma left for Team Liquid, Phoenix1 signed two support players to fill the void: Jordan “Shady” Robison and William “Stunt” Chen. Starting for Phoenix1 in support against Team Dignitas will be Shady, sharing the bot lane with one of the most acclaimed ADCs of the NALCS, Dong-Hyeon “Arrow” No. Shady is effectively a nobody in comparison to the star power of the players on the top three NALCS teams, but he is a nobody that also must play alongside some of the most hyped players in the league in Phoenix1’s jungler, Rami “Inori” Charagh and mid laner, Sang Wook “Ryu” Yoo. The pressure is on for Shady, whose previous experience on Robert Morris University’s team, the same team Adrian came from, may not allow for him to flourish on the competitive stage.

While Adrian and Shady share similar experiential backgrounds, his history playing for XDG Gaming and Team Impulse allowed him to hit the ground running on Immortals during their near flawless split. Shady, on the other hand, has only had the competitive stage experience during his two losses against TSM, compiling 101 minutes in total. 

That being said, Shady currently holds rank 46 on the Challenger ladder, which as a support main is exceptionally high. In addition to this, his specialty in high damage mages such as Brand, Malzahar, Vel’Koz, and Zyra make him particularly hard to target ban. His lack of fear in pulling out Brand support, which he performed well on despite the defeat into first place team, TSM, proves he is already comfortable mixing things up on the stage.

Towards the center of the Rift for Phoenix1 lies their greatest strengths: Inori and Ryu. These two superstars have taken games dual-handedly with dominant solo kills by mid laner Ryu and relentless aggression by jungler Inori. Ryu, like Arrow, draws upon experience from Korean team KT Rolster Bullets where he played up until joining the EULCS in 2014. Since then, he achieved second seed for Europe in Worlds with alongside H2K before ultimately leaving to join Phoenix1 this split. His experience in both high caliber and high-pressure teams has paid off as he has proven to be one of the top four mid laners in the league.

Courtesy: Riot Esports

 

While not boasting quite as impressive of a history, Inori can boast the highest kill participation of any jungler and the third highest kill participation across all roles in the NALCS at 71.7 percent. Inori’s aggression knows no bounds as he is involved in a little over one kill every four minutes. To put that into perspective, Inori has more kill participation per minute than the current jungler with the most kills in the league, Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett. If Inori can get ahead early, he stays ahead and turns games into bloodbaths unbeknownst to any other jungler in the league.

Also an option for Phoenix1 is the substitution of William “Meteos” Hartman, also known as “Dark Meteos”. While this substitution may aid in more team fight based compositions, Phoenix1 will lose out on Inori’s unparalleled pressure. That being said, both of these junglers are top tier and will be crucial factors taking a victory over Dignitas.

Phoenix1’s match against Dignitas will not be their biggest challenge, but more importantly, this match will set precedent for P1’s new support, Shady. Shady needs to bring his solo queue prowess onto the stage. If he picks a high damage mage support, he needs to have explosive impact using that champion’s level 6 power spike that he can then use to snowball Arrow. If this does not happen, he will be a detriment to Phoenix1’s superstar, Arrow. Additionally, Phoenix1 must prevent Dignitas’ top laner, Chan-Ho “Ssumday” Kim from taking over the game by using target bans towards the tanks he consistently shows up on. If these stars align, Phoenix1 should expect to win 3-1. However, the real challenge will come from the next match against Cloud9 where Shady’s lack of true competitive experience and synergy with Arrow may be Phoenix1’s ultimate shortcoming. 


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GSL Logo

GSL Quarterfinals: sOs Breaks the Wheel

Matchup 1: TY vs Soo

What a wild series. If you are familiar with both of these players, you’d probably assume it would be a drone-fest on Eo “Soo” Yoon Su’s end, and ferocious non-stop harassment from Jun “TY” Tae Yang.

But the GSL is about winning, not about how. Soo, one of the more macro-centric Zergs players, whipped out the cheesiest page in the Zerg playbook for Game 1. 12 pool, double 14 gas; Soo wanted blood and he wanted it now. Ravagers marched across Whirlwind with hopes of an easy Game 1, but it wouldn’t make it past TY’s ramp and his well-microed Cyclones… gg.

Game 2, we saw TY throw the cheese right back. Proxying three barracks at Soo’s 3rd, TY easily killed the natural hatchery and just went home.

After taking huge economic damage from incessant bio/tank drops and base snipes, Soo was forced to shove with his Broodlords. It looked promising at first for the four time GSL runner up, until a huge marine flank stimmed in from the North. A 180 degree arc of units would collapse on the Broodlords and put TY at match point.

Game 3 was completely different. TY for some reason decided  that it was the time and the place to switch to Mech play. His hellion harassment got shut down pretty handily, and Soo found a window of opportunity to make eight Swarmhosts. By the time TY pushed out on Soo’s creep, he was confronted with an unstoppable wall of free swarm units, and oddly didn’t retreat despite having no answer for Soo’s Broodlords. Soo would march right to the clunky mechanical production line of TY’s mech and force him to tap out.

 

With a win finally on the boards, Soo decided to confirm his balls of absolute steel and try the exact same cheese that was utterly embarrassed in Game 1. But it worked? Arriving mere seconds earlier than his last attempt, Soo was able to camp the production and eliminate TY’s Marines and Cyclones before they could meet up. With nothing to stop the rush, TY surrendered.

 

On to match point! Who doesn’t love a good match point? Countless hours of practice and preparation culminating in a 20 minute match to decide who will carry on their dreams of a GSL trophy, and who will grumpily watch it from home.

It would come down to Abyssal Reef.

TY was desperate. Widow mine drop, hellion run bye, banshees – all deflected. Soon it was Soo who held control of the map. TY stopped dropping and Mutalisks started to run the show.

At just before 15 minutes, Soo showcased some incredible killer instincts.

Put yourself in his shoes. You are mining happily on your side of the map, your opponent is building a Planetary at his 5th, and is likely producing Liberators and Ghosts.

It’s a risky fight to take, but in one minute the Terran will be completely locked down and will be creating the perfect Terran vs Zerg army. 3-3 Ghosts + Liberators – a terrifying army to face.

So Soo attacked with everything. It cost his whole ground army, but the Command Center fell. Well worth it… But TY had another base floating into position.

What now?

“AGAIN” said Soo! Hitting before the Planetary once again, Ultras chased the army. Zerglings ravaged the 3rd, and TY is dead!

Matchup 2: Innovation vs Stats

Next up was the much-anticipated rematch of the IEM Gyeonggi Grand Finals this past December. Lee “Innovation” Shin Hyung had taken it 4-0 in one of the shortest and most one-sided Grand Finals of all time. So far in 2017, he has the most convincing argument for best player on the planet.

The series would start on Cactus Valley. In a quick game that looked like a flashback to IEM Gyeonggi, Innovation seemed to be simply too strong for Kim “Stats” Dae Yeob.

 

After Innovation’s Siege Tank push got over-run with only a few volleys left on the third Nexus, Stats looked like he might stabilize. That heroic stand, however, would ultimately leave his forces spread too thin. A few minutes later Innovation would pounce on the exposed Colossus and steamroll over the rest.

 

 

Game 2 on Newkirk was a disaster for Protoss. Stats’ pylon rush started off great, and Innovation’s 90% completed Command Center looked as good as dead.

In what would end up being a fatal mistake, Stats targeted the reactor to the walling barracks instead of the Command Center and got pushed away mere moments before canceling it. Casters Daniel “Artosis” Stemkoski and Nicolas “Tasteless” Plott commented that the error would likely have lasting effects on Stats’ mental composure.

Sure enough, Innovation’s far bigger army would overwhelm that of Stats, and in an attempt to demoralize Stats completely, Innovation dropped some celebratory manner mules.

Tasteless kindly provided a haiku about how that game went:

“Innovation

Taking Stats

Mashing him up into a ball

Throwing him behind his head

Half Court Shot

Swishes through the hoop

Innovation never turned around

Somewhere, out of nowhere, glasses land on Innovation’s face.”

Stats, however, was not amused.

Game 3 started off standard.

Protoss scared off Terran’s +1/Stim timing with Phoenix/Adept. Stats killed some SCVs with a counter attack, but began to fall behind on tech. With a chance to close out the series 3-0 at the 10 minute mark, Innovation loaded up five Medivacs within spitting distance of Stats’ main. With that much bio and three Liberators against just Adept Phoenix, unloading in the Protoss main would surely be checkmate. What could go wrong?

“Stats is for real right now” -Artosis

8 Phoenix – that’s what. Stats didn’t hesitate. He knew his opponent was playing impatiently, and pounced at the mistake with murderous quickness. Shading in from the North came Stats’ Adepts. Innovation was forced to dig in for a fight he didn’t want to take, and as a result lost his whole army and the game. Stats was still alive.

 

Game 4 looked even better for Stats. Armed with the same composition of Phoenix/Adept, Stats held off Innovation’s trademark aggression with minimal worker losses.

 

Confronted with an impenetrable defense of Liberators and Widows, Stats said “no thanks” and bypassed all of it with Psionic Transfer, shading into the Natural. With a Warp Prism reinforcing in the main, Innovation soon found his production smothered. We would be going from ANOTHER 0-2 to 2-2 Game 5!

Game 5. Best Terran on earth vs best Protoss on earth. One match. Let’s get into it.

The game started with a minor build order advantage for Stats. Two-Base Colossus vs a three Barracks opening. Innovation had a very hard time finding damage. A line of pylons in the main repeatedly pushed back increasingly scary doom drops. Stats’ Colossus held down the 2nd and 3rd bases.

In a play that Innovation was not expecting, Stats pushed out with everything he had.  Sacrificing his third base without a fight, Stats was going for the jugular! Forward blinks! Disruptor hits! “HE’S GOING FOR THE HEART” Tasteless shouted. He’s on the production! There’s nothing left!

And just like that, the best player on Earth was no more.

 

Matchup 3: herO vs sOs

Kim “herO” Joon Ho wasted no time bringing out the cheddar. Not wanting to be out-smarted by the master of mind-games, herO started the series with a low ground cannon rush. Despite being spotted quite late by Kim “sOs” Yoo Jin, his first Stalker and a perfectly timed Photon Overcharge would keep the Cannon’s at a safe distance. HerO was hopeless to stop sOs’s counter attack.

 

Game 2 began Phoenix vs Phoenix until sOs pulled the EXACT same move he did against the EXACT same player in the GSL back in 2015.

SOs found an opportunity to ambush the Phoenix Fleet and eliminate their options for retreat, slaughtering every last one of them. With air dominance and a potent harassment option, sOs’s economy and army would spiral out of control and he would easily defeat the army of herO and take the game.

Game 3 was fairly standard. SOs attempted to punish herO’s Nexus first with a pair of Adepts and a pair of Oracles, finding some good damage. HerO’s gateway counter-attack masterfully shaded Adepts into the main to force a response from the army of sOs. This allowed the rest of herO’s units to focus down all the defensive pylons and eventually break the back of sOs.

Game 4 looked even more dominant for herO. After a successful Stargate opening, herO attacked. SOs, in a very gutsy play, decided to take the fight out in the field instead of in range of his defensive pylons. He was on his way to crush the attack when a clutch Statis Ward froze a large chunk of sOs’s Adepts and allowed for herO’s retreat. Down in bases and tech, sOs was forced to go all-in. HerO’s higher Immortal and Archon counts would allow for an easy victory. For the third time in the Quarterfinals, the favored player was on the chopping block.

 

Game 5 was the most dramatic game of the year in many ways. Two long time rivals who have seesawed back and forth for “Best Protoss in the World” for years… were on a match point with unsettling and superstitious pretenses… Every eliminated player so far had decisively won their first two games. TY looked on another level than Soo twice in a row. Soo made him look weak in Game 3. He crept into his psyche like a pack of zerglings. Now TY is gone.

 

Innovation made Stats look like silver league twice in a row before a disaster in the sky would stop him from ever having his third and final win.

Now sOs, aka $o$, aka the Money Toss, one of the most feared players of all time, was looking to be the third in a row to fall to a reverse sweep.

SOs started Game 5 with some Adept run-byes, ramping it up to the point of nearly killing herO. In a clutch move that would keep him alive, herO blocked sOs’s Adepts from escaping with his own Adept shades.

 

From there the game would just get weirder and weirder, a place sOs excels. His Adept attacks returned with increasingly more firepower, while herO tried to break his opponent with a Gateway force.

 

For a few minutes, not even the casters knew who would win. Finally, sOs cleaned up his main base and countered with a critical mass of Adepts and a Warp Prism. The Cucaracha had survived.

 

Matchup 4: Maru vs Ryung

Games 1 and 2 went about the same way. Kim “Ryung” Dong Won’s knowledge of Siege Tanks beat out Cho “Maru” Seong Ju’s multitasking and bio control. We saw some interesting Liberator vs Viking play and some risky drops, but Ryung just seemed to have a deeper understanding of the matchup.

Game 3, Maru would catch Ryung off-guard with a huge doom drop of Tanks and Marines. It would cost Ryung 20 SCVs and some production before he could clean it up. With the sustained damage, Ryung would fail to protect his 3rd base to a followup attack, and type GG.

 

Game 4, I am sad to say, was a complete throw. After dismantling Ryung’s economy with lightning fast multitasking, casters Ried “Rapid” Melton and Brendan Valdez were already talking about Game 5. Moments from going into our 4th consecutive decider’s match, Ryung charged in from the North, catching all of Maru’s tanks exposed and un-sieiged. Despite having no income, Ryung would counter drop everything he had in Maru’s main for a very cutthroat checkmate.

All photos courtesy of AfreecaTV

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recall

StarCraft Weekly Recall

Welcome to my third Weekly Recall, a recap of all the major events in StarCraft over the past week.

 

GSL Season 1 2017 – Quarterfinals

 

Players: Jun “TY” Tae Yang, Eo “soO” Yoon Su, Kim “Stats” Dae Yeob, Lee “Innovation” Shin Hyung, Kim “herO” Joon Ho, Kim “sOs” Yoo Jin, Kim “Ryung” Dung Won, Cho “Maru” Seong Ju

 

TY vs soO

The first match of the quarters got off to a confusing start, with soO attempting a 12-pool Ravager all-in. 12-pools in general are much more common against Protoss than Terran. After having his all-in held, then being pulled apart from every angle by TY’s multi-pronged aggression in the next game, soO looked minutes away from being the victim of one of the hardest stomps in GSL Quarterfinal history.

Then TY decided to make things weird. He went for, an admittedly intriguing, mech build against soO. Of course, there’s a reason mech isn’t often used against Zerg. And that reason is the Swarm Host. Mech builds are high power, low mobility compositions, and the Swarm host does nothing if not punish low (or lack of) mobility. At the highest echelons of the Zerg tech tree, Brood Lords also excel at devastating stationary positions.

So naturally, it was hardly surprising when TY’s mech build was overwhelmed by soO’s Swarm Host, Brood Lord based army.

Game 4 saw the return of soO’s 12-pool Ravager all-in, and this time on a two player map, TY would be unable to hold.

And just like that. Just as quickly as we were looking at a potential 3-0 stomp, the match was brought to Game 5.

SoO made full use of the open map on Newkirk Precinct. He was repeatedly taking fights in the wide open areas that favor Zerg. SoO was able to keep TY at bay for the majority of the game, eventually overwhelming him. Completing the reverse sweep, soO advanced to the semifinals 3-2.

 

Stats vs Innovation

Innovation started the Match with two fairly clean wins on Cactus Valley and Newkirk Precinct. In both games, Stats opted for a defensive early Colossi opening. In Game 1, Innovation took a favorable early engagement, trading out his siege tanks for most of Stat’s Gateway army. Pushing out Vikings on the resupply, Stats’ Colossi based army was overwhelmed on the followup attack.

Say it with me: Instant Karma

In Game 2, Innovation took advantage of Newkirk’s terrain to pull Stats’ defense apart with a two-pronged attack. Punishing Stats’ inability to secure map control, the fast followup push almost completely surrounded Stats’ defense at his third, ending the game in a rain of MULEs. This put Stats in a familiar position, having lost 0-4 to Innovation at IEM Gyeonggi, barely two months ago.

On Daybreak, Stats swapped out his defensive Colossi strategy for a mobile Adept-Phoenix build, hitting Innovation with waves of harassment. Taking repeated damage at home and completely unable to respond, Innovation had to attempt a doom drop to get himself back into the game. Anticipating the desperate attack, Stats easily intercepted Innovation’s Medivacs, bringing the hammer down on Game 3. Taking the Adept-Phoenix build back into Game 4, Innovation put up a bit more of a fight. In the end, Stats took full advantage of his superior air mobility to crush Innovation’s main army.

Stats brought back his Colossi build for Game 5. Reading Innovation like a book, he set a row of pylons in anticipation for an incoming doom drop on his main well. He did this before the attack happened, and crushed the attack once it did. After a repeat failed doomdrop into Stats’ main, Stats took the fight to Innovation, ending the game in convincing fashion and completing the reverse sweep.

Recall

herO vs sOs

A failed cannon rush by herO brought a quick end to Game 1. Both players started off on relatively even footing going into Game 2, both starting on Phoenixes. After attempting to transition out of Phoenixes, however, herO lost his footing in the game. PvP is always a dangerous matchup to transition in. Very often when you start mirror tech paths, you end up locked into it out of risk of your opponent walking over you with superior numbers.

By transitioning out of Phoenixes, sOs was given free reign of the skies and would use his superior air mobility to bleed out herO’s mineral lines.

Taking advantage of the large four player map for Game 3, herO took a greedy early expansion to secure an early economic lead. Deciding to commit to harassment after having scouted the expansion late would put sOs even further behind and the game would quickly snowball into herO’s first win.

HerO took an early lead in Game 4 on Daybreak with some strong StarGate micro, getting solid economic damage done with an Oracle and several Phoenixes. A well placed Stasis Ward would secure a fight at sOs’ base for herO, and he would close the game a few short minutes later.

The final game on Abyssal Reef was easily the best game of the match. Very back and forth, sOs opened making multiple attempts at adept harassment in herO’s base, trading out for little more than other combat units. HerO would pick off sOs’ Warp Prism and followed up with a push into sOs’ base. SOs’ retaliation would spin the game into his favor, completely wiping out workers at herO’s natural. SOs would corner herO in his attempt at getting retaliatory damage, wiping the rest of his army. This advanced sOs to the semifinals, 3-2.

Recall

Who knew, right?

Ryung vs Maru

Many would have assumed that this would have been the most one-sided match of the Quarterfinals, and they weren’t exactly wrong. This was a straight up chess match. Ryung, for the most part, was constantly ahead in the game.

The first two games saw Ryung putting Maru on the defensive while exploiting gaps in his positioning. Ryung is often said to be one of the most hardworking players in the StarCraft professional scene. In the first two games, it really did show. He showed a far more refined understanding of Echo and Whirlwind than Maru. Knowing exactly where to doom drop based on Maru’s positioning. At one point, even playing hide and seek with a cornered, almost dead cyclone to get it out alive. Ryung was in full control of the first two games. At times, he even made Maru, the number one ranked player in the world, look like an amateur.

Maru, however, was able to show much more assertion in Games 3 and 4. On Daybreak, Maru showed off some interesting Raven harassment in the early game. Later, he took advantage of poor positioning, when Ryung sieged his full army of tanks against Maru’s highly mobile composition. This allowed Maru to freely doom drop into Ryung’s main, dealing crippling damage that would spiral the game into Maru’s favor.

The final game on Newkirk was perhaps the best game of the week. Maru was once again in total control by virtue of his multi-pronged aggression. Game 4 was over if not for Ryung’s patience to acknowledge his desperate position, hiding the lion’s share of his army to wipe out Maru’s tanks as he moved up his siege line.

Ryung advanced into the semifinals, 3-1.

Fun fact: Whoever won the Reaper fights at the start of every match, went on to win the game.

 

Balance Team Community Feedback

The changes on the test map are in the final stages and will go live in a future patch if no further issues come up. Reapers in TvZ are now being looked at, and changes to KD8 charge are on the table. Changes currently on the table include increasing the ability cooldown or removing its damage to structures.

Changes currently on the Test Map that may go live sometime in the future are listed below.

Terran

Widow Mine: +shield bonus damage on splash reduced from +40 to +25

Zerg

Corruptor: Movement speed changed from 4.1343 to 4.725. Acceleration speed changed from 3.675 to 4.2. Parasite Spore weapon damage point (ie. attack delay) changed from .1193 to .0446.

Hydralisk: Health increased from 80 to 90

 

Community Highlights

 

The new WCS Website is now live.

Rotti just wants his due credit.

Nate makes the top of StarCraft Reddit again.

Juiced_Potatoes unearths a childhood relic.

 

 

Community Content Highlights

 

From BaseTradeTV, performed by Temp0. Lyrics by Rifkin. Abyssal Reef of course, designed by SidianTheBard.

 

PiG takes a look at the Ravager 1-Base All-In

 

 

Featured images courtesy AfreecaTV and Blizzard Entertainment.

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