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.
“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:
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