GSL 2019 Season 3 Round of 32 - Group A Battle Report

Published on 07/03/2019 07:06 PDT by Saxon "Saxy" Durrant

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are back for season three! Two different seasons have wielded us two different champions, with Maru and Dark earning their place in the hall of fame for GSL wins. It was Maru's fourth, Dark's first, with both equally as special as each other. With a big patch on the horizon it could be a divided season, with a patch half way through the competition looking likely. How much it will change play is unknown at this point, although one thing seems certain. Protoss should be weaker in some form following the patch.

Our 32 competitors sees some welcome returns, plus some new names not seen in a few years. Our foreign contingent of SpeCial and Scarlett remain as Code S participants, with Bunny once again failing to qualify for the second season in a row. His quarter final run in season one continues to look more and more like a flash in the pan result. Our new participants are Super, Bomber, Dream and Taeja, who replace Trust, DongRaeGu, TRUE and Leenock.

Our 32 starting players. Credit - Liquipedia.

For me, several storylines seem prominent to follow this season. Will Maru and Jin Air recover from a disaster season two? Will Dark, Classic and Trap continue their semi-final consistency? Are Protoss players going to enjoy the same amount of dominance that they showed in season two?

Moving onto group A, today we have a dynamite group to start us off, complete with one of our foreign hopes. SpeCial will hope to fend off the rest, as he faces down against aLive, Rogue and PartinG.

Our first four battlers. Credit - AfreecaTV.

PartinG will be our first cab off the rank. A stand out season two saw him reach the quarter finals, topping an insane round of 16 group to make it there. Whilst his quarter final itself (a 3-0 loss to Hurricane) was less than memorable for PartinG, he will be hoping to continue his momentum and escape today. A shaky qualifiers saw him advance by beating American Protoss Astrea twice on the second day, with that day also seeing him lose 2-0 to his initial opponent tonight, SpeCial. Whilst his PvT looked impressive last season, it will be a tough first match for PartinG.

I truly believe three out of four players today have the opportunity to take the group, with our favourite man Juanito (SpeCial) also part of this first match. Mr Lopez was missed at Homestory Cup over the weekend but his time away from the GSL was by no means wasted, winning Copa America to secure a paid trip to WCS Summer in Kiev. An impressive performance saw SpeCial denied a round of eight place by only one game as he lost out to herO. Two defeats there to Trap and herO look bad on paper, but I was a big fan of SpeCial's TvP back then and hope he continues that form.

Out of the four players today, aLive is my pick to finish bottom today. Whilst insanely consistent in reaching the GSL, he has also been consistent in being eliminated in the first round. Little suggests to me he can make it out today, especially considering the strength of our other players. Aligulac shows TvT as his best match up, however that still only sits at a 56% map win rate.

The 2017 world champion rounds out our group, with Rogue desperate to advance far in this season of GSL to boost his percentages of reaching Blizzcon come the end of the year. A round of 32 exit like last season will not cut it, but I have faith that our Zerg can advance today. His time in the hyberbolic chamber should do him well, having played sparingly in recorded matches since his exit last season.

I see Rogue advancing in first today, with SpeCial moving out in second.

PartinG vs SpeCial - PvT

Our first map of the season would see New Repugnancy as our battleground, with a fascinating PvT to follow. We’d start with a bang, SpeCial going for one and then another proxy barracks. The closer barracks was scouted however, SpeCial forced into cancelling his plan and settling for a more standard one barracks opening. A factory at home with a natural command centre followed for our Terran, with PartinG moving into a robotics opening. A passive few minutes followed, with PartinG sitting back, defending a mine drop before moving into colossi tech and a third. Six minutes thirty saw SpeCial’s third land down, with our passive game extending into the later stages. A small push by PartinG saw a raven sloppily lost but PartinG wasn’t going to push on it, moving into a fourth base. Mass siege tank was on the agenda for SpeCial, pumping out three at a time as we went into the 10th minute. 

With such a mass of siege tank, quick tempest was PartinG’s response, although it was unclear to if he actually saw the additional factories. A mass of siege tanks and bio made its way across the map and killed the fourth, PartinG trading well to see him push back to kill a base of SpeCial’s. The tempest count kept climbing though and whilst thors were made to counter, zealots kept the damage up in SpeCial’s base through a cheeky warp prism. The momentum had swung back into PartinG’s favour from here though, continuous chipping into SpeCial’s hybrid army forcing a do or die push by our Terran player. The push would die, PartinG taking the first map in this series.

Our new GSL map Acropolis was up in game two, with a cybernetics core before nexus and a complete wall off denying a natural scout for SpeCial. A reaper was picked off by PartinG in a somewhat sloppy bit of control from our Terran, before PartinG moved into phoenixes. Good mine hits deflected the phoenix assault, but a banshee was instantly denied by PartinG. A push with a third base behind caught PartinG with his pants down though, two tanks, combined with bunkers and mines saw a dramatic kill of his third base, with mech the follow up for SpeCial. A passive few minutes followed, with PartinG looking to try and deal damage to a SpeCial holed into to his three and then four bases. Liberators did work in the mineral lines as SpeCial went for a push on the 13th minute mark. A few carriers came online and it proved to be vital, catching SpeCial without any major anti-air. 

A small retreat saw PartinG advance into widow mines, taking the bait to reset the carrier count. It was a massive back and forth game, with action across the map as mech clashed with stalker, colossi and carrier. The map had turned into a minefield, with observers littered everywhere to try and catch the deadly mines. It has turned into cyclone- mine chaos for SpeCial, both players practically even on 25k minerals lost. Can I just pause here and say what a series to start us off on. It seemed impossible to call with both players tied but it was a big push by PartinG that would suddenly end the game. A fleet of carriers and disruptors flew across the map, with several massive hits sending PartinG rocketing up in supply and sending SpeCial to the losers match.

Mines killing carriers. A first for me at least in GSL.
Credit - AfreecaTV.

PartinG 2-0 SpeCial.

aLive vs Rogue – TvZ

A 13/12 greeted us in the first map of this TvZ, with Rogue making a lot of zerglings to go for a quick win. A cancelled command centre was the result, with aLive smartly repositioning his barracks to deny the zerglings breaking into his main. Three bases came up for our Zerg, with aLive matching with a quick third command centre of his own. Macro met macro for now in this opener, upgrades spinning away as both players were content to sit back, aLive doing a good job in creep denial. Muta-ling-bane was the composition for Rogue, the flying beasts seemingly surprising aLive. It was a disastrous thirty seconds, 14 scv’s dying as well as three tanks caught out in the open. 

From here it was all Rogue, our Jin Air player using the map to pull aLive apart. He hit the fourth, the third, all whilst a nydus worms burrowed in his bases. It seemed to be a clear difference in skill here, with aLive tapping out soon after the dismemberment, perhaps dreading the second game to come.

It was our first standard start of the day, both players doing the dance of the reaper vs four zerglings and a queen. An early lair was our first deviation of the map, Rogue cleverly denying scouting to see aLive blind to the nydus network being constructed.  It would be pure zerling-queen, as Rogue found the one pixel in aLive’s main base that he could not see. A quick tap out from aLive followed, Rogue moving forward to face PartinG in the winners match.

In a few swift moves, Rogue had swept the carpet from beneath aLive.
Credit - AfreecaTV.

aLive 0-2 Rogue.

PartinG vs Rogue – PvZ

We were seeing a feisty Rogue today, as our first match saw a baneling bust by our Zerg player. It was a cheeky adept that scouted the number of zerglings and a fantastic probe pull that saw a vital pylon saved. The banelings bore down onto the wall but PartinG defended well, holding with flying colours to give him a quick 1-0 lead in our winners match. Rogue later said that PartinG’s second cybernetics core in his wall was a decisive factor in his hold.

From Thunderbird to King’s Cove, would Rogue cheese once again? Normal openings leant into a twilight and robotics, PartinG reaching into his bag of builds to go for a dark templar based archon drop. Our casters talked about a skill check with the dark templar and Rogue failed, allowing his spore to be attacked and his third hatchery destroyed. PartinG took a lead from here, as he moved into upgrades, immortals and charge. Rogue replied with a spire, pausing on 62 drones and pumping out nothing but roaches. It seemed like PartinG was walking into a trap, our Protoss player unknowningly up on workers back at home. His attack hit a wall and had to retreat once more, with a dark templar scouting the nydus network of Rogue. Having retreated, PartinG seemingly just had to hold the counter-aggression with his Zerg opponent operating off 55 workers. Immortals and a warp prism are a good combination however, PartinG taking losses but holding against the roach swell. 

Rogue added 10 more drones before he fired out 10 swarm hosts and a very late fourth base. With nydus worms popping up all over the map PartinG found them all and pushed onwards onto the creep of Rogue. With all of this action, PartinG had not taken a fourth base, leaving his economy in shambles. Moving onto creep PartinG delved too deep, losing all his army to only kill the fourth of Rogue. It left Rogue with swarm hosts a plenty and PartinG still only on three bases. GG called within thirty seconds as locust waves went undetected.

A proxy hatchery signaled Rogues intent in our final game, with four probes and a zealot chipping away at the hatchery to cancel it eventually. A stargate before nexus saw PartinG respect the possibility of an aggressive Rogue, making him safe against any potential roach push. A big adept swell off a number of gateways hit Rogue next but only eight drones died, PartinG making a dodgy shade to see Rogue take a favourable trade. From here PartinG would not take a third, pushing forward hard with immortals and adepts. It was all in by PartinG but he could not break the mass wall of roaches. Not to be denied though, a couple of roaming adepts killed off over 20 drones. It placed the game back into PartinG’s favour as he took a third base. Dark templar killed off another 13, as Rogue had thrown this fantastic game into a nightmare. 

PartinG looked to end the game with blunt trauma once more, but Rogue held again with a massive roach, nestled safely up a ramp. In this game of throws Rogue pushed again, smashing through PartinG’s army to send Rogue into the round of 16 in a crazy match.

You think PartinG's two base all in killed 23 drones? Think again.
Credit - AfreecaTV.

PartinG 1-2 Rogue.

Rogue advances to the round of 16.

SpeCial vs aLive – TvT

With Rogue our first survivor from this first group, we would now find out our first victim in this TvT. aLive held a 7-0 LOTV record against SpeCial in ominous signs for the Mexican terran, as SpeCial went into a quicker command centre. Several small trades saw SpeCial take a small advantage as both players landed their third command centres in a more passive game than most today. A push by SpeCial saw aLive contained, with SpeCial bringing up a liberator to push aLive’s tanks back. Three ravens from aLive proved key though, killing off 12 workers with auto turrets. The ravens then swept back, disabling all of SpeCial’s tanks so aLive could take a stunning fight and crush the contain. From here the doom drop came, with SpeCial tapping out to send him on the edge of elimination.

Cyber Forest was our second map, with SpeCial once again with the quicker command centre and slight advantage in the opening trades. A strange drop from aLive saw a grand total of 0 dead scv’s on SpeCial’s side of the map.  Trades went in favor of SpeCial and aLive went on for a push, losing three ravens for virtually nought as SpeCial stretched out with a 20 supply lead. It was then Juan’s time to push and he split aLive’s army in half. Against the run of play aLive came out with a money drop though, killing over 20 scv’s to send this confusing game on for now. 

It was a game of siege, SpeCial once again pushed with a supply advantage but could not make it count. aLive was making all the right moves it seemed, pushing when he needed to keep this game as close as possible. His third fell to marine fire though, losing one of his only lifelines in this extremely tight game. That command centre signaled the beginning of the end, with Juanito needing only a few minutes to stabilise and push into aLive with an overwhelming force. Game two providing entertainment as we once again headed into a decider.

Identical openers moved us into game three, with SpeCial changing the symmetry with an extra barracks early. A hellion drop from aLive circumvented the defenses of SpeCial but only four scv’;s went down in a somewhat fortuitous defence. SpeCial then tried a double medivac drop on it’s own but it fell flat on its face. Whilst SpeCial had been in control of their game before, aLive seemed in control of this deciding match. aLive had the tanks but it was SpeCial who got aggressive, sieging the third command centre. It was a fantastic position by SpeCial, as he eventually destroyed 13 scv’s and the command centre to boot. 

It put SpeCial in the driving seat, as aLive desperately went for a doom drop in an attempt to pull himself back. It was a strong move but it failed to stem the tide of SpeCial’s dominance, Juan moving up to a 50 supply advantage. He then slowly moved out across the map, creeping forward siege by siege before he was at aLive’s base. It was simply too much to handle for aLive, our Korean Terran exiting the GSL at the first stage once again.

A master move by aLive saw his ravens flank and disable every tank.
Credit - AfreecaTV.

SpeCial 2-1 aLive.

SpeCial vs PartinG – TvP

Our initial series was repeated here, with SpeCial going for a proxy barracks on his side of the map. Perhaps intending to mind game his opponent, PartinG did not even scout for a proxy. Three gate blink was our opener from PartinG, with SpeCial once again heading into a mine drop. It was batted off well though, as double forge indicated a greedier macro PartinG than we were used to seeing. No third from SpeCial indicated a big timing, the boys coming along for a ride. Pushing himself into the wedge between the second and third PartinG charged in, but some beautiful bunkers saw tanks rain hell into the high zealot count. The zealots shredded, leaving a massive Terran force still standing. SpeCial moving 1-0 ahead in this decisive series.

Acropolis saw another full wall by PartinG, as a lucky adept delayed a command centre only seconds away from completion. We saw an old favourite build of PartinG, the double archon drop into charge all in. Last time we saw this it was super destructive, but SpeCial’s marines were ready. They sniped both prisms and both archons, setting PartinG hugely behind in this all decisive game. SpeCial knew he just had to sit pretty and he did just that, hiding behind walls and mines and tanks. With no nexus on the horizon and over 40 supply down, SpeCial went for the killing blow. It took a minute or two longer than anticipated but nothing was going to save PartinG, SpeCial taking his revenge and moving on into the round of 16.

The double prism build by PartinG fell flat in it's face in it's second outing at the GSL.
Credit - AfreecaTV.

SpeCial 2-0 PartinG.

SpeCial advances to the round of 16.

Rogue and SpeCial advance to the round of 16.

Series of the Day: SpeCial vs PartinG opening series.

Game of the Day: SpeCial vs PartinG game two.

GSL Code S continues Tuesday the fourth of July, with sOs, Bomber, Dark and RagnaroK.

All pictures courtesy of AfreecaTV and all stats courtesy of Liquipedia, CodeSFacts on Twitter and Aligulac.