GSL Round of 16, Group A Battle Report
IEM Katowice concluded last week with an amazing victory for soO, defeating Stats in the final 4-2. In what was one of the premier tournaments of the year, we, the viewer were left speechless with the quality of games shown.
You'd think we'd get some time to cool down but the case is quite the opposite. The GSL round of 16 kicks off again this week, with groups A and D shown over the next 24 hours. With some ludicrous names and groups, it looks to be time again for more top quality Starcraft.
Group A saw us start off with four names who were all in Poland last week, Maru, Impact, Patience and Bunny.
A representative of all races included here but possibly the weakest group on paper.
Maru had an underwhelming IEM and will be looking to blast back here. Put down to crush his group on paper, he lost to Trap, Leenock and Neeb to send him out early. Still even gods have off days and anyone counting out this terran lord in his group is kidding themselves. The stats do not lie, Maru has made the most round of 8 appearences in the history of Code S. The fight for second is surely where this group will take us, with all three remaining players looking to make their first round of eight appearence.
Bunny has to be a surefire contender. His IEM performance saw him defeat champion soO and TY in his group, as well as beating strong zerg Solar in the GSL round of 32. The Blacer player constantly knocks off big names and would be my first pick to advance in second. Impact is another name on par with Bunny, with the two just bubbling below the surface of greatness, slowly building up momentum. Whilst he failed to advance out of the brutal IEM open bracket, it wouldn't surprise me to see some aggressive nydus strategies take place. Last to announce is the enigma himself, Patience. Beating Zest twice to make it to the round of 16 and basically only playing PvP at IEM, much is still unknown about his PvT or PvZ. Expect the unexpected.
Maru vs Impact - TvZ
Our first game of the round of 16 took us to Kairos Junction with no immediate fireworks by either side. In a fairly uneventful early game, Maru’s 2-1-1 met a roach wall and was deflected. Maru wouldn’t give up from here though, taking an upgrade lead and harassing further with marine – medivac. Soon a tank was added into the mix and Maru began to assert his dominance on the match. Catching the zerg player unawares with a drop in his main, further damage was done. With Impact still only on roaches, a push met a tank wall. With 2-2 finished for Maru, Impact quickly tapped out to give Maru an assertive game one.
Game two saw another denial of the zerg third in the early game. Maru opted for a 1-1-1 cloaked banshee instead of the 2-1-1 seen last game. Impact was caught without a spore crawler and lost a massive 10 drones initially, another five drones shortly after when a second banshee joined the fray. Impact was behind in supply and Maru pushed onto Impact’s fourth, cancelling his base. Maru continued the push and fended off the army of Impact. Going as much as 50 supply up Maru steadily advanced forward until a gg was called by Impact. A dominant first series by Maru.
Maru 2-0 Impact
Patience vs Bunny - PvT
Whilst Maru played straight up, Bunny had no intentions to copy his style against Patience. A proxy barracks was paired with a engineering bay blocking the natural, also stealing a gas from Patience. This placed the game in an awkward state. With the barracks flying home, the game looked to stabilize with both players expanding. An oracle and phoenix were followed by adept glaives, in an off meta decision for the match up. Fourteen adepts went into the natural of Bunny, killing fourteen workers whilst Patience took a third base. Bunny, sensing blood went into a counter push but failed to break into Patience’s third with the Protoss player showing great forcefields. Patience failed to go into any splash damage however, researching glaives, charge and blink in a wacky tech path. With some liberators in tow, Bunny pushed into Patience one last time, taking the very off meta game one.
Game two saw standard openings by both sides, with no weird tactics pulled by either side. Patience once again went into an oracle, with Bunny going into early tanks, looking to push the meta with an early push. Phoenixes, partnered with chargelots and oracles were the name of the game for Patience, with an intense fight upcoming. Bunny positioned well but Patience held well, resetting the medivac count and pushing us further into the game. Bunny seemed perplexed on how play against Phoenix, with a high marauder and mine count, sending a double drop straight into the arms of phoenix. Bunny looked desperate and the boys were pulled but met a wall to send this series into a decider.
Cyber Forest saw a proxy pylon by Patience after normal openings by both sides. Sadly for Patience, Bunny’s reaper scouted the pylon as we once again saw a stargate followed by a quick twilight council. Blink was the tech of choice by Patience this time around, with Bunny looking for some quick damage with a tank, cyclone and a bunch of marines. It was scared off by Patience, with both sides engaging in some sloppy engagements near the base of Bunny. Both players stabilized and Bunny pushed. With Patience once again caught with no splash damage a couple of decisive moves saw Bunny take great trades against the pure gateway force, taking the series to face Maru in the winners match.
Bunny 2-1 Patience
Bunny vs Maru - TvT
With Bunny never able to take a series of Maru in six attempts, the odds were in Maru’s favour for this TvT. Bunny went into a quicker command centre, but an attack by Maru with two reapers and a hellion put the pressure on Bunny, killing some marines and taking the momentum advantage. Bunny was unperturbed though, taking a third command centre early on, content to play the long game with Maru. Both players sat back until Maru moved into a frontal push, taking a superior position to slow Bunny down. Both players went for a trade and with interference matrixes flying everywhere Maru emerged victorious with a higher marine count, placing him one map away from the round of eight.
Maru looked like he wanted to head home early with a two barracks proxy on Kings Cove. The reapers threatened but Bunny never looked in danger, both players settling into the next stage with natural command centres. Natural command centres turned into third command centres, with both combatants playing a very passive, expansion focused game. Kings Cove features three bases fairly close together and both players seemed to want to utilize the easily defenceable positions with tanks. A quiet few minutes followed, until Bunny pulled the trigger and moved out at the 12 minute mark. A big three minute siege ensued, with Bunny failing to find much of a chink in Maru armour despite a 20 supply advantage. Another push at the 17 minute mark saw liberators added into the mix but Maru refused to die, barely holding on. This theme contuined, another ridiculous engage by Maru saw him clear another army, taking the game well into the 20 minute mark. Finally with another push Bunny found the game, Maru finally tapping out but showing his dominance to Bunny in his refusal to die.
Maru wasn’t done with his proxy reapers though, showing the exact same build as game two. However the same story unfolded, with Maru not able to find damage. Both players moved into a carbon copy of the last game with zero aggression and quick third command centres. The first change of the game saw Bunny push out into Maru’s third. With a slight distraction Bunny pounced, killing the third of Maru and placing Maru on the backfoot. Maru looked to counter but hit a wall, Bunny hitting a sharp counter to once again kill Maru’s third. Maru was the overwhelming favourite for the group but 50 supply down, he was forced to tap out. The FreecUp Studio exploded in applause, as Bunny advanced to his first ever quarter final in the GSL, sending last years titan Maru to play the winner of Impact or Patience.
Bunny 2-1 Maru
Bunny advances to the quarter finals.
Impact vs Patience - ZvP
The losers match promised to come thick and fast, with both Impact and Patience known for their aggressive tendencies. As expected we saw a strange opening, Patience blocking the natural of Impact before further postponing the third with a cybernetics core. Patience looked to keep up the momentum with an oracle finding five drones, before moving into glaives. Any thought of a big attack was waived off with a scout by Impact, with Patience instead opting to harass with the adepts and take a third base. The few adepts Patience made did some more great damage, finding six more drones to further bite into Impact’s economy. Having gone into roaches, mutalisks were next on the cards for Impact. However a good scout by Patience saw him prepared, forcing Impact into hydralisks and lurkers. The zerg player then tried to put pressure on Patience, looking to out maneuver his Protoss opponent. It was held well by Patience however, who took good engagements at every turn, chasing back Impact onto his own creep with a tonne of immortals backed by sentries and archons. Impact was in trouble, pulling everything he had to try and stop the onslaught. It would be Patience who held out though, taking the first map.
The second map saw similar openings coming out from both players. Another five kill oracle was followed by a three gate adept timing and a third base. Instead of the mutalisks, Impact looked for hydralisks and seven dropperlords to make a move. Looking to drop the main as he pressured the front, a fantastic move by Impact baited the recall into the main base, then turned to kill the third, killing twenty probes and placing Impact on the front foot. Seeing a heavy immortal count by Patience, Impact went into heavy production of mutalisks, hoping to catch Patience with minimal anti air tools. Despite denying a fourth, Impact failed to find much more damage, setting up a contain and keeping Patience stuck on three bases. Brood lords would be the next tool for Impact. With Patience double expanding, the brood lords pushed in. With no choice but to engage, Patience cleaned everything but the brood lords, with broodlings raining down to send the elimination match into a decider.
With it all on the line, the cannons came out from Patience. In a similar style to what we saw against Rogue, a pylon block on the natural was followed up by cannons at the third. It looked like Patience could have killed the third but his cannons targeted zerglings instead of the vital hatchery. Impact threatened to bust into Patience’s base with zerglings but the game stabilized with Patience sitting over 20 supply down. An archon drop looked to do some damage but in a crazy circumstance Patience ran straight into queens and spore crawlers, not even unloading the archons before losing them all. Such a crazy mistake would essentially spell Patiences end in the GSL this season, with Impact moving into mutalisks to take the gg and move onto the final match against Maru.
Impact 2-1 Patience
Maru vs Impact - TvZ
Our final match of the night saw the rematch of the first match. If the first series was anything to go by, Maru would take another easy 2-0 here. A pool first by Impact offered the chance of a cheese, but it would Maru taking the offensive with the hugely popular but somewhat off meta battlecruiser build. A roach attack met the cannons of the battlecruiser and fell apart, with the battlecruiser quickly teleporting across to fire away on Impact. Having had time to prepare though, Impact was prepared, losing only minimal amounts. Maru had assumed the advantage though, holding a slight supply lead as both players moved into muta ling bane and marine marauder tank respectively. Maru held an advantage but after a couple of minutes of constant fighting, such an advantage was tough to see. Both players were relentless and at times it was hard to see who had the ascendency, with both players throwing themselves at each other. With over 40 mutalisks dying, after a grueling few minutes, Maru pushed and toppled Impact, winning the insane tug of war that was game one.
Game two saw another pool first into expansion from Impact, in what was possibly a blind counter to a three barracks proxy. Both players settled, with Maru heading into a 2-1-1. Just like earlier in the night though, Impact held strong. Maru wasn’t finished though and as another two medivacs and soon after two tanks joined the battle. Maru held constant pressure on Impact, pushing hard to try and find a hole in Impact’s defence. Despite some scary moment, Impact held strong for minutes, pushing wave after wave back. One overextenstion by Maru to kill Impact’s third was enough to finally push back and set Impact on the front foot. With some smart banelings run bys Impact continued to dent Maru’s economy and the game once again set into a see saw motion, with both players constantly clashing. It truly was a classic TvZ, a far cry from the opening series of the day between these two players. The game dragged into the 20th minute mark with neither player hitting the 200/200 mark and this time it was Impact sending constant pressure into Maru, looking for the decisive blow. Wave after wave came, but come the 23rd minute it was one wave too many, as Impact tied the series 1-1.
As the series went past 12:00 KST, Maru and Impact put their lives on the line in this final game. Maru went for a hellbat timing whilst Impact went for a popular nydus play. Whilst it seemed like the nydus was a certainty to complete, a clutch defence stopped it just in time, with Maru also killing seven drones with hellions. Impact was behind and was forced into drones. He managed to get to 70,but found himself way behind in army as a result. All it took was a simple push by Maru to push through Impact’s small force, cementing his place in the final eight by the skin of his teeth.
Qualified to the Quarter Finals: Bunny, Maru
Series of the Day: Maru vs Impact Deciders Match
Game of the Day: Maru vs Impact Deciders Match Map Two
GSL Code S continues tomorrow with TY, GuMiho, soO and Rogue in the group of d(eath).
All pictures courtesy of AfreecaTV.