On the 18th of February 2016 I had the pleasure of attending a Loser’s bracket match of the Starcraft II StarLeague in the Gangnam (yes that Gangnam) district of Seoul. The event itself, featuring 8 top tier Korean players, was a great success, highlighting some top quality play from some of the world’s best Starcraft players. In this article I will give a roundup of each of the games played, which included a range of strategies and stunning games in all of the matchups of Starcraft 2, which is still a very fluid game in the wake of the recent release of the Legacy of the Void (LotV) expansion in November of last year, and the subsequent balancing which is ongoing. The matches were all best of 3, with the winners advancing to the next Loser’s bracket game, and the defeated having to exit the tournament. Everything was on the line!
Match One – ByuL (Zerg) vs aLive (Terran)
ByuL was not looking good going into this series. Like some other pro’s he appears to be struggling with the faster meta brought in by Legacy. Having come second in several major tournaments from mid-late 2015, he had yet to continue this run in 2016. Like ByuL, aLive had spent a few years competing in WCS America, but unlike his opponent couldn’t find form in his return to Korea. However he has been looking strong of late, and will be featuring in Code S in early March. With these two old rivals set to battle it out, it was sure to be an interesting series of games.
Game 1 – Ulrena.
The evening got off to a flying start with aLive dropping an extremely aggressive 5 barracks and no gas, not even walling off his main, all before two minutes. Ulrena is a perfect map for rush based aggression, and this all-in in the first match of the series was audacious to say the least. On the other side ByuL opened in a greedy manner, droning up heavily and expanding. aLive’s strategy came to a head at around 4 minutes, when he “pulled the boys”, bringing all his SCV’s and over 20 marines in a rush across the map, effectively ending the game before it even got going.
Game 2 – Orbital Shipyard
ByuL expanded quickly again this map, but moved into an early Roach warren for Ravagers to counter aggression, as well as insuring he had a Baneling Nest. aLive chose a pretty standard 2 Barracks Reaper opening, using his several Reaper’s to lightly contain ByuL and deny scouting. Behind that he threw down a very quick Engineering Bay and a third Command Centre, going for a Stimpack / +1 Attack upgrade timing. ByuL had a handful of units, and was able to successfully push the reapers back. However he had very few Zerglings and most importantly no Banelings, which allowed aLive to march up and snipe all the Ravagers, two Queens, 22 Drones and the Zerg’s third base at around 7 minutes. ByuL was able to clean the marines up totally, but a follow up medivac drop at the fourth, and the tank/ marine push that followed ended the game, massacring the 9 Mutalisk’s ByuL had manage to get out, and forcing the GG. aLive had taken the set 2-0 in a commanding fashion, highlighting and taking full advantage of ByuL’s early game weakness.
Match Two – Hurricane (Protoss) vs ByuN (Terran)
The next set promised to be an intense one, especially for ByuN. His story is a long and complicated one, but in summary this SSL season is the first premier tournament he has played in over two years, having focussed on online tournaments. He had been on the roster for PRIME, who had their own struggles and poor performances through 2015, including a match fixing scandal involving their players and coach, and the team has since disbanded. Having been suspected by the Korean e-Sports Association (KeSPA) of similar activities, ByuN had then moved to X-Team, a Chinese gaming clan, and stands as the only Korean on that team. This meant that he was barred from competing in the high tier KeSPA team competition Proleague, and as he failed to qualify for Code S it meant that SSL was his last shot at a premier title for some time. The tension in the room was palpable, with many of the crowd cheering for him as the matches began. Hurricane has been playing some impressive Starcraft lately, most notably in the PvP matchup, and although he has never had a top finish in a major tournament, he is definitely improving with LotV.
Game 1 – Orbital Shipyard
ByuN opted for a single Reaper opening, which was easily warded out by Hurricane’s Mothership Core. This denied scouting allowed Hurricane to place down a hidden Dark Shrine, whilst ByuN went for a single Barracks, Factory and Starport. An Adept drop around 4:30 game Hurricane the space to put down a third Nexus. Hurricane had spotted a weakness – a lack of Missile Turrets, and took full advantage by dropping invisible Dark Templar into ByuN’s base. By eliminating the Engineering Bay (with the +1 upgrade it was researching) and carefully splitting his Dark Templar, Hurricane was able to harass and pin ByuN down, denying a 3rd Command Centre and sniping supply depot’s to supply block his Terran opponent. With four bases against ByuN’s two the game was all but over, and though ByuN held on valiantly Hurricane simply built a far superior force, and after waiting for upgrades and several Archons he ended the game.
Game 2 – Ulrena
ByuN was in a tough spot, one game away from ending his dreams of a major win. An emotional player, many were wondering if he would tilt, or if he could dig deep and pull it off. He opened extremely efficiently, cutting both the Reaper to get a quicker Reactor. It was a great tactic, as on the other side Hurricane opted for a MSC / Stalker / Zealot rush. A masterful Supply Depot placement blocked a zealot and probe on the shortest path between the bases, and allowed him to place a bunker whilst Hurricane had to keep up his one base aggression, adding a Dark Shrine for defence. As Hurricane proxied a Gateway in ByuN’s third the Terran send a Widow Mine drop, managing to catch 6 probes and preventing mining. Hurricane continued Dark Templar dropping, but ByuN was able to ward them off with minimal damage whilst macroing up. Hurricane seemed to tunnel vision at this point, determined to end his opponent and advance in the tournament. He went up the ramp into several Siege Tanks, and lost most of his force in a poor trade. ByuN was able to push out, and whilst Immortal drops frustrated him, he caught Hurricane’s inferior force with a great EMP, enabling him to clean them up, move into Hurricane’s second base and force Hurricane to tap out. A frantic game, all of this action had taken place in just over ten minutes!
Game 3 – Dusk Towers
Hurricane opened with an expand and probe scout, which was luckily found and sniped out on the map by ByuN’s Reaper. Unable to see what the Terran was doing, Hurricane opted to throw down a quick third Nexus, and go for harass with three Adpets. He only got four SCV’s in exchange for them, and ByuN would quickly have revenge with a sixteen Marine drop. Without Pylons for Photon Overcharge and no Observers to see it coming Hurricane effectively gave up his 3rd Nexus and nine Probes. The Marines were eventually cleaned up, but not before taking several Stalkers with them, and damaging a few others. A follow up Marine/ Marauder/ Medivac push was fended off, but it soon became apparent that the Terran’s economic advantage would allow him to continue producing units to send across the map. It became a game of cat-and-mouse on Hurricane’s ramp, with ByuN dodging multiple Disruptor shots whilst slowly moving forward and chipping away at Hurricane’s forces. Eventually it became too much for the Protoss, who was forced to quit out, giving an ecstatic come-back victory.
When he's not in front of a screen he enjoys RPG's, Frisbee and four legged furry friends.
Latest posts by Denz (see all)
- Starcraft Roundup – SSL Loser’s Bracket 18/02/16 – Part 2 - February 29, 2016
- Starcraft Roundup – SSL Loser’s Bracket, 18 Feb 16 – Part 1 - February 29, 2016