This is the second GSTL match I’ve been to since arriving in Korea and it is also the second Axiom-Acer game I’ve seen. It is week 13 of the 2013 Global Starcraft Team League Season 1 and this is both teams’ last match in the group stage. Axiom-Acer has already secured their spot in the playoffs and New Star HoSeo is already out of the tournament. If Axiom-Acer wins, they may be able to get a direct seed into the finals of the GSTL depending on MVP’s final game. If New Star HoSeo wins, then they will feel a little better about themselves after their poor performance throughout the season.
MATCH 1: Axiom Ryung(T) vs. NSH SSanaEE(Z) on Akilon Wastes
First up for New Star HoSeo is the zerg player SSanaEE, a new recruit who has not been able to secure himself a win in this season of the GSTL. Axiom Ryung has been an inconsistent player for a long time who has often managed to make it far in tournaments, but has never secured himself a win. In this season of the GSTL, he has performed very well with a record of 10-4 going into week 13 and an all-kill of Startale only a week prior to this match. Ryung is the obvious favorite and takes out SSanaEE in a very one-sided match.
MATCH 2: Axiom Ryung(T) vs. NSH Tassadar(P) on Whirlwind
Tassadar is a Code A player who has had some success in minor online tournaments, but has not secured a single win for himself this season in the GSTL. The game opens up with Ryung making a command center on the low ground and Tassadar opting for a proxy stargate oracle rush. Ryung holds off the harassment and quickly punishes Tassadar for not doing enough damage to his economy.
At this point, I’m starting to feel like I may see another all-kill out of Ryung. Although it would not be as impressive as him taking down Startale, it would be a huge accomplishment to have two back-to-back all-kills in the GSTL. Personally I’m feeling ambivalent about this possibility. On one side I am cheering on Ryung and would love to see him pull another all-kill, but I also want to see MMA and Scarlett play. Also 4-0 matches are not nearly as exciting as 4-3.
MATCH 3: Axiom Ryung(T) vs. NSH Madbull(P) on Red City
Madbull is one of NewStar HoSeo’s two players who can win matches for the team. He does not have an impressive record, but has taken a game off of LG-IM KangHo and Maru.Prime this season.
The game starts with Ryung on the offensive with a reaper expand against Madbull’s nexus first. Madbull spots the reapers in transit and immediately makes 2 stalkers to hold off Ryung’s aggression. Ryung then tries to deny Madbull a third expo, but Madbull defends without much effort. Ryung is still pouring in the aggression with a marine medivac drop into Madbull’s main. He destroy’s Madbull’s forge and denies him his weapons upgrade and Madbull cleans up the marines. The two players are neck and neck in supply and economy and are making equal exchanges in the middle of the map. They take turns being aggressive, pushing and counter pushing without either one taking a clear advantage.
Madbull starts sending hit squads of zealots to kill Ryung’s workers at his expansions and starts doing major economic damage. They are still having small engagements in the center of the map, but Madbull sends dark templar to Ryung’s bases and brings Ryung’s worker supply to half of his own. Ryung’s only chance to get back into the game is to destroy an expansion, so he attempts to snipe Madbull’s third, but gets stormed right before he can kill it. Madbull counters with a much larger army, and Ryung does not have the economy to reinforce in time, so he taps out.
MATCH 4: Axiom Alicia(P) vs. NSH Madbull(P) on Icarus
Madbull finally ends Ryung’s killing spree and was in great shape throughout match 3. He is now up against Alicia, a player with a few 2nd place finishes in foreign tournaments who has not had the best record in this season of the GSTL, only winning about half of his games, and getting very little time in the booth. His real advantage over Madbull is experience.
The match is over as quickly as it started. Once again, Madbull goes for an oracle opening, but is completely unprepared for Alicia’s stalkers. Without the proper defenses at home, Madbull taps out at the 8-minute mark.
MATCH 5: Axiom Alicia(P) vs. NSH Jjakji(T) on Bel’Shir Vestige
Jjakji is by far the most accomplished player on New Star HoSeo. He won GSL Code S back in late 2011 over Leenock at a time when Leenock was the center of attention for his incredible victory at MLG Providence. His time in the spotlight was over as soon as Code S was over because he could not follow it up with another major victory. In this season of the GSTL Jjakji has not performed very well with only 2 wins and 5 losses. It is looking like Alicia is ready to end this series and give his team the possibility of a direct seed to the finals of the GSTL.
Jjakji blocks Alicia from expanding to his natural with a half finished engineering bay while expanding to his own natural. Alicia is slightly behind in economy and rushes high templar and storm. Around the same time storm finishes, Jjakji is at Alicia’s front door with a 1-1 timing attack. Alicia has nothing to defend against this because he invested so much of his economy into very expensive units early in the game, so after a few good storm dodges by Jjakji, Alicia has to tap out.
MATCH 6: Acer Scarlett(Z) vs. NSH Jjakji(T) on Star Station
Scarlett is a player I have wanted to see play since I arrived in Seoul. She has had a very impressive record in the west and I believe that her and Liquid’Snute have the potential to become the best foreign zerg after Stephano’s retirement.
Both players open economically with hatch first and command center on the low ground. Jjakji does a stim timing attack and Scarlett has poor map vision and does not spot the incoming attack until it is too late. Jjakji easily denies all of her attempts at obtaining a third base with straightforward attacks and some clever marine drop positioning. He continues to pour on the aggression contains her with a nonstop flow of marines and some very well placed widow mines outside of her natural while securing his own third base. Jjakji spends about 10 minutes with this aggression, very slowly inching into Scarlett’s natural, which she is struggling to defend. I’m sitting in a state of equal disappointment and awe and whisper quietly to myself “Just leave. You lost.” After losing much of her army to widow mines and being contained to only two bases 18 minutes into the game, Scarlett GG’s and Jjakji brings it to a game 7.
MATCH 7: Acer MMA(T) vs. NSH Jjakji(T) on DMZ
Anyone who has followed Starcraft 2 for more than a year will definitely know MMA. MMA could easily have been considered the best Starcraft II player in the world in late 2011 and early 2012. He won first place finishes at IEM, GSL Code S, and the Blizzard Cup all within three months. He has been relatively unimpressive in the last year and has not secured a first place finish since Iron Squid I over a year ago. He has not played many games at all in this season of the GSTL and is coming into this match with a 2-1 record.
This game has Jjakji and MMA going for similar styles of play. They are both trying to do aggressive drops. Jjakji successfully drops widow mines into the main base of MMA. MMA responds by sending hellbats, but Jjakji denies the drop with a well placed viking. The two of them are trying to hellbat drop each other, but are successfully holding off the other’s aggression until Jjakji finally lands hellbats directly into MMA’s main mineral line and kills 30 SCVs. MMA’s economy is in shambles and Jjakji walks right into MMA’s front door with hellbats and landed vikings securing his third win in a row, and his team’s second and last win of the season.
The win is very sweet for NSH. The team is smiling and happy for their teammate’s victories. They are in good spirits even though they have had a terrible losing streak. When the team scores are shown on the screen with NSH in second to last place, one of the members starts laughing and clapping. Jjakji has not performed well at all since his win at the GSL Code S over a year and a half ago. His matches tonight were incredibly well played and his hyper aggressive style shut down every opponent he faced. I like to think this is him coming back to top form because his Code S matches against Leenock were some of the best ZvT that has ever been played, but it may also have been a bit of luck or Axiom-Acer just being unprepared for his style of play. After the game I interview Wolf Schröder about his thoughts on New Star HoSeo, Jjakji’s play, and what’s in the future for Ryung.