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What happens when you pit two underdog teams together and have them fight it out? One rises to the occasion, and the other stays the underdog.
May 29 marked the premier of Liquid, teamliquid.net ‘s foreigner (non-Korean) pro-team. The site has had a partnership with oGs (a Korean SC2 pro-team), allowing their players to compete in GOMTV events, but this was Liquid’s first match as a fully independent unit. Walking into the studio that night, there team of five was noticeably tiny compared to ZeNEX, who had eight players and a coach present.
Considering the other teams Liquid could have faced, ZeNEX was a bit of a lucky break for them. ZeNEX’s performance has been lacking as of late, due to losing some key players, most notably Puzzle (traded to SlayerS) and Genius (traded to MVP.) On the other hand, Liquid would not be able to tap Liquid’TaeJa, who was traveling and didn’t make it to the studio in time to participate. Considering the Zerg heavy line-up of ZeNEX, having a strong TvZ player could of had a significant impact on the series.
Game 1: ZeNEX_Avenge (P) Vs. Liquid’Zenio (Z)
A pretty standard opening, ZeNEX_Avenge goes for a Forge Fast Expand and Liquid’Zenio opens 14pool. Avenge is able to delay Zenio’s expansion, who responds by quickly taking a 3rd in addition to his natural. Good scouting by Zenio reveals that Avenge is getting 4gasses fairly quickly, making Zenio wary of a possible tech heavy follow up. Guessing correctly, Zenio gets spores and prepares adequately for Avenge’s Stargate tech. Killing two queens and 4-5 overlords, Avenge transitions into Colossus and prepares to take a base and get his army ready.
With Zerg on 4 bases, Avenge makes a move to inflict some damage on Zenio. Hitting before Broodlords are ready, Avenge is able to take out the 4th and 3rd of Zenio before wisely backing off. Both players meet in the middle of the map and exchange armies. At one point Avenge could’ve made a risky move for Zenio’s new 3rd, but he decided to back off. It’s unclear if he would’ve been able to escape, but snapping up the 3rd when he had the chance could’ve made the difference in this game. Once Zenio is able to reestablish his economy, a flood of roaches, broods, infestors and lings eventually break down Avenge’s one-base economy. Avenge GGs and Zenio moves on to the next round.
Game 2: ZeNEX_Life (Z) Vs. Liquid’Zenio (Z)
ZeNEX_Life has a 10-1 ZvZ record. He is good at ZvZ. The game opens up with a hatch first from Zenio, and a pool/gas for Life. Life assumes the role of the aggressor in the early game, and soon sends 14 lings barreling directly towards Zenio’s base, who luckily opted for banes before speed. Although Life pulls off 5 drone kills and costs Zenio some mining time, his offensive is ultimately deflected, and the two players move onto the mid game.
Both players get Lair tech around the same time, however, they diverge radically from each other once Lair finishes. Zenio opts for a bit of everything. He gets infestors. He gets a third. He skimps on spine crawlers. Life gets roaches. And upgrades for those roaches. Then he attacks. Life’s little roach ball reaches the greedy Zenio seconds before his infestors pop, and thanks to some great splits to minimize fungal damage, Life overwhelms Zenio’s under-upgraded forces.
Game 3: ZeNEX_Life (Z) Vs. Liquid’HerO (P) Series is at 1-1
On Entombed Valley, Protoss can be very strong in a PvZ. It’s easy for them to grab and defend three bases. For Zerg, it can be hard to expand to and hold a 4th, let alone a 5th or more. Knowing this, Life decided to gamble big in the beginning. Going for 3 (THREE!) hatch before spawning pool, Life decided to take advantage of HerO’s likely passive standard opening. HerO had some options at this point. He could have cannoned the 3rd, went for a nice timing attack, but instead he seemed to play standard, getting +1 not especially fast, not getting any especially fast tech or economy.
Life continues his bold play, and gets a very fast Lair at 6:30 gametime. He follows this up with a hidden spire, and moves out with a flock of mutas to begin his harassment. He’s able to score 11 worker kills before backing off and switching tech once he see’s that HerO is going for HTs with storm. Proceeding onwards to Hive tech, Life is sitting on 5 bases to HerO’s 3. At one point, HerO gains some momentum after winning an exchange against Life and his broodlord backed army, but he overextends himself and runs an entire group of stalkers into a pack of crazed zerglings. Losing this force firmly puts the gameflow back into Life’s hands, and he proceeds to crush HerO with a superior economy.
Game 4: ZeNEX_Life (Z) Vs. Liquid’Jinro (T) Series is at 2-1
Life should be sitting pretty right now. He’s 2-0 and he just overcame what probably was his hardest match-up of the night (although Liquid’Taeje, who is 9-1 against him, would’ve had that honor if he was playing.) Going into this 4th game he has momentum and confidence.
Jinro opens up with reactor-hellions with a strong economic follow up. Life get’s really fast mutas. And Life wins. It’s a pretty simple game on paper, but considering how rare this type of opening tends to be now (Muta-Ling has been falling out of fasion lately) it’s hard to give Jinro too much flak.
Game 5: ZeNEX_Life (Z) Vs. Liquid’HayprO (Z) Series is at 3-1
Another ZvZ for Life, who is more than comfortable with this match-up. Like the first ZvZ of the night, both players ended up with relatively the same stuff going into the midgame, but Life finds a nice timing (like in the first ZvZ) and crushes. Life is on his way to an All-Kill
Game 6: ZeNEX (Z) Vs. Liquid’TLO (Z) Series is at 4-1, it’s win or die for Liquid
Life plays this match aggressively, and like the other games, ends up with a pretty stable midgame for both players. And like in the first game, finds a sick timing for his roaches to move in before a key part of TLO’s plan was put into place.
Life goes 5-0 and All-Kills Liquid. Final score is 5-1 for ZeNEX
ZeNEX is now on their way to fight SlayerS to get out of their pool, and Liquid is on the cusp elimination.