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Can the exciting rise of the underdogs, team ZeNEX, keep moving towards a 2012 HOT6 GSTL Season 2 victory? Led by the fresh-faced warrior Life, they will face NHS. Winner gets out of Group A, loser gets eliminated!
Game 1: NSH_Freaky (Z) Vs. ZeNEX_Pet (Z)
We start the series off with Freaky and Pet. Pet is a relatively unknown player, where as Freaky has become infamous for his heavy infestor play.
I’m curious if starting with a Zerg against ZeNEX is wise, considering their rising star Life is currently on a 14 game winstreak against Zergs. Could opening with a Zerg allow Life to come in and immediately start building momentum? Time will tell.
The builds start a bit differently, but end up at the same place Speed and Bane Nest finishing at the same time. Different tech paths emerge when Pet decides on getting his lair tech earlier, while Freaky favors a fast melee upgrade. Further tech progression has Pet settling for a roach timing attack and Freaky getting Infestors.
Once Pet gets the upgrades for his roaches, it’s time to move out. Cleverly dodging a scouting Overseer, Pet gets as much surprise out of his roaches as possible before moving out. Unfortunately for him, a Ling runby from Freaky kills a lot of Drones, but he presses on. Pet is met with a stiff defense. Well timed Infestors and Lings emerge from their eggs exactly when needed, and with plenty of fungals, +1 Lings, and a little bit of help from his Drones, Freaky is able to hold.
As the blood and fungals fade, we’re left with Freaky at a 40 to 22 worker advantage, with Pet mustering yet another attack. With even more Infestors to defend with, Pet is repelled, and is forced to lick his wounds back at home.
Both players take the next few moments to play passively, each one getting their 3rd. Pet is actually able to get back into the worker game, surpassing Freaky. How does this happen? Because Freaky just got 20+ Infestors. Twenty. And what does one do with so many Infestors? One does not simply walk them into Pets base. Freaky opts for drop play, and after a withering set of multi-pronged drops, Pet succumbs to a cloud of fungus, and many… many infested marines.
Game 2: NSH_Freaky (Z) Vs. ZeNEX_Avenge (P) Series is at 1-0
With one of the ZeNEX players dead, Avenge takes up the team banner. Now that he has someone to… avenge *ba dum chi*, will he be able to win his first 2012 HOT6 GSTL Season 2 match? (Shout outs to Wolf for the excellent joke)
The players go for the standard builds of the day, FFE for Protoss and Pool first for Zerg. Freaky chooses to only get 2 Lings in the beginning, which normally would be great for the extra drone. However, once he arrives at the front of Avenge’s base and finds he could slip in uncontested, 6 might’ve been a lot nicer. Regardless, he is able to cause Freaky a lot of lost mining time with constant Ling micro.
Stargate opening for Avenge, which Freaky is able to smell thanks to excellent Overlord placement, seeing the 4 gas. The air-harass does barely noticeable damage, and the players move on to Lair and Infestor tech Zerg side, and Colossus for Protoss.
Freaky spots Avenge moving out to the middle of the map, and uses his freshly researched drop tech to send a huge force right into Avenge’s main while he is away. Taking probe loses with no hope to get back in time, Avenge decides to go for the throat and initiate a base trade. Unfortunately, Freaky had prepared for this possibility, and a wall of Spines backed up by Infestors and Drop-Banes is able to clean up the threat.
Back at Avenge’s base, all infrastructure is completely destroyed. Avenge types out, and bitterly swallows his 3rd straight loss. *sadface*
Game 3: NSH_Freaky Vs. ZeNEX_Life (Z) Series is at 2-0
A couple things to note on the coaching/metagame level going into this match: ZeNEX decides for a ZvZ on Antiga Shipyard. This takes away NSH’s option of using it as a TvZ map later on in the series, which can be nasty for Zergs. A smart play that gives their star players, rising star Life and Code S player SuHoSin (also Zerg *AKA Line* as many advantages as possible.
Life. ZvZ beast (again, 14 game ZvZ win-streak. Wow!) All-Killer. Ladies man (maybe?) and nerd bad-ass. Can he do it? Is he going to be as solid has he was in the past two showings?
Life gets a Hatch first this game (in the past he has favored pool first) while Freaky goes for Pool. The beginning phase is basically symmetrical for both players, although Life does get a slightly faster Speed and Bane Nest.
Life goes for a Roach timing, getting Lair at 7 minutes and +1 for his Roaches. Freaky gets Infestors again. He really likes using Infestors. Like in his previous ZvZ games, Life tries to end it with that Roach timing we talked about, but he meets a wall of Spines supported by Infestors. He attempts to move in while the last few are building, and gets caught by fungals. He barely makes it out alive with a badly damaged Roach force.
The players go for 3rds, and Life tries to prevent Freaky from establishing his next base. Again he runs into the Spine/Infestor wall, which has been repositioned to the low-ground. He’s able to slip a few roaches by after taking another set of heavy losses, but cannot stop the 3rd. Going the opposite route, he decides to answer Freaky by taking a 4th.
From here on the match gets very chaotic. Freaky does a lot of innovative things with his Infestors. He uses Nydus to position his Infestors south of Life’s main across the gap, and shoots Infested Marines into the base. He also uses the same tactic to safely assualt Life’s 4th (in the middle of the map) from the high-ground from the NW main. While this is happening, Life drops Freaky’s bases, and scores some economic damage along with taking out the Infestor Pit.
The game ends abruptly when Freaky realizes he has taken too much damage at home and has too little energy in his largely Infestor based army and taps out.
The game ended so suddenly, and the pace was so frantic, that the MCs actually had a hard time distinguishing who GG’d. Analyzing the replay though, it’s easy to see why Freaky called the game. He literally only had Drones and Infestors towards the end, and was behind on supply the whole time once the action started.
Game 4: NSH_San (P) Vs. ZeNEX_Life (Z) Series is at 2-1
Every time we’ve seen Life come in and smash a Zerg players face in (after Avenge dies,) we’ve seen him to go on to get at least 2 more kills. With a 15th ZvZ win under his belt, it’s time for Life to do what he does best and take his team forward.
San and Life start the match standard, FFE for Toss, Pool for Zerg. Probe harass causes Life to get his first expansions at his 3rd, but will take the natural once he takes care of the Pylon that was placed there.
Life is able to get a Speed Ling into San’s base, running around for what seemed like forever in his main. Although he didn’t see anything, it did cause San to delay the additional Warpgates he was adding. Getting a robo as well, San goes for a Warp Prism build, loading up 2 Sentries and heading towards Life’s base while dodging as many of Life’s units as he could before setting up.
Because he had been spotted, San doesn’t attempt to FF the ramp of Life’s base, and instead gets into a nice position to harass the 3rd. Using FFs and the map architecture, he’s able to prevent a full ling surround, and kills 9 drones before taking off. Less obvious but still damaging is the fact that Life was forced to produce 20 additional lings, which could’ve been 10 more Drone or 5 more Roaches.
The follow up push containing 3 Immortals with +1 +1 upgrades and 10 Sentries is simply too much for Life. A disappointing end to Life’s night here, we didn’t get to see and same hype and momentum that Life was able to muster the previous nights.
Game 5: NSH_San (P) Vs. ZeNEX_SuHoSin AKA Line (Z) Series is at 3-1
ZeNEX looks just… demoralized after this loss. Their shining star, the guy breathing new… wow almost wrote life… ah what the hell. New Life (boom!) into the team has just been snuffed out after only managing to get one win. They need to get 4 more games before NSH gets 2 and there is only one player left on the bench that has shown results. The mood is grim.
Standard opening from both players, FFE and Pool. SuHoSin gets his 3rd before gas and San gets himself a fast +1 along with Warp Prism. He tries to get some work done with a clever bait, eventually locking the majority of SuHoSin’s forces up top in the main, but can’t get much damage in before he’s forced away from the natural.
SuHoSin’s map-awareness allows him to deny San’s attempt at a 3rd at an unconventional position. Followed up with a two-pronged attack with Infestors and +1 Lings, SuHoSin kills San’s 3rd again with burrowed Infestors laying down Marine eggs. This triggers aggression from San, who abandons his 3rd grabbing attempts. He instead moves out with a mixed force, supported by Colossus.
Although SuHoSin beats him back temporarily with 16 Mutas and a ground force, a wave of reinforcements along with great FFs and unit control smash through the Zerg defenses, and NSH takes their 4th game of the night.
Game 6: NSH_San (P) Vs. ZeNEX_Treme (P) Series is at 4-1
I would hate to be in Treme’s shoes right now. Having just seen your two best players get dismantled, knowing that you have to win 4 games in a row to prevent your team from getting eliminated!? I can’t even imagine the pressure and despair weighing down on him.
Treme decides to go for a Stargate build. Using his Phoenix, he sees (unfortunately for him) that his opponent is going for a 2 Gate pressure into Expo. Using a proxy Pylon, San starts his offensive. Treme is able to get back to his ramp just in time to save himself with a FF, stalling while he gets the forces he needs to retake his natural so he can expand.
Treme is behind. San’s expansion and Immortal are both up way before Treme’s. Thanks to the Stargate play that basically just served as an expensive way to scout, Treme is doing everything in slow-motion.
San takes this advantage and tries to turn it into a mid-game win with an Immortal push. Two waves attempt to crush Treme, but defenders advantage and good micro help keep him alive. Infact, San actually overextends and is forced to retreat, helping Treme get back into the game.
Both players build up their infrastructure, with both players almost mirroring each other except for slightly faster Colossus production for Treme thanks to an earlier second Robo Bay. He also still has that Stargate.
San moves out again while Treme is setting up a 3rd. What looks like a good engagement for Treme (starts with an excellent concave) soon favors San, who uses focus firing and superior control to take the game from team ZeNEX. Treme taps out and ZeNEX is eliminated, only winning 1 game.
NSH joins SlayerS (who beat Team Liquid, eliminating them from the GSTL) and move on from Group A. It was an unfortunate night. The games were fun, but the underdog story line of ZeNEX was cut short after the build-up of the past few days.
Fortunately, we can look forward to ZeNEX returning next season, where with some more team-depth, they could be a real scarey team. Team Liquid’s debut as an independent team was short, and not sweet. A lack of real practice time probably took a real toll on them though. It’ll be interesting to see what they can come up with next season.
And thus concludes Group A! NSH and SlayerS move on!
Make sure to tune into www.GOMTV.net for the beginning of Group B, starting off with TSL Vs. FnaticRC on June 4th
Thanks for reading, and make sure to comeback for more GSTL and other eSports coverage! Follow me at www.twitter.com/MLockey for #SC2 #FGC and other#eSports updates throughout the day ;D