Monday, February 28, 2011


I know that, given the way that the races were designed in Starcraft 2, it is always in the best interests of zerg to focus on their economy early, so that they can come in later in the match, with the full force of the swarm. Protoss and Terran can rush early and if it fails, still find a way to recover, but for zerg, falling behind early usually means you can never come back. As they always say in Starcraft 2, zerg has to always stay one base ahead of it's opponent.

Since I began watching the GSL last year, I've started to follow ST_July or Julyzerg, who was a professional SC1 player, even winning the OSL three times, and is sometimes known as "The God of War." His story was made interesting by the fanboy mentality of Tasteless and Artosis, who adored July from his SC1 days and would speak of him in hushed and reverent tones while casting his games. He was knocked out in Round of 16 by oGsMC in GSL 3, and got to Round of 8 in the January Code A matches and was eventually able to break into Code S in the Up/Down matches that followed. He made it through and started GSL 4 in Code S.

Although he did very well, and making it into Code S was a big feat in and of itself, July wasn't showing the God of War powers that Tastosis kept bestowing him. Ironically, they called oGsMC, the Protoss who beat July in GSL 3 "the Kraitos Protoss" who is the title character from the series God of War. And in GSL he seemed to be more worthy of the title.

One thing that July has shown me so far in the GSLs is that he can be hyper aggressive in the early game. This hasn’t always worked out for him, as zerg isn’t meant to do it, and my brother hates it when I talk about wanting to see more zergs take control of the game early and not let Protoss or Terran dictate things by whether they choose to rush or not.

Last week I watched LiquidHaypro v. IMGanzi in the Code A matches and it showed me why some of the conventional wisdom on zerg needs to change, and how easily the “one base ahead” need can be used against zerg. Haypro expanded like mad on Terminus in order to try to stay ahead of the GanZi, he lost so many hatcheries that even Tasteless couldn’t keep track anymore. The new commentator Kelly had mentioned that GanZi loves to drop and can sometimes do more than two drops at once and he showed that very well in this match. Zerg would win every engagement in the middle, but GanZi just starved Haypro out, by constantly denying his ability to expand, and also using the drops to keep Haypro from engaging, and forcing him to divide his mind and decide whether to divide his forces (which he rarely did). I’ve often heard that the late game belongs to zerg, but this match showed how that can be denied. The better that Terrans become at multitasking in the late game, the worse it will be for zerg. And although the new massive GSL maps make for epic games, they make it difficult to impossible for those with a large central force to be able to stop harassment. Haypro showed that weakness in the game, by not being able to split his units or defend himself, and GanZi made better use of his race’s adaptability and the fact that with every drop he would be able to do plenty of damage before the first speedling got there to defend.

In last night’s Code A, a similar thing happened to LiquidRet, who was better than Haypro at stopping the harassing or at least minimizing it, but still fell to a similar starving out strategy against Slayers_M. On a night where many a zerg was slaughtered and the first three matchups were taken 2 -0 by Protoss or Terran, in the final round a zerg was finally able to beat a Protoss, but only by creating a massive Muta ball which could one shot pylons and canons. The zerg ended up losing though.

The GSL Code S started last week with the “Group of Death” which had two players who are considered by most to be the best players of their race, IMMvp (Terran) and oGsMC (Protoss), and someone who revolutionized zerg in SC1, but has yet to prove himself “god-like” in SC2, ST_July. I felt bad for the remaining player in the group oGsHyperDub, who stood in the shadow and would be shadow of all the others, and struggled in the matches to prove himself.

July had made this more interesting by wanting to be in this group in order to take out MC who beat him out of GSL 3. Although July lost to MC, who easily made it out of the group on top, most everyone who was watching the group of death was probably blown away by the fact that it was July and not Mvp, who moved on to the next round. MVP won the first GSL Code S tourney in January, becoming the first Terran to do so by defeating MarineKingPrime.We. His win rate was phenomenal in SC2 for the past few months, massacring zergs and being known as unbeatable against Terran as well.

But on the first day of the GSL, July beat MVP twice to move on, both times by being aggressive early, the first time failing miserably and then coming back, the second time, by being very very lucky, and attacking at exact moment he should. In the first match, July got his banelings into the main of MVP but did very little except killing a supply depot, a tech lab and no SCVs. His economy in shambles, he tried to rebuild, but MVP was clearly in the lead and Tastosis was already calling it for MVP. MVP pushed too early into the main of July, thinking him to be weaker than he actually was. The push failed, and although July lost quite a bit, MVP lost his advantage. July came back with mutas, and attacked again with speedlings and banelings and broke MVP.

The second match, on Metapolis, July once again went for early aggression, intending to baneling bust MVP. MVP walled in with two barracks, and did not notice July waiting outside his main when he lifted up his buildings to move them around. July had already attacked, not knowing that the buildings were lifted up. When July waltzed right into the main, with all of his units intact, he actually hesitated and turned around, not sure what was going on, and if there was some trap waiting for him. He only turned around for a moment and then pushed back in, easily massacring MVPs units and SCVs. Most players when they lose they stare off into space for a bit or shake their head and mutter to themselves as they unhook their keyboard or mouse, MVP put his head down on his keyboard and didn’t move.

I’m looking forward to see how July can do in the next round and to see if he can really make it to the top of SC2.

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