CJ Entus’ herO grabbed a decisive win at IEM Singapore in the StarCraft 2 tournament…
The Intel Extreme Masters is a long standing and renowned tournament especially for StarCraft and the numerous other games it offers. This tournament (IEM VII – Singapore) was unlike any other with an unlikely hero beating the fan favourites. This hero (excuse the terrible pun) came in none other than the form of the CJ Entus’ Protoss herO (not to be confused with TeamLiquid’s HerO).
herO is no stranger to the competition having been a professional BroodWar player and now StarCraft 2 player and whilst the korean has been one of his team’s ace players in the team leagues and undoubtedly helped them win championships, he has not performed as well in StarCraft 2 individual leagues having only made one GSL Code S appearance where he was subsequently knocked out by RorO in the loser bracket.
He looked like a completely different player this time around at IEM where he managed to sweep the competition. There was a hint however that herO looked better than before as during IEM Singapore Korea qualifier, he managed to take out soO (A GSL runner up this year) 2 – 0, Maru (A GSL Champion this year) 2 – 1, Revival 2 – 1 and Hydra (A CJ Entus Zerg ACE and one of the better BroodWar pro’s) 2 – 1. That is a tough lineup to beat but herO looked on form with sharp timings and superp macro games but this was nothing like the level of competition at IEM with the top 8 being very accomplished players.
herO seemed to not care and destroyed MVP (The most successful StarCraft 2 pro to date) 3 – 0 in the round of 8. After this crushing victory, he set his sights on DongRaeGu (A “Destroyer of Worlds” as Artosis states in Wings of Liberty who is somewhat in a slump at the moment). This was once again a one-sided affair with herO destroying the Zerg 3 – 0.
The finals was a bit more intense and will be recapped below:
The finals was between herO and San (PvP), both are very accomplished players with most favouring San to win the tournament due to his impressive 66% PvP winrate as opposed to herO’s 56% winrate.
Finals Game 1
The finals got off with a bang on Frost with San opting to go for a stargate oracle opener and HerO somewhat luckily blind countering with blink stalkers. HerO however made a risky move and played aggressive with his blink stalkers and left his mineral line open wide to have all his drones ravaged by the oracle. San didn’t abandon his stargate tech and pushed out voidrays and enough gateway units to defend. herO having lost so much wanted to go allin but after scouting San more than prepared defense, his only option was to try play a normal game from behind. As one might predict, this ended terribly with San just capitalizing on his former lead. San 1 – 0 herO
Finals Game 2
The next game was on Bel’Shir Vestige. herO decided to open with a risky build in the form of a proxy-stargate oracle but it failed against San’s defense. After San defended the oracle cheese, he then went immediately on the counter and herO did not have enough units after his failed cheese strategy put his economy behind. herO was forced to GG out! San 2 – 0 herO
Finals Game 3
With herO down 2-0 in a best of seven, things looked doubtful for the CJ Entus protoss and many predicted he would lose after his crushing defeats to San in sets 1 and 2. Game 3 was on Whirlwind and starting off a little odd with both players opting for cheese strategies with San going for DT’s and herO going for oracles however neither could catch the other opponent by surprise (San had stalkers for the oracle and the oracle can reveal invisible units so neither can do much damage with their cheese strategies). herO was seemingly ready to go into a macro game as he took his natural expansion however San decided to go for an allin and opted to morph his DT’s into archons and try a archon/gateway push, the execution however was not optimal and herO defended excellently and upon realising San was so far behind, he GGed. San 2 – 1 herO
Finals Game 4
The fourth game opened up on Yeonsu as seen below:
San and herO both opted to go for the 2 gate safe opener on this map. herO however decided to go for an oracle again and San added on more gateways to prepare for an attack, San managed to sneak a proxy pylon in herO’s main and was seemingly about to kill off herO with his gateway force however herO managed to get a clutch forcefield at his main ramp to stop reinforcements from San and was able to defend his main and kill the proxy pylon. Meanwhile herO oracle was dealing major economic damage in San’s main. Having held off San’s allin, San was very behind and tried to go Dark Templar (invisible units which can melee attack) again in the hope of dealing economic damage and levelling the playing field however herO went blind detection preparing for this opportunity and was able to hold. herO was in a decisive position and managed to grab the win. San 2 – 2 herO
Finals Game 5
In the fifth game on Derelict Watcher, San went for an aggressive oracle opener, herO got somewhat lucky and went for blink stalkers and was able to hold off San’s cheese whilst also delaying San’s natural and applying some pressure to his main. herO was able to take his natural and grab a large economic lead and proceeded to tech up to more expensive units such as Colossus. San realising he was behind, went for a big gateway timing and landed some excellent forcefields to allow him to trade efficiently but herO was able to defend. herO then grabbed his third and killed off San with his army which was more tech-ed up and San regardless of his engagement was unable to defend his natural. San 2 – 3 herO
Finals Game 6
The tension was thick with herO being one game away from the IEM win. The last game was on Polar Night. The protoss herO opened with an early gateway into a DT opener however he realised that San was prepared upon scouting him and decided to not invest in lots of DT’s. They both took their natural and the game normalised. herO transitioned into robotics with a strong focus on immortals whilst San went into blink stalkers (most likely anticipating another oracle opener), herO hit a timing and with his immortal based gateway army he was able to dismantle San’s stalker based army. San managed to barely defend whilst herO ran away and grabbed a probe count lead whilst chronoboosting his third. San decided to try catch up by doing a two base allin however herO managed to defend the allin and dealed the final death blow by warping in DT’s and ravaging San’s economy. San had to GG out with no economy left and his entire army destroyed and herO grabbed the first solo league win of his StarCraft 2 career! San 2 – 4 herO
Overall the tournament was very well planned and detailed and herO looked like a complete player as he was able to not only execute the standard macro strategies but also hit timings with his cleverly thought out builds and finished the tournament with a 14-3 map score for the tournament which is insane at pro level play. The next big tournament to look out for is ASUS ROG which takes place between 6th and 7th December 2013!
The VOD’s for the tournament can be found here.
[Photo credits to Blizzard, TeamLiquid and their respective owners]