This past weekend, Blizzard held the biggest Starcraft 2 event of the year namely the Starcraft 2 World Championship Series Global Finals, taking place at Blizzcon.
(note this is a recap article featuring some of Blizzcon’s events, there will be spoilers!)
I will recap on some of the more notable players, the best series and more…
An amalgamation of the best Starcraft 2 players this year came together to battle it out in some incredibly epic 1v1 games. The WCS Format is a new format that has only come into existence this year, it has been welcomed by mixed feedback. The WCS system is simple, Blizzard has established three Premier Tournaments, each in the major SC2 regions namely that of WCS Korea, WCS Europe and WCS North America. There are three seasons per year, the players compete in their respective region (however players from Korea, EU, NA can participate in other regions if they want to) and then the top four per region at the end of the season play at the season finals. Bar the money, the entire point of these events is to get WCS points and then come the end of season 3, the top 16 players in WCS points qualify for the global finals.
The global finals brought together a very diverse group of SC2 pro’s, some new, some old, some Brood War legends. Unfortunately for foreigner fans, only Naniwa – Swedish Protoss on team Alliance – advanced to the global finals and he was quickly stomped by a Korean zerg in the form of Soulkey, a WCS season 1 finals winner. There were 15 Koreans at the event however they qualified because they were the best so, maybe the foreigners will have better luck next year! The event itself was spectacular and well organised. The main stage had two booths whereby the players who would play for the Main Stream participated.
The more notable players that qualified for the global finals were namely:
Jaedong is a BroodWar legend, often cited as the best Zerg (if not the best player) in BroodWar closely rivaled by Savior. Since 2007, Jaedong managed to win four major titles, lead his team to a Proleague title and keep up an astounding win rate, at times his win rate was as high as ~75% which is insane at a Professional level of play. Jaedong’s play has always been that of fury personified, he does relentless aggression and never lets his opponents breathe and he did the exact same thing at Blizzcon. Jaedong’s current win rates are rather impressive however it must be taken into account that at times he has been competing against weaker players as he participates in WCS NA whose player base is considerably weaker than that of WCS KR however he showed at the global finals that he can take out the best.
Overall winrate: 156-91 – 63.61%
Zerg vs Zerg: 49-15 – 76.56%
Zerg vs Terran: 46-29 – 61.33%
Zerg vs Protoss: 61-47 – 56.48%
INnoVation is a no-joke player, he was mediocre in Starcraft 1 but he came out with force when he switched to Starcraft 2 : Heart of the Swarm. He is both a brilliant strategist and an incredibly mechanical player, he came onto the scene and used Widow Mines to seemingly break Zerg vs Terran dismantling incredibly talented and previous WCS KR champions and making them look terrible with his insane micro and brilliant Widow Mine Control. INnoVation has a string of podium finishes behind him this year and notably won WCS finals season 1. INnoVation is like Jaedong in the respect that he is very aggressive whilst also being very talented at Macro play (or macromanagement – namely referring to managing your bases’ economy with respect to workers, spending your minerals/gas etc…). INnoVation’s strength is his mechanics, he often does the same thing however his execution of it is what forces other players to make mistakes and whilst they make mistakes, he doesn’t miss a beat…
Overall winrate: 134-58 – 69.79%
Terran vs Terran: 35-31 – 53.03%
Terran vs Zerg: 51-15 – 77.27%
Terran vs Protoss: 48-12 – 80%
Dear is an incredibly talented player whose macro and crisp build orders often grab him the win. His ability to plan builds for his opponent and to sometimes whip out new builds that no-one has even seen make him a force to be reckoned with. Dear is no push-over and his strategical play and clinical macro style are frightening. Dear has performed incredibly well recently as he only participated in WCS KR in season 2 and has come out winning not only the Season 3 KR finals but also the world finals for WCS Season 3, banking him enough points to catapult him to the Grand Finals. Dear only participated for WCS in season 2 and qualified through Challenger League whereby he came 5th-6th in the WCS Season 2 finals, hence his achievement of reaching the global finals is incredible as he had ~1/3 the time of the other players to do so.
Overall winrate: 73-37 – 66.06%
Protoss vs Terran: 25-10 – 71.43%
Protoss vs Zerg: 22-11 – 66.67%
Protoss vs Protoss: 25-16 – 60.98%
As you can see the event had some very tight games with some incredible upsets. Namely the fact that duckdeok who won WCS EU this year managed to knock out INnoVation in the round of 16. This was hardly a foreseeable event as many anticipated that INnoVation would trump the whole tournament. I will recap on the series many thought was the best.
Clash of Old vs New – Jaedong (Z) vs Maru(T):
This would be a tough series for Jaedong as ZvT is not his strongest and Maru’s multitasking is off the charts. Maru manages to always trump Zergs by simply splitting their attention and forcing mistakes however without further ado, lets take a look at the games. Maru is relatively young becoming a SC2 progamer at the age of 13 whilst Jaedong has been playing Pro Starcraft (BW/SC2) for nearly a decade.
Game 1 began on Derelict Watcher with Jaedong spawning in the bottom left and with Maru spawning in the top right. Jaedong opened up with a very risky play as he went for a 10 supply spawning pool. This was not a allin as Jaedong has researched Maru and Maru often opens 15 supply Command Center which is somewhat unsafe to an early pool. Jaedong rushes zerglings to his opponent whilst Maru opens 15 Command Center, Maru spots the zerglings and cancels his Command Center and blocks off with a Command Center and Barracks as part of his wall. Maru doesn’t take critical damage however the forced cancel on his expansion has really delayed his build order. Jaedong continues to harass the wall, pulling back injured zerglings. Maru then decided to take a 3rd Command Center to catch up as Jaedong is going into heavy droning and Maru wants to keep on even terms economically. Maru tried to do a marine push out to try deny creep spread on the map however Jaedong catches the marines with his zerglings and Maru loses map vision. At around 10 minutes, Maru tries to establish a third however Jaedong denies Maru’s third base with zerglings and banelings. Maru cannot challenge as his stim is not finished. Jaedong realises that Maru’s stim is very late and he goes for a speedling/baneling flood, Maru barely holds on but takes damage and is confined to 2 bases. The game then continues with Maru only managing to establish his third at around thirteen minutes whist Jaedong’s third base has been unchallenged. Jaedong then progresses to Ling/Baneling/Mutalisk play and takes a fourth base. Out of desperation, Maru tries to do a “doom drop” into Jaedong’s base however Jaedong’s mutalisks catch Maru’s medivacs and Maru loses them all and then GG’s!
Game 2 was on Akilon wastes with Maru spawning in the top left and Jaedong spawning in the bottom right. Maru opens safe this game and goes barracks into gas to get out reapers. Jaedong does the standard play and goes hatchery first followed by a spawning pool and gets gas for zergling speed. Maru pressures with the reaper but Jaedong already has 6 zerglings and takes minimal damage. Once the reaper is low health and has to run out of combat so that it can heal (Reapers heal when not in-combat), Jaedong sneakily runs his 6 zerglings to Maru’s natural where Maru is trying to make his Command Center (he went CC on the low ground). Maru has a second reaper at the natural ramp but is not paying attention and Jaedong kills Maru’s reaper, with no defence at home. Whilst this is occuring, Maru lost his reaper at Jaedong’s base so Maru now has no defense. Jaedong’s six zerglings delays the Command Center for roughly 30 seconds. To compensate, Maru makes a third CC. Jaedong scouts the third CC (which is relatively greedy as his build order is delayed) and as such goes for a baneling bust. At around 7 minutes, Jaedong is on two bases and cranks up zergling production. At ~:10, Jaedong makes a ton of banelings and busts the natural wall of Maru at 9 minutes whilst constantly producting zerglings. Maru loses his hellions to the banelings/reaper and all his SCV’s (workers) at the natural. Jaedong then continously floods in units and Maru is left at 12 supply and must GG out. Jaedong now has a 2-0 lead in a best of 5.
Game 3 was on Bel’shir Vestige with Maru spawning in the bottom right and Jaedong spawning in the top left. This was a very standard game on a map that many consider quite Terran favored in Zerg vs Terran as there are many attack paths and medivac drop routes. Maru mixes it up and opens with a very old Wings Of Liberty build namely that of Hellion/Banshee. Jaedong scouts this with an overlord and produces extra queens and spores. Jaedong is holding the aggression fine and has a faster third base but then at 9 minutes, Jaedong gets very sloppy and pulls drones to attack the hellions, Jaedong proceeds to lose a ton of drones thus making Maru’s build order choice of Hellion/Banshee effective.
Maru who has established his third command center during all of this then begins to add on barracks however little known to him, Jaedong is going mutalisks and Maru has little to no marines and thus no air defence which could be game ending. Maru gets somewhat lucky and spots the Spire with a cloaked banshee and puts up turrets (anti-air defence) in time to defend against the mutalisks. Maru then does the usual 11:30 pushout of Marine/Marauder/Widow Mine/Medivac (a 3-base bio style popularised by INnoVation) and establishes a contain on Jaedong’s third, thus preventing droning and delaying Jaedong’s fourth. Maru gets very cost efficient trades with his units but eventually he must back up as Jaedong breaks his contain. Jaedong then tries to drone up whilst Maru waits for +3 attack and +3 armour upgrades. Maru denies Jaedong’s fourth with medivac drops whilst harassing Jaedong’s supply lines.
Jaedong however comes back into the game by doing a very broodwar-esque style of counter attacks whereby he attacks the natural with speedling/baneling and harasses the main with his mutalisks. Maru loses a ton of scv’s however manages to kill the fourth base of jaedong and drops the natural of Jaedong. Maru tries to establish a fourth base but Jaedong denies it with his mutalisk/ling/baneling army. Maru eventually takes a more defensive 4th base and once his 3/3 is done, he begins to push out for the killing blow. Despite Jaedong’s best efforts, Maru’s constant pressure and harassment has forced Jaedong to produce units non-stop and not drone effectively as such he is sitting on no minerals and roughly 2K gas and only on 1 attack and 1 armor upgrades. Jaedong eventually has to take a fight but Maru’s 3:3 bio/mine composition proves too tough and Jaedong has to GG. Maru brings it to 1-2! The game was very close and could have easily swung either way at key points.
Game 4 was an incredible game and according to a poll on TeamLiquid, many think that it is one of the best games of the year. Before I go any further, I suggest if you watch any games from WCS Global finals, you watch this one. The First Person View VOD of JD/Maru can be found, along with the caster commentary HERE (the game isn’t 2 hours, its roughly 40 minutes; that’s just extra).
The map was Frost with Maru spawning in the bottom right and Jaedong spawning in the top right. Jaedong does the standard hatchery first into spawning pool and gas. Maru opens with a barracks to ensure he doesn’t die to any early pools however he doesn’t get his gas soon after which is indicative of reaper play and instead makes some marines. Maru takes his natural expansion with a Command Center on the low ground. Jaedong then makes a very sloppy mistake and loses his scouting overlord to one of Maru’s marines which is as Tasteless (a caster) states: “Unforgivable”.
Maru then goes double gas and opens with two factories, opting for double factory hellions and getting blue-flame. Blue-flame increases the damage of hellions and makes them quite efficient against zerglings, this is a clever meta-game play from Maru as Jaedong often skips roach warren preferring a more ling-centric style of play. Jaedong however scouts the double factory and evacuates his drone and makes a roach warren to produce roaches to defend against the Hellions. Maru makes a couple of key errors and allows lings in allowing Jaedong to scout what Maru is doing (namely going 3-base /marine/marauder/medivac/widow mine) and killing SCV’s. Jaedong realises that Maru has delayed this build by opening blue-flame hellions and as such Maru will be weak, Jaedong goes for a roach-baneling allin and Maru is barely prepared, Jaedong does lots of damage however Maru manages to survive as he prepared just in-time but he is behind economically. at 14 minutes, Jaedong then starts a Spire and expands everywhere. Jaedong prepares spore and spine crawlers to defend against any drop play. The game goes on for a long time and Jaedong transitions from Roach/baneling to ling/mutalisk/baneling again.
Jaedong drones heavily whilst Maru tries to recover and goes widowmine/marines/marauder/medivac and some defensive tanks (incase Jaedong continues roach production, which he doesn’t). Jaedong has almost full map vision and continues to do his broodwar-esque style of harassment and applies constant pressure to Maru’s 3rd and fourth base supply lines. There are a number of tense moments as Maru nearly runs his entire army over Jaedong’s burrowed banelings (which he burrowed during the harassment). Maru tries to drop Jaedong but Jaedong catches a ton of medivacs and Maru is now more behind in army supply.
Jaedong now with roughly 5-6 bases transitions into Ultralisks and tries to take a fight in the middle whilst Maru is trying to stabilise on 4 bases. Jaedong finishes 3/3 and tries to hit the timing, Jaedong tries to attack with mutalisk/infestor/ultralisk/baneling/zergling however Maru’s unit control is incredible and he manages to hold and take the fight. Maru is now in an ok position however the economy difference is just too high and Jaedong ends up finishing the game by making Broodlords and Maru has no answer as his viking count is too low. Maru tries to base trade but ends up losing his army to a massive pack of banelings.
This was an incredible game and my summary does not do it justice, watch the VOD linked above. Jaedong’s incredible multitasking ends up winning the game and Maru plays so well to come back and take the engagement in the middle after being underprepared to Jaedong’s roach/baneling allin. This was in my eyes the best game of the tournament and is a must-see! Jaedong wins 3-1!
My impression of WCS 2013 Starcraft 2 Global Finals (/blizzcon)
Blizzcon was incredibly well done and besides featuring great players and lots of very intense games. It also featured the best casters of Starcraft 2 (namely day9, Apollo, Artosis, tasteless etc…) however I do wish they had Khaldor there too. The planning was great with little time between games (its really annoying to wait virtually an hour between games in a best of 5, this has occurred before!). My only qualm is that I had to stay up till 4am on Saturday and Sunday to watch the games as the event was held in North America however there is not much they can do about the timezone difference. Overall the event was in my opinion, the best Starcraft 2 event of the year!
I hope you enjoyed my recap and if you are interested go watch the Global Finals yourself in the links provided. Until then GL HF!
[Images belong to TeamLiquid.net, Blizzard or their respective owners]