Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Starcraft II IEM Pyeongchang Tournament

From Alisaunder 

The IEM Starcraft Tournament at Pyeongchang, Korea, played out this week as part of the Winter Olympics exhibition sports.

Scarlett ( the lone female among the top StarCraft players in the world) upset Serrel, the winner of last week's WCS tournament at Leipzig, in a bruising zerg v zerg victory. Serrel had a Road to the Olympics video however that was very good. All the player promo videos are on YouTube at ESLTV.

Elazer fought and won a hard set against Zest who also received a video, leaving just one Korean still in the tournament, SoS, a 3 time champion. At one point Elazer made a push taking his army across the map like a stampede of thunder, and when the push expired and I could look away again at the corner map, somehow between microing a three front war he had managed to also cover over half the map in creep. Another match, he expanded to such an extent that he was mining nearly every node on the map that Zest was not already on in stunning fashion. 

At which point I had to get to bed and will catch the vod later, with Bly vs Special and SOS vs Kelazhur.

Bly from Ukraine, the oldest player by far at 29, had a very good video as well, but SoS might have had the best, about his childhood in poverty, in a village of 500 people picking rice on the family farm, watching others play StarCraft at PC Bangs. During this tournament, 8 years later, he became the highest earning StarCraft player ever, and alot of his earnings went to his family, buying them a car and things.

Bly vs Special was a very entertaining set, the only match up going 3-2 this far. Bly is known for unorthodox play, some call it cheese, but he has perfected it and everyone knows to expect it, and yet it often still works. And it did here, first opening with a Nydus Worm in Special's base then a proxy in game 3, but couldnt quite keep Special off balance though he came very close despite Special's Terran Nova units and Special went through to Round of 4, yet again. 2018 continues Special's meteoric rise since spending two years in Korea at the BaseTrade House.

SoS crushed Special in the Round of 4, 3-0, with colossus drops into Special's base and incredible micro. He has been diligently scouting super early in every match up in this tournament. SoS has not lost a match thus far, going into the Finals against Scarlett. 

Scarlett, from Canada, moved to Korea several years ago and has made it into the Korean GSL League, a zerg known for her creep spread and very good but not expected to advance out of Round of 16. 

Match 1 to Scarlett, both going for immediate kneecapping attempts, clubbing SoS' last base , coming back with a better army to do it again and blowing his transport out of the sky before it can get to her bases and beating him over the head with lurkers, zerglings and roaches. 

Match 2 to Scarlett after another bruising match, both assaulting each other's bases, picking off harvesters with hit and run sniping micro, so much happening until Scarlett suddenly broke through and took the Protoss base.

Match 3 to Scarlett. Scarlett hid her second base, immediately pumping out zerglings and morphing an Overlord to drop them and a second set of zerglings, taking out his gateway wall off while the first zerglings ran wild in his base and SoS tapped out in a very quick match, leaving Scarlett to need one more victory in this Best of 7 match. 

Match four to SoS. Scarlett dropped 3 Overlords onto SoS locking him onto only 2 bases, seesawing back and forth attacking each other and pulling back to defend as they tech up. SoS' Immortals continue to be the back bone of his armies, pressuring her third to its bloody death, pulling back, pushing and reinforcing into her bases until she cant continue.

Match five to Scarlett. Scarlett sneaked 6 zerglings out of her base before his scout arrives, streaking through a hole in his wall off to take down his pylon , flooding zerglings into his base! Murdering everything! SoS down to 5 workers! 3 workers 2 1 SCARLETT WINS!!!!!!!

IEM Katovice tournament is in 2 weeks and at some point TotalBiscuit's next ShoutCraft Kings should be happening, maybe this weekend, and HomeStory Cup. 

The casters are going to extremes to explain the units and tactics to a potentially novice audience and were given an ESPN style digital marker board to use, but it feels good to have the usual crew and Smix. 

Smix looks great as always, PiG always puts in an effort and the makeup artist was on point, but the lack of a live audience hurt the feel of the tournament, and using the digital marker board was a little awkward but a good idea for the future.

The camera trick of showing two screens at once made both harder to see, without adding that much. An inset box or green screened Starcraft Pro overlay would have worked better perhaps. I like to see their faces during stressful points, but that is also when you need to see the action the most.

I did enjoy the graphic tricks between matches, adjusting the photos of the players so that the expected winner was a little larger, and the size changes fluctuating after every match. Especially as there were several upsets as there always are.

Feels really great to see Scarlett win her first ever big tournament, I've waited a long time to see it, and I don't want it to be lost without notice.

I missed several matches as the tournament took place while I was at work but I intend to go back for them.

Seeing what the new meta has evolved into, and new ideas is always good, and I may have never seen a Nova unit used before, it's so rare until Special leaned on them several times.

Thank you for reading this far and enjoy your week.

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