WCS America marked the last foreign hope for the rest of the world to have a chance at getting someone to Blizzcon. There were many ways in which WCS AM could’ve panned out, Snute being the biggest contender for the foreign hope position, but alas this was not to be. The first two quarter finals saw the Queen of Blades Scarlett and HuK stand off against the giants that are Heart and HyuN. Both games ending in a 3-0 in favour of Korea and therefore breaking any chance of seeing a foreign representative at the global finals this November.
Heart vs. Scarlett [3-0]
The first game between Scarlett and Heart went a little out of control; after a failed Hellbat push where Heart pulled five of the boys he focuses on his production and moves out with Marine, Marauder, Tank composition. Scarlett however had been focusing on trying to get ahead economically by getting a 3rd, upgrading, going Roach Bane and a Spire to carry her to the late game as quickly as she could. This ultimately led to Heart Stimming to win and he just rolled over the little forces she had, ending the first game.
Game 2 was a bit more complex, Scarlett opting for Pool before Hatch and trying a quick aggression push. On Heart’s end he goes double Reaper to stop any chance of a Ling runby and sets up well for the push, using Ebay’s at the Natural wall off and laying down two Bunkers. Scarlett tries to sneak a pack of Roaches out of her Natural knocking down the rocks but Heart scouts that really easily and takes them out before they can do damage. As Scarlett is still only on 2 bases she knows she has to attack and tries to break Heart’s wall using a Ling Bane push but is forced to engage before Speed finishes and doesn’t deal any real effective damage. As she did very little production damage Heart can march out like a repeat of last game and just use his 2 base play to his advantage and walk on through to bring this series to a 2-0.
The last game between our two players is on Merry Go Round where we once again see Scarlett open Pool first, while Heart adapts a more Polt-like build, heavy on the Medivac drops and hunting down Overlords with a lone Viking. Heart’s scouting has really done him justice as Scarlett hasn’t been able to sneak anything past him and this game is no exception, he knows when he can drop and deals a sufficient enough amount of damage. The final push is an upgrade advantage to Heart with Stim while he also drops the Main and as Scarlett has been harassed all game there is very little she can do other that GG out and focus on next season.
HyuN – HuK [3-0]
While everyone is proud that HuK got himself to the round of 8, his first ever WCS round of 8 appearance, he hasn’t taken a single map off of HyuN either time they’ve met in their careers so far. So needless to say the expectation wasn’t high, especially with HyuN being the number 1 seeded player for Blizzcon right now.
In the first game HuK tries a cute hidden Dark Shrine but it gets seen by a scouting Overlord of HyuN’s. This means HyuN just rushes to get Overlords and denies any real damage or threat it could have posed, while HyuN is sticking to his name as the Roach King going for a mass Roach timing. Over the remainder of the game HyuN does a good job at denying HuK his 3rd while continually running Burrowed Roaches into the main Mineral Line of HuK stopping him from moving out, and building a big enough of an army on only 2 bases versus HyuN’s 3 to defend the final push. The first game goes to HyuN rather convincingly.
Loading in to Merry Go Round for the next match and HuK tries to Cannon Rush however it fails and pushes HyuN into an economical lead. HuK tries to go up to 3 bases to try and gain some of that back however HyuN, the same as last game, fixes on a heavy Roach play and denies the attempted expansions. The Zerg player knew that HuK would only have Gateway units so defending against a well positioned Roach bust wouldn’t be easy and it leads him to a 2-0 over the Canadian.
In the final match HuK tries for some early aggression play, knowing that so far he has just been attacked and ground down by HyuN, but HyuN catches the Mothership Core in the middle of the map and knows something’s coming. HuK tries to get up to 4 bases to recover from how behind he is now but it is too late, HyuN ran up to 4 bases as quickly as any Zerg can and started producing Mutas to lock HuK into his base. Then it’s back to the same old story where HyuN keeps harassing the expansions while locking HuK’s army into the Main and wearing him down until he simply outproduces HuK.
Bomber vs. Pigbaby [3-1]
This being our first match of the night watching two Korean giants battle it out, all eyes were set to see the aggressive and sometimes stubborn play of Bomber go against the slightly unorthodox and cute play of Pigbaby. Pigbaby tried an Immortal allin but the fact that Bomber had played rather defensively and the fact that Pigbaby’s Force Fields weren’t well placed meant the Terran could target down the Immortals and hold the attack. Bomber prepared for the second wave of Stalker’s and held it, knowing he was ahead getting a 3rd and eventually crushing the remainder of Pigbaby’s forces in the middle of the map.
Next up is King Sejong Station and it starts off with an Ebay block from Bomber, which is quickly dealt with by the Chrono’d Zealot of Pigbaby. Although Bomber threatens a few drops, Pigbaby has his forces in place to protect so that the drops never happen, plus a failed Hellion runby and Bomber really doesn’t have the economical lead he was expecting. This game could’ve swung his way, however a very bad engagement outside the Natural of Pigbaby where Bomber simply didn’t have the Viking count to deal with the Colossus meant that the Colossus’ pretty much steamrolled over everything and won Pigbaby the game bringing this series to an even 1-1.
Nimbus rolls around and Pigbaby goes for a proxy Stargate into Oracle play, on the wrong side of the map. This means he loses all benefit of proxying it and commits too heavily. He deals little damage and Bomber isn’t the type of player to think when ahead, get more ahead. His idea is when ahead, go kill your opponent and he does just that. Ramps up the production, delays his 3rd until he pushes out and crushes Pigbaby. A whole game lost as a result of a silly position for his proxy that he placed without scouting Bomber.
Our last bout between these two is a bit more of a scrappy game with both sides taking heavy losses in engagements. There’s an attempted drop by Bomber but an Overseer see it being loaded and Pigbaby pushes it away with ease. After a while Bomber commits to a straight push and destroys the 3rd of Pigbaby, but this means he will definitely have a Photon Overcharge available on the base being attacked and this is where the losses start to take hold. A few minutes later and Bomber is pushing again, due to a heavy Viking presence through this entire game the Colossus that Pigbaby has built together quickly gets diminished and results in an amazing micro battle on Bomber’s half, bringing this series to a close 3-1 in favour of Red Bull’s Bomber.
Polt vs. HerO [3-2]
These two have a pretty hectic history spanning back quite a while. The total score between the two is 23-15. They’ve met a lot, all the way back to Wings of Liberty and all over the world. That showed in the first game. HerO had Polt’s number and knew he had to shut down Polt’s multi-pronged drop play and that he did. The Commander couldn’t even get a single drop all game and was kept busy by constant Zealot runbys and pressure, when you get an aggressive player like Polt on the backfoot he tends to not know what to do and that showed here. 1-0 HerO.
As you’d expect, next was King Sejong Station and it was also the game where the stream dropped; RIP in pepperonis. Polt scouts an early Twilight Council so we know Blink play is coming, but HerO once again backs it up with Zealot harassment and it seems to be something that Polt struggles to deal with as he falls further and further behind. There’s nothing to fualt Polt for mechanically as he’s getting the right composition to deal with this however as his economy is rapidly being diminished it’s hard for him to actually have the funds to build anything, that paired with the fact that he can’t be aggressive as his drops are being deflected and Zealots are cornering him into his own base, mean the game is really over and it ends as you’d expect with HerO going up 2-0.
However, it all starts to change in Nimbus. HerO gets the better spawn, to the left of Polt, meaning drops would be easier for him, however Polt really picks up and starts being the Nexus Sniper we all know and love. Showing how good Polt truly is he masses a strong Viking count disabling HerO from really going into Colossus play, and immediately grabs himself a Ghost Academy zoning out any Storm potential. The drops are the real MVP’s and that’s all she wrote, the comeback begins.
This is when we start to see Polt getting into the head of HerO. Blah, blah, blah, 3Rax opening, blah, blah, blah Blink Stalker. Very early on Polt sneaks his forces past some Blink Stalkers and walks them into the Natural of HerO, this is when HerO has a decision to make. Either commit to a basetrade or pull back, he hesitates before moving back to defend and that’s the killing blow. Polt already has Stim and Combat Shields and he walks right over the army. 2-2. It is nearly over.
The last game of the night and it’s a decider. A dead heat. A battle of the titans. This is a culmination of all the matches beforehand. Harass on both sides. Failed attacks and drops and it comes down to micro in the end. HerO choose High Templar as his Tech of choice and it seals the deal, it’s down to Polt’s micro and unfortunately for our Protoss player Polt performs best when he’s behind. The splits. The concave. The stim. The win. Polt brings the whole event to a thrilling 3-2 finish and advances on.
So overall all our Semi Finalists are Heart, HyuN, Bomber and Polt. 3 Terrans and a Zerg. Our two Canadians are knocked out and it leaves us with a Protoss-less Finals day. The matches were amazing and I’d highly recommend checking out the VOD’s whenever you get the chance, but there’s more to come. And the Finals are poised to be some of the most intense games we’ve seen all year, and with it all to play for, with Blizzcon on the line and coming up. We’ll see some StarCraft for the ages.