The MLG Winter Championship at Columbus concludes today, starting at 10 AM Eastern and the Championship Finals commence at 6 PM Eastern. Before we find out who this season's top StarCraft 2 player is, however, we should revisit the action from yesterday.
One of the big storylines going into this tournament was Greg "IdrA" Fields' streak of bad competition performances. Columbus was an opportunity to put that behind him, and show that he remains a top foreign Zerg player.
He knew the stakes going in. Before playing Evil Geniuses teammate JYP on the main stage, Fields said he felt really good. "[The main stage] is where I should be, but after the last few tournaments I kind of have to prove that."
He proved he remains a dangerous opponent, taking apart an early attack from JYP with ease before beginning to take over the map with a Roach army. He seemed to get lost in the mid-game, however. He didn't tech up, sticking to roaches well past their expiration date, and he also let JYP harass him with a steady stream of warped-in Stalkers via a proxy pylon. It wasn't a mortal threat, but it was surprising how much of his strength he frittered away to those piecemeal attacks.
JYP moved up to blink Stalkers and force fields, and his timing was simply better for the rest of the match. The defining moment of the match came when he caught Idra moving basic banelings into the middle of the map, and JYP's Stalkers caught and killed them just as their speed upgrade finished back at Idra's base.
The second game was even worse for Idra. The Shakuras Plateau let JYP block his attack lanes easily with force fields, and once again Idra invested heavily in low-tech units. He tried to transition to mutalisks, but he was hemmed in and his raids could not turn the tide. The end came as he repeatedly charged the front of an advancing Stalker army with Roaches and Lings, while a bloodied Colossus stood on the flank, causing havoc.
Idra faced Polt in an elimination match in the evening, and things went even worse as Polt raided his base with Hellions and Marines early on. Idra could never recover, and he went out of the tournament.
Before playing JYP toward the end of pool play, DRG was asked what he thinks about people calling him the greatest player in the world. He'd already waved-off translation to answer these questions in English. He smiled and said, "Yeah, they are correct. Other players are just like a piece of cake for me."
The crowd, always charmed by a Korean answering in English, went nuts. StarCraft audiences seem to love a good heel-turn, and they love a winner even more. DRG is willing to be a cocky executioner, and the results usually bear that out.
While he went 2-1 against JYP, his two victories were dominant. He controlled the map with creep, pinning JYP inside his base and steadily wearing him down. JYP, who looks so good with a blink Stalker force, was basically denied the opportunity to play his game. His sole victory came when DRG went all-in on a premature attack, and JYP's counterattack drove deep into DRG's base and overran his defenses. But DRG showed no such impatience in the third game, and JYP went down inside fourteen minutes.
From what I've seen so far of the tournament, I would place my money on a DRG - MarineKing Final. There are a lot of great players in this tournament, but DRG and MKP have been dominant in their matches. Still StarCraft 2 tournaments are endurance affairs, and all it takes is a stumble in one round to end a player's run. But DRG and MarineKing don't seem like they're about to stumble.
One other player I will be keeping an eye on is Fnatic's Rain. He played a really good series against Parting, losing it 2-1 but it easily could have gone the other way. The casters were talking like the game has passed Rain by, but he was showing some very strong Terran play yesterday against Parting. Maybe he had a good day, maybe he's poised for a return to form.
What stood out for you yesterday at the Championship? What matchups are you looking for from the finals, and what early match-ups should we be sure to catch?