At the end of Saturday's competition, before the 2v2 mini-tourney started, most the Spring Arena competitors found themselves in a kind of limbo as the MLG sorted out who had done well enough to make it into the brackets for the Sunday finale. With three players tied at 3 match wins and four losses, the MLG had to start looking at individual game results and who had beaten who over the first two days of the Arena. On the hot seat were two of the most unlikely suspects: DRG and PartinG.
The two had met earlier in the day, and PartinG (Won Lee Sak, Korean Protoss) overcame DRG (Park Soo Ho) for the first time in his playing career. With some of the best force fields of the weekend so far, PartinG was able to outmaneuver DRG in two successive games, including a brilliant Game 2 where he broke apart a Brood Lord army with blink Stalkers supported by a Mothership. PartinG also took a game off MC (Jang Min Chul, Korean Protoss) after losing their first two matches, in what will likely prove the weekend's cheesiest win. While chatting with MC, PartinG slipped a probe into MC's main to build proxy gateways just outside of MC's vision. MC conceded the moment the first zealots strolled down into his main.(opens in new tab)
Still, PartinG found himself eliminated at the end of the day due to the fact that he had lost to Heart 3-0. However, his disappointing weekend paled next to HuK's (Chris Loranger, Canadian Protoss), who finished last in the Arena with a record of 1-6. He came into Saturday knowing he needed a run of victories to stay alive, but his first opponent was MarineKing (Lee Jung Hoon). HuK got off to a rocky start with a swift defeat on Entombed Valley, but the real heart-breaker was Game 2, in which it looked like he had MarineKing dead-to-rights. He caught MKP off-guard at his natural expansion on Cloud Kingdom, warping in Stalkers from a nearby pylon. MKP's defenders were quickly overwhelmed and nearly wiped out, and for a moment had nothing left but Medivacs. But he stubbornly hung on, and his upgraded Marines slowly grew in number as HuK's army grew less effective with each push. HuK was in a painful trap: the Medivacs were keeping the Marines alive, but he could not focus-fire on them because he desperately needed to reduce the damage he was taking from the Marines. Ultimately he hung around outside MKPs base for too long, and by the time he finally gave up on taking out the natural, MarineKing had an insurmountable lead.
At least there was no question about who was in first place (opens in new tab) . While MarineKing had failed to achieve his personal goal of winning every game and every match, an objective that seemed almost achievable at the start of the day, he remained comfortably in first place with a 6-1 record. His sole loss came at the hands of MC, whose own path through the round robin featured some surprising highs and lows. He triumphed over MarineKing and blanked DRG 3-0, but he also went 0-3 against Ganzi. One never knows quite what to expect from MC.
Today's bracket finalists are MKP (1st place), Ganzi (2nd), Violet (3rd), MC (4th), Heart (5th), and DRG (6th). MKP and Ganzi have first-round byes, and MKP will be able to select which of the first-round winners he will face. It's interesting to note that three of the finalists are Terran players, and it seems like more Terrans are going to school on MarineKing's games. They're not quite replicating his success, but it definitely seems like we're seeing more bunker rushes and SCV meat-shielding than we used to. It's working out nicely for Terrans, but it has to be eroding MarineKing's advantages as other players get more comfortable with countering his preferred tactics.
Today's matches begin (opens in new tab) at 2 PM Eastern, with Violet v. Heart and DRG v. MC leading off.
(Photo credit: TeamLiquid.net)