When MLG (Major League Gaming) announced the player swap program with the GSL (Gom Star League), there was a lot of discussion. Was MLG getting more out of the deal? Were the foreign players getting the short end of the stick with only a Code A placement? Regardless of how you felt, everyone was excited to see a cast of pro Korean players come down to participate at MLG Dallas: MMA, Moon, LoSirA, and Bomber; and then, as if that were not enough at the last second Bomber had to drop out (for visa reasons) and was replaced by the Kratoss himself oGsMC. Had the God of War arisen to deny foreign players even this tournament?
MC would be placed in what was known as the group of death: Ret, SeleCT, NonY (Tyler), eventually ThorZaIN, and Gregory IdrA Fields; with the first match on Friday being MC vs IdrA. As a fan of both these players there could be no match more exciting for me, but as a foreigner myself I felt a little bad for IdrA. Having your first match against the two time GSL winner and arguably the best Protoss on the planet, is not a position to relish. Still, I wasn’t going to miss this game:
The game starts cross positions on Metalopolis with MC spawning in the 3 o’clock position and IdrA in the 8 o’clock position. IdrA tries to go for a fast expansion, but MC micro’s his Probe to delay him. IdrA throws down Pool/Extractor while microing two Drones to kill of MC’s Probe. The strong micro of IdrA forces MC to pull off the Probe without first dropping a Pylon, giving him the fast natural expansion. Idra gets out some early slow ‘Lings and the crowed cheers as he takes down the scouting Probe. In a style I’ve come to associate with Fruit Dealer, IdrA takes a very early third (6 minute mark), while MC is just finishing up his natural. This is a fairly late expansion for MC, but a minute later we see why: MC’s thrown down a Starport. IdrA’s 3 bases combined with his move towards a Roach army now is going to leave him very vulnerable to early Voidrays.
MC is very clearly going Voidrays in response to IdrA’s third, and even rallies the Starport directly to IdrA’s third. Luckily, IdrA’s already build an Evolution Chamber to get +1 Ranged for his Roaches, and as MC’s Voidray leaves his base it passes by one of IdrA’s overlords. IdrA immediately responds by throwing down to Spore Crawlers at the newly finished third base, and brings up his second Queen for defense. The Voidray gets a few hits in before that second Queen arrives and forces it back.
Regrouping, MC starts pushing out a number of Phoenix. We saw this strategy before in GSL March in the finals of MC vs July. MC got an initial Voidray and followed it with 5 Phoenix. At that time July countered by going for Hydra drops against MC, who was over invested in air and unable to muster a defense. IdrA looks like he remembers this strategy as he’s just finishing up his Hydralisk Den and starts researching Overlord Drop and Speed in response to seeing Phoenix from MC hunt down an Overlord. IdrA pulls his three Queens to his main, but 5 Phoenix means MC can lift all three at the same time and use his Voidray to bring them down. After losing his three Queens IdrA tries to counter with another Queen and his first two Hydras. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to drive off MC, and IdrA is forced to rely on his Spore Crawlers and sacrifice hit points off his Roach Warren. Ultimately, the Roach Warren survives, but MC keeps all his Air units.
Having been successful in his harassment, MC switches to Twilight Counsel + Robo. IdrA has formed a nice Roach army which he’s augmenting with Hydras. Unfortunately MC has gotten his Robo bay down and he’s turning out Colossus. The observer catches IdrA loading up for a drop and MC moves out his Stalker/Sentry/Zealot ball. MC got a number of Sentries early on so, he’s rolling in Force Field energy, plus Blink recently finished. The Stalkers blink up and catch a full Overlord forcing IdrA to drop. Tons of Force Field’s lock up IdrA’s army as MC brings up his first Colossus, and IdrA’s Roaches start to disappear followed by his Hydras. Things are not looking good for the Zerg player as his army is evaporating…
And then something Amazing happens. MC’s early investment in Air has left his ground army too light. Even with a great split, there are too few Stalkers and only a single Colossus, where as IdrA just has too many units. MC is forced back and IdrA is streaming in units off four bases. IdrA loads his units back up and drops into MC’s main! MC hasn’t had enough time to build up enough units, and IdrA manages to snipe the sole Colossus while working a second drop in MC’s third. MC is able to fend off the drop at his main, but loses his third in exchange. MC manages to stabilize with 2 Colossus and force IdrA back to his fourth, but he doesn’t have the momentum to take it and rushes back to defend his bases. IdrA pushes again now with Roach/Corruptor to mask a drop. IdrA doesn’t have the army to take MC’s force, but he can take out the Colossus and does. Meanwhile the drop takes out most of the Probes and MC’s main, and now on 2 base MC tries to take the gold expansion; but IdrA is on 5 bases now with 3 extra Macro Hatcheries, and he denies MC’s gold expansion, and then pushes the natural with Ling/Roach and reinforcing with Hydras, MC is forced to GG.
IdrA would go on to beat MC 2-0, and take first place in group play. However, MMA would beat IdrA in the winners bracket (before going on to take 1st), and in the Loser’s bracket IdrA would once against face off against MC. In the MLG rules, if you face someone you’ve faced before in the same tournament, MLG’s extended series kicks in. This means that IdrA starts their second match 2-0 in a best of 7. Unfortunately, this is the point where Jeff Goldblum’s plans all fall through and Damon Wayans wins… The Koreans took 1st, 2nd, 3rd, with IdrA coming in 4th. While many Foreign players can clearly compete on the level of top Koreans, it looks like they Koreans are still better… for now.