There are so many talking points regarding the final between Soulkey and INnoVation. How Soulkey come back from 0-3. How vulnerable INnoVation is against all-in. I will give my thoughts and share several things that aren’t mentioned on forums.
Let me start with my prediction. I predicted Soulkey to win it 4-3. It may sound like I come up with the prediction after the whole event was over. You can have your doubt, but I will explain why.
First of all, I rate both players equally in terms of skill and I cannot say who was the favorite. Although INnoVation is more celebrated than Soulkey, they are equally good. The final could come down to who can perform better on that day when it mattered. And I rate them equally in terms of big stage performance as both are the respective ace of their teams, and none has reached a final before. Map pool was another factor. However, I think the maps seem to be quite balance.
Then why I choose Soulkey instead of INnoVation to edge out the series? It is because zerg has a slight edge in terms of mixing things up in a BO7. Zerg has more all-ins than Terran. Symbol has showed case quite a few of the timing attacks and all-ins against INnoVation, and they are difficult to scout as the timings vary. On the other hand, Terran only has one all-in, which is 11/11 proxy two barracks.
Game 1: Star Station
There are two likely maps that INnoVation will use 11/11 proxy two barracks. One is Starstation, and the other is Akilon Wastes. INnoVation had said in the post-match interview after he used proxy two barracks on Star Station against Symbol that it is one of the favorable maps to do that strategy. INnoVation is a player who will choose to outplay the opponent in a standard game, rather than playing mind games. So I expect him to use proxy barracks on Star Station, simply because it is one of the better maps to do it. Furthermore, INnoVation showed that he isn’t afraid to do it in game 1 as he did against Flash in Ro16.
In the game, Soulkey didn’t scout it early enough and his defense wasn’t the best. However, what caught my attention was the position of the first bunker.
It is far away from the hatchery. Conventionally, the first bunker is built in range of the hatchery unless there are unique spots to abuse on specific maps. Apart from being able to attack the hatchery, you want to build the bunker closer to the hatchery because it makes it harder for the opponent to build a spine crawler. However, a near bunker is also more vulnerable to Drone pull. A farther bunker is more likely to complete. In the game, INnoVation just pulled back his Marines and SCVs when Soulkey tried to battle with his Drones and Zerglings. The Marines do not just kite better off the creep, the bunker served as a “safe spot” to fall back on. Moreover, it is easier to reinforce. However, I think that the bunker was slightly too far away. Ideally, the second bunker should be in range of the ramp and the hatchery, while the first bunker is in range to cover for the second bunker.
Game 2: Bel’Shir Vestige
INnoVation opened with 14 CC into Helbat drop. Soulkey scouted it and defended the drop without taking any damage. Thus, he was ahead from the opening. Soulkey chose to go for Roach and Hydralisk composition, while INnoVation opted for the usual bio mine.
The game went back and forth until INnoVation out-muscled his opponent. Everyone was saying the drop in the main was the reason why Soulkey lost. However, the main reason was that Soulkey did not reinforce as well as INnoVation did to the location where the battle occurred. INnoVation just won the game eventually as the advantage of each battle accumulated. Perhaps, the biggest mistake was the over extension outside INnoVation’s base whereby Soulkey should wait for the rest of his units as he was trying to hit a timing. The timing didn’t hit and he lost his Hydralisks.
Game 3: Whirlwind
The finalists played against each other earlier in the week in Proleague on this map. Based on my memory, they are 1-1 on this map in Proleague. If there is a map that they will play standard, this is the one. While INnoVation did what the whole world expect him to do (14CC), Soulkey mixed things up and did an early Zerglings Banelings aggression.
Everyone highlighted how well INnoVation defended against this strategy when the Zerglings went into this main. I want to point out something that most people do not notice. Basically for this build, Terran will build the third supply depot around the time when the first pair of Hellions is being produced. The question is, where should that supply depot be built? One, you can complete the wall off at the main ramp. Players often don’t wall off the main ramp after they lifted the command centre which was used to wall off. This is very vulnerable to mass Zerglings run by. There are only two Marines in the bunker, and nothing else (Hellions are in production). Thus, it could be a game-ender. In INnoVation’s defense, you also want to wall off the entrance at the natural asap. Therefore, from the second supply depot onward, you want to build each at the entrance of the natural. However, if you build the supply depots at the best possible time whereby you just barely get supply blocked, the Zerglings will hit before the wall is completed. For this particular detail, I have to praise Flash. He almost always wall off the natural by building the supply depots early. Although the supply cap is way beyond what is needed at that point, it prevents run by like how Soulkey did on INnoVation.
Game 4: DF Atlas
Soulkey did a three bases Roach Baneling all-in, which killed INnoVation. The community keeps pointing out that INnoVation, like most Terran now, does not build tanks, and hence is vulnerable to such all-in. As much as I agree with the argument, INnoVation did not exactly do anything wrong based on what he saw. In fact, he did as well as you can ask for to try to hold on.
Then, why INnoVation didn’t see it coming? Soulkey’s build was really good to begin with. The hatchery and pool timings were standard. He didn’t choose to get his gas after pool, because no Reaper arrived at his base. I was expecting him to get the third by 5:30, since he should know that INnoVation was doing a 14CC again. Instead, he took two extractors first, before he took the third hatchery at 6:00. He then built two evolution chambers. Based on conventional TvZ scouting knowledge, it tells you that this is a standard macro game opening. However, Soulkey did a +1/+1 speed Zerglings, speed Roachs and speed Banelings all-in.
Clearly, INnoVation’s reaction showed that he wasn’t expecting the all-in at 11:00. It is just too hard to tell if the zerg is doing such all-in. Even if you scan the main, you will see the lair and extractors. That can also mean standard lair tech. It is simply too hard to deduce what the zerg is doing.
Soulkey’s build was simply awesome.
Game 5: Red City
It looked as if Soulkey did the same all-in, but it is actually very different. INnoVation did his bread and butter 14 CC again, while Soulkey did a different build. He did a hatchery-extractor-pool opening, which was scouted by INnoVation. Soulkey then built his third hatchery and roach warren at 6:00. A baneling nest was built next. The all-in strikes at 8:30, which is different from the last game. Not just the timing that is different, there is no lair tech for the speed upgrade for Roach and Baneling. There is no +1/+1 upgrade too.
INnoVation saw the all-in coming and prepared by building two more bunkers at the natural and one more on top of the ramp. Could INnoVation react better? Maybe. But that will require him to change his build more than just building bunkers.
This supports my rationale for my prediction that Soulkey has a slight edge because of the possible variations of all-ins.
Game 6: Akilon Wastes
Like I have mentioned above, this is the second most likely map that INnoVation would use proxy barracks. He did it before against RorO in Ro8.
I am sure Soulkey was well aware of the possible proxy barracks. He scouted the location that INnoVation built his barracks on this map against RorO., before he eventually scouted the barracks in the game. I have to give him credit for actively scouting for the barracks instead of heading straight to opponent’s base.
INnoVation built the first bunker relatively farther than most players just like game 1. Interestingly, Soulkey made the decision to cancel the hatchery. In theory, Soulkey had a decent chance to defend against the attack without canceling the hatchery since he scouted it early. He then built two extractors and a baneling nest for a one base Baneling.
I have to be critical of INnoVation’s reaction here. First, he built two refineries and not a command centre. This was a good reaction. There is no reason to build a command centre if zerg chose to go one base Baneling. The two refineries were fine too. Tank is the perfect answer to Baneling and Zergling. However, he chose to get reactor Hellions instead. I was quite frustrated by what he did when I was watching it live. Even if he wanted to get reactor Hellions, he should pull SCVs out of the second refinery when the reactor was built. Second, the supply depot wall at the main ramp is problematic. It is normal to have three supply depot to wall off when you are doing a proxy barracks build. However, he built two more supply depots behind the three. That was bad.
His intention was clear. Wall off. The way he built his bunkers was also textbook style against a baneling burst. The problem is the two additional supply depots. They do nothing as they will get destroyed due to aoe burst damage. If he had gotten Tanks instead of reactor Hellions, he would have more Marines to defend. Furthermore, he would then have enough mineral to build three barracks to form the second wall. The result could be very different.
Game 7: Daybreak
What a way to retire the map.
The talking point was how INnoVation lost the three fully loaded Medivacs to the Mutalisks.
People were arguing how sloppy INnoVation was to do a drop like that when he knew that the Mutalisks were there. Yes, he knew the Mutalisks were there when they killed his Viking. However, rather than saying that was sloppy, it actually made sense. A player of Soulkey’s caliber would use his Mutalisks actively, and hence, the Mutalisks should not be there when INnoVation chose to drop. That is, the Mutalisks should be constantly moving around the map and not stopped there after killing a viking. Perhaps, if INnoVation didn’t know the Mutalisks were there to kill his Viking, he would not have dropped.
The deficit was too much for INnoVation to recover.
I am surprised that INnoVation did not do a Reaper opening. Particularly, I would expect him to use a Reaper opening in game 5 after Soulkey did an all-in.
Anyway, congrats to Soulkey. I hope these two can play each other in the Season Finals Final.