INnoVation’s 4-0 defeat in the WCS Korea semi-final against Maru definitely surprised me. So much has been said and discussed on forums about the four games. I am going to share my thoughts on the series.
I do not believe INnoVation is a “Hellbat Terran” (A “Patch Zerg” type of term).
He is the best in TvP and TvZ with or without Hellbat before and after Hellbat drop became popular. As for TvT, Hellbat drop is simply the best opening. You just have to use it in order to be at the top of the food chain. He was one of the best TvT players before the Hellbat metagame.
The best argument I can form is that INnoVation did not adapt to the patch as well as others.
INnoVation: 15 gas – Hellion expand
Maru: 12 gas – Banshee
I have the impression that INnoVation does not really like Banshee although it is his most used opening after the patch. So I expect him to use other builds if he finds another build that is at least equally good as Banshee opening. Prior to the Hellbat metagame, 15 gas is INnoVation’s favorite build in TvT. He used it in MLG when Heart of the Swarm has just been released, and later in Proleague season matches. In fact, INnoVation has used it even when Hellbat was the in-thing during the last season final. Thus, I actually expected him to use a 15 gas build in the series against Maru.
The question is, how well does the 15 gas build do against Banshee opening? It is a question that every TvT build now has to answer. I have previously broken down the various variations of a 15 gas build in TvT, and they usually involve some forms of drop attack. If you want to be defensive, you get Viking instead of Medivac. The first Viking should appear at around the same time when the first Banshee (12 gas) arrives. So you should have six Marines and one Viking to defend against the Banshee.
In my opinion, INnoVation did the best he could in the early game. He scouted a gas first build, and hence, did not send his Hellions across the map in case it is a Widow Mine drop into Banshee, instead of just Banshee. He positioned his Hellions at the edge and his Marines at the mineral line to anticipate the drop (Unsure where the Medivac may come in). The drop should arrive by 6:30. He only moved his Hellions out when the drop timing had passed (Deduce that it is not a Widow Mine drop). He did not get a third pair of Hellions that a 15 gas Hellion expand usually does, as the resources were spent on the engineering bay and turret. He then got a second Viking. In general, you want three Vikings as you can then two-shot a Banshee. In sum, it is impossible to fault INnoVation till this point, unless you want to argue that the build was not a good choice to begin with. That is another question altogether.
INnoVation then decided to make a Banshee. This is questionable. His Banshee is unlikely to do damage, or at least the damage is so minimal that it is not worth investing in. A Raven seems to be a better metagame choice. At this time, Maru started to move across the map with his Marines and Tanks, which ended the game. Could INnoVation hold if he did not make the Banshee? It is hard to tell, but a Tank certainly was the better choice given the circumstances. However, the more important question is, how would INnoVation know Maru did not expand and choose to all-in instead? This is a tough call. Even if you send the Hellions to scout and do not see the command centre at the natural, it could be in the main anyway. Could he afford to scan with the Banshee circling around his base? I doubt so. The best he could do is to position a Hellion in the path of a potential push. But still, he probably would not have the units to defend against it.
In sum, it could be argued as a build order lost. The Hellions were useless.
INnoVation: 13 gas – Defensive Raven
Maru: 12 gas – Marine and Hellion drop
Maru opened with 12 gas again, and was scouted by INnoVation. You basically cannot deny scout if you go for gas before barracks. INnoVation went for a 13 gas after barracks, which I assume he intended to go for Banshee. In the game, he got a Raven instead, which made sense. This suggested that he was expecting Maru to go for Banshee like game 1. INnoVation’s Banshee would be later than Maru’s Banshee. So by getting a Raven would be a logical choice.
However, Maru built a proxy Starport and prepared a Hellion and Marine drop. Could INnoVation have scouted it? He could if he sent a Scv around the map, but that maybe too much to ask for. The first drop did a reasonable trade. INnoVation pulled back his Marines and did not engage the drop immediately. This was not a mistake. First, you do not know what is in the Medivac, and it could be really risky to just A-move toward it. Second, the Raven was getting there.
Maru continued to make another Medivac, and more Marines and Hellions for a second drop. In the meantime, INnoVation was producing a Viking and a Tank. The drop was too much and ended the game. It is so hard to pick fault in INnoVation’s play. What could he did differently other than making a Viking and a Tank to hold that? No. Could he position the Marines to anticipate the drop better? No. Would it make a difference if he did not build a reactor and produce one more Marine? No.
Perhaps, the only thing that you can question is whether the Raven was a good move.
INnoVation: 14 command centre
Maru: Proxy 11/11 2x Barracks
14CC vs. 11/11 proxy. There can only be one result.
Unlike the last two games, I have to be critical about INnoVation’s choice here. One may argue that Maru is cheesing, so INnoVation should not go for 14CC. On the other hand, one may also argue that Maru will probably not cheese three games in a row. Let’s not talk about mind game, and just look at game 3 as an independent game.
14CC is arguably a weak build in TvT on Anaconda. It would be more reasonable to use it on Whirlwind, as it is hard to defend various types of aggressive builds on Anaconda. Furthermore, the Prime Terran players have a history of proxy barracks on Anaconda. For example, Maru vs. Trap and Byun vs. Dear. Marineking had also used an aggressive build against Bbyong that Maru used in game 2. It would kill 14CC too. INnoVation could have prepared better for the series.
INnoVation scouted outside his base for proxy, but failed to see Maru’s Barracks. Even if he had scouted it, he should still lose. 14CC was a bad choice.
INnoVation: 15 gas – Hellion expand
Maru: 15 gas – Hellion expand
Both used the same build that INnoVation used in game 1, and both had their Scv scout denied by the wall off. INnoVation built the command centre in the main, while Maru had his at the natural. Just a slight edge, nothing much.
Although both did the same build, INnoVation decided to be aggressive and moved out with his Marines and Hellions. When he noticed the timing of Maru’s Hellions, he should have known that they were using the same build. I would argue that his subsequent aggression was questionable. Maru had the defender advantage given the nearer rally point.
INnoVation then made an obvious mistake. He stopped Marine production after the barracks passed the reactor to the factory. For this build, he should produce two more Marines from the naked barracks, before adding a tech lab. He would then have eight Marines, six Hellions and one Medivac for aggression. Subsequently, swap the barracks on the reactor, and the factory on the tech lab for Marine and Tank production. Then get a third command centre. In the game, Maru did just that and had an advantage for optimising the build.
Maru pushed INnoVation’s push back with better micro and more units. INnoVation’s Marines got killed by Maru’s Hellions and things just snowballed down. INnoVation’s choice to make a Raven did not make sense either. Maru was decisive to keep up the aggression and dropped accordingly given INnoVation’s army position. Well played.
INnoVation deserved to lose this game. He made a tactical mistake to continue aggression when Maru was using the same build. That was the critical mistake. The Marine production hiccup just showed that INnoVation was not 100%.
It is hard to fault INnoVation for the first two games. However, the last two games were disappointing. Although it was a build order lost in game 3, the defeat should be attributed to poor preparation and build choice. The defeat for the fourth game was due to the tactical mistake to continue the aggression when Maru had defender advantage.