INnoVation had once again bottled it at the biggest stage of the year after he put up a lackluster performance against the eventual runner-up Life. I know everyone is playing LotV, but I want complete this analysis since I have started a part 1.
He was the favourite to lift the trophy as he had been one of the best players and he had also just won the GSL. After his 3-0 victory against Zest in the Ro16, the expectation just got even higher prior to the quarter finals. It is uncommon for Life to be an underdog, but it seems justified in this case. However, to the surprise of many, his display against Life was extremely poor.
As I have discussed in part 1, INnoVation is far from as predictable as many think he is. His recent TvZ games against ByuL in both GSL and SSL show that he is capable of playing mech and bio on all maps, so that makes him extremely hard to prepare for. He basically played mech on certain maps in SSL against ByuL, then played bio on those maps in GSL against him.
Game 1 – Moonlight Madness
Opening: Triple Reaper expand with 11/11
Build: Three Command Centre 1-1-1 Viking
INnoVation is arguably the best mech player in the world. His mech style in TvZ is passive and he tries to consume the whole map. For example,
Moonlight Madness is arguably not that suitable for such style because of the multiple back doors, and I think this is one of the reasons for him to be aggressive with mech on this map. Nevertheless he played out the game plan well, and was well positioned against Life’s attack.
The key talking points are in the next three games.
Game 2 – Terraform
Opening: Command Centre first
Build: 1-1-1 Viking
In my opinon, Terraform is the best mech map in the map pool, because the rather narrow path and choke points make it hard for Zerg to form a concave against mech. To my surprise, INnoVation chose to go for bio on this map, and this may potentially work out well if Life also thought he was going for mech. However, his decision to go for bio may not be a pre-planned move, but it is due to the fact that Life went for an early Roach Ling attack. At that point of time, INnoVation put down a Tech Lab on the Barracks for Marauder production, which was meant to defend against the Roaches. That itself did not necessarily mean that INnoVation was going for mech or bio. Subsequently, INnoVation just tried to make the best out of it.
Perhaps the most interesting discussion point for game 2 is INnoVation’s build choice. If you study INnoVation’s recent TvZ mech game, you will notice that he loved to open up with 1-1-1 Viking. I think it is good because you want that Starport for Banshee against certain build, but you can delay that by squeezing in a Viking. Game 2 alone didn’t tell me much because of the early disruption. Game 3 and 4 actually shed more light on what INnoVation planned to do.
Game 3 – Iron Fortress
Opening: Command Centre first
Build: 1-1-1 Viking into two base five Barracks
He went for a 1-1-1 Viking build, which is an old build popularised by Polt. The aim of the build is to use Viking to clear Overlord in order to deny Zerg’s vision for an early double Medivac drop. As far as I can tell based on what he did in the rest of the series, this wasn’t INnoVation’s game plan. It is fair to say that an early Starport for a Viking alone without a follow up attack to line up with it is an inferior build in general. Then why does INnoVation do that? My understanding is that he was trying to bluff Life into thinking that he was going for mech, as Viking opening was his go-to opening for mech.
The most interesting aspect of the game was his decision to go for a two base timing. He put down another two Barracks instead of a third Command Centre, which means that he wanted to do a two base timing. This lines up well with the fact that he was trying to sell the story that he was going for mech. In fact, it wasn’t a two base timing, but a two base all-in as he put down the fourth and fifth Barracks. I have discussed about INnoVation had previously used two base all-in against Zerg in part 1, but the one that he did in this game was not to abuse the map and was simply rally all-in.
However, given that Life chose to do a Roach Baneling all-in, INnoVation had no choice but to show his hand to defend it. After he had defended Life’s all-in, he continued to execute his game plan of two base all-in. Life defended it well with good mechanics and decision making.
I don’t understand INnoVation’s choice to continue making units from three naked Barracks (the other two had Reactor and Tech Lab). The ratio doesn’t go well with constant production from Reactor Factory and Starport, and hence, he didn’t have enough units on the ground. One may argue that he didn’t have the luxury to put down the add-ons, but you cannot deny that rally push with this production ratio is suicidal. There was a point when INnoVation was pushed back, but he insisted on doing the same rally push. Perhaps, that was the time when he should put down the add-ons, and do drops before the Mutalisks are out. The add-ons will result in banking up mineral since it cuts production, this allows INnoVation to put down the third Command Centre and transit out of a two base all-in.
Game 4 – Coda
Opening: Command Centre first
Build: 1-1-1 Thor drop into two base five Barracks
The Thor drop was a huge shock for everyone. The focal point of the post game discussion by the analysers was whether INnoVation planned it, and what did he exactly planned to do with it. Judging from the build order, INnoVation put down the Armory before the Starport, so it was not meant to be a typical Hellbat timing with Starport tech. Thus, assuming he didn’t make a mistake, the Thor drop was planned. With that being said, however, it didn’t occur to me that he had it well thought out as the Medivac just flew around doing nothing as there wasn’t a good spot for a Thor drop.
The rest of the game played out according to INnoVation’s game plan, which was a two base all-in with five Barracks, Reactor Factory and Starport. Unlike the last game, all five Barracks have add-on (two Tech Lab and three Reactor – good ratio for all-in), and the difference was obvious. It was clear that the unit ratio traded much better than what happened in game 3. But in the end, it didn’t work out.
I just don’t understand why INnoVation insisted on two base all-in, when there is no sign that Life can beat his mech in a series. I was quite disappointed.