|The IPTL is the premier team league outside of Korea, and the league with the largest amount of teams competing for one of the eight spots in the premier division. To say competition is fierce would be an understatement. Every single team that has been knocked down from the premier league into the up/downs has superb players capable of playing at the absolute highest level of professional Starcraft, perhaps none more so than FXO. Tear, GuMiho, and Leenock need no introductions. They are all monsters in the team league and individual tournaments. Each has been able to go through the absolute best players of other equally talented teams like an unstoppable force. Players like Lucky, asd, and others may be lost in the shadow of these giants at times, but all of them are phenomenal players.|
ROOT Gaming being forced to face them for entrance into the higher division is both a blessing and a curse. No team can be absolutely sure of being able to beat FXO. Leenock and GuMiho can look especially unstoppable to all opposition. However, any team that does is automatically granted considerable recognition. Other teams that have recently managed it, like StarTale and Evil Geniuses, are recognized as having some of the best players, period. Even they had to go to a deciding ace match. The stage was set for what was certainly ROOT’s biggest challenge yet.
Game 1 - LeiYa vs asd
To start off this clan war we have from ROOT Gaming LeiYa. She is a Protoss Player that ROOT has come to rely heavily on, because she has been in a lot of clan wars over the last year. In fact, it’s rare to not see her being sent out as the starter in the all kill format where she has performed very well recently, taking out LoWeLy of FXO EU. Her opponent was to be FXO’s asd, a skilled Terran that has, never the less, been slumping and since decided to retire. Despite repeated drop attempts from asd who went heavy bio, LeiYa showed no difficulty in holding and coming out ahead each time. Even showing off some amazing micro in her colossus drops, which for most others would be exceptionally amazing, but for her are just standard play.
LeiYa beginning her colossus drops to chase down hellions. The colossus would eventually get 13 or more kills, including 4 hellions chased down and several marauders that were kited with the warp prism’s speed.
|Even when asd went for the tried and true double pronged attack, LeiYa positioned her main army perfectly to engage asd’s real attack while sending/warping in just enough forces to stall the diversion and keep it from doing any real damage.|
The double pronged attack where LeiYa defeats asd’s main army.
|Having gained such an advantage, LeiYa was able to attack with 3-2 finishing and roll over asd’s last defenses at her opponents 3rd base, forcing the gg.|
|Game 2 - Leiya vs Lucky|
FXO next sent out Lucky, one of their staple Zerg players, who has consistently done well in team leagues even against the best Koreans. LeiYa started off strong with multiple warp prism drops including taking out her opponent's 3rd, but was unable to get up in bases like the first game.
LeiYa taking out Lucky’s third with zealots.
|Lucky tried the double pronged attack that didn’t work out so well for his teammate, but this time the drop was the main army and got in before it was detected. The drop, doing massive amounts of damage, killing buildings and probes, while delaying LeiYa’s main army at the ramp chokepoint.|
Roaches and Overlords getting ready for the doom drop.
Roaches holding the army at the choke while more Roaches destroy Probes and attack buildings.
|In the meantime, a small group of roaches were able to do significant damage at LeiYa’s third.|
A second drop much like the first.
|A second drop just seals LeiYa’s fate as more probes are killed and a follow-up group of roaches kill her 3rd’s nexus.|
|Game 3 - Lucky vs Minigun |
Minigun was the next to stand up for truth, justice, and ROOT Gaming’s pride. (Ok, that sounded way less cheesy in my head, but I am going to go with it.) Things started out well for Lucky, he attacked repeatedly doing economic damage and trading, while going quickly up to 6 bases.
One of the numerous Zerg attacks, while taking over his side of the map.
Another case of unprovoked aggression on the part of the Zerg
|However, after his only overseer was killed during one of the attacks, the stage was set for:|
Hero Dark Templar that end up with 29 kills between them and set up for the 4th and 6th to be sniped.
|One of the benefits of having three dark templar killing drones, in three different bases, is you can have your opponent so distracted that he runs right by five zealots without stopping.|
Hello there, don’t mind us, we hear you have some dark templar to kill. Carry on.
Jolly good of you.
|And so became the story of the game for the first 30 minutes or so. Small groups of units would go out doing crippling damage, and when Lucky would send his whole army to destroy them, the rest of the Protoss army would go in to kill another base.|
Keke, you sent your whole army to kill dark templar, but the party is over here.
|Top left became a favorite spot for Minigun to send distraction kill teams, forcing the cancel or killing the hatch again and again.|
We should call top left "Bloody Hatch". No other location got killed quite as often. At least 5 times for Zerg and once or twice for Protoss.
|Finally we reach this point. The game is almost over right? Right?|
One way or the other the game should have been over at this point.
Lucky: spines are what’s needed here
Lucky: oh you are going air? How about some spores?
Me: Pleeeaase stop.
Lucky: look guys, I have evolved into a turtle.
|Obviously, Lucky just really wanted to win for his team, but this game is a perfect example of why I hate macro games. Parts of it were amazingly epic and Minigun played phenomenally well, but it should have been half as long.|
Game 4 - Minigun vs GuMiho
With ROOT up 2-1 it was time for FXO to send out the team league killers that they are so well known for. First up was GuMiho, the Terran who has killed entire teams in the best of 9 format.
Minigun went for a two base timing attack with colossus range that initially looked really strong.
Stalkers: this is starting to look bad for us isn’t it?
Stalkers: help us!
|GuMiho turned out to be stronger, with a nice surround taking his first win convincingly.|
Game 5 - Gumiho vs MaSa
Next ROOT sent out MaSa. If ROOT has an equivalent to FXO’s monster three, then MaSa would surely be in that group. Since reforming, ROOT hasn’t had a chance to face such a Korean powerhouse, so now it’s time to see if ROOT’s top three can match up with FXO’s.
GuMiho catching MaSa’s reinforcements with a detachment of marines.
|GuMiho gained an early lead by flanking MaSa’s force and increased it by wining 2v2 or 1v1 marine fights without losing any of his own marines.|
Another beautiful surround by GuMiho allows him to break MaSa’s third, and essentially win the game.
|Game 6 - GuMiho vs Sage|
At this point GuMiho is looking to be on a roll. With ROOT needing to take him out before he can build up to team killing momentum, they send out one of their newest pickups - Sage.
As I watched this game I suddenly imagined a scenario that made me chuckle and I want to share it with you. I hope I don’t offend anyone by doing so, least of all MaSa who is absolutely one of my favorite players of all time. But the scenario starts as all good scenarios do: with a Protoss chuckling evilly to himself.
Sage: kekekeke, MaSa you noob let me show you how it’s done.
MaSa: yeah right like you can do better.
Sage: pfft, easy and I am going to show you how. Step one you accidently let him see your expansion.
MaSa: ok I did that.
Sage: this makes him think he knows what you’re doing, lol he has no clue.
MaSa: so wait, you’re not expanding?
Sage: oh, you expand alright...
Sage: Step two dark shrine.
MaSa: but I can’t….
Sage: step two dark shrine noob.
Killing the tech lab researching stim always a plus.
Sage: step three, profit!!!!
MaSa: hmm, maybe if I switched the dark shrine with a starport...
|Game 7 - Sage vs Tear|
With GuMiho taken out FXO wasn’t about to let up sending out Tear next to face sage.
For the first PvP of the night both players had similar starting strategies expand to two base off of max phoenix.
Phoenix armies dancing around each other.
|With Tear gaining the early advantage with more workers killed and more phoenix with his faster second stargate. There was most likely a timing were Tear could killed his opponent, but he was content to just be ahead in his plus one attack and numbers. Unfortunately for Tear, having numbers and plus one attack don’t help when your opponent's phoenix outrange yours. Sage took advantage from Tear’s tendency to run from a fight to kill all of Tear's Phoenix while staying out of his range thanks to the fast fleet beacon and the anion pulse crystals upgrade.|
|Game 8 - Sage vs Leenock|
The score was now 4-3 ROOT’s advantage, but FXO was finally ready to bring out Leenock their final boss. Sage vs Leenock was an epic clash of titans. If you missed it, go get the replay or VOD and watch it. Absolutely amazing play. Sage was so cost efficient for so long, but Leenock was everywhere. Forget double prong attacks he was constantly attacking all three of Sage’s bases, and eventually Sage wasn’t able to get his units were they needed to be and lost too much.
Wow, I really like gateways right? Actually the mini map was suppose too be the focus of this shot.
But maybe this one shows a clearer picture as sage is left with one Immortal to defend against a lot of Roaches.
Leenock has forces attacking, or about to attack, each of the three bases at the same time, and this is not the first time it’s happened.
|Game 9 - Leenock vs YugiOh|
In the end Leenock overwhelmed Sage and he was forced to gg. Now we go into the real ace match with the chosen aces of both teams coming out. Both players knew that all of the players before them who tried so hard to win for their team were counting on them. It was ROOT's trap card YugiOh that they put their hopes on to face down the final boss Leenock. And he came out carrying not just the hopes of his teammates, but his own fierce desire.
The first ZvZ match up much like the first PvP had both player remarkably in tune with each other both opting to go zergling/baneling into a third into mutalisk. Completely standard of course, but you will see top players do other things. It’s also interesting to note that their views of how to play the air vs air battle coincided almost perfectly with their individual teammates. With Leenock massing mutalisk and poking carefully before backing out, and YugiOh refusing to go beyond a certain number of them. YugiOh instead relied on mass queens and spore crawlers to make up the difference in numbers while teching to infestors. Once again it looked like Leenock had a window to do massive damage if he could avoid the queens, but with no way of knowing when and where the infestors would pop it’s not too surprising he didn’t commit. In the end that was his down fall, as YugiOh was able to catch and kill chunks of mutalisks with his infestors and then have more infestors, hydralisks and mutalisks to overrun his opponent. Giving ROOT the win and entrance to the premier league as well as prize money.