Wednesday and Thursday before MLG
Where to start… I guess when I received the email from MLG saying I was in group play is a good place to begin. At first, I assumed it was a mistake – I did not even qualify for MLG Arena (despite a good run). I talked to my team about the email in Skype, a few were excited and a couple were in disbelief – KawaiiRice was super jelly. My roommates were also fairly impressed and happy for me. One of them was concerned it was sent the wrong person, but once Binski received the same email I felt pretty certain that it was no mistake.
Sometime Thursday morning when MLG had posted the groups one of my roommates, Seth, a platinum Zerg, and I sat down and started watching hours of Daisy, GoOdy, First, and Losira VODS. I learned a lot of builds and created a few good counter-strategies with Seth (who is Platinum, but I believe he is NA GM in theorycrafting and game knowledge). After spending about 6 hours going through replays and VODs, somebody in our Team-LighT Skype chat mentioned that the format was new and there was no round robin. Oh, well. I still felt good about studying my potential opponents. Later that night we had a few people over, drank a bit to celebrate my guaranteed highest MLG performance to date, and dyed my hair a dark purple ($10 and 1-hour time).
Thursday and Friday
I Woke-up around 7:45am, frantically packed my bags and drove over to KawaiiRice’s house to carpool to the airport. Not much to write about here, two boring flights next to babies in the back of the plane. HuK, DjWheat, TubbyTheFat, and MsSpyte were on our connecting flight. Super nice people! Kawaii and I also met a fan who was really excited about how most of the new pool play members were the underdogs, and how he really wanted us to have a break-out performance.
I talked a bit with HuK and he advised me not to think too much about the people posting that I did not deserve this seed on the TL forums. To be honest, I did feel a bit guilty at first that I was seeded into Group Play, yet players like MKP were starting in the open bracket. I finally forgot about it after enough pro players told me to ignore it and just focus on playing the game. Anyways, we arrived and met up with Binski and Tilea (AKA KnighT), took a cab to the Marriot Hotel, checked in, and immediately went searching for food. We saw a few friendly faces and chatted with them, which is always a big plus of going the live events – meeting the people you only see a few times per year.
Woke-up early with the team around 10 am, got some food, and checked in at the venue. WCS started super early, and since I was not playing in it, I sat around and watched a lot of the EG guys and whoever else looked entertaining at the time play their matches. This was around 2-3pm if I am not mistaken.
Throughout most of the late-afternoon and early-evening I was constantly pestering the front desk for information on what time I play. Unfortunately, they could really only tell me between 5pm and 11pm. During all of this, I was bouncing around watching KawaiiRice, Tilea, other friends, and pro Koreans. I forget exactly when I met up with Binski again, but he told me every groups-stage match was going to be on the main stage. I immediately became super nervous and I could feel the butterflies in my stomach. Despite the fact that I normally play well under pressure, I do not play well if I know a lot of people are watching or on stages/in booths – like at the CSL finals, for example.
A few hours later I found out I was only going to be on the elevated stage, so I became a little bit more relaxed. Eventually the time came, and I was up against ESCDaisy at 10 or 11pm. This was the opponent I studied the most with Seth. I felt confident and my game plan going into the set was: cannon on Daybreak and Ohana if there had been no cheese in the series, and open Stargate on every other map. The first map was indeed Daybreak, but I started to second guess myself because earlier I had seen Daisy hanging out with HerO, who I had cannoned on Daybreak at IPL4.
Apparently I meta-gamed myself – Daisy did not even scout early and the cannon rush would have worked out well. Oh, well. I was going 3gate-Stargate, and right as my flock of 4 phoenixes flew into his base to scout and harass his workers, he blinked up my ramp with a quick twilight build. My units were out of position and he won. Game 2 was on Metropolis – I gas-stole him and somehow only had 2 probes on my own gas. He 4 gated me and I did not have enough gas to build my sentry at the normal time to prevent the inevitable. I had been awake and at the venue for about 12 hours and I only played one series – a series that was utterly awful and embarrassing. I like to think I have a decent mindset when it comes to playing Starcraft 2 – I do not rage that often and I can easily overcome defeat with a positive outlook. After about an hour of feeling shitty about my games I got over it – binski 2-0ing GanZi on the main stage really helped me cheer up.
Similar to Friday, on Saturday I spent most of the day watching games and wondering who my future opponent would be – the loser of Losira versus an Open Bracket player. I wanted it to be Losira because I feel like I play better vs. good opponents and since we would probably just be at a normal station, I could relax and play my own game. Many hours later, QuanticHawk 2-1′d Losira in some crazy ZvZs, and I had my opponent: IM’s Losira.
All of my notes on Losira’s ZvP were about baneling drops and three evolution chambers with late hive tech. Game 1 on Cloud Kingdom started out normally. I took a semi-risky 3rd off of one gateway, he had taken three bases with speed and made a lot of lings to deny my 3rd. My void ray and cannon could not prevent the overwhelming amount of lings and I had to cancel. I rebuilt it moments later and for the next 10 minutes of the game, nothing happened. I barely died taking my 4th to mass roach, ling, infestor, and corrupter.
Game 2 was on Entombed Valley, and once again I had taken my 3rd off one gate. However, this map is a lot better for quick 3rds and I believe I came out on top after defending his aggression. Instead of going colossus and taking my 4th, I went HTs and landed only decent storms on his army. Once again, he had fought at the better concave and engaged me when I was choked-up moving to take my 4th. I had good blink micro but it could not save me from his next reinforcing wave. I GG’d out and he responded with “sugoyo gg.” Even though I went 0-2 to another Korean, I felt really good about this series and was content with my performance.
The downside to losing again was that I would have to play the first two rounds of the Championship Bracket at 10 and 11pm that night. My first opponent was Maker, the other Mexican Terran who plays from the shadows behind MajOr. Maker had a really strong run through the losers bracket, beating QuanticApocalypse, Kifire, Pyre, Fitzyhere, Bails, and TT1.
We started to set-up our gear and he asked what race I would be playing – I almost always off-race on ladder or in online tournaments. When I told him I was Protoss and not Zerg, he was quite shocked. He won a game on Antiga Shipyard with quick stim pressure (with no medivacs) and caught me completely unprepared. The two games I won were on Daybreak and Cloud Kingdom – standard macro games with 2-Base Colossus -> 3rd-base HT -> 4th-base, etc. The game on Cloud was really close and I had not built enough production, but good DT/Zealot harass at his third and good HT storm harass at his 4th kept his economy in shambles. The game on Daybreak swung into my favor when I was able to feedback two full medivacs that were entering my main while he was poking my 3rd. Good observer placement really helped.
Next up was Qxc, aka the bandana man. He got here by beating Trimaster 2-0 in group play, which seemed a little odd to me because Trimaster had beaten MKP earlier. Game 1 was on Entombed, and he did a 2rax bunker rush which killed my one-gate expo. I tried to fake pressure him and double-expand behind it, but died miserably to a 2 medivac timing push. He manner-mule’d me and I eventually left.
Game 2 was so standard and boring I cannot even remember the map. It was probably Daybreak… Maybe? The only thing I am sure about is that it included 2-Base Colossus -> 3rd HT -> 4th -> win. Before Game 3, we both asked for a break. He wanted to use the bathroom and I wanted to run my freezing hands under some warm water. I joking said I was just going into the bathroom to beat him up, to which he responded I could try. While walking over there, I made it clear I was upset about the manner mules (I wasn’t really) and he said he was going to do it again once he won game 3.
Game 3 was a pretty crazy match on Antiga. We had each opened macro, and once again, a good observer prevented a drop and allowed me to pick off one medivac at my 3rd base. Eventually we were mining-out our bases and taking the middle was fairly tricky. He had floated two command centers to both side expos and was mining there for quite a while before I found them. I had send two DTs to one of the expos but was too focused on other stuff to realize they weren’t attacking. I was only able to get my 4th up for a little while before he was able to kill it. He almost always had the better concave – after the games Kawaii told me if I had chosen my fights differently it would have been much easier. I was able to barely stop his mining and defeat his army – I think we were both under 100 supply for a large amount of the late-game. This game is definitely worth a watch. Afterwards I went to drink a bit and started grinding guild wars with Kawaii and KnighT in our hotel room.
Sunday, Monday, and after-thoughts
I woke-up too early to play versus Ryung. Games went about as planned, he just had too much stuff at every engagement and I would barely lose fights. I was 2-0′d on Antiga and Cloud Kingdom before I knew it. Afterwards, we went back to our hotel room and played Guild Wars 2 for about eight hours. After that, I went out again to drink and play Mafia for a bit. GMarshal owned me in Mafia, Sasquatch and Machine were drunk, and a few people even recognized me as a player. I only got 1 hour of sleep before having to wake-up for our early flight (thanks Xeris.) TubbyTheFat shared a ride to the airport with us and was on our first flight, along with DjWheat again. I got home and started to play Guild Wars and prepare for Thundertoss staying at my house for PAX/The International.
MLG Raleigh was a pretty good event for me. I started in group play, which meant a top 32-40 finish, automatically higher than my best finish – top 44′ish multiple times last year. I had a combined series score of 2-3 – 2-0 against foreigners and 0-3 against Koreans. I was relatively satisfied with my performance. I thought I played well vs Losira, Qxc, and Maker, decent vs Ryung, and poorly vs Daisy. Despite not beating any Koreans, I will continue to train because I believe I am one of the stronger North American Protoss players. Anyways, that is about all for my super long blog!
If you want to support me you can follow me on Twitter @CaliberLighT. Look for me at MLG Dallas, IPL5, CSL, ESEA, etc!