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No Mercy. Part Two
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Author:Breeze
IP:varna130XXXX
Date: 09/29/00 07:09
Game Type: Starcraft
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Report Rating: 9.8, # of Ratings: 5, Max: 10, Min: 9
Lifetime Rating for Breeze: 8.9559
[o]Mr.X vs. [EPIsode]:-=V=- Game 2

With [EPIsode]:-=V=- victorious after Game One, the scene was set for another classic Protoss vs. Zerg at the Lost Temple! While [EPIsode]:-=V=- was prepared to claim victory in Game Two, his opponent [o]Mr.X was in a tedious position after losing the first game in this best of three. If he lost this game, he would be eliminated from the event. To make things worse, [o]Mr.X had not slept all night, and it was already 8:30 AM... Would he be able to deal with that amount of pressure and fatigue?

Time will tell. In the pre-game chat, both players seemed calm and confident, and selected their races, not changing them at the last second... To no one's surprise, [o]Mr.X chose to command the beastly Zerg, and [EPIsode]:-=V=- the psychic Protoss.

[o]Mr.X received an orange Hatchery at the twelve o' clock position, and [EPIsode]:-=V=- started at six with purple, his former color. The Korean knew he had to pressure Mr.X immediately in order to force him to hatch Zerglings instead of Drones. Thus, he once again built his first Pylon close to his ramp, followed closely by two gateways.

Mr.X's first Overlord unsuccessfully sought his opponent at 3, so the Bulgarian felt it was safe to build a Hatchery below his ramp to establish 12:00 control and a Spawning Pool after producing a single more Drone. [EPIsode]:-=V=- mirrored his preceding rush, by scouting 3 with a Probe, not finding anything there, then sending it and a second Probe to Mr.X's base. He had deduced his opponent was at 12, since no Overlord came from 9, and he was now going to perform his strong Zealot+Probe rush...

Both Probes hovered into the Zerg mineral line simultaneously, and managed to kill a Drone there, but Mr.X attacked them with some of his own workers... That Korean has no respect for top players I guess :). The two robotic units escaped down the ramp and focused their particle beams on the Hatchery that was morphing there. Another of the sweet micro wars ensued when Mr.X sent a Drone to fight the threat.

After some hit and run, this Drone was sacrificed to start a Creep Colony as soon as the Spawning Pool and Hatchery were completed, while another Drone came from the plateau to distract the two Probes and a newly- arrived Zealot. Eight Zerglings started hatching... A second Zealot was already en route when the Korean began his Assimilator.

After slaying the single Drone that had been annoying him, [EPIsode]:-=V=- started destroying the Creep Colony that soon started morphing to a Sunken. Once again, a Drone was sent down to stall the Protoss operations and one of the diehard Probes finally exploded. Zealots were now streaming from 6 toward 12, but just as the second one arrived, the already bleeding Sunken began attacking as the Zerglings hatched, so the Korean withdrew.

Mr.X was eager to know more about [EPIsode]:-=V=-'s troop count, so after expanding to his natural with another Hatchery, he took his ten Zerglings and ran them south. Here, they met four Zealots and a Probe waiting close to the entrance of 12's natural, and retreated after losing a few of their number. This was confirmation that the Protoss player was still massing Zealots, so the Bulgarian morphed a second Sunken to bolster his defense.

As soon as [EPIsode]:-=V=- had six Zealots, he initiated a Cybernetics Core. About that time, one of Mr.X's Overlords reached [EPIsode]:-=V=-'s base and moved into the safety of west of 6's plateau after noticing the warping Cybernetics Core there. Now the Korean player attempted another attack with his Zealots and Probe, but as soon as he noticed the new Sunken, he decided there was no way of breaking through, so instead stalled his Zealot production while teching hard to Templars. He returned all eight Zealots to the entrance of his own natural, clearly taking a defensive stance now.

Mr.X, on the other hand, was still powering hard, building another Hatchery below his ramp, followed by an Extractor and a fifth Hatchery within his main. Unaware if his opponent would attack him, the Bulgarian built a third Sunken below his ramp. Now, it was finally time to build a Hydralisk Den. Furthermore, an Extractor was morphed at the natural.

Since it was so disturbingly quiet, Mr.X sent a Zergling toward 6 to scout, and, for the cost of 25 minerals, he had a glimpse of the ten Zealots and one Dragoon that were waiting there. (I could watch them as much as I wanted at no cost though :P). [EPIsode]:-=V=- scouted too, with the cheapest Protoss unit, a Probe. The ensuing adventures of that little robotic unit can be told very briefly - it saw just some Zerglings before dying somewhere around the temple after a short but exciting chase. Now [EPIsode]:-=V=- built a Forge, and later warped a Pylon at his natural and initiated a defense there.

Both players decided it was expansion time, and Mr.X took over 3's main and natural in a jiffy while [EPIsode]:-=V=- built a Nexus at his natural immediately after he had two High Templars and a Cannon in order to assist his growing Zealot/Dragoon force. Mr.X had an excellent economy now, and he was pumping some Hydras out of his five Hatcheries at 12, but also had to spend some money to get his expansions running. His combat units formed a rough semicircle to the north of the temple. After upgrading to Lair, he started a Queens Nest, eager to reach Hive soon.

Both players were waiting, with neither wishing to attack first, but they were scouting each other frequently by sending cheap units to their death while gaining valuable information about their opponent's strategy. Mr.X had learned his lesson from game one, so he floated Overlords to his new expansions in time to provide detection in case of DT harassment.

Soon after building two new Gateways, one at his natural and one at his main, [EPIsode]:-=V=- found the Hatcheries at 3 with a Probe. Obviously, he didn't like what he saw and also knew that those Minerals invested in the expansion Hatcheries and the first few Drones meant ten to fifteen Hydralisks less in his opponents army at the moment, so he immediately launched a major offensive. Fourteen Zealots, two Dragoons and four Templars marched north, killing two scouting Zerglings in the process, giving the Bulgarian player a clue what was coming at him.

Mr.X had about twenty-four Hydras and ten Zerglings at the moment. The Protoss attack couldn't have happened at a worse time for him. With the four Templars accompanying [EPIsode]:-=V=-'s Zealots and Dragoons, the outcome of the upcoming battle seemed in favor of the Protoss. This was excellent timing by the Korean player and this attack alone could win him the game.

Mr.X must have been under immense pressure. Remember, he had already lost game one and couldn't afford another loss... the Bulgarian attacked south with his Hydras, and at the precise moment both forces met he changed direction, running his Hydras back north. [EPIsode]:-=V=- had already seen the Hydras coming and cast a storm. It hit the empty air. The Hydras stopped for a brief moment and the Korean stormed again only to see Mr.X escape in time once again. [EPIsode]:-=V=- cast a third storm, trying to better anticipate where the Hydras would run, but his opponent was feeling the force now, so he moved his units to south and remained unscathed.

The Zerglings and Hydras now engaged the Protoss force, giving [EPIsode]:-=V=- a chance to finally pull off two very successful storms that killed about fifteen Hydras. While the battle was going on, some reinforcements joined at both sides, with four or five Hydras supplementing Mr.X's force and an Archon enhancing [EPIsode]:-=V=-s army. The Korean started merging two Templars to another Archon in mid-battle.

As I look at the screenshots, I notice there are rarely more than 2 Zealots under attack, so I guess the focused fire of the Hydras added up to the amazing dodging of the first three storms, and when the dust settled, all Protoss units were eliminated with ten Hydras remaining! As a matter of fact, the Zealots alone only killed two or three Hydras over the course of the entire battle. At the end, one Templar was vainly attempting an escape and even cast a unsuccessful storm.

After seeing his expedition ending in such a fiasco, [EPIsode]:-=V=- built some more Cannons at his natural and a fifth Gateway at his main. Both players had effectively eliminated each other's units, as ten badly damaged Hydras can't kill much, so another calm period of powering followed. Instead of quickly trying to build up another big army, Mr.X expanded twice to 3's and 12's mineral only! He was hatching Drones and setting up Sunken defenses, while keeping steady Hydra production from his first five Hatcheries. Having already upgraded to Hive, he was researching Adrenal Glands for his Zerglings and also started a (insert dramatic pause) Defiler Mound! :O

I'd like to mention something about the way Mr.X is expanding when playing against Protoss, from what I have seen in the games I observed. The first resource node he takes is his natural, then the second one is the natural of the closest free starting position (3 in this case), then it's main. This way he has control over four Extractors early in the game, and the expands are guarded by the Hydras he has in the center. Next, he takes the mineral only expands of the two starting positions he controls and is then ready for some major troop production.

All this happens quite fast but as you see, Mr.X knows how many troops he needs to be safe. He did this against :+:jolly:+:, and now he was trying to use it against [EPIsode]:-=V=-, so let's see what would happen...

In the Protoss camp, his Korean opponent wasn't idle. He was massing Zealots, Dragoons and High Templars behind the 4 Cannons he had at his natural. Now that he had his expand working, he also did something I found very weird at first: He built a Pylon at the easternmost spot of the 9 o'clock plateau and moved the Probe that built it a bit to the side. I think this was done in order to help him defend against drops - seeing Overlords flying over the Pylon/Probe reconnaissance perimeter would give him enough time to reorganize his troops and handle the situation in time.

The reason he was so cautious lies in the vulnerability of the 6'o clock starting position against drops (remember how well [EPIsode]:-=V=- used this in game one) - the plateau there is very wide on both sides of the mineral line.

Anyway, it was becoming impossible for [EPIsode]:-=V=- to scout the map, since Mr.X was now confidently rallying his Hydras to the south, totally blocking the center and not letting any Probes to pass through. Only the little Probe that built the Pylon was hiding at 9's main outside the blockade, but [EPIsode]:-=V=- was indeed acknowledging its importance and didn't waste it to scout the map. With 9 Hatcheries spread over a total of 6 resource nodes, the future didn't seem bright for [EPIsode]:-=V=-. The Protoss player's 5 Gateways weren't going to be enough if all of Mr.X's expansions started working effectively.

Now, however, a new factor came into the scene, with the Korean player building a Robotics Facility below his ramp. Needless to say, a Shuttle was soon produced and, as we know from game one, that's all [EPIsode]:-=V=- needs =]. Let him build one of those things and watch him storm everything that moves anywhere on the map. As anticipated, the Shuttle loaded a Dragoon, a Templar and... two Probes (well, that's a new twist).

First [EPIsode]:-=V=- took the time to leave a Probe at the bottom right island, then without further delay headed for 3's natural and started cannoning it's cliff with the other one. Mr.X had four Sunkens at that mining site, but they were meant to delay ground attacks. Furthermore, he didn't have an Overlord over the ledge.

The Bulgarian was scouting the whole map with patrolling Overlords, and he saw the Probe at the bottom-right island after it had started a Nexus and Pylon. Later [EPIsode]:-=V=- built a couple of Cannons there for defense. About that time Mr.X started his 10th Hatchery, below 3's ramp.

Some words about upgrades: At that moment, Protoss ground units had +1 attack, while Mr.X didn't even have an Evolution Chamber. This is a part of the "invest everything in more Drones and Hatcheries" philosophy that Mr.X follows when he plays against Protoss. As a matter of fact, I have never seen him build an Evolution Chamber, but that's mainly because I haven't observed him playing ZvT :).

Back to the action: At the cliff of 3's natural, two Cannons finally warped in. When they commenced the automatic assault, the Bulgarian had to move all his Drones away, and transferred them to 3's main. That's what [EPIsode]:-=V=- seemed to be waiting for though, since now he moved his Shuttle north.

There were four Sunkens guarding 3's main, but the Korean found a spot where only one of them could hit his units, and unloaded the Dragoon and the Templar. Apocalyptic scenes followed, when that Templar discharged his psionic energy over the juicy mineral line full of Drones from two bases... corpses all over, few survivors running in all directions... you can imagine ;(.

Were the tables now turning? Two of Mr.X's main sources of minerals and gas had been virtually shut down, and the Protoss expansion at the bottom right island was kicking in now, with two Cannons as defense. Since Mr.X didn't have Ventral Sacs yet because of the fast Hive, there was nothing he could do about it. In fact, all he had evolved was Overlord speed.

His containment strategy was paying off though. The spread Hydras were like a curtain that was restricting any Protoss reconnaissance. [EPIsode]:-=V=- had no information about the mineral- only expansions that his opponent was now mining at full capacity. Had he scouted them somehow, he might have hurt them too, but he was blind to them, so was content with the continued producing of troops while maynarding Probes to the island with his Shuttle and building an Observatory by the Robotics Facility.

Then, all of a sudden, the giant mass of Zerg units that was idle in the center woke up: Hydras, Zerglings, Overlords, and a Defiler were all making their way south now. That avalanche of flesh and bones would soon hit [EPIsode]:-=V=-'s natural. A massive defense line consisting of Cannons, Zealots, Dragoons, Archons and High Templars was waiting there. Finally the first Hydras and Zerglings engaged the Cannons... It was a memorable moment as Mr.X spread his Overlords all over the battlefield, showing confidence in this game deciding assault.

Quickly it became clear what the Zerg player had been waiting for - executing his attack at breathtaking pace, he quickly cast all 3 spells a Defiler can do - Dark Swarm in front of the Cannons, Consume to regain energy, and finally a Plague that covered a mass of Dragoons! This was one of the most amazing techniques I have witnessed: One of the best Zerg players in the world using spells in a hard fought game. Talk about Zerg being a pure macro race... Cannons, Goons, Templars, Zealots - all the mighty defense was going down as if it had never existed, mainly because the single Dark Swarm turned the Cannons and Dragoons into spectators.

[EPIsode]:-=V=- was again storming as if this was the last game in his life, but the Templars soon ran out of mana and as he always did with Templars in such situations over the course of this game, the Korean merged them to Archons amid the inferno of battle, just to see them exploding seconds later. A lot of Hydras were dying to storms during the course of that battle, but a constant stream of reinforcements was joining the fray at a rate that was even faster...

After cracking the outer ring of [EPIsode]:-=V=-'s defenses, the Hydras and Zerglings pushed the Dragoons back, demolishing the Nexus and most of the Probes that were gathering resources. After that, the swarm again had to fight the Dragoons that were now assisted by an Archon and a High Templar. Two well placed Storms did great damage, but it was too late, as there was no longer any way to stop Mr.X. His units gouged their way into the Dragoons, and, after destroying them, ran up the ramp into the unprotected base, razing everything.

Impressed with the performance of his opponent, [EPIsode]:-=V=- gave him a hearty "gg" and conceded the game.

Here are the scores! Check this out, [o]Mr.X was mining an average of 1500 minerals per minute over the course of the game =] You greedy boy!

Overview
Units
Structures
Resources
Total Score
[o]Mr.X
59 700
14 425
42 682
116 807
[EPIsode]:-=V=-
48 950
5 075
23 966
77 991
Units
Produced
Killed
Lost
Total Score
[o]Mr.X
377
89
163
59 700
[EPIsode]:-=V=-
114
163
89
48 950
Structures
Built
Razed
Lost
Total Score
[o]Mr.X
33
24
0
14 425
[EPIsode]:-=V=-
50
0
24
5 075
Resources
Gas
Minerals
Spent
Total Score
[o]Mr.X
8 256
34 425
36 250
42 682
[EPIsode]:-=V=-
6 648
17 318
21 726
23 966

Elapsed Time: 22:38

And here is the animated minimap... Be sure to check out the battle were Mr.X dodged those storms in the middle of the map, you'll get a better idea of the moves I was describing. Note [EPIsode]:-=V=-'s effective Drone hunt later on, and all the scouting that was going on - the patrolling Overlords, the Zerglings and Probes being sent to the enemy, and the peculiar Pylon+Probe reconnaissance combo at 9.

There's something I noticed about the final battle... Mr.X didn't send all his units to the Protoss defense at once, leaving some Hydras in the center and using them seconds later. I think that had he attacked with all of them at once, they might have bunched up without any space for maneuvering, becoming an easy target for storms... I decided to ask him on ICQ and translate his answer that I found interesting. =]

[o]Mr.X : You know, many of the things experienced players do isn't done with the exact idea about something, it just happens without them really planning it since they have played so much. I guess I subconsciously felt I shouldn't send all my units because of that reason.

Well, well... The score is tied now. What can I say, two amazing games, two amazing players. Too bad one will have to lose again, but in the world of Brood War there is no mercy.

 

Special thanks:

I would like to thank everyone that supported me and helped me with opinions on this project so far, here are some of the people. I hope I don't miss someone important :

Poeir proofread the text and improved it, I owe him a lot. Thank you! Cynical Magician helped me correct some errors in my grammar, and he was always there when I needed his help. Crusador was testing all the nonsense I was producing as ever, and cheering me up when I was tired :)

Music by Haddaway

Other people that helped me: All my friends at the Bulgarian #broodwar IRC channel

Game 3 coming soon?

 

BREEZE


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