Against a tough field, Life and Hack managed thrilling victories in the first day of competition.
The StarTale duo of Lee "Life" Seung Hyun and Kim "Hack" Young Il put on a spectacular show at the IEM New York preliminary stage Thursday, advancing over a mostly American field of hopefuls.
The marquee matchup on Thursday had to be the showdown between Park “DongRaeGu” Soo Ho and Life in one of the Winner’s Finals. The two elite Korean Zerg started things off with a classic Roach-Infestor matchup on Bel’Shir Vestige, each matching the other’s moves almost exactly. Life almost got a crucial advantage by adding Vipers to his composition, whose blinding cloud attack promised to be deadly against DRG’s roaches, but DRG was only seconds behind him. They ended up deciding the game in a series of mirror-battles, where DRG’s superior positioning and macro eventually forced life to tap-out.
Life fell back on his trademark early-game aggression in the second game, sending six Zerglings at DRG right at the start of the game. But he seemed to be confounded by a faulty mouse, microing the attack poorly while DRG cleaned up the attack. Life requested a new machine, but the damage was done. After the restart, he was swamped by DRG’s Zerging / Baneling play and knocked down to the loser’s final, where he crushed Gage "Sasquatch" DuBose 2-0 and advanced on to the group stage.
While Hack may have lost to Naniwa on Friday's Group Play, he may have had the most entertaining series of Thursday against Jens "Snute" Aasgaard in their own loser’s final. It was classic Terran vs. Zerg as Hack brought a bio/Widow Mine force up against Snute’s attempt to create a death-ball of Mutalisks. Hack’s attack was just a little too quick for Snute to deal with, and Hack had a perfect pipeline behind it to keep up the aggression.
Snute was always tantalizingly close to breaking Hack’s army, but never was able to clear away enough Marines to finally seize control of the engagement and clear out the Medivacs that were giving Hack his edge, and the Widow Mines ensured that Snute could not be too aggressive. After losing his third and being pushed out of his natural, Snute surrendered.
Their second game was a bit of history repeating, as Snute tried the same build and once again the StarTale Terran was just too far ahead on Medivacs and bio. Snute did a bit better job holding back Hack’s aggression, but Hack quickly transitioned to drop-heavy play that kept Snute racing between bases to evict Hack’s Medivac drops. Once again, Snute was running to stand still. Hack was getting all the pickups without significant losses. He tried to even things up with Banelings, but just couldn’t get enough good hits and Hack went through to the groups 2-0.
With that and Kang "San" Cho Won’s victory over Hack in the winner’s bracket, the 16 player group stage is finally set.
All the action continues today in Stage 2 of IEM streaming live at the IEM website.