The games weren't pretty, but Bomber lives up to his reputation by getting things done.
Throughout 'Wings of Liberty,' StarTale Bomber was known as something of a Terran vs Protoss specialist, so drawing Creator first rather than RorO or Crazy was a stroke of good luck. Going into the match, Bomber certainly looked to be the favorite; his strong performance at MLG gave fans hope that they might finally see him claim the results in GSL they have always expected from him.
Creator vs. Bomber
The first match took place on Daybreak. Watching this game, you would scarcely realize you were watching 'Heart of the Swarm' as both players opted for very old-school strategies. Bomber went for a Reaper expansion, allowing him to scout his opponent, while Creator expanded off of one Gateway. Once his natural was established, Bomber proceeded to add several more barracks, upgrades, and medivacs in preparation for a two-base timing attack. Creator went for two Forges for upgrades and made a single colossus – to trick Bomber into over-countering them with vikings – before quietly moving into storm and +2/+2 upgrades. As a result, when Bomber moved in for the kill, his army lacked the punch needed to overwhelm his opponent, allowing Creator to push Bomber back and take the first game -- a story we've seen unfold time and time again on that map.
Undaunted, Bomber went for the exact same build in the second game on Star Station. But Creator went for a fast Stargate instead of expanding, which Bomber's reapers scouted almost immediately. With that information, he completely shut down Creator's attempts at oracle harassment.
Knowing he was behind, Creator went immediately for Colossi after establishing his second base, and this time, it wasn't a feint: he was going for a strong two-base timing attack. But a perfect scan by Bomber revealed Creator's plans immediately, and he decided to go for the throat before his opponent had a chance. Producing enough vikings and ghosts to counter Creator's army, Bomber pulled all of his workers to shield his army and smashed his way straight into Creator's base: a push Creator had no hope of holding.
On Whirlwind, Creator opened Nexus first, while Bomber went for a standard one barracks expand into three-barracks, choosing to skip the reaper this time around. From this position, Creator went straight into the same build he did on Daybreak – the single colossus with double forges – as Bomber continued to macro up to five barracks with upgrades and medivacs. At around 10 minutes, Bomber pushed across the map to find Creator taking a third base, but couldn't find an avenue to strike. He responded by claiming his own third, and the passive macro looked to continue – but suddenly Bomber pulled workers, for the third game in a row, and went on the offensive.
Catching Creator's army split in two sections, he forced himself in between them and kept his opponent's forces divided, as he moved his units behind Creator's mineral line, creating perfect positioning. Though his army would be cleaned up, he inflicted an irrecoverable amount of damage. A followup attack was too much, and Bomber took down his opponent 2-1, advancing to face RorO in the Winners' Match.
Winners' Match: Bomber vs RorO
Taking down Creator was one thing, but RorO was last season's champion: a player many consider to be one of the best in the world. This was the match people had come to see. The winner of this Best of three would advance to the Round of 16, while the loser would have to play another match.
The first match was on Akilon Wastes. Going for his standard reaper opening, Bomber scouted his opponent and applied light pressure to RorO, who went for the usual zergling speed after expansion, as he built a fast second and third command center with four hellions to hold map control before transitioning back into bio with double upgrades. RorO, going up to five hatcheries, built up an upgraded zergling/baneling/mutalisk army, while Bomber pushed out across the map to force back RorO's creep spread. Things were looking extremely even, when a surprise ling run-by made its way into Bomber's base.
Flustered and focusing on his main army knocking at RorO's doorstep, he accidentally targeted his defending forces onto his own command center, destroying it. Utterly thrown off and with a massive disadvantage, Bomber was unable to set himself straight and was crushed by RorO's follow-ups.
Down one game and looking to retake control in this series, Bomber opened with a proxy barracks at only 8 supply. Producing three reapers and bunkering RorO's main base, he applied constant pressure to keep RorO off balance, exhibiting excellent control by saving two of the three reapers and even killing one of his opponent's queens, as he built up to three command centers and the two went into roughly the same builds as the previous game.
Getting aggressive earlier than before, Bomber started pushing at RorO's expansions while dropping simultaneously and continuing to produce more and more units. Holding off RorO's mutalisk counterattacks, Bomber's perfect army control and Widow Mine usage allowed him to win a key battle in the middle of the map. His plan from last game executed properly this time, Bomber ran right into RorO's base and took Game 2 for his own.
The series tied 1-1, this third game on Whirlwind would decide who would advance to the Ro16 and who would have to fight on. Going back to their openings from Game 1, after finishing his third command center Bomber moved to set up a two-factory blue flame hellion all-in. Scouted by RorO almost immediately, he was forced to abandon his plan and transition awkwardly into a standard bio force. Adding siege tanks for the first time today, he tried to set himself up defensively on three bases until he felt confident enough to once again push across the map while dropping the natural.
Unfortunately for Bomber, the delay caused by his change of plans meant that RorO's forces were far stronger than usual. Flanking his army on both sides, RorO wiped out Bomber's force and built up his tier-three composition of Brood Lords and Ultralisks. The game went on for another 10 minutes, as Bomber fought back admirably with drops and the raven play he made famous at MLG, but he was fighting against the Swarm incarnate. Unable to overcome his disadvantage, RorO took Bomber out 2-1 to advance to Code S. If Bomber was to join him, he would need to defeat the opponent waiting for him in the final round.
Final Match: Bomber vs Creator Part 2
With a spot in the Round of 16, advancement in the World Championship Series, and his own pride on the line, Bomber faced off with Creator one last time. Having overcome KT's Crazy in the Losers' Match, Creator too was one step away from elimination. Going into the first game, again on Whirlwind, you could see the determination in their eyes.
As he had done in nearly every game thusfar, Bomber opened reaper into expansion, as Creator opened nexus first. This time, Bomber went for a fast third CC against Creator as well. With some heroic control, Bomber's single scouting reaper took out a whopping four of Creator's probes. Knowing he was behind and that all of his timings were thrown off, Creator immediately added additional Gateways to begin posturing at the entrance to Bomber's base. To keep Bomber from going aggressive he rushed for dark templar tech and started a third. However, he got absolutely nothing done with his DT investment. As he tried to get to fall back on high templar, Bomber pushed across the map while upgrading and producing ghosts.
By the time the two met at the front of Creator's base, their armies were roughly equal. Bomber used his ghosts to keep Creator's templar count low as their armies danced back and forth, but a single perfect storm was all it took to give Creator the go-ahead to push. He chased Bomber's army all the way across the map, and prepared a zealot flank ahead of time next to Bomber's base to meet him there. The combined might of these armies and the damage he took from storms was enough to overwhelm Bomber, giving Creator a come-from-behind first win.
Bomber's back was against the wall. One more loss and it would be the end for him – another disappointment. The next map was Akilon Wastes. And once again, Bomber opened reaper expansion against Creator's one gate expand. Opting to get aggressive, Creator started producing immortals and built up to five gateways, looking to bust Bomber's front. But Bomber read Creator's build just in time, and threw down four bunkers and filled them with more than enough units to hold safely.
From there, with medivacs and stim, Bomber's army became far too strong for Creator's follow-up attempt to even make a dent in. With that perfect defense, Bomber kept his hopes alive and brought the series to Game 3 – match point for both players. Winner advances, loser goes home.
Like clockwork, the two players repeated their openings: reaper expand versus nexus first. And once again, Bomber got an absurd amount of work done with just a single reaper and perfect micro: killing six probes, proving the strength of this opening against nexus first.
Off balance even more than before, Creator threw down additional gates and went straight for a timing attack. And once again, Bomber had enough bunkers ready ahead of time and Creator inflicted virtually no damage. As Creator backed off, Bomber loaded up four medivacs of units and boosted straight into his opponent's base. Darting in and out, Bomber continued to inflict more and more damage while amassing more units at the front. Running group after group of bio right into Creator's base, Bomber kept Creator's army size down until he hit a tipping point. His force too strong, Bomber pushed in for the kill while celebrating with manner command centers.
Taking the series, 2-1, Bomber advanced to the Round of 16. He will await the players who advance from the remaining seven groups.
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