The IEM StarCraft II Katowice round of seventy six is a massive offline qualifier for the Katowice Ro24 which is taking place on March 1 and 2.
Joining the teams in the final 24 after qualifying through the Round of 76 are are Zest, Heromarine, Trap, Hurricane, Neeb, Maru, Ryung, TY, Solar, Serral, and True.
Our StarCraft expert has recapped some of the main matches:
Zest vs Bunny
Game 1 – Blackpink:
Bunny started off with a gasless expo into three rax, whereas Zest opened with robo and fast colossus. This was almost a build order win, but Bunny managed to run by some marines into Zest’s natural and score 15 probe kills. Zest also did some economic damage of his own with adept drops and warpins. Eventually the game degenerated into a full on base where Zest ended up expanding to Bunny’s natural. Bunny tried to land his troops on the high ground in what used to be his main, but ultimately Zest had way too many storms and without any economy or army Bunny quit.
Game 2 – Abiogenesis
Zest started rallying one gate of units across the map, starting with a zealot and then following up with stalkers, while bunny opened up with three command centers. Zest then teched up to blink and a robotics facility, while Bunny focused on producing bio and teched up to star port. Into the middle game a successful drop by Bunny managed to take out Zest’s third base, and Bunny even managed to evacuate a medivac worth of units, but a counter attack by zest managed to force a lift on Bunny’s third restoring economic equilibrium.
After taking significant economic damage to a massive zealot warp in, Bunny decided to go for an all out attack and moved across the map, but Zest was able to hold
Result: 2-0 zest
Zest vs Special – Ro24 qualifying match
Game 1 – Acid Plant
Zest opened up with a proxy gate but this got scouted by Special, and the Mexican terran started up a fast bunker at his natural in response. Zest followed up with a dt rush and eventually a nexus, but having delayed his expo so for so long he was extremely behind in economy. After Zest’s first dt got picked off with a scan, Special was in a commanding lead. Zest’s second dt did manage to pick off four scvs at least but it was also eventually cleaned. Special tried a drop in Zest’s natural but this was defended well by a dt.
Significantly behind in economy, Zest had really no choice but to go for an all in attack. A warp prism dropped an archon and warped in zealots into Special’s main. While the attack did manage to deny stim and do some damage, Special held, and at the same time did a little raven harass on the other side of the map. Zest was just hopelessly behind having failed his attack and tapped out.
Game 2 – Catalyst
Zest started off by sent a zealot across the map delaying Special’s expansion command center for a significant amount of time, and followed up with some stalker pressure that actually got a decent amount of work done. Zest followed up with a twilight council and blink, followed by a robotics facility. Special, for his part, got a factory up and went into three barrackses for bio production. Special stayed on two bases, got his starport, and then dropped in Zest’s main while pushing down the middle of the map with the rest of his army. Unfortunately for Special, Zest managed to fend off the drop and beat back the push and Special tapped out.
Game 3 – Backwater
In game three special opened up with rax factory expand and then followed up with a proxy second factory near Zest’s base. Special tried to push with two cyclones and some marines, but stalkers and shield batteries were able to hold him off until Zest’s immortal showed up. Immortals are a pretty good unit.
Result: Special 1-2 Zest
Special vs Snute
After narrowing losing to Zest to miss out on qualifying earlier in the day, Special faced Snute in bracket three. While historically Snute had ended up on the better side of encounters, Special had won the last three out of four matches against Snute, so this was set to be an exciting match which favoured Special. Special and Snute are two of the very top non-Korean StarCraft II professionals, and Special in particular has had some phenomenal success lately..
Game 1 – Catalyst
Snute opened up with pool and then hatch, a slightly safer build that doesn’t really skimp too much on economy because you do get the earlier queen. Special for his part opened up with a very standard reaper expand into hellion pump from a factory with the reactor add-on. Between the eight hellions that ran into Snute’s natural, and Special’s raven harass, nineteen drones went down, giving Special a massive advantage going into the mid game. Snute managed to get up to seventy drones despite the early losses, and while Special’s initial push looked promising it was eventually cleaned up, and both players entered the late game in a roughly even position. Snute opted for the roach ravager composition that he is so well known for and transitioned into brood lords
Special did great work multitasking, fighting back the creep and having incredible presence all over the map. Snute did his bet to keep up and defend everything, but Snute was not able to hold his fourth base. He was also forced to retreat from his fifth base after Special zoned him out with repeated nukes and despite having an impressive broodlord army Snute was just hopelessly out macroed and constantly attacked on different sides of the map. Despite Special not really being able to take Snute’s impressive army in a straight up fight, Special used his greater mobility to prevent Snute from being able to push out. Still neither side was able to strike a knockout blow and the game continued.
In the late game Special transitioned into heavier ghost and raven usage, trying to get more and more cost effective, whereas Snute stuck with broodlords, queens and hydra, and get a lot of value from healing with the mineral only queens. Twenty eight minutes in Special managed to land a bunch of anti-armor missiles on Snute’s broodlords which softened up the Zerg units for his viking fleet, and with the Snute’s queens and hydras completely missing in action the broodlords were eliminated. With Snute’s inferior economy losing a big chunk of his most important units left him extremely disadvantaged, and Special steamrolled him from there
Game 2 – Black Pink
Both players opened with a fast expand, and Special blocked off Snute’s third with an incomplete ebay. Snute tried some early ling aggression but Special’s hellion micro and a timely SCV pull was sufficient to prevent any economic damage aside from some lost mining time.
Both players entered the late game on five bases, with Snute going for hydras, vipers, banes, and ultras, whereas Special went into ghost techs to counter the ultras and vipers. Snute won some decisive battles trading out effectively and establishing a dominant position and moved in for the kill. Special was unable to hold his fourth base and tapped out.
Game 3 – Backwater
Special opted for a fast expo into a widow mine drop and a third base, while Snute played his usual style macroing up, building drones and queens. Four drones and some lings went down to the drop, but Special’s dropship was also lost. Snute decided to go for a big roach ravager ling attack while droning up behind it. Despite not breaking Special, Snute did manage to cancel stim and establish a dominant economic position with his fourth base and heavy drone count. With a 140/100 supply lead Snute was in a very strong position and because Special’s tech and production was suppressed by the attack he couldn’t put on any pressure. Leaving a zerg alone throughout the middle game is not generally great for the terran. Despite Snute’s lead, Special did manage to max out and get up to five bases, while Snute teched up to broodlords. At ten minutes into the game, Special moved out with a massive push while stim finally completed, but Snute’s roach ravager army managed to slow the push and eventually clean up Special’s army. Special traded out effectively but with broodlords on the way he really needed to get some damage done.
To counter the broodlords, Special began to pump vikings as well as adding ghosts to his composition for snipes and nukes. He also added in ravens for most cost effectiveness. Special did good work continually dropping on both the left and right sides of the map, cancelling bases and causing economic damage as well as just preventing Snute from pushing out. Eventually all of the harass took its toll, and Special found himself with twice the economy of Snute. Despite this economic lead, Snute still had a very scary army, and after a slight over extension by Special, Snute managed to get a decisive victory, crushing Special’s army and taking out one of Special’s most valuable bases. Despite losing most of his army Special was able to use his superior economy to rebuild his army and once again max out. At this point Snute switched to ultra production, taking advantage of Specials lack of ghosts, but Special’s use of the anti-armor missile was highly effective in countering the behemoths. After a very cost effective trade for special in the middle of the map, Snute was again on the back foot, even in army supply but way behind in economy. Snute and Special’s armies met again in the middle of the map, but after a bad engage Snutes army got destroyed and he was forced to tap out.