Round Of 12
The first match-up of Friday was between the two European rivals Nerchio (Zerg) and MaNa (Protoss). Nerchio played these games the same way he played most of his matches at IEM: blindly teching to Spire and then build Mutas or Corrupters. Luckily for Nerchio, Mutas are a lot better than they once were, and they helped him win games one and four. However, this one trick pony quickly learned that—although they have been buffed—Mutas are still hard countered by Phoenixes. MaNa went on to win games two and three, and in the final match managed to pull himself together long enough to force a gg out of Nerchio, despite being behind most of the game. MaNa beat Nerchio for the first time, and won the series three-to-two.
The next match-up was a PvZ set between PartinG (Protoss) and Stephano (Zerg). Unfortunately for all the fans out there, Stephano was absolutely rocked by PatinG. Stephano was barely able to make it out of the group stages, and although much of that can be attributed to the nature of the opponents he had to face in group D, it is very obvious that he simply did not bring his A-game to this tournament. PartinG won games one and two, first with an Immortal/Sentry all-in and then with Colossi. Although Stephano managed to win game 3, it was far from a clean victory, and he was unable to keep the momentum going. PartinG went back to an Immortal/Sentry all-in that Stephano just couldn't hold off, winning him the series three-to-one.
Match three was an amazing set between Sting (Terran) and Ret (Zerg). Ret was a strong force to reckon with in the group stages, and continued to be an unstoppable force going into the bracket. Sting came into the match-up very cocky; he assumed he would be able to sweep Ret three-to-zero. Unfortunately, Sting's cockiness got the better of him. Ret continued to prove that Ling/Bling/Muta was still a thing in HoTS, and was able to beat back just about anything Sting could throw at him. Although Sting was able to pull a win out of game three with Widowmines and Banshees into a full mech, Ret pushed early in game four, allowing him to take an easy victory and ending the match three-to-one.
The last match-up of the first bracket pit Dream (Terran) against First (Protoss) in a grudge match. Dream was out-played by First throughout the match, but First's wins were not easy. Dream macro'd hard to overcome the Stalker/Immortal army of First in game one, but First changed tacks in game two by moving to more air-based play. Dream was unresponsive to the Oracles that tore apart his economies in games two and three, and it ultimately cost him both games. While Dream learned in game four that a simple Turret was able to fend off any harass from an Oracle, First didn't invest in early Oracle harass. Instead, he pushed into Dream's base with blink Stalkers that Dream struggled to fend off, and then finished him off with Psionic Storms and swarms of Zealots. With this First took the fourth game, allowing him to win the series three-to-one.
Mvp (Terran) obliterated MaNa (Zerg) in the first pairing of the quarter finals. Mvp kept MaNa's army spread thin by being everywhere all at the same time, forcing him to stay at home and play defensively while Mvp's armies took control of every game. With unstoppable Medivac drops and great use of Widowmines to deny mining time, Mvp was able to take all three games in shutout.
YoDa (Terran) faced PartinG (Protoss) next in a dramatic match that took all five games to resolve. YoDa over-extended himself in game one, allowing PartinG to take the victory. PartinG attempted to keep the momentum going in game two with an early push, but it ultimately failed and cost him the game. YoDa was also able to win game three, this time by utilizing his drops more effectively. PartinG pulled a win out of game four by holding off a scary all-in by YoDa, but his gambit for a quick win in game five with Oracles and Stalkers ended in a loss due to poor micro against Widowmines. YoDa won the series three-to-two.
Ret (Zerg) did well the entire tournament, but came up against the brick wall known as YongHwa (Protoss) in the third match of the quarter finals. YongHwa held off Ret long enough in games one and two to tech to the deadly Collosi/Voidray comp that has proven so potent against Zerg, and while Ret fought hard to hold on, YongHwa's armies were simply too strong. YongHwa went for a quick and easy win in game three by denying Ret his natural and cannon-rushing his third expansion. This forced Ret to gg out less than 5 minutes in, allowing YongHwa to take the series three-to-zero.
The last matchup of the quarterfinals saw much-loved Zerg player viOLet face off against First (Protoss). First dominated viOLet in game one by keeping strict control of the map and viOLet's economy. He slowly picked at viOLet's mineral lines with Phoenixes and ensured that viOLet had to keep wasting minerals on rebuilding Overlords. viOLet was able to hurt First's economy as well, but it wasn't enough to pull him to victory. viOLet made a small comeback in game two by utilizing zerg mobility, but was hard countered in game three after going mass Muta. First then quickly sealed the deal in game four by making a huge seven-gate push which overwhelmed viOLet. First won the series three-to-one.