Every season of ASL comes with their own twists and turns, this season was no different, for all we may have predicted no one would expect a finals such as this but the question remains will the finals deliver?

Mind and JyJ are anything but unlikely showing probably the most excellent display of Terran dominance over BeSt and hero respectively, Mind vs BeSt in particular being covered by Simplistik today while BLinD-RawR previews the finals.

protoss big (Wiki)BeSt vs terran big (Wiki)Mind

Maybe Aiur’s last hope versus the original counter-revolutionary was always going to end in Protoss tears. Maybe the series didn’t quite live up to our expectations following the stunning quarters. But, if we look closely, we can find some great moments.

I also believe that the series result was balanced on a knife-edge several times. The reason for that is the map pool. We have three ‘normal’ maps, Vermeer, Sylphid, Retro, which Mind picked and won with essentially careful standard play. Then we have two tricky maps (particularly for Terran), Heartbreak Ridge and Dark Origin, and two wacky very unusual maps in 76 and Nemesis. Best picked the tricky and unusual maps. He looked strong on 76 (probably a bit of Terran graveyard to be fair) and Dark Origin. So he only needed to win one of the standard games, or Heartbreak Ridge to get to the decider. And we know he has stamina, so a drawn out series culminating in a long game on Nemesis would’ve suited our Maelstrom Monster just fine.

Let’s have a look what went wrong for the macro-toss and how Mind employed brilliant tactics to earn his first big final since HungryApp, all the way back in 2015.

Game 1 – Heartbreak Ridge

‘A certain professional go player, carefully scrutinising one of his own games, once remarked with a sigh: “Ah, move two lost me the game.”‘ – The Direction of Play, Takeo Kajiwara

The decisive moment comes fairly early in the game. Best opens the series, in time-honoured Protoss fashion, with 12-Nexus. Mind opts for a quick Factory. On Heartbreak Ridge, unlike most maps, it is possible to seal the gap between main and natural with a single building, an opportunity that Mind seized on not once, but twice. First he blocks the probe transfer with a supply depot. And when it’s time to take down the nexus, the scouting SCV starts another depot, catching the Zealot on the wrong side. This slows down the first two goons long enough for the SCV train to get in front of the marines. Like a paternoster, the bunker goes up, the nexus goes down.

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Seal of Fate

Protoss is forced to expand to the bottom right with a shuttle. The upshot of the early game is that Best can’t leap out to an overwhelming economic lead to overrun his Terran opponent. Although Mind gets slowed down considerably by reavers, he does eventually manage to take his third gas. All the while, he patiently accumulates upgrades and piles up siege tanks. Best tries to make something happen with mass-shuttle play. At one point, a small Protoss force camps in the Terran main for a while, even killing the science facility. But Best never finds a favourable engagement to reduce the tank numbers.

Finally feeling secure enough at home, Mind’s first serious attack starts around 21.30. It’s only about ten tanks and assorted cannon fodder, but Best’s army is too small, down in upgrades, out-positioned and low on shuttles. The Protoss mineral only falls.

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The End of the Beginning of the End of the Beginning

Foreshadowing the finale, Mind sticks to his patient safe style and expands to the middle, secured with many tanks. Best tries a few decent attacks, but it’s never quite enough.

Best 0 – Mind 1

Game 2 – Vermeer SE

Both players open with tech. Mind explodes a few probes with a vulture drop from a proxy starport. Best counters with a fairly effective goon-reaver attack, but neither player suffers crippling damage. Throughout the game, vultures do a good job to keep the Protoss economy in check. Mirroring game 1, Mind goes for upgrades and Best assembles a lot of shuttles.

This time Mind gets his third base up much faster. Best tries to do something about it, but the attack fails almost completely. Three shuttles, ten zealots and a reaver (that didn’t even shoot) do almost no damage.

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50% of the time it works every time.

Now even on supply, Mind can expand safely and starts to exert some pressure of his own. Best does incredibly well to hold a scary tank push and a couple of follow-up attacks against his 9 o’clock base.

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Held, but at what cost?

But the losses ultimately prove too costly and our intrepid Protoss hero never recovers.

Best 0 – Mind 2

Recognising that things are not going well, Best takes off his jacket and meditates in preparation for his everyone’s favourite new map…

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Wishful thinking or useful projection?

Game 3 – 76

Two games up, on a tough map, Mind doesn’t want to get drawn into a long game. Instead he rolls the dice: double factory on the low ground. Meanwhile, Best has opened 12-Nexus and gets lucky with the scouting. A zealot buys just enough time for a probe to spot the factories.

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What’s that lurking in the shadow?

Before the first goon is out, an SCV unsuccessfully tries to help a vulture glitch up the narrow ramp into the Protoss main. This could’ve done a lot of damage. With two tanks, three vultures and five marines in place, Mind calls the elevator.

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Queue elevator music

For a moment it looks like this might work, but the robo is tucked away at the bottom and the cannon in the main buys enough time. And when the reaver is finished, so is the game.

Best 1 – Mind 2

Game 4 – Sylphid

Another standard map, another fairly standard game: factory expand vs goon range expand. Mind gets a quick armoury, because he really loves upgrades. Best sticks with his robo/shuttle approach. Unfortunately, for our Protoss hero this game largely consists of a long serious of wasteful attacks, with a sprinkling of decent harassment, until the Terran army gets too big. Mind expertly walks the fine line between having brittle defences and not letting the Protoss economy get out of control.

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Warcraft 3 style: orc burrow next to gold mine to defend against harass.

If the first drop doesn’t work, channel your inner Mini and attack again!

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Déjà vu, anyone?

Eventually Protoss calls in some arbiters. But the recalls are fairly lacklustre.

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Take that, bunker!

Best sticks with it for a bit, by making it hard for Mind to get a fourth base up, but, well, Mind is maxed, with good upgrades, so it doesn’t much matter. Right at the end there is a big fight with lots of stasis, but the game was already decided then.

Best 1 – Mind 3

Game 5 – Dark Origin

With his back to the wall, Best pulls out every Terran’s favourite Protoss shenanigans: forward gate and gas steal. The probe even gets home with the gas, the thieving little rat!

Perhaps not liking the map, Mind tries to take the initiative with a 0-0 tank push. The Terran army gains a foothold on the bridges outside the Protoss natural, but the tanks never quite get in siege range of the nexus. A small regiment of goons circles round and starts picking off reinforcements in the centre of the map. And with a fresh round of zealots, Best cleans up the push.

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Tidying up

With map control secured, Protoss expands and maxes out. Mind secures his Eastern flank with a depot wall, but Best waltzes over the bridges, straight into the Terran natural. Without a strong enough tank backbone Minds army collapses.

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Sometimes size does matter.

Best 2 – Mind 3

Game 6 – Retro

We are on an old-school standard map and Best needs another win. For Mind, everything is going to plan. He has looked strong in the normal macro games so far and is hoping to finish it here. Both players ease themselves into the game, factory expand vs core expand.

With observers out, Protoss takes a quick third base. Terran adds an armory and two additional factories, before also starting a third command center. Best expands to a free natural and Mind inches his tanks towards the 9 o’clock base, being slowed down by a very annoying reaver/shuttle combo.

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Famous last words: “Shuttles are unarmed.”

Before the Terran army can properly secure the new base, a large goon force, supported by kamikaze mine sweepers and zealot bombs, seizes the high ground. The CC is forced to lift and the SCV’s, only very recently arrived, are sent packing.

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Ramps are good, especially when you’re on top.

At this point Best looks in control. Protoss is 30 supply up, has two more bases and largely controls the map. Mind is on the ropes. Minerals are running low, we’re nearly at 13 minutes and Terran is still on two gas.

And then the game completely turns on its head. Somehow Mind sneaks nine vultures and a shuttle with two tanks across the map, just between waves of Protoss reinforcements. They do absolutely enormous damage: ten probes at the freshest Protoss base, the nexus, a bunch of pylons and cannons, then more probes at 3 o’clock.

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Ouch, that really hurt.

At the same time Mind again tries to take 9 o’clock, but still can’t get up the ramp. When the dust settles, supplies are surprisingly even. Nevertheless, Best should still be ahead. Terran is only on 2-1 and Protoss is quickly back up to four bases, although I’m not entirely convinced by the decision to go for 7 o’clock…

Surely, Best would win an engagement in the open centre of the map. Surely, Mind is nearly out of minerals. Surely, all Best has to do is expand again to top right. Surely, we are heading for a showdown on Nemesis?

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This is not quite Sparta.

Instead, Best decides to engage. The Protoss units are not that well synced up. Storm does a lot of damage, but with a clutch D-matrix, excellent targeting and precise unsiege timing Mind ekes out a victory. Best ends up down in supply, down in upgrades, on even bases.

And yet, even at this late hour, it’s still possible for Best to make a game of it. He still has some units. Attacking in open space through storms still won’t be easy for Mind. Protoss has greater mobility and could, should, MUST surely expand now. Instead we find out that Best has literally gone insane, hopefully temporarily. The previous attack wasn’t a great idea, but it might have worked. The next one beggars belief.

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The Charge of the Light Brigade

After Best throws his army into the meat grinder, Mind can almost taste the victory. And in true old-school Terran fashion, not to say retro, a CC floats once again into the centre of the map, to mine the unhelpfully clumped mineral patches. Best tries a few more small attacks, but again he doesn’t quite have the numbers. One ever-so-gentle final EMP snuffs out the last remaining Protoss embers.

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Do go gentle into that good night.

Best 2 – Mind 4

In other news, I heard that JyJ played a blinder, taking down herO in the decider with the standard 8-Rax-into-floated-factory-into-2-Port-into-battle-cruiser-build we all wish we tried on ladder more often. Man those games were good, even the 4-Pool. We might just have to come to back to these after the final for a proper look…

The Scrapyard

Of all the finals possibilities looking at the Ro8 Bracket, (T)Mind vs (T)JyJ was probably the one people expected the least not just because most other combinations either had the advantage of not being a mirror matchup or had history to it and in some cases both.

But such is the nature of competition, it’s about who played their best and without a doubt Both Mind and JyJ were the best and showed it in every match they’ve played all through the season.

If you really were looking for a story or something to pick a player to get behind, JyJ was working his way up the ranks on SKT back in the proleague days and Mind was on KT after WeMade Fox disbanded, so there you go its another KT Terran vs SKT Terran fight, except its not (T)Flash vs (T)FanTaSy.

It may not be the expected finals but we should still be getting a quality finals performance from Mind and JyJ.

Its been a while since I got to talk about Mind, having him make a deep run and HBR being in the map pool made me think about his SSL11 run and how he was so close to proving that he was the best player at the time(in 2015 he was arguably the best terran until (T)Last turned into AlphaGo) only to be screwed by having to play on HBR twice against (P)Bisu, here we are 8 years later and Mind proves to everyone, especially his loyal stream sponsors that he’s still got it.

JyJ didn’t break my expectations now that I’ve come around to believing in him, beating (Z)hero in a close series to make it to the finals, though the only pertinent takeaway from that semifinals that can be applied here is that even after going down 0-2 he managed to keep his cool and stick to his game plan and that makes a huge difference in those final stages of the tournament where losing momentum in the series can snowball out of control.

Both players sit on an overall 48.5% winrate in TvT which given that they’re also playing the same group of players means that they are roughly speaking in terms of form at the same level as each other. In TvT generally if both players are of the same level we tend to get the more classic long drawn out games, the difference tends to be how scrappy/clean they can get and between JyJ and Mind its going to get real scrappy all things considered. Imagine the games will look a lot like a knife fight, except its TvT so imagine its two giant supertankers having a knife fight, its clunky and takes a bit of time between each move.

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That said going into the maps for the finals, Mind definitely took the option to play it safe and pick the bigger maps as the traditionalist in TvT while JyJ’s choices tended towards the more disliked maps for terran players in non mirror matches, the ones with interesting gimmicks, obviously JyJ seems to be the one with the more aggressive streak heading into this series, after all he did beat Rush and that has to account for something.

All in all I would say that I’ve really undersold this finals but that is not my intention, scrappy TvT are quite often more entertaining than the high level knock down drag out fights posed via higher class players because they lead to more edge of your seat games and frankly both Mind and JyJ have always been in it to win it, sure they want to show good games for their fans but winning is what matters more than looking good while doing it and the way I see it JyJ seems to have an edge over Mind.

(T)JyJ to Win ASL 15!

Source: https://tl.net/forum/brood-war/610705-asl15-finals-preview-sunset