Protoss fans suffered a painful blow in Group B as their faction’s top player herO failed to advance to the next round. Cure and Solar were able to keep up their good form from the pre-season, taking down the IEM Katowice semifinalist to claim the top two spots in the group. KeeN—a surprise entrant from the qualifier—took a map off of Solar, but was still eliminated in last place.
herO started the night off on a positive note, dispatching KeeN 2-0. After showing his conventional macro skills in game one, he closed the series out with a cheeky DT-drop in game two.
Cure also took a clean 2-0 in his first match against Solar. He took game one in a matter of minutes with a proxy 3-Barracks all-in, which he followed with a greedy 3-CC build in game two. Solar couldn’t handle the deluge of Cyclone mech that came after and surrendered his second GG.
The winners’ match between herO and Cure began with herO’s trademark aggression, as he went for 3-Gate Adept pressure with a proxy-Gate to help. However, a big mine shot helped Cure defend without too much trouble, and he jumped ahead with the lead. herO was unable to turn the tide with his follow-up attacks and he was forced to surrender. herO changed his approach with a greedy double expand strategy in game two, but Cure once again handled the situation with aplomb. A 2.5-base timing with Infantry and Tanks broke the Protoss defenses before herO’s 2-Robo production could kick in, giving Cure his ticket to the RO8.
KeeN put Solar on the verge of elimination in the losers’ match, winning the first map with great Marine-Medivac multitasking against Roach-Ravager. However, Solar tightened up his defense considerably in the next two games, coming back to win 2-1.
herO changed gears back to aggression to start the decider match against Solar, opening with a Cannon + proxy-Gate cheese. Solar responded by sacrificing his natural, content to ‘reset’ the game and play things out in a macro game. This ended up being a winning choice, as Solar stayed one step ahead of herO the rest of the way. He balanced his economy, army, and tech carefully, keeping close tabs on herO. Ultimately, he was able to put together a strong Viper-backed army to counter herO’s Colossus-Disruptor force and take the GG. In his post-match interview, Solar said that he had lost to herO’s cheese several times on ladder and had spent a lot of time thinking about how to beat it.
herO stayed on the offensive in game two, starting with 4-Gate Adepts and transitioning into mass Adept-Immortal. Solar was pushed to the verge of defeat, but his persistent Zergling run-bys took enough steam out of the Protoss offensive to force a well-earned GG from herO.