StarCraft 2 DreamHack Bucharest rundown
DreamHack Bucharest is back! After last years’ successful turnout, the big European tour returned to Romania for its all-important, final qualifier. This tournament attracted the biggest StarCraft 2: Heart of Swarm players and clubs from around the world with its 175,000 SEK ($26,600) prize pot. Bucharest is the last stop before the DreamHack Winter Finals in November, where another 500,000 SEK ($76,200) is up for grabs. In addition, it is also the last European tier 1 tournament before Blizzcon; awarding 750 WCS to the victors to aid their Blizzcon efforts.
The opening game, HaNfy vs Harstem followed by Hwangsin vs Monchi, were a tale of things to come; with a lot of early pressure, Harstem barely establishing a solid base structure before wading in and likewise from Hwangsin, both of whom benefited greatly from early on base-trade gambits. You could tell from early on that Bucharest was all going to be about early game intimidation, with the suffering players being the reactors, and not the aggressors. This resulted in very timid entry into battle in the later stages from the early economists, who were too stubborn to leave their slow, scouting starting games and adopt more aggressive ones, giving elbow-room to Terran and Protoss players from very early on.
What this meant most of all though, was quick, aggressive, unorthodox gaming; something you rarely see at a large-pot tournament. It made for a refreshing, exciting change to the scene, much to the delight of its 10,000 live spectators, 200 combatants and countless online stream-monsters.
It was an intense 2 days with some tough, clutch-matches. Highlights included INnovation knocking out his own team-mate MMA in the Semi-Finals, Harstems crushing string of losses in Groupstage 3 and Flash's early exit, after giving in to pressure-plays against YugiOH.
The Final 8 were as follows:
Of the 8 finalists, 7 were from South Korea and mostly Team Liquid Pro/Team Acer players, with Elfi from Finland holding it down for the Europeans.
The Grand Finals were Team Liquid's Taeja and Team Acer's INnovation (Ranked World First); a much anticipated Terran vs Terran mirror match.
Both players came into this match knowing each-others playing styles very well; INnovation having lost to Taeja less than 24 hours prior, and both players switched up their strategies accordingly.
Round 1: Star Station
Both finalists are known for power-building in their finals, but both ignored their old game-plans and coincidentally adopted double, and then, triple-barracks-reaper set-ups; incredibly rare from either player, let alone against each other. Not only was this the theme of Bucharest's battle's all weekends, but it was also a declaration that both players wanted first-blood, and to do damage from as early as possible. INnovation looked the strongest throughout the opening and middle games, developing a strong economy, while Taeja was still stuck in his early-game developing units.
Taeja's rudimentary approach didn't appear fruitful, as INnovation comfortably sat behind strong defenses due to his sheer build strength. This all appeared to be a distraction though, as Taeja was slowly pushing him out of position, using tactical drops and unit trade-offs. Before INnovation knew what was happening, he was outnumbered in the air and his tanks couldn't match up, and Teija was left with a rather comfortable end-game, crushing INnovations bank. Round 1 to Taeja.
Round 2: Neo Planet S
Neo Planet, being a much smaller map, promised an aggressive match from these two Terran-masters, especially due to their barracks-heavy starts in Round 1. What actually happened, was a slow, careful start from both players, with INnovation scouting and chipping at Taeja's early ground-forces. INnovation quickly got comfortable and began to work on his expansion, ignoring the fact that they were set up on a much smaller, more dynamic map, while Taeja, again, built a strong aggressive front. INnovation attempted a base-trade and didn't even see his main base get eaten up by Taeja, very early on. Round 2 to Taeja.
Round 3: Whirlwind
Match-point to Taeja in this best-of-five and, as they get to work on DreamHack's biggest map, the aggressive strategies need to be put to the side-lines and a more economical approach needs to be taken. Taeja doesn't heed the warnings of the enormous map and chooses an aggressive build from the get-go. Taeja's map navigation with his Banshees allows him some swift sniping inside INnovation's base, allowing Taeja to switch to Mech and begin to speed up his attack, simultaneously reinforcing his bases. INnovation gets in a couple of good scans, gaining a great opportunity to mobilize, but is hesitant, as Taeja begins to max out. Taeja unleashes a monstrous horde of Hellbats and Banshees and INnovation just crumbles; making Taeja the second ever two-time DreamHack champion with an unbelievable 3-0 shut-out.
Blizzard duly presented Taeja with his 60,000SEK award and his place at the DreamHack Winter Finals at Elmia. See you there on November 28th!