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Harstem wins the Gold Series International!

By: Punknight

Hello fellow gamers and welcome to your weekly dose of SC2 News. Today I’ll be recapping the finale of the Gold Series International, and how Harstem ultimately took home the victory.

It hurts me to say this, but Harstem(P) made beating Snute(Z) to win the Gold Series International look easy. To win this tournament, Harstem(P) didn’t pull out any crazy builds. Instead, he played extremely clean by executing a few well known tricks here and there to gain an advantage, and then steam rolled into the mid- to late-game for an easy win. Let’s look at what Harstem did.

To start off, Harstem played a solid macro game. Normal macro games consist of getting 3 or 4 bases up and running and consistently building 2 or three types of units with some spellcasters mixed in. These strategies are bread and butter for a pro player. Even when they are doing something cool, they are usually building toward these strategies. Harstem went Immortal-Zealot-Adept in most games against Snute.

Next, let’s review some of the little things that gave Harstem an edge. First, Harstem performed either a pylon block or at least a probe harass that delayed Snute from building a Hatchery every game. Carbots does a great short of this tactic here:

These little delays threw off Snute’s timings and forced Snute to build a Spawning Pool earlier than he wanted to. Ultimately, Snute ended up playing super aggressive every game, possibly because he was put on tilt from a simple Hatchery delay.

Second, Harstem performed a solid wall off in each game. This shouldn’t even be worth mentioning, except for how often professional players seem to let a few Zerglings slip into their main or natural. (Watch some of Life’s games in the 2015 WCS playoffs, the kid might be in trouble these days, but he is still an amazing SC2 player). Even in game 2, where Harstem lost to Snute, it really seemed like Harstem was going to hold by constantly reinforcing his wall and using photon overcharge effectively. A good wall is impenetrable to a Zergling army, and it really forces a Zerg player to tech up to find another way into the Protoss main base.

Third, Harstem routinely used Sentry Force Field army splits to gain an edge. This involves dividing the opponent’s army in two, allowing a Protoss army to take out the first army, while the second half of the army is retreating. In the lower leagues, Protoss players have begun to gripe that Stargate openings in PvZ are the ONLY build that Protoss players can go because Corrosive Bile destroys Force Fields. But Corrosive Bile takes valuable seconds to land meaning the few units that have been cut off from the main army can be cleaned up in that time. Additionally, every Corrosive Bile that goes into destroying a Force Field is not destroying a unit or pylon that can be Photon Overcharged.

Finally, Harlem’s Warp Prism-Immortal micro was the last nail in the coffin. LotV Immortals have an ability called Barrier that give them a brief burst of 200hp that let them act really tank-y for a while. Once their shields are gone though, they quickly fall to Zerglings. The Warp Prism is flying unit that can pick up other units. In many battles, Harstem slowly retreated his Immortals until they seemed low on health, and then picked them up with a Warp Prism and put them in a more defensive position behind Adepts, Minerals or even probes. This is micro at its finest—using two units together effectively to win an otherwise even battle.

These plays along with some errors on Snute’s part gave Harstem the victory. But let’s give Snute his due. He has placed 2nd in two major tournaments in WCS, and he has showed us some novel strategies while doing it. In game 4, at 9:56-10:18 Snute was pretty far behind, but he had a massive amount of Ravagers and something interesting happened. He set off a few Corrosive Biles, and then pushed forward against Void Rays, and then set off another couple, and then pushed forward again. The strategy ultimately didn’t work, but it looked very much like “volley fire” that you see archers use throughout history. It would be really cool to see a professional micro enough ranks of Ravagers to effectively perform this maneuver with no effective cool down. Zerg deathball anyone?

Anyway, that’s the rundown of the Gold Series International 2016 this week. If you’d like to see the finals yourself, you can check it out below:

Let us know if you enjoyed any other parts of the tournament in the comments! Otherwise, see you next week!

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