The Global StarCraft League round of 16 took place on Aug. 15, featuring two non-Korean players, as well as Cho “Maru” Seong Ju and Kim “Impact” Joon Hyuk. Maru and Alex “Neeb” Sunderhaft ended up making it out of the group, but there was a moment where the story could have been entirely different. Riccardo “Reynor” Romiti, the young Italian Zerg player, took game one of the series, and put Maru on his back momentarily in game two. The sixteen-year-old could have 4-0’d his group. Taking down the best player in the world.
Game one began like a normal TvZ, Maru didn’t try his proxy Barracks builds like he used to 2-0 Neeb, Reynor took his third base at 1:49. A Reaper scout managed to get a Zergling but was ultimately stopped by a queen. The next four minutes is a small back and forth, Maru trying to harass while Reynor fends it off. At the 6:15 mark, Maru moves out with a two base Marine/Medic/Tank push. They fight for a few seconds before Maru pauses, after the pause it is decided that there was in-game lag, Maru is given a new computer and they restart from the 6:10 mark. Some could argue that the pause is the reason for Maru’s loss, he showed his build, Reynor counters; but this is the essence of StarCraft, countering your opponents build. Reynor is able to defend two pushes, while sneaking in Zerglings to Maru’s economy. The pause didn’t make Maru miss two counter attacks.
The second game of the series showed Maru going back to a double proxy Rax, Reynor had a hunch and sent an Overlord to scout it. His plan thwarted, Maru switches into a mech build. The game goes on with Reynor countering everything Maru had built to throw at him, stopping the Banshee harass, surrounding Hellions before they can harass, and expanding rapidly. At around the 7:56 mark, Maru goes for a double expand, an attempt to double his economy while Reynor is playing passively. Throughout the game Reynor never really capitalized on his lead, keeping even in supply with Maru, when he goes for Broodlord tech it gets scouted and Maru is able to shakily respond, using banshees to take down one of Reynors bases while Reynor battered on his base. It was looking good for the Italian player until the 13-minute mark, where Maru beats out his main army, and goes on the offensive. Reynor starts to crumble under the weight of the mech army. Reynor had a few advantages he could have pressed in order to change the outcome of the game. He could have 2-0’d Maru and it almost looked like he would have.
The short and unfortunate nail in the coffin for young Reynor in game three, was forgetting that Maru likes to proxy two Barracks. He was unable to scout it this time around, and the pressure it posed was too great. Building a bunker in front of Reynor’s Natural expand, Maru was able to micro a group of marines to kill well over 1000 minerals worth of production for Reynor. At that four minutes into a game, 1000 minerals are already a lot to lose to a group of marines and a bunker. Showing a lot of talent and preparation for Maru, Reynor almost followed in his fellow European Zerg’s footsteps, only this time in a best of three.
One of the most exciting series of StarCraft this year, nobody expected the young Zerg to do so well. At only sixteen however, he proved he can stand with the best. A lot of great things are to come to Reynor if he keeps practicing and playing hard. Tune in to Group B of the GSL, the group of death, Friday Aug. 17 at 9:30 MST.