MLG Anaheim

StarCraft II MLG Spring Championship – Polt vs. Hyun is Worth Watching Again

MLG Anaheim Spring Championship 2013 rocked the StarCraft II world with exciting games across the board at the end of June. As the second MLG championship event this year, Anaheim Spring Championship marked a pivotal moment in the evolution of Heart of the Swarm meta strategy. All of the games throughout the weekend were amazing to watch live, but of all the events in 2013 so far, I believe this one definitely deserves a second watch. New tactics in Heart of the Swarm have changed rapidly since its introduction in March of this year, and this event showed that the new techniques and strategies are continuing to evolve.

Polt vs. Hyun — Grand Finals
Ex-teammates Polt and Hyun faced off in an intense best-of-five grand finals at the end of the weekend. Both players were intimately familiar with the other’s style. Hyun chose to stick with a very Wings of Liberty style of play throughout the series, but Polt showcased excellent Heart of the Swarm tactics game after game, showing how Terran play in the new expansion is maturing.

When asked to say a few words to his opponent before the series, Polt replied, “You did a good job until the finals, but I think the trophy is mine.” When asked the same question, Hyun responded “I hope we can show good games. Also, last time I took the trophy, and this time I’m going to take it, too.” Both players looked comfortable as the series started, as both had tricks up their sleeves they couldn’t wait to bring out.

Both players put heavy pressure on early in game 1, Polt doing damage with a unique Reaper + Hellion attack with a single Viking hunting Overlords, while Hyun put on consistent Zergling pressure. Polt showcased impressive bio mine play throughout the midgame, but Hyun’s superior numbers and excellent drop defense gave him enough of an advantage to go on the offensive. Both players showed creative strategies throughout the game to surprise the opponent they each knew so well. A mass Queen + Infestor attack by Hyun against Polt’s 3 Battlecruisers, small bio force and massive minefield sent Hyun limping home, and Polt quickly struck back with a large Battlecruiser + Viking push well into the late game. Polt’s perfect use of Hunter Seeker Missiles destroyed Hyun’s crucial infestors, resulting in a 36 minute Polt victory that didn’t slow down for an instant from the start.

Polt spent the early part of game 2 holding off Creep Tumors and hassling expansions with a sizable Hellion force, but Hyun quickly destroyed them all with a perfect surround in a pivotal engagement. Hyun rebounded quickly, launching a perfectly-timed attack with Zerglings, Banelings and Roaches to take a convincing win.

In game 3, Polt rushed to build a small Marine army and take down Hyun’s third Hatchery before any Zerglings were on the map, quickly following it up with a failed Widow Mine drop attempt. Polt’s build order was so unconventional that the announcers had no idea what he was up to, and Hyun surely felt the same way. Polt sent a Hellbat- and Marauder-heavy bio force with Siege Tank support across the map at 10 minutes, relentlessly forcing the GG and taking a 2-1 lead.

During the player introductions in game 4, fans screamed for Polt louder than I’ve ever heard in a StarCraft event, clearly showing their support for the Texas resident representing the U.S. Hyun found the perfect opportunity to attack Polt’s army from behind after both armies launched out just outside of their respective vision, taking out a few Siege Tanks before decimating Polt’s natural expansion. The Terran Texan amazingly held on, but Hyun kept the pressure on until he saw the GG and retied the series.

Polt opened game 5 with a now-classic Reaper + Hellion timing attack in pure Heart of the Swarm Style, while Hyun focused on spreading out his economy as quickly as possible. Polt’s perfect micro control slid a sizeable early Hellion force past Hyun’s defenses, allowing him to utterly destroy Hyun’s economy at 8 minutes in. A quick followup with a handful of Marines and Marauders took out Hyun’s new third base to give Polt an even greater advantage. Hyun showed great skill in holding off his opponent for as long as possible, but Polt emerged victorious at the end of the day, securing the grand finals win for his American fans and taking home a hefty cash prize for the weekend.

If you missed the game or would like to give it a second watch, you can check it out in the VoD’s below:

WCS Points
After the dust settled, 16 players walked away with new WCS points to add to their collection as they fight their way to the global grand finals at Blizzcon 2013. The top four players of the tournament scored a combined 1,500 WCS points and $22,000:

Polt – Rank 1, 750 WCS Points, $10,000
Hyun – Rank 2, 450 WCS Points, $6,000
HerO and NaNiwa – Rank 3/4, 300 WCS Points, $3,000

The next MLG Championship event will be in Columbus, Ohio on November 22-24. Time will tell if Polt or Hyun will take a top spot in the next championship, and there’s no telling how the pro-circuit metagame will have evolved and changed by then, but we can sure there will be plenty of edge-of-your-seat action to come this year.