In association with Alienware
The first match of the third DreamHack group stage pitted a seemingly unstoppable force—Keen, a Korean Terran who had yet to drop a single map in the tournament—against legendary foreign Protoss Naniwa, a hometown favorite who went 4-4 in maps in the second round of group play. Could Naniwa turn his shaky fortunes in DreamHack around and take out Keen?
Naniwa faces off against Keen on Cloud Kingdom. The game opens in the most standard of ways, with Keen going for the TvP staple 1 rax expand and Nani responding with a quick expand followed by fast colossus tech.
Keen scans and sees the colossus tech, which spurs him to begin producing vikings. This ends up coming back to bite him, because when Naniwa's 2 base colossi timing shows up at his front, keen only has 2 medivacs ready to heal his units! Naniwa rolls through Keen's natural, and it looks like he's going to take the game right there, but a small marine/marauder counter from Keen wipes out his natural nexus.
Naniwa falls back with his sentries and one remaining colossi and uses his superior production to mass up a new deathball. When he pushes with this one, Keen is so hopelessly outnumbered that he opts to attempt a base trade. Naniwa splits his forces, crushing Keen's natural once again with a gateway force, while the rest of his army goes home to clean up.
Unfortunately for Naniwa, he isn't able to pick off Keen's counterattacking units before they take down BOTH his nexuses, leaving him with only 300 minerals and around 300 gas. In other words, Naniwa now has no building with which to produce any workers, AND not enough money to build a new one. The 300/300 he's got in the bank is all he's ever going to get this game.
That being said, he's still in a great position. Keen's army is almost entirely gone, and Naniwa quickly reduces his main to a scattered mess of rubble. The only problem is, Keen has stashed a barracks, command center and starport in corners around the map, out of range of Naniwa's stalkers. If Naniwa can't figure out a way to kill those buildings, Keen will have forced a draw.
For the next five minutes, Naniwa's deathball (complete with a huge mob of now-useless probes) chases Keen's few remaining units around the map. InControL quickly figures out that Naniwa has exactly enough money to build 1 stargate and 1 phoenix, which would allow him to chase down the buildings floating in the corners.
Eventually Naniwa figures it out as well and starts building a stargate. Keen still has two vikings floating around the map, and he manages to churn out a third one, which means that his only chance to pull out a draw is to pick off the one money phoenix with his vikings.
For a second or two it looks like he might make it happen, but then Naniwa picks off the vikings and that's that.
Few games I've ever seen have been so close: if Naniwa had come out of losing his nexuses with 5 less minerals, or if he hadn't realized that his money lined up perfectly with 1 stargate and 1 phoenix and he'd built something else instead, the game would have been a draw instead of a win. And against such an intimidating opponent, that could have made a world of difference.
In game two, it seems like Naniwa's newfound confidence gives him the edge he needs. When his four gate gets scouted, Nani simply backs off and makes a few more rounds of zealots and sentries. Keen, assuming that Nani will attempt to transition in some way, starts a third command center, and that signals his demise—perfect force fields from Nani render Keen's 3 bunkers in his natural useless, and the European Protoss rolls through to a 2-0 victory.
Naniwa has to be happy coming off this victory. Hopefully we'll see some more success out of him this DreamHack—he's one of the most entertaining players out there, and when he's playing his best, he can take a series off anybody in the world.
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