Things surrounding MaNa have been fairly quiet for several months now and coming into the event there certainly hasn’t been the same media frenzy that’s been following other players. Although he was once heralded as one of Europe’s premier Protoss players he has made little impact of late, despite recently confirming his decision to take a year out to play full time.
After the first few days it seemed like the like of attention was justified and in many ways MaNa is very lucky to still be in the tournament. In Group Stage 2 he squeaked through 1-2 with losses to Protosser and an out of shape qxc, and despite winning his Stage 3 group he was blessed with a uniquely weak group made of relatively lower skilled players like Naugrim, Harstem and Bly. It seemed as if MaNa had lucked his way to the playoffs. With a guaranteed Korean opponent should he make it the quarter finals most people had pretty much written MaNa off including yours truly.
However, you’re only as good as your last game and boy have MaNa’s last games been good. In the quarter finals he found himself matched up against the 20-0 Liquid superstar Hero. He hadn’t dropped a map the entire tournament and he’s looked pretty unassailable in the PvP matchup in the past to boot. Enter MaNa. In a nail-biting Best of 3 series the Polish Protoss was able to defeat last year’s Dreamhack Winter Champion to set up a semi-final with Stephano. The final map, Daybreak, came to an explosive climax. With MaNa all-in and the clock ticking, behind on minerals and army, he turned to Dark Templars. The move looked desperate but the execution was sublime. Picking off multiple observers in a cat-and-mouse fashion he was able to give himself the tiniest of windows to engage Hero’s main force. With deft force field placement he was able to manipulate the situation in the perfect fashion, crippling Hero’s army. With no more minerals in the main for an observer and no way to distance mine Hero was dead in the water. MaNa had done it and he’d done it in style.
His matches against Stephano were equally impressive. A severe underdog entering the match, MaNa was clearly not lacking confidence, typing in chat and goading Stephano as he complained about low fps. In the end Stephano demanded they restart on a new PC and MaNa retorted that he simply knew he would lose. The game kicked off eventually on Metropolis, Stephano on a new computer, and MaNa wasted no time getting down to business. Powering up to a Gateway/Immortal force on two bases MaNa made his attack. With Warp Prism support for mobile reinforcement, MaNa first eliminated the third base of Stephano and then, with pin point placement of force fields, cut down a significant portion of Stephano’s retreating Roach force. Busting into the natural was a simple task after that and Stephano conceded defeat graciously.
Game two was a case of rinse and repeat with MaNa executing the same strategy on DayBreak. Although Stephano attempted a three sided flank as MaNa moved up the wide ramp at the natural it was not successful, with MaNa’s swift force fields blocking out any hope of surround. With Immortal shots ringing out MaNa marched into the main, cutting out the heart of Stephano – his economy and his Lair Tech. The crowd began to cheer and Stephano knew that he was finished. Leaving the game with a message for his friend he told MaNa “I’m proud of you”, a message that will surely be more true if MaNa can go all the way and take the title. His opponent in the Grand Finals is currently unknown but after victory of Stephano and Hero, MaNa will certainly fancy himself to take his first major Championship after so many silver medals.
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|Graham Kirkup // BigLighthouse|
Posted 11 months ago: Mon, 18 Jun 2012 21:28:00 +0100
|North Am||May 24||China|
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