March 9 - YoDa may have joined the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship as a replacement for GSL player Symbol, but today, he beat First convincingly to become the first-ever player to win a Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm tournament.
Two Protoss, two Terran and two Zerg players remained in the tournament at the start of today's play. However, all hope for a Zerg champion was quickly squashed as Ret and viOLet both lost in the quarterfinals to Protoss players YongHwa and First. With these victories, the two Protoss joined teammates Mvp and YoDa in the semifinals - ensuring a victory for the LGIM team no matter the winner. Additionally, the mirrored matchups of the semifinals guaranteed that a Protoss would battle a Terran in the tournament's grand finals.
Army positioning and medivac drops played a huge role in the Terran semifinal match. YoDa took the first game with mech play, but Mvp won the second by dealing significant economic damage with cloaked banshees. YoDa then perfectly executed a quick proxy reaper build to win the third game; however, Mvp tied his opponent again by dropping into YoDa's base after denying a drop himself. The fifth game was very close, with several engagements favoring Mvp due to his continued better positioning; nonetheless, YoDa's stunning macro and larger tank force proved too much in the end. Mvp, the favorite for many to win the tournament, conceded the series to YoDa.
YongHwa and First battled each other in the second semifinal match, where the underdog again defeated the predicted winner when First took the series 3-0. The first game proved a quick win after he opened with early four-gate pressure. In the second game, YongHwa's large force destroyed First's third base; in the nick of time, First's void rays flew in to make short work of his opponent's stalker-heavy army, and YongHwa once again tapped out. In the final game, First punished YongHwa's greedy opening with early stalker / phoenix aggression. Under extreme pressure of elimination, YongHwa missed casting critical force fields, allowing First to win the fight, the game and the series.
If First's stunning play versus a Protoss opponent showed fans anything, it was how much different his outcome would be versus a Terran. In the tournament's grand finals, the Protoss player struggled to keep up with YoDa's constant drops and stunning macro. It was almost as if YoDa could sense his opponent's plays, even finding a proxy pylon in the initial game before First's probe could start constructing a nearby stargate or robotics facility. At the end of the game, YoDa's units all had very few hit points; all First needed was a well-placed storm to end their aggression. Regrettably, YoDa executed a game-winning EMP, removing the energy from the high templar and securing the Terran player's win.
After losing a quick second game to more drop play, First tried to trick his opponent by sending hallucinated oracles to YoDa's base while building real oracles. His strategy was to lure YoDa into a false sense of security, allowing the Terran player to remove his defensive widow mines from his mineral lines and leave his SCVs undefended. Yet somehow, YoDa knew that the hallucinated units were not the oracles he was looking for, and he kept his defensive mines in place to make short work of the actual oracles.
In the final game, the Terran player built a large bio force, defended an attack by First and then countered by attacking multiple Protoss bases. In the end, YoDa's mind tricks proved too much for First. The Terran player took the series 4-0, proving that he is indeed a Force to be reckoned with in Heart of the Swarm.