Just two days ago Nuit Blanche were one of the favorites to dominate the Second Division of the SC2I Team League Season 6, after an excruciatingly close 3-4 defeat in the First Division qualifiers to Romandy Gaming. When we received news however that Apocalypse eSports would be dropping out of the league it was clear that there was one team that was a level above the others which competed in the qualifiers and so Nuit Blanche were awarded the opportunity to compete in the First Division.
Unfortunately for them it was not an easy welcoming to First Division life as their first opponents were Millenium - a team which has one of the strongest line-ups in the current season of the SC2ITL - including recent WCS Champion Lilbow and all-killer of Korea, MarineLorD. At first glance this match-up of French orgnaisations is one which you would probably dismiss as being a simple victory for the favorites Millenium - but when it came down to the actual series it was a lot closer than many imagined.
The final result was a 4-2 victory for Millenium, but it was hard earned after the players from Nuit Blanche pushed the Millenium players to the maximum game after game. We're going to take a quick look at some of the best games from the match!
Game 1 - MarineLorD (T) vs ShaDoWn (P) - Dusk Towers
The series started on Dusk Towers, as it so often does when two players are left to veto down to just one single map, with a TvP. MarineLorD came into Season 6 of the SC2ITL as one of the strongest players from Season 4 with a win ratio of over 70% - putting him as the strongest foreign Terran during the league. ShaDoWn is a Protoss player who we saw briefly during the qualifiers when he took a single map against Romandy Gaming.
Despite being on arguably the most standard map in the map pool MarineLorD opened with an aggressive one base play. Early on Cyclones were crossing the map alongside Marines and a Medivac - all unscouted by ShaDoWn who already had his third Nexus in production when the attack came in. The attack quickly moved into the main base of the Protoss player, who with one Stargate and one Gateway had his work cut out for him in the following defense. It was a sloppy few moments which saw ShaDoWn losing his Oracle and one or two Phoenix, but he pushed the initial attack back and held a slight lead in the game as his third base had survived and was mining while MarineLorD morphed in his natural Command Center into an Orbital.
The next wave of aggression came out of MarineLorD with a handful of Siege Tanks, Liberators and Marines. He set up aggressively on the ramp up to ShaDoWn's third base and with the high DPS of the Liberators it was difficult for our Protoss player to push out of the situation. A lot of indecision cost ShaDoWn a lot of time and units as he kept wandering into siege tank range and back out, without ever committing to a fight, however after a scrappy couple of minutes he was finally able to push MarineLorD back. The problem was he had no upgrades and very limited tech, with an army consisting of gateway units and a Void Ray, while MarineLorD continued to mass up Marine-Marauder-Medivac with an ever-growing upgrade lead.
As ShaDoWn tried to counter across the map MarineLorD had a double drop which killed the natural of his opponent and forced the Protoss army to return home. After cleaning up the drops there was only one option remaining for ShaDoWn as he moved out across the map in an all-in effort to end the game - and things did begin to go his way. He caught MarineLorDs army mid-map which brought him a good trade and some momentum. The Void Rays in the sky traded a lot better than expected and MarineLorD found himself retreated with very few units to his third base. ShaDoWn then pushed into the third base and was winning the fight - killing the majority of MarineLorDs SCVs and a good chunk of the army. MarineLorD was on his last ropes and had given up his third - all ShaDoWn had to do was kill the Command Centers on the low ground and sit down the ramp while he expanded at home. Instead he got caught up in the moment and went up the ramp into the Main of MarineLorD, who with less army supply but superior upgrades took the better engagement with open arms, killing the entirety of the Protoss army, and just like that ShaDoWn had let slip an almost certain victory in game 1.
Game 2 - MarineLorD (T) vs MouLou (T) - Central Protocol
After the excitement of Game 1 nobody was expecting an even crazier game to come out straight away in Game 2. MouLou came out for the TvT on Central Protocol and absolute insanity ensued. To start the game MouLou opened gas-first Reaper Hellion, which turned out to blind counter the early three rax reaper play of MarineLorD. MouLou was in a great position after killing some early reapers, he had map control outside MarineLorD's natural and had a Cloaked Banshee against no Missile Turret and only three marines. Unfortunately tunnel visioning brought MouLou to focus only on the front and he wasted a lot of time where he could have been doing game ending damage with the Banshee in the mineral line by attacking the depot wall.
MarineLorD held off Banshee after Banshee with some questionable control coming out of MouLou and the game evened out slightly with two bases up for each player. MarineLorD was the first to take an aggressive stance on the map, but was punished by a drop into his main base killing over ten workers. MouLou was opening advantages as he managed to push back MarineLorDs army while holding a large worker lead as well as an army supply advantage. MouLou went to counter attack with has advantage and was able to bring MarineLorD down to ten workers while trading armies, however at the same time his Main Base was caught floating to a new base by MarineLorD, who killed 20 workers alongside the Orbital.
The advantage was still just in MouLou's hands as he held ten workers over his opponent, but was slightly behind in army supply and also was down an orbital to mule with. The motion of one player attacks then the other counters continued as MarineLorD once again sieged in an abusive position between the Main and Natural of MouLou, equalizing the tank count. At the same time however a drop killed the natural base of MarineLord and some more workers leaving MarineLord with an orbital floating to a gold base and only four workers remaining. MouLou pulled workers to fight as he cleaned up the siege position of MarineLorD and at the 13:30 mark in the game we had 0 workers for Moulou and 21 army supply against 4 workers and 9 army supply of MarineLorD -- but MarineLorD mining from the gold base was able to build some extra marines bringing him back into the army count.
Eventually however MouLou found the gold base and shut it down, leaving MarineLorD without an expansion and with a marine advantage but only one tank against the four of his opponent. With a Command Center still standing for MouLou it was up to MarineLorD to go aggressive, but some micro mistakes led to him losing too many units in this tense situation, allowing MouLou to tie up the series.
Game 6 - ShoWTimE (P) vs JonnyREcco (Z) - Orbital Shipyard
This game is way too long to go into in a lot of detail -- but what are you to expect when you put a Protoss player who likes to play defensively while building up into their late game air army against a Zerg who is not afraid to play late game ZvP? While for the most part this may not have been the most exciting game, it was definitely one in which you could appreciate the strategic moves of ShoWTimE as he slowly picked away at the defenses and bases of JonnyREcco to establish slight advantages.
After a grueling 20 minutes it was ShoWTimE showing us the power of Carriers, Tempests and Void Rays as he out-positioned JonnyREcco, allowing him to slowly pick away at all of his tech structures and hatcheries. When the armies eventually clashed there was just too much going in favor of ShoWTimE and the momentum carried him through to the final victory of the clan war.