A grand final fans had been starving for. Quarterfinal best of fives that blew minds. And a certain champion showing all of us – again – that he always means business, even while donning that trademark grin. As the final show of Season 9 before Katowice, Intel Extreme Masters Taipei more than met expectations – these moments made the magic.
We’ve got you surrounded: PartinG vs. Classic
When a smack-talking PartinG took on Classic in a mirror match, he held nothing back. After Classic’s stalker eked in several damage, PartinG took control, surrounding it with angry red probes who brought the stalker to a quick end. PartinG went on to win the series 3-0 in an indisputably dominant performance.
Front line sacrifices: Life vs. HyuN
Though map three of Life and HyuN’s series wasn’t tournament defining, one similarly non-defining moment still stood out.
The scene: the series is tied 1-1 and both Zergs are at max supply with gigantic roach armies. After both armies had spent some serious time positioning and repositioning around the other’s, Life put his banelings on the front line, chasing HyuN’s roaches down a ramp in the middle of the map as the banes exploded just in front of the StarTale player’s own army. This small moment was two big things: cool as hell to watch, and a lead into the set of engagements that would ultimately secure a 2-1 lead for Life.
Wait for it: Maru vs. herO
After gaining army power as map two wore on while he played “StarCraft like a god,” Maru decided to make his move against herO’s army in an engagement that proved to be the clear route to the end for three-time Intel Extreme Masters champion herO.
As Maru’s army approached his enemy’s, he hung back patiently with his bio, executing beautiful splits just before the moment of attack. The anticipation for the engagement grew as the young Terran showed unparalleled restraint. And, when it was just the right time, he moved forward, beginning a march that would end with his chasing down a single, terrified zealot – and a well-deserved “GG” from the CJ Entus player.
Tides turn quickly: Maru vs. Life
The Maru versus Life grand final so many fans had waited for gave us moment after moment of unbelievable play and unbridled excitement. However, a few moments stood out – especially the one when we all realized Life was about to tie the series.
It happened in the late game on Expedition Lost. Life had been working his way around and through Maru’s bases with a group of mutalisks that nearly caught the Terran’s medivacs in a base-to-base transition and ruined them all. But the mutas had another, even more sinister purpose. In a push that included 23 worker kills, Life’s mutas sufficiently distracted Maru to leave his planetary open for the taking. Life’s banelings trashed the building and the Terran’s income.
Shortly after, 36 SCVs fell to just two burrowed banes, sealing the fate of Maru on map six and sending Life on to secure his second Intel Extreme Masters win – he is the only player aside from herO who has ever managed this feat.
If you missed any of the action, be sure to check the VODs here. What was your favorite moment? If we missed it here, let us know in a comment below!