Starcraft 2 Esports Storylines – Don’t count Maru out just yet
Cho “Maru” Seong-ju has come up against a couple tough losses in the last few days. First he lost in the Dreamhack Summer Season Grand Finals against Reynor in a hard fought series that saw all 7 games played. Next, he went out in the group stage at 2021 Global StarCraft II League Season 2: Code S.
Having suffered so many back to back defeats, one must be reminded why hope is not lost for Maru. Though his GSL loses were tough to swallow, the circumstances made it slightly more palatable. Maru has primarily been playing TvZ and TvT matchups recently, and has been performing very well in them. His group in GSL consisted of two Protoss players and one Zerg, who he beat. The two TvP matches ended 2-1 in losses for Maru. So while his early exit is disappointing, it is not yet time to write him off.
In spirit of analyzing the bright spots of his performances, let’s take a look at his best of seven against Reynor in the Dreamhack Grand Final.
Maru lost the first two games due to uncharacteristically allowing Zergling run-bys into his mineral lines. Maru really did not look entirely himself in those first two games. Perhaps this was due to how well Reynor played. Reynors performance is large in part due to the amount of practice he has been getting with the Terran player Clem. Clem is known for his fast and dynamic bio play in the TvZ matchup, which is what Maru had tried in those first two games. Down 2-0 against a strong Zerg, Maru used his experience to claw his way back. After a good macro game in game 3, Maru won out with his classic pressure.
Game 4 is where things got interesting. Maru opened with a fast Battlecruiser and Hellion harassment. However, he was able to keep Reynor from scouting the fusion core which allowed him to catch Reynor off guard. Generally, the Terran will teleport the Battlecruiser into the main base to draw the Zerg army back and then run into the third with the hellions. Instead, he ran the Hellions in first and teleported the Battlecruiser into the main afterwards. This resulted in Reynor killing all of the Hellions without suffering much damage. Despite this, Maru ended up winning in dominant fashion with his mech play.
Game 5 saw the same strategy deployed but with a brilliant adaptation that Maru made when he saw how Reynor handled it in the previous game. He noticed that Reynors Queens at his third base were pushed out far away from his natural expansion and teleported his battlecruiser directly on top of them while pushing in with his Hellions. Winning the engagement in decisive fashion, killing 12 drones and a few Queens, he was able to escape with most of his Hellions and from there he had a massive lead which won him the game.
Game 6 was played on Beckett Industries LE. This is typically a map where Terran can abuse Siege Tanks against Zerg. Maru, who had yet to cheese at this point, decided to do a 2 proxy barracks play. The reason for this is that it was the least likely map to do this build on, due to how strong Terrans mid game is on this map. However, Reynor was way ahead of him and countered the build with a quick Spawning Pool. Maru’s pressure was shut down and he lost the game because of it. It was wonderfully done by Reynor, who won the mind game. This was the turning point in the series.
Game 7 was a good macro game that saw Reynor put lots of pressure on Maru, who eventually broke. Remember, Maru is not only one of the best and most exciting Starcraft players of all time, he is also one of the longest standing and most accomplished. He has developed the tools necessary to beat every opponent he comes up against. Maru may have gone out early in the GSL group stage, but he is far from done. He has been here before.
At the back end of 2020, he lost consecutive matches to TY, Armani and Clem falling out of GSL Season 3 and DH Winter Finals. He then bounced back a few months later. Don’t count Maru out for the rest of 2021 season. He’s still 3rd in over EPT rankings behind Trap and Rogue. Being on a losing spree will only make his odds go down in the short term, meaning you can get a huge payout in Starcraft 2 betting if you bet on Maru at the next event.