I had the opportunity to see quite a few Ruin games last year, including a reasonably large replay pack from the IEM qualifiers at one point. Back then, not only did Ruin not impress me as far as top Protosses went, I straight up didn’t like his play.
That’s all changed recently. As I review all of the games from the month, Ruin’s play made me stop and appreciate the fine art of match planning. Not since Squirtle’s 3 Terran group several GSL seasons ago have I been so happy with how a Protoss chose his strategies in a single matchup group. (you can find a brief write-up of that here: http://scdojo.tumblr.com/post/25081387160/the-brilliance-of-squirtles-pvt-builds)
The following is an explanation of that planning from his Code A Group this season:
Effort vs Curious
Ruin vs Sleep
3 Zergs, 1 Ruin.
To put into perspective how tough a group like this is, first consider that with 3 Zergs in the group, you will need an absolute minimum of 4 PvZs, with a maximum of 9 PvZs. That’s a lot of games during which your opponents can watch and learn from your style. On top of that, each player is completely different.
Effort is one of the greatest SC1 Zergs of all time, extremely fast and mechanically a genius.
Sleep is the opposite in many ways — he’s known to be mechanically one of the weakest top-end Zergs, but makes up for it with brilliant planning and all around smart play.
Curious can do anything.
This is definitely a pretty hard group to prepare for.
Match 1 - Ruin vs Sleep
POLAR NIGHT - Ruin opens here with a Pylon at his natural into a Nexus first, followed not by a forge, but by a Gateway. A pretty greedy build, but should work out well vs most current popular builds.
Sleep had gone for a 14 pool, and made some Zerglings to run over and pressure his opponent with. Ruin was ready, held it off, and ended up killing the 6 Zerglings. During this time, he has added a Stargate, and is going for an Oracle. Now, Ruin moves out with 2 Zealots, the Oracle, and the Mothership Core. A smart move due to killing off 6 Zerglings (which Sleep would obviously regret making//losing).
From here, Ruin grabs a 3rd base very quickly (around 7:45), making some Voidrays and grabbing 2 more Stargates.
Now sadly, he lost his Oracle during all of this, doing almost no damage. Oops!
From here, Ruin goes into mass Phoenix production, and starts moving his 3 Voids + Mothership Core across the map. 6 fast-building Phoenixes (with 3 more on the way) join the rest of his air force in the Zerg main, where he easily overpowers defenses and ravages the base.
In the meantime though, Sleep takes out his 3rd with mass Zerglings.
Long story slightly shorter, Sleep ends up taking this game, but I definitely liked Ruin’s ideas here. A build I will for sure be trying out some on the ladder.
FROST - In this game, Ruin opens up identically to game 1. The greedy Gateway on low ground expansion into a Stargate with an Oracle. From here though, he goes into a Twilight Council, Blink, and 6 Gateways.
After such an interesting strategy in game 1, which absolutely could have worked out, opening with the same exact pieces showing, this definitely had the potential to throw Sleep off a bit. The counters to game 1’s follow up to the Oracle and game 2’s follow up to the Oracle could not be more different.
In this game, Ruin is able to overcome Sleep after throwing him off a bit, and executing his Blink allin almost perfectly.
HEAVY RAIN - After opening identically 2 games in a row, Ruin now opens in as different a way as is possible. He throws that Pylon down at the natural again, but scouts right away, going for a fast Forge. Any counter-strategy that Sleep may have decided to pull here would have been completely undone by Ruin’s new choice of opening.
Match 2 - Ruin vs Curious
ALTERZIM STRONGHOLD - This game I didn’t care for so much. Ruin decides to go for a crazy allin, walling off his ramp with a gateway, and going straight into DT’s, and then into Blink.
I believe that part of this strategy was based off of the common scout patterns for ZvP and the lack of Curious in the bottom right, but I’m not 100% sure.
A risky strategy to be sure, and it didn’t pay off.
YEONSU - OK, this one is pretty damn cool. Ruin makes a Pylon in his main base, then on 13 makes a FORGE, then sends out his Probe to make a Pylon at the natural and scout his opponent. The thing is, its Yeonsu. He knows that if he sends his Probe at this timing, Curious WILL see it, and WILL realize that its being sent at ~13 supplyish, which will lead him to believe that this is, in fact, a Gateway expand.
Hatchery first is extremely safe against a Gateway expand. But there’s a Forge! Luckily for Curious, he had chosen to go for a quick Spawning Pool instead, but if he had gone for Hatchery first, as Ruin guessed he would, this strategy would have paid off in a huge way.
This build (and really, this whole series), also sends a message to whoever Ruin plays next that they better be careful with how greedy they get.
Match 3 - Ruin vs Sleep (the rematch!)
YEONSU - In this first game, Ruin opens with the same build that he opened with in games 1 and 2 against Sleep in the first match of the night. This time, Sleep thinks he is ready for it, and alters his build slightly to get 6 Zerglings out immediately with a 14 pool.
Sleep is a really intelligent player, but I have to disagree with this move. Ruin has obviously practiced this opening a lot, whereas Sleep most certainly has less experience with it. Ruin holds the 6 Zerglings off perfectly, with complete understandings down to the second with how this scenario plays out.
As always with this opening, he follows up with a quick Stargate, making an Oracle. This time, though, he takes an extremely fast 3rd base and goes for a Twilight Council for Blink.
In the mean time, he brings a small hit harassment squad including his Voidrays, Oracle, and Mothership Core, and specifically starts targeting down Queens.
The follow-up of a 6 Gateway +1 Blink Stalker attack smashes Sleep’s 3rd, and the game isn’t hard for Ruin to close out from there.
This one reminded me of Dear’s old build on Derelict Watcher from last year, but was much more focused and crisp.
Also note, this is the 3rd completely different transition off of the exact same build order vs Sleep.
POLAR NIGHT - Having already lost to Sleep once on this map on this night, Ruin goes for a pretty standard Immortal allin. He fakes taking a standard 3rd, and though it starts out ok, his defense at home is a bit lackluster, and Sleep deals with the build every Zerg knows by heart.
Still not a bad choice, IMO. The variety of builds shown so far tonight, with lots of false information built in, gave him a decent chance of catching Sleep off guard and picking up a quick victory.
DAEDALUS POINT - I’m sure after winning game 2, Sleep was quite happy to get to finish off the day and the group with Daedalus Point.
I smiled as I watched this creative strategy from Ruin, thinking “well, he can’t wallin his natural, may as wall in Zerg’s”. It also reminded me of something really intelligent Day9 said many, many years ago (2004 or so..), about how in a single game, no map is imbalanced.
Although the strategy is probably not one that will work for Ruin again, he used it exactly when it counted, and won.
By sending out one of his first Probes, he walled in the bottom of Zerg’s ramp, made Cannons, his Gateway, and his Core over there. He even sent his Mothership Core ASAP to check for Lair timings, and made Sentries to make sure he could hold the ramp.
Everything was planned beautifully. If its 1 base vs 1 base, what in the world could a Zerg do to beat Blink Stalkers?
Ruin even ran home, knowing his opponent would have to Nydus soon.
When Sleep broke out down the ramp, Ruin knew he could go up and engage, as his Cannons would have already weakened the Zerg army significantly.
All of this, on the final map to decide if you go to Code S or Code B, on a map Protosses hate.
Balls and Brains. ‘nuff said.