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Name: Alex Gardner
Location: Port Jervis, NY
StarCraft Head of Coverage
GameOutLoud.net - GameOutLoud's inaugural invitational event wraps up this weekend with a best-of-five series between Netherland's Jos "ToT)ret(" de Kroon and Peru's Jose "Castro]eX[" Castro.
The GameOutLoud Invitational was one of several tournaments to pop up in recent months, inviting 24 top players and having a ladder qualifier for the final 8 spots in the tournament. After several play days, the top two are decided, and Templars of Twilight's Jos "ret" de Kroon, a top Zerg user who plays Terran versus Zerg opponents, will be facing eXpertise's Jose "CaStrO" Castro, a Zerg user as well.
CaStrO is a strong Zerg player, who most recently represented Peru at the World Cyber Games Grand Final in 2008 in Cologne, Germany. In his group, he went 3-1, defeating Midian, DIMAGA and Jogy, while he lost to Val. However, he was good enough to qualify for the brackets, where he had the misfortune of being paired up against Stork in the first round. He was swept out easily and sent home early. However, he has been a consistent power in the foreign scene, coming close to winning both Stamina and the ESWC Americas qualifier. In this tournament, he has had a fairly tough road. His Round of 32 group consisted of him, Tarson, White-Ra and Jumper, all very strong opponents. However, CaStrO managed to 3-0 the group in impressive fashion, moving on to the Round of 8. He 2-0'd the Chilean Zerg player KiLLeR, of osR, in the Round of 8, advancing to the semifinals. In the semifinals, it would get more interesting, as he'd be paired up against the Canadian IefNaij, the TSL champion and an astounding Protoss player. However, CaStrO overcame IefNaij with a clean 2-0 sweep to secure a berth in the finals.
ret is another strong Zerg player who happens to play Terran versus Zerg instead of the mirror, and his TvZ is considered some of the best outside of Korea. He also had the experience of making the World Cyber Games Grand Finals in Cologne in 2008, but he wasn't so lucky in the group stages, as he was grouped with Korea's Jaedong, the most fearsome Zerg playing the game today. He ended up plying White-Ra in the first round of ESWC Europe, and was eventually eliminated, but not without taking down some top tier Zergs first, including Templars of Twilight teammate SquaLL, and RoX's DIMAGA. For the GameOutLoud invitational's round of 32, he had arguably the most difficult group, up against IdrA, Strelok and Yayba. However, he advanced from the group 3-0 without any real problems, to face HoRRoR in the Round of 8. HoRRoR is a strong, but unorthodox, Terran player from Germany, and ret had no problems, beating him 2-1 to advance to the semifinals. The true challenge would come in the semi-finals, where ret had to face off against a strong Polish Protoss player in Dreiven. Dreiven's PvZ is ridiculously good, just ask Mondragon, who he eliminated from last year's TSL. However, ret proved victorious over "BBQ Toss" in domintating fashion. He won 2-0 and managed to secure himself a bid in the finals as well.
The two will go head to head in a best-of-five series this weekend for the title of "GoL Invitational Champion" along with cash prizes and a prize package from QPAD. When the two of them meet on the battlefield, five great games should follow.
Game 1 will be taking place on Colosseum 2. The stats in Korea favor Terran in the matchup, but I think the map will favor CaStrO. He got his name as a cheesy Zerg player, and the neutral creep allows for some very interesting tactics with offensive colonies and such. With three easy gasses to obtain for a Zerg player very quickly, the resulting play could be deadly. Ret will have to expect the worst from the Peruvian and play very safe, but he is still going to be in a tough spot on this map, and I think CaStrO will open up with a win.
Score: CaStrO 1:0 ret
Game 2 of the series is on Destination. Again, the stats favor Terran on the map, much more heavily than Colosseum 2, and I think Ret will take advantage of this. He is a strong bio TvZ player, and Destination is a very suitable map for bio builds, leaving Ret to go about his business and easily take game 2. Unless things go horribly wrong and Ret has an absolute relapse, CaStrO will have to cheese again if he wants to win this set.
Score: CaStrO 1:1 ret
Game 3 shifts its attention to Neo Medusa. The recent modifications to the map removed the ability of Zergs to proxy their hatchery. This was more a ZvP balance modification, but it is noteworthy here. Neo Medusa is a map where mech builds have become the recent trend. I don't know how good Ret's mech is, but I don't think he is familiar enough with the style where he will go for it. That said, I think CaStrO can go for a straight up game and overpower Ret on the map to take an advantage in the series.
Score: CaStrO 2:1 ret
Game 4 moves on to Sin Chupung-Ryeong, where Terrans have become a favorite. Mech is a viable option here, but so is non-mech TvZ. I think that, like Destination, Ret will abuse the ability for his excellent bio TvZ to shine through and take this set with relative ease. With the relative difficulty of a Zerg to secure a 3rd gas, it will be near impossible for CaStrO to stop Ret here, and he'll be forced to an ace game.
Score: CaStrO 2:2 ret
Game 5 wraps the series up on Sword In The Moon, also known as Neo Harmony in its newest version. While I think there are better maps for a deciding set, things could be a lot worse. However, I don't think that CaStrO stands a chance on the map. Many players have demonstrated the relative flaws in mech TvZ, playing right into Ret's hands. When he is on top of his game, his TvZ will take down any player outside of Korea, and CaStrO is no exception. Unless he has something wonderful up his sleeve, he is going to be in between a rock and a hard place in set 5.
Score: CaStrO 2:3 ret
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