I am not suppose to be here. Neither is she. yet we have beaten all the competitors before us, and now will duke it out for the championship. We're the youngest finalists in the Gaming World Championship StarCraft 2 Division. One of us will be the youngest champion.
"I present to you, Dva!' I watched as the young Korean girl walked on the stage. She was my age, a mere 16 years old, but unlike me, she came to compete. Me? Blame my father. He wants me to prove I can make it as a gamer. I had no hope of passing the first round, but after a stroke of luck with tricking my opponent to thinking my force was smaller than anticipated, I made it to the next round. Now I'm here, with a Korean. A Korean girl. A hot brunette Korean girl in a polo shirt and jean shorts. A hot brunette Korean girl in a polo shirt and jean shorts who loves games, and will probably kick my ass. Not trying to stereotype, but Koreans are gods at this game.
"Give it up for Hardin25!" I walked out, performing the same moves Dva did before. Like with her, the crowd hollered and roared for me as well, once I reached the host and my rival, I faced them. Dva and I shook hands, as customary.
Huh, she isn't a dick. Good. We dropped hands, listened to the rules, and departed to our respective seats. Once the door is closed, only to sound of the PC is heard before I put on the headphones and the iconic Terran soundtrack envelops my ear. While I'm busy waiting to enter the custom multiplayer match made by the GWC, I'm sure the host is busy hyping us up and maybe the commentators are using past games to predict what would happen in the match.
I had my fair share of highlights, but compared to Dva... I have seen Dva's match against Liao, another Chinese Zerg, and impressed isn't enough of a word to describe what I was feeling. Dva struck everywhere, with drops in the main base while killing workers at the 3rd base with a hellion run-by with a ground army with Siege Tanks hitting the natural expansion simultaneously. As Liao sent a small army to deal with the drop in the main but when the army arrived Dva loaded her army back up and went to the natural with Siege Tanks in position blasting Zerg left and right. Everyone learned a valuable lesson that day; don't run towards 6 Siege Tanks through a small ramp, your army will evaporate. That attack is going to be the SC2 Highlight of the year no doubt. Made my semi-finals match look like child's play.
While I was recounting what happened in Dva's semi-finals match, I noticed she sent me a text message in the chat.
Dva: May the best player win ^^
My response came instantly Hardin: I intend to ;D
With my reply sent and the map finished downloading, I prepare myself for the hardest TvT of my life.
"gl hf"s are exchanged as I set up my economy. I have to be careful and play it safe. After a while I sent an SCV to scout the surrounding area in case of proxies. When my worker has left my base I encounter Dva's SCV enter mine. All she saw is a supply depot, a refinery, a barrack, my Command Center transforming into an Orbital Command.
While I saw her SCV leave my base I sent my SCV toward hers. Since this is a 2 player map it didn't take long to reach her base and I saw she walled off the ramp so I can't get in and see her base. With nothing else to do I ordered my worker to return to base, just as a wild Marine appeared and gunned my worker down.
Alright, nothing unusual yet. I have a bunker and 4 marines at my expansion ready to defend with a factory and CC on the way. But with a reactor on my barracks producing 2 marines at a time, Dva's reapers aren't going to get any of my SCVs, unless I mess up.
After another 10 minutes my reactor-ed Starport is making medivacs, my Orbitals are dropping Mules, 3 Barracks producing Marines, Stimpack is being researched, +1 weapons and armor is being researched, Factory producing Siege Tanks and Missile Turrets at my mineral line in case of Banshees. Dva tried to drop me with marines once but I only lost 1 or 2 in exchange for a few of her marines. So far so good, I'll scan her natural expansion to see what she has-… Wait a minute, where's her army? Why isn't that engineering bay researching? Why are 4 marines and a tank moving out of the base?... Oh shit.
"Your base is under attack" Then in-game warning sounded. OH Shit!
I press space and see 2 Medivacs filled with marines and a siege tank attacking my main base's SCVs. I send my Marines to defend but then on the Mini-map I see a blob of red moving into my expansion. I looked and saw a wall of Marines and 4 Tanks. I order my SCVs to run, I split off my marines to deal with the double pronged attack, my Tanks are doing work but with my Marines in the middle of the ramp they are exposed and sniped before they can shoot a 3rd salvo. I cut my losses and lift my Orbital at my expansion, send it to my main, and quickly deal with the drop in my main.
No time to think, I have to do damage control now or I just die. After 20 seconds of intense micro the drop is dealt with but the Tank and a Medivac escaped, my +1 weapon upgrade and Stimpack finished in the middle of the assault, I have 30-ish SCVs left, my expansion is being camped, I scan her 3rd base to see it fully saturated with an orbital dropping mules with marines nearby… that are dancing. Oh, the humiliation. My jaw is open with awe as saw the power of a Korean Terran is display for me to experience. Sure I have played against a Korean Terran before in the qualifiers but they aren't at this skill level, not even close. As a fellow Terran, my respect for her skill is raised to a very high bar. And the world now saw me catching flies with my mouth after that engagement
She did a 2 pronged timing attack while just when her combat shield and +1 weapon and armor upgrade finished. I had the bigger army with more tanks but they were picked off before they could thin enough of her forces for me to fight, combat shield adds 10 hp to marines which means they can survive 2 extra shots from my marines and kill my marines in less shots with +1 weapons and armor. Her upgrades were only 15 seconds faster than my upgrades but in those 15 seconds she forced a lift off on my expansion, cut down my economy and my army.
I can still win this, it's a Very long shot but it's possible. To do that I need air control, with Vikings to shoot down Medivacs and Ravens for Point Defense Drones to intercept Siege Tank shots. And for her Marines to run up my ramp and evaporate to a Siege tank volley. There is no way she would run up a walled up ramp… so she's doom dropping right on top of my tanks. Welp, that hope just upped and died.
I ordered my marines to gun her units down but with my Tanks dealing friendly fire through splash damaging their fellow tanks and with my Marine count still too low, my army is decimated, her 2nd army is marching up my ramp with more streaming in by setting her rally point in my base, and any unit I make gets gunned down the instant they got out into the field. Now I know I'm dead. And she's dropped a BM (Bad Manner) mule at my main mineral line, to add insult to injury.
There is nothing I can do other than call the gg wp and leave the game.
I looked out the window and saw the crowd give a standing ovation before putting my palm in my face and reflect on what happened. I was crushed, figuratively and literally in the form of my burning base. I know speed is a factor in Starcraft 2 but I didn't know 20 seconds could make that much of a difference. I did everything at a reasonable timing, I didn't take any significant losses, and I was in an entrenched position. But that is the thing with TvT, positioning matters so much more in TvT due to how much DPS Terran units have. Just 1 tank not able to fire because it is out of range can mean the difference between you losing your entire army or you having 15 extra units to push into your enemy's base.
I need a plan and fast… What build that can beat really quick Marine Tank Medivac push. I remember playing against this really awesome strat on a local tournament a few weeks ago. It should be enough to blindside her before she can steamroll me.
And on a map with a short rush distance, this should work. We exchange "glhf" while hers have a winky face. I ignore that and set up my build to rush to factory tech. Dva sent her SCV to scout and when she saw the double gas, reactor factory, and a flying Barracks she is going to assume I'm going to go mech instead of Bio. Probably mass Hellion and she would be right, however thanks to NA ladder being what it is there is always a twist. While my Hellions are pursuing her Reaper my Barracks landed outside of her base off to the side and deployed a tech-lab, and once her Reaper is dead and she has no more vision of my base I slapped down a Ghost Academy and another Factory.
That's right I'm going to nuke rush Dva. I sent my Hellions across the map and threaten too run-by and roast her SCVs. She already has a bunker and tank in place to meet my Hellions. But I keep them back and wait for the nuke that almost finished, built a 2nd Ghost Academy, keep on massing Hellions, start vehicle upgrades, and once my nuke is done I launched the nuke at her ramp in a way that would destroy her bunker and 1 of her supply depot wall. This will force her to retreat, eliminate the bunker, and allow me access to her main base allowing my Hellions to pounce and roast her forces.
After a few seconds the nuke landed and my army charged and roasted her army as my +1 vehicle weapons finish. I sent several Hellions to kill her SCVs, queue up more Hellions, nukes, and Ghosts. Ghosts in Wings of Liberty have an ability called snipe where 25 energy is used to cause 25 damage basically 2 basic attacks instantaneously, with her workers already weaken my Hellion's blast of fire they are 1 shot by my Ghosts.
Once her army is in cinders, I sent my army to her main, call down a nuke on her production structures, sent hellions to deal with the tank in her mineral line whose splash damage could also destroy more of her workers. The only way she can win is through her tanks, so from my proxy Tech-lab Barracks I start producing Marauders to deal with the tanks.
I keep streaming Hellions from my base while eliminating all of hers, sent another nuke at her Orbital, and to complete my revenge sent a mule to her mineral line after the nuke landed. Before long she GG WP.
And the crowd goes wild, as seen outside my booth. Alright match point, since I would get curb stomped if I go Bio, I'm meching it happen.
There was another Terran in NA that did mass hellion with tanks and Vikings. When I went against that weird mech strategy with my usual huge Marine Tank Medivac, my Marines get cooked, there are too many Hellions that need 3 shots from Siege-d up Tanks to die, and my Medivacs are shot down by Vikings. After my army gets steamrolled, He A-moved to my base and I got nothing to defend. If you train your macro go to the Korean server, if you want to get experience with the unexpected you go to the North American server. There is a reason NA ladder have the reputation of being weird and it's people that just want to have fun but their strat surprisingly worked.
With borrowing the gameplan in mind, I get to work.
On this a long distance map between our spawn points, I sent the customary gl hf before I set my plan in motion. This map is infamous for splitting the map in 2 and games to last for an hour, especially on TvT. I focus heavily on economy and a refinery before tech-ing up to factory ASAP. With a Reactor on my Factory massing Hellions, I sent my Barracks out to DVa's base. I saw her reaper going to my base, but my Hellions finish just as the Reaper got inside to shoo the away. But Dva now knows she is dealing with Mech so she is probably preparing her a plan to counter mine. If you see a Terran Barrack flying out of your enemy's base, you know that the enemy is either stupid or is going mech.
When I saw she is going to land her 2nd Orbital I quickly land my Barracks into the spot where her natural expansion should be. You can see the laughter coming from the crowd as my Barrack is blocking her base from landing while my 2nd base has landed and starting to work. I typed in the chat,
Hardin: Got a present for you
To which she replied with: :-c
With the banter done, I set back to macro-ing and deflecting a drop with my Hellions. An alert on my map told me that Dva is demolishing my barracks so she could take her expansion and start mining from there. A scan at her main base shows she has less barracks then I have Factories, her upgrades are being researched, and a 3rd CC is being made.
The next 15 minutes is basically me securing my 3rd base, setting defenses, increasing my Tank and Hellion count, deflecting her harassment, sending Hellion run-bys and drops, keeping up on my upgrades, Hellions set up around the map to spot for Dva's army, Viking set to watch for drops, and sensor towers to cover any dead space. A scan show Dva is macro-ing her economy and have set up a 3rd base which I have several Hellions nearby to greet them. After queuing my production at base I micro my harassment force.
I see a lot of marines and 2 tanks, but with my Blue Flame research on my Hellions and +1 vehicle upgrades are finished, I order my hellions to charge and once they are nearly hugging Dva's army I let loose an attack move and roasted most of Dva's Marines and killed a tank. Knowing that Dva's main army will come in I sent half of my Hellion to attack her SCVs. The SCV evacuate the base and try to run but they are all lined up and 20-ish SCVs are barbequed. With damage dealt I order my hellions to retreat just as Dva's army Stim in. I set 4 Hellion back to delay her pursuit and maybe roast more Marines. When my Hellions manage a successful getaway I went back to macro-ing up.
Once I'm confident at the size of my army I select all my army and A-move to Dva's position with Vikings and a Raven leading the pack. Before I reached her base I sent a scan to her base to see what she has. Her 3rd base is lightly defended, a squad of Marines, a bunker and a deployed Siege Tank. A normal person when they see this would think "Awesome her base is lightly defended." To someone who has played Starcraft 2 long enough to develop an instinct for this would instead think "Where is her army? WHERE IS HER ARMY?" You do not get to play at the World Championship if you have horrible macro. Dva have an army. That I am sure off. The question is where is it? I scan the rest of her bases as my Hellions run up to attack and found nothing there. The only possible location left for her army to be is…
"Your base is under attack."
Being on my side of the map attacking my base. It is times like this that you need to make a decision and fast. I can race back to my base and deal with her attack but by the time I reach there, irreparable damage would have been dealt already. Another option would be to commit to a Base Race (a race to destroy all of your opponent's buildings before all of your buildings get destroyed) and use everything I have back home to slow her progress. Last option would be to split my forces and send a portion of my Hellions to race back to base and deal with her attack. Unfortunately, when I glimpse at her troops I already see entrenched Siege Tanks, Marauders, and Marines which would tear my Hellions apart before they could get close.
Looks like there is only 1 option with left, I ordered my units to break into her base and target her production buildings while at home I evacuate everything, my SCVs, my Production Structures, and my Orbital Commands. I order my Hellions to target her SCVs, my tanks target buildings, and my Vikings attack any building that lift off to escape. It was a frantic 3 minutes of guiding my attack force and doing damage control back home.
I split up my evacuated buildings and any building that managed to escape I order to hide in a corner of the map and make units. Back in Dva's base I order my Vikings to focus on Orbitals and Starports, I order a large chunk of my army back home to protect the buildings that manage to escape, and the remaining army I left behind to destroy the Dva's other buildings that can't fly.
I focus on my army returning to base, shooing away Marines pursuing my buildings and try to shave of her Marine count. With an Orbital Command that managed to escape and land in a vacant patch of resources I send my SCVs to restart mining. My factories that manage to escape land next to my Orbital and start producing Hellions. I see my Starport didn't survive so I order an SCV to rebuild it.
An alert sounded, as I saw my Viking get gunned down by Dva's Marines. I wince as I lost a large group of my Vikings. I order a 2nd Starport to be constructed in response to that. I jump to my forces destroying DVa's remaining buildings and see that there are only a few Supply Depots remaining. I order my Siege Tanks and Vikings to return to my new base to supplement its defense while I remade my army.
I see the words that Dva did not have a Main building and is now revealed, in surprise. Because I ordered my Vikings to focus on her Orbital Commands, she doesn't have a base to gather resources or produce SCVs. Since it is possible to hide buildings around the map, to speed things up whenever all of your main buildings are destroyed, every other building would appear on the map for your opponent to find.
Hardin: Do you have 400? I typed in the chat.
DVa: no she replied.
I have a chance, all I need to do is survive until I can rebuild my army and then I can crush her army. So my main priority is to turtle up and survive her last assault. To reinforce my base I order my forces that are still in Dva's base back to my new base.
Just as I gave the order to move out I see Dva's army of Marines Stim right in and melt a couple of my Tanks and a few Vikings. With that done I see her Marines set their sights on my Hellions. I micro that assault by using hit and run tactics to shave off her Marine count as they Stim and overrun my Hellions however I did reduce quite a bit of Marines.
I look at the top right of my screen to see my supply and resources and felt a sinking feeling of dread in my stomach. Mech is not good in small numbers and is even worse without Air Control in the form of Vikings shooing away Medivacs from dropping Marines right on top of my Siege Tanks. I am in trouble; I have 5 made Vikings, 9 Siege Tanks, and 11 Hellions.
Luckily, for me my style of Mech is more Hellion focused for their bonus damage against Light units like Marines and their faster rate of fire. I have my factories land in front of my tanks to act as a wall and have them start producing more Hellions and my Starport making Vikings. I send a few of my Hellions out to scout out where her army is, with a few left to defend the base.
I saw one of Dva's Marine enter my field of vision and is promptly blown to giblets by my Siege Tanks. She now knows where I am, so I know she is going to barge in at any time before I can overwhelm her army. I set up a few Missile turrets to act as buffers, however right as they are half way done I see her army all around the edge of my vision. She surrounded my Base with Marines charging in with Tanks deploying at the back and Medivacs dropping Marines on top of my Tanks and Hellions.
I order my SCVs to repair as many of my units as possible, my Hellions are burning Marines however is shredded in return, my Tanks is pounding Dva's Marines and a few are targeting her Tanks that are in range, My Vikings destroying Medivacs. It's chaos, within seconds all my Hellions are destroyed, my Tanks are scrap, my Vikings shot down, and my SCV exploded due to Siege Tank splash damage. What is left of DVa's army is a handful of Marines and a couple Siege Tanks.
I am not giving up there is still force a draw, there are a few spaces on this map only accessible to flying units. Just as I lift my buildings I see 3 Vikings but they aren't mine, they are Dva's…
What? Where did that come from? I remember seeing a Viking come out of her Starport before I Siege up at her Main Base. That it. I lost. I almost won a World Championship on my 1st try too. Well, there is only 1 thing left to do, congratulate the champion and admit defeat.
Hardin: That was soooo close D:
Dva: I know ^^
Hardin: Well, victory is yours, GG WP World Champ ;)
Just as my last building is going up in flames,
Dva: GG WP :D
With my last building destroyed I was shown the Victory screen with the victor of the match being Dva.
With an exhale and looking outside of the booth, I saw the crowd applaud the game which I return with a smile a wave. I was packing up my earphone when the door to my booth open with Dva on the other side is a huge smile on her face and a hand outstretched to shake hands.
"GG Hardin, you are a worthy opponent." She replied as we shake hands to that intense match. Just as I was going to release her hand, she clamped down on mine and started to pull me out of my seat and out into the stage to face the roaring crowd. She released my right hand and holds my left hand as she lifts it up above our head with the crowd going wild.
"WHAT AN INCREDIBLE MATCH, GIVE IT UP TO DVA AND HARDIN!" The host on stage with the mic roared into the mic as we bowed. A stage hand handed the championship trophy to Dva which she raised into the air. I applaud along with the crowd before another stage hand handed me the 2nd place trophy.
While it sucks that I'm not the world champion, I got much farther than I thought I would. But...now that I had a taste of near victory, I now want it. Desire it. Right there in front of a cheering crowd I vowed to one day stand on the top and be the World Champion. I would return next year, and if fate allows it, I will face Hana again.
Consider it a new game.
The battle between Dva and Hardin25 continues in my other story, New Game. If you haven't read it yet, take a look. For those who just came from it, once again, another round of thanks for the support, and another thanks to Warmach1ne32 for the collaboration and allowing me to upload this story.