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Battle Reports: TSL3 Finals, NaNiwa vs ThorZaIN

TSL3 logo

The long and harrowing road of the TLS3 has now drawn to a close. 32 players entered, the best of the best from around the world. Now 1 reigns above them all. The live finals took place on May 15 in NYC with casters Day[9] and Chill. The two finalists were Dignitas.NaNiwa and ThorZaIN, playing for his new team Mouz. Fans voted before and during for which player they thought would take home the victory. Even for those whose favorite player didn’t win, this was an incredibly exciting series, unquestionably living up to the standards of the TSL.

Dignitas.NaNiwa Vs. Prae.ThorZaIN: Battle Reports

Game 1: TSL3 Metalopolis


mouz.ThorZaIN – 6 o’clock position
Dignitas.NaNiwa – 12 o’clock position

Both players open standard on what is considered one of the most standard maps. ThorZaIN gets a marauder following his marine and NaNiwa getting a stalker followed by a very fast expand. ThorZaIN opts for tech and a bunker as NaNiwa gets his economy underway. NaNiwa adds a second gateway followed by a robotics facility and then immediately grabs a robotics bay, looking to quickly add colossus to his army composition. ThorZaIN conversely gets banshees as well as tanks with siege; planning no doubt for a strong one base timing.

NaNiwa scouts around as a banshee pokes into his base and manages to discover the existence of tanks in ThorZaIN’s composition. ThorZaIN responds by salvaging his bunker and moving out with a large number of scvs in tow. NaNiwa’s 2 colossus and small gateway army wait patiently as ThorZaIN constructs bunkers immediately outside of Naniwa’s expo. Knowing that ThorZaIN is on one base with a dozen scvs pulled, NaNiwa stays back even as his expansion nexus falls. After popping a second colossus and several zealots, NaNiwa finally attempts to clear the bunkers, tanks, marines, and banshees containing him. However, ThorZaIN is able to hold his position while taking his natural expansion back home and NaNiwa pulls back. ThorZaIN finds himself behind in army size but has an incredible position and army to handle what NaNiwa has stuck up his ramp.

NaNiwa attempts to bust out of his base again, this time with an immortal leading his army. He shatters the bunker and tank line leaving ThorZaIN with a single out of position tank, a handful of marines, and a banshee. NaNiwa knows he is too far behind in economy to have a chance at winning with anything but a strong all-in counter attack so he pulls his probes and throws his army into the front of ThorZaIN’s base. ThorZaIN pulls scvs and holds off the last ditch attack by NaNiwa to take the first game.

Game 2: TSL3 GSL Crevasse

GSL Crevasse

mouz.ThorZaIN – 4 o’clock position
Dignitas.NaNiwa – 10 o’clock position

NaNiwa takes advantage of the map’s safe natural expansion and builds a nexus first. ThorZaIN follows suit and puts down a command center before any unit producing structures. ThorZaIN stays off of gas, adding on two fast barracks while NaNiwa gets his cybernetics core off of one gate while producing zealots. NaNiwa chrono boosts warpgates as he adds two extra gates while ThorZaIN adds a third barracks and protects his front with a bunker. Both players begin to tech around the same point with a factory from ThorZaIN and a robotics facility from NaNiwa. ThorZaIN begins researching stim from the only add-on he has while also starting a starport. NaNiwa adds a robots bay for that fast colossus as well as double forge for fast upgrades. ThorZaIN begins to tech towards siege tanks while continuing to add bio upgrades. Even as colossus begin to pop, NaNiwa adds on a twilight counsel. The reasoning for this choice is quickly revealed with a chrono boosted zealot charge upgrade. NaNiwa also chooses to cancel the upgrades that had started in his fast forges as he scouts a marine tank push headed towards his base.

ThorZaIN sets up a contain, far less aggressive than in the previous game, and begins to construct an orbital command at his third. As speed finishes NaNiwa attempts to break the contain but is pushed back strongly. NaNiwa is behind in food with only 3 colossus and 5 zealots in his army; but his composition is well designed to deal with the contain. NaNiwa attempts to bust out yet again and only barely fails, following up immediately with a smaller but successful push with a wave of reinforcements. As ThorZaIN’s units are destroyed NaNiwa immediately restarts his forge upgrades.

NaNiwa harasses ThorZaIN while taking a third of his own. As ThorZaIN researches the armor upgrade for his bio he adds on a second starport while producing Vikings from the first. NaNiwa adds on blink for his stalkers as ThorZaIN adds hellions with blue flame. NaNiwa takes advantage of blink immediately, walking up the back of ThorZaIN’s base with his colossus and blinking up with his stalkers. As ThorZaIN gets ripped apart in the back of his base due to his immobile tank and bunker defense, he manages to do some damage to NaNiwa with a marine drop. NaNiwa certainly gets the better of the exchange, coming out one base ahead and with a food lead. ThorZaIN attempts to move out while constructing a 4th command center but NaNiwa catches him completely out of position and wipes out ThorZaIN’s army in dominant fashion, forcing a GG.

Game 3: TSL3 Shakuras Plateau

Shakuras Plateau

mouz.ThorZaIN – 1 o’clock position
Dignitas.NaNiwa – 7 o’clock position

Both players choose standard openings, not opting for super high economy due to the wider ramp to the natural on this map. ThorZaIN gets a marine followed by a marauder after pulling his scvs off gas, then grabs a command center. NaNiwa expands just slightly later after getting a stalker out of his gateway. ThorZaIN blocks his ramp with his second barracks and a bunker as he begins stim research while adding an engineering bay. NaNiwa adds a second gateway and gets a robotics facility. ThorZain gets an early attack upgrade for his bio units from that fast engineering bay, then begins to tech with a factory. NaNiwa continues his trend with a fast robotics bay yet again. He adds on 2 more gateways as he begins to research thermal lance for his colossus. As NaNiwa’s first colossus is halfway through production, ThorZaIN’s starport completes with a reactor and begins producing medivacs.

NaNiwa throws up a third nexus while ThorZaIN continues his bio upgrades with level 1 armor and adds on an armory. As NaNiwa’s third nears completion he begins charge for his zealots and adds 2 forges along with a templar archives. ThorZaIN begins constructing his third command center while getting 2/2 for his bio, but NaNiwa doesn’t fall far behind as he’s starting his 1/1 ground upgrades, adding in immortals to waste ThorZaIN’s 4 at a time Viking production. He finishes storm research for his templar. ThorZaIN pokes and harasses NaNiwa’s third. NaNiwa adds 7 gateways to keep up production with his three base economy. ThorZaIN finally secures his third, morphing a planetary fortress, and adds ghosts into his composition while switching his starport production back to medivacs.

NaNiwa move out with a strong immortal templar composition with several storms at the ready. The ghosts of ThorZaIN do their best to land EMPs but NaNiwa keeps his templar separated and manages to take out ThorZaIN’s entire bio army. While stuck outside of ThorZaIN’s base, NaNiwa moves down to the planetary fortress 3rd of ThorZaIN and uses immortals and forcefields to wipe it out very quickly. In the mean time he also takes his own 4th and builds his army up to max. ThorZaIN desperately attempts a counter drop as NaNiwa pushes into a recently completed expansion of ThorZaIN. Even though some damage is done in NaNiwa’s main, the storms, zealots, archons, and immortals of NaNiwa prove too much for ThorZaIN to hold off and he is forced to GG.

Game 4: TSL3 GSL Terminus RE

GSL Terminus Re

mouz.ThorZaIN – 9 o’clock position
Dignitas.NaNiwa – 6 o’clock position

NaNiwa is on the verge of gaining a strong series lead. ThorZaIN takes no early gas and drops a command center on 16 food. NaNiwa chooses to add a second gas, not playing into the macro style of the map. As ThorZaIN attempts to gain the economic advantage, NaNiwa’s techs toward blink stalkers. ThorZaIN adds barracks and begins stim research as NaNiwa adds on gateways up to a total of 4.

ThorZaIN’s front consists only of a bunker and a few extra marines while he adds barracks and begins to tech with a factory.  ThorZaIN knows something is coming after scouting the lack of an expansion nexus for NaNiwa and begins a second bunker at his front. NaNiwa plants a pylon directly outside of ThorZaIN’s front and attempts to slip past and blink up ThorZaIN’s main ramp to gain sight for warp ins, but ThorZaIN pops a supply depot just in time to block the stalker’s path. NaNiwa continues to press, moving around the natural of ThorZaIN and forcing many scvs to be pulled. ThorZaIN manage to get a tank out but it is quickly sniped. Though two tanks are added to his army and mass repair goes down on the bunker at the front, NaNiwa’s 4 gate production and incredible blink stalker micro allows him to do severe damage to ThorZaIN’s economy and army. Under constant pressure, ThorZaIN finally completes siege research, but sieging his tanks proves to be a fatal mistake as he has no army to protect them from the blink stalkers. After NaNiwa wipes out his remaining tank on the high ground ThorZaIN submits with the fast GG.

Game 5: Xel’Naga Caverns

Xel'Naga Caverns

mouz.ThorZaIN - 7 o’clock position
Dignitas.NaNiwa - 1 o’clock position

ThorZaIN finds himself with his back up against the wall, down 3-1 in this best of 7 finals. NaNiwa has just one victory between him and the TSL3 title. Both players open standard, knowing that the natural can be difficult to hold with a low number of units. ThorZaIN executes some very important early trickery, canceling a second barracks after it is scouted by NaNiwa, opting instead to add a factory. NaNiwa builds 4 warpgates once again. NaNiwa, however, is in the dark as to ThorZaIN’s tech, most likely expecting a 2 rax expand. ThorZaIN begins to construct a bunker at his front and adds on a starport. As a probe attempts to put a pylon down directly outside of ThorZaIN’s ramp, marines are pulled around the edges to deny it, though they are ultimately unable to stop the second pylon. SCVs are pulled to repel zealots warped on the high ground and the 4 gate all in is stomped.

ThorZaIN finds himself ahead after defending the all in. What’s more he’s sneaked a scouting scv into NaNiwa’s base. The scv sees a robotics facility being thrown down as well as an expansion nexus in NaNiwa’s natural. ThorZaIN pushes out with tanks, marines, and banshees as siege research reaches halfway. NaNiwa scouts the push with his small stalker immortal army and pulls back, denying bunkers at his front but losing the nexus after siege finishes. The sieged tanks allow ThorZaIN to entrench, completing bunkers down NaNiwa’s ramp. NaNiwa attempts some fancy play with a hidden probe dropping a pylon in ThorZaIN’s natural. He builds a warp prism and starts elevator lifting out of his base behind ThorZaIN’s contain, but ThorZaIN spots it and manages to hold his ground. NaNiwa, out of position and stuck out of his base, decides to throw his army at ThorZaIN’s front only to hit a bunker, tanks, and marines. As NaNiwa is repelled ThorZaIN moves up the Protoss ramp and ends the game.

Game 6: TSL3 GSL Crossfire SE

GSL Crossfire

mouz.ThorZaIN – top position
Dignitas.NaNiwa – bottom position

Just like the last map, a wide natural offers little protection for fast expansions, and so again both players open in standard fashion, barracks and gas for the Terran and a gateway and assimilator for the Protoss. ThorZaIN adds a second barracks while being probe scouted but this time does not cancel, instead adding a reactor to his first barracks. NaNiwa adds on a second gas as well as a stargate in the southern point of his base. ThorZaIN drops a relatively early second command center while producing a marine and marauder army. NaNiwa puts his stargate to use, chrono boosting phoenixes and scouting ThorZaIN’s base. After some light harass NaNiwa adds a second gateway and a nexus, ceasing phoenix production after encountering a number of marines. As the nexus constructs, NaNiwa adds on 2 more gateways and continues to scout with the phoenix. ThorZaIN begins stim research while dropping turrets in his mineral lines to protect from phoenix harass.

ThorZaIN adds on 3 refineries and begins his tech as well as the bio attack upgrade. NaNiwa adds another 2 gateways reaching 6 total, a clear signifier of a timing attack. In order to remain safe while teching, ThorZaIN adds a second bunker at his natural and begins a wall with a supply depot. NaNiwa takes a supply advantage with his 6 gate and decides to attack into ThorZaIN’s front. NaNiwa hits just as bio level 1 attack and combat shield complete. With stim already done, this makes for an unlucky timing for his army. ThorZaIN is forced to pull scvs but manages to hold off the first wave of the attack. Before NaNiwa pushes in again, 2 medivacs pop for ThorZaIN allowing him to negate force fields on his ramp and also offering healing for his stimmed marines and marauders. NaNiwa pushes again and drops several force fields; but with pulled scvs and a bunker ThorZaIN once again holds his front, even pushing back to the proxy pylon dropped by NaNiwa and taking a huge 25 food lead. ThorZaIN takes advantage of his lead by dropping a 3rd command center as ghosts begin to pop and bio armor level 1 completes. NaNiwa attempts to macro up, chrono boosting probes and adding on double forge to try and keep up in upgrades. NaNiwa even adds on a twilight council to research zealot charge, but ThorZaIN arrives at his natural with two strong emps and a superior army long before it completes. The destruction of NaNiwa’s expansion nexus compels him to GG, taking the series to a decisive 7th game.

Game 7: TSL3 GSL Tal’Darim Altar

GSL TalDarim Altar

mouz.ThorZaIN – 5 o’clock position
Dignitas.NaNiwa - 8 o’clock position

NaNiwa has now completely lost his advantage and is in a dead heat with ThorZaIN. One pivotal game will decide the champion. There is no better map for such an epic final game than Tal’Darim Altar, with its extreme focus on macro play and tendency toward dramatic Protoss vs. Terran games. ThorZaIN makes the early decision to get gas after his barracks, perhaps fearful of the early aggression that has met him in the last 3 games. ThorZaIN produces a reaper to get an early scout of NaNiwa’s base, then pulls his scvs out of gas in order to speed up his expansion. Immediately after dropping his second command center ThorZaIN adds a second barracks as NaNiwa gets his nexus down after a single gateway. ThorZaIN’s reaper arrives and manages to pick off a sentry and a probe before being taken out by a stalker. ThorZaIN begins to research stim and NaNiwa works on 2 gateways and a robotics facility.

Both players tech further with ThorZaIN getting a factory and NaNiwa going back to what worked for him early in the series with a fast robotics bay. ThorZaIN’s starport is slightly delayed as he opts for a fast bio attack upgrade and a hellion to scout around the map and poke NaNiwa’s front. ThorZaIN scouts the first colossus just as thermal lance reaches its halfway point. His combat shield at about three quarters complete. Even after scouting the colossus, ThorZaIN starts with medivac production before Vikings and begins a fast ghost academy. NaNiwa moves out when his second colossus comes out and takes a positional advantage, harassing ThorZaIN’s natural mineral line from the low ground with the range of thermal lance. ThorZaIN adds a second starport as his Vikings and ghosts spawn. While the Vikings attempt to push back the colossus,  ThorZaIN takes more economic damage. NaNiwa responds to his own success by cutting probe production. However, even with scvs pulled and under pressure, ThorZaIN lands an excellent EMP on NaNiwa’s army, giving him hope to break the contain. The two armies dance a bit more with ThorZaIN’s economy in dire position. He’s at a 30 food disadvantage, but he critically manages to EMP NaNiwa’s army once again. NaNiwa dedicates himself fully to units, hoping to end the game right here. He begins a push at ThorZain’s front. Another huge EMP lands as ThorZaIN pulls his scvs. With a strong Viking count, ThorZaIN repels the attack and emerges with a slight food advantage. NaNiwa’s reinforcements are forced to retreat with colossus falling in the process.

The aggression ceases in both directions as ThorZaIN scouts to find NaNiwa with no 3rd base. Both players are roughly even on economy as well as army size but ThorZaIN has map control with his army in between both bases holding a xel’naga tower. With a lull in the action both players begin to construct their third base. As the 3rds complete, NaNiwa once again has a 30 food advantage. He moves out and meets ThorZaIN’s army in the middle of the map. Unfortunately for him, ThorZaIN once again lands incredible EMPs allowing him to come out of the engagement with only a 3 food deficit. ThorZaIN is finally able to add on 2 more barracks bringing him to 5 against NaNiwa’s 10 warp gates. ThorZaIN has completed an attack and armor upgrade for his bio, and also opts to begin a 4th as he pokes into NaNiwa’s 3rd. ThorZain catches NaNiwa out of position and manages to pick off the 3rd nexus with a stim attack. He once again is behind, though, this time by 20 food. The Terran army gets trapped moving out from the protoss 3rd, and both armies dance back and forth with a number of scans being dropped by ThorZaIN to scout out NaNiwa’s movements. With ThorZaIN down only ten food and yet again dropping clutch EMPs, the two armies collide in the middle. ThorZaIN’s marine, marauder, viking army overwhelms the forces of NaNiwa and begin to walk towards NaNiwa’s base. Broken, with no economic future in sight, NaNiwa taps out, giving ThorZaIN the GG and the ultimate victory in this incredible 2 month tournament.

And so it was…

When a tournament starts, there’s excitement on a lot of levels. Whether you’re cheering on a favorite player, hoping for exciting play, or begging for some dramatic upsets, we all have elements we look for to satisfy whatever it is that keeps us watching. Never before in a tournament have I seen one player encompass so many of these elements in a single tournament. The path that mouz.ThorZaIN has walked in this TSL3 surpasses what any Starcraft 2 winner has faced to date. He had to beat TSL_FruitDealer, the unforgettable winner of the very first GSL in Korea. He then dismantled TLAF-Liquid’Tyler – winner of the last TSL – in 2 games with an extraordinary TvP style. Despite his already impressive play, no one was predicting what happened next. With an absolutely unbelievable performance across 5 games, he overcame oGs.MC. MC is a two time GSL winner and considered by many to be the best Protoss player in Starcraft 2, and ThorZaIN stepped past him with flair and brilliance. Yet people still doubted ThorZaIN. Even I predicted Empire.Kas, considered one of the best European players, would take their semifinal series.

I was wrong.

ThorZaIN battled in a brutal, but ultimately quick TvT; arguably emerging as the best Terran in Europe. ThorZaIN then entered the finals against the monstrous dignitas.NaNiwa, a player with a ludicrous 35 ‘best of’ series win streak. After taking the first game, ThorZaIN fell quickly down 3-1, with every ounce of pressure from the last 2 months landing right on his shoulders. But he buckled down, he played to his strengths, and simply refused to die. With defense after defense, clutch control, and spot on decision making, he turned the series around and took the victory in 7 games. He and he alone is the victor of TSL3, and he earned it.

Congratulations to mouz.ThorZaIN for your victory in TSL3

Congratulations to dignitas.NaNiwa for your second place finish

Congratulations to Empire.Kas for your victory in the 3rd/4th place match and automatic seeding into the next TSL tournament

And thank you to Team Liquid and all of its players and administrators for putting on an incredible tournament. It featured top players from all over the world and top notch production value.

The TSL3 is over, but it will not soon be forgotten.

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