After Crank’s exciting match versus Revival earlier in the night, we’ve been closely watching his journey progress as he scales MLG Raleigh 2012’s ladders and fights for the top. His match following the Revival battle was one that had us nervous for Crank’s continued viability as a top competitor: Taeja – the Korean we predicted would take first – was destined to play an extended series versus the methodical Protoss we’ve come to love.
Crank (P) started 2-1 in this Extended Series match, but Taeja (T) is a powerful competitor and we knew he’d put up a masterful fight.
Both Taeja and Crank exhibited greed in their openings, starting off with a Command Center and Nexus, respectively. They continued to play macro-intensive styles, opting for tech and upgrades over aggression. At 11:30 into game one, both players have thirds, Crank has Colossi tech and is getting his Templar archives, and both players are upgraded to 2/2.
At this point, Taeja has attempted two drops that were both successfully deflected. No major engagements have occurred, but the players continue to build-up and prepare.
16 minutes into the game finds us at 3/3 upgrades for Crank, at which point he feels confident enough in his Protoss forces to go for a big attack; the massive Protoss Deathball pushes hard into Taeja’s natural expansion and applied firm pressure to the Terran’s extremities.
This advancement gave Crank the positioning to grab his fourth expansion and took a large supply lead; Taeja loses a massive amount of mining at his natural and third between engagements, putting him in an economically insecure spot. A fourth taken before the next major battle allows Taeja to recoup slightly, but with Crank up 50 supply and storms available, Crank goes in for the kill. After several scuffles that chipped away at both players’ armies and that restricted Taeja’s economic abilities, Crank takes the game in one last push and Taeja GGs.
Crank 3-1 Taeja
Crank opens Nexus first, meanwhile Taeja goes for some marine pressure and follows-up with Hellion drops, killing four probes and only losing one hellion. Both players start their macro, where Crank goes double-forge into Robo and upgrades. Taeja also plants two engineering bays, moves an Orbital over to his third position, and prepares for a push.
Taeja’s bio-unit push takes out Crank’s still-constructing third in a minor battle, keeping the Protoss’ economy firmly behind.
Up 50 supply, Taeja brute-forces his way into Crank’s base, ending the game.
Taeja 2-3 Crank
Before anything else, both players agree “TAL’DARIM BAD MAP” and make playful BM accusations. Silliness aside, Crank opens with 3-gate pressure, making for a quick intro to the game; Taeja starts an aggressive marauder/hellion build against Crank’s stalkers, which are now moving across the map. Taeja’s hellions kill all of Crank’s probes, forcing Crank’s zealot and seven stalkers to go all-in against Taeja’s marauder/SCV/hellion ball.
The Terran holds and Crank is forced to GG out.
Taeja 3-3 Crank
Taeja opens this game with 2 Rax and Crank goes for a Nexus first, quickly throwing down a forge and gateway thereafter. The first cannon finishes just in time to repel a building marine assault from Taeja and the 8 SCVs he pulled for the fight. Significantly behind, Taeja starts first two – then up to a fourth – command center to try and pull ahead economically.
On three Rax, Taeja adds double E-bay and starts upgrades immediately. On Crank’s end, we see tech up to Colossi and a third expand placed. Both players macro up hard, trying to max-out before the other, and Taeja eventually starts drops to deal solid probe damage at the third.
Meanwhile, Taeja claims a fourth and fifth. However, as Crank is temporarily ahead in upgrades, pressure forces a cancel on the fifth and pushes the Terran army into Taeja’s third/fourth. He then moves to attack the natural, which falls easily to his army. As the natural’s defense fails, Crank moves back, beats half of Taeja’s army, and cleans up the third/fourth.
Up almost 90 supply, Crank begins looking for Taeja’s hidden expansion, takes it out, and Taeja GG’s.
Crank (Match Win) 4-3 Taeja
-Steve Burke & Keegan Gallick.