NSL Season 1 Division 1 Final Results
Alert! This post contains spoilers! To watch the matches before reading, head on over to http://www.twitch.tv/naturalselection2/b/365002263
The first Season of the ENSL.org Natural Selection League is over. Archaea and Mercury represent the pinnacle of European competitive play, and they fought today with skill and grace. In the end, the result was not unexpected, but it was wonderfully entertaining and says much about the possibilities for the future of Natural Selection 2.
Archaea came into today’s match with a perfect record, having dropped not a single game through their Group A qualifiers and through the elimination rounds. Mercury were almost as strong, having dropped one game each to Rines with Dreams and HBZ. The telling qualifier round was week 3, when Archaea cleaned up the Hg boys in straight sets.
Play began on Tram, with casting by WasabiOne and Blind. Hg rolled a Warehouse start, Archaea got Shipping. In ENSL.org games, close spawns are often removed. This game was played around resource nodes. By the end of the match, more than thirteen Extractors had been destroyed, and fifteen Harvesters shot to death. For a long time, it looked like Hg might be able to pull out an opening upset, having five harvesters at one point in the mid-game. Their natural expansion into Server room yielded deception traits via a Shade, and with two traits available they fought hard against their marine opponents.
But it was not to be. Here’s what Blind has to say about what turned the game in Archaea’s favour:
“Tane and Koruyo go into Mezzanine, build RT and kill all 3 crags behind the wall. Aliens did not defend this position (only 1 fade), allowing them to build a PG there and thus winning map control Mercury could never get back. From there it was almost impossible to push anywhere serious and Mercury was kinda forced into bouncing their head on a wall over and over (pushing mezza) which cost them too many lifeforms.”
Archaea achieved weapons and armour three well before the Hg Onii arrived, and when they did they killed one of them in Mezzaine within a few minutes of its birth. The knock-out blow came in the North Tunnels.
Three ARCs delivered blow after blow to the main hive, killing it within 90 seconds. The GG’s were called, and at the end of it all Tane had delivered an astounding 33,559 points of damage to structures. To game two!
This time, Hg spawned in Server Room while the Archaea Hive grew in Shipping. Both teams traded heavy blows in the opening minutes, with Hg pushing for good phase gate positions and Archaea reacting quickly to shut them down. Neither team developed a clear lead in kills early, though Fana did send a signal of intent by going 5-0 by the ten minute mark.
The point of inflexion came at that very ten minute mark. Hg overreached in an attempt to kill the Repair Room expansion Hive, and were routed back into Ore Processing. With the loss of the Phase gate, the Mercury boys were pushed onto the back foot, losing mobility and map control. Within four minutes, the end game. Fana’s great round had continued, pushing his score to 10-0 as Lerk by the time the ‘GG’ came.
The closeness of the game up until the Ore Processing Phase Gate kill is brought into start relief by this Kill/Time chart:
As well as matching Archaea on the battlefield, Hg had a decent, if not spectacular collection lead. This game proved that a momentary slip can cost you dearly when the other team is switched on. Archaea saw a momentary weakness, and exploited it ruthlessly.
Game three saw the action move to Summit, but the movement was brief. Hg opened with strong pressure on Archaea’s pressure team and cappers, but missed two marines heading straight for their Hive in Data Core. Those two marines shot the undefended eggs full of holes, and no aliens spawned because they had done so well out on the field! As Archaea respawned and started fighting back near their close-extractors, it became suddenly apparent that Mercury was egg-locked. That was it, and Archaea took Division 1 undefeated!
Archaea are undoubtedly the team to beat right now on the Natural Selection 2 competitive scene. Their play is on another level to the competition, and that is terrifically exciting. The team that rises to the challenge and beats Archaea will be one in possession of terrific skill, tight coordination, strong comraderie and exemplary sportsmanship. That the challenge exists is wonderful for the spirit of our community, and I wish everyone the best of luck in rising to it.