It was the rematch everybody wanted to see. Having lost to Team Liquid’s HerO just a week ago, everybody was wondering whether Evil Geniuses’ PuMa would be able to pull off a revenge kill at NASL Season 2 — and that was just what he did, earning himself the title of two-time NASL champion in the process.
During that process, it was the Ghost that featured as the star unit throughout this best-of-7. Opening up game one with a fast Ghost Academy, PuMa crushed HerO’s first push with some huge EMPs on the Protoss’ Sentries and a single Immortal. Looking very strong indeed, PuMa took the first game.
HerO wasn’t to back down, though. After spotting and denying PuMa’s attempt to proxy a Banshee on Antiga Shipyard, he launched a big blink Stalker attack on PuMa’s main to even things up 1-1. Taking on an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach, PuMa reverts to the early Ghost play in game 3. In what looked almost identical to the first game’s ghostly events, he defeats HerO on Shattered Temple, retaking the lead 2-1.
Time for game four and possibly the most exciting game of the series, taking place on Crevasse. The tension was there from the start as HerO boldy takes the expansion outside his base. PuMa’s scouting SCV barely misses it, leaving PuMA to take the less valuable, pocket expansion. The drama then continues as PuMa drops a proxy Starport for the second time. This time it goes unseen, cloaked Banshees ensue, but an Observer pops out for HerO just as the first one reaches his base. With that, PuMa puts together a big push with Tanks, Marines, Marauders and Banshees and looks to be taking the game as he sieges up on HerO’s doorstep.
Trapped inside his own base, with tank shells crashing rhythmically upon his units, HerO has one final option, Dark Templar. With a pylon out on the map, DTs begin to be warped in and rallied toward PuMa detection-less base, hindering PuMa’s macro and forcing a base-trade scenario. Team Liquid’s Protoss then looked to put himself in a good position by sneaking a base in the south-east of the map, but after a lot of back and forth, PuMa snipes his only Observer. The cloaked banshees continue on to secure him a 3-1 lead.
Onto Terminus and PuMa needs just one more to take the series. As he plants down two barracks it almost looks like this could be over very quickly, thanks to a fast Nexus from the opposition. However, it seems the Terran didn’t quite fancy his chances as he pushed toward HerO’s base. He pulled back without doing any damage and started his own Command Center. But, HerO now had an economic lead and when PuMa eventually does push, some great forcefields destroy the Terran army with just a few units left to run home. Having likely heard Tastosis tell people to “get more ahead”, HerO simply adds in Collosi, maxes out his supply and kills PuMa with ease.
The big comeback wasn’t to be, though. Taking a risk in what was a must-win game, HerO takes a leaf out of his opponent’s book and plants down a proxy Stargate. It goes unnoticed at first, but in a last-second scurry PuMa finds it and takes out the powering pylon at the very millisecond that the first Void Ray should have appeared. HerO’s now behind, and it looks like it could be over any moment as a few touchy engagements take place in the middle of Bel’shir Beach. Somehow the Protoss holds off and tries to even things up, but PuMa denies his third base from going up three or four times in a row.
Two huge armies are created, nonetheless, and it would all come down to which player’s spell-casters could land the money spells. Nail-biting moments occurred as each player tried to get a good position, it was evident that neither player was too keen to commit to a fight. When it came, the army containing Ghosts came out on top.
PuMa takes the series, avenges his recent loss at Dreamhack and becomes NASL champion for the second time in a row. Sir Scoots enters the booth to congratulate him on the $40,000 win before an on-stage interview. PuMa then exudes confidence when being asked about his second win. “Hopefully I’ll win the third one as well”, he says to a cheering crowd before a more humble statement is made: “”You can either win or lose, and Hero can’t win all the time”.
A great way to round out tournament that was filled with brilliant series. For now, though, it’s 7am here in the UK and I’m off to bed to dream about HerO and PuMA meeting each other for a third time.