eSports @OnRPG – The Starcraft World Championship Series
By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor), OnRPG Journalist
While the League of Legends community finally gets some rest and the other e-sport scenes are waiting for something big to happen, the Starcraft 2 professionals show the meaning of hardcore with yet another round of matches. Having their third tournament in only three weeks, fatigue and jetlag is starting to visibly show on the faces of many competitors. Despite this, Blizzard’s World Championship Series waits for no man. And with the best of the best from each country participating, fans were surely in for a treat.
When I say most, I don’t include the fans from Europe since well, Europe has a way of getting unfairly treated by many publishers. In the case of this particular tournament, it was scheduled based on a Chinese timezone, meaning I was in for a long night since the tournament was set to begin in the middle of the night in Holland. But thank god, I was happy that I stayed up because this tournament had some twists and turns!
With many fan favorites competing, and with my own national hero Grubby attending, I had a lot of people to cheer for when the games began. The tournament began with group stage qualifiers in which only 2 members from each group would move on to the brackets. It would take a lot of skill and a little luck to secure these much sought positions. And a lot of surprises were seen this weekend that were totally unexpected. Many of the fan favorites like Grubby, HuK, MajOr, and mOOnGLaDe all didn’t make it to the Bracket and fell short to advance into the tournament. Even the two best zergs in the foreigner scene Nercho and Stephano fell a win short of advancing. With these juggernauts eliminated, all preconceptions of how this tournament would unfold were thrown out the window and every remaining player was put on notice to not underestimate their new opponents. But from the pits of ‘slumbering hell’ we’ve seen an old fan favorite return to his formal strength; Greg ‘IdrA’ Fields with his famous jacket called the ‘Gracket’ made it into the Brackets with some absolutely amazing games in a group he should have certainly been eliminated by.
The forums exploded for this battle hardened hero’s return to the spotlight after such a long hiatus. He would be joined by the Spanish brothers VortiX and LucifroN that have become quite known in local EU tournaments. Greg’s lesser known teammate Suppy also denied expectations to grab a seat in the brackets along with the Canadian female zerg Scarlett. The remaining seats were rounded out by LoWeLy, Curious, TitaN, Sen, KiLLeR, Rain, BabyKnight, PartinG, Illusion and HerO amongst rampant speculation of possible outcomes and matches.
Since there was only a winner’s bracket, each match was a fight to the finish, leaving competitors and fans a wreck. Each matchup was played in a best of five series and obviously no one wants to go out in the first round. But unfortunately where champions rise, heroes must fall and so did Greg ‘IdrA’ Fields’ shot at the championship as his day ended 1-3 against the feared Korean player Rain. Rain has been a consistent terror in tournaments over the past month and even Greg admitted he was caught completely off-guard by a player with the talent to take the title for himself. Greg’s teammate had more success though and won his first match against LoWeLy with a three to one score. Another big match in the first round of the brackets was LucifroN versus VortiX match. The two brothers that are tearing up every European tournament had to face each other in the first round and unfortunately only one of them could advance to the quarterfinals. Both players are known for putting up wicked battles before being eliminated and so extreme tenacity was expected as these two hardcore competitors clashed. As if this wasn’t enough, Blizzard had a trick up their sleeves to create even more of a show. The Plott Brothers were brought in to do their first shoutcast together as LucifroN and Vortix fought. As expected the tournament came down to the final fifth match in which Vortix eliminated Lucifron. Despite LucifroN losing, this match-up was arguably one of the closest matched and most exciting to watch of the entire tournament. I wonder if he can take comfort knowing he lost to his brother rather than a stranger.
The players that managed to get to the Quarterfinals together with VortiX, Suppy and Rain were the Taiwanese player Sen, the Chile player KiLLeR and the Koreans PartinG, HerO and Creator. With only a few foreigners left in the tournament facing the strongest of the Koreans, they all had a strong match to prepare for and unfortunately none of them managed to break through these feared gods and thus the Semi Finals were the start of the war in the east. Despise falling, both Suppy and VortiX showed some great games and with a bit more luck may have found themselves sitting in the championships instead. Both PartinG and Creator managed to win their series in the Semi Finals and Sen and Rain had to fight for third place.
The finalists were no strangers to each other, having duked it out in the GSL tournament Code S multiple times. Both these players are very strong players and with a best of seven ahead of us we had a promising series for all the people still staying up for this amazing tournament. The first game was played on Ohana, a known map for its meaning of Family. Unfortunately since both players are Protoss players, the odds were big that this Series wouldn’t take as long as most matchups. Despite this the first game was a great series with many surprises and lead changes culminating in an overpowering late stage army giving Creator the win. In the next two games PartinG managed to make a comeback and went two on one over Creator. Creator then tied up the series on Shakuras Plateau in the fourth game in a fairly easy looking game for Creator. While both players adopted different build orders in the fifth game, they were unified in a fast expansion tactic that led to an action packed finale. With a lot of harass and micromanaged attacks on both sides, the tides finally turned mid-game when Creator took a large force directly into PartinG’s trap, resulting in a devastating counterattack that Creator couldn’t recover from.
Creator now was on thin ice as PartinG needed only one game to take home the $100,000 prize. The Sixth game PartinG decided to finish things quickly with a three gate stalker attack; luckily for Creator he managed to break off the attack with a last second immortal counter. PartinG then decided to macro it up and prepare for the later stages of the game, Creator however had other plans and wanted to tie up the series with a one base attack while he still had the advantage. Unfortunately with the constant harass of Blink Stalkers from PartinG, Creator didn’t manage to make it in time and he lost his small opportunity for an early victory. PartinG performed flawlessly from this point on and never revealed a single weakness for Creator to capitalize on. PartinG ended the series two to four, though I’m sure Creator wasn’t too upset walking away with $40,000 in prizes.