The Month in Headlines: August 2012
What will we remember about August 2012? There's certainly IEM Gamescom and WCS Korea - two of the most actively discussed tournaments in quite some time, the ESF boycott of the OSL, Boxer's new job, and a second foreigner in Code S.
Short of Naniwa winning GSL, it'd be damn hard topping the last four weeks
Not unlike many a player before him, Taeja came out of nothing and started winning tournaments, his time at SlayerS and ZeNEX now barely remembered. In early August, he pinned another one after what proved to be a productive trip to Helsinki.
From the Ro32 and on, Taeja found himself in legitimately stacked company, worthy of Code S playoffs, with Hero, ForGG and MC all there to make his life miserable. Needless to say, they didn’t and Taeja pocketed yet another trophy for his team. He would also greatly contribute for his team’s excellent performance at the IPL TAC 3 finals, earning the somewhat amusing nickname Team Taeja, elevating his status even higher (not that such a thing was even needed at that point).
But StarCraft’s history knows better and those not chain-stunned by Taeja’s successes are hushing the question when/if this golden streak will cease, how long can Taeja continue to carry Liquid, and whether will he be a Bomber/aLive or an Mvp.
Looking back to some old “The Month in Headlines” articles, the topic of KeSPA vs GSL much resembled that one friend that everyone has who keeps promising that he’ll do something nice but never ever does and just continues teasing.
Unlike said friend, though, the rivalry the whole scene was talking about finally delivered as all those preliminaries, cross matches and similar minor and/or untelevized bullshit stepped down to give the podium to some real competition: the WCS Korea nationals.
The stories of this particular tournament go all the way back to its very first day and throughout the month it became the most read content on GosuGamers. From the many KeSPA defeats in the first few days, through Reality’s and RorO’s successes and KeSPA’s revenge in the lower bracket, to the full protoss domination in the final rounds – we devoured every letter of coverage with great pleasure.
And then it ended: quickly, almost anticlimactically, with a protoss mirror between two names we know very well. The KeSPA players managed to prove that they have some fuel in them but at the end, the day still belonged to the newer generation and to CreatorPrime – the patient, solid protoss who came from the losers bracket to obliterate Squirtle 4-1.
In mid-August, the feared terran Mvp flew to Europe for the second time, ready to show the public what he can really do when his illness is not holding him back.
Ironically enough, IEM Gamescom was not Mvp’s tournament. He won, true (although the $6,500 look suspiciously like small change for a guy with four GSL championships), but the weekend belonged to Vortix, who made the audience scream in exultation, and to Slivko, who built a CC with a neuralled SCV, and to Nerchio, who once again proved that Stephano is not the only zerg outside Korea that can play this game.
The tournament belonged to the foreigners.
Amidst WCS Korea and the least hyped MLG event in the history of MLG events, Scarlett was doing her magic with the diligence of a nerdy straight A’s girl and the brutality of Vinnie Jones in that one movie of his…
Having in mind the state of the North American scene – with many of the players under the EG curse or victims of their own inconsistency – it was unsurprising that Scarlett was the favorite to go many-and-one in the continental finals, just like she did in WCS Canada.
With the play she demonstrated, it makes you wonder whether she really is from North America…
Right when everybody forgot who Leenock was after the youngster’s performances started to cool off following MLG Providence, the FXO zerg came back with a bang to claim MLG Spring Championship doing the exact same thing: start in the open tournament, get to groups, own the groups, crush the final bracket, remind people that you are still good.
It must be some octopus thing and those guys can't just simply get an invite and win but must be harrowed and tempered through 20,000 leagues of tournament harshness before they can choke you to death.
At the start of the month we heard from one of the most influential pro-gamers on the planet, PvZ’s revolutionist Bisu. In an interview with Moletrap, Bisu was so kind to answer the question that the whole of the StarCraft 2 community was asking: Why, in God’s holy name, can’t he win StarCraft 2 games?
This interview gave an answer. It also brought back the topic of popcorn blockbuster summer movie quality about StarCraft 2 and how inferior it is to its predecessor – a script that has grown so banal over the years that all it lacks are explosions and Michael Bay.
As briefly mentioned above, the rivalry between the two leading eSports parties in Korea burned in full force with the start of WCS Korea. It was time for the elephants in the room to look around and find a place to sit.
In those first matches of competition, the new guests were not treated gently and were chased down to the dark corners of the losers bracket like the people nobody wanted at the party. The fact that not even Jaedong could win a series caught the attention immediately and Effort’s, herO’s and Soulkey’s failures came as additional arguments that the KeSPA players are still not ready.
It would take some time before Reality, Rain and RorO could prove otherwise.
In mid-August, push came to shove for SlayerS. Once the best roster in South Korea, the team of the Emperor was now undergoing serious internal turmoil, including the problems with MMA and Crank as well as the humiliation in the GSTL Grand Finals.
In the midst of all, it was hard to imagine what could’ve gone even more wrong for SlayerS and certainly the departure of Boxer himself was not something that was seen from afar. By going back to the previous team he founded, Boxer – now a coach for SK Telecom – left Slayers solely under the management of his wife Jessica and coach Cella.
Time will tell if the departure of the team’s pillar will have a negative impact on SlayerS. Thus far, it’s all quiet on the Eastern front, and possibly in the Lim household too. At least until Rain, Bisu and company start beating SlayerS around in team leagues one day.
On the morning of August 23rd, the StarCraft 2 scene woke up to the sound of human waste flying into spinning vanes. With WCS nigh its end, it was expected that the KeSPA/GSL “war” would continue in the next GSL season. At that point, it turned out it would not as KeSPA officially announced that they will be barring their players from participation in the GSL 4 preliminaries, attendance of the following seasons also unconfirmed. The reaction of the Esports Federation did not lag too much behind and the players who were supposed to take part in the OSL were soon in full boycott of the tournament, essentially halving the Ro16.
After being reminded that these are not the BroodWar days anymore, KeSPA had to reconsider their decision. Four days later, the two organizations shook hands but not before ESF got confirmation that KeSPA players will be able to freely attend all the GSL preliminaries.
Knowing that this could’ve gone much uglier, the eSports fan drew a sigh of relief.
One month ago, we talked to Mana and he said that one quote that is particularly funny today. Let me pick my pockets for it.
“If I go to Korea I will definitely try my skill in this great tournament [GSL], a lot of terrans over there so it should be a really fun time.”
We’ll give Mana that – he did go to Korea and he did try his skill in GSL and he’s even in Code S. As for the terrans and the fun time, well, he shares a group with Mvp, MMA and Taeja. That’s the four times GSL champion, Boxer’s protégée and the best TvPer in the world.
“Fun time” just got a whole new meaning.
Composed under the vigilant eye of our replay manager Tomasko and written by the sporadically sober Hattfatt (and sometimes even yours truly), our new weekly feature has it all – fun and comedy, life truths, the occasional tea spoon of obscenities and sometimes there’s even talk about StarCraft and the games themselves.
In one of the episodes, a reader of ours confessed that he doesn’t event watch the games but tunes in for the write-ups. Little does he know that we’re doing just the same amount of replay watching…
Carmac is known for always openly speaking his mind so when we approached him for an interview just before IEM Gamescom, we could not bypass the opportunity to shoot him the question about the then hot meal of the day, namely CNN’s article on eSports.
- “Our mainstream colleagues need to do better research and then we are all fine, I think," Carmac told us. "It's a generation problem, nothing else. In 5-10 years, today's esports addicts will be in responsible positions, including journalism (all kinds of it). We should see less and less of those articles with time as the people that grew up with gaming and esports take over from the older generation.”
Following the events around the KeSPA/GOM debacle, our columnist Andrei Filote sat down pen in hand to explore the issue, starting from the first days of KeSPA/GOM cooperation (and later lack of cooperation) till the events of August 23-27 and talks how impactful can this be for the future of eSports.
- "But this is all irrelevant for KeSPA. For virtually all of their history, they owned their market, and it shows. If the western level of competition once again dropped, and the vine slowly withered, they would be content to let the dying die while cultivating their own backyard. They’ve nothing to lose in Korea, since they own it all, and the problem is, that’s fine with them. This is why GOM and the ESF are so important. They have the head start, they laid groundwork, and they’re willing to give us what we want. But KeSPA still have all the leveraging power, they have all the stars - the big ones - and they know it. Pulling them from the GSL with any excuse, whether genuine or pretext, still makes a point, and is a chilling reminder of what happened to GOM Classic."
This whole feature is about looking back, but it's also about looking forward and this is what our Tournament Preview column aims to do. What will the next four weeks bring us in terms of tournament action? Make sure to read and find out as from there will come the bulk of the next "The month in headlines".