The man on the silver mountain: Jaedong in WCS America S3
The "Tyrant" returns for the Ro16 matches of WCS America, hoping to make another deep run in the tournament.
I did say to [Jaedong] as Bomber lifted the trophy "don't worry, you'll win one soon, maybe the next one" and he replied through teary eyes "I hope so" and then just looked down. Man, I was crushed for him.
- Paul "ReDeYe" Chaloner for GosuGamers, 30 August 2013
Regardless of how we spin it, the StarCraft 2 scene hasn’t been all too kind to those players who stood at the very top of BroodWar. The switch to the new game that KeSPA initiated last year introduced a curious dynamic to the scene and one that few people anticipated.
The initial months were hard for everybody as the eSF lot was still way ahead of newcomers having acquired a two-year-long lead before their colleagues. When the KeSPA players finally caught up to the rhythm of the new game, the names that came to the forefront were drastically different to those who reigned over the BroodWar kingdom. Soon, the scene was talking of Rain, Soulkey and Innovation but, weirdly enough, the big four of the TBLS were being mentioned mostly because of their pre-SC2 legacy rather than their accomplishments on the new block.
The cruelty with which the StarCraft 2 scene designed unique punishments for each one of Stork, Bisu, Flash and Jaedong was almost awe-inspiring. It wanted them to know they were no longer the force everyone fears and it went on to toy with them quite maliciously to fulfill this very purpose.
For the great “Revolutionist” Bisu, the StarCraft 2 readied a standard, old-fashioned retirement. Having to fight a combination of the changed gameplay, lack of individual results, the increased level of competition and the lower popularity of the new game in Korea, the three times MSL champion of SK Telecom announced he will be leaving the professional scene. The mandatory military enlistment was also mentioned, which for the fans of the legendary Protoss meant with a 100% of certainty they will never see him on the top again.
The other Protoss of TBLS – the mighty leader of Samsung and a three times WCG grand finalist Stork – didn’t have it any easier. His team was not only struggling in the Proleague (where they finished fifth, just below the playoffs cut-off) but the introduction of Heart of the Swarm to the league treated him to 11 straight losses. In an interview with TIG this September, Stork admitted that he had had thoughts of retiring as well but felt like he would ultimately regret the decision. So instead, one of the most influential PvT players of all of BroodWar now spends his days in the shadows of RorO and Reality, completely forgotten by the wide StarCraft 2 audience.
While Bisu’s and Stork’s fates were without a doubt harsh and unfitting for their renown, it was even more so the case with Flash and Jaedong. The ace of KT Rolster and the aptly named “Ultimate Weapon” saw a massive drop in results, going down from being the ultimate BroodWar champion to someone who regularly loses in the group stage of a tournament. His bronze at MLG Fall 2012 and silver at MLG Winter 2013 were the only rewards he ever got from StarCraft 2, not counting his Proleague MVP acknowledgement. Absent his divine power, the “God” was mere mortal now.
Nobody had it harder than the Zerg “Tyrant” Jaedong, though. Ever since he signed with Evil Geniuses, Jaedong has been giving it his all to sit atop a tournament once again. To this the scene responded with wicked, intricate sadism, placing him second over and over again, making him lose on European and American grounds alike. It built an enormous mountain of silver and put him on top of it, dealing him a fate very reminiscent of the legendary YellOw who in his entire career never won a single major league. While for many players being a four-time premier grand finalist would be considered a massive achievement, for the most accomplished Zerg of the post-sAviOr era this likely feels like a cruel mockery.
Hours away from the second group stage of WCS America Season 3, Jaedong now readies to fight this mockery yet again. His run through the Ro32 was flawless but that was expected considering the current form of both Vibe and TheSTC. Additionally, Jaedong has managed to fix his subpar ZvP as proven by his run at the Season 2 finals and he still holds the absurd 79.66% win rate in mirrors. He hasn’t failed to survive a group stage since IEM Shanghai and he almost looks like the perfect player. Almost.
Jaedong’s biggest weakness is his ZvT match-up. Although he maintains a close to 60% win rate, he didn’t do too well in his last two important ZvT matches, namely the America Season 2 grand final against Polt and the Season 2 grand final against Bomber, both lost 0-4. In tone of the aforementioned mockery, the upcoming Ro16 has now readied for him Liquid`s finest Terran Taeja and Axiom’s Heart, the latter to be Jaedong’s opponent in the opening match. The presence of SEn and his proven excellence in Zerg mirrors makes it an even taller order for Jaedong to survive this group of death.
Talking about past failures won’t be of much help for Jaedong, however, and as a true champion he certainly knows that. If he can reinvent his dreadful ZvP to become a legitimate force in the match-up than he can do the same with his ZvT too. Looking back is not an option for the Tyrant and it must be ReDeYe’s words that he keeps in his head:
“Don’t worry, you’ll win one soon.”
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