"How did I end up here": Flash in Code A
It's culling time for one of the absolute legends of StarCraft. Tomorrow, Flash plays his Code A group in attempt to go up to Code S and not fall into obscurity.
“How did it come to this?”
- Theoden, King of Rohan, on 2014 Code A Season 1
One sixth of Code A is done and a few of the big names are safe. sOs and Curious are ready to enjoy their Code S spots and so are the Protoss duo of Classic and Ruin but there are more high roller heads to be reaped still. Eyes now turn to the face of KT Rolster, the “Ultimate Weapon” Lee “Flash” Young Ho.
When KeSPA fully made the transition to StarCraft 2, Flash was among the most talked about names. A player whose impressive resume holds three OSL, three MSL and one WCG title, Flash was the poster boy of the old world, the embodiment of BroodWar, the fattest elephant in the room. With his first steps in StarCraft 2, he managed to finish eighth in OSL, fourth at MLG Fall 2012 and second at MLG Winter 2013. He quickly surpassed his rival Jaedong in this new game and bathed in success that few KeSPA switch-overs enjoyed. He was climbing, we thought, the ladder to StarCraft 2 perfection. If it took him just one year to become an OSL champion in BroodWar, how long would it take him to master StarCraft 2 after being the top progamer for five years?
Photo: Daily ESPORTS
By January 2014, the scene still doesn’t have the answer as Flash stopped being the Flash we know after MLG Winter. KT Rolster still heavily relied on him to win Proleague games and by August he did become league’s most successful player but on the individual front his record was lackluster at best.
In the face of ever-growing WCS Korea competition, Flash faced his first ever real slump. When in BroodWar he enjoyed four straight years with gold medals in each one, in StarCraft 2 he not only couldn’t win anything but he couldn’t make it to playoffs either. In season one, he became victim to the most ridiculous group of death in StarCraft 2 history consisting of him, Life, Parting and Innovation. In season two, he failed to overcome an all-Terran group and fell victim to Innovation for a second time. In season three, it was another Terran that stopped him and 1-2 loss to Maru cast Flash out of Code S. Three WCS Korea seasons, three Ro16 eliminations.
Not even flying to international events yielded Flash success. If in late 2012 and early 2013 he would ignite the western crowd, in late 2013 he had dwarfed to just another Korean. At DreamHack Bucharest he was directed to the exit at the Ro32 and the held one month later IEM New York also bid him farewell in the group stages. True enough, Flash’s opponents were mighty, but mighty was what the God used to eat for breakfast in his golden days. The legend had faded, people agreed, only hoping that 2014 will bring new dawn to the king of StarCraft.
Tomorrow, Flash enters the Code A booth to face the guillotine that just a few hours ago cut the heads of names like Gumiho and Effort. It’s a harsh analogy but one that is very appropriate in this particular situation as the “Ultimate Weapon” has once again been dealt a group of death. His first match is against the IM-trained YongHwa, a HomeStory Cup runner-up and IEM World Championship bronze finalist. Then there’re Leenock, one of the best Zergs to touch the game, and BrAvO, a Terran coming from the famous school of SK Telecom and training under the mentorship of BroodWar bonjwa iloveoov. The guillotine is heavy indeed.
A few thing work in Flash’s favor still. Although Group C is a killer one on paper, Flash’s opponents’ recent results aren’t exactly impressive. YongHwa has always had PvT as his weaker match-ups which can balance out Flash’s own vulnerability against Protoss. Leenock has been on a hiatus since he won DreamHack Stockholm and hasn’t played a televised ZvT since November. BrAvO, on the other hand, is yet to play his first televised TvT ever. Imagine the pressure.
So can Flash triumph tomorrow? Honestly, I have no idea. If I knew for certain that the championship spirit is still with him, I’d bet all my GosuBet currency on him but something makes me doubt him. Maybe I am too narrow-minded and the hard figures hinder me from accurately appraising what Flash is capable of. After all, intuition is can be a bad advisor and I was wrong about sOs yesterday. Whatever the case, though, the question mark over the bonjwa’s head is a big one. Tomorrow, we slice it open.
The opening matches (click them to place your GosuBets):