30 Aug 2012

August Summary

The Starcraft Stalker has been on vacation for a few weeks but we're back now!
There's been some great tournaments while we we were away that we did not have a chance to blog about. So here goes...

First there was the Global Challenge in Cologne held by the ESL from August the 15th to the 19th.
It was a cool tournament that MVP ended up taking by beating Nerchio 3-1 in the finals.
We were not really impressed by the fact that MVP took home the trophy, but frankly we were a bit surprised. Not that it can ever really be a surprise when one of the most accomplished players in SC2 wins a tournament, but it wasn't a tournament like the GSL where MVP had time to prepare specific strategies before each games, so before the tournament we would have probably put our money on someone like MC or viOLet.
But then again that might just be because we are used to seeing them dominate at so many international tournaments whereas MVP stays more in Korea, where he spends all his time swimming around in his endless ocean of Korean gold.

Another thing to add about the global challenge, was that foreign zergs really did well. Generally the Koreans were once again somewhat dominating, but not as much as we have seen in some other tournaments. And this was mainly because of great play from a number of foreign zergs like Nerchio, sLivko, VortiX and SortOf.
Of the last 8 players remaining 5 were Korean and 3 were foreigners, and those 3 foreigners were all zergs. A lot of people have been arguing for a while that zerg is most developed race on the foreign scene and this tournament certainly didn't take anything away from that theory.

Anyway, throughout the tournament The Starcraft Stalker was actually most impressed by Supernova. In so many of his games the play he showed was simply epic freakin' art.
Apart from him our favourite games came out of VortiX (who actually managed to take Supernova out in the quarterfinals), Nerchio and MVP.

A final thing to add about the tournament was that NaNiwa was knocked out in the first round after losing his only two games (he lost 2-0 in both of them) against AureS and then YongHwa in the loser's bracket.
This in it self was of course a bit of a surprise, but NaNiwa hasn't really showed good play outside the GSL in a long time. In all fairness he did not really participate in that many international tournaments this year because of his focus on the GSL and that may be why he has a hard time getting used to playing other formats than the GSL now.

Anyway, a little while after being knocked out of the tournament NaNiwa posted the following on his Twitter account:

The Starcraft Stalker finds this very interesting for a number of reasons.

Blaming someone completely else for losing a game is such a hardcore accusation that whether true or not (or as in this case probably just a big exaggeration) it should not be done in public.
So why does NaNiwa feel the need to write something like this on his Twitter where EVERYONE can see it?

1. Does he want his fans to hate Puma? or EG?

2. Does NaNiwa in fact himself want the community to keep thinking of him as an arrogant and eccentric person? If so is this self destructiveness due to him believing that no one in the community understands him anyway so he might as well play that role? Does he maybe even enjoy being the bad boy of the SC2 scene?

3. Did NaNiwa simply not think his actions through? Did he just spontaneously post whatever angry thought he felt in the moment?

The Starcraft Stalker believes the last option is probably most accurate but it seems pretty grotesque that such a famous and talented SC 2 player can act so childish. But then again.
Maybe NaNiwa simply just has a very hard time dealing with all the focus that you get from being in a position like he is. Maybe he is just a kid that has spend all his time practicing a game that he loves, and therefore might not have spend his time practicing the type of social skills that is required if you want to deal properly with the attention of an entire community.
Some would say that this is a bad excuses since a lot of gamers have no hard time handling the fame without coming off as jerks.
However people are different and that is why someone like NaNiwa should probably have a manager that deals with all this shit. At least if he doesn't want to keep positioning himself totally separate from everyone else, in a community that he is part of.

Another exciting tournament that took place over almost 3 weeks was the WCS South Korean Nationals. The WCS regional tournaments have been going on everywhere but this is naturally the one with the highest level of play.
There was a lot of focus on all the KeSPA players that were participating since the entire community naturally wakes up every day thinking that this is the day where Jaedong, Flash and the likes takes over the SC2 scene.
Overall that did not happen, and most of the KeSPA players were knocked out relatively early. However there was one who impressed a lot and that was the zerg RorO. He became the talk of the tournament as he took out a lot of well established GSL players and eventually finished as number 4.
His ZvP was especially impressive and he owned players such as current GSL champion Seed.
Creator ended up taking the tournament, that was overall dominated by Protoss (7 in the final top8) and with the last GSL final also being a PvP, the life of a Korean protoss is sweet atm it seems.

Finally we had the MLG summer championship along with the North American finals of the WCS which were both held in the weekend of August 24th-26th.

Let's start with the WCS.
We actually didn't have a chance to watch that many of the games because of the MLG taking place over the same days and because sleep apparently is needed once in a while.

On that note one of the most interesting things was almost the insane amount of stress that some of the players had to endure that weekend due the fact that they were participating in both the MLG and the WCS. For instance it impressed the hell out of us that IdrA actually managed to take third place in the WCS, while having to focus on the MLG as well.
Even if he might have been a favorite to win it a year a ago, a lot has happened since, and with the EG curse always being one of the favorite topics on Reddit and Teamliquid the EG players must be dealing with some heavy pressure.
Thus one could have feared that no EG players would take any of 9 top spots that guaranteed a place in the WCS world championship taking place in Shanghai in November. However as it turned out two of them did manage to qualify.
In fact one of the most exciting series was actually the one between teammates Huk and Suppy. They had to battle each other for the 9th and final spot in a series that Huk ended up taking thus making him the second EG player to qualify.
The Canadian zerg Scarlett won the tournament by beating fellow zerg Vibe 2-0 in the finals. She has played amazingly throughout the summer and congratulations to her for taking the 1st spot in the North American WCS. Scarlett actually wrote on her Twitter before the MLG and the WCS that she did not understand the players who wanted to participate in both as she was sure this would affect their performance. She focused on one of them and she won it so that decision was probably not wrong and as more and more SC2 tournaments overlap more and more players will probably have to make similar decisions.
A final thought on the tournament is that there were 3 zergs in the top 4, and one might argue that this shows that the Zerg is also the most dominate race among the North American Pros just as it could be said about the Europeans.

The MLG summer championship was won by Leenock just as the MLG championship in Providence last November. Leenock looked great in all his games and in practically all the series we watched him play (except perhaps against the StC) he made it look pretty onesided.
At the same time it is hard to say what made him so good. We can't really say what specific strategies won him the tournament.
We feel however that a lot of it was just due to his great game sense overall. He always seemed to make the right decisions. He just seemed to always take risks or focus at the economy at the exact right moments. And this might be why Leenock shines in a tournament like this. He came from Pool play and had to play so many games against all three races. And as a zerg you just need perfect gamesense to be able to keep reacting and balancing drones/army perfectly in so many games.
The MLG summer championship was also heavily dominated by koreans as there was only two foreigners in the top 16. The best of whom was Stephano who made it to the round of 12.

Our favorite games of the tournament:
- Game two of the series between Sheth vs. LosirA (mmm, it was a late game ZvZ)
- The series between Taeja vs. Hero (the games in itself weren't really that spectacular but it was just so exciting and nerve-wrecking to see two teammates and two of our absolute favourite players face each other
- Game three of the extended series between Leenock and TheStC (very back and forth game that included Leenock taking on thors with a massive amount of mutalisks)

Apart from that the big surprise of the tournament was the Korean Protoss First who showed a lot of fantastic games throughout the tournament but eventually ended up looking very worn out and tired against Leenock in the finals.

8 Aug 2012

Surprisingly enough, nobody wants to fight iNcontroL

The Starcraft Stalker asked a few of the upcoming Starcraft 2 stars who they thought was the most handsome SC2 player and who they thought would win a fight between all SC2 players.

 Thanks to elfi, Naama, SortOf and JonnyREcco.

4 Aug 2012


Massive spoiler alert!!!

The winner of the ASUS ROG 2012 Summer has been found and it was the Korean Terran LiquidTaeJa who took home the trophy and the 13.000 dollars.

This guy has been playing like a God for a while now and in the final he dominated MC heavily.
MC might not have played his best games, but TaeJas micro was simply perfect. He made all the right decisions and was able to control different armies at different places superbly numerous times.
Another thing that will really stick in our memory was a number of TaeJas drops where he managed to pull his medivacs back at the very very last second with only a few hitpoints left on them.
Not the closest final and generally todays games weren't as close as one could have hoped.
However it was definitely the right man who won and both MCs second place and ForGGs third place was well-deserved as well.

Overall the event was very professional and it felt like an event that had been made with a lot of focus on providing optimal conditions for the players with regards to good equipment and so forth. At the same time it was an event that was aimed at providing good material for all the viewers watching online. One point of criticism however was that it was certainly not an event that prioritized creating a special live experience. There was room for some fans to watch the games, but they should have probably brought the games or the final at least to the big stage of the Assembly Arena.
MC and TaeJa are without a doubt among the absolute best players in the world right now, and a final like that only gets better if you have thousands of crazy nerds cheering for them.

Congratulations to LiquidTaeJa!

Liquid teammate TLO congratulating TaeJa and ForGG receiving the 3rd place trophy

MC was not happy about getting 2nd place, TaeJa however was quite satisfied with 1st place :)

 The Three Musketeers!


The final of ASUS ROG 2012 Summer is coming up in a few seconds and it is going to be:

SK.MC vs. LiquidTaeJa

The Starcraft Stalker is standing right behind them and this is how they look just before the game.

TaeJa looks a bit more nervous doesn't he?

MC vs. Moon

MC is such a Freakin' Boss man.

With a demanding 3-0, MC almost made Moon like like a foreigner.
Moon tried to invest heavily in his drop play, but with perfect micro and well-placed forcefields, MC was never really threatened.

MC will now be waiting in the final for either TaeJa or ForGG.

 Moon is trying his best but is up against Mr. Cool himself.

This is what MC does after he qualifies for the final of ASUS ROG Summer 2012
He poses for a short while

Then he goes and checks his phone. He is probably making sure that wiki.teamliquid.net/ has updated the scores. Maybe he wonders why they don't just place him directly in the final to begin with.

Asus Rog Update - TaeJa and ForGG moves on

ForGG and TaeJa just won their quarterfinals and they have now qualified for the Round of 4.

ForGG defeated TheStC 3-2 in a rather close series. ForGG was definitely the better player though.

 ForGG saying wp to TheStC after defeating him. TheStC took the defeat as a man.

LiquidTaeJa on the other hand took out his own teammate LiquidHero 3-1 and with the form TaeJa is in this was no big surprise.

Teammates TaeJa and HerO battling it out. Moon is watching closely as he has already qualified for the round of 4.

HerO was devastated after his loss. He is out of the Asus Rog 2012 but he shouldn't feel too bad as he showed great play throughout the tournament.


So the first two quarterfinals are over and both of them turned out to be proof that the Koreans are still dominant.

MC took out MaNa 3-0 and Moon defeated SortOf 3-0 so they were both very one-sided.
There are only Koreans left in the tournament now and even though Stephano weren't present at this event it's still very hard to argue that the Koreans aren't still far ahead of foreigners.

MC stretching triumphantly after his win against MaNa
 MaNa seconds before GG'ing in the final set

Moon very focused as he takes out SortOf's last units. 
Hero is looking down at SortOf to see when he isgoing to type in GG.

3 Aug 2012

Day 2 Summary

In the last game of the night SortOf managed to take revenge against TitaN in a nail-biting 3-2 victory. SortOf was naturally incredibly happy with the win and will now represent Scandinavia and Sweden as one of two foreigners among the last 8 players in the tournament.

SortOf was devastated after losing one of the close sets against TitaN

 In the end everything turned out well for him though and after the last game a very relieved SortOf was congratulated by fellow Zerg Suppy

The 4 quarterfinals tomorrow will be:

MC vs. MaNa
Moon vs. SortOf
TaeJa vs. HerO
TheStC vs. ForGG

So we're going to see four mirror matchups.

Who will take first place in this fantastic tournament. It's already certain that a Korean will be in the final. But MaNa or SortOf will have a chance to try and take the other spot in the final.

Our predictions are that the final will be between MC and Taeja, however we are secretly hoping for a SortOf vs. Hero final.

ASUS ROG update

ForGG managed to stage a hardcore comeback against PuMa thus making Puma the first Korean to exit the tournament.  This also means that all EG players are out of this years ASUS ROG Summer. Very disappointing and unfortunate for the team as they must have invested a lot in sending 5 of their players to Helsinki.

 ForGG being interviewed.

SortOf managed to take out Kas in a very very exciting series which he ultimately won with a massive amount of fantastic fungal growths.
SortOf will now play Titan for the last spot in quarterfinals. SortOf was defeated by Titan 3-0 earlier today so it's gonna be uphill for the Swedish Zerg.

SortOf was very happy with his win over Kas

ASUS ROG update

So far all the the Koreans have made it through to the next stage making short work of all the foreign hopes including local favorite Naama. The three EG players Suppy, DeMusliM and Idra didn't stand a chance either against the powerful Koreans.

PuMa is playing now against ForGG for a spot among the last 8. Will Puma advance and thus prove that it is impossible for Koreans to get knocked out of the ASUS ROG Summer 2012.
I am sure all EG fans are cheering for him, as he is their last hope.

So far the only foreigner to advance is MaNa. The polish protoss showed impressive play against NightEnD and DeMusliM.

One final foreigner will advance however as right now SortOf is battling Kas in an epic series. The winner will meet Titan for the final spot among the last 8.

Naama vs. Hero at ASUS ROG

Naama is playing a nerve wrecking series against Hero right now for a spot among the last 8!
Naama just won and the series is now tied 1-1.
The Starcraft Stalker is standing among a crowd of finnish teenagers who are watching and cheering wildly for Naama.

We got a few shots of Naama earlier after his impressive win against Suppy.
He was very pleased with him self.

 Getting interviewed for Finnish TV

SK.MC vs. LiquidHero (ASUS ROG Summer 2012)

1st set on TSL4 ESV Ohana
In the first set Hero blinked aggressively into MC's base and focused on taking out MC's Robotics facility which he managed to do. Unfortunately for him this meant that MC could trap all his stalkers behind his mineral line with perfect use of forcefields. This meant that Hero was well behind MC in army supply so when MC counterpushed Hero had to defend with his probes to tank damage so his colossus could get some shots off. He managed to do so for a time but in the end MC's control was too perfect and with his lead in supply he eventually overwhelmed Hero. Both players played well but Hero was simply too aggressive with that one blink into MC's base. 1-0

2nd set on TSL4 ESV Cloud Kingdom
In the second set Hero once again blinked into MC's base. This time he took out MC's colossus that had just been build. This meant Hero felt safe to expand. At the same time he managed to keep pressure on MC so that he could not expand. This meant that MC had to do an all in attack at some point which Hero held and thus took the game. Ironically the aggressive blink into MC's base which cost Hero the first game, ended up winning him the second. 1-1

3rd set on GSL_Daybreak
The third game was very back and forth. Eventually they both expanded but MC managed to take out Hero's expansion quickly with a stalker blink. At this point MC had already build his robotics before Hero so at this point he was in front on both tech and economy. Eventually both got their expansions running and both a number of colossus. So when MC finally attacked he had a better colossus count and on top of that he managed to position them slightly better and so he took the game. 2-1

4th set on TSL4 Entombed Valley
Both players went for a one base colossus all in and neither knew about the other player's build. At some point MC went for warp prism with warp prism speed and dropped two immortals in Hero's base. With this he took out some of Hero's pylons which supply blocked him for a while. After this Hero went for a push to try and do some counter damage. MC however was waiting for it and held it off easily. This gave MC the final confidence he needed and he counterpushed once again and this push was too much for Hero. MC takes the series 3-1

The Starcraft Stalker filmed the final 2 minutes of the fourth and final set between the players.
Notice how close they are seated to each other and how close to the players the casters Khaldor and Wolf are sitting as well. Hero should have taken out his headphones and listened to the casters. That would have prepared him for everything MC was building :)

MC and TaeJa getting ready!

While other players (the foreigners) are practicing their asses off, MC and Taeja are getting ready for their big games in their own ways.
MC is playing League of Legends -

while Taeja is improving his Zerg mechanics... Obviously!

ASUS ROG Day 1 summary

So the first group stage is over and we saw a lot of fantastic games.
There were also some surprises with regards to the results.

What was certainly no surprise was that all 7 of the Koreans at the event managed to qualify for the next group stage and 5 of them even finished first in their group.
Of the Koreans The Starcraft Stalker was most impressed by Taeja and The STC.

Fellow Koreans following MC and ForGGs games:

Taejas series against IdrA was also surprisingly tense, and it was nice to watch it over IdrAs shoulders. And although IdrA didn't win, he still managed to qualify for the next stage, with two 3-0s against Protosser. This leads us to the matter of how well the EG team performed.

Generally EG has been under a lot of pressure lately because of a lack of good results. 5 players from the EG team participated in the ASUS ROG so once again there was a lot of pressure.
Of the 5 players, PuMa, DeMusliM, IdrA and Suppy managed to qualify for stage 2. Suppy even finished first in his group and showed very impressive play in both his series.
So all in all EG certainly didn't disappoint during the first group stage and it will be exciting to follow their players further on in the tournament.

DeMusliM getting a hand and arm massage after his games. The massage was sponsored by twitch.tv and is available to all the players:

In group 6 MaNa created a new rivalry against Satiini as they played two exciting PvT series against each other for a spot in the next group stage. In the final series MaNa was the best player and he will move on and get a chance to test his skills against NightEnD who played extremely well in his games, especially against PuMa.

Unfortunately BabyKnight lost both his games and will not move on. But he was in a hard group and we are sure he will get a chance to prove himself in another big tournament soon. We talked to FXOpens manager who said they were very happy with having BabyKnight on their team, and that they were planning on sending him to as many tournaments as possible.

FXOpen supporting BabyKnight.

A number of exciting matches coming up today and 6 of the 8 opening matches will be mirror matchups. Those are: MC vs Hero, TaeJa vs. DeMusliM, MaNa vs. NightEnD, ForGG vs. PuMa, Moon vs. IdrA, TheStC vs. Kas

Generally we are looking forward to the games of IdrA and Kas.
IdrA hasn't achieved any really good results in a long time so it would be fun to see him do well here. Kas is just a really good player who btw was insanely tired yesterday because of cancelled and delayed flights and so forth, so it was really cool that he still did so well.

Finally we hope that SortOf can continue his fine play and secure a spot among the final 8 players.

2 Aug 2012

Interview: Sortof

The Starcraft Stalker interviewed Sortof after his brilliant performance in the first group stage.

The Starcraft Stalker: Were you nervous when playing your first games?

Sortof: No, not really. The only time I got nervous was when I played the third map vs. Hero. But otherwise I was pretty calm.

TSS: So you weren't intimidated by having to play Hero?

S: A little bit. But after the first game I got really confident because I made a few mistakes and I still felt like he didn't play that well. So after that game I felt that I could win.

TSS: And now that you have won the group, are there any specific player in the tournament that you fear?

S: I don't wanna play any korean terrans, but I think I can beat any protoss that are in the tournament, and probably any zerg as well. I'm just hoping for protoss and zergs.

TSS: Who do you think will win the tournament, or a least place second after you?

S: There are a lot of great players here, but MC maybe. He plays very well at the moment. And Taeja as well.

TSS: Are you cheering for anyone besides yourself?

S: Well, a lot of my friends have been knocked out already, but I'm still cheering for Suppy.

Sortof number 1 in group!

Sortof has moved on to next groupstage finishing first in his group, after beating elfi 3-0 and Hero 3-2. Very impressive by the swedish player who played brilliantly in all of his games. 

Idra lost to Taeja 3-1. He played well, but it just seemed impossible to break one of the best Terran in the world at the moment. He will have to defeat Protosser one more time in order to move on.

JonnyREcco looks so small next to iNcontrol!

Huk out of ASUS ROG

We are sad to see Huk leave the tournament so soon after loosing to Seiplo and Naama in group 3. We really hoped to see him do well in this tournament, but unfortunately he is not at all on top of his game, and haven't been for a while. Some people say the EG house isn't the right training environment for him and others say that he just seems stressed out because of all the pressure.
No matter what, we will continue to cheer for him as he is a great player and a great guy.


We're at ASUS ROG!

It's very exciting. The first matches are underway.

Here are some pictures from the last preparations.

Khaldor and Wolf getting there makeup done.

Idra and Huk getting ready for their first games.

We just watched Huk lose the first set of his opening match against the finnish player Naama.
Huk didn't show any expression after the game, but Naama on the other hand seemed extremely happy and relieved.

More updates will follow soon.