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.

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