July has been very active in the Starcraft II pro scene and players have split up to attend 2 of the biggest tournaments of the year. On one hand we have DreamHack Valencia and in the other hand we have IEM Shenzhen.
I’ve talked about these tournaments before and they’re massive. The DreamHack tour is a place for thousands of gamers to get together and play some epic lan games in a festival manner. Intel Extreme Masters offers one of the highest paying tournaments of the year with $100,000 up for grabs. The other reason players attend either tournament is for bragging rights.
DreamHack had a lot of talent in its player pool, some of the bigger names include MC, StarDust, Harstem, Patience, Bomber, Hyun and Stephano (still pushing the limits of the word retired). Looking at this list of names my money would be on MC or Patience. Why? MC is a god and one of the few players battling for the highest earnings of any eSports player of all time. Patience is a prodigy that showed up at the world finals last year for his first live event, and obliterated some of the biggest players in the Starcraft scene consecutively. Consecutively being the key word, he went from pro to pro and shut them all down!
I was hoping to see Bomber go a lot further but he faced MC just before the quarter finals. Anybody who goes up against MC is going to have a hard time and there’s no arguing that. Sadly I couldn’t get to see the match because it was being played off the main stream. Whilst the match was going on the stream was covering Vortix vs MaNa. Vortix is the home favourite and he was playing exceptionally well with the Spanish crowd behind him.
Despite Vortix being one of the best European players around, I tend not to cover his career because he rarely manages to make it to the quarterfinals. He had a fantastic run in 2012 with 2 finalist positions in IEM tournaments and a second place finish in WCS Europe. The past 2 years has been relatively quiet for the European Zerg player.
The DreamHack 1st place title goes to Sacsri and he’s the player on everyone’s mind at the moment. Recently there have been a number of players coming over from the Korean scene and infiltrating European championships. This is a very good thing because it means a lot of the European players get to challenge them and hone their skills in the online ladder. Sacsri has no championships to his name and very little is known about him outside of Korea. What better way to make a name for yourself than taking down MC aka The Boss Toss:
Admittedly I was more excited for IEM than I was DreamHack. I got nothing against DreamHack I just have a soft spot for Taeja! Before I talk about his performance I want to draw attention to one of the group stages. In group D of the round of 16 we see 3 legends and a guy called Jim! In this group we have Taeja, Life, MMA and Jim. Nobody expected Jim to come out of that group with a flawless victory. Let me put this into perspective:
Life – a 2 time GSL champion (Korean pro league) won Dreamhack Bucharest this year and IEM New York last year.
MMA – WCS Europe champion last year, IEM champion in 2012 and GSL Code S champion in 2011.
Taeja – Has only lost 1 grand final in his past 11 grand final appearances. In the past 2 years has won 4 DreamHack tournaments, a consistent finalist in the GSL and WCS leagues.
Jim – A local champion in the Chinese competetive scene. He has won many major tournaments in China but his first major premier event is IEM Shenzhen.
In group D, Jim went 2:1 against Life and 2:0 against Taeja. That’s a big achievement in itself, worthy of a grand final position. But he never made it! Jim was shutdown by Solar. Solar is a frequent contender in the GSL scene but never reaching the final stages. However he has won many North American weekly tournaments.
Solar’s path to the finals was arguably easier than Jim’s. Solar lost to Jaedong and proceeded to the quarterfinals off the back of 2 victories against HerO, a former World Championship finalist. He then shutdown InnoVation, the statistically best player of 2013 and proceeded to fight Jim.
Taeja’s path to the grand finals is a very very interesting story. Taeja’s quarterfinal match was against a Protoss legend, Zest… I’ve never heard of Zest because I think IEM was his first international tournament. Zest won the GSL Global Championsips this year in May which means 2 things; a) he’s a Korean champion of champions and a very formidable opponent, b) this was 3 months ago, he’s still on top form! Then along came Taeja and wrecked Zest 3:0.
I’ve mentioned in the past that Taeja had a bit of rivalry with Jaedong. It started this year with the Acer HomeStory Cup. Taeja knocked him out and then went on to dominate him again at DreamHack Summer. Yes it happened again, in the semifinals Taeja beat Jaedong 3:1 and my heart goes out to Jaedong because Taeja has become his Achilles Heel.
Time to get down to business. The final speaks for itself and I am not surprised of the outcome, however it was some of the most amazing Starcraft I have ever seen in my life. I say that frequently but that’s because this year is an incredible year for eSports! Without further ado, feast your eyes on this spectacle of a game…
Taeja has now won 11 out of 12 grand finals, that’s a 91.6% win ratio!. #TaejaForWorldChampion!