Since the dawn of esports, Korea has, “dominated in almost every esport it took interest in,” Nicolas “Tasteless” Plott said during the GSL vs The World Finals between Joona “Serral” Sotala and Kim “Stats” Dae Yeob. Among esports, StarCraft is a Korean favorite.
As Tasteless made his statement, Serral, a Finnish Zerg player, was taking the best Korea had to offer, all the way to game seven of his series. Serral made history on Aug. 5 by beating Stats and becoming the first non-Korean to win a GSL event in 20 (!) years. While Serral made history, he isn’t the only example of a rise to power and closing of the gap for the non-Koreans.
While taking down some of the best in Korea, and even while topping the WCS Circuit’s point system, Serral looked like a real competitor. Before he reached Stats in the Finals, he beat out two other legendary Korean Circuit players. After a 3-0 win against fellow World player Diego “Kelazhur” Schwimmer, Serral beat 3-0 Terran player Lee “INnoVation” Shin Hyung, who is known for his robotic-like skill. In the semifinals, Park “Dark” Ryung Woo, who had shown some new Zerg strategies, was only able to take one game off Serral. Cho “Maru” Seong Ju, who has won the last two seasons of GSL and is arguably the best player in the world, lost in a best-of-one show match to Serral. Stats had beaten Maru in a best-of-five series to get to the finals, but in all fairness, Stats probably couldn’t have done it again. Serral made history at GSL vs The World, and many are ready to crown him the best StarCraft player in the world because of it.
One of… no, THE most incredible defensive play of the year.
Serral took GSL vs The World, but Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn was the first to win a tournament on Korean soil this year. IEM Season XII took place in PyeongChang, South Korea. It was host to eighteen players from all over the world. Joo “Zest” Sung Wook and Kim “sOs” Yoo Jin were the Korean representatives and the heavy favorites. Scarlett had to start from the NA tie-breaker best-of-five series, a game set aside for those who barely qualified for the tournament. European Zerg Mikolaj “Elazer” Ogonowski bested Zest 3-1 in the quarterfinals, and Scarlett took Elazer down 3-1 in the semifinals. The Canadian Zerg player faced off against sOs and his Protoss in the Finals, beating him in a decisive 4-1 fashion. Starting from before the bracket stage, Scarlett was able to beat out some of the best players in the world.
Three days of epic Starcraft 2 matches here in #PyeongChang2018 conclude with one of the biggest upsets in esport history:
The Global StarCraft II League invites some players from the World Circuit, but they rarely last that long. This season we saw not one, but two World players advance from the round of thirty-two to the round of sixteen: Alex “Neeb” Sunderhaft and Riccardo “Reynor” Romiti. Although it has never been done before, I don’t imagine this to have as much of an impact as the previously discussed successes. However, if one or both make it to the round of eight, that would be monumental. As both were selected for Maru’s group in the round of sixteen, it will be a tough challenge, but Kim “Impact” Joon Hyuk was also selected to be in the group. I expect Maru and one of either Reynor or Neeb to make it out into the round of eight, yet again making this a historic year for the World Circuit players.
GSL vs The World is over, but GSL round of sixteen will begin Aug. 15 at 2:30 am PDT and the WCS Challenger scenes for NA and EU start Aug. 11. Stay tuned to ArmchairEsports for the latest StarCraft news, updates and analysis.