Bomber wins StarCraft 2 WCS Season 2, but Scarlett’s run was the big story
Since long before StarCraft 2 there has been one single question that everyone asks before a major StarCraft tournament: how well will the non-Koreans do? South Korean players dominate SC2 so thoroughly that every player who isn't South Korean is referred to as a “foreigner.”
Usually the best that Western fans can hope for is that their favorite players don't get embarrased, that they put on a good show and give their fans something to be proud of. Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn did more than that this weekend at the finals of Season 2 of the StarCraft 2 World Championship Series as she trounced some of the best players of South Korea, and became the player to watch for the entire tournament.
Round of 16
The first round of the tournament was a group stage where all four opponents played each other, and the best two players advanced. The Canadian Scarlett took an unlikely lead in the group with a 2 games to 0, steamroll victory over Mun “MMA” Seong Won, one of the all-time greats of SC2.
Unfortunately she then was similarly steamrolled by Han “aLive” Lee Seok, a suprise considering she'd obliterated him the last time they met. ALive came prepared, knew Scarlett's weaknesses, and dispatched her quickly.
After this happened, hope faded for her chances in the rest of the tournament as she was forced to square off against Cho “Maru” Sung Choo, the champion of the South Korean region and perhaps the best player in the world.
Expectations were low for Maru vs Scarlett. There weren't many people who expected her to have any chance against the reigning Korean champion, but she not only put up a good fight: she destroyed him in intimidating fashion. No strange strategies. Nothing off-kilter. They clashed in large-scale, economy-focused games and Scarlett was simply the better player, crushing him 2:0.
Round of 8
Having advanced beyond the round of 16, Scarlett had already made a name for herself in the global StarCraft 2 scene, but it was her match against Choi “Bomber” Ji Sung in the round of 8 that truly captured the eSports world's attention. Their best of five was almost inarguably the best series of the weekend as they traded blows for two hours.
If there's one series you watch from the weekend it should be this one. Scarlett was unfortunately unable to come away as the victor, but she impressed the crowd by taking the series to a fifth and final match which was one of the most viewed games of the tournament as well over 100,000 people tuned into the stream. This is significantly more than you'd normally expect for a match in the quarterfinals.
She ultimately fell to Bomber, the eventual champion of the tournament, but her unlikely performance at the WCS Season 2 Finals stands as one of the best moments in North American eSports in 2013 next to Justin Wong's Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 streak at EVO, and Team Liquid's win over LGD China at The International 3. It may not sound like much, but a non-Korean reaching the round of 8, and putting on a great show against the eventual champion at one of the biggest events of the year, is a significant victory for Western StarCraft.
Scarlett's impressive stand against Bomber in the quarterfinals looked vastly more impressive as Bomber advanced to the finals to play Lee “Jaedong” Jae Dong. Jaedong, one of the top Zerg players in the world, was embarrassed by Bomber 4:0 in the grand finals, making Scarlett's 2:3 loss look considerably more respectable. Especially considering Jaedong was using the same Mutalisk-Baneling-Zergling style that Scarlett had more success with.
The end of Season 2 of the WCS marks the beginning of Season 3 as the Challenger leagues are already gearing up to determine who will enter the Premier League in each region for Season 3. And of course, it's all building toward the yearly finals where the top competitors of the year will face off for a $100,000 grand prize at Blizzcon in November.
Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Scarlett will be able to qualify for that as she's currently placed #17 in the world in WCS points (awarded for placing highly in tournaments) and is about to go on a prolonged rest period to recouperate her hands and stave off injury. Only the top 16 advance to the yearly final.
The WCS America Season 3 Challenger League begins today at 6PM EST. And of course, it's all building toward the Season 3 finals which will be held in Toronto, October 25-27 at the Toronto Congress Centre.