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South Koreans dominate every region as StarCraft 2 World Championship Series finals loom

South Koreans dominate every region as StarCraft 2 World Championship Series finals loom

This weekend was a big deal for Blizzard's StarCraft 2 World Championship Series. Of the three regional tournaments that feed into the Season 1 international finals, two of them held their grand finals, including the South Korean region which features the best players in the world.

Both finals featured big comebacks that shocked viewers who had all but counted out the eventual winners.

Late Friday night, the first series kicked off in Seoul, South Korea as Innovation (Terran) squared off against SoulKey (Zerg) in the GSL Code S finals which doubles as the WCS South Korea tournament. Going into the match, Innovation seemed to be a heavy favorite as he had performed very well so far in the tournament, handily defeating two of the best Zerg players in the world in his two previous matches.

He came out early and battered SoulKey in three straight matches in the blink of an eye. With just one win to go Innovation seemed completely unstoppable. Worse, SoulKey looked emotionally defeated and on the verge of tears after losing all three matches in different ways.

With shaking hands covering his face, SoulKey refocused on the basics and fought his way back into contention with a series of strong timing attacks (an attack that coincides with the completion of key upgrades that give a player a strong advantage.) With the match tied at three sets to three, the emotional weight shifted to Innovation as it was his turn to bear the mental burden of being embarassed on the world stage.

With strong fundamentals, SoulKey managed to fight his way back from a three to zero deficit to win four matches in a row and take home the WCS South Korea grand finals and $20,000. Zerg players have been dominant in South Korea over the past year with four straight GSL championships.

The video can't be embedded on this page, but you can watch the South Korean finals match here.

WCS North America

Later in the Weekend, the focus shifted to New York City as the WCS North America Top 8 finalists faced off in Major League Gaming's home office. Ironically, the WCS North America finals included zero North Americans as the bracket was taken over by six South Koreans, a Norweigan player, and an Australian.

Most non-South Korean StarCraft fans were likely hoping that at least one non-South Korean player would advance into the finals from this tournament, but those hopes were dashed as both the Snute and Moonglade were eliminated.

We were treated to some great matches though, as both Hero vs Ryung and Alive vs Revival were well worth watching.

The finals were particularly wonderful as fan-favorite Hero faced Revival. Things got off to a dicey start as some costly mistakes put Hero down two matches to zero. Hero is known to be a very emotional player, and it's not uncommon to see him cry when he loses games.

So it follows that many had already counted him out when the match started out so poorly. Keeping your mental edge is important in a game that is as precise and demanding as StarCraft 2, and it looked like Hero had lost that as he sat slumped over his keyboard with his hands over his face. 

The emotional weight turned him into an unstoppable machine as he plowed through the next four straight matches to become the winner of the North American regional tournament.

Season 1 Finals

For those hoping to watch a non-South Korean player take home the championship, all hopes have fallen to the European bracket where three European Zerg players were able to make it to the Finals tournament in Seoul starting this weekend.

Stephano, TLO, and Dimaga will carry the hopes of the world as they travel to StarCraft Mecca to compete against the best players in the world.

As much as I'd like to think we'll be watching those three storm through the tournament as underdogs, I've got to think the Season 1 Finals will be a retread of the South Korean regional tournament, since that's where the world's best players are competing. That said, it's always good to have some underdogs to root for.