Ever since GomTV MSL Season 2 had a serious make-over in terms of format, and overall prize pool, MBC Game studios seemed to make it a conscious decision to stay true to the following format:
Double elimination best-of-one format for the round of 32
Single elimination best-of-three format for the round of 16
Single elimination best-of-five format for the round of 8/round of 4/finals
The prize pool remained consistent throughout the times also:
₩500,000 for reaching the round 32
₩2,000,000 for reaching the round of 16
₩3,000,000 for reaching the round of 8
₩5,000,000 for reaching the round of 4
₩20,000,000 for 2nd place
₩50,000,000 for 1st place
The combination of how the tournament stayed almost identical in terms of prize pool, and tournament format, makes it ideal to compare player performances throughout the years.
So more so than any other tournament, the MBC Game StarLeague from 3rd May 2007 to 11th June 2011 is the perfect ground for which to compare and contrast performances. The incentives are entirely identical, and while the format did vary, the number of games required to reach a certain bracket stage remained exactly the same in theory (there were of course exceptions to the rule such as Stork extra games in GomTV MSL S2 after OversKy had to drop out of the tournament after reaching the quarter-finals due to the timing of his military service, and Stork won the wildcard tournament for the replacement slot). Further more, MBC Game StarLeague stuck to the 32 player format, whereas Ongamenet fluctuated between having 28 to 40 players depending on the sponsors, and only stayed relatively consistent in terms of format after the final 16 players were decided.
This means that comparisons between different time frames can be relatively free from statistical problems that arise from inflations. For example, the first ever MBC Game StarLeagues only had one proper best-of-five series played during the entire tournament, whereas MBC Game StarLeagues that happened after GomTV MSL Season 2 all had seven. That difference in format makes it problematic to compare player performances outside the context of their placing, such as trying to compare their win rates, for example.
So after 1,058 games played from May 2007 to June 2011, under more or less identical circumstances, here are some statistics.
Top five players who raked in the most prize pool
1. Flash: ₩183,500,000
2. Jaedong: ₩177,500,000
3. Bisu: ₩130,000,000
4. Calm: ₩65,000,000
5. Mind: ₩60,500,000
Comments: Due to the more top heavy prize pool distribution in contrast to the Ongamenet StarLeague, championships were rewarded much more heavily than consistent high placings. A single championship earned players more prize money than nine semi-final appearances despite the latter being arguably more difficult in some aspects.
As could be expected, it is Flash, Jaedong, and Bisu that top the charts due to their multiple championships. Mind makes it into the list despite only qualifying for five MSL seasons, due to the virtue of being the only MSL champion other than Flash, Jaedong, Bisu, and Calm to reach the semi-finals one other time.
Top five players with the greatest number of individual victories
1. Jaedong: 87 wins
2. Flash: 71 wins
3. Bisu: 52 wins
4. Stork: 36 wins
5. Calm: 35 wins
Comments: This would be a measure of overall body of work. Jaedong overtakes Flash here due to his more consistent performances. Stork overtakes all one time champions such as Mind, fOrGG, Calm, and Hydra despite having reached the finals only once for the MBC Game StarLeague due to his greater body of work.
I think I should mention that Stork had three unplanned victories from the mid-tournament wildcard qualifiers for the quarter-finals after OversKy dropped out in the middle of the tournament. In any other universe where mandatory military service does not exist, Stork should go further down the list.
Top five players with the highest win rate
1. Flash: 67.6%
2. Jaedong: 66.9%
3. Hydra: 65.7%
4. Bisu: 59.8%
5. Calm: 57.4%
Comments: In a list somewhat similar to the overall prize pool earned, Hydra, arguably the most successful zerg (certainly so in terms of prize pool) of towards the end of professional Brood War, makes it into the list partly due to his relatively smaller overall sample size of games, his professional Brood War being cut off mid-ascension. Perhaps it would have been even higher. Perhaps he would have had his career arc completed years after what was an unnatural end of professional Brood War, had it continued, and it would have lowered his initial win rate.
Top five nemeses of the terran race (in terms of greatest number of individual victories against the terran race)
1. Jaedong: 36-24 (60.0%)
2. Flash: 31-16 (66.0%)
3. Bisu: 25-17 (59.5%)
4. Stork: 21-7 (75.0%)
5. Kwanro: 19-12 (61.3%)
Comments: As could be expected, much of Stork's success within the MSL can be attributed to his prowess within his favourite match-up of protoss-versus-terran. Kwanro actually had very impressive showings versus the terran race within the confines of the MBC Game studios, and showed an uncanny ability knock theoretically more sound players such as Flash or Light out of the tournament.
Top five nemeses of the zerg race (in terms of greatest number of individual victories against the zerg race)
1. Flash: 27-16 (62.8%)
2. Calm: 22-15 (59.5%)
3. ZerO: 21-19 (52.5%)
4. Jaedong: 18-11 (62.1%)
5. Kal: 16-16 (50.0%)
Comments: The zerg race as a whole dominated the more modern era of the MBC Game StarLeagues, and the fact that not single player who played a lot of games versus the race had a win rate over 70% showed how powerful the race was.
Top five nemeses of the protoss race (in terms of greatest number of individual victories against the protoss race)
1. Jaedong: 33-8 (80.5%)
2. Bisu: 15-10 (60.0%)
3. Flash: 13-2 (86.7%)
4. JangBi: 13-13 (50.0%)
5. Kal: 12-9 (57.1%)
Comments: Both Jaedong and Flash massacred the protoss race, and while it is not that hard to find players with high win rates versus the protoss race, the fact that the zerg race were the strongest force in the most modern era of MBC Game StarLeagues meant that protoss players in general were somewhat of a scarcity. There is a plethora of protoss players on the list, since some tournaments such as the Clubday MSL had protoss favoured maps that spawned endless protoss-versus-protoss mirror match-ups, the biggest beneficiary of which was probably Bisu.
Top five players of the double elimination best of one format (in terms of greatest number of individual victories within that setting)
1. Jaedong: 19-6 (76.0%)
2. Hwasin: 18-3 (85.7%)
3. Flash: 18-10 (64.3%)
4. Bisu: 17-16 (51.5%)
5. Light: 15-8 (65.2%)
Comments: Hwasin is the only player in the above list to have a 100% success rate of advancing to the round of 16 once he qualified for the round of 32. It either speaks of his monstrous ability to dispatch mediocre opposition, or his abilities within a best of one setting. Since Hwasin never was a ProLeague monstrosity, I personally think it was the former.
Top five players of the best-of-three format (in terms of greatest number of individual victories within that setting)
1. Jaedong: 17-5 (77.3%)
2. Flash: 14-6 (70.0%)
3. Calm: 10-4 (71.4%)
4. ZerO: 9-3 (75.0%)
5. Bisu: 8-5 (61.5%)
Comments: It seems top zerg players in general had incredible success within the best-of-three setting.
Top five players of the best-of-five format (in terms of greatest number of individual victories within that setting)
1. Jaedong: 51-32 (61.4%)
2. Flash: 40-18 (69.0%)
3. Bisu: 27-14 (65.9%)
4. Calm: 15-16 (48.4%)
5. Mind: 14-11 (56.0%)
Comments: In a list somewhat similar to the prize pool rankings, and the overall win rate ranking, the above represents some of the most seasoned veterans within the best-of-five setting within the modern era.
The last several years of the MBC Game StarLeague featured some of the most zerg dominated tournaments of all time. Out of the twelve MSL tournaments that were looked into for this blog, there were four tournaments that had zerg finalists not named Jaedong. The protoss race had three tournaments that had non-Bisu protoss players playing in the finals. The terran race only had two tournaments that had non-Flash players in the finals.
Flash is the only member of his race to truly blossom in this era of the MSL. The likes of Hwasin, and Light may have had respectable best-of-one success, but was mediocre once they got into a best-of-series. Mind may have had a decent best-of-five pedigree during his prime, but that excellence only lasted for roughly half a year.
Jaedong dominates many of the lists, but was ironically let down by mutiple zerg-versus-zerg best-of-five defeats, the match-up that brought him so much success elsewhere. Jaedong's zerg-versus-zerg prowess seemed to be inversely proportionate with the overall power of the zerg race, and somewhat ironically, the most successful zerg player of all time was never present in either of the zerg-versus-zerg finals that was held by MBC Game studios, despite being nearly invincible against his own race in other competitive platforms.
In what was otherwise four years of pure excellence, Jaedong was continually let down by three things. Being clapped a couple of times by Hwasin in the round of 32, losing numerous times to his fierce rival Flash, and finally showing major cracks in his favourite match-up of zerg-versus-zerg versus various opponents. Jaedong showed a huge dip in form in his lauded mirror-match up towards the end of his career, when it was in fact one of the best times to be a god in that match-up. Some community members used to say that Jaedong made a foolish deal with the devil to get back at Flash (Jaedong had his best ever zerg-versus-terran form in 2011 after his terrible showing against Flash in 2010, but all his other match-ups saw significant drop in form, and that was what ultimately screwed him over).
In the swarm of numerous zerg players, Bisu was the only significant protoss presence in the MSL, since Stork's legacy mainly lies in his excellent Ongamenet StarLeague records, and other protoss players failed to make much of a mark.
JangBi may have been in multiple MSL finals, but he was such a streaky player that even qualifying for the MSL on his off-day was too much to ask from him. Stork was a reliable presence, but never made much of a mark on leagues hosted by MBC Game studios in terms of impact. Kal was a decent player that was able to showcase some of his protoss-versus-zerg skills, but was stomped by Jaedong far too many times. MSL tended to be the centre stage for zerg specialists such as Bisu and Kal, whereas OGN StarLeague was the preferred individual league for terran specialists such as Stork and BeSt.