Thanks to Xeofreestyler!
“Who are the five best rappers of all time? Think about it… Dylan. Dylan. Dylan, Dylan and Dylan. Because I spit hot fire!”
-Dylan, The Five Best Rappers of All Time
I Spit Hot Fire
TeamLiquid: Final Edits
I am a fanatic when it comes to my favorite comedian Dave Chappelle and the show that shares his name, so when I watch this skit naturally I laugh my ass off but these days I am reminded of something else. Both of them have something in common, an unquenchable thirst for their name to be heard. They both strive to achieve something that they never will, but in the end at least one of them found a way there.
Two years ago I had no idea who Lee Sung Eun was, I knew that his nickname was FireBatHero and I found it highly unoriginal, therefore he was an outcast in my Brood War Black Book. He had some interesting games against the likes of oov, Pusan and July, but he was just another mediocre Terran pulling himself through the leagues. Today things have changed a little bit, I know more about FireBatHero than I did then, and I still know that FBH sucks just as bad today. So you may be asking yourself “Why would anyone bother to write anything about a second rate Terran?” I know I asked myself quite a few times before setting out on this venture.
The calm before the storm
If FireBatHero had reached his peak any earlier than now he may not have even had a chance, his style would have been frowned upon just three years ago. Thanks to players like Zeus and the Emperor doing very mild ceremonies and breaking the fans in, FBH found his niche. Savior partook in the gloating with his slight neck rolls and superior attitude. Boxer did ceremonies for his fans not to humiliate his opponent or bolster his own confidence; the girls would swoon under his slight hand gesture or all too common salute (after his arrival at ACE). From Savior to Boxer, from Zeus to NaDa everyone had their own little ceremony, but none of them could spit hot fire like Lee Sung Eun.
“I am number one
Don't matter if ya like it, herr take it, sit down and write it
I am number one, eh eh eh eh eh eh
Tell me now
What does it take to be number one
Two is not a winner and three nobody remembers, tell me
What does it take to be number one, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh, eh”
Nelly – Number 1
I can easily imagine Boxer spitting that first line, “I am number one!” He has earned the right to call himself number one. His peers are few but they as well deserve that title, NaDa, Garimto, Savior and oov followed the same path to glory. Now they are either a shadow of what they were or retired, but nonetheless they are number one. One of my favorite players, Yellow, is well known for not being a winner. Along with Stork you could probably pave the streets of Korea with the amount of silver produced. This is where my heart lies in StarCraft, “Two is not a winner…” I am easily captivated by the proverbial dunce that can never quite make it. But where does Lee Sung Eun fall in this equation? He is not a winner. He is not even number Two. Despite that he is not somebody to be forgotten, FireBatHero is someone who no one can forget.
FireBatHero fell into a class apart from the rest of his generation, he stood where many had fallen and he did so while maintaining a meager professional record. Lee Sung Eun is a business man, and business is good.
Gettin made the FBH way
FireBatHero is best known for his total and utter destruction of Savior in the second season of the GOMTVMSL, I would like to say it was a good set, but given the circumstances… well you know. Even now he makes quick work of the Maestro, in their individual games and their Proleague games he leads the series, a five game lead over Saviors meek pair of wins. His overall win rate is 55%, which again proves that he has mediocre skills. His mirror matchup(63.49%) and his vZ(63.64%) aren’t bad at all, though you can account quite a few of those wins to the Maestro himself. His TvP has always been horrendous, with a win rate of 37% it’s no question as to where his weakness lies. He has no individual titles to his name, not even a second place finish. Though he is definitely a staple of the KAHN Proleague team he has little to claim as his own if you look purely at the stats.
Who knows when or how he realized it but Sung Eun had to do something or he was going to fade away into obscurity. Eventually he asked himself “Who are the five greatest pro gamers in the world? FireBatHero. FireBatHero. FireBatHero, FireBatHero and FireBatHero”.
FireBatHero. FireBatHero. FireBatHero, FireBatHero and...
Like Nelly said, two is not a winner and three no one remembers. But what about FBH in his unlabeled category? Well I guess by all rights Lee Sung Eun belongs in the last category. But by some crazy chance this kid has pounded the thought that he is number one into the heads of thousands of Star Craft fans, he just keeps saying it over and over and over. Nelly never accounted for the persistence and sheer force of will that is FireBatHero.
After losing 3-2 against FBH himself, the Maestro cast his eyes to the ground, his face took on a sullen and pale look which had rarely been seen by his loyal fans. He looked like someone had just told him his dog had been run over by a car, on the verge of tears, his situation was bad. It must have hurt even worse when he saw FireBatHero calmly push himself away from his keyboard, remove his headphones, stand up and begin to trot around him while pumping his fist in the air. The dance was crude, practically some sort of seizure, but it got the point across. Savior had been defeated with ease by an opponent who could hardly call himself a peer of oov or NaDa, both of whom the Maestro had defeated previously. If FireBatHero had packed his things and walked off stage that day he may have never had the chance to become the polarizing figure he is now. Fortunately for everyone he danced his way into a place in pro gaming history.
The reaction from the foreign community was violent; people were professing their love or hatred of FBH left and right, but the majority found his actions to be unwanted and unnecessary in the high class world of Korean e-Sports. I am sure many contemplated some sort of assassination when they saw his ridiculous dancing, and even more so when the Maestro slumped his shoulders so. Other shouted his glorious victories from the rooftops, anxiously awaiting his next victory which would be undoubtedly followed by his fantastic ceremonies. Whichever side of the line you lay on didn’t matter, the day after FBH completely raped Savior everyone was chit chatting about his ceremony, everyone had their eyes fixed on his retarded dance moves. Hate him or love him, everybody that follows the professional StarCraft scene knows the name of FireBatHero.
"Do I look like I care?"
The way I see it that particular dance he did against Ma Jae Yoon was a significant event. He didn’t win anything, but that day FBH helped to stave off the coming stagnant air in Korea. Savior had dominated everyone at the time; Boxer was in the Air Force. Things were changing rapidly towards a boring scene, cookie cutters were coming up through the ranks, players with no charisma, no style. At the same time so many of the old favorites were beginning to hit their golden years. There was a definite loss of character in pro gaming overall, even now Flash is a silent killer who rarely shows emotion. FireBatHero isn’t going to become the most dominant player right now, or ever for that matter, but he found a way around it. He has become the character of pro gaming that everyone will pay attention too; he doesn’t care if the attention is negative or positive. As long as you’re looking.
The Evolution of Dance
The first time FireBatHero danced it was a joke, as I have mentioned before the kid had no skill whatsoever. Since then you could say that he has evolved to a more “rhythmic” dancer, his hips actually move in sync with his arms these days. From the simple romp at Pusan to the elaborate mockery of Savior two days before their MSL match, FireBatHero has become the most interesting player outside of the game. Here is the original dance which started it all.
Fate stepped in after that and Savior went into one of the most depressing slumps in pro gaming history. With his confidence shattered at the hands of players like FireBatHero Savior struggled to come back, all the while FBH had his foot on Saviors head holding it in the dirt. FBH was relentless in his taunting of Savior at the group selections for the MSL in May this year. After taunting Savior by adding him to his group as an “auto-win”, which is especially insulting considering not six months ago no one could have called Savior out like that. He then turned around and did something that nobody expected.
The Letter to Savior
The Letter: Translated by Nevergg[spoiler]
In this week's issue of KHgames newspaper in the small letters section where progamers write to each other Firebathero (Lee Sungeun) wrote to Savior (Ma Jaeyoon). My assistant and I translated the article tonight.
우와, 이거 되게 어색하네요. 우리 서로 동갑인데 한 번도 말을 놓은 적이 없으니까 말입니다.
Wow it's really awkward;; we are same age and we never spoke casually.
남자들끼리 이런 편지 쓰는 것도 어색한데...그렇죠? ^^;;
A letter between men, how weird... right?? ^^;;
사실 누구한테 편지를 쓸까하다가 재윤선수가 제일 먼저 떠올랐어요.
To be honest, I didn't know who to write to, and MJY came up into my mind first-_-
생각해보니 우리 둘이서 이리 저리 사연(?)이 많았더라고요.
Come to think of it, there were a lot of stories(or events?) between you and me.
조지명식에서 서로 도발도 하고 말이죠.
We provoked each other at the group selection ceremony.
주로 제가 먼저 그런 말들을 던져서 당시는 재윤 선수가 기분 나빴을 수도 있있일 것 같다는 생각이 드네요.
더욱이 별로 친하지도 않은데 말이죠.
I realized that I may have made you feel bad because it was always me who started provoking.
제가 은근히 소심한 평이거든요.
Knowing we are not that close to each other,
well, I'm a timid person.
주변에서 재윤이 괜찮다 고 하다더라는 말을 들어도 내심 마음에 걸렸있으니까요.
People around told me how nice a person you are, and I felt bad.
신인 때 한 번 모 잡지 찰영에서 재윤 선수를 처음 만났어요.
When I was a rookie, I first met you from magazine shooting.
그때부터 친해지고 싶다는 생각을 했었는데 은근히 커리어차이가 나다보니 섣불리 말을 못 걸겠더라고요.
진짜 소심한 거 맞죠? ㅋㅋ
From that day, I've always thought of becoming friends, but because of the career difference between you and me, I found it difficult talking to you.
Really timid huh?
가끔 경기장에서 만나도 인사 외에는 별달리 말도 못 붙여서 그동안 그렇게 둘이 대결을 많이 했는데도 친할 수 있는 게기가 별로 없었던 같아요.
그동안 언빦았 던 부분이 있다면 사과하고 싶은 마음이랍니다.
Even when we meet from games, and even with our many show downs between us, we only got to say hello, and that's why I think we couldn't get closer.
그리고 멋진 동료 사이가 됐으면 좋겠어요.
If you ever felt offended or made you feel bad, I only want to apologize for what I've done to you.
and I hope we can become a great associates.
만약답장을 받게 된다면 강렬하게 반말로 써주세요.
If I ever get a reply, I strongly suggest you to use the casual language,
^^;; then BYE!
Lee Sung Eun turned right around and wrote this heartfelt letter to his bitter opponent. Reading the intent behind this was very difficult at the time and even now I wonder what FBH was really thinking as he wrote it. He told Savior how he wanted to become friends with him and had ever since he had first started his own path as a pro gamer. Certainly FBH could have been sincere with all the talk about how timid he felt around the Maestro, certainly he could have been using this as a way to gain attention. Either way Sung Eun accomplished his goal by getting his name out there at least one more time. The way he acted in their next few matches spoke for him in regards to his intent.
FireBatHero did not let up at all as just a short while later he defeated Savior in the CJ vs. KHAN Proleauge match, two days before the MSL. After apologizing for his behavior in the group selection ceremonies, professing his admiration for Savior and practically begging him to become friends in a supposedly heartfelt letter. He then went on to stomp on everything he said in that letter with a new ceremony. Why? Because FBH is a sadistic person who loves to rub peoples noses in the dirt? Well maybe, but I think he did it because he had to. Because FBH had to do it otherwise he would be just another KHAN team member again and there is no way Sung Eun is going to let that happen.
While destroying Savior was his in to the pro gaming scene he had to somehow perpetuate without Savior. Here is where he becomes the polarizing figure that he is today. FireBatHero evolved from the destroyer of Savior to the comic relief of pro gaming, a valuable member of the living being that is the Korean pro gaming scene. Without FBH we could be in a completely different situation right now, whether his absence would be good or bad is debatable, but he definitely made a big impact. With his name in the ears and mouths of the Brood War world FireBatHero had finally become something.
Beyond his own goals lie those of his team which FireBatHero has helped to become one of the most dominant set of players in Proleague history. Once again despite his mediocre play FireBatHero has helped to maintain a winning atmosphere amongst his teammates, bolstering their confidence with his ceremonies along with his own. Without him they would still be the same when it comes to raw talent but they would lack something that is important to a championship team, character. Even the silent Stork will crack a smile for his goofy teammate, in fact there isn’t a single person on the entire KHAN bench who could keep a straight face. His role is important to the KHAN dynamic which has proven to be very effective, not to mention he has always performed much better in Proleague than individuals.
Even when things go wrong for FBH he still tries to use it to his advantage. The above video shows the infamous pylon heart which Much built after defeating FireBatHero. It was meant as an insult to FireBatHero and payback for his disgrace of Savior, most players would have taken it as such. But Sung Eun took it in stride and awaited his chance to one up Much’s' interesting new style of ceremony. Then his chance came.
FBH and free[gm] were playing the Proleague Two vs. Two All-stars against Upmagic and nbs[gm]. As it become apparent that FBH and free were about to lose Sung Eun created his own supply depot heart inside of his base, coming full circle against Much by humiliating himself. Free then joined him in a ceremony after their loss, which he was clearly prepared for. Even when the man is losing or has lost he holds his head high and tries to keep a good face on it. But he has a human side just like everyone else which he rarely shows, or at least tries his hardest not to.
The Fairy Tale Comes True?
Sometimes there is a series of events which hardly make sense to an observer of the Korean StarCraft leagues, and right now one such event is taking place in the Clubday Online MSL. With one of the most dismal Protoss vs. Terran records ever seen in professional StarCraft FireBatHero should fear the Protoss race, and up until recently he did. In the group selection stages of the current MSL once again FBH was spitting hot fire left and right by putting himself in a group with two Protoss players. Insanity? Maybe. It gets worse, he then begs top seed Much to put Bisu in the same group to make it three Protoss and he the lone Terran. Practically suicide for any normal pro gamer, but FireBathero is no normal pro gamer.
Whatever was going through Sung Euns head that day must have been something very strong because logically there was no way FBH could put results up against this group. Much, Bisu and Backho stood between him and another chance at a title of his own, three of the best Protoss players around (well maybe two) not to mention the architect of the famous pylon heart ceremony. What madness could have driven FBH to put himself into his own personal group of death? I think he put it best when he said this at the group selection.
"To be honest, I'm not that great at TvP. I will admit, I'm not confident in my broadcasted TvP's either. However, I know in order for me be the next champion this is an obstacle I need to face. If I lose, I agree, I'm not champion material... yet. But if I win, you and I both know that I can be/will be the next champion. So Much[gm]. Bring in the Protoss!"
- FireBatHero to Much[gm] at MSL group selection.
Boldly he went where he had never gone before but this time something was different about him, this time he seemed more confident than even he should be. FireBatHero topped his own ridiculous ego by taunting his own demons in TvP and when the time came to put up or shut up? 2-0. FireBatHero defeated both Much and Bisu to advance from his group stunning every hater across the world, and giving his fans a glimpse at the new improved FBH. You could call it a fluke I guess if it weren't for his victory over another Protoss in the Ro16, 2-0 once again. From the start this MSL looked to be a FBH graveyard but now he has turned it into a graveyard for his opponents, every one of them Protoss.
Now he and NaDa are the only Terrans left in the Ro8 accompanied by a lone Zerg and five Protoss players. Once again imagining FireBatHero coming out of this MSL on top, or even with a podium finish should be a dream only and not a reality. By some odd aligning of the stars FBH has taken his worst matchup and completely turned it around this MSL. Next week he will have to face SKT powerhouse Bisu, another Protoss in his path to glory! He will have to gather his wits once again as he goes to face an opponent he nearly eliminated from the MSL, an opponent who has got to be bitter after losing to a former TvP retard. If he defeats him he will have to face another Protoss or NaDa in the semi finals and three more warrios of Aiur are vying for a spot in the finals. Welcome to FireBatHeros nightmare turned into a dream.
Fulfilling the Dream
As I now come to the end of this article I am not sure how to end it, how does one end an ongoing story? I don't know. What I do know is that FireBatHero has gone from a player who I would have thought of as a B team guy to a name, no an entity, which is constantly on the minds of StarCraft fans. He huffed and puffed his chest with all his might in the hopes that those very people would someday utter his name and now he has reached that goal.
Back in 2005 when he said "My TvP will improve with time."
When he began his path to glory he was nothing more than a fan of StarCraft himself, like many of us, he looked up to the giants of the day. Now he stands in the same arena as those players with his head held high and his hips thrusting into the air to proclaim his dominance of yet another FBH hater. His story is one of the most interesting in pro gaming to me as he was never the "bonjwa" or the Boxer, he was never a silver medalist or an innovator of a matchup. He wasn't anything until he danced that day against Savior. I still wonder how he managed to work his way into the hearts of pro gaming fans everywhere, and probably until the day I die this question will vex me.
While we wait quietly for the next "bonjwa" to step up (if one ever does) I am content to watch FireBatHero for my post game drama and a good laugh. But I will also watch him even closer now as his story comes closer and closer to the conclusion he wants. A Champion.
Thanks to Xeofreestyler for the main image. I love it.
Thanks to nevergg and infinity21 for translations of the two FBH interviews mentioned.
Thanks to FConnectionUK for translating the Battle.net Attack and Group Selection.
Thanks to those you who read this far!