Live tournaments come and go with varying amounts of hype and coverage, but MLG Dallas will likely be remembered as one of the most exciting and dramatic StarCraft 2 tournaments thus far. This weekend was full of powerhouse players clashing, maps being replayed (or not replayed), shifts in the perception of many teams and individuals, surprising strategies, new contenders, and perhaps the most notable of all occurrences: the disappearing act that Battle.net 2.0 put on during the Grand Finals on Day 3!
Hundreds of live spectators made their way in and out of the StarCraft 2 cave (or the "Church of StarCraft 2" as Liquid`Tyler put it in the most recent State of the Game Podcast) throughout the weekend. Many came to cheer for their favorite players, take part in the camaraderie of a mass of spectators cheering for pylon blocks and money scans, or just to stop in to see what the heck StarCraft 2 is all about. Tens of thousands of viewers enjoyed the action from the comfort of their own homes as well. For three straight days djWheat, JP McDaniel, and Day soothed the masses with their genuinely interested chatter about spawn location strategies, army positioning, harassment tactics, and player tendencies.
Here are some threads from before and during the event that you can look back on to soak in all the nostalgia of Major League Gaming's first ever National Championship for StarCraft 2:
- MLG Dallas Preview
- Day 1 Stream thread
- Day 2 Stream Thread
- Day 3 Stream Thread
- Tournament Replay pack
- MLG DC Brackets
So, without further ado let's get into the recap portion of the weekend's events!
On Day 1, the excitement at the event was palpable. Some players were around at MLG DC and they spent some time catching up with each other, but some players were reuniting for the first time in many months. Sen, Fenix, Jinro, HayprO, Nazgul, TLO, and more were playing at MLG for the first time and taking in all of the sight and sounds of the tournament area, while meeting many of their fellow competitors in the flesh for the first time. The practice area had only 32 computers, but the player pool contained nearly 128 players, so a rotation system was put in place for practice games. Basically, the rule was that you got to play 1 practice game, then win or loss you moved to the back of the line. Some players opted not to warm up at all, and instead showed up right at the start of the tournament focused up and ready to play.
Players like Gretorp and Sen were very happy to see each other again.
The first round games went mostly as people would expect, with a few unexpected or notable results. ZpuX, playing in his first MLG event, got matched with Nadagast right away and lost 1-2 to the MLG veteran. Nyoken vs. Future was notable because Nyoken is still a StarCraft: Brood War player for EG and Future is a friend of the clan. Nyoken signed up the day of the event and took his first round matches 2-1. Drewbie vs. Allaboutyou and Agh vs. AhhBoxxah were watched with some anticipation, but in both cases the seeded players (Drewbie and Agh) took their victories with some nice games played. Spades of Inflow Gaming drew HDStarCraft in the first round, but unfortunately for the caster-turned-player, he couldn't quite pull out a victory and lost 0-2. The only real upset was vT.Whiplash defeating FnaticMSI.Gretorp 2-1, sending the 16th seeded player into the lower bracket extremely early.
By the second round, the tournament was already heating up. A streamed match between TLO and TorcH saw a heavy amount of battlecruisers, base trades, and nukes. Fenix defeating iNkA 2-0 in round 2 needs a mention, solely for the fact that these two would meet again the very next day. Fortunately for the players, nobody was eliminated on Day 1, as no lower bracket rounds were played before bedtime. Everyone got to go to sleep with at least a chance of performing better the next day.
The first round of Day 2 brought with it the first round of eliminations. 64 losers meant 32 eliminations in the morning, with more to follow throughout the day. Day 2 also saw one of the largest surprises and notorious bo3's from the entire event. We'll get to that in a second, though.
The two previous MLG champions faced some of their toughest competition yet on Day 2.
Of course, with such a stacked player pool it was only inevitable that some really good players get knocked into the lower brackets, and even worse, eliminated from the tournament altogether. EG.IdrA, the reigning MLG champion for a span of three whole weeks, met up with Team Liquid's own player-manager TLAF-Liquid`Nazgul in winner's round 3. Both players spent the week leading up to the event practicing their behinds off on the North American ladder and in custom games. Nazgul played nearly 250 games in 5 days, and went from playing his placement matches to hitting #65 on Blizzard's North America Top 200 list. IdrA spent a few days at the EG house in Arizona also cranking out games day and night, perfecting his Zerg strategies before heading into the weekend.
As almost all of us know by now, Nazgul surprised the crowd with a bold blink stalker build that caught IdrA by surprise, taking game 1 on Metalopolis relatively easily. IdrA chose Scrap Station for the second game, and Nazgul knew that blink stalkers were not as effective on that map. However, since he saw IdrA's poor reaction in Game 1, he tried it again anyway. IdrA shut down Nazgul completely with some great speedling and hydralisk surrounds and took Game 2 almost as swiftly as Nazgul took the first one. Kulas Ravine, despite not being in the official B.net ladder pool, was selected by Nazgul for the third and final game due to its perfect layout for blink abuse. IdrA knew what was coming by now and went with a heavy roach build to try and break Nazgul's front, but with some impressive micro by the Dutch Protoss player only a handful of stalkers were lost throughout the entire game. Nazgul used the watch tower vision to blink onto IdrA's high ground, sealing his victory and knocking IdrA into the lower bracket for the first time in any MLG tournament!
Another big surprise of the day was EG.iNkA's mighty comeback against the Peruvian Terran player and IEM NY winner, FnaticMSI.Fenix. iNkA, having lost 0-2 to Fenix the previous day, was facing an extended best of 7 series, as per MLG's tournament rulebook. Somehow, he fought his way through 4 victories and 1 loss to send one of the favorites for the tournament packing. Clan cannibalism was now rearing its ugly head as well. EG.Machine had to face EG.iNcontroL for the third MLG tournament in a row, but this time the Zerg player had his day and continued on in the tournament, sending his teammate to the lower bracket. vT.Whiplash knocked his friend and teammate vT.TorcH out of the tournament, and TLAF-Liquid`Ret took two games from TLAF-Liquid`HuK to send the former MLG champion into the lower bracket. The field was a lot smaller by the end of the day, with only 12 players remaining.
Three Liquid members battle for their right to continue on Day 3.
The day began quite early for HuK, TLO, drewbie, SLush, SeleCT, Tyler, KiWiKaKi, and Ret. The lower bracket round 10 sent HuK, SLush, SeleCT, and KiWiKaKi into consolation matches while PainUser vs. Jinro and Machine vs. TT1 raged in the upper bracket. Eventually, our final four would end up as Jinro and TT1 in the winner's final and PainUser and Tyler in the loser's final.
Through many hard-fought games, including a nail-biter of an extended bo7 series between Tyler and PainUser and a quick 2-0 from TT1 against the very same Californian Terran, the participants in the Grand Finals were determined! The Swedish Terran player, TLAF-Liquid`Jinro and the Canadian Protoss player, FnaticMSI.TT1 were set to do battle for the first place prize of $6,250 and the title of Major League Gaming's first-ever "National Champion!" Really though, since neither player was actually FROM the United States, shouldn't it have been the first-ever International Champion?
Semantics aside, these guys had played a ton of very impressive games to get where they were, and Jinro had the advantage going in. He had also previously defeated TT1 2-1 in the winner's bracket finals, making the Grand Finals an extended best of 7 series. Jinro merely had to win twice to be declared the champion, while TT1 had to win three.
The first game was played on Delta Quadrant and Jinro showed a good amount of aggression and containment tactics to slow TT1's expansion and production. Jinro took the game with good displays of both offense and defense throughout. The second game took place on Steppes of War. At least... it tried to take place on Steppes of War. However, Battle.net 2.0 had other plans that day! It chose to start stuttering and collapsing during one of the most-viewed North American StarCraft 2 games in its entire short history. The game finally stalled out, and the players and casters were dropped from the game.
You said it, t-shirt guy.
For the next hour or so, players and spectators alike sat around on edge, waiting for MLG to be certain of its connection to Battle.net. In the meantime, Nazgul was called up to the player area to discuss with his player, Jinro, whether they wanted to re-game or forfeit the game that was played on Steppes or War. It was generally agreed upon by the players and spectators that the game was too close to call, and Nazgul and Jinro would eventually reach the same conclusion and ask for a re-game. djWheat and Day tried their best to keep the audience and stream viewers entertained with an impromptu ZvZ on Desert Oasis and a replay analysis of HuK vs. qxc game 1 from their bo3 that took place the previous day. Jinro and TT1 basically both sat at their computers with all kinds of thoughts swirling through their heads about how the next game would play out. If Jinro won, the tournament was over. If TT1 won, it suddenly became very exciting again as the potential for a huge comeback would be sparked.
Eventually, the MLG production crew and admins decided that the connection to Battle.net was finally stable enough to continue. In perhaps the most anti-climactic ending to any StarCraft 2 event ever, Jinro built up his army and was able to roll over TT1 to take the series, and the championship!
Not many people expected Jinro to take the entire tournament down!
TLAF-Liquid`Jinro took down his first major live event this weekend and his teammates could not be prouder of him. Nazgul and TLO both emphasized in interviews before the tournament started that Jinro was a bit undervalued by the community and that he would be turning some heads in the near future. Jinro had a very large presence during the StarCraft 2 beta, but since joining Team Liquid and moving to South Korea to live in the TL-oGs house, has not posted many impressive tournament results. All his hard work with the B-Team and A-Team in the house and constant practice games paid off this weekend, though, and now Jinro will be mentioned a lot more in discussions about top players. His road to the grand finals was not the easiest. He took out Socke, 3rd place finisher at MLG Raleigh, Response, member of the new Lazarus Gaming team, Ret, long-time Brood War badass and recent StarCraft 2 rising star, PainUser, the eventual 3rd place finisher in Dallas, and TT1, the 10th seed at the beginning of the tournament, in two separate series. Congratulations to Jinro and the rest of the top 8, seen here:
It was an amazing weekend with tons of great games. Articles about the event, interviews, and pictures are now scattered all over the Internet and the TeamLiquid.net forums, but here are a few I've manged to slap together:
Articles, Pictures, and Interviews concerning MLG Dallas
- JP's Post MLG Dallas State of the Game Podcast with iNc, Day, Tyler, IdrA, & Machine
- Live on 3 MLG Dallas After Party with tons of players, djWheat, SirScoots, & Slasher (Part 1)
- Live on 3 MLG Dallas After Party with tons of players, djWheat, SirScoots, & Slasher (Part 2)
- PCWorld's MLG Dallas Recap
- G4.TV interviews TLO, Jinro, & HuK
- Photos courtesy of JoshSuth from Day One, Day Two, and Day Three
- EG.Colbi's photos of EG players at the event
- PeanutSC's blog about MLG vs. Korean events
- FnaticMSI.Xeris's video coverage and interviews with Fnatic's SC2 players
Want more? Here's a MASSIVE thread with 15 video interviews conducted by myself and Anna Prosser a.k.a uNcontroLable. Also check out the The Liquid Weekly #15, which contains 10 video interviews as well, with just the Team Liquid players. And finally, keep an eye on this thread posted by Kennigit, featuring the media coverage that MLG Dallas has received from major outlets.
Hope all of you enjoyed the event as much as I did, and I hope that all of the players continue to train as hard as they can to provide us some excellent matches in future tournaments. Big thanks to the Major League Gaming cast and crew for their dedication and commitment to making StarCraft 2 visible and appreciated in the Western Hemisphere. None of this would be possible without the initiative that you've taken and the hours that you've put in. Big thanks as well to TeamLiquid.net for having the greatest StarCraft 2 community anyone could ever ask to be a part of. I look forward to working with all of you again in the future.