Ilyes “Stephano” Satouri, a 19 year-old Zerg player, would be in the first handful of players to ever be elected into a Starcraft 2 Hall of Fame, if one should ever exist. He has dominated the foreigner scene and won over nearly every one of our hearts since the day he stepped into the spotlight. We love his demeanor, his personality, his antics, and his fond connection to afterparties. Now Stephano is set to enter the Pro League with EG-TL, and is interested in competing in the GSL, as he is able to stay in Korea for a longer period of time. This has understandably created much discussion in the community - can Stephano compete at what we hold to be the highest level of competition? Can he compete against Kespa players? Can he compete with the most dedicated Korean players, in a way most other foreigners have not? To answer this, we need look no further than this track record as it can sometimes be difficult to put one player’s success into perspective. My answer is this: Stephano has competed against the greatest, and more than that, he has beaten all that have come his way.
Stephano was never one to start small - there was no time in which he struggled as a “mid level pro,” handily beating whatever huge names were thrown his way as soon as he reached tournament play. In his first major appearance, the IGN ProLeague season 3 qualifier, Stephano vaulted himself all the way to first place after defeating Socke, Revival, Puzzle, Kiwikaki, and MMA, at a time where maps like Xel’Naga Caverns, dreaded by zergs, were still in the map pool.
Stephano didn’t stop there. He rode his first place finish in the qualifier straight to the IPL3 victory lane, seemingly laughing at any who got in his way - he defeated Huk, Boxer, Violet, Inori, TheSTC, and Lucky to take home the gold. It wasn't easy - just kidding, it was. Stephano was so dominate that it was hard to predict anyone could beat him after this run.
On Stephano’s next stop on his way to the bank, he passed a European tournament, the 2011 Electronic Sports Word Cup, and promptly demolished the competition. One by one, greats fell to the zerglings of Stephano - first Slivko, then Grubby, Nightend, Axslav, and Cloud, followed by MarineKing, and in the championship matches, Mana (who was so hot at the time he had just won 2-0 over Socke, MC, and Grubby).
In the next major tournament, the 2011 Gsl Blizzard Cup, Stephano performed *slightly* worse - losing to the 3rd and 4th place finishers MC and MVP, but not before defeating DongRaeGu and Hero, whose PvZ was believed to be the best in the world at the time.
In the flash of an eye, Stephano stormed through the SHOUTcraft Invitational #4, handily dismantling Darkforce, Nightend, Grubby, and Thorzain, grabbing his check, and headed right to the bank.
Next stop? ASUS ROG Winter 2012. Stephano took a strong start right to the semifinals - defeating Real, Elfi, going 3-0 against Puma, and losing to Polt in the finals. As a testament to Puma’s TvZ at the time, he would go on to beat Lucky 3-0 in the 3rd place match after going 0-3 against Stephano.
Stephano then took a trip to the Lone Star State, defeating White-Ra 5-1 in a $5,000 showmatch, and then entered the Lone Star Clash where his latest nemesis, Polt, was also a competitor. Here Stephano bested Hawk, Grubby, White-Ra, and even defeated Polt 2-1 in the quarter finals to face Polt again in the finals. Polt had beaten him before, had seen his strategies just moments before in their previous match in the tournament - surely Polt, a seasoned TSL veteran, could manage to take the series or keep it close. The result? Stephano won again 3-1, taking home the trophy. He was just too strong, and definitively took the edge in his rivalry with Polt for good.
In IPL4, Stephano showed some mixed results, if one could even call it that. He beat White-Ra and Curious, but fell 1-2 to MarineKing and 1-2 to Nestea.
After IPL4 it Stephano seemed to be on the prowl for some “easy” competition. The TakeTV Reloaded Invitational was Stephano’s next play thing, where Stephano defeated Illusion, Mana, Monchi, Socke, and followed that by besting Grubby 3-0 and Kas, arguably the best European on European turf, 4-0. Stephano was untouchable.
Stephano faced another large challenge in the 2012 MLG Spring Arena with a tough road to the finals against Ryung, Ret, MC, and Heart. But don’t worry, he beat all of them. He finally succumbed to greats Violet and Symbol in the final rounds.
The Red Bull Battlegrounds was, with the energy drinks, heated competition, and awful, awful shirts, Stephano’s next destination. His first victim was Violet, this time defeating him easily. Next was Illusion, who quickly fell, then in similar fashion Ganzi, and followed by that, Stephano took down the unbeatable Parting. Stephano lost an incredibly close series to MC 2-3, but then took down Squirtle 3-1 in the 3rd place match. Stephano had just gone 7-4 against three of the world’s best protoss players. Who else could achieve anything close to that feat?
I'm not sure who designed these shirts, but...
Stephano took his group at the next tournament, the 2012 MLG Pro Circuit Spring Championship, beating Polt, Alicia, Ganzi, Rain, and JYP - all previous GSL contenders. He could not follow up his group success in the playoff rounds, however, but his group record is nothing to dismiss.
NASL3 was Stephano’s next time to shine - he defeated Beastyqt, Hero, MC, and then 4-0’d Alicia to take his rightful spot as the champion. It almost seemed too easy for him; he seems like he could play blindfolded and still be a force to be reckoned with.
The next major tournament Stephano showed impressive results in was the 2012 MLG Summer Championship, where despite an early trip to the loser’s bracket due to his zerg rival Violet, he managed to defeat Heart twice, Rain, and TheSTC.
There is a new elephant in the room, and its going to get pointed out pretty quickly - Stephano, perhaps the greatest foreigner hope we ever may see in Wings of Liberty, is coming to GSL and SPL. Will he stand tall like he has in the past?