Has is your favorite progamer. You just don’t know it yet.
That’s why Has is such a joy to watch. As everyone strives for more efficient, more consistent, more logical play, Has has succeeded by doing the exact opposite. He is a testament to the idea that there is intrinsic value to being unpredictable for the sake of being unpredictable, crazy for the sake of being crazy. A lot of players have earned the title of “legend” in StarCraft II. Has is not one of them. But unlike those legends, Has can say he is truly one of a kind.
It’s been an honor to watch Has over the years. Here’s a look back at his 2017.
IEM Gyeonggi: The Madness BeginsIf the 2017 season was both awesome and awful, perhaps it was because it began with a blessing from Has. December's IEM Gyeonggi, though technically held in 2016, marked the official start of the 2017 season. It was essentially a Korea-only event, with all its online qualifiers being held on the Korean server. And yet, in the third and final qualifier, in the fifth and final match, playing for the sixteenth and final spot in the tournament, was none other than Has.
Whatever bulls*** Has pulled to sneak his way into the decider match, it was surely the end of the road. His final opponent was none other than Starleague champion and Terran super-prodigy Maru. It’s hard to think of any player more diametrically opposite to Has than Maru. Maru can macro; Has cannot. Maru can micro; Has cannot. Maru is excellent at StarCraft; Has is... alright.
So, of course, Has almost won. The first couple of games were textbook Has, with Has going for utterly predictable proxy-oracles followed by a nonsensical follow-up all-in. Yet, despite Has being the most infamous cheesy player in the entire foreign scene, and despite common sense dictating that Maru should never fall for Has’ lunacy, Maru still managed to lose the first game. Maru proved what we all know: despite all the lip service Koreans pay foreign players, they don’t really respect them. At least, not enough to do scouting or research on their opponents.
Maru managed to fend off Has’ all-in in game two, but he was clearly shook. In game three, he deployed an absurdly conservative build order, playing not-to-lose against an overwhelming underdog. Has took full advantage of being in Maru’s head. After faking an all-in, he took uncontested double-expansions to secure himself an enormous economic advantage. It was Has at his very best—he had just met Maru thirty minutes ago, but he had already manipulated him into falling for an elaborate scam.
Alas, that moment of brilliance was soon followed by a demonstration of Has at his very worst. After taking such a huge lead, Has was faced with the recurring dilemma of his career: what do you do with a macro lead when you DON’T ACTUALLY KNOW HOW TO MACRO? The answer, as it often turns out, is that you lose terribly (and hilariously).
What makes Has the cult-hero isn’t his ability to mind-game his way into a nigh-insurmountable lead against an elite, multiple-time champion. No, it’s his ability to LOSE that lead. Winning with an advantage makes sense. The essence of Has is that he doesn’t make sense.
WCS Austin: Thanks, Blizzard, for Giving Has a Regular PaycheckThe remainder of winter passed uneventfully for Has. He participated in both the WESG and IEM Katowice qualifiers, but was unable to endanger tournaments favorites or provide comic relief in his hasty eliminations. Nation Wars IV was also forgettable for Has and team Taiwan, as they were eliminated from the group stage after suffering 0-4 sweeps at the hands of Germany and the Netherlands. (Still, Has gave us a few laugh against Finland, where he triple cannon rushed ZhuGeLiang. I’m not even sure that ZhuGeLiang self-identifies as a progamer, but f*** it, who’s keeping track?)
In April, the 2017 WCS Circuit finally began with the WCS Austin qualifiers.
The 2017 reorganization of WCS saw Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and Japan spun off into a single qualification region—one of the weakest in the history of StarCraft II. Even if Blizzard had created an African region, it would have been stronger than Taiwan et al. on the strength of Stephano alone. The only possible way to make a weaker region would have been to isolate an area that had literally never produced a decent player, such as the Middle East, India, or New York City.
In short, the stage was set for Has to shine. The peerless champion of Taiwan asserted his dominance over the region, winning several macro games on his way to the finals of the Taiwan-HK-Japan-Macau qualifier. A convincing 4-1 victory over Hong Kong’s Bistork in the finals secured Has $100,000 Taiwanese Dollars in prize money and a trip to Austin, Texas, to face the best players from around the world.
Has was then promptly eliminated from the Ro32 WCS Austin, losing 0-2 to MaNa and SpeCial.
...well, look, if Has’ roguery worked ALL the time, he wouldn’t be Has—he’d be sOs.
WCS Jönköping Qualifier: The Most Has Tournament of the YearIt was no surprise that Has got smoked when he faced actually good players from different regions, but few expected him to struggle to qualify out of Taiwan. In the following WCS Jönköping qualifier, things became quite dicey for Has in what ended up being the Most Has Tournament of the Year™.
It was all Has’ fault, really. It could have been easy like WCS Austin, if that’s what he had wanted. Instead, in a uniquely
No, it wasn’t the Scarlett kind of off-racing where one dodges the Zerg vs Zerg mirror to try some Protoss bulls***. Rather, when Has faced Swedish Zerg Winter (read this interview to learn why a Swedish player was playing in an Asian qualifier), Has opted OUT of his vast store of PvZ cheese and decided to play a ZvZ instead.
Even Winter was surprised, seeing no possible advantage to be gained by Has for making this move. It was a moment where Has reaffirmed something the entire StarCraft world already knew, but perhaps didn’t quite fully believe: Has doesn’t care so much about winning as he cares about being absolutely insane.
So, of course, Has went up with an early 2-0 lead. No, he didn’t pull off any one-base all-ins—that would have required finesse, precise knowledge of timings, and fast reactions. Has won game one with a random nydus in the middle of a macro game, because why the hell not. Has proceeded to play another macro game in game two, winning at the end of a chaotic base trade (Winter was temporarily struck with the peculiar type of braindeadness that only seems to afflict Has’ opponents, forgetting he needs to save drones and minerals in a base trade).
But this wouldn’t be the most Has tournament ever if he had actually closed the series out. Instead, after taking an improbable 2-0 lead with his off-race, Has got reverse swept and was sent to the losers’ bracket.
Without any more second chances, Has switched back to Protoss, but it didn’t stop him from playing a sequence of games that make you say “I can’t believe this f***ing s***.” In a win over Taiwanese Terran Expect, Has went for a voidray all-in which turned into a 15-minute base trade. Not a hall-of-fame Has game, but still a solid 9/10 on the Has scale of weirdness.
Next, going up against Taiwanese Zerg Rex, Has showed why he typically doesn’t play macro games, as they’re often a total disaster. Down 0-1, Has fell back on a more ‘reliable’ strategy, Soul Training his way to victory in the following game. With one cheese win in the bag, Has went for another one of his signature moves in the cannon rush.
More than the off-race series against Winter, this game was what made the WCS Jönköping qualifier the most Has tournament of the year. In this pièce de résistance of stupidity, Has’ cannon rush was countered by Rex’s proxy-hatch ravager rush. Forced to improvise in an odd situation, Rex’s answer was to massively overthink the situation. As for Has, he went with the “let’s see if he can beat one stargate oracles” adaptation. If it sounds stupid, it’s actually even stupider than that. Just go watch it.
I should make something clear. I'm not calling Has stupid. Has isn't stupid; he's just insane. His games end up being stupid, as a product of his insanity. Oh, in the end, Has lost anyway, because of course he did (a slow-ling drop did him in).
WCS Valencia: Two Icons MeetHas decided to go for a more sane approach in the following WCS Valencia qualifier, which allowed him to make it through without much difficulty. It was disappointing by Has’ creativity standards, with generic mass-oracle abuse featuring prominently.
During the gap between the WCS Valencia qualifiers and the actual main event, spent his time failing to qualify for IEM Shanghai, and then flew out to Korea so he could flop in the GSL Code S qualifiers as well. Presumably, Has did this for the sole purpose of reminding everyone of where he stood competitively, thus embarrassing his future victims at WCS Valencia. (The GSL qualifier was also the qualifier where NoRegreT broke through his bracket and earned the rare and vaunted title of Code S foreigner. I’ll give you a second to let that sink in.)
At WCS Valencia, Has found himself drawn into a group with another iconic figure of the StarCraft II community: Bly, the Ukrainian Hustler.
I’m tempted to call Bly a mirror image of Has, but that’s just insulting to both of them. Has would scoff at the suggestion that Bly is anywhere near as crazy as he is. There’s calculating reason behind Bly’s gambles, while Has is the personification of pure irrationality. On the other hand, Bly would be insulted by the comparison because he’s actually kind of a good player.
Alas, the first Bo3 between the cheese-lords didn’t get anywhere close to its maximum potential for weirdness. Has took game one in an unexpected macro game, only to cede game two to Bly’s 8000 MMR decision to counter mass oracles by making a spire. With the series coming down to just a single map, Has deemed Bly a worthy opponent, and finished him off with a rare all-in that actually made sense. Unlike many of Has’ other strategies, his 2-base chargelot all-in seemed well-timed and even surgical, slicing through Bly’s defenses before they were set.
Has proceeded to get wrecked by Special in the winners match, but did manage to throw in an utterly pointless proxy tempest build (the best kind of build, some would say). Meanwhile, Bly won his series vs Dayshi to confirm a Bly vs. Has rematch for a precious Ro16 spot.
In a move that showed remarkably bad taste, Blizzard opted to show uThermal vs MaSa on the main stream. Quite the shame, because Has and Bly made up for their lackluster first encounter with a series that allowed both of them to shine. After tying the first two games 1-1, Has and Bly combined to give us the disaster base trade game we had all been waiting for.
“Imagine if Has knew how to micro or macro” raved one critic. “I don't even” gasped another. After fending off roaches, mutalisks, and a last ditch attempt by Bly to scam him into accepting a draw, Has emerged victorious at the end.
With that, Has knew his work was done. Facing eventual champion Elazer in the Ro16, Has was crushed by a 1-3 scoreline, with his shenanigans proving to be almost totally ineffective. (Well, except his mass oracle into skytoss on Abyssal Reef—a crutch so powerful that it allowed PiLiPiLi and Has to win macro games in 2017.)
Even in defeat, Has left us with one final gift: Elazer’s reaction to his brush with divinity.
WCS Montreal: Parting ShotsHas qualified for September’s WCS Montreal without much incident, proving that off-racing was really the only way he wouldn’t qualify from his region. Has’ most notable game from qualifiers was his proxy-robo immortal all-in against Expect. It was similar to sOs’ rendition of a similar build against Bunny in SSL, serving as an example of how great minds think alike.
Has entered WCS Montreal just a few ranks outside the top eight in the WCS standings, as his regional qualifier had guaranteed him a steady stream of WCS points. Yet, he still faced a huge gulf in terms of sheer points to make the cut off for the Global Finals. It was here that his failure to qualify for WCS Jönköping really came back to haunt him—a solid performance there might have allowed him to squeeze by with a lucky Ro8 or Ro4 run in Montreal. Instead, Has was left needing even more than just a finals appearance. To make it to BlizzCon, he had to win it all.
Of course, no such thing happened. Not even close. But hey, at least he got to embarrass a couple of Europeans.
Has’ initial series against TLO, resulted in a 2-1 victory for the German Zerg, with TLO managing to coax two macro games out of Has. Has then brutalized Zanster with Skytoss in the losers match, setting up a rematch with TLO (who lost to TRUE in the winners match) in the deciding series.
TLO was unable to overcome the power of TRUE creativity in the ensuing match, where Has countered roach-bane with mass zealots from a fast gold base. Mass oracles followed in game two, leaving TLO with no choice but to submit to Has’ superior strategic mind. “Ugh.” responded TLO, when asked for comment during the writing of this review.
Of course—are you sensing a pattern here?—Has went on to lose 1-3 to Snute in the Ro16. Much like Elazer at Valencia, Snute was mostly immune to Has’ bulls***. But even in defeat, Has claimed a (im)moral victory, taking a single map win with exquisitely a-moved skytoss.
2017 in Review, and Looking ForwardThe loss at WCS Montreal effectively ended Has’ 2017 season. Though he went on to play in many online tournaments, Montreal was Has’ last opportunity to perform his craft for a wide, international audience on an important stage.
It’s difficult to compare Has’ 2017 to previous years. In competitive terms, 2016 was a slightly better year—Has placed 13th in the WCS Circuit rankings in both 2016 and 2017, but earned significantly more prize money in 2016. In terms of cultural relevance, it will be difficult for Has to ever surpass his 2014 masterpiece: The Wall of Despair against Jaedong in WCS America.
Yet, 2017 was still a meaningful year for Has as an artist. He ventured outside his comfort zone and found new ways to flummox his opponents, using economic cheese against Maru and off-racing against Winter. He realized he could infuriate his opponents in long games as well as short ones, and became somewhat proficient at mass oracle into skytoss. Has even received flattery in the form of imitation, as Classic’s more efficient version of his mass-oracle briefly became all the rage in PvZ.
In that regard, 2018 has the potential to be Has’ most exciting year yet. With the Taiwan-Japan-HK-Macau region retaining two seeded spots in WCS, Has has a safety net to keep experimenting without caving to the demands of getting immediate results. Already, he has brought builds such as proxy-tempest-shield battery to the GSL qualifiers. If Has can stay true to his adventurous spirit, and continue to grow as an artist, we may witness the most glorious year of Has yet.
Acknowledgements and Credits
Photo of Has: Abraham Engelmark, via DreamHack
Photo of Has-man: IEM
Misc help: Heyoka, Mizenhauer