The wait is finally over for Scarlett. Nearly six years after she intrigued the StarCraft II world with her talent at IPL4, Canada's star Zerg finally won the first major championship of her career by defeating legendary Korean Protoss sOs in the finals of Intel Extreme Masters PyeongChang. The result was an upset of the highest order: sOs was known as the ultimate big match player, having won some of the biggest tournaments in the history of StarCraft II with his brazen use of aggressive builds. On the other hand, Scarlett headed into the finals as a faded idol, a wildly popular player who had delivered just two runner-up finishes since 2012.
In a shocking case of role-reversal, Scarlett defeated sOs 4-1 with a combination of tricky strategies and unrelenting aggression. sOs seemed flustered as he struggled to cope with Scarlett's Zergling drops, Ravager timings, or even the common Hydralisk-Lurker combination knocking at his front door. Prevented from bringing any of his unusual strategies to the table, sOs' defense was only good enough to earn him a single consolation win. He was flattered to avoid a sweep.
After a flood of speedlings on Blackpink secured Scarlett the fourth and deciding GG, she walked over to her opponent for a customary handshake. Then, with minimal delay, she rushed to lift the trophy that had eluded her for years.
Heralded since 2012 as a "foreign hope" for a StarCraft scene long-dominated by Korean pros, Scarlett's career results lagged behind enormous expectations. At her best, she seemed just as good as the top competitors. She even went to Korea to train and learn in the ancestral home of competitive StarCraft. She could take games—even series—off championship caliber players. Yet, she could never string those wins together in a combination that could win her a trophy.
As time passed, Scarlett's form became more and more erratic. When Blizzard protected the non-Korean scene by separating it entirely from Korea's GSL, it should have been a golden opportunity for Korean-trained pros like Scarlett. Instead, it gave younger stars the opportunity to eclipse Scarlett's accomplishments. But her (considerably large) fanbase never wavered in their support. How could they? Not only was Scarlett skilled, but she had played some of the most exciting games of all time. She created moments that fans were willing to wait years for.
After it was all said and done, Scarlett saw her championship moment as a starting point, not a destination. In her post-finals interview, she mentioned her upcoming GSL round of 16 matches. She spoke of BlizzCon and her hopes to contend for StarCraft II's ultimate prize. Perhaps, for a progamer in the midst of a busy season, there is no time to sit and bask in the realization of one's dreams. But for StarCraft II fans, who have watched and waited for years—we might have that luxury.