This Friday Fantasy and JangBi are going to square-off in a best of five series to determine the winner of the current OSL. It will be the last Brood War match for the next month. While that fact alone is more than enough reason to be excited for the finals, I want to remind you all of the history these two players share, and about a rivalry that should have been one of the greatest of all time.
For about the entire year of 2009, I (and I believe many others) would get extreme nerd-chills whenever I learned that Jangbi and Fantasy even had a chance to play each other. In one corner you had Fantasy, a rising Terran star and TvP extraordinaire. The successor to BoxeR and iloveoov, fantasy quickly became the most exciting Terran on the scene. In the other corner you have Jangbi, PvT God , 3-time silver medalist and the most consistent Protoss in individual leagues on the scene. Whenever they met, it was surely a match between the best of the best in the matchup…
But first, we must go back in time to late 2008. The Six Dragons were in the peak of their reign with Stork winning his first OSL title and Bisu defeating Jangbi in the Club Day MSL (which featured an all-dragon semifinals). While the dragons were the talk of the scene, a young up-and-coming Fantasy made a splash of his own when he nearly royal-roaded the Incruit OSL. While Bisu was proving to be the most successful dragon, Jangbi quickly became the #2 dragon as his teammate Stork entered a long slump that took him nearly 2 years to fully recover from. It was in this climate that the two held their 1st televised match on December 20th, 2008:
Although Stork was still considered the #1 PvTer at the time, Jangbi was extremely close to his personal PvT ELO peak (and indeed the highest PvT peak of all time). Fantasy proved that he knew how to TvP the month before in his final with Stork, but had yet to enter a long streak of TvP dominance that was kick-started with his 3-0 trouncing of Bisu in the Batoo OSL about 3 months later.
The pair’s first bout proved to be an exciting macro match highlighted by some very strong vulture harass from Fantasy and many close battles. Despite the favoritism that Jangbi held, fantasy proved his strong ability to play to a non-standard map’s strengths and took the win. While this game is quite a good watch, what really made me take notice of the incredible potential that these 2 have when they play each other are their next 4 encounters, each incredibly exciting matches.
Fans wouldn’t have to wait long until the pair met again, this time on Neo Harmony in the Lost Saga MSL Ro32 a little over a month later. By this time Jangbi continued his reign as a dragon and fantasy floundered a bit in Winner’s League (going a mere 6-7), which perhaps inspired Fantasy to go with such a bold strategy. Either way this is one of the pair’s greatest matches to date.
Fantasy opens up with an incredibly devious 2 factory build that involved a proxy factory in Jangbi’s empty 3rd. After Jangbi moves out his initial goons to fantasy’s natural sparked by a very late siege mode (as fantasy instead researched vulture speed and mines), fantasy runs 3 vultures into Jangbi’s nearly naked main base and runs amuck with mines and vulture harass, followed up by a small contain in Jangbi’s natural. Eventually Jangbi breaks the contain with some absolutely amazing shuttle control and eventually takes the win as he actually lost very few probes to the whole ordeal and fantasy played the rest of the match down a factory (as he spent the next few minutes floating the proxy back to his main).
The pair met again only 4 days later in Winner’s League, on the original Medusa.
edit - thanks to NicksonReyes for a VOD with sound found here.
Unfortunately no VOD exists online that still has sound, but this is still arguably the pair’s most memorable game ever played. This time Fantasy opts to go for a more map-specific rush, once again 2-facting (although placing both factories in the main) and getting a faster siege mode, while jangbi goes for a 1-gate expand to his mineral only and then goes 2-gate robo. Once siege mode finishes, fantasy pushes out and sets up to take out the towers blocking the back entrance to jangbi’s base. Jangbi spots this with a pylon and sends the majority of his dragoons to prepare for a breach. Once the towers are destroyed, fantasy unsieges and pushes straight to the natural, tricking jangbi into separating his forces and allowing fantasy to walk right into his main.
What follows is 5 minutes of breathtaking action as jangbi fights for his life against fantasy’s unrelenting aggression (with 2 factories rallying speed vultures into jangbi’s base). Miraculously Jangbi survives and is able to defeat fantasy whose turret timing is slightly late and dies to a shuttle/reaver combination after a hard-fought battle.
Several months pass by before the pair meets again. In that time fantasy continued his rise to stardom, especially as a TvP specialist. After 3-0 bisu in the Batoo OSL semifinals fantasy entered a long TvP winning streak and considered by most to have the best TvP at the scene (yes, even better than Flash). Jangbi on the other hand was in the beginning on a long slump. After a soul-crushing defeat to Luxury in the Lost Saga MSL, Jangbi started to lose games a whole lot more often. He dropped out of the next MSL in the group stages and lost to a still-rookie Baby in the GSL (back when it was a BW league). On June 10th 2009, they met once again on God’s Garden in a SPL match. It was perhaps at this moment that the pair had never been more equally matched…
A long action-packed game, the players spawn on opposite corners but don’t let it stop from getting aggressive at the get-go, with a forward gateway by jangbi and FE from fantasy in the back-natural (with a somewhat odd placement of 1st factory in the other natural…). Without spoiling too much, hardly a moment goes by without some sort of action. The opening is especially exciting as Fantasy JUST holds Jangbi’s extremely well-microd attack and subsequent reaver harass, and then does what he can to harass jangbi right back. Sure this map might have been a zerg haven, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t an amazing map for harass-focused players like jangbi and fantasy. Eventually Fantasy pushes out on 3 bases and catches Jangbi out of position and takes the win. Jangbi didn’t play poorly at all, but seemingly never did enough damage to fantasy with his harass to make up for expanding so much later than fantasy.
Another 6 months go by before the pair ever face again. Fantasy leads his team to the 2009 SPL championship with an impressive 2-0 over Jaedong during the bout, but then gets crushed to him days later in the Bacchus 2009 OSL semifinals. Flash re-emerges as a true champion (the 2009 "slump" ends), with only Jaedong being able to stand up to him. Nearly all Protoss go into submission, with only Kal and Free putting up consistent results in individual leagues (and a random finals appearance by Movie).
Fantasy’s amazing OSL streak ends in the EVER 2009 OSL where he fails to advance from the group stages, and he also failed to qualify for the NATE MSL with some un-impressive play to boot. For the first time in his career, Fantasy was not on the rise anymore. Jangbi failed to qualify for the EVER 2009 OSL (dropping out in the Ro36) and lost in the Ro16 of the NATE MSL to Stats. The once #1 PR and final dragon was now doomed to mediocre results and a shrinking impact on the scene. Although Jangbi has yet to reach rock-bottom, he certainly does not command the fear in opponents that he did a year ago around when he 1st met fantasy on television. On January 25th 2010, Fantasy and Jangbi once again do battle , this time in Winner’s League on the map Judgement Day.
Perhaps because of the extreme Terran-favoritism the map has (and indeed many maps during that season had a Terran-favoring), Jangbi opts to go for an aggressive, cheesey build vs fantasy this time around (essentially reversing the roles of their earlier matches). Jangbi proxies a robo near Fantasy’s base (who goes for mines-1st FD-ish expand) and constantly puts pressure on until the shuttle is out. Knowing that the entrance is minded up but wanting to put some pressure on before the reaver is out, Jangbi elevators his units into Fantasy’s main and goes for the attack seconds before the ebay is finished. Fantasy displays sublime star-sense and prepares for this attack with some spidermines in the main, essentially crushing this attack when a single spidermine damages 4 dragoons. Undeterred by this Jangbi doesn’t let up the pressure, continuing to harass with reavers and other units for several more minutes, but never finding a big enough opening in Fantasy’s excellent defense to do enough damage. Eventually fantasy pushes out and crushes Jangbi. An excellent action-packed game, but much more 1-sided than their previous affairs.
And then the rivalry cooled down. Fantasy bounced back later in 2010 and remains to be consistently the #2 Terran in the world. Jangbi remained a somewhat strong player, keeping a 50+ % winning ratio, but never doing well in individual leagues and never being nearly as fearsome as he was during his prime. On July 15th 2010, the 2 finally met again in the Ro32 of the Bigfile MSL.
Unfortunately the 1st affair was not very exciting. Taking place on Triathlon, both players decide to macro up for 1st 15 minutes or so with no action, followed by a few good army movements by Jangbi and a swift GG from fantasy.
Team Liquid’s own battle report summed it up as such:
The first match between Fantasy and JangBi was just plain boring. The game goes on for about 15 minutes before any real engagement happens, and then two things happen:
1) Fantasy decides to donate some units to JangBi. 2) JangBi fakes Fantasy out, and recalls in the main to simultaneously attack the protected back expo.
After these blows, JangBi continues to amass advantages through having more bases and coming out on top in the clashes, and eventually Fantasy retires from the game. In the end, no economic harassment by Fantasy just allowed JangBi to macro up, and with the help of JANGBI STORMSSS Fantasy was forced into submission.
The 2nd game was a bit more interesting, featuring a DT-after-nexus from Jangbi that was blocked pretty well by fantasy (who once again went for mines and vulture speed before siege mode). Afterward fantasy goes for a fast contain in front of Jangbi’s nat, who does not have the forces to initially stop it (probably because the DT didn’t do anything). Jangbi plays “renegade toss” for a bit with some reaver harass, but once again fantasy’s superb defense stops it from doing anything more than modest damage. Eventually Jangbi tries to break the contain with zealots but loses 2 reavers during the attack after only firing 1 scarab from the pair and fantasy comes out well ahead, forcing jangbi to GG and not advance to the Ro16 of the MSL.
After the match fantasy went on to reach the semifinals of the MSL, losing to flash in one of the best and closest TvT Bo5s of all time. Jangbi on the other hand immediately entered an 11-game losing streak, one of the longest in professional BW history. Despite this, coach January never lost faith in Jangbi, and repeatedly put him out in Proleague (much to the delight of anti-teams everywhere). This started the absolutely worst period in Jangbi's career (from "Best Player to Have Never Won a Starleague"):
On September 14 2011 04:47 Keone wrote: Just wanted to say, of all the people I expected to have a shot of graduating from this poll and being in another SL final...
Requoting my own stat: "From August 1 2010 to May 1 2011, Jangbi compiled an incomprehensible 25.64% record."
Despite all of this, he still won a few games, sometimes showcasing some of his old brilliance, a relic from a time when he was still Almighty:
Near the peak of Jangbi’s slump, on November 3rd, 2010 the pair met in their most recent bout:
A heartbreaking affair, as the once Almighty struggled to keep up with a player that he once so greatly competed with and consistently overcame. Jangbi goes for a 12-nexus on Match Point, Fantasy scouts it and immediately kills it with a bunker rush. Fantasy turns the bunker-rush into a light contain, and instead of trying to break it, jangbi elevators some units out of his main and goes for a reaver attack on fantasy’s main. This all gets scouted by an SCV though, and fantasy is more than prepared for the attack, losing only a single SCV while killing the shuttle, 2 zealots, and a reaver. Jangbi finally breaks the contain (which was mostly abandoned by then) with dragoons and an observer and expands, but shortly after fantasy pushes and completely destroys Jangbi. The whole game fantasy completely read jangbi, and had an almost flawless victory.
At this point it seemed clear: the rivalry was dead. The pair that seemed to always create incredible games had no more magic left. The skill levels were too far apart.
Afterward Fantasy reached a new peak in his career (and also ELO). He defeated Jangbi’s teammate stork in the Bacchus 2010 OSL, a rematch of the Incruit OSL. And he did so in a dominating fashion, showing how his BoX skills have truly become honed. Despite a small post-OSL slump that seemingly only Jaedong and Flash can avoid, Fantasy bounced back this summer and helped bring his team to the SPL finals, where despite winning his game SKT1 still lost. Fantasy has had a great run in the OSL thus far, losing only a single game to Hydra in the semi-finals and he is now looking to become the 3rd player to win two OSLs back to back (the other 2 players to do so being Boxer and Jaedong). He may no longer have Oov for coaching support, but his series vs Hydra may be enough to prove that he is perfectly fine at crafting a gameplan for a BoX on his own.
Sometime in May of this year, things finally started to turn around for Jangbi. He started to win games on a consistent basis again in Proleague, in fact winning almost all of them that weren’t against high-level Zergs. It was finally starting to look like his slump had started to end. After losing to Soo in the OSL prelims, destiny seemed to shine on him and he was able to claw his way through a highly competitive wildcard tournament (beating players such as Zero and Leta) to earn a spot in ODT. After 2-0ing his ODT group, Jangbi nearly lost it all again when he went 1-2 in the Ro16. Few thought that Jangbi could emerge from the tie-breakers, but 2 well-executed builds landed the Almighty in the next round, where he would square off against God.
After losing a well-found 1st match, Jangbi had to sit and wait 2 weeks as he witnessed Flash take his team to China and back to win the SPL grand finals a 2nd time in a row (where he had a clean 2-0 smashing of PvT specialist Best).
And then in August Jangbi finally got a chance to show that his comeback was for real and not just a fluke. In 2 beautifully played games, The Almighty committed deicide and advanced the semifinals. Jangbi met the rising SKT1 rookie and ZvP specialist Soo in the semifinals. Many rooted for the last Protoss hope to advance, but few favored him to actually advance. But Jangbi was determined to meet his rival-that-never-was in the finals, and rolled over the SKT1 Zerg in threethunderoussets.
And now the Dragon that had fallen the most has made his way to a stage that only one two dragons before him have ever reached, and he’s doing it two years after his “peak.” When Jangbi plays vs Fantasy in the finals some time this weekend, he isn’t just fighting to avenge his teammate Stork or to earn the 1st gold medal for Protoss in three years, but also to finally get a chance to re-spark what was once the most promising up-and-coming rivalries in all of StarCraft.
And so here we are. Two players that seemed destined to be rivals in early 2009, separated by great barriers of peaks and slumps, will finally meet in their 1st series on the grandest of stages. In one corner you have a player that burst onto the scene as a rookie and never looked back; never #1 but always close and always improving, finally reaping the rewards of years of strong play. In the other corner you have a player that slowly rose to stardom, reached for the stars but couldn't quite reach them, and then fell all the way to the bottom and has clawed all the way back up for one more shot at glory. But when you are watching this final, I want you to not just remember the history of each player, but also the history between these 2 players. Both players at their peak epitomize aggressive PvT: insane multitasking and harassment, rock-solid crisis-management, builds that require balls-of-steel, and a true knack for creativity in the match-up. And whenever they play vs each other in good-form, anything is possible, except for a boring game. + Show Spoiler +
Long live BW btw
Last edit: 2011-09-18 04:08:13
BW is the only esport. gogo STX/Bogus/Calm/Jaedong/Kal/MINI
Yoshi Kirishima United States. September 15 2011 12:53. Posts 9003
This is... an absolutely unbelievable and fantastic write-up.
So comprehensive. So detailed. So well-referenced. My mind has been blown. I will need to reread this all again soon, thank you for taking the time to write such an amazing background hype to the OSL Finals.
Oh, and thanks for the reference and quote, haha! GO JANGBI!!!
So excited! I haven't watched SC in a long time - and in fact I haven't even seen any of this OSL but I am really excited for these finals. I've managed to catch parts of the finals of all the recent events but I'm looking forward to getting back into watching it.
fishbowl United States. September 15 2011 15:18. Posts 813