The Group of Death is a long celebrated tradition in Starcraft. Every event, a few top contenders end up in close proximity, far away from the championship stage. Sometimes it's something innocuous, like four of the top Protoss in the same group. Sometimes it's more serious, like the three best players together.
MLG Orlando has brought it to a new level. In Orlando, the proverbial group of death is the entire tournament. The entry list features the likes of White-Ra, MarineKingPrime, TSL_Polt, SaSe, Stephano, TheStC, and that's merely the open bracket. Simultaneous-EU-NA-GM#1 DeMusliM will be there as well, and even TriMaster.
The pool section is full of what are now the usual suspects. IdrA, HuK, Sheth, Ret, BoxeR, Bomber, PuMa, MC. The list goes on and on, any tournament is difficult to predict a winner but here even picking the favorites borders on the impossible.
WaxAngel has been repeating for weeks that this is the hardest tournament to date. He could be right.
Pool Play Preview: The Toughest of Bosses
As this is the hardest tournament ever (™), there are challenges at every turn, inside every box and chest. Every part of the tournament is unrelenting, the smallest of missteps will cause an end to any run. It harkens back to my days with the trusty NES, when men were men and games didn't have second chances. When every new landscape was the hardest trek imaginable.
Pool A is a dynamic mix. As with the first Mega Man, the challengers come in all shapes and sizes. The pool is a wide mix of people from around the world, and having all sorts of backgrounds. BoxeR, now one of the grandfathers of the game is on one end, with relative newcomers TLO and Drewbie on the other. Each player represents a different country, and the range of skill is impressively large.
And just like Mega Man, any of them can kill you. It might be spikes or disappearing blocks, the slightest miscalculation will end in your death. Any rogue enemy shooting lasers, or a single blade aiming to cut you in half.
Pool B is nice because it looks like a fun ramp in terms of difficulty (even though it isn't). On one side there is iNcontrol who, despite being a strong player, hasn't seen much success in MLG lately. On the other is Bomber, reigning MLG champion who has a definite chance of a repeat performance. Playing any of them is cause to break peripherals and throw the nearest object at a monitor.
In between is Sheth, KiWiKaKi, and PuMa. Men who occasionally look beatable, if only one is familiar with the secret path that can bring them down. Many will try and few will succeed.
And, even if you are able to luck your way into some progress, a bat will swoop down and end your life. That unbeatable bat.
Like Top Gun, this is a list of names that is deceiving. At first glance it seems to be comparatively weaker than the other groups, HongUn is the only one with recent Code-S play! In Top Gun all you need to do is fly around, you're simply avoiding death for long portions, not even engaging enemy targets. It seems easy enough, surely any player can learn that skill.
And then you hit it. The aircraft carrier. The boss of bosses. It could be HongUn, it could be Rain or maybe Ret, but there will be a wall. A wall that is impenetrable to even the most hardened, the most experienced of gamers.
With four Protosses in the group, this looks akin to a 1985 platformer. Graveyard after graveyard, the landscape seems similar if the difficulties that arise are somewhat transformed. Even if you are able to defeat North American staples HuK and Tyler, the later stages involve a reinvigorated MC and new blood HerO.
Your reward for merely surviving the beating from them is to also face July, the God of War himself and owner of a gold mouse.
Oh, also you can only get hit twice before you're dead. Good luck.
MLG isn’t just one of the most entertaining events to watch for Starcraft fans; it’s also one of the most difficult. We all love to see the world going all-out against some of the best Korean players, and within this already insanely high level competition is an even harder one: the open bracket. MLG is like a private club and players will have to give it their all to gain access to the coveted VIP lounge.
Remember NaNiwa's 22-0 run to reach the finals at MLG Dallas? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we’re talking about that hellish place, a place where even one mistake, the slightest slip, could cost you everything. MLG’s nightmare of an open bracket takes everything that makes a player who they are, strips it down and tests it. If any of their component parts are lacking, they won’t make the cut.
After all that, you can start building a real story, because legends aren’t born; they’re made, they’re built, they’re constructed.
MarineKingPrime represents what could well be the coolest story of this event; MarineKing is here thanks to his fans on Reddit. With their collective hopes settled squarely on his shoulders, he will arrive in Orlando with that extra-pressure on his back. He ought to perform, if not for himself, then for all the supporters that wanted to give him a chance to shine on American soil.
"Oh shit," must have been the reaction of the other players seeing such a beast entering the competition. "Sorry guys!" could be MKP's. More bad news for the other players, 'Fauxer' has finally beaten the curse and is no longer mired in eternal second-place.
If you were to summarise MKP, you could do a lot worse than saying he’s a fusion of raw skill and class. Who else could wear that pink sweatshirt and get away with it? We all want to see this Cinderella story get its happy ending. I personally think that after this MLG some players might have to be hospitalized after being traumatized by marines.
My oh my. I have spent so much time trying to convince people that Stephano is the real deal. He was getting better so fast I couldn't follow, let alone believe, what I was seeing. It's not only that he developed insane macro and micro, but that he has developed a unique playstyle. One thing can no longer be questioned – this man can deliver.
Grubby's disciple is now flying solo. At IPL he showed us not only that he could beat Koreans, but that he could go further; he can crush them. Today, I can finally say it without being criticized for being biased; Stephano is one of the best Zerg players in the world, and this is just the beginning. Let it be known, a new era is about to begin, and it will be Stephano's.
Some might retort that the MLG open bracket is a marathon few can withstand, and that Stephano is known for not being able to play several hours straight. Could this be the MLG at which the pink power ranger will prove, once and for all, that you don’t have to be exiled to Korea to become the best.
Alive, ThesTc, Polt
Ok, it’s not really fair to do a pack with these three different players as each clearly deserves his own intro, but this open bracket being so packed with skill, I would just end up writing a preview so long it would top the group stage preview. "Thin consistency and tremendous skill" would perfectly describe this trio. Any of these three could bring it home. It might be true that TheStc is still a little below the level of Alive and Polt as far as results are concerned, but I really think he’s a player who has yet to show us what he’s capable of. With these three elite Terrans, it feels like Korea decided to take a plane after IPL to set the record straight. Let’s face it, they didn’t come into town to play tourists. Don't act surprised if you see at least two of them in the final stages.
SaSe and White-Ra are two sides of the same coin. On one side you have the unpredictable and creative White-Ra, the grandfather of ESPORTS. With him every game is a surprise; he will drop colossus in your mineral line or hit you at an unheard-of timing, you never know until it’s too late. White-Ra always has a card up his sleeve and underestimating him tends to lead to a swift evisceration. These are the, by now infamous, special tactics.
SaSe then represents the tails to White-Ra’s heads. No fancy special tactics, just insane unit control and builds drilled to perfection over long hours of training (familiar?). Word on the street is that the Swede is the most improved foreigner at the moment. He will arrive at MLG under the Quantic Gaming tag for the first time, trying to prove that he is now a player evolving to a totally different level.
If their personalities and styles represent something of a diametric opposition, the two have one thing in common – unadulterated skill. In that respect, it’s hard not to consider SaSe and White-Ra in terms of their representing foreign protoss players in the open bracket.
In the face of the Korean threat, the rest of the world has sent two protoss players that stand above the rest; one high templar and one dark…
Last but not Least
It might seem unfair not to write something especially for Demuslim or even for Trimaster but choices had to be made. That's how crazy this open bracket is.
Trimaster and Demuslim are two trump cards, while the former is a relative newcomer and is showing promising games, Demuslim has been around a long time waiting for his time to come. Some might say he is cursed. Blessed with massive skills, he always had trouble getting to where many believe he’s always belonged.
It's time for him to step up his game and show us that all of his hard training with EG during the last months was not for nothing. If his last MLG was "acceptable", this one has to be great. He owes it to himself, but foremost he owes it to his numerous fans.
Be sure to also check players like Hwangsin, Artist or ViBe. They can easily create an upset in an early round. The open bracket is, as they say, “a tough nut to crack.”
On October 14th, 2011, Polt and MarineKing, fourth and fifth respectively in the current GSL rankings, only behind MVP, Nestea and MC, will be making their American debuts at MLG Orlando. You can already hear the footsteps of bio units marching their way from Korea to America, ready to torment everyone in the sunny state of Florida with decisive timing attacks and powerful pushes.
The two most prolific bionic players in Starcraft 2 were teammates for the past year until recently, when Polt, wanting a new star to his career and not seeing eye-to-eye with the coach, left Prime and switched over to TSL, leaving MarineKing to be the sole ace player on the team.
At the beginning of their careers, MarineKing was the one with more success. While Polt did decently in the first season of GSL (beating MC in the first round), he never got very far in the next few tournaments and was looked at as just another mediocre Terran in the grand scheme of things. MarineKing, at the time known as Boxer (and known as Foxer by the community), took the scene by storm, getting to the finals in his first ever GSL tournament and gaining thousands of fans along the way with his exciting marine-oriented style. He would go on to lose in the only GSL finals to ever go seven games against Nestea, but he had done enough to already become one of the most popular players in the world. With his never before seen splitting of marines, aggressive style, and outgoing personality, MarineKing was on his way to becoming the fastest rising star in e-sports.
His impressive run continued, getting to the finals of both the January season of Code S and the World Championship, facing MVP in both. Sadly for MarineKing, the ending to both of those tournaments ended up with him getting the silver medal for the second and third time, earning himself the reputation of a player who would always get second place when getting to a GSL final.
On the other side of this bionic coin, Polt continued his way in the GSL, not doing as well as his Prime counterpart, but doing well enough to get into the first season of Code S. Unlike MarineKing, who got to the finals, Polt struggled in his first Code S, losing to Nestea and then TheBest, knocking him into the Up-and-Down matches.
When it looked like it couldn't get any worse, he got beat by Lyn and TheWind back-to-back to get knocked into Code A without winning a single game in the two series. Everything looked lost for the Prime Terran. While MarineKing was gaining a new fan by the second, Polt had bombed out of Code S and was heading towards Code A where he likely could have been knocked out from the GSL forever.
Luckily, in a weird turn of events, LiveForever announced his entry to fulfill his military service and left a spot open in Code S for the taking. After a wild card tournament to decide which player knocked from Code S to Code A would have another shot, Polt emerged victorious, saving himself from the depths of hell.
With a new lease on life, Polt, who was studying and going to one of the top universities in Korea, Seoul University, took a year off from his schooling to put full effort into being a progamer. With his full attention now on Starcraft 2, it was the first time Polt went from a Terran at the bottom of the pack to being someone you had to keep your eye on.
Everything came to ahead at the GSL Super Tournament, the biggest competition GSL or any other company has put on so far in the year history of Starcraft 2. With a staggering prize pool that gave away almost $100,000 to the winner of the tournament, everyone was giving it their best shot to end up on the final stage.
MarineKing and Polt were on a crash course to meet in the finals as they both ended up on opposite sides of the semifinals. Polt went against TOP, where in the end, after making a massive comeback in game four to save himself from being eliminated, Polt came out victorious and gained his first entry to the GSL finals. In the other semifinal, MarineKing went up against the MLG Columbus champion MMA. After taking the first two sets in decisive fashion, it looked like he would be making his fourth trip to a GSL final. Then, well, everything apart; MarineKing lost the next game, started to tilt, and MMA continued his momentum to take the next two games, eliminating MarineKing from the Super Tournament.
For the first time in their careers, Polt was the one in the spotlight. When it came to the Super Tournament finals, Polt demolished MMA with a clean sweep and took home Prime's first GSL championship, after MarineKing had failed to do so three times before. With the championship passed to his teammate and the celebratory confetti falling from the ceiling, did MarineKing resent the fact that after so long, he wasn't the person to win the GSL championship from his team? Was he upset that the title of OptimusPrime, the ID given to the Prime player with the most recent GSL title win, wasn't going to be passed to him, but to Polt?
Polt and MarineKing weren't just teammates, they were best friends. When asked at a group selection, Polt said he wished he could be more like MarineKing. MarineKing responded by saying he wished he could be more like Polt. The two of them have massive respect for one another and thrive to be like the other when it comes to their play.
In the more recent months, MarineKing had a falling out into Code A while Polt continued to do well in Code S, even getting to another semifinal before losing to TOP, but they continued to have similar overall winning percentages, both slightly under 60%. Together, they were the two stars of Prime, having the most success by getting to four GSL finals between them and both being used as aces in their team's GSTL matches.
That is why it was such a shock when Polt left Prime a month ago. Polt and MarineKing were Prime. As the two aces, they were the faces of the team. He was their first ever GSL champion and the holder of the OptimusPrime title. Polt wasn't out a team for long, joining TSL two weeks later and becoming a rival to his former teammates and friends.
Now Orlando is upon us. MarineKing is coming through the power of his fans that raised enough money for him to come to MLG. Polt is coming through the power of his new team, TSL, who have enough money to send their top players to foreign events. They will be both in the open bracket, trying to get into pool play and work their way into another final.
In the end, all I have is a warning: the footsteps are coming for you, open bracket player who thought it would be a good idea to sign-up for fun. Can you hear them? They will come wave after wave and not stop until you're dead. You don't if they'll come from the ground or from the air, but they're coming for you, Orlando.
Offline events are more than just tournaments -- they're practically conventions for the thriving Starcraft 2 community, replete with culture, drama, and spectacle. Here are six things to pay attention to other than just the games.
1. MLG will have four streams! They'll have the red and blue streams up, along with two more streams dedicated to the Open bracket and covering other non-featured games. IPL3 copied MLG's two-stream strategy and added some behind-the-scenes streaming as well, and MLG was forced to up their ante to four. It's like razor blades. At this rate, I fully expect MLG Providence to have eight streams – the two main streams, the open and non-featured games, then a fan-mingling stream, a backstage-with-the-players stream, another that simply streams all the camera guys recording the other six streams, and an eighth stream that shows the production team running all the other streams. Crayola won't have enough colors for them all.
The future of eSports
2. JP will be hosting a live State of the Game at the end of Friday's games. These live shows feature more fan interaction, microphone juggling, and boring monologues from event staff, but they always produce some real gems. Live On Three did their own live show a couple times at IPL3, and it looks like this kind of thing is becoming standard. It's great to see these two powerhouse shows finding more ways for their audience to connect to them.
3. Reddit is completely sponsoring MarineKingPrime's participation in MLG Orlando. They pooled their money, recruited Milkis, and made it happen. They're paying for food, lodging, travel, spending money, and a trip to Disney World, so that when MKP gets interviewed after losing in the finals and they ask him what he's gonna do next, he has an answer ready. It's pretty spectacular that fans are dumping their own cash into the scene for specific players. The idea of MKP at Disney World makes my heart soar. Nobody needs that place more than MKP. Something tells me that the lines at Disney World have nothing on the Kong Line, amirite?
After earning the second-highest score on the Buzz Lightyear ride despite perfect stutter-step micro
4. Can't make it to Orlando? That doesn't mean that you can't have a social Starcraft experience. Check out the BarCraft movement on reddit to find a BarCraft taking place nearby. Watch the games with other SC2 fans, and have some drinks while you're at it. As Alex Ting says, beer can only help eSports. If you're underage, or not much of a drinker, there's another option. Check out the BarneyCraft movement for family-friendly eSports.
5.A local news channel is putting together a TV spot on MLG Orlando. Hopefully they can score good interviews with some of the community's most well-spoken representatives, such as Day and djWHEAT. And not that y'all need the encouragement, but make sure you're at your esportiest when the cameras are rolling. Speaking of eSports...
6. The era of the eSports handshake has begun.
At IPL3, when the internet was completely destroyed by a rogue trucker, a man named Buddy with some kind of modem hanging off his back went around streaming this spunky girl named Lani. Their team single-handedly kept thousands of people watching the stream without one game being played. She introduced us to the eSports handshake, and while it's basically just a rip-off of the Ninja Turtle handshake, I asked Splinter and he said it's cool for us to use. If this handshake is really going to take off, it's got to happen now. Greet everyone with this handshake – fellow spectators, Koreans, Halo players, your cab driver – we want eSports to spread like a communicable disease. And thanks to this handshake, the two may be inseparable.
Awesome. This event is going to be sick! I hope the internetz don't fail like in other recent events (also awesome ones, however). But maybe it would finally convince Blizzard to stop fucking around and implement LAN.
HYYYPE!!! GO MKP AND POLT.!!! this was a great write up.
Lee Ssang/ Lee Shin/ Kim Jung Woo/ Kim Min Chul/Jun Tae Yang/Park Soo Ho/Lee Jung Hoon/Choi Sung Hoon/ Moon Sung Won/Park Ji Soo/ Lee Ho Joon/ Jang Min Chul/ Kim Seung Chul/SaSe/IdrA/Ret Fighting! BW4Life
Vindicare605 United States. October 14 2011 14:05. Posts 6697