fOrGG represented a curious and unusual mixture of brute force and precise timings. Having reached the MSL final after beating Flash 3-1, he now had to take on his teammate, reigning Zerg champion Jaedong. Never considered a candidate to make it to the finals, let alone win it, fOrGG proceeded to humiliate Jaedong 3-0 in decisive fashion. In this particular game, fOrGG showed exactly what it meant to sledgehammer your opponent to death. This is the game that gives the phrases "out macro," "doom drops," and "massive tank lines" meaning.
Though Nada and iloveoov were best known as superior macro players, they had brilliant minds as well. In this game from the CenGame MSL, the two players faced off in a true duel of the wits after a proxy 2-Barracks rush from Nada left both players in a very awkward situation. Nada played the role of an aggressive improviser, keeping the pressure on iloveoov with creative tactics, including an double barracks float offensive wall off (you have to see it to believe it), and a rare bio-mech switch in TvT. On the other hand, iloveoov was forced to swiftly adapt on defense, to make sure none of Nada's surprises caught him off guard. Overall, it was a peculiar game that showed the less appreciated, but no less important aspects of two legendary players.
Any fan of Broodwar knows that ZvZ is not its most amazing matchup. Usually ending at mutas, and sometimes not even making it past lings, the games that Zergs produce when playing against each other are rarely worth a second watch. This makes the above game all the more impressive. Starting with some nice muta/scourge action into queens and ensnare, the game takes a weird turn, and between them these two sons of the swarm also make devourers, hydras, defilers (and thus, use dark swarm and plague) and finally, ultralisks. In other words, The Full (Zerg) Monty. A celebration of everything the swarm has to offer, this ZvZ is a must watch for any Broodwar fan.
Facing down fOrGG's signature build, the 2Fac, Kal responded with one of the most rarely seen units in professional Broodwar, the Scout. Facing down their supposed hard counters, Turrets and Goliaths, Kal's Scouts, combined with some Dark Templars managed nonetheless to fend off an intimidating Terran push while devastating fOrGG's infrastructure. By the time Kal's Arbiter tech came out, the game was already won by his unconventional strategy of teching to units that his opponent has already countered.
The MSL was the battleground for a storied rivalry based around the Hero and Devil; nicknames that Reach and Kingdom have been dubbed respectively. In this game, the two veterans of Protoss display the always-classic high-tech PvP games that they produce against each other in what is arguably the twilight of their careers.
If it were any other Zerg playing against Bisu in this game, they would have crumbled and lost. The inordinate levels of harassment and multitasking that Bisu displayed were an incredible sight to watch. However, against the odds, Jaedong stuck his foot to the ground and managed to overcome Bisu's incredible advantage. This game is an utterly jaw-dropping display of back and forth action from two pioneers of the modern game.
Master of Ceremonies, Firebathero, after building his career on decimating and humiliating Savior, faced down Savior's fellow Entusman Much. With a reputation for calm, careful play and a mannered attitude, Much surprised everyone with one of the most famous ceremonies in Broodwar history. After nearly thirty minutes of solid play securing his victory, Much shocked everyone by avenging his teammate Savior with a giant heart composed of 16 Pylons and 14 Cannons erected in the middle of the map, a taunting message to Firebathero and all aspiring ceremonialists.
Starcraft is a young man's game. After a certain age, synapses start to fire more slowly, and fingers cease to dance as quickly as before. Thus, watching a veteran play a younger player in his prime is a fascinating affair. You can see that the old man knows what he has to do, but his hands can't execute the things his brain is telling them. You can see his strategy is based around this fact, so he plays a slower paced game where he can take time to make decisions, where split second reactions will not decide the outcome. Meanwhile, the young man is ruthless. He knows that behind the old man's strong mind is a weak body. He will attack fast and strong, test those aged reflexes to their limit, and give no quarter. Though he respects the past, the young man knows he has no time to waste. Because one day, he will be that old man.
Jaedong, sitting undisputed atop the Zerg throne, looked to make his third consecutive MSL finals appearance. However, in the height of the Six Dragons era, no Protoss was to be underestimated. Coming in as the huge underdog, free nevertheless took the series to the final set, and there, proceeded to dismantle Jaedong in a drawn out PvZ where the ultimate combination of Protoss high tech units - Archons, Reavers, and High Templar - were used in all their glory. As countless Zerg units rushed to their doom against the impenetrable Protoss death-ball, free claimed his victory, and an all-Protoss semifinals gave proof to the Protoss dominance of this era.
Over five years past his peak dominance, the Genius Terran returned to take one last shot at a tournament title. Meanwhile, perpetually playing second-fiddle to other Protosses, Jangbi sought to take his place at the top of the six Dragons. This clash between ancient legend and aspiring talent gave rise to one of the best PvT series in history. The first game alone showcased near flawless mechanics, timings, and strategies, setting the stage for a breathtaking series.
Thirty minutes into this hour long PvZ, a four base Protoss was reduced to a two base Protoss as five bases' worth of Ultras and Zerglings razed the Protoss main and natural. Facing down a five base Hive tech Zerg with just two bases may seem like impossible odds, but Kingdom persevered and managed to build up a monstrous army of Carriers, Archons, and Dark Archons. Despite mining out 9 bases, the Zerg army could not match the frightening combination of Mind Control and two groups of Archons supported with a massive air force. By the time the hour was up, JJu could only watch helplessly as what was possibly the strongest Protoss death ball in Broodwar history tore down base after base of empty Zerg buildings in a stellar comeback victory for Kingdom.
Long past the height of his reign, the Terran Emperor still entertained us with his signature flair. Zerg powerhouse Chojja was overwhelmed by Boxer's multipronged micro offensive. Dropping three fronts at once, "Boxer's Triple Play" was a perfect example of Boxer's unrelenting harass and aggression. In an age of macro and management, Boxer allowed his minerals to float to an astounding four digits as he microed three separate fronts and ended the game right then, proving that there was room yet for micro and tactics.
After falling to Savior in the previous MSL, Nal_Ra sought to challenge the supremacy of the Zerg Bonjwa in this rematch of the rivalry that has been dubbed "The Holy War." After nearly a full hour of confrontations with the advantage having switched countless times throughout the game, a mined out map faced both players. With a full tech maxed army to each player's credit, the game was decided not by an epic confrontation (though the game had no shortage of them), nor concession of defeat, but by a single building in a corner of the map.
Flash and Jaedong, the Boxer and YellOw of modern Starcraft, need no introduction. At the time of this final, both players were at peak condition, and were the undisputed top two players in the scene. With one game to each of their credit in the series, a legendary ZvT unfolded. The game progressed tensely for thirty minutes without a clear victor, and just as the situation started to sway, the screen darkened. The audience let out a collective sigh of confusion after waiting with bated breath for the final confrontation only to be greeted by darkness. One of the greatest ZvTs in history will be left forever with not a period but a question mark at its end.
In his fifth consecutive MSL final, with three MSLs and an OSL under his belt, Savior looked to dispatch the upstart Protoss with ease. Bisu, foolish enough to challenge Savior in his best matchup, was the unanimous underdog. Anything other than a 3-0 would be a miracle. There were no miracles that day - the games were quick, concise, but not painless. As if in awe, Savior tried game after game to seize what had always come so naturally to him - victory; and game after game, the Protoss army stopped every advance the Zerg tried to make, and victory eluded the then-Bonjwa. The revolution had begun.
In another drawn-out ZvP confrontation, teammates Reach and Chojja mined out Rush Hour over the course of an hour. After the smoke cleared from an action-packed game, both players were down to one last army, waiting for one big confrontation. A formidable airforce of Guardians and Devourers threatened to overwhelm the Protoss army. True to his name, however, the "Shaman Protoss" Reach utilized the Protoss spellcaster arsenal to its maximum potential to wipe out the Zerg fleet in flawless fashion.
Some of the games in this list have deep historical meaning. They represent the passing of the guard, a last spurt from a veteran, or an iconic moment in MSL history. In the case of this game, we would really love for everyone to just watch it, without any context or explanation. Every extra word that is written gives away more of the story, one that should be enjoyed unspoiled from start to finish. I've already said too much. Please, watch this game.
When Ver devotes an entire subsection to describing a game, you know it's good. What can we say? Nothing in Starcraft has come to represent evil and greed quite like the entrenched siege-tank line. When a player breaks through what seemed like an impenetrable line, we feel that good has prevailed. Though Savior later proved to be anything but good, he carried that banner for all the Zerg faithful on one fateful evening in 2006.
Without a doubt, the best PvP game the MSL has ever seen. In the final battle that would decide the MSL champion, the two top Protosses of the time clashed spectacularly, both utilizing the power of the Protoss arsenal to its utmost capability against the other. Unfortunately, for Stork, this match marked his induction into the Kong Line, as he tragically forgot to upgrade his Dragoon Range, subsequently losing several important engagements where he had a larger army, and eventually had to cede the game and the MSL gold to Bisu.
"Forget about whether "anyone could have done it." Nal_rA actually did it in full competition in front of a live audience and the execution was perfect. And it so wowed the crowd and the game commentators, all you can hear for the final minute of the game is nothing but screams of joy and astonishment. It still sends chills up my spine watching it.
Former pro gamer [NC]Rookie was one of the commentators for that game and he had this to say afterwards: "Of course, the Arbiter Hallucination Recall is a strat that's been talked about in theory for a while now among Starcraft players. But, the chances of it working at this level of play is so remote, it was never considered a viable strategy at the pro competition level. What Nal_rA did was so amazing because of how perfectly he executed such a risky move."
Best SC moment of the year for me so far."
- mensrea in 2004
Though it's better known as the "AHHHH PLAYGUUUU!!!!" game, this is also one of the iconic games from the glory days of TvZ, before the late-mech innovation turned the match-up into a war of attrition. Even though Gorush and Nada waged a massive war that spread across the entire map, they both played with the aggression typical of a shorter, smaller game. It was high speed combat at the grandest scale, and no quarter was given.
Savior's dominance was challenged by a young upstart Terran who goes on to become one of the biggest names in Broodwar history. Firebathero started his career as a fan favorite with this game, one of the longest in MSL history. Nearly every unit in the Terran and Zerg arsenal was used in this clash that ignited a storied rivalry.
Perhaps the highest level TvT of all time and the start to one of the greatest series ever, Flash and Fantasy battled for over half an hour in a rare match where the tension and action never let up. While the play itself was superb, the game also represented a decisive clash between different styles and strengths: the continuous initiative-seeking and ruthless exploitation of Fantasy, versus the defense and foresight of Flash. With the constant shifting of fortunes and great decisions throughout the game on both sides, this game is one of the best representations of the sheer complexity of Starcraft strategy. It is also one of the rare games where one can confidently say that a great player lost to a brilliant one with few real blunders.
This irrational and chaotic game occurred at around the peak of both player's abilities. Yellow had just beaten Nada, the reigning Bonjwa, while oov was just starting his ascent to being the most dominating player in the history of the game. iloveoov himself fondly recalled this as his favorite game.
oov took a commanding lead with strong play from the outset but proceeded to squander mighty armies with trademark microless marines against Yellow's traps. From then the game devolved into a miserly war between two depleted economies, which saw Yellow's penny-pinching harassment test itself against oov's resiliency and creativity. Both players were forced to long distance mine and the ending came down to a handful of lurkers and lings ambushing distance mining scvs against a tank, dropship, and marine.
No Bonjwas, champions, or legends in this game. No storied clashes between ancient rivals or revolutionary strategies were being paraded here. Here was simply Broodwar, at once familiar and exotic. The units that each of us knows so intimately well, presented in a whole new light. Figments of familiar strategies, amalgamated into something completely alien to us. Wraiths, Mind Control, Nukes, and just about every other novel trick was presented here, not as a gimmick, but as a truly unique strategy.