Code S Grand Finals: MC vs Seed
By: Fionn & Waxangel
For those of you who find PvP boring, we recommend NrGmonk's PvP viewing guide for a breakdown of the strategies and tactics that make the maligned mirror much more interesting than it may seem at first glance.
Photo credit: Ethan Ahn, www.leveltory.com. Art: shiroiusagi
– The best Protoss player in the world.
– Unsurpassed experience in front of huge, live audiences.
– Completely fearless and unpredictable in multi-game series.
– Excellent small scale battle micro, especially force-fields.
– Very inconsistent against other top level Protoss players.
– Possibly overconfident, though he could just be playing mind games.
– SK Gaming may sabotage him to keep his contract affordable.
Ideal winning scenario: Proves that PvP can be epic and entertaining, regardless of the final score.
Craziest winning scenario: Literally flips a coin inside the booth before each game, proceeds to win.
– Showed a total lack of fear in his second GSL run ever.
– Huge heart, coming back from serious deficits against more highly rated opponents.
– Has the full support of LG-IM as the team seeks to complete a T-Z-P GSL grand slam.
– Has only played in front of a GSL studio crowd, not thousands at a live final.
– PvP has been largely untested in the GSL.
– Never played a highly competitive best of seven.
Ideal winning scenario: Proves that PvP can be epic and entertaining, regardless of the final score.
Craziest winning scenario: Goes down 0 - 3, comes back with a reverse-sweep to solidify his position as the gutsiest player ever.
MC: Everything to gain, nothing to lose
MC's 'Protoss President' nickname never really made much sense. No one can recall ever voting for him, nor was anyone made aware of any alternative, opposition candidates on the ballot. Also, the length of his term was also a matter of dispute – don't most Presidencies come with some kind of constitutional limit?
However, after this week's press conference where Seed declared himself as the leader of the rebellion and MC made comments like "Might over right," things suddenly became much clearer. MC may be a man of the people, but he's no democratically elected leader. He came to power through a military coup d'état and has appointed himself the President-for-life.
You must admit, he's had a hugely successful reign so far. After taking office in December of 2010, MC has managed to stay in power for around eighteen months, which is longer than some actual South Korean Presidents. Though his military might has waxed and waned with time, it's always stayed powerful enough to keep his foot on his opponents. Like any good dictator, he's accrued an obscene amount of money in his slush fund through lucrative international ventures. And despite his despotic ways, el Presidente has remained hugely popular with the people, wisely keeping them entertained with plenty of bread (figuratively) and circuses (literally?). It's a regime so secure and so expertly run that it's expected to last forever.
One might think complacency and boredom would have caused MC to decline by now, but he has resisted erosion even though his traits runs counter to everything our pro-gaming common knowledge tells us a champion should have. From engaging ridiculously frequently in international travel, having a high-profile girlfriend, to streaming a few days before the finals, MC's approach to pro-gaming doesn't make it look like the life and death affair other champions make it out to be. Though it's not hard to envision Nestea polishing his three GSL trophies, muttering "good work, idiot" as he watches MC's stream, the winner prediction polls suggests that there's nothing flawed with MC's approach.
"I'm naturally good at everything" sounds like a boast from MC's pro-wrestler-like public persona, but it's uncannily close to the truth. Here he is, sitting on the most prize money earned in Starcraft II, in position to surpass Nestea as the second best player ever and to further his lead as the reigning greatest-Protoss-of-all-time. On top of that, no one even seems to resent him like some of the other wildly successful people in the world, and instead he receives almost pure adulation from his fans. Also, he's a pretty decent dancer, and chases down robbers and chastises them in foreign languages. No wonder Seed said MC was his role model.
It's part of what makes running the hype machine for MC so difficult. He's the man who already has everything. Anything he gains is just icing on the cake, reconfirmation of the greatness we already know exists. The other factor is that not only does he enjoy all the positives of pro-gaming, but he seems immune to its negatives. The last time MC was seen truly feeling the pain of defeat was when Jinro eliminated him from GSL January, back when he had only one title. Since then, he's just transcended all the negativity of pro-gaming, celebrating his victories and basking in the spotlight while taking all of his losses in stride. Yes, this has removed the possibility of tragedy, the chance that someone might break down in tears is which make some of these grand finals. What has been gained in return? The best showman in the business, the most outward enthusiasm and love for the industry you'll ever see, and a man who appreciates the fans more than anyone.
Perhaps you might never cry if you decided to cheer for MC as a fan. But you will always be entertained, and more importantly, you will never lose.
Seed: Sometimes, the world is wrong
Living up to a legacy is hard. Any player who plays on a team with arguably the two best players to ever touch Starcraft 2 is going to have a difficult time. While Mvp and Nestea ruled the Starcraft 2 world, winning title after title and filling up the Incredible Miracle house with trophies galore, Seed was for the longest time, nothing but a once-hyped up player who turned out to be a bust. A long fall for a player who was in line to become the top Protoss for Incredible Miracle when he first sprouted onto the team.
During the first season of GSTL, Seed was the backbone of IM's Protoss line and formed a three -headed monster alongside Mvp and Nestea. Incredible Miracle won the first GSTL championship and was proclaimed by all to be the best team not only in Korea, but the strongest team by far in the entire world.
Nestea and Mvp continued on, taking their thrones as the best Zerg and Terran in the world. They would go back-and-forth trading GSL titles and setting records that no other player could match. So, with two heads of the Incredible Miracle Cerberus reigning over Korea, where was the third? Seed simply vanished from the scene. Not able to qualify for Code A. Not able to do well in online tournaments. It was as if the first GSTL was a dream we all had together, from which we suddenly woke.
It wasn't till almost a year later that Seed finally re-emerged, qualifying for the GSL. By then, Seed was no more than another washed up Protoss hope that turned out to be nothing. Parting, Squirtle, and Hero were the new hopes people put their faith in to now to capture a title for Protoss, and Seed was just another player in Code A that people didn't really know what to make of. He was able to secure his spot in the GSL for a second season by beating Monster in the first round, and then took out an ailing Boxer in the second round. While he was able to pick up some wins, it wasn't the most impressive feat beating a relative unknown in Monster and then beating up Boxer who was known to be suffering from a bad shoulder.
In fairness to Seed, it wasn't his fault that he had such high expectations to live up to. Even when he was able to qualify for Code S through his win over Leenock in the final stage of Code A, people thought of him as a solid player, but not someone you could even begin to compare with his two living-legend teammates. While Seed had spent the past year being completely anonymous, Mvp and Nestea had already built their legacies, and the Protoss line of Incredible Miracle was known for being good in team league, but notorious chokers when it came to qualifiers and the GSL.
Seed tried to change that. From getting into Code S, to getting second place in RaidCall Invitational after losing a close series to Alive by a 2 – 3 scoreline, Seed was picking up steam. Unfortunately for him, his debut in Code S didn't go exactly as planned, losing in the opening series to Supernova, taking a 2 – 0 win against the equally inexperienced BboongBboongPrime, and then falling in the final series to Genius in a close 2 – 1 scoreline where he just barely failed to advance. It was a so-so beginning to his Code S career, but at least Seed had cemented himself for the time being as a fringe Code S player with who had the potential to get better depending on how he responded to this setback.
After getting kicked out of Code S, Seed ran into a freight train known as Symbol who knocked him all the way back down to the Up-and-Down matches where he would have to play for his Code S life.
As it turns out, this was the pivotal point in Seed's career. If he failed to get through the Up/Downs, then his brief appearance in Code S would only have been a flare-up, a short lived revival from a player who had peaked long ago. If he could persevere the unspeakable rigors of the Up/Down matches, show that he was hungrier than the rest, then he could prove that he deserved to take a step beyond the first.
Seed rose to the challenge and never looked back. Starting with against none other than MC, Seed reeled off three straight victories and pole-vaulted himself back into Code S for another season.
From that point on, it was Seed vs. The World. Every week he would be picked to lose by the majority of people watching, Seed would start off slow and make everyone believe that their doubts were well founded. Then he would suddenly come alive, turn into an invincible force and advance into the next round. After getting through the Ro32 from only defeating the Code S impaired Curious twice in a row, Seed started gaining some credibility by beating Violet and then Taeja to make it out of his Ro16 group in a surprising first place.
Still, no one believed in him. The other seven players left in the tournament were all far more attractive picks to win it all. Compared to Mvp's Superman and Nestea's Batman, Seed was Aquaman at best. He could still be a hero in his own right, but would make everyone laugh if he tried to pretend he was equal to the two legends of Starcraft 2. With just 1% of the TeamLiquid community picking him to win it all, Seed began his march through the knockout rounds.
Falling down 0 – 2 to Symbol, the player who already eliminated him once the season before, things started to look very bad for Seed. However, it was then that we got a true glimpse of who Seed really was for the first time in his career. We had seen the ceremonies he performed in earlier rounds, we knew he was a solid Protoss player, but we had never seen him with his back against the wall, face to face to adversity. What Seed showed us was a level of confidence only possessed by a handful of players in our time, as he punched adversity straight in face to pull off a magnificent reverse-sweep to take the series 3 – 2.
The most impressive display throughout the comeback was how ridiculously confident Seed was in the face of elimination. Usually when you are down 2-0, you don't show any emotion when you've only clawed one game back. Not true for Seed, as he actually did performed a manner Nexus ceremony on Symbol in the middle of a close game. Not even Bomber would have dared to drop manner mules that early. after taking his first game back and setting the entire tone for the rest of the series. The only other time in GSL where you can recall a player having such an irrational sense of confidence in his ability before actually winning anything would have to be MC all the way back in the early seasons before he beat Rain to win his first championship.
This continued into the semifinals. Getting a quick first win against Byun due to some nice defense against his opponent's all-in, Seed fell behind for the second straight week after letting multi-prong attacks involving hellion drops roast his economy in two consecutive games. When it seemed time for Seed to fade away into the night and get thrown in with the other Protoss pretenders of this era, we saw the never-say-die attitude come in once again. Down 1 – 2, he fell behind for the third straight game, letting Byun's hellions take down his economy, but he didn't wave the white flag so he could catch bus home in time.
With some DT harassment, some terrible indecision by Byun, and amazing defense at home, Seed turned the tides for a second series in a row and forced a fifth deciding map. Just like Symbol, Byun couldn't take the heat once he was the one getting grilled, and he choked out in the fifth set. Seed won, claimed his spot in the final, and forced the world open their eyes to the fact that a champion could be emerging right in front of them.
The thing that sets Seed apart from Squirtle, Parting and Hero is his sense of confidence. Yes, we've seen Parting talk big in interviews and Squirtle run an absolute clinic until the final game of last season's finals, but neither can hold a candle when we're talking about Seed. This is a player who has come back two straight weeks in situations that almost no player could come back from. Even when a desperate hail Mary is the only chance he has at surviving, he still believes that there is no way he can be stopped. This is what makes him the perfect opponent for MC.
They're both cocky. They both believe they're the best. They both think that by the time the finals end, they will be doing an epic ceremony on the beaches of Busan with the championship trophy in their grasp. It's been 500 plus days since Protoss finally had a champion and on this night, that curse will finally come to an end once and for all. If the old king takes the victory, he will not only take his third championship, but solidify himself as the Protoss President for not only the time being, but for the distant future as well.
The current ruler of Aiur will be coming into this series as the heavy favorite, but that's alright with Seed. Everyone picked against him in his last two series, he fell behind, but he came back to win both in the end. For the past year, all comments about him were that he was never going to be anything and that all the hype he got from Tastosis in the GSTL was nothing but a lot of hot air. Now, standing at the gates of the final and having a chance to win his first championship, Seed knows what he has to do.
For 500 days Protoss have suffered, but no longer. For a new savior has come to save everyone from their old king. At the start of the tournament, Seed was nothing more than a commoner trying to find his place in the vast lands of the GSL. With his victories and experience along the way, he is finally ready to take on his final test to try and claim the only prize Incredible Miracle have yet to claim.
Bright lights? Biggest crowd ever for a GSL finals? On a beach? For many, this would be a burden. The spotlight would blind them, the roaring of the crowd would put fear in their hearts. Not for Seed, though. This is what he has dreamed for since he started playing. He wants the spotlight. He wants the fans. Bigger the moment, the bigger Seed will perform and the better he will do when everything is on the line.
This season, the world was always wrong, and Seed was always right. You're welcome to pick against him again, if you'd like.