A Deadly Dynasty by Riptide Team Liquid: Final Edits
“Though the derivation of the Zerg from insect-like organisms and the mysterious alien Protoss have their own appeal, are not the humans the ultimate victors in movies? I imagined Terrans as the ultimate conquerors in Starcraft. I don’t know if it’s because I’m interested in science fiction movies, but one of the reasons why I picked Terran at the time was the fact that they were the human race.” - Lim Yo Hwan, Crazy As Me
Lim Yo Hwan changed the face of the Terran race, and indeed the face of Starcraft. He almost single-handedly changed Terrans from being a weak, ineffective species, to being the progaming powerhouse it is today. Of course, he didn't just change the meta-game. He also gave birth to one of the most successful progaming teams in history, and through it, created a lineage of Terrans that would each rule the pro scene in their time. Let's take a walk through three generations of SKT T1 Terrans and see just how deadly this dynasty is.
Lim Yo Hwan, first in a long line of SKT T1 Terrans.
If SKT T1 were a family, Lim Yo Hwan, the hyung, is certainly at its head. With wins over Jinnam and YellOw in the Hanbitsoft and Coca-Cola OSLs respectively, Boxer established himself as the dominant Terran on the scene, and despite many other contenders emerging over the years, is still very much a pillar of progaming. The question we have to ask then, is how did this gangly PC bang youth become a progaming establishment? The answer, though complex, lies somewhere in the bowels of the Terran Starport, where dropships are made.
Among the Terran units, the dropship in particular was not used by many Terran users. The reason was because of its slow speed, but I used the dropship often. Many people expressed that my plays were innovative and unique, but it was hard for me to understand why others did not use the dropship. - Lim Yo Hwan, Crazy As Me
Although it's simplistic to limit Boxer's meta-game influence to one unit, there really is no other Terran component that so beautifully exemplifies how his play changed Starcraft as we know it. Although renown for brilliantly microing pretty much every unit, the dropship was his real enabler, giving him the freedom to perform everything from extensive tank harassment to multiple nukes. His personal gosu micro aside, however, Boxer's greatest contribution to the Terran meta-game was the mobility and aggressiveness he introduced into a race that was used to being constantly on the defensive. This paradigm shift is one that clearly influenced the way the race was to be played, and its ripple effect can be seen even in modern day Terran play, and builds like the Fantasy build. But more on the neo-gen SKT T1 Terran play later. First, back to Boxer.
Lim Yo Hwan's other main contribution to the Terran meta game, and this contribution, it must be said, is perhaps even more significant than his dropship use, is the micro heavy biomed strategies he used. From triple bunker rushing YellOw in EVER 2004, to the numerous other instances where he seemed to accomplish the impossible with a handful of mnm, Boxer is the man behind the marine and medic dominance that Terran was to begin dishing out in the years following his rise to fame. It is from this raw mnm use that another mighty Terran, Nada, refined and developed his then invincible SK Terran style.
Boxer's biomed and dropship use set in motion a series of events that would eventually forge Terran into the powerful offensive race it is today. Having hidden behind bunkers for years, Boxer's liberation of the humanoid species gave them the opportunity to come out and play, so to speak. His creativity and innovation not only motivated thousands of ladder players to go Terran, they also changed the way the pro scene in general approached the race. It is in his leadership of SKT T1, and indeed his mentoring of a young protege, however, that the Terran race finds its next main influence.
Prodigal Son “The way I play is to create a pattern where I have an advantage, and then crush my opponents with momentum. That way my opponent can’t play with 100% of his skill. That’s why I think mind-games are more important than skill.” - iloveoov
From netting 2300+ on Game-i to becoming Boxer's teammate in February 2003, the Gorilla Terran's rags to riches story is one that warms all our hearts. A master student relationship that eventually culminated in the latter beating the former in one of the most epic OSL finals of all time, this was a partnership that SKT T1, and the progaming world in general, would not forget in a hurry.
At EVER 2004, there was a succession, and the SKT T1 family had a new head.
“Oov's development of the Terran race was vital in the progress of Starcraft. Many advents of Oov pushed Starcraft heavily in the macro direction. When Reach found out that the only way to defeat Oov was to macro heavily himself, there was no more turning back from the macro focused route.” - Plexa, in I loved Victory (Part Two)
In order to support his macro into mass momentum approach, Iloveoov required more minerals, and that's exactly what he set about securing. Finding Boxer's 4rax/1base play constricting, the Terran tended to expand more quickly, always looking for more resources in his quest to macro hard. Eventually, this style of play developed into a defensive fast expansion build that would be later standardised by yet another SKT T1Terran, and made into the 14CC modern Terrans know and love. Thus, as his game developed, the Cheater Terran liked to play a defensive early game and go into a mid to late game where he could cover the map with tanks and turrets. In terms of TvZ, he played around with the 'bunk rush if close, FE if far' idea in response to harassment at the hands of his nemesis July. Needless to say, all this left a lasting influence on the Terran meta-game, an influence that would prompt Midas to develop two of the most household builds of today.
The batton was passed on, and even though their rivalry continued in individual leagues, Boxer and oov came together to form the most formidable front SKT T1 would ever know. It is this partnership, this veritable wall of greatness that the team would put forward as they cruised to victory in the 2005 SKY ProLeague Rounds 1 and 2, and the consequent Grand Final Win. Of course, none of these wins would have been possible if not for the help of yet another SKT T1 Terran.
A Touch of Gold
Midas looked at Iloveoov's resource hungry FE builds and went on to standardise the TvZ EZ 8rax/14cc.
Midas. Few modern Starcraft fans know of him as the TvZ / TvP monster he was. Standardising the 8rax if close, 14cc if far concept for TvZ, and indeed, and standardising the FD in TvP, he was a force to be reckoned with, and a major boon for SKT T1 during their proleague dominance in 2005. Going 7 – 1 (2nd in indivual standings) and 9 – 4 (3rd in individual standings) respectively in 2005 Proleague Round 1 and 2, he basically sealed the deal for SKT1. He is the third Terran of the triumvirate of old, and a mighty one at that.
Sadly, Midas's contribution to the Terran meta game, though massive, is relatively unknown, mainly because all his hard work was eclipsed by the marauder we once called ipxzerg. Although Savior's ZvT dominance made it impossible for any Terran of that era to assert Boxer or Iloveoov-esque dominance, Midas' contribution to how Terran was played was by no means insignificant. He is most famously known for calling TvZ easy and quoting his 8rax/14cc formula for the matchup.
Starting his development precisely where iloveoov left off, Midas standardised both the Fake Double vs Protoss and the 14CC vs Zerg, both builds which every Terran learns at some point in his career. His influence on the Terran game has been immense, and together with Iloveoov, he took the race in a direction markedly different from that of Boxer. At the end of the day however, what must noted is that all three of these early SKT T1 Terrans left a lasting influence on making the race what it is today.
Seasons, however, like years, roll on, and times change, and so does this great game. A year or two ago, progaming fans observed that a shift was taking place in how professional Brood War was being played. Indeed, they were mostly right. Players like Flash and Jaedong arrived, and with their stunning mechanics, really set the bar a lot higher in terms of raw performance. It is this new challenge that the SKT T1 Terran lineage must now adapt to.
“Hyung, this little nooblet wants to use valkyries in TvZ. I keep telling him no, but he won't listen! Imma make him scrub toilets all weekend.” “Patient we must be, oov. A point he may have. Adjourn to the practice room, we will.”
The SKT T1 Terran sceptre has changed hands, and the future of this line rests on the young, but now increasingly experienced shoulders of Fantasy, a Terran who valykyried his way into the hearts and minds of fans everywhere just over two seasons ago. In the play of Fantasy we see something that so few Terrans of late have produced – innovation. Not only is Fantasy mechanically strong, and let's not argue about his mechanics, for he wouldn't make it very far in a modern OSL without some mad key thumping, but he is also adept at preparing and executing builds with cold precision.
YellOw jokes aside, Fantasy is more than just a perennial silver medalist. He is the hope of SKT T1, and the heir to a long line of Terrans who have each made their mark on the game. Even though he has only been around for a couple of seasons, Jung Myung Hoon has shown that he is an innovator, just like his predecessors. With his valkyrie usage vs GGPlay in 2008 Incruit OSL Semi-Final, the young Terran proved that he was indeed more than just pure mechanics or gamesense. Called the Terran Revolutionist here at Team Liquid, his genius mech build frustrated many a Zerg on iccup, as thousands of D/C Terrans rushed to mimic it. Forums were inundated with ZvT imba threads, and the world of Starcraft was shaken once again. Of course, it is far too early to put Fantasy in the same ballpark, or even the same league as Lim Yo Hwan, Choi Yun Sung or Jun Sang Wook.
What can be said, however, is that with such a strong Terran tradition at SKT T1, it is time that Boxer, oov and Midas realised that the mantle has been been passed. The last two OSL finals made it clear that coach Choi was working very closely with Fantasy. What SKT T1 fans hope, then, is that Lim Yo Hwan's return to the team will give him the time he needs to truly mentor Fantasy, the same way he worked with Choi, so many moons ago.
As Plexa once wrote, “Boxer has one important aspect about him which gives him a chance in Progaming - his charisma and role as a mentor,” and it is this role which The Emperor must now fulfill. Having being defeated in the 2009 Bacchus OSL offline qualifiers by a no name Protoss, it is no secret that his gaming needed some work. His main focus, however, at least at present, should not be so much on preparing himself for the next starleague, but in preparing his team, and indeed, in preparing his protege for true greatness. If he spends on Fantasy the time and energy he did on oov, one can only imagine the heights to wish he will be able to push the young Terran. The months following his return to ACE have been quiet, and SKT T1 fans can only hope that this time has been spent in the practice room with his new protege, the practice room where builds are developed, and plays are honed, and that from this room where the winning builds of Hanbit and Coca-Cola came, the winning plays of Bacchus S2 will also emerge.
Boxer's mentoring of the new SKT T1 Terran is almost a pre-requisite for his continued success.
Making two Starleague finals in a row is not an easy task, and despite losing in both of them, the SKT T1 youngster has shown that he has in him certain traits that his mentors were known for. Firstly, and this is a characteristic he shares with Coach Choi, Fantasy is consistent. His mechanics are solid, and he is able to execute builds with a quiet determination. Like Boxer, he channels creativity into his play, as seen in the vulture/valkyrie build discussed earlier. What then keeps this SKT T1 Terran from a Starleague title? The answer, of course, is not much.
In Incruit, as a potential Royal Roader, he succumbed to the pressure, and crumbled under the weight of a far more experienced Stork, a silver medalist himself that had been in that very arena many a time. It is easy to write Fantasy off because of this loss, but we must remember that even though one of his mentors walked the Royal Road in Hanbitsoft, the other lost in the semi-finals of his first OSL to July, who would prove to be a thorn in the side in the seasons to come.
Here, it is worthwhile to note that Fantasy, despite losing to Stork in one OSL final, determinedly worked his way up to a second one, something that not many players have been able to do in recent seasons. His hard work paid off, and there was a notable change in his play as he took on Jaedong at Batoo. His first two games were executed with a razor sharp precision that the pro scene does not see much of these days. He was playing the best Zerg in the world, and opened confidently, controlling game one from start to finish.
“Not only did Fantasy's mech build completely neutralise The Tyrant's agents of death, they also dodged his scourge with ease. From the perfect sieging and unsieging of tanks, to the beautiful timing of his pushes, the set opener was a Fantasy funfest.” (A Grand Summation)
Similarly, in game two, the Terran made excellent use of his vultures, trapping Jaedong in his base, and effectively making him look less like the world class Zerg he is, and more like a Proleague fill-in who was being stomped hard.
From builds, to timings, game sense and just plain mechanics, the SKTT1 wonder kid was matching his Zerg counterpart play by play, and beating him comfortably. Nowhere in those two early games does Fantasy ever look like he is out of control. He engages Jaedong where he chooses to, and basically decides the ebb and flow of the game. In those first two games, he completely outclassed his opponent, and for this, he deserves much credit. (A Grand Summation)
Of course, history tells us that Fantasy did in fact lose the next three sets. What we need to focus on here, however, is not the outcome of the match, but the way the Fantasy approached it. In those first two games of the 2008 – 2009 Batoo OSL finals, there was a gleam of SKT T1 genius in the play of Jung Myung Hoon. A flicker even, but enough to show that the Terran lineage had continued, and that the team still very much had Pride of War.
Of course, this next OSL awaits, and with Fantasy seeded once again, the young Terran no doubt goes into the tournament with a lot of expectations. One could say third time lucky, but as we all know, luck has got very little to do with it. At the level he plays at, it will be Fantasy's mechanics, creative builds, and the newly acquired experience of two OSL finals that will be the driving force behind any walk to glory. If Boxer and Iloveoov invest in this new breed of Terran, and spend the hours, days and weeks needed to truly develop him into a player of their calibre, the world of Starcraft just may see another titan emerge in the seasons to come. The future of this dynasty of death, then, lies in the dexterous hands of a Terran, who having been robbed of the honour twice, is now battle hardened, and ready to reach for the stars with a firmer resolve than ever before.
Thanks to SilverskY for the epic cover image, and Plexa, the sentient incarnation of the TLPD, for all the history lessons.
Last edit: 2009-05-05 05:51:46
RIP BROODWAR 1999 - 2012 | @riptideTL
Skeggaba Korea (South). May 04 2009 20:22. Posts 1515
Im soooooo glad you mentioned midas in your article. In my eyes midas is one of the most underrated players ever on how much he changed starcraft. In 2005-2006 literally every single terran from d players on pgtour to pros just did like 2 builds. 8 rax against zerg and fd against protoss. The guy known as like the unbreakable wall. Really popularized 2 fact tank heavy tvz. In his prime he would end every game with a 2 fact timing push. Dont remember seeing 14 cc a lotaround midas's time hmm. I think his quote was more like go 8 rax, bunker rush if zerg was close and just go fake bunker rush double command if they were far.
Skt1 is my all time favorite team. Terran forever~
Really great read.
Last edit: 2009-05-04 20:38:34
konadora Singapore. May 04 2009 21:05. Posts 44864
Haha, I agree with ilikestarcraft, this guy has two trademarks, vultures and valkyries. The OGN commentators mentioned that his new valk -> bionic build is now called 'valk-onic' or something, can't remember properly.
Great write up. Dismissing a failed apprentice is not nice though. Canata was supposed to be next in line before Fantasy and was hyped as the next big thing by oov. Will fantasy win another league? Maybe on one fateful day. But I do not see him ever topping Flash or any terran right now coming to the level of Flash who is in a completely different level of understanding of starcraft than that of any other terran. Oov and Boxer raised Fantasy and his builds derive from them, but even so I do not think he can top Flash, especially this season flash, the kind that has 2 MSL finalist to back up(not doing their job right now, but will soon), to prevent him from burning out.
"And then Earthlings discovered tools. Suddenly agreeing with friends could be a form of suicide or worse. But agreements went on, not for the sake of common sense, or decency, or self preservation, but for friendliness."
re. samachking's post: Canata's actually been playing some find Starcraft again lately, dating back to the Winners League. Boxer may be having an influence already. If this is for real, SK is basically imbalanced since nobody could match the Bisu-BeSt-fantasy-Canata lineup, although CJ's the closest. And if they then proceed to find a Zerg too (say, thezerg or s2 if either could get consistent)?
Btw: I think it would be nice to have a TLFE on something else than a SKT1 Terran... I mean there was Oov, Boxer, now Fantasy + SKT1 history and the hype around the *Fantasy built*. Are SKT1/Terran fans just better at writing? My writing sucks as does my english so i shut my mouth now and wait for the next TLFE about whatever it will be :D