Before MMA became one of SC2's greatest champions, he had very different dreams and aspirations. He initially wanted to become a soldier, but suffered a knee injury that lead to him being discharged from the army. Unable to pursue his military aspirations, MMA had to reinvent himself. He turned to another of his passions, pro gaming Brood War, and made it his new battleground. Due to his connections to BoxeR he was recruited to the new team SlayerS. He switched to SC2 and eventually became the ace of the team.
Winrate64% vs. Terran64% vs. Protoss63% vs. Zerg
Earnings$58,306 USD in 2014
Alas it was not to be. Internal strife tore apart the mighty team SlayerS: constant fights, bickering, management issues. MMA bore the brunt of the crisis and was demoted to the B team for disciplinary reasons. Though it must have hurt, it paled in comparison to what would follow. BoxeR attempted to forward MMA's personal sponsorship to himself. Worse yet, BoxeR had called MMA a cancer cell that had to be quarantined from the rest of the team. MMA caught wind of this and was distraught; to be betrayed on such a deep level by his mentor, his father figure, the man he looked up to as an idol, must have been absolutely devastating. From the incredible highs he had reached, MMA slumped to the lowest of lows, and became a shadow of his former GSL winning self.
It was the kind of scandal that had dishonored legends before him — such as the man who cannot be named — and it would have been easy for MMA to shrivel in the face of these accusations. Disowned by his mentor, the Son of Boxer was in danger of being defined by his precipitous fall from grace. Our fickle community had turned its back on its heroes for far less, and it seemed like his reputation was beyond repair.
But the Military Terran was not done. Not yet. MMA decided that he needed to clear out his past once more and allow his results to absolve him of those accusations. So he left his home with SlayerS. Due to the connection he had with foreign fans, he was recruited by the new team Acer. He switched to WCS EU and eventually became the ace of the team.
In the early days of WCS EU, MMA was one of the first Koreans to make the move. There were many other contenders to the continental crown, players like Mvp, Stephano, MC. MMA's claim was denied repeatedly. He lost in the Round of 16 on his debut, to Strelok and ForGG; in the following season he was stopped in the semifinals by MC; and at the WCS Season 2 Finals he was defeated by Scarlett and Maru. Though he was a model teammate on Acer's (in ATC) and AxiomAcer's (in GSTL) team league triumphs, individual success still eluded him. It wasn't until the concluding season of the year that he finally found his bearings, defeated his European rival MC, and claimed the regional championship. After his memorable run to reach Blizzcon 2013, it appeared that MMA was ready to renew his legend.
Alas it was not to be. An identity crisis tore the mighty terran race apart: the widow mine nerf, the power of protoss and less than favorable maps. MMA bore the brunt of the crisis as his results declined with his race. He lost in the finals of WCS EU Season 1 2014 against his new rival MC, and was knocked out in the Ro32 the next season. In the GSL Global Championship, he fell at the first hurdle. At Dreamhack Stockholm, he even failed to advance from the third group stage. From the incredible highs he had reached at the end of 2013, MMA slumped to another low. But with no distractions clouding his mind this time, he was once again able to rebound near the end of the year, as he won both Dreamhack Moscow and WCS EU Season 3 to scrape to the WCS Grand Finals. Another turbulent year had cleared.
More than any other player, MMA has had a tumultuous career. And more than any other, MMA straddles the fine line between hero and villain. He was the antagonist to Starcraft 2's greatest hero before winning tournaments on all continents, in all years, and against all expectations. He incited eSports' greatest legend into retirement and was blamed for the dissolution of his team, but he proved the strength of his character on his personal odyssey. He crushed many a foreign hope in his travels before astounding fans with his electrifying play. He has tasted the most magnificent victories and the bitterest defeats.
For some, the SlayerS scandal and his opposition of Mvp will never be displaced. For others, he is one of the game's greatest players with an irreproachable character. Our perception of players has always had an element of unpredictability, but we will always gravitate towards compelling tales. duckdeok won our hearts with his tears of joy, negating a season of cheese and favorite slaying. Sniper, on the other hand, has been immortalized as the villain despite his rock solid play for his role at the end of Wings of Liberty and the tears of Eve. How will MMA be remembered?
Perhaps we will find that answer at Blizzcon. A win will tie him with his great rival for the 2nd most Premier Tournament titles. Another disappointment could signal that he's lost a step against the best in the world. How he performs here could change how he will ultimately be remembered. He could complete his quest to break free of all this uncertainty surrounding him, but could also be thrown right back into the thick of it.