Maru made StarCraft II history in Seoul's FreecUP studio, defeating TY 4-3 to become the first player to ever win three consecutive GSL Code S championships. The previous record-setter for consecutive Code S titles had been Nestea, who won back-to-back tournaments in 2011.
TY gave Maru one of his toughest challenges in a year where the Jin Air Terran had dominated the competition and played only a handful of close matches. Maru had been wary of TY during the Ro16 group nominations, and TY showed us exactly why by deflecting Maru's signature proxy-building rushes and jumping ahead to a 2-0 lead. This did not dissuade Maru from continuing to proxy buildings in the finals, but there were no easy wins on the table for Maru as TY continued to defend and forced him into longer games.
However, Maru's 2018 dominance was built on his prowess in every stage of the game (though proxies became more of a staple build as the year progressed) and he proved it by fighting his way back into the series. Game four on Lost and Found saw Maru bring all of his late-game might to bear, winning a split-map battle that took to the skies.
The series came down to a final set on Atlas, where TY took a commanding economic lead after holding off Maru's early Reaper-Cyclone aggression and follow-up Banshee harassment. Maru responded by making a risky play, rallying a rag-tag army of Marines, Tanks, and Banshees for an attack into the heart of TY's territory. The desperation attack ended up being a decisive one, with Maru breaking through TY's defenses just before they could solidify. At the end of a battle that saw a Tank, Banshee, an SCV, and two Marines survive for Maru, TY surrendered the final GG and Code S title to Maru.
Maru's third Code S championship could very well be the defining moment in an improbable late-career surge. After debuting as a 13-year-old prodigy in 2010, Maru won his first title in 2013 by claiming StarCraft's hallowed OnGameNet Starleague championship. Maru continued to be one of StarCraft's top Terran stars afterward, but was overshadowed by players such as ByuN, INnoVation, and even TY due to his lack of championships (only a single SSL title followed in 2015). 2018—year seven and eight in Maru's career—saw him make the leap to an entirely new level, and his third Code S title has already affirmed his greatest-of-all-time status to some.
Only the WCS Global Finals at BlizzCon remains in 2018 as a prize worthy of Maru's attention, and he will enter as Korea's #1 seed. When asked about BlizzCon in a post-match interview, Maru shed some of his usual humility. "I've always thought that I could win BlizzCon if I keep working as hard as I am now." he said. When asked about the prospect of a dream-match against WCS Circuit grand slam winner Serral, Maru replied "I think Rogue is better. If I practice with him, I think I'll win easily."