In the olden days, BW Proleague was a common staple of the scene alongside OSL and MSL. As teams fielded their titans to try and establish dominance on a hotly contested battlefield, exciting and unpredictable games were always had. Many wonderful memories were created and are looked fondly upon by fans which is a true testament of Proleague's lasting legacy.
This translated article focuses on the team Hwaseung Oz. It discusses their early sponsorship issues, their constantly changing line-up and the various victories that they have achieved on the Proleague stage before finishing off at their current status in the 2009-2010 season. It is our hope that the readers will enjoy this article and that it will be informative for all.
In the beginning...Hwaseung Oz’s predecessor was Ideal Space, a pioneer team that included Brood War giants such as Boxer, NaDa and Yellow. As time passed, these players with their personal managers, like Ju Hoon and Song Ho Chang went on to follow their own paths and created new teams.
Shortly after, computer mouse manufacturer KTEC sponsored a team called KTEC Plus. KTEC Plus relied on Zerg superstar MuMyung as their ace, and with him they won the MBCGame Winners championship in a 3-2 victory against YellOw. They achieved their greatest result after placing third in the LifeZone MBCGame team league where Mumyung, along with the up-and-coming protoss star Pusan played. They all-killed KTF (a team comprised of YellOw, TheMarine, Autumn, and Enough) and were considered a strong contender. Mumyung achieved a nine win to zero loss record versus Zerg and he was considered the strongest ZvZ player in team leagues at his retirement. However, the team’s rise was short-lived. KTEC suddenly cut off their sponsorship after six months and the team continued as Plus without a sponsor.
Plus began to face many adversities. In the 2004 Sky Proleague Round 1, Plus went 2-8, and they were the lowest-ranked team in the league. Mumyung was fielded in both team games and individual matches, however, he struggled in both with worsening gameplay. Plus found themselves in a situation where they had to play an advancement match against another low-ranked team, Hexatron (later known as Estro). The match was a slugfest that went the full five sets, but, in the end, Plus was defeated and lost a spot in Proleague for a whole season.
After this, Plus disappeared from Ongamenet and they played only in the MBCGame team leagues and the Tucson team league. During that period, team leagues always had a preliminary round to pick out the eight teams who would be able to participate. Plus, with their small number of members, faced additional difficulties at these stages.
In the Tucson teamleague, Plus met Hexatron in the final match of the preliminaries. Mumyung took out Hexatron’s hope, Siva, to help the team advance onto the main stage. In the MBCMovies teamleague, they also advanced to the main stage, with the help of the leadership of Anytime, who later became the team’s symbol. The combined efforts of Anytime and Pusan brought the team their first victory. In an interview with coach Jo Jeong Woong after their first victory, he said:
But, in both seasons, their performance was miserable. In the Tucson teamleague, after falling to the losers bracket, they beat SG Family A (later known as WemadeFox), but lost to KTF. To make things worse, Mumyung transferred to SK Telecom. The transfer at that time was like a mortal wound to the team. People started to say Plus was treading on the steps of team disbandment because Muyung, the team’s most dependable Zerg player, was the only one who was able to stand up to the other teams’ ace players.
However, even during those somber times, the progamers of Plus started to draw out their hidden potential. For example, at the Tucson team league losers bracket versus SG Family, the opposing team played NaDa, a player who was considered to be on an even level with iloveoov. The commentators said Plus did not have any players capable of taking on NaDa. Coach Jo played Anytime, who had zero wins and one loss and who was the 138th ranked player as their second player. During the early stage of the game, Anytime lost six dragoons to mines and the situation began to look very grim. However, during the mid-game, Anytime used a brilliant shuttle fake and he demolished NaDa's units. Anytime, who gained the nickname “Zealot factory manager” defeated NaDa with that signature play.
Lecaf Oz takeoverPlus, who had been running as a no sponsor team for a long period of time, continued to face financial difficulties which got only worse with time. In the end, the team’s future hopefuls, Pusan and ZergMaN, left to join Pirates Of Space (POS, later known as MBC) and Samsung respectively. In one quick motion, Anytime was crowned the “ace” of the team. Anytime, a rookie like any other with his ups and downs, managed to win the challenger for SO1 Starleague and was the 4th seeded player. He went on to defeat GGPlay, Yellow, Xellos, iloveoov and Boxer crowning him the Starleague champion. Anytime’s dramatic victory affected Plus in a very positive way, helping putting an end to their tiresome life as a sponsor-less team as the Hwaseung group took over and branded them with a new name, Lecaf Oz.
Immediately after Anytime’s amazing starleague run, his play fell to the point where it was hard to believe he was a Starleague champion. In addition, Lecaf Oz’s meager and weak lineup of players made it seem as though the sponsorship of the team was a mistake. It was unreasonable to expect good results from this newly formed sponsored team (T/N: this part is worded like there was no hope because there was no room for hopefulness). Regardless, Hwaseung had faith in the youth of the team and they had trust in their potential and ambition.
Sadly, nothing miraculous happened. Oz finished 9th in the season and were unable to get anywhere near the playoffs, but during this lackluster finish, a Zerg player with a different force from others emerged. His name was Lee Jaedong. Jaedong, a player who had lost in courage matches 4 times and barely became a progamer, showed a different kind of play; one that gave fans a feeling that something great was going to happen. After the season concluded, Anytime’s hidden potential started to awaken as well.
2006 December 23rd SKY Proleague Round 2 3rd Place Finish
There’s something called a one-two punch. The team’s one-two punch; the ace player and ace’s pillar of support. In the 2006 SKY Proleague Round 2, Lecaf Oz determined the two players who were worthy of being labeled the team’s one-two punch were Anytime and Jaedong. Every opposing team knew these two players would be played, but, were still unable to stop them. With the return of Shinhan Starleague, Anytime began to dominate in all three matchups as well as ace matches. In addition, during the reign of Savior, Jaedong began to quietly challenge the throne bringing forth a style of vs Zerg and vs Terran play that crushed his opposition. The destructive force of these two players carried Lecaf Oz to the playoffs and they faced MBCGame in the semi-finals.
However, in the ace match, Anytime lost to Bisu and Oz’s incredible run for a Proleague championship fell short. Anytime, who recorded 2 losses on that day, channeled that regret into motivation which began to show in his results in the next season.
2007 July 29th Shinhan Bank Proleague 2007 Round 1 Season 2nd Place
Historically, 2007 was Oz’s best season. 2007 could be referred to as Lecaf Oz’s year of dominance in both Proleague and individual league. Anytime and Jaedong dominated in Proleague and with additional support from ForGG, who showcased a unique mechanic style of play, Oz’s 3 race power house swept through and easily secured a spot in the playoffs. It was a re-match from last season versus MBCGame. Victory would not be easy. To add to the burden, MBCGame had Bisu who had become the top Protoss player in such a short time. It was also a Bisu vs Anytime rematch, however, Anytime was different from last season.
He put on an incredible performance and beat Bisu helping Oz advance to the finals with a 4-2 score. The opposing team in the finals was Samsung Khan led by their captain Stork. Oz’s team strength was at its peak at the time and their chances of victory were high. Since Oz had Jaedong, who at the time was rapidly growing into a high class player, people assumed Lecaf would go into the match with 1 win already.
But maybe because this was their first finals that things didn't pan out well?
Oz was defeated 4-0 at Gwanganli. Stork crushed Oz’s ace player Anytime. Oz got shutdown so quickly that Jaedong didn’t even get a chance to play. 2006 Round 2 3rd place, 2007 Round 1 2nd place and now the 2007 Round 2. Every season, Lecaf finished one step closer to obtaining the championship. If this trend was to continue, 2007 Round 2 would be Oz’s winning season.
The 0-4 loss in the 2007 Round 1 fueled a thirst for victory in the 2007 Round 2. The team’s unity and skill level looked like it would pierce the sky. Jaedong and ForGG almost always guaranteed 1 win for the team and 2v2 matches had the ShinHwA-Lomo duo who showed outstanding technical play and perfect harmony bringing the team wins left and right. The team’s ace Anytime, as if fulfilling the Legend of the Fall, regardless of who his opponent is, defeated them ending the season with the most wins at 17 wins and 6 losses while taking the team to the finals once again.
2008 January 27th Shinhan Bank Proleague 2007 Round 2 1st Place
Their opponent this time was the powerful CJ team. CJ, like Oz at the time, boasted an incredibly strong and well balanced line-up. CJ’s line-up had Iris, Much, Kwanro, Savior and other valuable players in all three races. It would be difficult to predict who would emerge as the victor though Lecaf was not the same team that lost 0-4 in Round 1. It started with Jaedong’s win over Iris, then Anytime’s dominant performance over DarkElf and ForGG’s timing rush. The set was concluded with a 2v2 win and Lecaf Oz took the victory 4-2 for the first time after 6 years.
With Oz as the 2007 Proleague Round 2 champion, they were scheduled for a re-match with Round 1’s champion, Samsung Khan. Khan’s performance in Round 2 slumped but they were still considered a championship-worthy team. Stork’s condition was as good as ever, Jangbi’s sleeping potential had awakened and firebathero was becoming a rising star in Khan’s lineup. Even Lecaf, who’s performance was at an absolute peak, would have a hard time against them. Having lost to Khan 0-4 in Round 1, Oz was not favored to win against the Khan line-up. On the grand finals media day, the lineups were announced and an Anytime vs Stork rematch was in place. In an interview on that day, Khan’s coach January said:
A battle of nerves started between the two coaches. Coach Jo, in response to January’s words said:
2008 February 16th Shinhan Bank Proleague 2007 Grand Finals 1st place
The matchups for 1v1s were considered in favor of Khan’s victory. Firebathero’s TvT at the time was unrivaled and Jangbi’s PvT was considered to be on the same level as Bisu's and Stork’s. Jaedong being matched with Khan’s #2 Terran FrOzen (meaning he would not be facing Samsung’s strongest players) was more reason to predict a victory for Khan.
The results, however, were a complete upset. Jaedong lost to FrOzen in the first match and Lecaf had an uneasy start. However, ForGG, Anytime and Hiya brought home consecutive wins for Oz and they took the championship with a great 4-1 victory. Lecaf, who had been crushed at Gwanganli in Round 1, came back stronger than ever. Coach Jo’s faith in his players paid off in the end and Lecaf took home the Grand Finals championship.
2008 March 19th 2007 South Korea e-SPORTS Team of the Year
Anytime set the record for being a player who had obtained 3 different MVP titles in one season. With the change in format for Proleague, it became a title that no one could challenge.
With the team’s championship win in Proleague and their good performance in individual leagues, Oz was crowned 2007’s progaming team of the year.
Hwaseung OzHwaseung group’s brand advertisement changed their focus from their brand Lecaf into their own company name Hwaseung, changing the team name to Hwaseung Oz. After the name change, Anytime left for his mandatory military service so the team’s one-two punch was led by Jaedong with support from ForGG and HiyA.
With Anytime, the team’s protoss ace, gone for his military service, it seemed inevitable for the team’s strength to fall. This, however, did not happen because Oz had Jaedong. He had already grown significantly, to the point where he was considered the best. During Anytime’s period of dominance, Jaedong gained a lot of experience and did not fear defeat. He flourished into a player who would have no trouble carrying the burden of being the team’s ace.
In addition, the team had a new star, Hiya, who had gone on a 5 game win streak during the 2007 Proleague, even beating firebathero in the Grand Finals. Together with ForGG, they led Hwaseung’s Terran line. Those 3 were supported by Lomo and Backho with Hwaseung Oz showing great results in the 2008-2009 season.
It was an issue for the team to have their strength focused on one portion, but, the Jaedong Hiya combo exceeded everyone’s expectations. The two of them together racked up 86 wins; Jaedong with 54 wins and 21 losses (most wins of the season) and Hiya with 32 wins and 24 losses, surpassing every other team’s top two players' win counts. The insane performance from these two carried the team to the finals where they lost by a very narrow margin to SK Telecom.
Jaedong’s Starleague finals at Gwanganli ended in a deeply regretful 0-3 loss. It was presumed that such a loss would do damage to Jaedong’s iron-clad mentality, but in the RO4 of the Bacchus Starleague, he beat Fantasy 3-1 and swept YellOw[ArnC] 3-0 in the finals proving his class.
(T/N: this was written during 2009-2010 season)
At the moment, Hwaseung Oz is in their 2009-2010 season. Jaedong is still leading the team along with Hiya and still producing good results but the rest of the team is lacking. It’s almost the end of the season but their chances of making post season look grim. Of course, making post season is important but I wish to see Oz’s team grow as a whole. Oz was a team that survived through the darkest of times to reach the light at the end and I believe they have that unyielding will to grow.
Because the OZ magic was fueled by that will.