Cover image by Xeofreestyler
TeamLiquid: Final Edits
No more, no less.
One to embody the power,
The other to crave it.”
Zerg is a race of fire. It is easy to kill at inception yet impossible to stop once it gets going. A tiny spark is easily snuffed out, but an inferno can never be. Zerg is a race of force and momentum. It is a snowball tumbling downhill or a freight train picking up speed.
Every versus Zerg matchup exists on a mountain. GGPlay plods dutifully up the economy mountain, and his opponent must prevent or slow him from reaching the top. If GGPlay gets to the peak (somewhere around four gases and hive), he wins, because nobody is stopping him when he comes down the other side. Similarly, KwanRo starts at the top of the aggressiveness mountain, and his opponent’s task is simply to not die before KwanRo reaches the bottom (where his attacks flame out). Every attack from then on is increasingly more survivable.
“You teach him.”
Zerg users are like their race. Their careers can blaze and rage or wither and die all within a year, a season, or a single game. More so than any other race, a Zerg player’s abilities are influenced by their momentum. Fear the confident, win-streaking Zerg player, and be happy to play the opposite. How else does one explain GGPlay’s lone title or July’s entire career?
Therefore, as much as it hurts to say this, it is becoming increasingly evident that Shinhan3 was Savior’s peak. The Maestro we knew and loved may never return. The fan in me will always support Ma Jae Yoon and hold out the hope that the Bonjwa in him has not fully been extinguished. If any player can make a full comeback, he can. But history is not on his side.
It is as if all Zerg players are subconsciously linked. Within a hive mind, it is logical, almost intuitive, that only one champion is supremely successful at any given time. With Savior’s painful fall from Bonjwa, it is inevitable that the Zerg hierarchy sort itself out. Savior’s successor, his heir, will step forward.
“This kid is getting annoying.”
While the Protoss and Terran players practice in a collegiate, camaraderie-like atmosphere, the Zerg players battle in a frenzied horde, each scrambling to sit on the now vacant throne, the seat that Savior occupied for the past two years. It is not a position to be shared, nor is it a comfortable seat. Thus there will never be the Zerg equivalent of Boxer-Oov. Transcendent Zerg pairings cannot be characterized as teacher-student, or even brother-brother as Reach and Ra happily co-exist. The Zerg master-apprentice relationship is merely a bond forged through common skill, knowledge, and circumstance, crossing team boundaries and player friendships. It is an unforgiving, adversarial link between two individuals who know deep down that ultimately, there is only room at the top for one. And amid the crowd of hungry Zerg players learning from Savior’s triumphs and mistakes, Lee Jae Dong stands above them all.
Join the Zerg Bonjwa club! All you need is an OSL title and the first name Jae.
Lee Jae Dong is a Starcraft genius at the age of seventeen. He has the best ZvZ on the planet at an astounding 25-9 (73%), but his play versus Terran draws the most attention. Jaedong’s ZvT produces July-micro, Savior-management, and fourteen game win streaks. In 2007, the difference between his #1 ranked ZvT ELO and the #2 ZvT (Savior) is actually greater than the difference between #2 Savior and the average professional Zerg. Jaedong is so far ahead of his peers in ZvT that there is Jaedong, and then there is everyone else.
In case you were wondering, Savior vs. Iris Daum OSL Quarterfinals happened in June 2007.
Chart by Pop
That is why the Ever2007 OSL Final is so much more important than Daum, which was more about Savior’s fall than GGPlay’s victory. Before this match, I remember thinking that if Stork won, we would just be watching a solid but unspectacular player (sorry ManaBlue) struggle and finally realize his dream. Stork winning would be a feel-good story, but nothing more. As great as his 2007 has been, I just could not see Stork winning multiple titles or dominating for a long period of time.
But if Jaedong won, we would not merely be spectators. We would be witnesses. We would see, with our own eyes, potential become reality. It would be a Zerg coronation and a Bonjwa birthday party.
Even the OSL Intro agrees.
But a Bonjwa has no weak matchups. Jaedong will never attain Savior’s peak status without being dominant versus Protoss. ZvP is the staple matchup for Zerg, the same way PvT is for Protoss and TvZ is for Terran. It should the “easy,” reliable backbone matchup that Zerg players can rely on. To truly surpass Savior, the next great Zerg would have to showcase a ZvP that is at least on par with the Maestro’s.
Weak matchups are only weak relative to something. Stork’s PvZ only looks weak because his other two matchups are so strong. Many fans seem to overlook the fact that Stork forced Savior to a deciding game in GomTV3, and Savior had to use an unorthodox one-hatch lair build to win. Before the Ever2007 OSL Finals, Stork’s PvZ ELO in 2007 was actually second among all Protoss players. In 2007, Stork’s PvZ rating was higher than Free’s, higher than Much’s, and higher than Anytime’s. Stork’s PvZ was improving, or as Stork claimed, it had always been good (just not on TV).
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Jaedong’s ZvP. While Stork has no recent series losses against lower-tier Zergs, Jaedong actually lost a Bo5 to Rock in the last OSC Finals. This is the same Rock who was 2-8 in his last ten PvZs before that series (career PvZ 42%), losing to players like ShinHwa, Zergman, and Clon. The loss was embarrassingly bad, but it was also a benchmark for just how far Jaedong has come.
“He's... just a kid. No older than my son.”
—Subway passenger, upon seeing an unmasked Spiderman
It is easy to forget that underneath that machine-like accuracy and speed, Jaedong is just a seventeen year old kid playing in the most important series of his life. He is not Savior in Shinhan3, who had four MSL Finals under his belt. He is not GGPlay in Daum, an experienced veteran with something to prove (GGPlay’s first televised game came a full two years before Jaedong arrived on the scene). Nada was eighteen when he appeared in his first OSL Final. Savior was twenty; Iloveoov twenty-one.
Even geniuses are vulnerable to nerves. We were reminded of this in the very first game on Persona. For Jaedong, it was an epic failure. At the time it seemed like just a step towards another spectacularly boring 3-0 finals. The game was essentially over after the scouting probe harassment. Stork was almost too prepared for Jaedong’s poorly executed and transparent all-in, and Jaedong conceded the game with a single digit supply cap.
Stork thinks to himself – “I’m going to win the OSL!”
Games one and five on Persona was subject to much pre-match discussion. This map was supposed to be Jaedong’s ticket to victory. Instead, all signs pointed toward a Stork win. The fans I watched with all remarked on how lost Jaedong looked in Game One. His decisions were blind and without direction, and the final lurker-ling attack smacked of desperation from a wide-eyed newcomer who was overwhelmed under the bright OSL Finals lights.
“I shall give you my bird-killing powers.”
Image by alffla
Through vocal ventrilo prayers, we urged for standard play. The better player aims for late game, and you, Lee Jae Dong, are the better player. How can you not see that? From the offline qualifiers to the semifinals, you knew. You simply needed to believe one more time. Lurker-ling all-ins are not believing. Play standard!
It would seem our prayers did not go answered. The second game on Katrina did not open well. Stork’s one gate harassment killed four drones, forced Jaedong to make a lot of zerglings and secured Stork’s backyard expo. The camera cut to Anytime’s grim expression in the audience. He knew his teammate was behind.
Fun observation: Did anyone else think it was interesting that Stork thanked Anytime and Backho, Lecaf’s two main Protoss players, in his post-semifinals interview? Did these two help Stork because they knew Jaedong stood a better chance against Stork than he did against Bisu?
With a lower worker count and equal bases as Stork, Jaedong continued to make mutalisks even after seeing Stork’s initial corsairs.
- FakeSteve: Stork saw the spire, he’s going to be completely ready for those mutas.
- Chill: What is Jaedong doing?? That is not going to work.
- Hot_Bid: Stop making mutas!!
- Brood: This is ugly to watch, is Jaedong some sort of celebrity guest or a contest winner?
“EE HAN TIMING!” (This one timing!)
The vent channel went dead with stunned silence. The attack actually worked. We had never before seen something pulled off with such perfect timing and execution on a stage as huge as the OSL Finals. Stork misplaced one cannon, and it cost him Game Two. Jaedong lured Stork’s corsairs out, split his scourge perfectly, and absorbed the cannon fire with his mutas—textbook theorycraft put into action. By the time Stork’s last ditch zealot counter arrived at Jaedong’s base and found an airtight evo-evo-pool block, it was already over.
A few weeks ago in his quarterfinals against Light, Jaedong used two scourge and one muta to kill a valkyrie hiding among four turrets. He also used two evolution chambers to block vulture entry. Game Two showcased a cross-matchup transfer of skills and style, and it was only the beginning. Jaedong was learning ZvP before our very eyes.
We were still talking about the Game Two muta/scourge attack when the next game on Fantasy II began. Game Three would answer every question we had about Jaedong’s ability to manage a long, standard game. On Fantasy, Jaedong taught a map control clinic. He rebuffed Stork’s harassment attempts with burrowed InfoLings™ all over the map. He scourged shuttles and ran drones the second a shuttle was seen. Jaedong was one base and fifteen to twenty supply ahead of Stork for the entire game.
Perfectly disguised by Jaedong; Stork had no idea this drop was coming.
The game culminated in Jaedong luring corsairs away and obliterating Stork’s third gas island with a ten overlord, forty hydra drop, while simultaneously holding Stork’s 150 supply Protoss land army with waves and waves of lurker/hydra/ling. At this exact moment, every professional Starcraft player in the world collectively groaned, because they realized the ZvP light bulb in Lee Jae Dong’s head had finally switched on. At this exact moment, a thousand Koreans kids switch to Zerg. At this exact moment, Bisu smiled, because he now knew who to pick for his MSL Group.
The most impressive thing about Game Three was the cool, efficient way the killing was carried out. It was like re-watching Dexter Season One. Jaedong just looked so confident, as if there was absolutely no way that Stork could win. From Stork’s standpoint, any hope remaining from the “fluke-ish” nature of Game Two was gone. Game Three could not be characterized as a one-time micro trick. It was a macro war, and it was not close.
“Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.”
—Darth Maul Jae Yoon
Image by Xeofreestyler
I waited for Game Four on Blue Storm with giddy anticipation. Jaedong was about to win the OSL! After Game Three, I knew Stork was done. You could see it in his face as the waves of Zerg units poured forth from all directions. It was the “I can’t believe this is happening again” Stork face. The same face made an appearance in the GomTV2 Finals against Bisu and every time Stork faces Savior.
The cameras cut to a worried-looking January, and rightly so—her ace was now facing a stone-cold assassin. The Zerg in the other booth was no longer some kid with a weak matchup. He had transformed into Savior ZvP version 2.0, Cuban gangster reborn (but not old to drink yet).
The recent zergling-factory trend on Blue Storm has led to every PvZ on the map climaxing in a “oh shit, all I have left are dragoons” moment. It’s where the big Protoss midgame push looks like it might work because the army is so big and shiny, but the attack stalls out and the Protoss player is left with maybe eight to twelve dragoons and a morphing archon against six hatcheries worth of reinforced 2/2 adrenal zerglings. Through exhaustive historical analysis I have concluded that if Blue Storm was actually early 1940s Eurasia, the third Zerg gas would be Moscow, the Protoss would be the Germans, and the adrenal upgrade would be the Russian Winter.
“Winter is coming.”
Game Four was total, utter domination. After the ten-minute mark, Stork never pushed past the mid point of the map. It was an endless minefield of lurker/ling and scourged observers. There were a dozen battles, and Stork came out slightly more behind each time. At one point in the game, Jaedong had four fully saturated gas bases and was plaguing Stork’s army every fifteen seconds. At the twentieth minute, when Jaedong finally crossed the midpoint of the map to attack, he brought with him a fully upgraded ultra/ling/defiler army that was triple Stork’s supply. Jaedong’s fans began cheering before the armies even engaged.
Jaedong makes a statement.
Two more bases fell, and a teary-eyed Stork tapped out.
For the briefest of moments, our Zerg kings look human.
Lee Jae Dong has walked the Royal Road, from offline qualifiers to OSL Finals. He is the youngest OSL winner ever, and has written a new chapter in Starleague history.
“Jaedong hugs his mother aww such a good son. He’s crying. She’s crying. Everyone melts.”
—Last Romantic, KTF Fan
My OSL Checklist
by Lee Jae Dong
And, last but not least…
Why? Because scratched in at the bottom of his list, in barely legible handwriting, was:
- Do what Savior could not. Beat Bisu.
Group B of the GomTV4 MSL is just a few weeks away, and Bisu is waiting.
It is an uncomfortable throne, but Lee Jae Dong plans to sit for awhile.