All it takes is one spark to burn an entire forest to the ground...
On Fire- The Miraculous Flame
TeamLiquid: Final Edits
A Fresh Face
Leta exploded onto the scene seemingly out of nowhere in the 2008 Shinhan Bank Proleague. He was seemingly just another no-name player who occasionally stole games from some S-Class pro's on occasion. He was compared to gamers like Violet and Ruby, the kind of guy you could count on to beat your favorite player and get eliminated in the next turn. But it wasn't long before a young Shin Sang Moon became much more than that. In an explosive turn of events, Leta went on a 10 win proleague streak; taking down beasts like Kal, fOrGG, HiyA, Bisu, BeSt, and YoonJoong. While some of his occasional wins against top class players, such as a ridiculous victory against Stork on Tau Cross, could be written off as a fluke, a streak of this significance couldn't be attributed to any sort of dumb luck.
It wasn't too long before people began buzzing about this OGN terran and his amazing proleague results. Immediately, I knew this kid was going somewhere. Although he was eliminated in his MSL group, he continued to rip it up in Proleague, giving OGN fans hope that someday a starleague could be taken by one of their players. While he lived in the shadow of their star player, Luxury eventually left to the KTF MagicNs. With Chan Soo out of the way, it was his turn to shine.
Leta was the 'rookie to watch' of the 2008 year. With the likes of by.fantasy and EffOrt, Leta stood among those who had much potential and even more expected of them in the future. Leta had "future starleague winner" stamped all over his face. With every convincing win, more and more hype has been built. The hype reached critical mass, and there was doubt to whether he could live up to the standards he set for himself.
Secure as the Star of OGN Sparkyz, Shin Sang Moon gives a thumbs up to the camera.
Although the hype is strong, Leta has his share of anti-fans. Many people felt his hot streak was lucky, that his play style was cheap, and that soon he would fade into nothing. Just another huge disappointment in the pro-gaming world. Of course this is not the case. After the ProLeague off-season, Leta was back and playing more dominant than ever. Expectations were high, and it is rare in the world of pro-gaming that a player lives up to what is expected of him. His dominance in pro-league has been compared to the ridiculous power of Flash in the leagues but unlike Lee Young Ho, Sang Moon faced issue with the individual leagues.
How would he do in the next season?
A Force to be Reckoned With
Leta is playing absolutely out of control right now, if you don't believe me look at his record and watch his VODs. His style is ridiculous, turning games that seem like dismal failures, into a one-sided playground for Sang Moon to rampage on at his own leisure. With a passive early game, he watched diligently for the opponent to make a mistake, or unveil a weakness.
Without hesitation, Leta uses his excellent decision making, great mechanics, and flawless positioning ability to take total map control and turn that slight weakness into a game-breaking blunder. His pressure in TvT/TvP is amazing, as he slowly turns any game into a clear victory. His early-game is an enigma, often manifesting itself in what seems will become a build order loss, but is quite the opposite. His build is tailored to his meticulous push and timing attack. His nickname in Korea is the "Miracle Boy", for miraculously turning these early game disadvantages into mid-game dominance.
However, it is this same play style that causes StarCraft fans to lack confidence in his true ability as a player. His disadvantage in the early game is compensated by his extraordinary ability to locate and exploit a players weakness. However, it undeniably takes skill to pull off his incredible wraith control, his perfect unit positioning, his incredible macro, his sick army control, his relentless pressure, and his ability to identify and exploit weaknesses in an opponent.
The fact is, Leta is dominating. Whether or not you feel his domination is legitimate, doesn't change the results. While his play is rarely chock full of cute moves and 'pimp plays', it doesn't need to be. He does exactly what he needs to do to win a game, not bothering with anything that could be construed as unnecessary. No fluff, just results. He has transcended his status as the lucky victor, to an absolute victory machine.
This killer is about to claim another victim...
The answer as to why he is so dominant, lies in his incredible ability and skill, and no-fluff playing style. His results have proven that he is good at one thing above all. Winning. Unfortunately his nerves have been an issue in the individual league. Much like Sea, Leta hasn't found a way to pull it off in the prestigious OSL and MSL. However, the upcoming Batoo OSL will be Leta's chance to prove naysayers wrong.
His play has been steadily improving, which is a dangerous fact. Steadily improving from complete ProLeague dominance should do nothing less than strike fear in the hearts of every progamer who may face this young star. There is no player on earth who could be said to easily be a favorite against Leta. He has defeated the likes of BeSt, Bisu, Stork, Mind, UpmagiC, fOrGG, and Sea; all fairly recently, showing no signs of giving up.
If you have any question about just how good this kid is playing, then just take a quick glance at his record. The amount of bolded wins on the TLPD chart is staggeringly impressive, especially when you realize the caliber of many of the players who have fallen to it. I recall a classmates jaws dropping when I glanced at his record in the library. I recall my own jaw dropping when I saw it for the first time as well.
Shin Sang Moon is over 70% in TvT and TvZ, dominant statistics even for a newer player. His TvP is lacking, only at 50% wins. However, his proleague record is essentially uncontested. He is #2 in the individual ACE match ranking, and number 2 in general individual play. He is 18-5 in the 08-09 proleague. 11-1 vs T, 3-1 vs Zerg, and 4-3 vs Protoss with an ELO of 2151; the 4th highest in the league. If he does well in the individual leagues this season, his ELO will soar and he could easily beat the peak ELO of 2336. These spots on the rankings are of incredible magnitude for such a new player, especially one who will obviously get much better within the next few seasons.
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Selected VODs of Leta:
This game is an excellent example of Leta transitioning from a weak early-game into a dominant mid-late game. His mistakes are non-existant and the commentators are left in disbelief. Frankly, so was I.
RuBy was the player Leta was most compared to. If you still think they're in any way similar, this game will change your mind.
Leta proving that he is not a one match-up wonder. Luxury is in top shape, but no match for our young Terran. Pay particular attention to his wraith usage, it's very educational.
This sight is all but too common these days...
What can we expect from our dear Leta in the future? If his dominance continues to grow as it has, he could easily be a StarLeague victor by this or next season. I predict he will win an OSL/MSL by the end of this year and cement himself as one of the most valued players in the entire proscene. The korean commentators have compared his play to the dominant and flawless style of Lee Young Ho and the resultant victories have only proved them right. With players like Leta and Flash around, there will still be a favorite. There will still be a dominant player.
He is one of the sole aces of OGN Sparkyz, Leta and Yarnc essentially hold up the entire team. With the loss of Luxury, there is little chance for the player depth they need to be a dominating team. Although as long as they keep a player like Shin Sang Moon around, they will continue to prosper and salvage victory from the pure might of Leta's gosu ProLeague play.
Leta is no longer just a rising star. He's no longer just a flash of dominance who is doomed to disappear in the next season. Leta is here to stay and succeed. We haven't seen the best of him and until we do, we can only settle for calling him merely one of the greatest players in the world. Leta has earned his membership to the that special club, that elite group of gamers who seem to be invincible; something stronger than the 6 dragons. Leta is a rookie no more. He's on fire and he may just burn everyone else up too.
Future Bonjwa? Maybe...
Leta is one of the few faces of the new generation of Progamers. He walks with Lee Young Ho, Lee Jae Dong, Do Jae Wook, and Heo Young Moo. With limitless potential, Shin Sang Moon hasn't shown us the best of his play and that is a frightening prospect. This is a player who won't disappear on us anytime soon. Leta is here to stay and dominate. Shin Sang Moon Fighting!
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As always, thanks to my good friend Dave (twoeightsix) for the sick banner. Thanks also to the entire TL.net staff for doing such a great job at maintaining the best community on the web. Thanks to Fomos for taking such excellent photos, as well as neverGG for taking the time to send me some excellent photos of Leta as well. Of course, thanks to Leta for inspiring me to write this article. Shin Sang Moon Hwaiting!