By: Heyoka, Ares
Games for the Books
Didn't catch all the games? No problem! Having scoured all the matches thoroughly we have come up with a complex algorithm that has given us the ability to share with you some of the most exciting games. Or maybe me and Ares[Effort] just hand selected them based on what we all remembered being fun. Either way, here are some games you may want to look at.
You can browse through them with MLG's VOD player. They are in no particular order.
What's to Love: The story of this game is that as the players are showing their build orders, cross position on Metalopolis, Day spends a good deal of time discussing how PvP has advanced to a level where interesting things happen besides 4-gate battles. Both players then 4-gate, only to end up in a base trade scenario that comes down to the last pylon. Tense all the way through.
What's to Love: PuMa does some usual Terran 3 command center build going for a quick third on cross position Metalopolis, and Sheth keeps him on his toes with good multi-pronged attacks and strong drop defense. Game that is all over the map and very close.
What's to Love: MarineKingPrime shows his usual quirky self and floats to the gold immediately on Metalopolis. Then he makes marines, lots and lots of marines, like tends to do. It's pretty incredible in general, watching marines come from as many barracks as he makes. Very enjoyable.
What's to Love: Another game where MarineKing makes marines? Sign me up. This is basically the game Reddit paid to see happen at MLG, IdrA taking on MKP on a nice big map where they get to both micro forever, and marines stream in from all over. Highly recommend the entire series.
What's to Love: Bomber shows an awesome TvT where he proxies both his factory and starport, leading to some fun banshee harass. The game extends into a drawn out marine-tank affair with players slugging it out.
What's to Love: Incredible TvZ. Two of the strongest players at the tournament butting heads in the top six, a long back and forth slugfest that mines out the majority of the map and has several highly contest battles for expansion spots. Unbelievably even all game, the winner completely undecided until the final moments. Entire series is great.
What's to Love: MC makes a strong attack after a typical 1 gate nexus build, only to be stopped cold at PuMa's natural. PuMa then gets to 3/3 and dances around the front of MC's base, tempting fate on a razor's edge for several minutes. The ensuing battle sees unupgraded Protoss units do their best to take on a fully armored Terran army. Very tense.
What's to Love: Both players show some incredible TvT positioning and game sense with a drawn out macro game on Tal'Darim. This entire series is also great, very tight games with the lead swinging back and forth several times – PuMa in particular shows some of the best tactical decisions he has made recently.
What's to Love: Remember that awesome game from IEM Guangzhou on Shakuras Plateau? Where Elfi took down IdrA with a goofy warp prism drop into the main with sentries and zealots? It's becoming more popular, with SaSe using it at MLG while Gatored used it at IEM at the same time. It's awesome every time.
Of course that isn't by any means an exhaustive list. There are other notables including Sheth vs Bomber, TLO vs BoxeR, KiWiKaKi vs SaSe, and of course IdrA vs Boxer. Phew, looks like this MLG produced more interesting games than any other MLG this year by far.
Winners and Losers of MLG
The simplest way to write this would be to say that Huk won and everybody else lost, but here we like to get all metaphysical and talk about what it means. Because in Starcraft, there is a lot more at stake than simply some best-of-threes.
Who cares if PvP makes for the most boring finals ever? Zeratul would be proud of Huk and MC, who made for a 1-2 Protoss finish during an era in which Protoss are rare in the top 8. Huk beat two Korean Terrans out of groups to make the finals, while MC beat 4 Terrans and 2 Zergs out of his group to make it there himself.
Did they solve Protoss' well-documented woes? No, but they did prove that when you play at a level higher than your opponents, SC2's balance issues aren't as severe. So never fret, Sad Protoss Fan Club; just play with Top 3 control, and you can beat Terran, too!
Starcraft Reddit and MKP
Reddit has got to feel great for what they did, even if MKP didn't achieve his customary second place. He showed some fantastic games, stealing IdrA's place at the top of the group in a dramatic 2-1 match on the main stage. He only lost to Huk and MC, the two finalists, and... well, Drewbie, which is counter-intuitive but still pretty awesome for Drewbie. He made a nifty heart sign for the crowd and provided plenty of image macro fodder for the passionate Redditors. A great story, and it's encouraged MKP to come back for MLG Providence.
EG had to split their forces going into this tournament. First, Axslav and Strifecro opted to play in IEM NY instead of MLG, and then Demuslim got deported back to the UK for visa issues.
But when you look at the top 8 finishers, EG took 1st, 4th, and 7th, thanks to Huk, Idra, and Puma, respectively. If you consider that IdrA was one game away from playing theSTC for a spot in the finals, EG was pretty darn close to going 1-2. Sir Scoots has to come away from this tournament feeling really good about his top three players.
This was a fantastic tournament for MC. Not only did his candidacy for President of Korea in 2040 gain traction, but he won back a Code S spot that I personally never thought he'd regain. He had to earn it through a foreign tournament, a foreign tournament on a busy weekend... a foreign tournament, on a busy weekend, through what practical circus of PvP play. The Kratoss Protoss isn't just 'back in Code S', he has ripped his Code S spot from a world that did everything to deny him it. He didn't play another Protoss until the finals (which he lost), but he had to win four close 2-1 series in a row against Puma, Marineking, Idra, and theSTC to earn his spot. Best part of all? The suicidetoss had no opportunity to pick MVP or Nestea into his GSL group this week, because they got to pick first.
Don't ever count this guy out of the scene, because every time you do, he comes to an MLG and gives some of the most dramatic, inspiring games you've ever seen. Never mind--I take that back. Continue to count this guy out, because I want to see more of his awesome games. His extended series with IdrA was the most exciting match of the entire tournament, much like his series against Rain and MMA in previous MLG's. Even when he doesn't win, he inspires us. And then he stays late at night to practice, after all the other players have left, and inspires us even more. The consummate eSports pro. I'm proud that he plays the same game that I do.
Polt played really well at MLG Orlando. He fought through the hellish open bracket, losing a single close series to Goswser, and then in the Championship Bracket he trounced five foreigners in a row before Puma bounced him out. So if he did so well, how is he a loser?
Firstly, he only got to prove himself against a single other Korean player, and that guy was Puma. Sure, he should have taken care of business with Goswser, but it's tough to emerge from the Open Bracket unscathed. More importantly, MLG didn't show a single one of Polt's matches. What did Polt even gain from this tournament without any opportunity to earn foreign fans? Something like $50 in winnings for three days of nerd-stomping? More importantly, what was Fionn up to all weekend without being able to watch Polt? Crying cold tears as he feverishly rewrote the SC2 Power Rankings?
It's hard to blame MLG for not showing his games with the tight scheduling and the large amount of premier players. But Polt definitely came out of this MLG with a loss.
The North Americans seeded into group play: Drewbie, Incontrol, Sheth, Slush, Kiwikaki, Machine, Tyler, IdrA, and Huk. Two of these things are not like the others, amirite?
Non-EG-bromance North Americans went a combined 6-29 in pool play, and none of them placed in the top 16. Those six wins were against MarineKing, Kiwikaki, Incontrol, Incontrol again, Slush, and Rain. So even with two North Americans placing top 4, we thoroughly embarrassed ourselves in pool play, the only flashes of brilliance being against MarineKing and Rain, and depending on your semantics, Rain is just another North American player.
Everyone cannot wait for the pools to be reset for next year under whatever new Frankenstein format MLG is brewing, because these players are being consistently blown out. There is an enormous gap between Idra, Huk, and everyone else in NA, and it becomes more glaringly obvious every event.
The MLG format
The pool play format has obvious, fundamental flaws that were only exacerbated by the mid-year invitation of GSL Code S winners. The extended series rule has not only wrecked certain players, but entire podcasts and discussion forums. But the real thing that keeps killing MLG is their awful finals. By the time you get someone to match up with your winner's bracket champion, all the truly dramatic matches have been played, because everybody knows that whoever wins the winner's bracket wins the tournament. Throw in the extended series rule, and it's basically a clincher.
It's awesome that Huk was the first foreigner to win an MLG post-Korean-injection. But it would've been more awesome if his final games weren't a foregone conclusion because of the format. I know it's double-elimination and all, but MLG should look long and hard at why all of their Finals have been boring and predictable.
The Barcraft Experience
If you have been to a Barcraft last weekend you're probably shaking your head upon reading this title. The experience that is a Barcraft can't be summarized in a few words and some pictures. It's not a series of events that involves driving to a bar, having some beers, watching some matches and returning home. The overall sense of attending your local geek-outs is much more grand.
The pure zest of this community never seizes to amaze. Although Starcraft is still growing at a steady rate, you more and more feel a tendency toward unity. Not only do all the players know, respect and befriend one another, the fanbase show much of the same behaviour. Reddit's community effort of sending MarineKingPrime to MLG is a true beacon attesting to what a group of individuals with a goal in mind can accomplish.
And now there's Barcraft. Although they didn't premier the concept last weekend, MLG Orlando marks the beginning of a new facet of the Starcraft culture. Sure there were a handful of Barcrafts before Orlando, but it almost feels like Orlando officialized it. If you look at the Community Forum it's actually difficult to find a topic that isn't Barcraft related. The MLG crew acknowledged worldwide barcrafting with mentiond, shoutouts, and even some live footage. In the aftermath, it's impossible to scroll to the bottom of #Barcraft, and there are already plans in the works for Providence and Kiev Barcrafts.
When you are at a Barcraft you will experience all the good parts. There'll be great games to watch, excitement when everyone cheers at good play, people to talk to who actually play and love the game and not that awkward searching for justification when mentioning StarCraft to your non-nerdy girlfriend/parents/friends. Above all though, there is room for a sense of pride at what this amazing community can achieve. When you reach that point, realise that although your Barcraft feels unique it really isn't. Become aware that at that very moment, people all over the world are just like you. BarCraft has in almost no time at all become a world-wide phenomenon. Barcraft is here to stay. And I'll drink to that
Hot_Bid shared some of his thoughts on watching this tournament in a blog that I highly suggest reading. I thought it would be appropriate to share a similar story, to expand on something briefly touched on there. This was originally intended to open to a larger story on who Huk is, and why he is so uniquely positioned as a gamer, but it never came to fruition. It's an amusing story on its own, in the very least.
A Chance Encounter
Tonight is a cool evening in October, the leaves have just finished turning golden brown and scarlet hues. A typical fall night, there is a slight bite to the air. The kind that is more refreshing than annoying, early in the season.
I'm in the Team Liquid Office, my first trip to New York and I'm doing it solely to watch video games. Rich arrived yesterday, his room is already a mess of pc cables and connectors. His video card has visible bite marks, he is not pleased with TSA's search dogs.
Currently we are looking for Huk, his plane was scheduled to land nearly 2 hours earlier. He is unreachable.
"I don't want to have to call Nazgul to tell him we lost his player"
In a rare moment of vulnerability HotBid seems worried. Rich looks unconcerned, concentrating on finding out why his second monitor isn't working. TheMango and I are leaning out the window to survey a stopped cab outside. It did not contain a gamer. A middle-aged man is standing on the sidewalk screaming at his mother 5 stories above.
Time passes as the situation becomes more perplexing. Huk has no cell phone or laptop, contact is impossible. No one knows what flight he was supposed to be on but no planes have been delayed.
"Do we order him food or a funeral service?"
We decide on Thai food. Claiming he doesn't like spicy food, Rich has never had it before. None is ordered for our absent team member, our search party takes a break to eat.
As we finish up, HotBid receives a call from an unknown number. His face relaxes instantly when he hears the other end, signaling Liquid's recruit has found a pay phone. Apparently he had to change flights, his trip now involves a taxi ride from New Jersey.
90 minutes later he finally arrives, keyboard and mouse in tow. As we circle the block searching both parties turn a corner at the same time and meet face to face.
"The girls in Paris are way hotter than this city"
A curious greeting. In time it made sense, for we learned Huk is not a normal gamer.
We would like to give specials thanks to Nokarot for helping us take pictures in Orlando. Especially because Forbes stole his photo without crediting! What jerks!
You can also check out iSzemotion's incredible photos in her blog from this event and IPL and IEM.