A Letter from the Editor
Firstly, KT blew, and even as an SKT fan, I took little pleasure in seeing last season's champions humbled so. I'm a KT anti-fan, but first a Broodwar fan. Let's just come out and say it. With just Flash, and to an extent Stats, to carry them through an entire season, their prospects do look grim for 2011-12 R1. We've talked, indeed even argued about depth in these columns for years, but I'm not going to mince my words here. KT is as shallow as a celebrity blog. Now, with the ace match gone and no chance of someone shouldering the entire team, they are going to be fighting for their life.Speaking of depth, Team 8 has one of the deepest lineups at the moment, with an in form Jaedong
SKT T1 performed as expected. OK, let's get real, they performed much better than expected. While Bisu's win was inevitable, Best's nice zealot work on Ground Zero managed to take down the Tyrant. No mean feat! Sun's dispatch of Sea was also a pleasant surprise for SKT fans. All in all, the team came out looking prepared and in form. It's going to be great to see where Coach Park takes them in R1. For the first time in years, the dynasty has a coach and a team worth fearing, and when Park / Ju Hoon meet each other next you can rest assured that there will be no love lost between them.Yes, I left the best for last. After a mediocre couple of years, one of TL's favourite teams is looking like they're ready for a real run at a Proleague title this season. Coming straight out and
All in all, it was an eventful week, and this Proleague update is going to take you right to the heart of it. Read our Game Of The Week column and then dive into some fanfic from mustaju. Finally, wind up with a look at the previews of next week's matchups.
We don't know about you guys, but we're sure glad the proscene is back, and with Proleague, no less. We have many awesome weeks and many, many fantastic games ahead of us. Stay with us as we take you through each of them. As you do, you are also encouraged to to check out Sayle's English Proleague Commentary for English live streams and VODs of your favourite PL games.
Good night, and good games!
Recaps: Round 1, Week 1
n.Die_soO < Chain Reaction > BaBy
By.Sun < Jade > Sea
Bisu < Outlier > Jaehoon
BeSt < Ground Zero > Jaedong
The marquee match for the season to open up with matched the runners up from last season against the newly formed Kespa run team. The first game featured an in form Baby easily overrunning a failed 2 hatch muta build from Soo and with Sea coming out in set 2 it seemed like Team 8 might be able to get to an easy 2 game advantage. Sun, however, was having none of it and with a cute 2 gate build doing some early damage managed to defeat Sea to level the scores.
SKT finally sent out a star player in the form of Bisu and he had an easy time dealing with Jaehoon who looked out of his element on Outlier, attempting to glitch his DT through the back door when he got behind but Bisu was completely prepared for it. Finally Best managed to startle the audience with a strong win over Jaedong, using a smart zealot/archon timing to catch Jaedong being slightly greedy and easily finished the game with a 2 base push allowing SKT to take their first match of the season 3-1.
M18M < Outlier > Stats
great < Ground Zero > Flash
PianO < Sniper Ridge > HoeJJa
ggaemo < Electric Circuit > BarrackS
firebathero < Jade > Action
Even after winning the championship last season the doubts surrounding KT’s chances to excel with the new Ace match format were numerous and seemingly justified. Stats came out in set 1 for KT and had an easy game against M18m, holding the attempted 4 gate from M18M with his 2 gate reaver build and eventually clinching the game. Flash came out second and had an easy time taking out Great, who attempted to 3 hatch before pool but unfortunately he expanded next to Flash’s base, and died to a simple bunker rush on his natural with a command centre and bio follow-up.
This is where everything went awry for KT, with Hoejja losing to Piano in an exciting game with Piano forcing Hoejja’s attention to be split trying to deal with groups of marines all over the map. Ace continued their comeback with Ggaemo showing the form that got him named Ace’s Jaedong, using lurkers to great effect to bust into the front and back of Barracks’ base simultaneously. Finally FireBatHero took out action with no real problems denying Action’s expansions while taking the map and winning the macro game, finishing up a fairy tale start to the season for the boys in blue.
Hydra < Chain Reaction > Modesty
Leta < Jade > Bogus
EffOrt < Outlier > hyvaa
Mustaju called this game for CJ as a 3-0 whitewash and much like almost all of his predictions he was correct. STX had a tough end to their last season and their start was no better as CJ had no problems dispatching them quickly. The first match featured a Hydra ZvZ against modesty and while modesty had the build order advantage, Hydra slowly clawed the advantage in his favour with superior micro, eventually taking the game.
The next match featured STX’s ace player Bogus against Leta, with Bogus attempting a 2 factory siege push while Leta early expanded. Bogus couldn’t break Leta’s strong defence, gifting Leta an easy victory once he dealt with the initial push. Finally the returned messiah Effort came out to play against Hyvaa and showed an interesting build which involved getting his spire done as soon as possible and using scourge to delay Hyvaa’s mutalisks while his zerglings destroyed his economy, sealing the match for CJ.
Grape < Outlier > free
JangBi < Ground Zero > Light
Stork < Sniper Ridge > ZerO
RorO < Electric Circuit > Neo.G_Soulkey
Reality < Jade > sHy
This match set up a revenge opportunity for Khan after they lost to Stars in the playoffs last season and it didn’t disappoint. The first set featured yet another PvP on outlier with Free easily besting Grape with a 2 gate robo build against Grapes 3 gate. The next game featured the OSL champion Jangbi giving the viewers a PvT clinic, using a proxy robo to continually harass Light and eventually managing to overrun him with speed shuttles and reavers. The third set featured the ace players of both teams clashing, with Stork using cute zealot drops to pull Zero’s army out of position and proceeded to easily roll over him off 2 bases.
Soulkey saved the match for his team taking out Roro easily in a relatively standard ZvZ. With both teams using all of their ace players in the first four sets the match was completed with a showdown between the rookies Reality and sHy. Reality managed to kill sHy’s third base with a quick push and after that sHy valiantly fought hard and despite killing some of Reality’s tanks he couldn’t get back an advantage and eventually he lost, giving Khan the victory, 3-2.
Ever)Z(Killer < Sniper Ridge > Crazy-Hydra
Jaehoon < Electric Circuit > Flash
Sea < Jade > Stats
Jaedong < Outlier > Mind
BaBy < Chain Reaction > Wooki
Both KT and Team 8 were given a second chance to get a win during the first week of competition after they lost their first matches of the season so both teams must have been hungry for the victory. Unfortunately for the defending champions KT it was not to be with the Kespa run Team 8 taking their first win of the season to help cement their confidence. Set 1 opened up with Killer falling in a ZvZ to Crazy Hydra with Killer not matching CH’s expansion and failing to do the damage he needed, losing the gas battle and eventually the game.
The second game once again featured an appearance from KT’s ace player Flash, easily dispatching Jaehoon in a long game despite Jaehoon fighting well. 2-0 down Team 8 turned to Sea to dispatch of Stats, punishing his greedy carrier play with a smart timing attack which set up a contain which stats was unable to break. The fourth game featured Jaedong in an epic ZvT on outlier with Jaedong managing to win despite looking dead to Mind’s valkyrie push in the mid game. Finally Baby wrapped up the comeback for Team 8 utilising a push around the back side of Wooki’s base, shutting down the carriers that were being created and holding all of Wooki’s attempts to stop him.
EffOrt < Electric Circuit > Iris
Hydra < Outlier > ggaemo
Horang2 < Chain Reaction > PianO
CJ once again managed to crush through with a 3-0 victory in their second match of the season. Effort once again won his match in an exciting game against Iris, whose mech strategy was completely dominated by Effort simply taking the entire map. Ggaemo fell to Hydra who once again demonstrated why he is so fearsome in ZvZ, easily destroying Ggaemo’s mutalisks with superior micro and a gas advantage. Finally Horang2 gave the crowd some fun, using disruption web with mixed success to best Piano in a long game but somewhat silly game to give CJ the victory.
Mind vs Jaedong - Outlier
Mind spawned at 12 opening with a forward 8rax no gas wallin. This saves him from any potential early pool shenanigans. However, Mind chose to not make a ling tight wall as he wanted marines to spawn inside the wall to prevent what happened to Flash on Gladiator. Meanwhile, Jaedong spawns at 5 while opening 12hat 11pool 10gas and scouting with 12drone that goes wrong way. However, Jaedong ends up canceling his extractor when he sees what Mind is up to as he needs as many drones mining as possible. The bunker rush sets Jaedong back more then he'd like but he made it up for by powering drones hard afterwards. Mind can't really punish this as he is still on 1rax while expanding and teching to starport for fast valks. This means that any kind of aggression can't be reinforced and more importantly, he can't afford to lose any marines when the whole focal point of valkonic play lies in its mid-game strength.
Meanwhile, on the Zerg side of things, Jaedong was treating this map as though it were Fortress, Colosseum (plays out differently as there isn't 1 sunk line but still a common build used there), Outsider etc and going for 2hat muta +1 flyer cara into guard/ultra. This game, he specifically goes for the variation where he delays swarm for fast(er) ultras. One thing to note though is that the bunker rush and canceled gas really set Jaedong's timings back further then he'd like.
What follows is a terran who clearly didn't grasp the situation and whose map knowledge was off. After his initial valks, Mind went up to 3rax fac in order to try some kind of timing attack before ultras. However, that was the worst possible thing he could have done as Mind for a timing attack that Jaedong's build is designed to beat. It can sometimes work if Z is only relying on sunks stalling for guards but Jaedong also did a nice job of picking off rines which already thinned Mind's super small army and Mind lost his valk force to scourge.
Instead what Mind should have done is skip tanks and add a lot of rax while going SK Terran and forcing Jaedong to make more way more sunks while using the starport to pump dropships. (Also, please note how long JD was still on 3gas pumping/guard ultra and when he actually took his 4th was.) The dropship is the key to beating guard/ultra on maps like these as you need to deny Zerg from taking further expos and usually zerg has certain vulnerable timing windows where huge drops in main can do massive damage as long as Terran keeps the pressure on. (see Justin vs Calm on Outsider or ForGG vs Jaedong on Colo)
On other maps vs this build, Terran can take their thirds (and even 4th) and just play for lategame while denying expos with dropships. However, this really doesn't work as well on Outlier as Zerg can just send ultra/defiler/ling through Terran's backdoor into main with how easy it is to mine out. (which happens to Mind in this game as well later on)
There is potential in 4rax -> 3port ( http://www.teamliquid.net/tlpd/korean/games/32785_Fantasy_vs_HoeJJa ) working well vs this build on Outlier but luckily for zergs everywhere, most T1 terran builds really haven't gotten the attention that they deserve. Otherwise, ZvT QQ would make a dt-dropped BW Artosis actually look sane and normal.
Everything Justin does this game is based on predicting exactly how Calm will play (2hat muta into guard/ultra while getting double gas) and crushing it utterly. He opens with an 8rax (like Mind did) but diverges in that it is the Barracks Supply Barracks variation. Then, he later goes into a 2rax acad expand which forces Calm to heavily sunk and delay his own spire timing. He later transitions into 3port wraith which does a ton of damage and from there, it's just absolutely textbook play with vessels and vessels irradiating anything and everything that moves (remember that trading vessels for defilers/ultras is good for Terran when T has economic advantage and can't take anymore bases), dropships dropping everywhere , and ensuring that Calm can not take any more expos while never letting up on the pressure. The game was over before it even began.
Gone But Not Forgotten
The passing of MBCGame, WeMade FOX, and Hwaseung OZ marks a tremendously tragic time in Brood War, and I fear that this short writeup will fall far short of the eulogy that is due. These teams lived and died in the golden age of StarCraft. Titans of the industry, they were part of the Brood War Pantheon that birthed modern eSports. Their passing truly gives one pause to look at the annals of professional StarCraft. As Plutarch chronicled the life of Alexander and the beginning of the Hellenistic Age, so too do we bear witness to the end of the old and the beginning of the new.
When Alexander III died in 323 BC, he left the world fragmented and structureless. His friends and generals had no successor to turn to, let alone a political system to administrate their spear-won territory, which stretched as far East as Baktria and as far South as the Hindu Kush. One untimely death wrought centuries of war, spanning three continents. Even when the dust settled and the lines were drawn, territorial tensions constantly begot bloodshed, and the successors of a deified Emperor and isolated culture now ruled over a land and people completely foreign to their own.
The Macedonian army conquered the Near East and spread Hellenism in its wake, forever changing the geography of culture. But Alexander's conquest and the world we know today would be fundamentally different had the diadochi not rode with Alexander for over 10 years and through countless battles. MBCGame, WeMade FOX and Hwaseung OZ, like the diadochi, were the primogenitures of a new era. They shaped it, made it what it was, and in their passing, ended it.
Proleague, firstborn of eSports and the backbone of Brood War, popularized StarCraft and turned it into a spectator sport. MBCGame, WeMade FOX, and Hwaseung OZ were all there in the beginning. Hwaseung OZ lived a full decade, its original members NaDa, BoxeR, YellOw and IntoTheRainbow. WeMadeFOX and MBCGame were shy of their tenth birthday, but their history is just as rich. Each team won rounds in Proleague, spawned great and feared names, and marshaled players long since forgotten. They founded professional StarCraft as surely as the diadochi founded the Hellenistic Age. But so too did they fall.
The collapse of the diadochi dynasties ended an era. In life they shaped the world, and in their death, left it moored on the contours of history. The world that Hwaseung OZ, WeMade FOX and MBCGame created and died in is no different. These founders of our passion have passed, their dynasties ended, and we are left with their legacy. Those of us who remember them in life and saw them through their trials and tribulations are the pallbearers for this unofficial funeral. Pioneers and ancestors that they were, it is hard to think of professional StarCraft without them.
thedeadhaji:Hwaseung Oz used to be Lecaf Oz, which in turn used to be the Plus team (no sponsor).
To me personally, the disbanding of Oz (and the retirement of Anytime) means that I no longer have a reason to truly be a fan of any team or any player in BroodWar. While I still remain a fan of the game itself, perhaps more than ever, recreating the illogically insane passion I had for the success of one particular team and one particular player is simply not possible. I don't think I will ever be a fan of another team or player in the future either.
The fall of these teams is a symbol of the botched business efforts of the league organizers and their failure to position their product for the long term. I have some hope that they can retrench and restructure for a smaller but healthier business model. Better to be the NHL for 100 years than the NFL for 10.
MrHoon:Ahhuhhhjughguhuu, where to start?
If wemade and MBCGame were the only teams disbanding, I wouldn't see this as a big deal as they had no money to begin with. However, since Hwaseung is disbanding, I was a bit sadder and accepted the inevitable end of BW pro scene.
Hwaseung leaving the esports game was a bit of a shock to me as they are far from a 'poor' company. They may not be rich as their STX/CJ/KTF/SKT counterparts (samsung is very cheap for how much money they have) but still seeing them go is a big shame. This event made me wonder if these sponsors would truely stay within the esports scene. I can see SKT and KTF in the near future holding an SC2 pro team, but CJ and STX? I'm not too sure. Then again STX sponsors the most random things ever within South Korea so I guess they might have a SC2 team if they wanted to.
Haji:The teams disbanded because their sponsors didn't want to continue. The sponsors didn't want to continue because the PR investment was no longer deemed worthwhile.
This could have been caused by any of many possible reasons. The downturn of the global economy and decrease in consumption of goods produced by the sponsors may have spurred cost cutting at the company. The TV ratings have been going down, and the sponsors may have reassessed their PR exposure accordingly. The TV ratings in turn may have been affected by either the recent wave of scandals, or the lack of innovation in the broadcasts and event formats.
It could be any number of reasons, but the bottom line is "business". The leagues couldn't keep their product attractive for companies relative to the current environment and its particular needs, so the teams were cut.
On the other side of the coin, the product has been becoming worse for the consumers (viewers) as well.
Somewhere in the corner of my mind, I can't help but think that had the leagues challenged the status quo and tried new formats or new initiatives, TV viewership could have been maintained, and perhaps this could have been avoided.
Hoon:I think there really couldn't have been a way to prevent this from happening. Starcraft teams costs a lot of money and not many normal companies can do it, even if they really wanted to. The fault lies on their shaky sponsors as one was sponsored by one of the poorest National TV stations and a videogame company which we all know is already a risky business. Hwaseung on the otherhand was a huge shock to me as they seemed like the one team I would see until the end of the Brood War Era.
What could have been done to prevent such things from happening? To be honest I cannot say as I have no firsthand experience in the world of sponsorship and whatnot haha. Though I think MBCGame could have done something similar to what OGN Sparkyz did when they were semi sponsored by the Beer company “Hite”, as in look for at least a major brand name to staple in front of your players.
Haji:Sponsors are leaving because investing in a BroodWar team is no longer a sound business decision. The ROI is probably abysmal. That needs to be changed. This means that the return for companies needs to improve, or the investment cost needs to drop.
For team sponsors, team operational costs need to go down. Cost cutting in the literal sense doesn't seem to make sense for middle of the pack teams like Oz or Fox, so a more attractive solution would be to redirect more revenue from the matches themselves to the teams.
If you think about the production costs on the TV station side, costs must have skyrocketed from 2006 to 2011. Better visual effects, bigger studios, the whole 9 yards. But what's the real value of professional BroodWar? To me, it's just the games and just the games. I don't care of there are flashing lights in the studios or not, just give me great games from great players, and I won't care if they're playing on the side of the street. I don't think that the added production costs have increased the value of the product to customers at all.
Proleague sponsorship is directly tied to viewership. Viewership is tied to entertainment value. I personally think that the format has gotten stale, the players are uniform, monotone, and uncompelling, and viewers are tired of the same old song of the match formats.
Having fewer matches I think will be in the right direction for improving TV ratings, but it's probably not enough. Boxer always stressed the importance of entertaining the fans; they could use a little bit of his foresight right about now.
Personally, I think the decision to market BroodWar like a group of boy bands was a terrible long term decision by the powers that be. Those fads never last. They should have focused on the fan that will be a fan because of the game, not because of the amount of hairspray on their favorite player.
Hoon:Finding sponsors within Brood War during the current era has always been an issue. When I was back in the translating business I can't count how many threads within the Korea community were “No sponsors again?” MBCGame channel always struggled incredibly hard to get new sponsors and all their sponsors were always last minute for a couple of years now.
I honestly still have no idea how they're going to include sc2 within proleague o.O, so no comment?
Haji:The rational ones will see that it's now less likely than ever that they will 'make it'. The irrational ones will keep trying regardless. The number may go down, but the end effect may not even be different. The main issue will be whether each team will continue to maintain their B teams, and how large they will be.
Fans of the particular players will migrate naturally to Team 8. Fans of the teams and their cultures and their particualr rosters and history will not be convinced so easily, if at all.
If for instance a long time Nada fan had remained a Fox fan even after the player's retirement from BroodWar, then I predict that this fan will simply no longer have a team he will cheer for. The team that was imbued by the spirit and character of his favorite player, the impulsive reason he followed that team, is forever gone.
Hoon:Although there are many people who are fans of players more than teams, depressing news such as these always dampen the spirit of youngins who aspire to take a profession the 99% cannot do. News like this will have an impact, but how large is what I cannot answer as of now.
MBCGame and Wemade fans will be devastated, and the news of MBCGame still hurts me. I may not be the biggest Wemade fan, but Wemade has one of the deepest histories within Brood War. Always sad to see giants like them go.
Hwaseung fans will do fine. It's not like they actually root for anyone aside from Jaedong LOL!
Haji:For me, it was always the player first and foremost. When the player left the team, I already had little reason to cheer for the team. But I admit that by watching the player, I had indirectly become aware of his teammates and their particularities. I remember when Jaedong's zvp was down right terrible. I remember realizing Hiya's great skill at placing spider mines for the first time. I remember being outraged at the coach for choosing Hiya over Lomo during one of the 2007 season playoff matches. I remember ForGG's gorilla-fisted play style, and the sometimes brain-dead antics of Backho.
With the loss of the unifying team identity, I'll probably reminisce of these thoughts less and less now.
Hoon:Losing MBCGame, Wemade and hwaseung definitely loses the variety BW held within proleague (though some argued there were too many damn teams to begin with). Such staple names being gone does suck. Though I remember there was a poll long ago on TL asking whether if you're the fan of the game, the player or the team and I think “Fan of the Player” won by a good amount. I think most people on the Teamliquid BW website are fans of the player.
Haji:With the disbandment of Oz, I am no longer a fan of any active team or any active player. I'm now just a fan of the game and a fan of professional Broodwar in Korea.
But you know, maybe that's not so bad.
Hoon:Despite the teams being gone, I think this proleague will still be great as ever. Sure the no ace matches thing sucks but I can see kespa trying to add variety(?) to their viewers. Here's to a great proleague once again this year!
Previews: Round 1, Week 2
Prediction challenge update:
Why do I predict these results? If you didn't read last weeks SPL newspost (go fix that, I'll wait), I decided to rise to the challenge of trying to predict every single Proleague match this season, and trying to get a positive score following my point system. Here are the rules, once again:
If I predict the winner and the result correctly, 3 points
If I predict the winner correctly, and the result is off by 1, 1 point
If I predict the winner correctly and the result is off by 2, 0 points
If I predict the winner wrong, and the result is off by 1, -1 points
If I predict the winner wrong and the result is off by more than one, -2 points.
Here's my current progress after week 1:
This matchup is tough to call. Although on paper, Team 8 is a large favorite, their roster lacks the preparation other teams enjoyed. On the other hand, ACE is the easiest to catch up to, since they have the least practice time out of all the teams in PL and the smallest amount of practice partners. What is going to decide the match is how the players are picked for the maps, and here's where Team 8 has the edge in my opinion. ACE has pretty much stated that it completely wings the sniping countersniping part of the map selection in favor of picking the maps they like and then drawing lots about who gets to play. This didn't really help ACE much against CJ, but it will make them harder to snipe. However, this also leads to a lot of WTF strategies like great vs. Flash or whatever Canata is going to pull whenever he gets sent out (which I believe he will, and pretty early in the match). Since team 8 seems to favor the same strategy of winging it and hoping it works, they'll likely end up winning by a close margin due to player difference,
My prediction: Air Force ACE 2-3 Team 8
I expect STX to pull an upset here and win a set. The upset is especially great since the maps should be very beneficial to Woongjin.
My prediction: STX SouL 1-3 Woongjin Stars
+ Show Spoiler +
CJ looked invincible in the last 2 matches, but Samsung is a team of an entirely different caliber. They might have bad sniping like STX and ACE, but they look a lot scarier on paper, especially since we don't know how strong Jangbi has become. Samsung should at least win a set, but I wouldn't be too surprised if January flabberghasted everyone with another head-scratch-inducing lineup that will lead to a 3-0. I don't expect Samsung to win, but it would make the idea of an even Proleague more believable and thus CJ matches less of a predictable affair.
My prediction: CJ Entus 3-1 Samsung KHAN
If I said this brings up memories from the finals, I wouldn't be lying. Mostly because these 2 teams HAVE made up most of the Proleague finals in BW history. While KT seems to be out of form, they have always given 120% of themselves when facing their eternal rivals from the other Telecom company. Hence, it should still be a very nailbitingly close match with lots of drama and bans in the LR threads. On the other hand, KT tend to underperform in the 1st round of the Proleague and that is no exception vs. SKT. Here's how I think it will go:
First match on Chain Reaction, since it has been a Zerg map, the SKT coach will send out Bisu vs. KT's Crazy Hydra. Bisu will win, and the LR thread quiets down considerably in 20 minutes.
Second match on Jade, KT sends out Flash against N.die.Soo, and Flash wins a bit more handily than he should. KT fans rejoice, SKT fans say something along the lines of "Should have played Best."
Fake edit: Well they would have said it before August at least, I admit I'm a bit out of date.
In the third set on Outlier, we see another PvP, Stats vs. Best. Stats gets the better build order and wins despite a valiant effort from BeSt.
Fourth set on Ground Zero, Fantasy will play vs. Action. Despite bringing SKT fans to a nervous breakdown at at least one point in the game, he wins his game and spares us another use of the "Fantasy gg-timing" meme. Action gets more flak for not living up to expectations.
Fifth set, Sun vs. Mind on Sniper ridge. Tensions are high and both players nerves are on end. Sun makes a slight mistake and is punished for it, but it looks he might come back. Then Mind pushes and loses all his tanks, starting a downward spiral that ends in SKT winning.
My prediction: KT Rolster 2-3 SK Telecom T1
Game of the week: KT vs. SKT . If you watch one game this week, make it this one, or you won't know what everyone's talking about.
Thanks to Simplistik for the CJ, STX, Woongjin, KHAN, ACE, and Team 8 uniform logos!
This weeks graphics were brought to you by newcomers pathy and Meko!
See you all next week. Good games, and good night!