After spending time reading through threads, pointlessly wasting time as this was summer break one particular thread grabbed my attention.
In this thread, a lot of people talked about who they wanted to win at MLG Anaheim.
The hype was to be expected. After all, this MLG was definitely going to be one of the biggest in terms of stardom with players old and new entertaining the stage: BoxeR, White-Ra, MMA, IdrA, HuK to name a few.
Must be a Nerd Sauna in there....
And as I saw the lists of players that everyone mentioned, I noticed that a lot of people would mention BoxeR and state their reasons as: "He's the emperor, he's God, etc...." Then someone mentioned in the thread how that everyone that would post these were simply little SC2 nerds that truly never understood just how important BoxeR truly was and is to the community we are a part of.
I'm so jelly of his good looks T^T
So let's look back into history and see why so many SC1 players saw him as the Hope of Terran, the Emperor, the Bonjwa, the man who has changed the way of life for us nerds.
The first time I saw the Emperor was back when I was 5 years old. (I'm 17 now) My dad and I were watching BoxeR vs H.O.T.Forever at the 2000 1st Game-Q Starleague (I didn't even know the tournament was called this until I came to Teamliquid) and I was expecting H.O.T. to smash this new player. After all, I was a fan of H.O.T. ever since I could watch the games (which was for about a week) and my dad was most certainly H.O.T.'s fan as well. However, my world got smashed with BoxeR winning and H.O.T. dropping out.
Does anyone remember these?
I was so mad about H.O.T. losing that I hoped that BoxeR would lose every other match. But he kept winning...and winning..and winning. He was crushing his opponents so much and his play was so astonishing that even though my wishes came true, (IntotheRainbow a.k.a. Startale_Rainbow beat Boxer to take Gold) I simply became a fan. He made the games look different from others. They had a flair. A spark that was so different from the rest.
Fast forward one year and it comes to the time where BoxeR is now someone that is no longer a nobody. Now regarded as a player who played the 'weaker race' almost everyone in the Starcraft scene knew him. He was the Hope of Terran, the one who could win when no other Terrans could. sound familiar?
He entered the finals of the 2001 Hanbitsoft OSL as the underdog against JinNam, back then a strong zerg player who was favored to win. But, the Gods of Starcraft would prove everyone who guessed this wrong and have BoxeR win with a convincing 3-0 victory.
Boxer's magic at work
The tournament win was magical. I remember seeing it on TV, my mom yelling at both my dad and I for staying up so late watching the matches since I had to go to school and my dad had to go to work. But to both of us, we couldn't just leave the TV. To us, this was a moment that we would remember for the rest of our lives. Why? Because we knew that history was in the making.
I was captured by its magic- the powerful and undeniable magic of destiny called Starcraft∙∙∙. - Lim Yo Hwan
The 2001 Coca-Cola OSL.
A time that every Starcraft 1 player remembers. There are 3 reasons why this tournament is and should be remembered.
1. It was the the time where Starcraft, which was still judged as a simple game by many of the Korean elders, was now recognized as something that is seen as something beyond a game.
2. The birth of the HongJinRok, the rivalry that served as the predecessor to the later on rivalries in Starcraft.
3. It was the time where BoxeR would make his true mark onto the scene as not just a player, but as a man who would bring change to not just Korea, but to the world [No, I am not over-exaggerating].
The rivalry that started it all
The games were long and tense, leading all the way to the final match. Every single individual was at the edge of their seats and with bated breaths, watched.
A piece of history
In the end, Yellow had to type GG and out of the booth, came out Lim Yo Hwan. Victorious. No longer was he the Hope of Terran. He was now the Emperor, a man who reinvented the Terran race. A man who showed that despite the cries of imbalance, you could win. A man who showed that he could not be stopped.
The game fans that filled the Jang Choong Gymnasium, and their cheers! How could I forget them. Their overwhelming emotions were all mine. At that moment, I saw the figure of my mother that had earnestly prayed for me. I had only worried my parents, saying that I would not study or attend college, but now I felt that I could be a proud son. The day when the whole world felt like it was mine, that day onward people began to call me the ‘Emperor of Terran.’ - Lim Yo Hwan
Everywhere BoxeR went, people followed and watched. Whenever the players saw that their opponent was BoxeR, they stopped, sighed, and knew that a difficult road was ahead. Whenever, BoxeR played, the Korean populace would watch and simply stand in awe at the magic that he brought. (Going on to win two consecutive WCGs for Korea in Starcraft)
Yet, this magic cannot stay forever. And many of BoxeR's fan had to watch the decline of his play.
He could no longer take the championships that we all expected him to take. No longer were his plays crisp and methodical. His micro no longer seemed to be top class and while he occasionally had the 'flair', he never truly ever seemed to shine as brightly as he did back when he was in his 'prime'.
One of the saddest moments in SC1 history
Then, why is it that BoxeR was not just regarded as a wash-up? Why is he still considered the Emperor and a man that should be respected today? Why is he not like JinNam, who I am certain almost no one except SC1 veterans truly do not remember?
It is because he was not just a player. But rather, he was a force. A force that brought change to the Starcraft community and ultimately, to the ESports Community.
1) He changed the metagame. His unique wall-offs, his ingenious dropship play, his impeccable micro, and his amazing mindset helped change what was considered a weak race into the race with the most tournament wins in Starcraft 1.
Be creative? Nah
2) His relationships with other players led to the friendships and bonds that we, as little nerds who play our games at home, see and also hope to have.
One of the biggest teacher-apprentice relationship was that of Boxer and iloveoov. Oov's status as a Bonjwa and progamer may have never surfaced if BoxeR never took him in and then the macro revolution may have taken even longer. (Oov is often credited with beginning the macro age of Starcraft.)
Manliest shots ever
The rivalries that we see today, such as TBLS, such as Huk-Idra, such as MVP-MKP, may not be as epic if it were not for BoxeR and YellOw, who fought, played, and cried together back when Starcraft was young.
3) He created a team that still impacts the Starcraft scene today and quite simply, helped form the legitimacy of ESports.
Just like Santa Claus: brings joy to all
The creation of SKT1 was the beginning of the wave of huge sponsors that would help establish the powerhouse that is the Starcraft Brood War scene: KT Rolster, Hwaseung OZ, CJ Entus, Woongjin Stars. These corporations entered the Starcraft scene because SKT1's creation of the team, (influenced by BoxeR) showed that the market for Starcraft back then was gigantic and that investment was safe.
This Team would become a dynasty that is known and will be remembered as the biggest powerhouse in the Starcraft world
The creation of Airforce Ace served to progamers, both old and new, as a hope. A hope where they could continue their passion even if they had mandatory military service. Were it not for BoxeR, many of the progamers may not have had the chance to return to the progaming scene after their military service.
Were it not for his constant contributions to the game that he loves, we TLers may not be where we are today. The Starcraft scene smaller, the foreigner scene for Starcraft 2 not as healthy as it is today, the ESports that we love so much today just a little bit smaller.
And even today, we see him play. We see his hardships, his struggles, and his triumphs. Why? Because he is not willing to give up.
He is not willing to bow down to the critics.
He wants to become a champion again.
As a fan, I will watch until My King returns to his throne. I will cheer my heart out even if all odds are stacked against him. I will feel sorrow and pain whenever I see him lose.
The Starcraft 2 scene has not yet witnessed that magic yet. Sure many have seen BoxeR's influence, where he accumulated over 100k views on his first SC2 match, created the team SlayerS, and gained sponsorship from Intel.
But the new generation has yet to see the true magic that made him define the Starcraft BW Age.
That made him the Hope of Terran.
The scene all BoxeR fan wants to see again
MLG Anaheim's just around the corner, and as a fan of a player who has defined my childhood, I will watch with bated breath, hoping that BoxeR will play just as if he has the magic once more. I will watch, and whether he wins or he loses, I will respect him for continuing to follow his passion when, in my opinion, he has proven to the world everything he needed to prove.
I hope that this little post shows just why BoxeR is and should be heralded as the Emperor and that even if you don't like his playstyle or his looks or his 'OMG HE'S CHEESING" you will respect him for what he has given to us little nerds.
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[A/N: Special thanks to Rage for closing the post that I accidentally made when I was working on this :D]