In a game like StarCraft II, where the metagame evolves as quickly as new champions are born, finding any kind of stability is rare. The "Best Player in the World" is someone different every month or two. Strategies come and go as players adapt or patches pluck them out. The same goes for their success, which is often indebted to metagame shifts or simple cases of opponents analyzing and exploiting one's strengths and weaknesses. Nevermind the game's balance which only further complicates things.
Winrate57% vs. Terran60% vs. Protoss64% vs. Zerg
Earnings$78,926 USD in 2014
In this case though, do mind it. The game's balance was arguably the biggest factor responsible for creating a scarce period of stability in 2014. It wasn't one player or a team dominating the scene this time - it was an entire race. Of the first twelve Premier Events of the year ten were won by a protoss - in fact by nine different ones. Zest, MC, herO, San, sOs, HerO, Classic, StarDust and Pigbaby strung together a continuous line of wins for the protoss race. It was a dominant, stable reign established and upheld by the entire protoss race.
Because not only did protoss end up winning tournaments, they also flooded the GSL in a way that was reminiscent of only the GomTvT era and the Brood Lord/Infestor nightmare. Protoss was the only race that hadn't yet had a grand period of power in SC2 up to that point. That was at times used as an argument by protoss apologists who lulled themselves into a semi-false sense of fairness while soaking in their race's success. They were not entirely wrong. The idea that each race had their time in the spotlight did, in a way, make up for past injustice. A perversely fair system considering the entirely unfair state of balance it relied on.
The Winning Side
Through a number of patches and map rotation, the metagame began swinging back out of favor of Aiur and the regime was shattered. That didn't mean the end for all protoss hope of course. Zest is still running wild. All time greats like MC and HerO rose to fame when times looked truly bleak and could come roaring back at any point in the future. StarDust, Pigbaby and San are all performing consistently in their respective WCS regions., while herO and sOs are always counted among the very best players. But there's someone else, someone who doesn't quite fit any of these categories."I will never allow myself to be satisfied with just one championship."
SKT_Classic is neither performing as well as most of them, nor does he have any past achievements to draw credit from. Yes, he was a decently consistent performer for STX and SKT in Proleague, but nobody had ever envisioned him winning the most prestigious tournament in the world. And his doubters didn't need to wait long for him to slip, as Classic's GSL title defense ended as soon as it began, with a disastrous last place finish in the first group of the new season, initiated by a loss against Effort, a player notorious for his poor ZvP. He then heartbreakingly lost the final map of the Proleague season to a proxy 2rax. Despite his triumph, on a team with Rain and Parting, he wasn't even their protoss ace. All this after he switched from terran to protoss and started doing well? That sounds more like a rant someone on reddit would come up with than the story of a GSL champion.
Of course we were going to remember him this way, right? He should never have even won that season. The winner of Maru vs Soulkey, widely considered the best terran and zerg in the world respectively, was supposed to have a free pass into the finals where they would inevitably face the best protoss in the world, Zest. So what if Classic had beaten Hydra, PartinG, soO and ParalyzE and made it to the semifinals? Even if he were to miraculously overcome the winner of Maru vs Soulkey, the shadow of a two time consecutive GSL finalist was still lurking on the other side of the bracket. Classic was going to be stopped eventually. He was nothing extraordinary after all. A good, solid protoss on SKT, sure. But a GSL champion? No way. The rest is history.
Classic had his breakout moment, a GSL championship, but it came at the worst possible moment. Not because it wasn't a strong run against capable opposition, not because he looked like a weaker player fluking a run through trickery and cheese, as others have done before him. He was denied any hype and belief in his abilities by the same thing that many attribute his big win to - the status quo of protoss dominance.
Despite battling his way through opponents of all races while showcasing the full spectrum of protoss builds, the community inevitably regarded him as just another protoss champion. We were too busy talking about how to nerf blink all ins, the mothership core, changing maps, etc. to even be bothered by yet another protoss fluking an undeserved win that never would have happened without his race doing half the job for him. Classic's results dropped rapidly as the protoss race as a whole started to cool down. They say that in a war, the winning side decides what's right and what's wrong. The winning side becomes Justice itself, and Classic just happened to be part of the winning side.
But is that all there is to him? Is he just going to be another addition to the line of forgotten champions? Seed won a GSL and disappeared, as did Sniper. At least you could argue that they were the legitimately best players during their victorious seasons, despite the circumstances they won their title in. Even after eventually being unable to follow up on them, many still recognize their wins as deserved at the time. Few would even attempt to make that claim for Classic. So what is it that keeps him from becoming an even less successful version of those two?
The answer to that is simple – Blizzcon. This is his chance to make a statement, to confirm that his achievement was not a one time thing. A huge opportunity that Seed and Sniper didn't grab and perhaps didn't have. If Classic wins Blizzcon or at least has a good showing, he will be remembered as someone who not only won a GSL in 2014, but also performed well at the biggest event of the year.
This is where Classic can prove them all wrong. He can show that his win, while poorly timed, was not an aberration caused by his race's superiority, but a testimony to his skill, preparation and hard work. If it really is true that the winning side decides Justice, then that is how he will get his. Blizzcon is his trial, Classic is the accused and the world is his jury. This is where he can rid himself of all the mockery and justify his glory. And all he has to do is be the one who wins.