If you look at the line up for Blizzcon you have Champions of every stripe. Some have proved their mettle by winning their regional WCS event. Others have won a GSL. Some like Taeja have proven their worth through the international circuit multiple times over. Even Jaedong has his legacy from BW and his 2013 performance to prove why he belongs here. All but one.
jjakji stands alone. He has no legacy, no WCS victories, no premier titles this year. Even outside of the Blizzcon line-up, jjakji fits nowhere. He is an outcast, one whose career and play style are distinctly his own. Whose story is as much defined by its successes as it is its failures.
Winrate72% vs. Terran70% vs. Protoss74% vs. Zerg
Earnings$27,918 USD in 2014
In that impossible moment when all was lost, when there was no recourse left, jjakji pushed forward with an intense tenacity and creativity to find a way to win. When jjakji is playing his best, when he is in his element, that trait of his is what pushes jjakji forward to new heights. That essence of jjakji is what makes his games electrifying, whether he is playing Leenock in one of the greatest (if not the greatest) finals of all time, losing against Parting and changing the entire way we look at PvT, or showcasing his talents in amazing series against both Revival and Hyun earlier this year. In his career, jjakji has brought forward new and exciting ways to play the game whether it be nukes, ravens, neosteel frame bunker rushes or overlord sniping tricks. If jjakji is on his game, no one can produce games quite like him in victory or defeat.
And yet we can’t talk about jjakji without naming his failures. He was never able to capitalize on his form at the end of 2011 or after his Parting series, was never able to make a real dent into Code S for the rest of WoL. On top of that, his old team NSHS year by year, month by month, day by day, slowly degraded. But jjakji, just like his in-game mentality suggested, was either too stubborn or too loyal to quit. All of the great players--San, Sage, Seal and Freaky--had either retired or moved away.
It became a one man team, with jjakji desperate to hold the team together. Even in his few interviews back then, all jjakji talked about was holding the team together. To try and single-handedly carry them through team leagues and inspire them to do better by getting into Code S. But unlike SlayerS, there was no swan song. No YugiOh rampage to mark the passing of their team. NSHoseo quietly and calmly disbanded despite all of jjakji’s efforts.
And for the first time since playing SC2, jjakji found himself alone. And he played some of the best Starcraft of his life as he went all the way to 6th in WCS KR S3 2013. He found a new team in mYinsanity, found a new home in Europe and found a new love in Dayshi. And now here we are nearly a year later. And once again jjakji has hit a slump. And once again we find ourselves wondering what chance does jjakji have at all of even doing well at Blizzcon?
He is the odd man out. We have champions of all kinds of tournaments here. Players with undying ambition like Jaedong, a desperate will to vindicate themselves like MMA or Classic, indomitable wills to be the best in the world like INnoVation and Zest. And Jjakji is among them. He does not have the burning passion for glory. What he does have is that quiet fortitude and acceptance of someone who reached the top, fell down and rose back up again. Despite that, he is once more on the edge of the cliff.
Make no mistake, among the 16 players at Blizzcon, jjakji is considered one of the weakest there. His recent form has been among the worst, he has no championship, he has no legacy and he has little fanfare. And yet I can’t help but remember that intense base trade in game 4 of his GSL Finals. I can’t help but remember game 1 when he had hidden a base behind the mineral line so that Leenock wouldn’t scout it. I remember when he nearly pulled a reverse all-kill against FXO in GSTL in a Bo9. And I remember when, during his GSL Finals, no one expected him to win. And I remember when we thought he was done after NSHS finally disbanded before he made his 6th place GSL run. jjakji is at the edge of the cliff. He has no outs. He has no hope. And yet I can’t help but think this is when Jjakji shines the most.