Welcome to the annual TeamLiquid Awards ceremony for 2014. While this year's awards were less controversial than last year's, some categories were argued to the very last second leaving
several writers dead in the cage match none of the writers particularly happy with the result. With that said, read, enjoy and rant, and remember that TL.net is not responsible for any rage or rage related injuries caused by reading the article.
The breakout player of the year award went to the player who made the largest leap all year. This year it was obvious as there were only two players who could have won this: Zest or Solar. It is strange to think about a scene where Zest and Solar aren't huge powerhouses of their respective races, but prior to 2014 both had only gained nominal success in Proleague and individual leagues (Solar had two appearances in Code A in 2013 and Zest had only one 9-12th in IEM NY).
And while Solar's year has been phenomenal by almost any standard (1 IEM, 1 MSI, multiple Ro8s, Ace for his team), Zest was the player who blew the doors open with a shotgun. In a ritual sacrifice not seen since the days of the Aztecs, Zest murdered the entire SKT line in Proleague to bless his Korean conquest. He took that momentum and rode it all the way to the end of the year as he destroyed all rivals to claim 3 Korean titles and multiple top 4 finishes. Before Zest, many argued that the best protoss players were herO, Rain, PartinG, Dear, or sOs. After Zest, there remained only one.
Frost you ask? The map that was made in 2013 and was eventually phased out by the end of WCS Season 2? That map? Yes. The third was the right amount of hard to get to; there were multiple paths of attack; different spawning positions changed the way you play; but most of all, unlike the majority of the 2014 map pool, it wasn't blatantly in favor of one race or strat.
Fuck Yeonsu, Fuck Alterzim, Fuck Daedalus, Fuck Heavy Rain, Fuck Polar Night, Fuck Catallena, Fuck Nimbus, Fuck Waystation, Fuck Deadwing, Fuck Foxtrot, Fuck Merry Go Round.
Can we not have a map pool that blatantly favors one race over the others? God damn.
While nowhere as good as Keen's heyday of ceremonies, 2014 was a fairly good year for them. After all, Proleague is a natural habitat for ceremonies and the birthplace of FireBatHero. So with a new studio, new look and new players, it came as no surprise to see that Proleague was the main arena for ceremonies this year. Yet one player deserves recognition above all others as the genesis of Proleague Ceremonies. PartinG came. PartinG saw. And PartinG shot God in the chest.
This one innocuous ceremony not only cemented PartinG as a fan favorite of the league, but also created an entire storyline all by itself. It created the PartinG/Flash rivalry where Flash got revenge on Parting by figuratively and literally kicking him out of the PL Finals, and PartinG ended it by defeating him in turn at HSC. Inspired by PartinG, Stork also decided to shoot down Flash, but with the added bonus of a stormtrooper outfit. This caused Flash and Action to concoct a ceremony of Flash beating down Action in a dinosaur suit.
For being the inspiration of all the great ceremonies of 2014, PartinG wins the ceremony of the year award. And though he is
banned? barred from Proleague 2015 until his situation is resolved, we hope his spirit will live on.
Strategy of the Year
Retroactively known as the blink era, the re-discovered Blink "All-In" found new strength in HotS. Protoss players were given a natural air unit in the MSC, as well as great blink maps in Yeonsu, Alterzim, Daedulus, Heavy Rain, and Polar Night at the beginning of the year. This resulted in only 3 terrans left in Code S, and only one of them was able to beat protoss at all.
The truly amazing thing about it was that the term "All-In" was a complete misnomer. It allowed protoss to put on pressure and then choose an appropriate follow-up. Terran somehow defended the initial poke with no damage? Transition seamlessly into either HT or storm. Terran took some damage? Snow-ball it into a large advantage while expanding or teching. Terran took moderate damage? You can kill him. Terran died? Good for you. Completely fail and lose all your units? Make more stalkers and FF or time warp the ramp and pull out a win anyway.
In many ways it was similar to the BL/Infestor era as terran knew what was coming, but could not get ahead or stop it anyway. Terrans didn't even have the option of gambling with an all-in before it became a threat. Additionally it pigeonholed terran into mass bio strategies as everything else straight died to the blink stalkers. The runner-up this year goes to Bbyong's Gangnam Terran as it abused the map features of Habitation Station to hit protoss before the stalkers could come to kill you.
It all ended as usual with a large Team Liquid editorial (ZParcraft2) that was subsequently followed by Blizzard rolling in nerfs on both the MSC and blink, massive map changes to favor terran and massive buffs to widow mines against shields.
That the game was announced wasn't particularly surprising. We all knew LotV had to be announced at some point. What was surprising was the amount and breadth of changes being considered to completely change the dynamics of the game. New units whose core concepts seemed to have the potential to change entire matchups like the herc, cyclone, lurker, ravager and disruptor. Changes to existing units like tanks, swarmhosts and warp-in mechanics. A promise to change the overall economics of the game that implied necessary changes to the way maps were structured.
While HotS is a great game and has produced some of the best matches of all-time, many feel that it is still at its essence just a newer iteration of WoL, a WoL 2.0. LotV promises to be a completely different experience that will change the very fundamentals of the game.
2014 had its fair share of rivalries. PartinG and Flash grabbed attention from each other across four Proleague appearances and several notable ceremonies. Zest rose to power by repetitively destroying the combined power of SKT, and fell off shortly after their most accomplished player denied him a second GSL. Bomber and Polt found themselves engaging in almost constant battle across just about every premier tournament America had to offer, and their games were often a major highlight of whatever competition they happened to be in.
However, it cannot be ignored that all of these conflicts were overshadowed by a single, prominent series of events. soO found himself tangled in a ferocious yet seemingly hopeless battle against himself, one that was often displayed on the grandest of stages. Even though soO made his rather surprising finals run in the GSL during Season 3 of 2013, he was still omitted from everyone's lists of contenders in 2014. Yet his persistence in reaching and failing each and every finals he contested became one of the year's most enduring tales. No one expected to ever see the level of consistency that soO showed, yet he was frequently overshadowed by players that successfully touched victory, however briefly. By the time soO earned widespread recognition at his third GSL finals, it had become less of a question of whether he could vanquish his opponent and more of one about whether he could surpass his own limitations.
Even after his third consecutive loss, soO picked up the pieces and made another fantastic run by defeating a slew of seasoned champions. And yet, he still hadn’t conquered his inner demons, expressing doubt about his upcoming finals before his opponent was even determined. soO didn’t consider his opponent to be the most important part of the finals; it appeared as if he too realized that he was the only one standing in the way of his own triumph. When he cleanly took the first two games against INnoVation, victory looked likely, but soO faltered. All it took was an unusual strategy from INnoVation, followed by two 2rax builds, for soO to crumble, as he lost his lead and eventually the fourth finals in a row. This left him completely crushed and helped bring an illustrious yet tragic year to a close.
By the time the next GSL Code S Finals is played on March 14, we will have gone an unfathomable 651 days between Code S finals not involving soO.
This award goes to the player who most entertained the fans this year both inside and out of the game. While there is no set formula, in the end it came down to three players: Bomber, Bbyong and Has. Bbyong was not only the engineer of the Gangnam style, but also played in multiple best games of the year while maintaining a unique style of play that created dynamic and often chaotic games. Has made the entire world laugh with his ridiculous builds, cheese and massive upsets.
But in 2014, the player who entertained us the most was Bomber. Inside the game he gave us some of the most memorable games all year, whether it was his finals against PigBaby, his game against TooDming where he defended against a 6 base muta ling/bane swarm, or his series against Polt where he threw away 12 medivacs of supply twice in two different series. In victory or defeat no player could make us go "WHAT THE HELL!?" quite as many times as Bomber did.
Additionally, his story was one of the best to follow all year. Bomber has defied all laws. In a game where most players hit their primes in their late teens to early 20s, Bomber has finally hit his at the age of 26, nearly 4 years after his first ever broadcast game. In a scene where it has been proven that being part of a KeSPA training regime produces the absolute player, Bomber has proven that you can survive outside of it and still be considered a championship contender. In a community where we codified Bomber's Law, Bomber has proven that no law is immutable. That the pains and disappointments that we get from losses and failures make triumph all the more meaningful. That the real truth of Bomber's Law is not that Bomber will always disappoint, but that despite those failures, despite those losses, despite those disappointments, despite everything, Bomber has gotten back up to challenge his fate again and again and again.
The Law isn't just about Bomber. It is about all players. From Zest to soO to MarineKing to Nestea to Stork. It is about the will to never give up, about the drive to never give in. It is about turning that loss, that failure and changing it into victory and triumph. It is about getting back up and never giving up. And it is for this tenacity that Bomber is awarded the Most Entertaining Player of 2014.
At the end of 2013, NaNiwa may have been a villain, but he was our villain. He refused handshakes, called Polt a bitch, endlessly needled others over twitter; but we forgave him for his truancy as the only foreigner to almost win a Premier tournament. This all came to an end as he forfeited his career in the most dramatic and Naniwa-esque way possible by quitting a Bo5 after just 1 game, blaming the soundproofing and then walking off stage while the entire crowd boo-ed him.
After that retirement, many said good riddance as Naniwa had shown little to no respect to his team, his fellow pros, or the fans. But at the mere hint of a possible return, many hopped aboard the Naniwa hype train once more, with everything either forgiven or forgotten, and once more proving that Hyvaa Dent was right. "Live long enough as a villain and eventually you become the hero."
With the retirement of LucifroN from competitive SC2, a void was formed that hungered to be filled. No longer was there a foreign terran that could reliably contend for podium places. The biggest contenders were Dayshi, Happy and Bunny. Happy was reliable, but he was unable to ascend to the next level; Dayshi got progressively better and even took series off Koreans.
However, Bunny distinguished himself from his peers in several ways. To qualify for 2014 WCS EU S2, he defeated Sacsri, the DH Valencia champion. He made several deep runs in tournaments, including a Ro8 appearance in 2014 WCS EU Season 2, where he narrowly lost to San in a close series. Most importantly, he won Gfinity G3, defeating HyuN and becoming the first foreigner to win a tournament with WCS points at stake ever since the system's creation in 2013. He was also the first foreign terran to win since ThorZaIN took DH Summer against Polt.
While both Happy and Dayshi wowed us in 2014 with some great games and series, there was only one terran that truly distinguished himself in 2014.
Despite a very rocky start, 2014 was a good year for terran. INnoVation fulfilled his destiny and won a GSL, Bomber got even more money from conquering Red Bull tournaments, ForGG finally won his first ever premier tournament and Polt fought imbalance and nearly won.
But one player in particular distinguished himself from the rest by shattering several records with his incredible consistency. As the frosty months of winter slowly turned to spring and then summer, TaeJa started his annual rampage. He blazed through HSC IX, he won DH Summer with a 17-0 record and he took IEM Shenzhen. When he didn't win, he racked up an impressive 3 Ro4s and a 3rd place. With these 3 titles, Taeja became the first ever player to win 11 premier SC2 tournaments, surpassing Mvp's 9. While many criticize Taeja for not having conquered a WCS or a GSL, it would be foolish and shortsighted to disregard his incredible accomplishments this year.
To truly do Taeja justice you also have to look at how he won and who he beat. Firstly, Taeja was one of the few terrans to win during the blink era, and he didn't win one but 3 tournaments. Secondly he defeated top KeSPA players consistently; at IEM he made Zest look silly and fought a great series vs Solar. At Toronto he again defeated Zest and executed one of the most amazing comebacks yet. And at Blizzcon, Taeja dismantled both soO and INnoVation.
Despite not winning a GSL, WCS or Blizzcon, Taeja's consistency was leaps and bounds ahead of his terran peers. His ability to win in the harshest of times and against world class opponents has earned him the title of best Korean terran of 2014.
2014 wasn't nearly as close as 2013 for best foreigner, but it gave us one important question. How important is winning, really? Sen, despite having a mostly average year, was able to string together an unlikely run and became the only foreigner to win a Premier in the last 2 years that prevented a 2014 Korean All-Kill. He was also the first foreign player of the year to win a Major tournament with Koreans attending.
But in the end, the answer was obvious. Everyone voted for Snute because at some point Snute's consistent ability to play against—and either win or go even with—the best players in the world in almost every tournament he attended outweighed Sen's single win.
GSL Code S is supposed to be the most difficult and gruesome tournament in the world. It's an unforgiving beast that has seen champions and runners up fall within single seasons, and even the best players find it difficult to find any consistency. In fact, the NesTea award was created for players that could survive for 10 straight seasons. They didn't have to go far, they only had to qualify, such was the severity of the task.
And yet, out of nowhere, soO rose above every contestant, above every contender, above every champion to become a 4-time GSL runner up. Never before had we seen someone reach back-to-back-to-back finals, in a year when no other zerg did particularly well in the world's hardest tournament. He left little doubt of his quality and his determination, and he transcended the title of Kong to become a tragic hero. Every time he crawled his way back to the finals, his legion of supporters (or sympathizers) grew.
And yet, it was not enough. This award is scant consolation for his year of heartache, but his tragedy can only become a greater legend in time.
This year's race for best protoss foreigner was closer than any previous years. In the end it came down to two players: Welmu and Jim. Welmu had a good start to the year as he got to WCS EU Ro8 twice and brought justice to the ATC qualifiers by eliminating Bounty Hyunters from the team league.
In the end however, Jim edged him out by just a little bit. Both players had similar records in ATC (Welmu 12-15, Jim 10-12), Jim's runs in WCS NA were worse, but he met stiffer competition than Welmu. Welmu beat MMA, TLO, BabyKnight, Starbuck, YoDa, MC, DeMusliM and Stephano. Jim on the other hand only fought Koreans and beat Jaedong, Alicia, Nestea and won 4 major regional tournaments in China. What inevitably decided it for Jim was his run at IEM Shenzhen—making it to the semi finals by beating Life, Taeja and San—combined with his consistency throughout the entire year.
This has been the year of Korean Protoss. This year saw a huge swell of elite Protoss Champions as players like herO, sOs, PartinG and Rain fought for the throne. Yet even when you include all of their results—3 IEMs, 1 Hot6ix Cup, 1 HSC, and multiple 2nd places between them—even if you combined all their performances into one person, it would still be completely overshadowed by Zest. If you split Zest into three different players, all three of them would still take the top 3 spots for the protoss race. That is how much more dominant Zest was this year compared to everyone else.
Not only did Zest prove that he was the best protoss of the year, but he alone was the single best Telecom (one man) Team of the year. He alone has more achievements than both KT and SKT combined, and his record against the SKT team is the nightmare of SKT fans everywhere: 3-4 soO, 4-3 soO, 3-1 Classic, 2-1 Soulkey, 2-0 Soulkey, 2-1 Parting, 1-2 Rain, 3-0 Rain, 0-1 Rain, 0-1 Rain, 1-0 Soulkey, 2-1 Soulkey, 2-0 Dark, 4-3 Parting, 3-2 soO, 2-0 Parting, 4-2 Rain, 1-0 Soulkey, 1-0 Parting, 1-0 soO, 1-0 Soulkey, 1-0 Rain.
In total, Zest has gone 44-22 in maps against SKT players and 16-4 in series. He started this year as a small-time Code B player and ended it with him posing half nude with a Van Gogh painting. The only fault he had at all was his lack of international results, but so long as he avoided getting eliminated by Taeja he still acquitted himself extremely well. Despite not qualifying for GSL or SSL in 2015 Season 1, 2014 was the year of Zest.
of the Year
There is this discrimination among watchers of Starcraft that only games played on big stages can be considered great. The myths that surround the games we remember the most—GuMiho vs MMA in the GSTL finals, Mvp vs Squirtle in the GSL Finals, TaeJa vs INnoVation in the WCS Season 2 Finals—often involve the circumstances in which they were played. The bigger the prize, the bigger the reason to watch, the more likely the games become part of our history. But much of the culture of Starcraft 2 occurs online—on TeamLiquid, on Battle.net, on r/Starcraft, in online qualifiers, online cups, and on ladder. Of course we remember the champions, the titles, the tournaments, the most, but sometimes a game can transcend all the limitations of a small budget to become one of the greatest games ever played.
TotalBiscuit must have been rolling in his MRI machine (gratz on being Cancer free, I hope we can joke about it now) when game after game in SHOUTcraft Invitational ended up being amazing. Two other games were included in the Top 40, making it the best online tournament of the year. The semi final between Flash vs Bbyong, however, will be remembered for Game 3 on Waystation, our unanimous game of the year.
One of the most interesting characteristics of Waystation was the fact that there were two spawning orientations possible: close spawns or long spawns. The former was often more conducive for timing attacks and all ins, while the latter welcomed long games. The idea of dual spawn types was a fresh idea that allowed maps to offer two types of games in one. Little did we know that you could literally play two games in one.
of the Year
The 2013 player shuffle indelibly changed the Proleague landscape. Even before this, SKT T1 was one of the favorites to win the 2014 season of Proleague. They maintained their strong roster of Rain, soO, PartinG, Dark and FanTaSy, and added significant reinforcements in the form of Classic and Soulkey. The team suddenly became the overwhelming favorites to take the title with ease. The sheer star power of SKT T1 seemed insurmountable: they had excellent zergs, reliable terrans and 3 world class protoss in an era dominated by Aiur.
Yet, it didn't matter when the world's greatest team league came down to the last match. KT Rolster had spent the entire season in the shadow of their great rival, but when it mattered the most, they came together as a team and triumphed in the Proleague Grand Finals. Their Big 4 performed among the best players in Proleague the entire season, and even their zerg bench warmers, Action and hitmaN, scored important wins in the playoff round. They proved that a well balanced team effort was still more potent than a collection of hired superstars.
Not only did KT Rolster prevail in Proleague, but they also did well in individual leagues. Zest was one of the best players on the planet and took home 3 Korean tournament trophies. In the 3rd season of GSL, Stats, Zest, TY and Flash all managed to qualify for Code S. Flash even broke his championship duck at IEM Toronto. KT left no doubt that they were a true family of stars.
When NASL closed its doors and MLG shifted its focus, the NA scene suddenly became a desert. Many pros fled the continent for Europe, and those that remained had to wrestle for precious WCS AM spots and the occasional LAN. There was IEM New York, but there were few other contenders between that Intel stop and WCS. This year, however, saw a small resurgence in American tournaments.
Red Bull suddenly produced a fantastic tournament series throughout the year. MLG Anaheim surprised us all by the mere fact that it happened. WCS AM continued to provide excellent games. But the best tournament of the region wasn't held in the US, but in its neighbor Canada. Not only did IEM Toronto offer an excellent line-up, it delivered in game quality and enduring storylines.
While it will always be remembered as Flash's first (and so far only) championship in Starcraft 2, Toronto was also the tournament where Snute proved that he was a force to be reckoned with. He topped a group with First, sOs and MaSa, and stretched Flash to the brink in the Ro8. Zest and TaeJa played an incredible series, and there was the unforgettable draw between First and Life. Then, when the KT Rolster teammates Zest and Flash met in the finals, the series lived up to its billing as Flash triumphed over Zest's seemingly impenetrable PvT. Yet most of all, the crowd showed that #passion in NA was still alive, including that one deranged fan that wanted to fight ReDeYe.
IEM Cologne was arguably the best tournament we've had in StarCraft II. No impressive crowd shots, no fans clapping in the background. Just one incredibly game after another. Even Battlenet didn't want it to end, which is why it broke down right before the Grand Finals and the tournament ended hours past midnight. Even though it was won by a protoss during a protoss dominated era, the way it happened left little to be desired.
Storylines, great games, a great final—you name it, IEM Cologne had it.
Although KeSPA Cup featured many of the best players in the world at the time it occurred, it had few memorable games and uninspiring storylines, save Zest winning his third Korean tournament of the year. GSL Season 1 was his first.
On his Royal Road to that title, Zest had to kill the defending champion Dear, the $200,000 man sOs, and the perpetual top 3 protoss Rain. On the other side of the bracket, Maru once again, and not for the last time, represented the last terran hope. Ironically, he was defeated by Life. And soO, the previous season’s runner-up, defeated his teammate PartinG in the quarterfinals 3-1 for the second time in a row, then edged out Life 4-3 in the semifinals. Zest in the finals proved to be the superior player as he overcame a 3-2 deficit to win. But he had not just crowned himself the best player in the world. He solidified soO’s fate to always come in second.
Even though GSL Season 1 established perhaps the most memorable story of 2014, 2014 SK Telecom Proleague was the best tournament of the year for its quality of games, storylines, and overall entertainment. In the Round1 playoff finals, Zest brutally all-killed rival SKT in an omen of his future GSL success. In the Round 2 playoffs, MVP pulled off a near miracle as it came up from fourth place to take second overall. Coach
SangHo Swagger SwagHo didn’t quite receive the credit he deserved for converting a team with almost no depth and minimal individual league success into a near championship contender. They not only all-killed KT, but stunned CJ Entus, just days after the latter had banned its players from competing in the GSL qualifiers to focus on Proleague. Billowy’s all-kill of KT during that run highlighted not only SwagHo’s mystical powers as a coach, but a recurring theme of the Proleague season: making Flash look dumb.
PartinG started it with the ruler ceremony. Sniped by his own weapon, Flash had a target painted on his back for further jokes in ceremonies as he continued to draw appetizing matches. Stork left nothing to the imagination as he dressed up in a ghost suit to ridicule his Brood War rival. And then Billowy, with the mind control powers SwagHo granted him, made Flash salvage his bunkers on Yeonsu during a blink allin.
Throughout the season, KT and SKT were consistently the most successful in the round robin play, while Jin Air were the only team to win two round playoffs, and CJ maintained the underdog position. As fate demanded, KT and SKT were placed on opposite sides of the bracket for the season finals. SKT edged out CJ in the ace match of the third series, and KT defeated Jin Air slightly more convincingly. The storybook finals delivered, and it was KT who emerged victorious, with Flash taking revenge on his critics in the football ceremony.
The aforementioned ace match of SKT vs CJ between Rain and herO was probably the most exciting and memorable ace match of the season. Not to be forgotten, though, was the Round 3 playoffs bronze match, where the mega-slumping EffOrt blew everyone’s minds, including Maru’s, when he turned out to be a ZvT sniper. Bbyong earned a reputation as not only an up and coming terran, but as a wickedly abusive widow mine plus bio doom dropper, as well as a 4 CC, 2 island base meching player against protoss. Sora vs Zest and Classic vs sOs on Maze provided some whacky mass air late game PvP spectaculars. Oh and of course, there was lots of Gangnam Terran.
Player of the Year
2014 was a strange year for determining the best international player. Sen was the only foreign player to win any Premiers in the last 2 years, but despite that had an average year. Most agree that the foreigner of the year was undoubtedly Snute, yet there was no one moment that stood above all others to personify why Snute was by far the best. In previous years, there was a solid result behind every foreigner picked, whether it be Jinro, Idra, Huk, Stephano, Naniwa, Thorzain or Scarlett. Each of them had a Premier or Major championship, and a nod must be given to Sen for being the only foreigner to win a Premier in 2 years. Snute has yet to win his.
Yet Snute's accomplishments were no less than theirs and are perhaps even greater. The competition in 2014 has become much tougher both in Korea and regionally as there are no longer large gaps of skill between the absolute best foreigners and the tier below them. On any given day a player like Hendralisk or Miniraiser can knock out players like Scarlett and Snute. Yet it is within this chaos that Snute has thrived, not as a champion, but as the single most solid foreigner playing today.
He is someone who can challenge almost any other player in the entire world and come out victorious. In his multiple top finishes this year he's beaten: MMA, Jjakji, Impact, herO, Jaedong, HyuN, Stardust, sOs, Stork and First. From the beginning of the year to the end, Snute has consistently made it to the top 8 of almost every tournament he attended (sans WCS EU) and has proven without a shadow of a doubt he is here to stay.
of the Year
This award was already set in stone before Blizzcon, which should tell you just how dominant its winner was in 2014. Zest won three Korean individual tournaments in 2014, a landmark untouched since Mvp's 2011. Zest took home two GSL championships and a KeSPA Cup trophy. He was also an integral factor in KT's Proleague success as their second best performing player. Even though Zest disappointingly lost to eventual champion Life in the Ro16 at Blizzcon (his worst result all year), he'd already more than convinced us by then.
The only player who could have taken this award from him was soO. But irony is cruel at times. soO didn't take his chance and finds himself in second place. His consistency in GSL and everywhere else was inspiring to say the least, but the defining difference between him and Zest, and the reason why the KT protoss edges him out, is that Zest won when it mattered and soO didn't. He won again and again and again. Rivaling any of Mvp's records is a gigantic feat, but his three Korean titles in one year was not one that many expected to be equaled this year. Hats off to you, Zest.
of the Year
We really have been blessed with great finals in 2014. Long gone are the days of Inca DT-rushing Nestea four times or MarineKing being out-everythinged by Mvp. This award was the one we had the most trouble deciding. In the end we decided to give it to the amazing conclusion to IEM Cologne. Why, you may ask. Just another tournament won by a protoss? Let's look at it again.
At the heart of protoss' blink era, Polt made it to the finals of a tournament stacked with amazing PvTers by playing nothing but TvP. He'd taken down MaNa, StarDust, Classic and Rain, showcasing masterful, super fast paced genius in the matchup. HerO came from the other side of the bracket, beating ForGG 4-0 on aggregate and wrecking INnoVation 3-0. There was a legitimate argument to be made that the two best players in the PvT matchup were facing off against each other in the finals.
And then Battlenet broke down. For almost two hours, nobody knew if the finals were even going to be held. Finally, past midnight, the games started with HerO having to borrow Leenock's account. After more than 12 hours of StarCraft II, we'd finally crown a champion of this amazing, amazing tournament. And then... a draw. The first map of HerO vs Polt had to be replayed because it ended in a draw.
I'm assuming that what followed was caused by both players throwing all care in the wind and simply playing for fun. HerO and Polt both brought their unique, fast paced styles to the table and demonstrated their mastery of the PvT matchup. From HerO's shredding of Polt's economy on Habitation, to Polt's mindblowing quadruple nexus snipe on Daedalus, to their incredible 40+-minute slugfest on Polar Night, it was PvT at its best, at a time when the matchup wasn't considered entertaining at all. It ended at 4am. HerO vs Polt was a worthy ending to perhaps the best tournament we've ever witnessed in SC2.
And while ForGG vs Life could have made it here due to its amazing storyline and scrappy games, it didn't have the same madness to it. It gets an honorable mention as the closest runner up to the award winner this year.