Officially the third international LAN of LotV, HSCXII had a rocky start before the tournament even began. Tournament organizers had to decide whether to opt in to the new WCS 2016 system which would have forced them to kick out all of their Korean participants. TaKe refused the extra support and funding, but was met with misfortune as the GSL/SSL qualifiers were scheduled at the same time so many of the Korean players had to cancel and drop out. He was forced to scramble for players to fill the event. This led many spectators to become more negative about the event as many were looking forward to seeing the Korean players that had qualified or possibly invited.
That was all swept away once the camera started rolling and everyone remembered why we've all come to love HSC. HSC is unlike any tournament in the world. There have been some attempts to try to mimic the incredible feel, comfort and humor of the event, but no one can do it like the TaKeTV crew can. It’s the only event where SC2 pros can both compete and have a great time at an event, where the party isn't an afterthought. It is the only event where spectators get a behind the scenes look at the players' personalities in a relaxed atmosphere. It lives up to its name, HomeStory Cup.
Because HSC is all of those things and more, it was the perfect place for one of SC2’s biggest legends to officially retire. Even among the greatest players of all time, retirement is an uncertain practice. When most decide to hang up their mouse and keyboard, they do it by slowly fading out of the scene. They start playing less and less until one day they tweet they’ve retired. Flash was given an incredible exit out of the scene, but Rain, one of the greatest Protoss SC2 has ever produced, quietly announced his retirement a day afterwards with no fanfare.
Even those who could have had a chance to retire on the big stage could be struck with bad luck. Duckdeok made a final miracle run that ended his career at BlizzCon 2013, but was relegated to the backstage where only a handful of the second stream viewers got to witness his final moments. Spectators at the event probably didn’t even know he was there.
That is why this HSC is particularly special. TaKe’s refusal of WCS support is admirable, especially when you consider later on in the stream he admits that there are bigger games out there that could get him bigger sponsors and more money, but he refused to leave a game that he loved and refused to turn away Korean players from his event. TaKe and his crew are very much SC2 legends in their own right. He could have taken the easier way out, but in his refusal he gave SC2 fans one last chance to say goodbye to MMA, one of the first great Champions of SC2 and one of its greatest players.
At the same time, he also gave HyuN his last international tournament to participate in, as HyuN can no longer travel out of Korea come 2016 (likely because of impending military service). Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t account for all of the casters and pro-players who cast on stream and made it a really fun event to watch. (I’d list them all but as far as I could tell, nearly everyone cast a game this go around.)
This was all topped off as MMA beat Europe’s top Zergs on his way to claim his last tournament victory. This was a fairy tale ending for MMA. He becomes the first player to win a Premier in WoL, HotS and LotV. His last tournament victory was at HSC, which is in many ways a second home for all SC2 players. He beat BL/infestor one last time. And after he won and lifted his trophy, the tournament ended with his long time rival MC serenading him with a rendition of "Let it Go".
It was a great tournament and it ended in a final interview with MMA. He thanked HyuN and thanked his fans for all of their support. Forever the gracious champions, he had HyuN do his last interview on foreign soil as this would also be HyuN’s last foreign tournament. In true SC2 player fashion though, his last words after winning were, “Thank God my bracket didn’t have a Protoss.”
Farewell MMA, you will be missed and your achievements in SC2 will live in perpetuity. A true legend.