Justin Groot, Blizzard Entertainment

Justin Groot, Blizzard Entertainment

21 Feb

I don’t know about you, but IEM so excited to watch the world’s best StarCraft II players compete for $400,000 in Katowice, Poland from February 24 to March 1.

(Terrible pun. Sorry.)

I’m referring, of course, to Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) Katowice 2020, the first major StarCraft II tournament of the year and the first global event of the new ESL Pro Tour, set to be an electrifying display of interstellar warfare. The competitors are as fearsome a group of generals, executors, and broodmothers as have ever been assembled. There’s Park "Dark" Ryung Woo, arguably the best Zerg player in South Korea, fresh off a victory in the 2019 WCS Global Finals. Also in attendance is Riccardo "Reynor" Romiti, the 17-year-old Italian Zerg prodigy who fell to Dark in those finals and will be looking for revenge here.

With so many top players, it’s inevitable that year-spanning storylines will gain new chapters—and new tale...

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03 Nov

Any way you look at it, StarCraft is an outlier among modern esports. It hasn’t received a balance patch in over a decade. Its competitive lifespan just passed 20 years. In 2017, it underwent a total makeover in the form of StarCraft: Remastered. Through it all, the competitive scene has remained strong. Other esports come and go; StarCraft seems on track to last until the sun swallows the Earth.

StarCraft endures because it is at once eternal and ever-changing. Nobody embodies this better than Kim "Last" Sung Hyun and Jung "Rain" Yoon, who faced off this weekend in BlizzCon 2018's special ASL vs. KSL exhbition match. Last, a crafty Terran, debuted way back in 2008. Rain, a well-rounded Protoss, debuted in 2009. Perennial contenders, they may never have achieved the success of legends li...

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04 Nov

If you’d told me a year ago that I’d soon have the opportunity to introduce Lee ‘Jaedong’ Jae Dong and Kim ‘Bisu’ Taek Yong, two of the greatest StarCraft players of all time, to the wonders of American barbecue, I would have laughed out loud.

But here we are. These two legends are at BlizzCon 2017 to battle in a $25,000 StarCraft: Remastered show match that’s been dubbed the Ultimate Title Fight. They’re both headed to the military next year, a mandatory rite of passage for South Korean men, which makes this one of the last times they’ll likely compete for a major StarCraft prize pool. As a long-time fan, it’s an honor to share a meal with them. So imagine my horror when I fumble an entire BBQ rib, slathered in sauce, onto my lap.

The players are nice about it, of course. They pretend not to notice, and are too respectful eve...

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02 Nov

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On November 24, 2006, 16-year-old Lee ‘Jaedong’ Jae Dong faced a top Zerg player, widely considered to be the best in the world, in a qualifier for the 2006 Shinhan Bank OSL Season 3. The game lasted approximately eight minutes. Though Jaedong would later master the Zerg vs Zerg matchup—reaching an unprecedented and mind-boggling 81% winrate in 2009—this game quickly spiraled out of his control. The older player went on to win the whole tournament, while Jaedong didn’t even qualify.

In 2006, that result was nothing out of the ordinary. Though Jaedong’s rookie season in 2006 was impressive, with a 65% overall winrate, his opponent was on another level entirely. What’s interesting about this game is not the outcome, but the way the players reacted. The camera caught the older player throwing himself back in his chair with a forceful exhalation. Rewatching that moment today, you can see a strange relief in his expression and bod...

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