Every SC2 tournament has the potential for incredible games and great plays. During tournaments, Starcraft Reddit is always peppered with posts about this unreal game or that fun strategy but the real memories are the tales that tournaments help weave. We will vaguely remember the crazy series between KiKiKaKi and Stephano at IPL3, but nobody will forget that IPL3 was the tournament that put Stephano on the map as one of the strongest SC2 players outside of Korea.
With tournaments happening every other weekend, it can be easy to lose these stories in the mass of results. Unless someone is consistently placing at the top of major tournaments, players can be lost within the scene very quickly. A celebrated champion one week becomes next weekend’s biggest disappointment as tournament after tournament is played.
Each player’s story is unique and by taking the time to get to know each of them, you will become more invested in the games you watch. With Red Bull Battlegrounds coming up this weekend, here are three players to watch and follow as their stories continue to develop:
1. The Fallen Hero: Evil Geniuses HuK
Last fall, Chris “HuK” Loranger was the pinnacle of foreign SC2 hope. After his move from Team Liquid to Evil Geniuses, HuK was taking on the international SC2 scene in a big way. He finished the 2011 GSL August Code S with a top-eight finish, and at MLG Orlando he became the first foreign player to win a MLG event since the GSL-MLG exchange program started in mid-2011. The Canadian Protoss player looked unstoppable and was easily one of the top three foreigners in the world.
Despite a strong 2011, this calendar year has been a different story. While HuK still remains one of the top foreign players in the world, his results haven’t been as strong as he’d like. Earlier this year, HuK fell from Code S of the GSL to Code B but did have strong results at the MLG Winter Arena and Championships. For him, neither of those events were the celebrated wins that he was hoping for.
In last weekend’s MLG Spring Arena 2, HuK was eliminated from the Ro16 by Heart and then taken out of the LB by the wild card Ukrainian Zerg, Bly. With lady luck clearly not on HuK’s side lately, will he be able to turn his luck around at Red Bull Battlegrounds?
2. The Rising Star: Liquid TaeJa
If you’re a fan of the ESV TV Korean Weekly, you’ll already be well acquainted with this player. Not only has he won six of the sixteen weeklies in the Korean Weekly Season 1, Yoon “TaeJa” Young Suh (pictured at top) also won the fierce ESV TV/Twitch TV Grand Prix #1. This win gave him a seed in the ASUS ROG tournament at Assembly Winter 2012 as well as his travel and accommodations for the event. While he didn’t make it past the Ro16, his Assembly results did gain him more international notoriety and a chance to taste the global SC2 scene.
In the SC2 community, it’s a well-known stereotype that being a Korean on a foreign team is far more luxurious than being a Korean on a Korean team. Money talks aside, Korean players on foreign teams traditionally have more opportunities to travel to events.
At the end of March, TaeJa was picked up by the one and only Team Liquid. Joining one of the biggest foreign SC2 teams can only mean good things for TaeJa, and this Terran’s career is going nowhere but up. Red Bull Battlegrounds will be TaeJa’s third offline tournament outside of Korea and a chance for him to truly shine. Will it be “third time’s the charm” for this Terran as he takes on some of the world’s best at Red Bull Battlegrounds?
3. The Young Victor: Quantic Illusion
Being a teenager isn’t easy. There’s the schoolwork and that certain teenage awkwardness that comes with those weird adolescent years. Not only is Chris “Illusion” Lee navigating the dangerous waters of being an average American teenager, he is also taking on the SC2 competitive scene.
This sixteen year old has been making waves and is making a strong start to what appears to be a fantastic esports career. At the One Nation of Gamers SC2 Invitation this year, Illusion placed second against powerhouse players like Kas, Stephano and SaSe.
Earlier this month, Illusion’s story took a new turn as his former team, Team Vile, was absorbed by Quantic. This power team boasts an impressive roster with players such as NaNiwa, SaSe and FLo. Illusion is sure to thrive with his new teammates; Quantic will give Illusion an ideal environment to flourish and develop as a young pro gamer. This will be his first big event under the new Quantic banner, and the pressure will be on. Will the young American Terran make a bigger name for himself at this major event?
Sixteen individuals will be battling it out to continue their stories as top Starcraft players at the Red Bull Battlegrounds Pro Tournament this weekend. Be sure to watch all the action as it is streamed live on the Red Bull site and on Day TV. If you live near Austin, Texas, be sure to check out the action live at the Moody Theater!