A Star Is Born: DreamHack 2013 Recap

DreamHack Summer 2013
© DreamHack

With upsets galore, DreamHack bore witness to the the birth of a brand new StarCraft II champion.

 Shocks, upsets, and the birth of a brand new StarCraft II champion—all part of the exciting action at DreamHack Summer 2013.

 With many of the top Korean players in attendance – Life, HyuN, viOLet, Squirtle, Jaedong, TaeJa, GuMiho – one would expect that these players would contend with each other for the title, with the possible exception of an upset from a top Western player like NaNiwa or Stephano. But StarCraft II tournaments have a knack for throwing you a curveball right when you think you've got it all figured out.

The outcomes were normal through the first group stage as the well-known progamers advanced to the next round, leaving crushed amateur dreams in their wake. There were a few upsets in the second round, as Swedish hero NaNiwa was eliminated with a 1-2 match score by Squirtle and American hero Suppy (and a win over NightEnD). Koreans Daisy and Arthur also fell out of the competition early.

The depth of the European StarCraft scene shined in stage 3. Lucifron, the Terran half of the Brothers Durán, took first place in his group over the Korean StarDust (formerly M18M of KeSPA's Air Force Ace). TheStC, a former Code S Korean Terran, took last place in his group (containing HyuN, Stephano, and sLivko). Tefel, a Polish Zerg player who recently made a strong showing in WCS EU, advanced over ThorZaIN. In that same group, elfi – who earned third place – took the first series of the tournament from Liquid`TaeJa. Dayshi, a French Terran player in the WCS EU Premier League, took out both Suppy and MaNa.

The StarCraft II stage at DreamHack 2013
A scene from the DreamHack 2013 tournament.© Brita Jonsson

But the heavyweight Koreans topped each of their groups and still looked unstoppable. The elimination bracket started off with Jaedong knocking Stephano out in a quick 2-0 match. Ordinarily, this would've set the tone for the day – Koreans knocking out Western favorites one after another. But TLO, fully graduated from “the creative guy” into one of the strongest players in all of Europe, beat Squirtle 2-1. Meanwhile, StarDust – the Korean with no strong results to speak of in any other tournaments – beat viOLet 2. 

As if an attempt to push things back on-script, both TLO and LucifroN found themselves swept 2-0 in the quarterfinals by TaeJa and Jaedong respectively. But before a Korean semifinal could be set, Jeffrey “SjoW” Brusi pulled off a miracle. A player so under-the-radar he hadn't even managed to qualify for WCS Europe last season, SjoW brought down the prodigy in a 2-1 series and grabbed a spot in the Top 4 – his strongest finish at a StarCraft II tournament in two years.

Continuing the run from nowhere, StarDust defeated HyuN 2-1 to join SjoW, Jaedong, and Taeja in the semifinals. First, Jaedong mercilessly cut down the Liquid player 2-0, grabbing the finals stage that narrowly eluded him at the last DreamHack. Then the miracle run was cut short as StarDust continued on his warpath–defeating SjoW 2-0.

StarDust holds the DreamHack 2013 trophy.
Son "StarDust" Seok Hee wins DreamHack 2013.© Brita Jonsson

One finalist was Lee Jae Dong, the Tyrant of Brood War fame, a living legend. The other? Someone no one expected, and most probably hadn't even heard of. M18M had an unremarkable Brood War career, with a stint on Samsung KHAN before transferring to Air Force ACE upon entering military service. His discharge would come shortly after KeSPA's switch to StarCraft II, upon which time he became StarDust, joiningTeam LighT. Once LighT was no more, he became a part of MYinsanity.

His very presence in the finals was a strange sight to see, but his successes in the tournament earned him respect. With strong and aggressive play, he traded game after game with Jaedong – resulting in not one but two elimination races throughout the series. A critical mistake in the final game's frantic base race cost Jaedong when it counted and StarDust's run from nowhere ended the tournament with one final upset.

Congratulations to Son “StarDust” Seok Hee on his victory as the DreamHack 2013 Summer champion in StarCraft II. Visit Twitch to check out the VODs.

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