Choi "Polt" Seong Hoon was proud to be an American and a StarCraft champion last weekend at the MLG Spring Championship. The South Korea native fought past his former teammate HyuN to claim first prize and $10,000 at MLG Anaheim and did a little flag waving, literally, to give props to his new country. In doing so, he also became the fourth player since the release of Wings of Liberty to earn the StarCraft Triple Crown for winning premier tournaments in America, Europe and Korea.
Polt announced at the end of Dec. 2012 that he was leaving Korea to move to the United States to continue his studies. While this wouldn't put an end to his StarCraft career (he had previously competed in GSL as a student at Seoul National University), it would mean leaving his team TSL and moving to Texas. He secured a personal sponsorship from CoolerMaster Storm, and when WCS 2013 rolled around Polt joined WCS America. As one of the only Koreans in WCS America to actually live in the US, Polt – like viOLet before him – was adopted by the fans as an honorary American. So after defeating Naniwa to reach the finals, Polt took a First Navy Jack flag and boldly waved around on stage.
The ensuing match against HyuN, who’d been his teammate seven months ago, was among the best of the weekend – kicking off with a half-hour slugfest on Akilon Wastes. Stubbornly sticking to his signature Terran bio style, Polt's multitasking, positioning, and decisionmaking met HyuN's aggressive killer instinct five games in a row. In the final game, Polt's early hellion/reaper pressure caught HyuN off guard and inflicted considerable damage. Polt never took his foot off the gas with drop after drop after drop. Battered and broken, HyuN conceded to his former teammate warmly, as Polt stood onstage celebrating his third major title victory. As he interviewed on stage in English, for the fans, he declared he was “still one of the best in the world.”
It still wasn’t easy for Polt, who had 127 competitors, from the greenest of amateurs to world-class champions, gunning for the same goal. Among them, seven of the eight competitors from the Red Bull Training Grounds -- DeMusliM, ViBE, Kane, SeleCT, Grubby, puCK, and Golden -- all found themselves out of the tournament before the end of the second day. The tournament's runner-up, StarTale's Sound, was busy taking his revenge in kind. Beginning with a 2-0 return-kill on Training Grounds Champion Golden, Sound 2-0'd his way to the Winners' Round 5 before falling to Quantic's HyuN. Answering back with a 2-0 of Swedish Protoss SaSe, Sound made it to Sunday and proved he may be worthy of being called one of StarTale's top players.
There were a few gasps for air from the Western StarCraft scene before Championship Sunday rolled around. Both qxc and Suppy, two of the USA's most beloved hometown heroes, played a close series with their Korean opponents Dear and Polt respectively in Winners' Round 4 and came close to taking them down. And NaNiwa, proved himself once again to be the West’s shining hope -- smashing his way through five straight 2-0s in his bracket to face Polt in Round 5.
But it was to be Polt’s day of glory in Anaheim.
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