If this week’s matches are any indication, some of the North American and European StarCraft scene’s stars are beginning to close the gap on Korea’s top players. Michael “Goswser” Dobler went to DreamHack and proved that he is the real deal: a daring and talented American StarCraft pro who is not only good at the fundamentals, but is perfectly capable of researching and reading an opponent and beating him before the match countdown clock concludes. Ben “DeMusliM” Baker went toe-to-toe with Axiom’s Choi “CranK” Jae Won, a member of WCS America’s most successful team, and reached the round of sixteen.
It’s obviously not the same as going to Korea and qualifying for Code S, but it’s still encouraging to see American and European pros putting up stiff fights against some of Korea’s best StarCraft 2 players. It’s also making a lot of formerly predictable matchups suddenly become eSports epics.
GOING THE DISTANCE
goswser vs. HyuN - Game 2 - DreamHack Valencia - Ro4
It was impressive enough when Goswser dismantled Jung “YugiOh” Senung Il with perfect builds and timing that left YugiOh looking hapless. But his series against Ko “HyuN” Seok Hyun was what proved his mettle as a competitor. After a close game 1, Goswser fought HyuN to a standstill in a Game 2 battle that can only be described as epic. It starts out as a conventional Roach battle between two evenly-matched Zerg, but then a series of devastating exchanges makes the outcome impossible to predict. The match begins 21:10 into the video.
Polt vs. TaeJa - Game 3 - WCS America Season 2 - Ro32
This was one of the most compelling matchups of the week, and Game 3 delivered on that promise. On Neo Planet S, Choi “Polt” Seong Hoon and Yoon “TaeJa” Young Suh fought one of the best games of WCS America this week. It was a game that showed off the sadistic design of Neo Planet S, where the revolving-door structure means that players always have the option of taking a fight or launching a counterattack and nobody is ever safe. Polt and TaeJa proved the point as they took turns wrecking each other’s economy and cobbling together desperation armies. It’ll keep you guessing to the end.
ESL’s Carmac revealed the true source of Polt’s newfound power: lousy Texas weather.
puCK vs. MacSed - Game 3 - WCS America Season 2 - Ro32
This is classic Protoss vs. Protoss: both players rush for late-game builds and engage each other in a series of titanic Colossus engagements. Despite being behind on upgrades, Brandon “puCK” Qual puts the game back in play with a mid-game fight where he outmaneuvers Xiang “MacSed” Hu and then commits to the battle first - forcing the Chinese Protoss player to eat a ton of damage before taking the fight. That’s far from the end, but the battle was a good example of how decisiveness and tactical acumen can trump upgrades and economy.
GAME OF THE WEEK
aLive vs. Suppy - Match 1, Game 1 - WCS America Season 2 - Ro32
Evil Geniuses teammates Han “aLive” Lee Seok and Conan “Suppy” Liu fought not one, but two matches against each other this week in WCS America, and they played a number of good games. But nothing quite touched their first game of the night on Korhal Sky Island, where Suppy built a Zerg mob to dominate a creep-covered map and aLive countered with constant drop harassment and counterattacks to hollow-out the economic backing for Suppy’s terrifying army. By the end it’s an asymmetric duel between aLive’s agile Terran forces and Suppy’s elephantine Zerg horde, where both players are perched a single bad exchange away from disaster.
It’s amazing that Suppy manages to play this well while still taking courses. Must be all that time he saves on cooking.
For the latest news follow Red Bull eSports on Twitter.