The Top StarCraft II Matches of the Week

Mixed emotions was the theme as we witnessed a great one retiring, a great upset and more.

Top StarCraft II Matches of the Week
© Helena Kristiansson / esportphoto.com

While Stephano's retirement announcement was the big news of the week there was plenty of action to be had in the WCS America and Europe. See below what our top StarCraft II moments were this week.

Broken Crank
CranK vs. Alicia - Game 2 - WCS America Ro16 - Group D

Axiom teammates Alicia and CranK played each other in the loser’s match of their group and caused controversy when CranK appeared to give an early GG twice in a row. It was questionable enough that some fans were left wondering if it indicated that CranK was throwing the set, and prompted a frank exchange on Twitter between Dan “Artosis” Stemkoski and Axiom sponsor and caster John “TotalBiscuit” Bain.

Totalbiscuit's Tweet to Artosis
Totalbiscuit's Tweet to Artosis

It’s a long way from black-and-white, however, especially if bearing in mind that CranK didn’t have full map vision during the games. Even caster Sean “Day[9]” Plott remarked, only seconds before CranK’s second GG, that CranK was at a point where he could convince himself that he was far behind. The VODs show that CranK was going for a quick decision in each game, and when his early aggression seemed to be losing momentum, he tapped out.

Afterwards, CranK made a statement on the series, explaining that he was in a bad frame of mind and dealing with a persistent nerve injury [we’ve lightly edited it for clarity]:

“I didn't say how my mind is going recently. I lost all matches recently except STC HuK. My neck has 2 [damaged nerves]. I only said I could not practice because of neck pain, but my situation was much harder. I couldn't feel confident [because I] couldn't practice as much as I [should] and felt like I can't recover, like GanZi.”

Scarlett holds out
Scarlett vs. MacSed - Game 3 - WCS America Ro16 - Group C

In a week of 2-0 decisions for WCS America, Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn’s series against Xiang “MacSed” Hu stood out for how close-fought it was. After getting outmaneuvered in Game 1 and having her main torn up by MacSed’s Zealots while here Zerglings were trapped behind a force-fielded ramp, Scarlett was better-prepared for MacSed’s aggression in Game 2. She managed to hold her ramp and then slowly gained the upper hand thanks to a booming economy and a few miscues from MacSed. By the time MacSed gave up on his hopes of breaking Scarlett, he was fatally behind.

Looking at the series, It was striking how MacSed was fixated on getting early wins against the Canadian Zerg. Maybe it was a tribute to her macro-prowess and terrifying map control, but even with everything on the line in Game 3, MacSed was still trying to take Scarlett out before the 12-minute mark. And MacSed was so good that it nearly worked every time. Scarlett did not have another near-death experience in the round of 16 like she did in the opening minutes of an impressive Game 3.

Twilight of the Gods
WCS Europe Round of 16

Ilyes “Stephano” Satouri has retired. There may be no bigger story out of the WCS this week than that: he did not manage to go through his group, losing to Kim “duckdeok” Kyeong Deok and Pedro “LucifroN” Moreno Durán and getting knocked out of the tournament. After his set against LucrifroN, Stephano had an emotional farewell to the game and the community, saying that he couldn’t imagine what his life would have been without StarCraft, but it probably would have been miserable.

Greg “IdrA” Fields once talked about training with Stephano and said “He doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing, he’s like purely instinctual... Watching him play — he makes decisions they’re always correct, and he reads things that he doesn’t see.”

Stephano had an uncanny knack for StarCraft 2, and especially Wings of Liberty. When that intuitive ability began to desert him, and he lost his connection to the game, he made the decision to retire. While it’s always bittersweet to see a great player leave, especially on the sour note of defeat, Stephano just made one of the hardest reads in sports: knowing your moment is over.

Stephano's goodbye tweet
Stephano's goodbye tweet

Stephano wasn’t the only great player to have a rough week in WCS Europe. Both Jos “Ret” de Kroon and Jung “Mvp” John Hyun were knocked out in their group, with Mvp falling to Manuel “Grubby” Schenkhuizen in the final series following a wild game 3 (starts at 28:00).

Grubby moves on to a Protoss-packed European bracket for the round of eight, and he seemed to share the same shock that Mvp likely felt at the day’s results. While Grubby is an excellent player, nobody is a favorite when playing against the four-time GSL champion.

Grubby's tweet after winning
Grubby's tweet after winning

But there’s no time for rest, with the championship bracket starting at 5 AM Pacfic on Saturday morning, with the American division commencing at 1 PM. And if you’re really devoted, you can even catch the Korean Finals between Maru and Rain at 1 AM Pacific.

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