Baek "Dear" Dong Jun downed Soulkey in four straight games to take the title.
In a tournament that could be defined as “Protoss versus the world,” Baek "Dear" Dong Jun won his second consecutive major title with a 4-0 sweep of Kim "Soulkey" Min Chul at the WCS Season 3 Finals in Toronto, Canada.
It was a commanding performance from the Korean Protoss player, who has emerged to become one of the best players in the game this year. Not only did he blank one of the Korean Premier League’s top players, but he triumphed in matches against Protoss, vs. Terran, and finally against Zerg on his way to first place.
It was bittersweet for Soulkey, who watched Dear raise the first-prize trophy and get the $40,000 purse, yet still managed to shoot to the top of the 2013 WCS standings.
Soulkey stands a good chance of facing the other big winner of the Season 3 Finals: Johan “NaNiwa” Lucchesi, who could have fell out of the top 16 because of this tournament. Fortunately for him, Soulkey knocked out 18th-ranked Kim "Oz" Hak Soo in the quarterfinals, saving NaNiwa’s position.
NaNiwa’s situation is still potentially complicated, however. 17th-placed Kim "Revival" Dong Hyun is still working his way through WCS Challenger League and is likely to end up in a tie with the Swedish Protoss, in which case the tiebreaker will be decided at Blizzcon.
The Protoss King
Still, Dear was the hero of the weekend, playing an absolutely tremendous series against Soulkey in the final and Cho "Maru" Sung Choo in the semifinal. In fact, his Game 4 with Maru may have been the game of the weekend as the two pushed each other to the absolute limit in a blistering Protoss vs. Zerg matchup.
Against Maru’s perfect micro and brilliant opportunism, Dear showcased his uncanny ability to make the clutch play. No matter how good Maru’s timing seemed to be, or the no-win situations he tried to force with drop play, Dear was able to turn every situation to his advantage. It didn’t hurt that Maru didn’t have Ghosts in his composition, which let Dear get very aggressive with his Templars and land devastating storms in every engagement.
Dear played even more impressively during his final games against Soulkey, who had looked tremendous in Zerg vs. Protoss until the final series. The 4-0 finish belies the degree to which Dear had to earn his wins over Soulkey, who kept trying to catch the Protoss player out with tech switches and timings.
The game of the series may have been their second on Whirlwind, when Soulkey finally seemed to have the edge over the Protoss player. He turned back some early aggression and went on the attack, pressuring Dear at his third Nexus, but then seemed to just write off his entire army as Dear put down perfect force fields and taking it apart piecemeal. Soulkey let the entire force get killed while he moved on to a huge Swarm Host army.
But without a more mobile army around to keep Dear honest, the Protoss was able to march out and threaten Soulkey’s fourth base. Soulkey still had the edge in terms of units, but he’d lost the positional battle. He was forced to send his Swarm Hosts up his own ramp to engage in a point-blank fight against the Protoss, and once again stayed in the fight until all the Zerg were dead. From a bad position, Dear had cut a path to victory and forced his opponent to take a disastrous fight where his composition worked against him.
It went that way for all four games. Dear was not just beating Soulkey, he was managing him, turning his gameplan against him over and over.
This gives Dear a tremendous boost as the WCS season culminates at the Global Finals in two weeks. He had all the right answers in every possible matchup this weekend, against a variety of different play styles, and he’ll be seeing many of the same faces at Blizzcon. While Soulkey might be the top-ranked player in the world right now, Dear looks like the player to beat.
For the latest news follow Red Bull eSports on Twitter.