Blaze of Glory: Brood War’s Final Four (Week Two)
Last week’s match between JangBi and ZerO was positively breathtaking. It was everything you could want from a PvZ, and left both the viewers and the commentators speechless with emotion. The next matchup has the potential to be even better as Flash takes on Fantasy to determine which terran legend will advance to face JangBi for the gold. Will Flash reach the last Starleague finals, poised to break NaDa’s record and become the winningest player in history? Or will Fantasy deny him that honor, earn a rematch with JangBi, and tie his mentors BoxeR and iloveoov for OSL golds?
This first match could scarcely have made a louder statement: more than thirteen years from its release, fans’ passion for Brood War pulses just as strongly today as it always has. The swelling cheers as JangBi made a miraculous comeback in Game 4 with his trademark storms, Kim Carrier’s impassioned commentary, the perfection of the play, and the explosion of emotion as the victor received his hard-earned GG were enough to impress even the most battle hardened eSports crowds. Even though there are only two matches left, this OSL is sure to be remembered as a worthy cap to the incredible legacy that is StarCraft: Brood War.
As good as that match was, the next one promises to be just as good or even better. The two best terran players in the world square off in what promises to be an absolutely incredible series. The last time these two met, in the 2010 Bigfile MSL, they produced the greatest TvT series in MSL history. It’s only fitting that these two titans meet once more in the final OSL. “The Terrorist” and the “Ultimate Weapon” will dance one last time.
Lee “Flash” Young Ho
The title “bonjwa” refers to the absolute best player of their time. A player so good, it’s an upset when they lose at all. Four players have earned this title to date: Lim “SlayerS_`BoxeR`” Yo Hwan, Lee “[Red]NaDa” Yoon Yeol, Choi “iloveoov” Yun Sung, and Ma “sAviOr[gm]” Jae Yoon. But Lee “Flash” Young Ho resides on a tier even higher. Flash rose to prominence during the most competitive era of Brood War history. His closest rival, Jaedong, is easily the greatest zerg player of all time. Stork and Bisu are comparable protoss legends. Even still, Flash managed to reach a 70% win rate in all matchups, reach the finals of six Starleagues in a row, earn the highest ELO ever recorded, and almost single-handedly elevate his team to one of the best in Korea.
Flash is more than a bonjwa. First, Flash was known as the “Ultimate Weapon.” But now, they simply call him “God.”
Flash showed promise from the moment he appeared. As a youngster, he played shooters in internet cafes, but like many of his generation he found himself captivated by Brood War’s early heroes – BoxeR and his rival, YellOw. Little did he know, one day his battles with his own zerg rival would surpass even that legend. Young Ho rapidly became one of the best amateurs in the scene and was finally drafted in 2007. In his first season of televised play, at the age of 14, Flash went 39-24 and qualified for the 2007 Daum OSL on his first try at the offline preliminaries. In the Round of 8, Flash took the world by storm when he executed a now-infamous cheese rush against Bisu, eliminating him 2-0. The upstart from nowhere eliminated one of the most beloved players in the scene. But no one could have guessed that this was the beginning of something incredible.
Flash qualified for the next OSL as well, but found himself out in the Round of 8. Then, in the 2008 GOMTV Star Invitational and the 2008 Bacchus OSL, Flash reached the finals of both, faced Stork in both, and defeated him both times. Just a year after his draft, Flash had become a two-time champion – the youngest of all time. The rest of 2008 proved to be a stagnating year for him, in which his strategies underwent a great deal of development. But then, in 09-10, Flash reached the finals in three consecutive OSLs and MSLs and won two of each. In the MSL, Flash met Jaedong each time – cementing the “Two Lees” rivalry as the most intense in StarCraft history.
With three OSL and three MSL titles, the highest ELO peak, and the reputation as the greatest StarCraft player to ever live, Flash only has one record left to break. He is currently tied with NaDa for Starleague golds, with three from each. This is his last chance to climb that final hurdle. If Flash wins, he’s undeniably the best, and not just in Brood War, but arguably eSports as a whole.
I want to be the progamer with the most trophies before I retire. I want everyone to think of me whether they think of the proleague or the individual leagues. I also want to gain the respect of everyone like Boxer. In short, I want to be a “legend”. Just I like I grew up looking up to Boxer, I want the next crop of progamers looking up to me. - Flash
Jung “FanTaSy” Myung Hoon
At the dawn of Brood War, there was a man named Lim Yo Hwan. Under the name “SlayerS_`BoxeR`,” he revolutionized the terran race, won two consecutive Starleagues, and became the first bonjwa. In 2002, BoxeR, nicknamed “The Emperor,” started a new pro-gaming team. This team, Orion, would eventually become SK Telecom T1, the most successful Brood War team of all time. With the establishment of this team, BoxeR found his successor: Choi “iloveoov” Yun Sung. Like his mentor, iloveoov revolutionized the face of terran strategy several times over. He went on to win two OSLs, and surpassed him by winning three MSLs as well.
The mentee becomes the mentor. In 2008, iloveoov retired from competitive play and became a race-specific coach for SKT1. There, he found the perfect Crown Prince to take up the Emperor’s mantle: a young up-and-coming terran player named Jung “FanTaSy” Myung Hoon. He first showed up on the SK Telecom T1 lineup in May 2007, but wasn’t able to find success until the next year. In the 2008 Incruit OSL, FanTaSy would leave his mark on the scene.
In that first OSL, Fantasy smashed through the preliminaries, Ro36, and group stage to reach the elimination bracket. He defeated MSL champion Mind to advance to the semifinals, where he met the champion of the previous season: GGPlay, who had just brought Flash to tears in a 2-1 victory in which his ZvT looked nearly unstoppable. But Fantasy’s new brand of TvZ was like nothing the world had ever seen. Designed by iloveoov specifically for this match, Fantasy’s new build covered the traditional weaknesses of mech play on most maps by crippling the zerg player early on with vulture harass – a technique that earned FanTaSy his nickname, “The Terrorist.” Upsetting the defending champion 3-1, FanTaSy advanced to face Stork – to whom he lost 2-3. But even so, his mark was made on the scene. TvZ would never be the same.
Fantasy would go on to make the finals of the next OSL as well, where he lost 2-3 once again, to Jaedong. In the 09-10 season, he would find himself overlooked in favor of the “Two Lees” rivalry, which dominated the spotlight. Even so, he continued to be a strong performer for SKT1, frequently serving as the team’s ace. He continued to qualify for the individual leagues and perform solidly, and in 2010 he reached the semifinals of the Bigfile MSL where he produced the aforementioned incredible TvT series with Flash.
He would finally seize the spotlight once again in 2010, when he met Stork in the finals of the 2010 Bacchus OSL. This time, he would get the better of his opponent and destroy him 3-0 to claim his first title. In the next season, he would once again reach the finals where he faced the redeemed JangBi. The series between the two was one of the most exciting TvP series in years, with both players playing their favored match-up and giving their all. But unfortunately, FanTaSy would fail to finish the job after nearly crippling his opponent in the final game, and wasn’t able to overcome JangBi’s carrier transition. Once again, the Crown Prince would come up just short of the gold.
But now, FanTaSy has one last chance to claim that coveted second title, and join the ranks of his predecessors. Never has FanTaSy looked as strong as he does today. Having overcome his major obstacle – his historically sub-par bionic control – FanTaSy has been playing with an enormous amount of confidence. His games against n.Die_soO in the Round of 8 were over in dominating fashion. When he met Flash in the Proleague finals last season, he completely outplayed the Ultimate Weapon, helping lead his team to the final Brood War Proleague title. And his current ELO is the highest in the league. If anyone is going to stop “God” Young Ho in his tracks, it seems like the Terrorist is the man for the job. And should he win, he will go on to have a rematch with JangBi, in what assuredly would be an incredible series.
This match will be played on Tuesday, July 10 at 3:30 AM PDT. The official Korean stream, as well as VODs of both this match and all others, will be found at www.youtube.com/esportstv. There will be no official English rebroadcast, but if you would like to discuss the games, visit Team Liquid’s Live Report Thread.
Player images courtesy of SKTelecomT1 and KTRolster.