The second and final day of StarCraft II competition at the Battle.net World Championship got underway with 16 of the best players in the world -- each of whom had won two matches against great competitors in group play on Day 1 -- facing single elimination in a straight bracket filled with the names of five players from South Korea, five players from Europe, five players from the Americas, and the amazing Yang “Sen” Chia Cheng from Taiwan.
The Round of 16
The format of the tournament dictated a fast and furious series of knockout matches to start Day 2, as eight pros were destined to be quickly removed from the competition in best-of-five play.
Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn’s Zerg run in the WCS featured 1st place championships in the Canadian Nationals and the North American finals, but her versus-Protoss skills were no match for South Korea’s Won “PartinG” Lee Sak, who overwhelmed Scarlett with superior micro in three consecutive games. At this point in the tournament, PartinG had yet to drop a game to any opponent.
“The 33rd invitee,” USA’s Conan “Suppy” Liu (who replaced Canadian Nationals 2nd place qualifier Christopher “Ostojiy”” Ostojic when Ostojiy declined his invitation to the BWC) continued his improbable rampage through the Global Finals, taking out the Combined European Nationals Champion Anton “LoWeLy” Plebanovich from Belarus 3:1 in Suppy’s third consecutive ZvZ triumph. At this point, Suppy had only played the mirror matchup in Shanghai.
Taiwan National Champion Yang “Sen” Chia Cheng met a serious ZvZ challenge in his opponent in the Round of 16: South Korea’s Lee “Curious” Won Pyo. On Day 1, Curious had eliminated MajOr and herO to earn this spot, and the crowd was surprised to see Sen send Curious packing 3:0.
Denmark’s National Champion Jon “BabyKnight” Andersen had only faced fellow Protoss players in going undefeated on Day 1, so he was stoked to draw Protoss Asian Continental 3rd place finisher Song “HerO” Hyeon Deok here. This would not be the Dane’s day, as HerO put forth a decisive 3:1 performance, dropping a game on Ohana, and dropping BabyKnight from the competition.
Perhaps the most discussed performance on day 1 was that of USA Nationals 4th Place finisher Greg “Idra” Fields, who didn’t drop a single game in dispatching both RorO and Stephano from Group E. Perhaps the biggest surprise of day 1 was BabyKnight’s seemingly easy win over Asia Finals Grand Champion Jung “Rain” Yoon Jong. The matchup of Idra and Rain in the Round of 16 was unexpectedly hard to predict, but those doing the predicting didn’t have to wait for long, as Rain jumped to a 2:0 lead on Entombed Valley and Daybreak, dropped one game on Ohana, and then finished off Idra on Antiga Shipyard to win 3:1 and advance.
It was likewise anyone’s guess as to what might happen in the meeting between Russian Federation Champion Oleg “TitaN” Kuptsov and South American Continental Champion Felipe “KiLLeR” Zuñiga. KiLLeR had two wins in Group C over Protoss opponents, and TitaN had surprisingly made short work of both South Koreans he’d faced in Group F. KiLLeR provided a decisive answer, eliminating TitaN in a 3:0 ZvP romp, setting up KiLLeR to meet Rain in the Round of 8.
American Terran Chris “Illusion” Lee had shown only one weakness on day 1, losing 0:2 to the South Korean Protoss PartinG, while earning his place in the Round of 16 by twice defeating fellow Terran Fenix. He found himself face-to-face with another Protoss here, South Korean Nationals Champion Jang “Creator” Hyun Woo, and simply could not find a way to win on Ohana, Entombed Valley, or Cloud Kingdom. Creator moved on with ease.
The Match of Brotherly Love
One of the stories most likely to be recalled by viewers of this inaugural World Championship Series took place on this day, starting when observers discussing the inevitable conflict between Terran Pedro “LucifroN” Moreno Duran and his Zerg little brother Juan “VortiX” Moreno Duran also noted that the BWC crew of legendary casters happened to include Sean “Day” Plott and his older brother Nick “Tasteless” Plott. Day and Tasteless had not cast a tournament match together in years, and the call went out to find a way to make it happen. In every corner of the Internet where viewers were discussing the WCS, speculation about whether tournament organizers could bring together the Plott brothers on the call for the Duran brothers was the hottest topic of the day.
Fate smiled, and viewers were treated to a memorable performance by both sets of brothers, with LucifroN and VortiX pushing each other to the limit in a match that took five hard-fought games to decide who would face Creator and who would watch his sibling from a seat in the audience. After falling behind 1:2, VortiX roared back to life on Cloud Kingdom and Tal’Darim Altar, winning 3:2 and advancing as the Plott brothers gave each other a hug at the announcers’ table.
The Round of 8
To the delight of the live audience and viewers around the world, three of the four matches in the Round of 8 went the distance. In the first, Suppy won two quick games against PartinG, giving viewers reason to consider whether the American was establishing himself as the emergent player of the year right here and now. Down 0:2, PartinG showed incredible resilience, taking Suppy to a fifth game and then ending the Yanks’ hopes in a decisive PvZ victory on Cloud Kingdom to move to the final four.
It was a huge quarterfinal match for HerO and Sen, as all of Taiwan pulled for their national representative to find a way past the South Korean. Things didn’t look too good for Sen after three games, with HerO jumping to a 2:1 lead, forcing Sen to tighten up or go home with a 5th to 8th place finish. And Sen was up to the challenge. First on Cloud Kingdom, then in the deciding game on Tal’Darim Altar, Sen proved that his amazing journey at the BWC was no fluke, and he defeated HerO 3:2, earning a semi-final encounter with PartinG.
Rain was the fourth consecutive Protoss that KiLLeR faced in this tournament, and some predicted that his ZvP win streak would continue. Rain would have none of that, and KiLLeR would have no joy. Rain was the first South Korean that the Zerg from Chile faced in Shanghai, and Rain blew the doors open, earning the third spot in the Semis with a strong 3:0 performance.
In the last of the quarterfinals, Creator met Vortix. The Spaniard jumped to an early lead with a win on Ohana, then dropped two straight on Antiga Shipyard and Cloud Kingdom, and then roared back to tie the match 2:2 on Shakuras Plateau. The deciding fight on Entombed Valley delivered a classic PvZ performance by Creator, who became the third South Korean to enter the semifinals.
To start, Taiwan Champion Sen finally met his match in the WCS Asia Finals Runner-Up PartinG. It was a strong three-game performance, with the Protoss master sending the Zerg to the Consolation Match without making any mistakes that Sen could exploit.
In the other semifinal, rivals Rain and Creator put on a PvP showcase. The two had previously met in the sixth round of the South Korea Nationals, where Creator eliminated Rain on his way to a 1st place National Championship. It was a true back-and-forth affair, with Creator winning on Daybreak, then Rain winning on Ohana, then Creator winning on Entombed Valley, then Rain winning on Antiga Shipyard to force an elimination game. History repeated itself this night, with Creator taking the 3:2 win and heading to the Grand Final against PartinG.
In the Consolation Match, Sen’s troubles with Korean Protoss players continued, and Rain exploited the matchup to its fullest, putting forth three strong games to positively claim the $16,000 prize for third place.
A World Champion Crowned
This was a matchup with some history. In August at the WCS South Korea Nationals, PartinG and Creator met in the penultimate match, a 2:1 victory for Creator that sent PartinG home with third place, as PartinG had already lost to eventual Korean Runner-Up Squirtle. Coming into this Grand Final, PartinG was riding a strong string of victories over Scarlett, Suppy, and Sen. Creator, however, had taken a rockier road, smashing Illusion, but then struggling to narrowly overcome VortiX and Rain.
The two grand masters put on a PvP show.
PartinG’s micro was legendary. Creator gave him a Blink Stalker vs. Blink Stalker challenge for the ages. PartinG demonstrated the effectiveness of perfect Warp Prism management, and used probes to knock off Creator’s Immortal’s shields.
After four games, the finalists were 2:2, with Creator forcing a GG from PartinG on Shakuras Plateau that resulted in both teams of casters calling it “anyone’s match.” After bringing amazing micro to bear on the fifth game, PartinG was poised to win it all in the sixth.
PartinG came on strong with a three-Gate Stalker push, and found Creator responding with Immortals. That set the tone for the game, with PartinG keeping the aggression advantage until Blink was available, and then demonstrating what Blink Stalkers can do in the hands of a champion. Creator gave it a strong shot before succumbing to a superior army for which he simply couldn’t find a counter, and gave PartinG the 4:2 victory and $100,000 first place prize.
Thanks to all the contestants, and grats to the winners of the 2012 Battle.net World Championship!