For a moment in last night’s best of seven MvP Invitational final, it looked like Oz might be able to mount a miracle comeback against soO. He won two games in a row after being down 3-0, putting himself back in contention for the $10,000 prize. But it’s incredibly hard to make up a three-game deficit, and Eo “soO” Yoon Su was too good a Zerg player to let Oz escape.
Still, Kim “Oz” Hak Soo’s near comeback brought some drama into a championship match that was dangerously close to fizzling, as soO cut Oz’s Protoss armies to ribbons on Daybreak, Cloud Kingdom, and Ohana. In their first two games, Oz was caught-out by soO’s superior positioning and unit composition. Oz barely threatened soO at all in Game 3, and a total sweep looked inescapable
But aggression brought him back into the series in a relentless Game 4 where he pressured soO early with a successful solo Dark Templar attack, destroying a hatchery before being brought down, and he continued it with Stalker and Sentries. Even when soO seemed to deflect his attacks, Oz was back in his face with more reinforcements, until eventually soO was cornered and overrun.
Oz’s Game 5 victory made it look like the series was once again in doubt. He controlled the pace of the game and manhandled soO’s population-capped armies, steadily improving his position and keeping soO on the back foot until he forced another “GG” from the Proleague Zerg.
However, being up three games gave soO plenty of time to watch his opponent switch strategies, and come up with a counter. While Game 6 on Antiga Shipyard opened well for Oz, soO had switched to a Mutalisk-heavy composition that would deny Oz’s stalkers the escapes that had saved them in earlier games. He used Infestors and Roaches to split apart Oz’s sentry armies, and destroy them piece by piece. That gave him enough of a firepower advantage to press the attack into Oz’s base and eliminate the rest of his forces, getting a final “GG” and putting an end to Oz’s comback hopes.
It was a solid ending to a tournament that was, in the last analysis, perhaps a bit too contrived for its own good. The MvP structure, where the playoff seeding and brackets were engineered to guarantee a Proleague versus MLG contest, served to emphasize how much European and North American players struggle to compete with Korean pros. The fact that so many players forfeited matches underscored the fact that for many of its participants, the MvP Invitational was simply not a priority.
Still, the lasting lesson from the tournament is that the Proleague players aren’t having nearly as much trouble adjusting to StarCraft 2 as some of their opponents probably hoped. With dominant regular season performances, and with the championship going to one of their players, the Proleague players demonstrated that professional StarCraft 2 is likely to get much harder. How much harder is something we'll have a good chance to see over this MLG Fall Championship weekend.