The ESL-operated WCS Europe has been a bright spot in Blizzard’s fledgling WCS series, with steadily improving production complementing great games between Europe’s robust pro landscape and some of Korea’s most famous and accomplished veterans. This weekend, it closed out Season 1 of the 2013 WCS and, happily, featured some great series between European and Korean quarterfinalists, leading up to a slightly anti-climactic showdown between Korean Terran Jung “Mvp” Jong Hyun and French Zerg Ilyes “Stephano” Satouri.
However, if you only watch one game from the final weekend of WCS Europe, you absolutely must make it Game 2 between Mvp and Ukrainian Zerg Dmytro “DIMAGA” Filipchuk. Make sure you have some time set aside for it, because it is a long match filled with so much outrageous fortune that Hamlet would have broken up with Ophelia before putting down his third command center. It starts at 0:37:00
DIMAGA may ultimately have lost the entire series against the Terran legend, but Game 2 was one of those memorable performances that makes a reputation and wins a lot of fans. He, along with 5th place-winner Dario “TLO” Wünsch, and fellow semi-finalist Park “fOrGG” Ji Soo, gets a ticket to Korea for the Season 1 Finals.
Speaking for fOrGG, he played a decent series against Stephano, but he suffered one of the most appalling reverses I’ve ever seen in a StarCraft match in Game 4. You should check out 1:24:00 in the video below and contemplate the fact that we are all Fortune’s playthings.
It’s worth noting how much ESL’s production added to that moment, with a live studio audience reacting to the disaster, followed just moments later by a side-by-side replay of the players’ expressions during the fatal encounter. By this weekend, WCS Europe had become an engaging, personable StarCraft broadcast, with a distinct identity all its own. I’m sorry to see it end, and I’m looking forward to see how it improves across season 2.
I came away thinking about how the start of the WCS seems to be an era of StarCraft 2 to a close. Stephano showed once again that he remains one of the world’s most formidable players, but his series against Mvp was a disappointment. He stuck to what looked like Wings of Liberty strategies that were totally inappropriate to Mvp’s Terran mech builds, and never really adapted in the five game series. He has said he’s retiring at the end of the summer, and watching him play yesterday, I was torn between admiration at how good he still is, and my sense that halfway through the final, Stephano already had one foot out the door.
By way of contrast, Mvp seems committed to playing for as long as his body holds out and his results stay good. He may not be quite as dominant as he once was (the fact that he was playing in Europe at all reflected a pragmatic view of his chances in Korea), but for a four-time GSL winner, this is a highly relative state of affairs. He remains eerily poised, and if he’s avoiding micro-heavy bio builds, it still seems to work in his favor because of the way it confounds his opponents.
Neither of these players may be at their peak at this moment, but yesterday they still managed to generate a lot of great eSports memories. Hopefully, when the day arrives that neither Mvp nor Stephano are playing professionally, a slightly younger generation will have created legends of its own. For now, I’m just enjoying the extended twilight of some of Wings of Liberty’s greatest talents.