Life (Lee Seung Hyun, Zerg), the fifteen-year-old phenom from Team Startale, fought through a sea of tough competition today to emerge as the grand champion of the MLG StarCraft 2 Fall Championship. Freelance writer Andrew Groen covered the action for us.
The entire day was filled with great matches, particularly in the winners bracket where Life began by facing off against Brood War legend Flash (Lee Young Ho, Terran).
In a surprise finish, Flash managed to take the series 2-0 after two exciting games in which the two players were exchanging blows almost constantly. Predictably, this prompted a flurry of corny “God taketh Life” jokes. Life had been on a rampage so far in the tournament, so few people expected Flash would be able to take the series, let alone 2-0. However, Life got his chance at revenge after taking out Heart (Kim Min Hyuk, Terran) in the losers’ bracket. In the second meeting, a very different different Life took Flash down 4-0 to move on to the championship.
His challenger, Leenock (Lee Dong Nyoung, Zerg), faced similar circumstances on his road to the final. In his first match of the day he faced Bomber (Choi Ji Sung, Terran) who had been riding a long streak of wins against great players in the losers bracket. Leenock took the series 2-0 after two unusual games that once again displayed Leenock’s penchant for creative builds and unlikely comebacks. He won the first game after losing his entire second base’s mineral line to Bomber’s early Hellion push, and the second game featured supremely effective use of burrowed Baneling mines.
Bomber also got a chance for revenge againt Leenock after a 2-0 victory over Rain (Jung Yoon Jong, Protoss) in the losers’ bracket. Once again the matches were close to the very end. Leenock ultimately took the series 4-1 with never-ending variety, including one match with three Nydus Worms and another with a Roach doom drop.
All of this paved the way for a Zerg versus Zerg finals between Leenock, a two-time MLG winner, and Life, the reigning GSL Code S champion. As is typical in high-level ZvZ matchups, the match was extremely fast-paced. Life adopted an aggressive style, often opting for early Spawning Pool zergling pressure. However, Leenock displayed perfect defense time and time again and was able to hold off Life’s aggression.
Things were looking very bad for Life after he got down 3-1, unable to hurt Leenock with early pressure and unable to keep up with his opponent’s perfect macro. He was able to regroup though, and eventually his strategies started to pay off as he took the next two games with Roaches, Infestors, and non-stop aggression to force a climactic Game 7.
In the final game, Life came out swinging with more Zergling / Baneling aggression, but faced some stiff defense as Leenock hit some split-second transfuses on his Queens to keep them alive. Life ultimately took the game with a big Roach, Hydra push.
Life now seems like an unstoppable force in StarCraft 2. Just two weeks after his defeat of Mvp (Jung Jong Hyun, Terran) to win the GSL Code S championship, he arrived in Dallas to defeat Flash, Taeja, and the reigning MLG champion, Leenock. And in case you needed to be reminded, he’s only fifteen-years-old! There’s no telling what the young South Korean will be capable of in the future, because his career is only only just beginning and he is already one of the world’s very best StarCraft players.