The prestigious Starleague, for a long time Korea’s top eSports league and the home of its best StarCraft: Brood War players, concluded its transition to StarCraft 2 this morning by crowning its first StarCraft 2 champion. SK Telecom T1’s Jung “Rain” Yoon Jong (Protoss) defeated MVP’s Park “DongRaeGu” Soo Ho (Zerg) in a 4-1 series.
The finals themselves were a sign of the changing times in Korean eSports. Just a year ago, a match between a Korean eSports Association (KeSPA) professional like Rain and an eSports Federation player like DRG would have been impossible, due to KeSPA’s slow and contentious transition into StarCraft 2. Now KeSPA and ESF players are facing each other in each of Korea’s top leagues, OSL and GSL, and Rain himself made a strong run in this latest GSL season.
There were also reminders of less happy storylines in Korean eSports. SK Telecom’s coach and original founder, legendary StarCraft pro BoxeR (Lim Yo Hwan), is currently involved in the ugly breakup of his other StarCraft team, SlayerS. While he rejoined SK Telecom in part to get away from the unhappiness and strife that would ultimately split SlayerS, the past two weeks have seen a public feud between his former players and his partner Kim “Jessica” Ga Yeon.
Still, the day belonged to Rain, whose misdirections and timing attacks set DRG, one of the world’s top Zerg players, back on his heels and denied him access to the powerful (and increasingly controversial) Zerg late-game of Brood Lords and Infestors. After losing the first game, Rain went on to win four in a row to become Starleague’s first StarCraft 2 champion, winning a grand prize of $36,000.