The first night of the MLG v. Proleague Invitational felt a bit like Alien v. Predator, where both Alien and Predator are Korean. This makes Chris “HuK” Loranger either Sigourney Weaver, Arnold, or Danny Glover. Time will tell, but his 2-0 victory over Kim “Bisu” Taek-Yong was one of the strongest showings from a non-Korean last night, and one of the few definitive defeats handed to a Proleague veteran.
The rest of the event went smoothly, with no obvious technical difficulties or limitations. However, it was also a night of few surprises and drama. NaNiwa split his series with JaeDong 1-1, while Stork swept IdrA , Soulkey swept PuMa, Rain swept Illusion, and Flash blanked Sheth.
The real questions going into tonight’s matches were whether the MvP Invitational’s format would interfere with quality play (due to lag issues associated with cross-server play) and whether the event would justify its $10 price. To the first point, there were no technical issues that interfered with any of the broadcast matches, and MLG production quality was fine. But most of the matches also seemed fairly conservative and macro-focused. The intensity and unpredictability of a tournament weekend was missing. That’s certainly understandable, but still disappointing. The difference between tonight’s action and what we saw at DreamHack last weekend, or what we’ve seen at MLG Arena events, was noticeable and it is hard not to feel let-down by an evening of merely average games.
That said, the Soulkey - PuMa series featured some tension and swift reversals, including a game-changing fungal by Soulkey’s Infestors that shattered a hard-fought stalemate. In their second game, however, PuMa seemed determined to die by a thousand failed drops as he tried again and again to find a weak point in Soulkey’s defenses.
HuK’s match against Bisu may have been the most aggressive of the evening, however. In their first game, he charged straight across the map with a handful of Stalkers and inflicted major damage to Bisu’s Probe count before calling off the assault. Bisu’s attempt to get back in the game fell apart when he appeared to botch the timing on a drop against HuK’s natural expansion and a frontal attack against the ramp. The miscue caused him to squander a significant number of units and his only real hope for breaking HuK’s momentum, and the game ended shortly thereafter. Bisu came back with strong aggression in Game 2, pushing HuK to the limit before HuK’s counterattack destroyed his economy and forced a GG.
Hopefully we’ll see more of that kind of back-and-forth over the coming weeks, and more diverse tactics as the competitors become more familiar with one another and get closer to the $10,000 prize for the winner of this tournament. More MvP Invitational regular season matches start at 12 AM / 7 PM Eastern on this Friday night (today, when you are likely reading this) and will happen at that time each Monday and Friday night through October 15. We won’t be covering each night of competition, but we’ll recap the week’s action each Saturday and let you know how this tournament develops.