The first day of the first MLG Spring Arena was a reminder that StarCraft II sometimes seems to be changing faster than it actually is. Coming into this event , PartinG (Won Lee Sak, Korean Protoss) seemed like he was poised to make a strong challenge to MarineKing's (Lee Jung Hoon, Korean Terran) dominance. Korea's deadliest Zerg, DongRaeGu (Park Soo Ho) was riding a streak of underwhelming performances and looked like he might be teetering on the edge of a major fall.
Not so much . MarineKing dismantled PartinG in the tournament's opening match, taking the first two of their three games easily. He lost the third, but it was the kind of loss that probably helped him more than hurt him. In game 3 he was feeling so cocky that he didn't take the most rudimentary precautions, not even bothering to scout out PartinG's base. As a result, he never saw PartinG's Immortal rush coming, and then he compounded his errors by frittering away his army in a vain attempt to hold his expansion. The defeat clearly served up a much-needed reminder that as good as MKP is, he still needs to take his opponents seriously. MKP went on to win all of this first day matches, narrowly surviving a late challenge from Violet to remain the only undefeated player going into Day 2.
DRG's situation is a little more complicated. He came out of the first day with a 2-1 match record, but it's hard to deny that his form is not quite as dominant as it was just a few weeks ago. DRG lost three straight games to MC, including one that he conceded when the outcome still looked very much in doubt. DRG had never lost to MC before, and so it was a strong indication that DRG has definitely lost ground over these last few weeks. However, he righted the ship with a pair of 2-1 victories over HuK and Violet. He looked very strong against both players, and I'm inclined to think that first set was an aberration. Still, today's games will be telling as to whether the rest of the field has caught up with him.
Heart made a really strong showing at the Winter Championship , and he continued to demonstrate that he's a serious contender. He annihilated PartinG with an almost MarineKing-like combination of early aggression and skillful micromanagement, then went on to beat MC 2-1. The deciding third match went to Heart when MC put down a disastrous force field against an early rush, which used up his sentry's last ounce of energy just before he retreated up the ramp into his main. With no force field to shut the door behind his retreating forces, MC watched as Heart's Terrans stormed up the ramp and into the main. He managed to save his main, but the damage was done. His natural expansion fell to Heart, who then bottled MC up inside his main. MC conceded a few minutes later as Heart made a drop in his main while threatening him with overpowering force at the natural.
One other thing to bear in mind: Ganzi has been playing well, better than his record suggests, but he was also asking for breaks in yesterday's play due to wrist pain. GameSpot's Rod Breslau asked him about it , and Ganzi said he had decided against taking medicine for the injury.
Today's games are just getting started in New York right now (2:20 Eastern). Later tonight, at 10 eastern, there will be a 2v2 mini-tournament among the Arena participants.
(Photo credit: TeamLiquid.net)