MLG Spring Championship 2012 Day 1: An embarrassment of riches

Rob Zacny at

Would it be churlish to ask the MLG never to host a major event on Pacific time ever again? Because the last StarCraft 2 matches just finished an hour ago, and now I'm watching the sun come up outside my window while I try to turn notes like "MC = toast" and "MKP PROX RAX!!!" into something coherent. This seems like a good tie to reconsider some life choices and ask the important questions like, "Could Grubby have taken Game 3 from MarineKing if he'd just scouted more?"

It's hard to complain about the late hours the MLG has me keeping when there was so much great competition to enjoy on Friday. With 10 StarCraft and League of Legends streams to choose from, there was almost always a good match available. European readers and East Coasters who missed Friday's action can catch the rebroadcast on the red StarCraft 2 channel that precedes today's games.

Battle Report: DreamHack crowns ThorZaIN, DRG dethrones MKP at MLG Spring Arena

Rob Zacny at

This weekend promised to be a great one for StarCraft II fans, and it did not disappoint. On the one hand, MLG Spring Arena 1 wrote another chapter in one the best stories in eSports right now: the incredible rivalry between the world's greatest Terran and Zerg players, MarineKing and DRG. For the third straight MLG tournament, the two cleared the field of pretenders to square off in a seven-game series. Meanwhile, DreamHack EIZO Open played host to one of the feel-good stories of the year, as the unassuming Swedish Terran ThorZaIN (Marcus Eklöf) carved his way through a crowded field and far more successful players to take a championship in front of his hometown crowd in Stockholm. The cheering was so loud that windows were probably shaking in Helsinki.

This was also a weekend that really showed how these games and tournaments do not happen in isolation.

MLG 2012 Spring Arena 1 Day 2: HuK finished, DRG survives to fight another day

Rob Zacny at

At the end of Saturday's competition, before the 2v2 mini-tourney started, most the Spring Arena competitors found themselves in a kind of limbo as the MLG sorted out who had done well enough to make it into the brackets for the Sunday finale. With three players tied at 3 match wins and four losses, the MLG had to start looking at individual game results and who had beaten who over the first two days of the Arena. On the hot seat were two of the most unlikely suspects: DRG and PartinG.

The two had met earlier in the day, and PartinG (Won Lee Sak, Korean Protoss) overcame DRG (Park Soo Ho) for the first time in his playing career. With some of the best force fields of the weekend so far, PartinG was able to outmaneuver DRG in two successive games, including a brilliant Game 2 where he broke apart a Brood Lord army with blink Stalkers supported by a Mothership. PartinG also took a game off MC (Jang Min Chul, Korean Protoss) after losing their first two matches, in what will likely prove the weekend's cheesiest win. While chatting with MC, PartinG slipped a probe into MC's main to build proxy gateways just outside of MC's vision. MC conceded the moment the first zealots strolled down into his main.

MLG 2012 Spring Arena 1 - Day 1: The more things change...

Rob Zacny at

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.

Ready Up - Springtime for MarineKing in NYC, winter for PartinG and DRG (4/20/2012)

Rob Zacny at

I hope you like StarCraft II, because it dominates the eSports schedule this weekend. There are two concurrent events this weekend: Dreamhack EIZO Open in Stockholm, and the MLG's StarCraft II Spring Arena 1 in New York. Arena kicks off first at 6 p.m. Eastern tonight, with MarineKingPrime (Lee Jung Hoon, Korean Terran) playing against PartinG (Won Lee Sak, Korean Protoss).

That's a highly anticipated match, and possibly a preview of the Spring Arena's Grand Finals. PartinG has been playing incredibly well lately, and is widely believed to have been robbed of a victory over MarineKing in the Global StarCraft Team League Finals at the IGN Pro League tournament in Vegas two weeks ago. PartinG was significantly ahead of MKP and on the cusp of knocking him out of the tournament when the connection dropped. The match could not be resumed, so they had to replay the same map, and this time MKP took the victory. He then went on a tear and wiped out the rest of PartinG's StarTale teammates to give his Prime team the GSTL crown.

All of which probably didn't sit terribly well with PartinG.

MLG 2012 Winter Championship - Day 3: MarineKing and DRG go the distance

Rob Zacny at

In the final day of competition at the MLG Winter Championship, there was a sense of inevitability to most of the matches. MarineKing (Korean Terran player Lee Jung Hoon) and DongRaeGu (Korean Zerg Park Soo Ho) were on track for a rematch following their duel in the Winter Arena Final. They were dominant in their pools, and few of their competitors looked like they could string together enough solid games to upset either. When DRG and MarineKing met in the winner's bracket final, it was almost a sure bet that they would be meeting again in the Championship Final.

Still, a lot of great StarCraft 2 happened along the way. While DRG and MKP were rarely (if ever) in serious trouble, they faced opponents like Complexity's Heart (Terran Korean Kim Min Hyuk) and Parting (Protoss Korean Won Lee Sak) who were capable of inspired play and last-minute rallies that sometimes made it look like neither MKP nor DRG would make it to the Final.

Notes and highlights from the MLG Winter Arena StarCraft 2 tournament

Rob Zacny at

Last weekend, I spent a few hours watching the MLG Winter Arena on the MLG's pay-per-view streams and I have to say, as someone who has always been a bit leery of eSports and does not particularly care for StarCraft 2, it was an incredibly good time. Not just as a StarCraft or gaming experience, but as a sports event. Old news to a lot of competitive gaming fans, but a pleasant surprise for someone just getting into eSports.

Part of that was due to the high quality of the MLG's production and the way it ran the streams. With five streams and about a half-dozen casters, there was almost always something to watch and most of it was pretty good. I ran into the odd bit of lag (some of it very poorly timed), and occasionally the casters lapsed into the same kind of banalities with which fans of any sport are familiar, but those were the exceptions to an otherwise stand-out presentation.

Still a prince: an interview with StarCraft 2 icon Lee Jung Hoon, aka MarineKingPrime

Spencer Wightman, TeamLiquid at

In any sport, there's a loser for every winner. Every time a champion is showered in champagne (or Diet Coke, if they're underage) and raises a trophy to a screaming crowd, there's a player who stands silently to the side, humbled, overshadowed and defeated. Lee Jung Hoon has been this player four times. At 17 years old, he's a StarCraft veteran, one of the best Terran players in the world, and he's incredibly successful. His fans rank among the most passionate, his games as the most exciting. Jung Hoon is well-mannered, exciting, emotional, a little bit shy, all while maintaining his status as one of the most dynamic figures of StarCraft 2. Yet he's never won a major tournament.