StarCraft 2 has revitalized one of PC gaming's best facets: the feeling of fandom. Live match streaming and YouTube broadcasting has spawned networks of bottomless competitive footage--if you haven't cheered at your keyboard for your favorite player as he makes an impossible Baneling Bust to turn the tide of a tournament, you're missing out. To encourage you to get involved, we've identified our five favorite "foreign" (i.e., not from Korea) SC2 professionals that deserve your spectating, fanmail and low-level worship.
Professional StarCraft 2 is constantly growing. Whether you are new to the scene or a veteran, the TeamLiquid.net calendar, tournament tracker, player database, and Liquidpedia are great resources to follow upcoming events, tournament results and players. 2011 is going to be full of tournaments. In particular, keep an eye out for the GSL, TSL, MLG and IEM tournaments which are sure to have some of the big names listed below.
#5 - MoonGlade
The Careful Opportunist
Name: Andrew Pender
Hometown: Brisbane, Australia
Notable wins: 1st IEM Season V SEA Championship, 2nd Pan-Pacific Championship 2010, 1st CyberGamer Live Ladder 2010, 4th IEM Season V World Championship, 1st CyberGamer Psi Storm 2010
Style of play: MoonGlade is a Zerg player of unusual qualities. He is not scared to try for a win with his first group of Zerglings, but is also careful not to over-commit his forces. Rather than engage in a battle that has an unpredictable outcome, MoonGlade will contently whittle his opponent down to the bone. A vindictive player, he is swift to brutally counter-attack after a successful defence and end the game in a flash.
Known for : Living in the GOM foreigner practice house in Korea, being a WCG representative for Australia in WarCraft 3, making funny faces at the camera, defeating Koreans at the IEM World Championship.
“Real” sports counterpart: Steve Nash, the elusive and aggressive point guard on the Phoenix Suns.
Why he's worth watching: Like a hurricane, the undisputed King of Southeast Asia has hit the international scene by storm. After having gone under the radar for months, MoonGlade stole the spotlight first by winning the IEM S.E.A Championship, then by having a deep run in the IEM World Championship, in which he took a winning record over Korean pro and 3rd-place finisher, Squirtle. Like a riptide, MoonGlade drags his opponents into his pace of game. A quirky personality and recent breakout performance has left many waiting in anticipation for his next major tournament. Big things are expected of MoonGlade in 2011.
#4 - White-Ra
Name: Oleksiy Krupnyk
Hometown: Odessa, Ukraine
Notable wins: 1st Homestory Cup II, 1st SCReddit Invitational #1, 1st Root Gaming WARZONE 2010-2011, 1st Global Gamers Invitational 2010, 2nd IEM Season V European Championship, 1st TL Open #11
Style of play: Unpredictable, well-timed. White-Ra's style is hard to define. One game he will try to rush his opponent down with an all-in or cheese, and the next he will fast-expand. His potential for the unorthodox, combined with a reputation for stalwart strategies, makes him an unpredictable and fearsome opponent. If left undisturbed, White-Ra will tweak his unit composition until it is perfect and win with a devastating timing attack.
Known for: Defeating SlayerS_BoxeR in StarCraft: Brood War, winning three StarCraft 2 tournaments in one weekend, having one of the longest and most successful professional StarCraft careers among foreigners, qualifying for the TSL.
“Real” sports counterpart: Nicklas Lidström, the Detroit Red Wings' high-scoring defenseman and hockey legend who has only become better with age.
Why he's worth watching: White-Ra is a roulette table of ever-changing tactics. Whether it be a cannon rush, Void Ray timing attack, or positional game of map control, White-Ra has the experience and skill to do it all. White-Ra's variety gives his games color, and usually throws his opponent off-balance. His unorthodox style has provided for some of the most intense and odd-defying games, in which White-Ra or his opponent won by the skin of their teeth. Affectionately known as “Grandpa Toss,” many marvel at how White-Ra grew in skill while others his age got left in the dust.
#3 - Huk
The Mothership Madman
Name: Chris Loranger
Hometown: St. Petersburg, Florida
Notable wins: 1st MLG Raleigh 2010, 1st Evil Geniuses Masters Cup #1, GSL March Code S Qualifier 2011, 3rd IEM Season V American Championship, 3rd MLG D.C. 2010
Style of play: Aggressive, adaptive. Huk's style is flexible and versatile. Though he uses standard build orders, Huk's unit control and decision-making are so precise that he can change strategies without hesitation. He is a master at making the most out of every unit and sustaining aggression for as long as possible. Supported by top-notch mechanics, Huk's merciless tactics can crack even the strongest players.
Known for: Making Protoss Motherships, clutch use of Sentries, post-game ceremonies, impeccable unit control, playful in-game banter, hearts, proclaiming himself as “top three unit control in the world.”
“Real” sports counterpart: Lionel Messi, the master dribbler on Barcelona who is renowned for his aggression and speed with the ball.
Why he's worth watching: Huk's Korean housemates call him “psycho,” but also one of the best players in the world. His Mothership rush against Select at MLG D.C. has become arguably the most famous game of StarCraft 2 to date, and his in-game chat to Select (“thats halo dont worry,”) as the crowd erupted at his tactic became a widespread and popular meme. Huk is confident. He loves indulging the camera, but he's also very nervous on stage. A newcomer to the professional scene, he jumped at the opportunity to live and train in Korea. Since then, his playful personality and unique style has won him a legion of fans.
Click on to read our top two.