MLG Dallas Recap
Life... Uh... Finds a Way
StarTale's Life joins a small pantheon of players who have won both an MLG championship and a GSL Code S championship, a list that also includes Mvp, MMA, and DongRaeGu.
However, Life is probably the only player to win both in such a short span of time, as it feels like only yesterday he was taking a victory over Mvp in the GSL Finals, and it literally was yesterday (at the day of writing this piece) when he hoisted his MLG trophy.
Life's trophy cabinet might be pretty full soon (Image Source: teamliquid.net)
This goes to show just how dominating a force Life is. The GSL is a gauntlet of the world's very best players, where both opponents have time to prepare for each other and work out player-specific strategies. MLG, on the other hand, gives you no preparation time. You grind through a weekend's worth of games with little rest against a global field. Life showed he can handle both of these challenges with flying colors.
On his way to the championship bracket, Life took out one of the strongest foreign Terrans in ROOT.MajOr, out-ZvZed the always strong AZUBU.viOLet, and utterly destroyed Liquid.TaeJa 4:0 in an extended series to finish first in his group. In the final bracket, things started slow, as Life fell 0-2 to KT.Flash, who actually did appear godlike at points in this tournament, and I will talk about him later in the piece.
But, Life did not give up, taking down coL.Heart, ending the Complexity Terran's great run, before meeting Flash again. This time, Life seemed unstoppable, and won four straight maps to take the extended series from Flash and advance to a ZvZ final against FXO.Leenock. It was a great series despite the mirror match-up, with Life falling behind three games to one before roaring back, showing phenomenal decision making, recovering from a failed all-in in the deciding game 7 to take the tournament victory.
Leenock nearly makes history; KeSPA power; NaNiwa the MaNiwa
Had FXO.Leenock won this tournament, it would have been his third title, making him the first to take three victories at major MLG events. Frankly, he very well could come back and do it at the next championship event. The FXO Zerg seems to flourish in this environment, consistently finishing with a high placement, and appearing dominant the whole time. Hopefully, he can bring this level of play to the GSL as well; it hurts to see such a great player not quite get the results he deserves.
Leenock was close to another moment like this (Image Source: us.battle.net)
KeSPA's two primary stars--the first Starcraft 2 OSL champion SKT.Rain and god himself, KT.Flash--came to play in Dallas. Rain fought his way through a bevy of American Zergs in the open bracket, dropping only one map to Liquid.Sheth, and then would have cruised through his group if not for two series losses to eventual finalist Leenock. Rain then dropped both soO and NaNiwa to earn himself a top 6 bracket spot, where he easily ousted TaeJa before losing to StarTale.Bomber, ending his first foreign run.
Flash had something of a less tiring road, as he started in group play, where he played phenomenally, defeated PvT beast Grubby and the solid Korean Terran Quantic.TheSTC before dropping to the loser's bracket at the hands of a resurgent NaNiwa. However, Flash fought back, beating GoSu.HwangSin for another shot at NaNiwa. Flash took full advantage, winning a nail-biting extended series 4-3 to win the group. In the championship bracket, he beat Life once, but the StarTale Zerg would not be denied and felled Flash in four straight games to knock him out.
Long story short, the KeSPA players have showed that the best of them can make strong runs at these foreign, gauntlet-style tournaments, with two of their best talents placing in the top six in Dallas. Also, we knew Rain was good already, placing in the top four in Korea's most prestigious Starcraft 2 events, but seeing Flash come out here and play like he did in an entirely new style of tournament, in a game that's relatively new to him, is absolutely terrifying.
Also, it seems like NaNiwa might be on his way back to the dominating form that saw him make a deep run in Code S, as he was one of few people to take a series of off Flash in this tournament and dominated his foreign opponents. If he did not have the misfortune of meeting Rain in his first championship bracket match, he could have performed even better. Watch out for Nani at upcoming events if he can maintain this level of practice and play.