It all started with Homer Jones, a wide receiver for the New York Giants, and his touchdown spike during a 1965 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Jones started a legacy for endzone celebrations. Ickey Woods started shufflin’ in 1988. Terrell Owens pulled a sharpie out of his sock to sign the game ball after scoring. Let us not forget anything Marshawn Lynch has done after crossing the goal line—the injury cart drive, a celebratory handshake, his classic jumping crotch-grab. The NFL as a whole has tried to stifle these displays of—what they deem—”excessive celebration,” fining players tens of thousands of dollars for each act. But that’s damaging to the game, and, in a way, dehumanizing. Sports athletes do not exist in a vacuum; they’re humans. We want to see human emotion.
In StarCraft II, we’ve got ceremonies. Given that a lot of pro StarCraft takes place with players hidden behind their monitors, StarCraft II doesn’t have much in the way of letting its personalities be known. Not that progamers are exactly known for their confident prowess and self-assured swagger, anyway. We’re yet to see a player who could rival the Owens or Lynch in celebration style,except, maybe, for StarCraft: Brood War pro Lee “firebathero” Sung Eun.
But we’re getting there.
And with that, I’ve compiled the best ceremonies from South Korea’s GSL—the pinnacle of StarCraft II. Let’s say you’ve just won a match in the world’s most prolific StarCraft II tournament. What do you do? Let’s learn from the pros.
PartinG vs. aLive — 2012 GSL Code A
One option for StarCraft II ceremonies is the callback—a joke that references a joke. After a match with Han “aLive” Lee Seok, Won “PartinG” Lee Sak replaced his regular ol’ glasses for a pair of rockin’ aviator sunnies, slipped on a gold watch for a Hwang “KeeN” Kyu Seok–styled clap and head shake. PartinG’s execution is okay—two points for upping the meta factor by combining two KeeN favorites—but he looks a bit gangly compared to KeeN. Docking those extra two points for the afterthought Redbull shoutout.
Symbol vs. Seed — 2012 GSL Code S
Kang “Symbol” Dong Hyun showed up to his round-of 16 2012 GSL Code S group match ready to celebrate with a diss and a callback. During the third season of the same year, Ahn “Seed” Sang Won had a cute little celebration where he pulled a beverage—maybe with seeds in it or, I don’t know, it’s a honey drink symbolizing his sweet win—out of his bag and chugged it after a match with Symbol. In the next season, Seed and Symbol matched up again, but this time, Symbol won. And so, he pulled out two bottles of the same beverage and drank them both in a matter of seconds. Good boy.
HuK vs. MMA — 2011 GSL Code S
Chris “HuK” Loranger made his GSL ceremony personal. It was, apparently, HuK’s birthday the day before his up & down GSL match against Mun “MMA” Seong Won, so for his celebration—which was certainly earned, as the winning match kept him in Code S—HuK pulled out a birthday hat and set off a party popper that sent streamers flying around his booth. Imagine how sad it would be if he didn’t win, un-packing his party ceremony props after his birthday loss.
TaeJa vs. Team ZeNEX — 2011 GSTL
Many years before his sincerely upsetting champagne celebration came one of the best ceremonies in StarCraft II GSL history: the TaeJa all-kill. After 4-0’ing ZeNEX, SlayerS.TaeJa got his hands on a Terran rifle and headed over to shoot down … his own team? (Guess he thought ZeNEX would be too upset to play along.) Regardless, it was a boss move—he had the prop ready, so he must of thought he might be able to take ‘em all out. It’s a real tragedy that TaeJa’s ceremony game has disintegrated like his wrists, but I guess I can just blame DreamHack for the champagne mishap.
Leenock vs Aphrodite — 2013 GSTL
Lee “Leenock” Dong Nyoung is adorable, and basically any ceremony he’s ever done is worthy of making this roundup. His ceremony after defeating Kim “Aphrodite” Ga Young was especially adorable, regardless of us not really knowing what was going on. Here’s my headcanon: Smitten with Aphrodite, Leenock cries a single tear when Aphrodite GG’ed, calling the young Zerg player a bad boy in chat. (The bad boy part is actually true.) His head hanging low, Leenock crawls back to his team who mercilessly beat him up for his rude play against a StarCraft II legend—Aphrodite was the second woman to be signed to a South Korean StarCraft team.
Leenock shuffles over to Aphrodite’s booth, opening the door as he bows his head and whispers, “My goddess. I am not worthy of this win.” Aphrodite kicks off her shoes and thrusts her feet into Leenocks direction. “My Queen,” he says, pressing his lips to her toes.