The StarCraft II StarLeague (SSL) and the Global StarCraft II (GSL) league are the two most prestigious StarCraft II tournaments in South Korea, which is also to say the world. One’s not really better than the other, I guess; the GSL has a legacy beyond StarCraft II, holding tournaments as far back to the early days of the original StarCraft. SSL is newer, but no less impressive when it comes to talent. The two leagues christen the two best StarCraft II players in South Korea, but leave us with one problem—who’s the ultimate, ultimate best? Turns out, the 2016 WCS Korea Season 2 Cross Finals have only made more confusing in that regard. But maybe that’s the idea; the Cross Finals determine Korea’s top player of the current season.
Who’s the ultimate, ultimate best?
Puppy boy “ByuN” Hyun Woo and Kim “sOs” Yoo Jin represented the GSL, while Park “Dark” Ryung Woo and Kang “Solar” Min Soo held it down for the SSL. Two champions, two runners-up. And who wins? Dark, who was runner-up in the SSL. Neither of the GSL boys made it out of the first round (this isn’t necessarily bad, given that there are only two rounds). The Cross Final ended up with a rematch of the SSL finals—and, this time, second place (Dark) beat out first (Solar). All this mix-match brings to mind the volatility and instability of elite South Korean StarCraft II. To wit: All four Cross Finals competitors competed in both GSL and SSL. ByuN and sOs didn’t make it very far in the SSL, while Dark and Solar didn’t have a particularly impressive showing in the GSL, even though the player pools for each tournament are, frankly, pretty similar.
It’s the sort of realization that if either the GSL or the SSL was held on any other day, we might have had different winners. That’s not to devalue that ByuN and Solar’s championships; they were the two best players on those two championship days, just like Dark was the best player at the Cross Finals. He deserved that win today. But it sort of does break down that facade of a True Champion—the one who takes them all.
Storylines are essential to esports.
Storylines are essential to esports. The optimist writes that the Cross Finals are set up to enhance the game’s competitive storylines by determining the best player in Korea (which, again, is to say the world). What it actually does, though, is muddy it. A cynic might say it’s because Blizzard want to fill time. They need more content. Why invite the second place winners to compete in finding the top South Korean player across the country’s top two StarCraft II leagues? It’s to fill time. If they just had the champions, well, the tournament would be too short. Less space for ads, or something. If we’re going for storylines—and Cross Finals are set up to be exactly that—then we can’t have the runners-up. It needed to be ByuN versus Solar, a matchup that didn’t even show up. We never got champion vs. champion.
What I’m saying is, ByuN should have won, because he is the ultimate best as far as I’m concerned. But I’ll admit that Dark played very well indeed. This weekend, he deserved to win. He beat ByuN, too. If you missed the tournament and are going to watch any games, let it be the series between ByuN and Dark, game four in particular. StarCraft is really good, you guys.