Every Monday morning, The Meta‘s staff writers round up the best esports stories from over the weekend and present them in capsule form. Here’s what you need to know about this weekend in esports.
Remember that time Byun “ByuN” Hyun Woo brought a puppy to the GSL studio? I can’t confirm he’s the first ever StarCraft player to bring a cute animal to the set, but during the GSL Code S Championships, he made history for another reason. ByuN is the first player in the history of StarCraft and Starcraft II to win a Korean Premier League tournament while teamless.
Matched up against protoss player Kim “sOs” Yoo Jin in the grand finals, ByuN was seen as an underdog. He’d never be considered a slouch, but sOs is two-time world champion and on one of the best teams in the league, Jin Air Green Wings. He’s got the structure and resources that ByuN—teamless—doesn’t. sOs was able to snag one game away from ByuN, using a Stargate opener that failed in the following match. But I really don’t think it was build choice on sOs’ part that led to ByuN’s win; ByuN is just really good at micro and harassment, and that seemed to catch sOs off guard.
No matter what he tried, sOs got shut down.
It felt like at any point during these matches, ByuN was doing something micro-intensive—widow mine drops, liberator harassments, marines. Relentless harassment from ByuN just made it really hard for sOs to keep up; he got tripped up by ByuN’s style of play. No matter what he tried, sOs got shut down.
ByuN’s win is likely sad news for sOs fans, not only because it was a brutal loss, but because it’s going to be a tough road to the WCS Global Finals at BlizzCon. It’s not impossible, but he’d have to win the Kespa Cup and the Cross Finals. Woof. But hey, this is not the time to mourn sOs’ loss. Like I’ve said many times before, I’m a Protoss gal, but I also love a good dark horse story—so regardless of him destroying my hopes of sOs taking BlizzCon again, I’m pretty happy to see ByuN win a big one. He deserves two puppies after his performance at the GSL finals.
NiP’s CS:GO squad have not had a particularly good year. They didn’t make it out of the group stage at ESL One in Cologne, and their fifth player Jacob “pyth” Mourujärvi is currently on the bench with a hand injury that might require surgery to fix. This weekend however, their victory at the StarLadder i-League Season 2 Finals made for the largest single prize the team has ever pulled in, and the largest tournament any team has won with a stand-in player.
There are several kinds of momentum in a game like CS:GO. The obvious kind is the measurable economic momentum that turns a victory (and therefore cash) into better weapons (and therefore more damage), and turns a successful round into a successful run. But there’s also a more abstract momentum at work. After NiP handily won an unusual pistol round on Cache, they took eight more rounds in a row. G2 took their one time-out at this point, and then won three rounds before NIP took their own time-out and started winning again, taking the first map 16 to 7. The pause allows a team to regain their composure and to reconsider what isn’t working, but perhaps more importantly, it forces the other team to stand still. The exact details of what happens in the booth are never quite clear, but you know what it’s like to find a groove and suddenly lose your focus.
There’s also a more abstract momentum at work.
G2 had a much better time on Overpass. The two teams traded runs—neither pulling more than three victories ahead—until, with the score at 14-15, G2 just barely managed to win the 30th round and force an overtime. In overtime, NiP would win a round, then G2 would win one. Back and forth. At 17-18, NiP had the opportunity to win their 19th and final round, but G2 forced a second overtime by tying them at 18. This time, NiP relied on momentum, winning four rounds in a row and taking the finals two maps to none.
With pyth out, NiP’s stand-in was 25 year old Mikail “Maikelele” Bill, who’d filled their fifth spot for a couple months at the beginning of 2015. That last slot has been less stable than the rest of their roster since Robin “Fifflaren” Johansson retired in 2014. Depending on how long pyth’s injury takes to heal, Maikelele’s performance this weekend might make NiP think about picking him up as a regular member again.