If you came around to StarCraft related content of any kind after the Wings of Liberty announce, you might only know Brood War as Single Player Game. Since the Korea e-Sports Association adapted and eventually switched one might think the predecessor is actually dead. The opposite is demonstrated quite well by Sonic, an amateur caster. But also the foreigners, the non-Koreans, did not surrender yet. This series of articles tries to provide some information about the new community and the era of ‘post modern’ Brood War.
A warning though: The write up covers three years and despite trying to keep it short, there’ll be quite a big wall of text incoming. On a different note, my English isn’t perfect and this is just a translation of the original draft submitted for the German page broodwar.de. Apologies for a suboptimal translation already.
There have been dozens of more or less important fan pages covering Brood War, some of which don’t really exist anymore (World Gaming Tour), some of which changed their focus bit by bit (GosuGamers), or others only having small articles (broodwar.de, Teamliquid) compared by pre-2010’s standards. Generally speaking, only few foreigners ever made ‘the big money’ playing the game, if they were, they were either very dominant or had to go Korea. Even less fans made any kind of profit from voluntary work. Brood War never made it as eSports game in the foreign world, at least not if you compare it to today’s financial standard. The only annual ‘big time’ event were the World Cyber Games. Consequently any project – server, site, league or tournament – needed a lot of volunteers. Most of these helpers vanished after autumn 2010.
Futhermore, Korea was always seen as isolated insula in the global city, regardless of KeSPA’s attempts to expand towards China in their final days. Once the hybrid Frankenstein, the mix of Brood War and Wings of Liberty ended, this very policy was one out of many points the Koreans got critized heavily for. Ironically, the foreigners themselves were not that much better.
In the golden days there were dozens more or less isolated sub-communities, segregated by language and culture. We, the Germans, had enough people and events like the Giga Grandslams, the national WCGs, the BW4Ever series and Stammkneipe to live alone for quite some time. Eventually, many reasons pushed even the small and traditional clans to open up; an older growing scene was just one. More importantly – the battl.net turned into an outdated monstrum, which failed in many dimenions: There was the ladder, abused by thousands of bot users, several bugs, which were never fixed, LanLatency was missing and obviously no working protection against map hackers. Software aiming to find solutions were developed by the community – sometimes with the help from Anaheim, sometimes not. Patches went missing for the most after 2005.
English became more important, especially for tournaments, as projects like pro-Gaming (and its many offsprings) dragged us onwards – we opened up, slow but steadily. The most important work in regards to mutual exchange was done by pages like the World Gaming Tour (WGTour), which offered a ladder via web interface and enabled support for ‘official’ national teams. Especially after the LanLatency Plug-Ins were published and implemented in more professional Anti-Hack Launchers the private servers rose to power. The Korean pirate servers often had to fight with hackers, servers hosted by clans had only tiny populations, but there were also greater things – the Pro Gaming Tour (PGT / PGTour) from Canada was the first server to unite literally every fan. Blizzard did try to revive its own official ladder with the help from WGTour’s system, but PGT had been around for too long already and showed the world what could be done, hence the eager joint venture couldn’t help but die in the long run. However, also PGT’s days were numbered. The Canadian page was killed by a hack attack in September 2007.
Around that time, 2007, three pages were left: Teamliquid, GosuGamers and ICCup. First of which is quite known even among the SCII Fans. Still, TL’s main focus was Korea, international tournaments were partially covered, but not really organized until mid 2008, when TL announced its own Starleague. GosuGamers on the other hand always had an eye on the international community. It organized quite a lot of smaller tournaments and only covered Korean events with a lower priority. Last but not least, there was the giant called International Cyber Cup (ICCup) from Moscow. Until today ICCup remains the biggest international ladder server.
Together these three pages supplied the foreign fans with coverage, opportunities to play, places for mutual exchange and a constant flow of little stories.
The Beta hit and it hit hard. Both GosuGamers and Teamliquid started to change their focus, once the World Cyber Games and Teamliquid Starleague Season 2 were over – now Wings of Liberty was more important. Only few members maintained the Brood War sections and gave updates for and about the foreign scene. Make no mistake, especially the American page still covered Korea, but there was simply nothing left for the international scene. StarCraft II simply offered more money, a flow of new users and, obviously, was a high quality game.
There were also dire times for ICCup’s Brood War department. The majority of the players switched and the number of users dropped significantly. This trend wasn’ missed by its owner, Andrey ‘YelloAnt’ Zhbankov, who already added other titles to the portal; shortly before the Beta strated, the game DotA already was the pillar of the entire page. Still, Unk’s (the webmaster’s) statement was out: ‘we’ll only close the doors if the last user is out, until then we’ll stay’. And that was it. The remaining team did their very best to maintain what was left, despite facing quite a lot of problems.
One should note, that before the Beta, even the Korean professional players of the KeSPA guild trained on this server. Most used fake nicks (smurfs) in order to keep their strategies a secret. Even Kang Min (Nal_rA) mentioned the portal in his ‘Old Boy’ documentary once or twice. However, the legend started to fall apart in winter 2010. The Koreans left ICCup for a number of reasons.
First off, the Korean Amateurs, fighting for their licenses in the so-called courage tournaments had to play the latest maps. These maps were not added in due time. Secondly, more and more DdoS attacks were dealt against some of ICCup’s server, causing huge delays and shut down the AntiHack Protection temporarily. Thirdly, the Fukushima catastrophe destroyed several transatlantic cables, thusly making connections to the server physically impossible. In the meantime the FISH Server, a pendant to ICCup from Korea, re-opened its door with a newer system. More fancy plug-ins in their Launcher and an overall better support for Koreans were enough to gather the stranded ICCup users. The Russian portal could only ’employ’ three Korean admins in its prime, whereas the FISH crew consisted only of Koreans. The exodus was just a matter of time.
Despite all the blows, the loss of users, fan pages switching and so on and so furth, quite a number of Brood War veterans were left and interested to pick up the pieces. Teamliquid’s Brood War Forums were the place to be for the English speaking community. However, discussions there had their own problems: One half argued that Korean structures should be copied, for whatever pointless purpose, the other half was busy throwing dirt on Wings Of Liberty Fans; that the new and younger generation of SC II fans fought back didn’t help. Both sides did their best to destroy discussions before they started. It was quite despicable and a shame – for both. The old elitism was once again the best Brood War could offer, emotions drove people up the wall and the moderators were consequently swamped by an avalanche of bullshit. GosuGamers offered the same scenario with less users ‘discussing’, ICCup didn’t discuss at all. ICCup BW did their best to maintain the server, which was a big task. A single admin had now to do the work of three admins, there simply was no man power, hence no impulse from this side either. It took weeks for the community to calm down and engage in more constructive ways.
This chaos had a huge impact for the foreigners as a whole, beyond the policies and atmosphere of each single page. After some times more different, for the lack of a better word, parties went again into some sort of isolated state: Teamliquid and the users who only knew this particular page, GosuGamer’s readers, traditionally mocked by the American page (some sort of friendly competition though), and the East Europeans, lead by the Russians.
We’re going to stop here, the path leading to our starting point was explained well enough. Now the more important events will discussed, including player’s profiles, VODs, more context and backgrounds.
However, please note that I was part of several organisations, the most important me being part of ICCup’s senior team for over two years. I might have a hard time to objecitvely describe some of the tournaments, although I promise, I’ll do my best. There will most certainly be a bias in favour of anything East European (Russian) related, while the American ways kind of annoyed me at times. I recomend you check the sources and make up your own mind!
October 2010 – January 2011: The Reboot
Since the isolation started again, the article will go seperate ways for each important party. In late autumn 2010 the centers of these movements were Moscow and Miami – the good old fight between Murica and the Sowjets. Well, it was never a fight, both sides never were enemies, but also never really cooperated – these were simply two different visions starting a reboot of the scene at the same time.
One of the loudest speakers in favour of a new, more professional way to re-start foreign Brood War events was David ‘LRM)Game‘ Barr from Miami. He does have a powerful personality and is everything an alien learns in school about ‘The American Dream’, or in other words, a stereotypical cowboy: He wanted to make things happen, move forward without hesitation, didn’t see problems, but solutions – at least that’s what you could read once he posted. Before the Beta he already was a quite capable player, better than many, and had very good contacts to the leading players, thanks to his long term membership in clans like MicroGamerZ or Los Reyes Del Mambo. However, that didn’t make him part of Brood War’s elite, but that objectively never mattered if you wanted to organize. Barr strongly believed that you just had to make a stand, if otherwise not possible, just pay tournaments yourself, until you find a serious sponsor.
He started by re-inventing an old clan: The Spanish Los Reyes del Mambo and the infernal Gamers were merged, clanless players like the German star Anton ‘kolll‘ Emmerich recruited. The ICCup Clan League (ICCCL) and the Brood War Clan League (BWCL) should be shaking once this newly founded monster attacked, righteously though, the roster was impressing. At the same time Barr talked with the more ‘wealthy and willing’ veterans about a smaller series of tournaments. In the middle of December he had his first success and announced the so-called ‘AoV 16 Man Invitational‘. This was funded by Mote ‘Elegant[AoV]‘ Keatinge with $100 and should be the strart of a long, long series of tournaments.
Andrey’fr)yoda‘ Yodin and the American share some things. The Russian has quite a lot of charisma, comes up with solutions right away and is always pro-active. However, the Zerg was never really a good player, far from the elite and never really bothered with the fact that the World Cyber Games or the Teamliquid Starleagues were no more. Professional competition was quite fine, but not the core what made Brood War the best game – at least in Yodin’s eyes. The bigger issue was that there was no good streaming portal or tournament platform for the Russians. Consequently, he sat down and started to code with a few friends. A few weeks later he released „defiler.ru“, a nightmare of web designers. It looked aweful, had quite a lot of bugs, no real structure in a web 2.0 context – but worked. Defiler offered blogs, forums, news, but most importantly anyone could add streams, use the chat or host an own tournament.
This idea was warmly welcomed by reps.ru’s (Russia’s biggest BW fan page) users. A large number of players came, started to talk about the game, streamed or watched. In early November 2010 the script was used the first time and with that the mighty Defiler Tournament Series started. These tournaments were funded by reps.ru’s poker players and streamed by yoda for nine hours straight. Each sunday around 11 a.m. Moscow time a $75 was hosted. And with that, yoda was able to build a fanbase, which still sees him as the best caster of all time. His charismatic, chaotic, yet energetic style stunned the audience.
Competition and money combined were re-invented in Russia first, the rumors Barr would’ve done the first tournament with a prize pool is a false positive. Still, the foreigners missed the first five Defiler Tournaments, until end of December 2010 the tournaments were still only advertised within the Russian community.
In between November 2010 and January 2011 we already had eight tournaments with monetary incentives: The AoV Invitational by Game and seven Defiler Tournaments by Yoda. After the fifth Defiler Tour with foreigners participating – the foundadtion was done, despite both advertising for different kind of players.
Yoda on one hand used the ICCup Map of the Weeks (MOTWs) for his defiler tournaments. The MOTWs consist of five maps, which rotate each monday. Every win on these maps gets a 30% bonus – which make these maps quite popular one way or the other. If players hate them, they mutter, if they love them, they train on them like hell. Since Yodin supported the ladder passively by this concept, the ICCup administration agreed to feature every Defiler Tournament on the portal.
ICCup’s administration on the other hand still had problems to host anything but the ladder. It took two months for ICCup.Messer’s team to lay out a plan for the A/B Tournament series, tournaments restricted to the top players of ICCup’s ranking system. Only the elite class could sign up, hence this series was quite prestigeous and some sort of highlight for the audience, despite the tournament only offereing points for the ladder.
However, around November the leadership of the Russian portal changed and the American ICCup.noOnE, member of Game’s team LRM Evolutions, replaced the Polish Messer. nOoNe knew about Barr’s plans and offered him a position in the senior team, a place which would hopefully make the organisation easier. Since the staff could only host one big tournament per week, the A/B Tournament series was stopped until further notice and replaced by Game’s tournament. The AoV Invitational was a huge success for the fans, as it showed high class Brood War with English commentary. However, the referee was late, the replay uploads were buggy and Barr wasn’t familiar with ICCup’s system, even before the event started. But still, not bad for a first step.
The American didn’t stop there, a few mistakes at the first start were nothing to be afraid off. At the end of January he dropped another bomb: He announced the ICCup AoV Starleague (ISL 1) with $700 in cash for the winners. For that, he simply copied the Teamliquid Starleague format. The ISL 1 started with a ladder phase, in which the best 56 players would qualify. In a second stage the qualified players had to undergo a group, from which the first and second placed participants would advance to the final knock out stage. In addition to the 28 survivors four invites were added, thus forming a 32 Man Single Elimination bracket.
While 400 players signed up for the ISL 1 ladder, the Russians continued their Defiler Tournaments. Suddenly the scene was buzzing again, forgotten were the dire days of Autumn 2010. Still, there’s more. One guy hugely added to the fame of the American tournaments and filled a gap, nobody knew was there in the first place.
The Englishman Sayle was part of ICCup’s senior team in 2010. His task was to see after the ladder, give out points after disconnects and rule his division. But that wasn’t enough, he wanted to do more. Since there were no casters for the A/B Tournament Sayle offered to take over; the first tournament was already commented by nOoNe, who grew tired of broadcasting pretty soon. The second cup was featured on ICCup’s news, had a trailer and was advertised on TL – hence everyone was looking forward to it.
Neither Sayle nor the players disappointed the audience. Especially the mysterious smurf BEAMFACE (aka. Szanja) made up for great games, as he was stomping his enemies left and right. The English turned this run into a real highlight, despite being new to streaming. He didn’t have much of insight back then, but made up for it with jokes, an energetic cast and a lot of things, which reminded the veterans of Day.
Only minutes after his cast Sayle had a number of requests – he was asked to cast more. Everyone wanted more. So Game added him to his crew, a wise decision, since Sayle should become the backbone of every foreign event. Nothing could possibly be boring if he laid his hands on it!
A Comparison: Russia vs. America
Especially in autumn 2010 not much of the former elite was left. There was a general agreement, that StarCraft II was more appealing when money came in, having in mind that experience could be transferred – it was assumed that the mechanical requirements were smaller than in Brood War, hence only strategies needed to be invented. Consequently, not only the top class had good chances, but the huge mass of players close to them could profit greatly. If this is true or not is not for me to judge. Still, the massive exodus of the best was a fact. The best meant the best, names one knew from the World Cyber Games or the TSLs – Mondragon, ret, Idra, Nony. Obviously, there were other motivations as well, so the exodus wasn’t limited to the ‘best’ players, but caught a vast number of casuals and regulars as well.
Generally speaking, there were some agreements whether or not a player was skilled. Beginners often tended to have a look at the APM (Actions per Minute), although players like FiSheYe or GoOdy made a quite valid point against it. The ICCup Ranking, ranging from a D- to the legendary symbol ‘Ultimate’, was way more important. 1000 points (= starting amount of points) segregated the rangs respectively; points were always calculated from a more or less linear function, in contrast to FISH’s ranking, which is based on the ELO number (roughly speaking an estimator in a statistical context). The median amount of points was a high D+ Rank (~2600 Points) before Beta, the better class of regulars achieved a C rank (4000 points), while the elite players were to be found at a high B ranking (~7000 points). Only the most skilled players could hit one of the green ranks (A- and higher → 9000 points ++), because there players won the same amount of points (100 points vs. same rank without MOTW used) and lost more than they gained (-130 points against same ranks, more if the opponent had a lower rank).
The problem was, that many of the top class players went missing and most of the Korean amateurs were now playing on FISH; now the ICCup ranking was quite worthless according to many. If an editor or fan wanted to estimate a skill of a new player, they had to use a mix of the ‘new age’ ICCup ranking and their past. Past meaning whether or not a player was in a prestigeous team before Beta or not. The exceptions to this rule were the already famous players (e.g. kolll).
Therefore the Russian and the American events had both negative and positive strings attached, some of which were misinterpreted on first glimpse. Barr for example invited a number of inactive, yet known players to his tournaments, thusly making it impossible for new comers to show or train, while skipping chaotic or unequal matches in the early stages of a bracket.
Yoda’s approach was entirely different, mostly ignored by the old and inactive superstars (e.g. kolll). However, it did provide the new faces chances to train, to show off and get earn a name. It didn’t take long until the so-called DeSPA Ranking (or the Defiler Ranking) actually formed an understandable who is who of the Russian tournament scene, thusly helping to get rid of aforementioned unequal pairings in the early stages of the tours.
No matter how you look at it, both visions were a huge contribution. Barr’s tournament rewarded preperation, motivated oldschoolers to particiapte and provided casters with background stories. The Russian helped to establish context, new stories and motivated youngsters to participate. A glimpse of hope for the fans came from both parties.
The public opinion was in favour of the ISL, simply because it had more money in it. Money never fails to impress people. In addition to the money, psychology between the sets of a best of series mattered more, the strategies appeared to be more thought through, whereas Defiler in its earliest days often featured short lived games between highly unequal opponents. Also, the Russians enabled smurfs (fake nicks) to surprise good players – hence nobody knew who he was facing, at least not for sure.
But still, Russia, like we just learned, helped a great deal to learn who’s who. The ISL coverage often times referred to the latest Russian results; in a broader sense both parties completed each other.
Ranking: Autumn 2010 – Summer 2011
It’s time to really get closer to the actual game. We already learned, that most veterans were gone or lost their grip on the scene. As for the reason – Anton ‘kolll‘ Emmerich makes for a good explanation. With all sympathy felt for the young Zerg, one couldn’t help but notice how much of his skill started to vanish. Like many of the elite players Emmerich decided to transfer to StarCraft II at first, played rather spiritless and returned after some time passed. In his prime between 2009 and late 2010 he could take on most of the foreign legends, especially thanks to his marvellous mutalisk control combined with his agressive openings. Thus he gained an edge, never lost his advantage and eventually killed off most competitors. The strategies however shifted during his sabbaticals and his favourite 2 Hatch Muta Build was simply countered – all the foreigners needed to do was to copy what the Koreans played. Obviously, the evolution doesn’t wait for the late comers. Still, we shouldn’t forget that kolll also gave multiple statements about his motivation: He was only back to have fun, nothing else. Every money he could win he would give back for future tournaments as noble gesture. In the end Emmerich remained as top player, but wasn’t one of the leading figures anymore.
Regardless, there were still some players with enough skill left, so the new faces still hadn’t exactly an easy time keeping up. A group consisting of three players gained the upper hand: Two terrans, one from Russia and one from Korea, one Zerg from Hungary.
The Russian Terran Ilja ‘Heme‘ Khamidullin was barely noticed by the foreign players before the Beta. There aren’t many opportunities for a Russian Terran to have a more international break through, the dominant bretheren in the motherland made that almost impossible. There was no way to overcome the legends Androide, Advokate or Brat_OK. These were the real beasts, scaring even the strongest foreign players; they were a class of their own, a mystery which has no explanation up to today: Why is it that every Russian plays Terran?
Heme was in no way bad, quite the opposite, he already achieved some memorable results around 2007. Even before this year he was a member of the strongest Russian Team, the Radical online Extremists (RoX.KIS). But he was different, he had the right mind set, the motivation and the will. Heme trained non stop, asked for help, improved bit by bit. Somehow Khamidullin was able to convince Strelok, the legend from Ukraine, to be his personal coach. With his help the Terran had his first small success – he qualified for the WCG Russia Nationals. He had his fair share of bad luck, he was placed in the same group with Anroide. Despite his fortune, he finished second and made it to the second group stage, this time even winning it all. Yet again, he wasn’t fortunate, as he now had to face the overall winner NotForU in the Round of Eight – and was knocked out for good. Still, the foundation was done.
The three years after had no sign of Heme at all, he did not enter the big Russian tournaments and wasn’t really seen in the high divisions of team leagues either. Only in spring 2010 he returned, again with his coach Strelok. This time he focussed on his vs. Zerg; a quite wise decision. In summer 2010 he was not only able to qualify a second time for the WCG Russia, but also finished third – which theoretically meant he’d be able to fly to Los Angeles and participate in the big event. But the money was missing, the prizes were not enough to cover the cost for flight and hotel. However, the users of reps.ru chipped in some money and gave it to him. That’s how Russia works.
Heme’s WCG curse followed him all the way to Los Angeles. He did not survive the group stage, a third place wasn’t enough this time. But that was completely fine, after all, he had to play the two KeSPA professionals Kal and Legend.
Seung ‘LaStScan‘ Ryoo was the second Terran of the trio. Theoretically speaking, he isn’t really a foreigner, since he grew up in Korea, where he learned Brood War and played with the strongest Amateurs. According to his own statements he even has a KeSPA license, which he however can not prove. He spent his youth in America and still lives abroad. Scan wasn’t really a big name in the international community, since he played quite a lot with his Korean friends, probably on the US West realms; still, his skill was quite high.
He first appeared during the TSL 2 ladder stage, in which he hadn’t much of a problem to hit a shiny A- and placed among the strongest international players. Ryoo helped a number of friends to rank up by selling or gifting wins and thusly broke TL.net’s rules. Scan was consequently disqualified, despite him having good chances to advance. He already showed a couple of games on his streams, in which he caused some problems for the likes of legends like White-Ra or Draco and beat even more of the „B-Class“ of players like Shauni or OctoberZerg on a more regular basis – especially when these type of players underestimated the young Korean.
Theoretically speaking, he could’ve found a place in one of the better clans, despite him being disqualified and his reputation – giving free wins is not a map hack after all. However, Scan did act up like the stereotypical misunderstood teenager. He often didn’t quite see the fine line dividing trashtalk from flames, which eventually caused TL to nuke him from their page.
The Hungarian Zerg Szikszai ‘Sziky‘ Miklós was not a totally unfamiliar name before the Beta. He first had some sort of major break through when he qualified for the ESL Major Series Season 3 in 2007 – he did that directly, didn’t need a second go, an invite or luck. However, he was placed in a really hard group, having to face both White-Ra and Mondragon (the eventual winner and runner up). Still, he caused a little uproar when he defeated the German legend with a 2-1 in a Zerg mirror. One should keep in mind that Mondragon shortly afterwards won over the leading Korean KeSPA professional sAviOr in the World Cyber Games – in the very same match up.
In the following years Miklós didn’t appear too often in bigger tournaments. He was mostly seen as part of the real big teams, for example mousesports shortly before the Beta. And he wasn’t just an add-on or a member of their B-Teams, but a player with outstanding records in several clan leagues. The Hungarian entered both Teamliquid Starleagues, where he achieved an A- two times in a row, one time even finishing among the Top 10 of the ladder. Despite this good finish, the Zerg didn’t survive the following group qualifications.
The Reign of Terror
Since the Defiler Tournaments were factually the first series to re-start the Terran Heme was the first of the tyrants to make himself a name. He took gold in the fourth and fifth edition of the Russian tours. Aside from that, the Russian was one of the more notable players in the last really active clan league – the ICCup Clan League (ICCCL) – and had an outstanding win/loss record there. Sziky and Scan were considered good, but they didn’t appear too often in tournaments; until mid December 2010, these two were more or less just names. To round it up, the Russian also took the gold medal in Barr’s Invitational, nobody could really keep up with Khamidullin’s mechanics.
The real fight for the throne started in January 2011 with the sixth edition of the Defiler Tournaments – all three signed up and wanted to win big. Scan faced Sziky in the Semi Finals of the Winner Bracket for the first time. The first set on Fighting Spirit was over quickly, Scan opened quite agressively and simply rushed the Hungarian. Afterwards the Korean thought it’d be a good idea to switch to Zerg and take down Miklós in a mirror. Turned out it wasn’t, Sziky made the score even. The deciding set was over and as unspectacular as the other two, 2-1 for Hungary.
The winner finale between Miklós and Khamidullin were completely different. Especially the first games on Blue Storm and Destination were longer, had a lot of good fights and showed why these two would be part of the new elite. It was a short glimpse of the rivarly would be for the next months.
To avoid misunderstandings: In the fight for the foreign crown the Zerg always played one of the Terrans, the mirror between the Korean and the Russian didn’t happen too often. Regardless, the rivalry continued almost every sunday in the Defiler Tournaments, if at least two of them signed up.
It wasn’t hard to guess who’d take the first three places, more like who of the three would eventually get the gold. The gap between the leading three and the rest was enormous, each of them had a win ratio of at least 90% against the other participants. There were only very few players, mostly oldschoolers, who could take some games off one of the leaders (mostly whenever short distances were used), but in the long run nobody could keep up.
Scan’s personality added a lot to the new fights, especially in the Russian tournaments. Yodin’s crew didn’t really care for moderation, or put in other words, never moderated at all. The Korean consequently used quite the trash talk, however still not crossing the lines. It was a bit like the games between ret and Idra, love and hate combined; his biggest target was Sziky, there was always something the Terran could critize. The Hungarian however was the perfect partner for this, he was very mannered. It was good vs. evil again, a real story, the kind of duel you wish to see as editor, because it makes writing so much easier.
The battle field wasn’t limited to the ISL and the Defiler Tournaments, there were other small events as well. One of these new organizations was the clan reality Defined, managed by the Romanian xtS, who was also head of ICCup’s tournament section. This new team tried to advertise itself with a $200 tournament, casted by Sayle (who, at that time, was member of rD). However, the quality of this event wasn’t top notch, only Scan registered from the leading trio. He had it quite easy to win it over the relatively unknown eOnzErg; the young Spaniard was more or less only a „B-Class“ player and couldn’t keep up with the Korean’s mechanical skill.
The quite popular and high prized ICCup Starleague featured a lot more known names. The invites, which got directly seeded into the Round of 32, were Game – the organizer himself, kolll, PatrOn and Castro. Heme and Scan qualified through the ladder phase, playing as much as needed, but as little as possible. Sziky played until he hit a higher A- ranking and took the second place of the entire ladder. The invites were a bit odd, Game and PatrOn were, compared to the leading players and most oldschoolers and B-class players, not too good. CastrO made sense, he was one of the strongest Peruvian players of all time, known from big tournaments; then again, he just came back from a longer period of inactivity, never really signed up for other events and scarcely played ladder.
None of our tyrants had problems to survive the second stage of the ISL: the ODT Dual Groups, copied from the Ongame.net Starleagues. Every one of them won their groups with a clear 2-0.
The Round of 32 featured a Single Elimination Bracket – one mistake meant lights out. Looking back, the bracket wasn’t really thought through. It didn’t matter who finished on what place in the group stage, the bracket was filled quite randomly. As a result a number of better players faced very hard opponents right away, whereas only the invites had seeds.
Heme had a bit more luck than his colleagues, he first went up against CastrO, one of the invites and destroyed him, showing no mercy. Sziky got two less known opponents, went through them like a knife through butter, and advanaced relatively easy to the Quarter Finals. In the Round of 8 however, he faced is eternal rival Scan. This match should go down in past-Beta foreign history.
So far, most of the rivalry took place in the Russian tournaments. Sziky had always a small lead over Heme, most times the daily performance was deciding, both engaged in quite close games. Scan however lost more games. The Koeran had to play during the night and tried to play very exotic strategies or switched through races. Ryoo wasn’t really taking the Russian serires too seriously. Still, fans, casters and organizers were sure that Scan had enough skill to beat Sziky or at least perform a lot better. The ISL offered more money, so the majority of the community assumed that the Koeran would now play as best as he possibly could. Which turned out to be true, the best of five went over full distance. Scan came out on top, using the entire range of possible strategies. There were very risky openings and really tense games, but also long drawn macro fights – base trades, new mech openings, old fashioned bio against masses of Zerg units. Really, it could not have been better and was probably the best series the two ever played!
If you did watch the VODs you probably couldn’t help but notice that the Korean once again did his campaign against Sziky. He was convinced that Miklós had been bad mannered before and now should have to pay. This time the Zerg answered with not so friendly words, a rare occasion. That’s how tense the atmosphere was. Still, nobody was sanctioned one way or the other, it wasn’t too bad and the tournament was already in its final stages.
Heme on the other hand had to face the German kolll; kolll being the only invite not losing straight away. But Emmerich stood no chance against Heme’s solid play and was defeated with a clear 3-1. That was the end for the Germans as far as the ISL was concerned.
The rest of the tournament wasn’t too thrilling though. In the semis Khamidullin faced Ryoo and was defeated with a 1-4. This result did surprise a little, but Scan’s mirror was just a bit too good. Another Hungarian tried to stop the Korean from winning the event – the ex-Templar Ace. In his first match he countered the Korean and the hopes went up. The Korean stopped using risky openings and steam rolled his opponent, taking the gold medal with another 4-1.
In April 2011 there weren’t exactly many players who could be mentioned already. On one hand there had been a number of oldschoolers, like Yayba, kashu, kolll or CastrO, mostly playing every now and then, but not too consistently, to really be worth the title of „best foreigner“. On the other hand new faces popped up, players who already were quite skilled before the Beta, but still had to learn and improve, to make it to the top. However, there were two East Europeans that are worth a profile.
Valentin ‘Ace‘ Vaczi was one of them, a name we just stumbled upon. He finished second in the ISL and took the silver medal. The Hungarian Zerg was already well known, even before Wings Of Liberty was announced. He first appeared around 2006 on a more international level, when he won the bronze medal in the BW4Ever Season 10 and a silver medal in the WCG Hungary – losing twice to strong Protoss players: MistrZZZ and Gorky. In the following years he won gold in the WCG Hungary twice, but only qualifying for the main event in 2008. In cologne the Hungarian had some sort of success, he survived an all-Zerg group with Midian, Dimaga and the German Jogi. He was knocked out a day later, Legend, a former KeSPA professional, was a bit too much. After the WCG in Cologne Ace somehow disappeared. He did not participate in many tournaments and if he did, he lost early on. However, he was a big name, one close to the foreign top stars, as he was a member of the legendary team Templars of Twilight. His clan gained a lot, Vaczi had very good win ratios in clan wars.
After the Beta the Zerg was more or less the only player with good chances to take down one of the tyrants, regardless of the distances. Sadly, he became somewhat the pendant of Yellow in the foreign world – he won a lot of silver, but rarely gold, especially not in the bigger tournaments. Twice second in the Defiler Series, silver in the AoV Invitational, followed by a second place in the ISL 1. He did win a gold medal in the Russian series, however, only since none of the tyrants signed up.
Make no mistake, the Zerg was anything but bad, he simply had problems to maintain his shape over weeks or during a long drawn tournament. On a good day he could easily take down Scan or Heme, his play being a lot like Sziky’s, but he’d lose a round later due to bad moves.
There’d be a Russian, who could be counted among the B-Class and the tyrants – he was definitely better than most, especially when he was motivated, but similar to Ace not too consistent. The Terran Igor ‘Ramms’ Askenov is from Chelyabinsk, the city known from the meteoroids. Aside from his qualification for the Russian WCG Nationals in 2009 he didn’t achieve much as far as big tournaments are concerned; he also didn’t really shine there, mostly thanks to him being in the same group as Advokate. Nonetheless, he scored an A- ranking before the Beta, in a time of Korean domination. According to rumors, he also particiapted a lot in internal tournaments of the most prestigeous clans (feel free to add a Citation Needed).
After the Beta Ramms signed up for some of the Defiler Tournaments. In the Russian series he was often under the final eight, meaning he was one of the players going easily through the earliest phases. However, he often went offline or played relatively unmotivated in the late stages. Still, sometimes his talent showed, he won the silver medal three times, often against the strongest players. Even a monster like Scan had to take him seriously, as Ramms mechanics were anything but bad. Askenov finished third behind Sziky with an A- in the ISL 1 ladder stages and managed to go as far as the Round of 16 – where he lost against the German youngster kolll.
Drama: Summer 2011
The scene went into some sort of break during the summer 2011. There were several reasons for the lack of events. Every summer the Russians undergo some sort of depression, pack their things and just travel – to their datschas, the Black Sea or whereever, all that matters is that they can escape the heat of the big cities. Consequently little to no Defiler events.
At the same time the team reality Defined got some sort of bad reputation – money for the winners wasn’t paid and tournaments were stopped. The leader of the clan, xtS, suddendly disappeared. This issue was seen very negatively as you might imagine. However, the reason for all the trouble was a personal tragedy. Months later it turned out that the Romanian was diagnosed with leukemia and passed away shortly. It just took a bit of time until his allys found out.
The American Barr and the ICCup crew had problems of their own. There was no way to argue about the success of the ISL – at least from a viewer’s perspective. Behind closed doors a drama went down.
While the players ‘only’ had to play, the crew of the server had a lot to do. The focus of their work was changed over night, everything was about the ladder of the new league, the rules written by Barr prohibited the ordinary ladder tournaments, coverage was done on Teamliquid rather than on the Russian portal and nobody really tried to care for beginners or even recruit new users. In other words: Despite the ISL having exactly 400 active players, who played around 10.000 games, no fresh blood was attracted. The success had a different dimension – it was a sign for Brood War being alive, surviving the blow. Nonetheless, it meant a lot of work, work that took a lot of time for the stressed out admins or actively prohibited admins from helping – these members weren’t allowed to do their job properly anymore for the good of another event.
This all wasn’t too bad, everyone knew what the ISL would mean for their work. The main problem was a different one: Barr’s behaviour towards users, ISL players, partners and colleagues. It was eat or die. Nobody was allowed to critize, if someone dared, flames were inevitable. Russian rules not matching the English ones were a problem of the users, not the organization. Once the project leadership found out that the ordinary ladder-, the tournament- and the Clan League section was understaffed, a decision was made – Barr should pack his things and was removed from a leading position in the team. The ISL 1 was not to be touched – support was ok, but the entire server must not suffer. This caused an internal uproar. One side of the team (for example Sayle, nOoNe and Barr) argued in favour of the ISL 1 and were upset, the other side, especially the older admins defended their position. Nobody was really satisfied. Sayle and nOoNe quit their job shortly later, as sign of protest and continued to contribute (big time, their influence should not be underestimated) for the ISL. At this point it could’ve been over.
The situation grew worse bit by bit. Shortly after the ISL 1 ended, the American burned the bridges completely. He announced that the replays of the event were only for sale; the money should go to the admins managing the ISL and partly into future events. Free downloads would only happen with a significant delay. The project leadership of ICCup didn’t agree to his terms and told him to release the replays; if he was to get money for future tournaments, he should rather ask for donations. The idea of a free server was key. Barr decided to publish the private exchanged in a censored and shortened form on Teamliquid, thus making it look as if ICCup would try to blackmail him to get money on their own. To be fair, ICCup, especially the elders, weren’t exactly diplomats and had quiet conservative views (this does include myself), hence harsh words were used on both sides. Not everything was the Americans fault.
This wasn’t the end to it. The German ICCup.Paladin replaced nOoNe. One of the first projects of the German was to re-open the Clan League. Several teams approached Paladin and asked him to investigate several ‘odd’ cases against Barr’s team Los Reyes Del Mambo Evolutions. Long story short: Game and some of his colleagues did abuse admin rights (don’t actually click that) to gain unfair advantages in the ICCup Clan League. He saw line ups of opposing teams and could react and used smurf players, who were theoretically not allowed to play – especially Scan. A permanent IP Ban for the American was issued, due to the replay sales, the constant flow of insults and the abuse in the Clan League. His Team, LRM Evolutions, wasn’t sanctioned, since it was quite obvious that most players and nOoNe had no clue about Game’s cheating.
Theoretically speaking all the pointless drama isn’t worth an entry in this article. However, it did have an impact on the players and future events, as Barr did not stop to organize. He announced the second season of the ISL (now International Starleague). The ICCup crew had a hard time to make a decision – forbidding the event and hurting the players, or allowing it and ignoring the problems Game caused, thus telling the world abuse would be fine, as long as you do well for the community in different places. A solution could be found thanks to nOoNe and Sayle, who agreed to manage the ISL 2.
Also, one player had to suffer hard for Game’s ban: Scan. Scan openly told the world that he was part of Barr’s scheme, while Barr still denied every accusation. He consequently removed Scan from all future tournaments. The reasons: Ryoo was accussed of abusing during the TSL 2 ladder phase and Scan’s bad manners. Both of which are understandable, yet didn’t matter for ISL 1. In addition to these official reasons Barr now spread the rumor that the Korean often used map hacks and abused while watching official streams while playing. This however could not be possible, Scan had first person VODs of tournament games and could disprove this allegation at least. As is tradition, a lot of users still saw Scan as convicted hacker.
The Russian community also had some sort of drama. In comparison to the American version it was less drama, but more of a circus. The center of the circus being Heme. You might’ve noticed, that Heme’s profile had a lot of ‘bad luck’ in it. Heme always had away to complain about his ‘bad luck’, the reason of which was completely irrelevant to the matter. He didn’t just complain, he muttered, shouted and waved his fist, like you would expect from an eldery male sitting on his porch. He overdid it often, much to the amusement of the Russian readers. These called him ‘cm.Heme’ – which can be translated to ‘bad luck Heme’.
He had a certain reputation on reps.ru – chaotic and emotional – which meant he was a good target for mockery. During summer 2011 this somehow peaked. It appeared as if the Russian opened several topics and cried in each about nothing. One time he wasn’t able to install the messenger ICQ properly and blamed the developers. It really isn’t hard to install ICQ. Well, the users started to mock him more and more.
It sounds worse than it really is – one should keep Defiler.ru’s moderation in mind. Because there simply is none. Yodin was convinced that everyone should be entitled to share his stupidity (quote), free speech was a high priority, censorship would only harm the Russian spirit. He was correct with his views for the most part. Everyone could flame everyone, which resulted in a lot of trash talk during the tournaments. Moreover, Yoda did his best to pick up the best insults, hopeing it would cause more show matches he could cast. That is another point – no bans, no opportunity to get rid of someone you had a dispute with. Hence, Brood War was needed to get the problem out of the world, oldschool style. Ironically, someone who actually meant what he wrote was ignored, he simply was swamped by the ordinary trash talk, resulting in a somewhat funny atmosphere. To make this atmosphere happen, both sides need a certain degree of maturity. You can trashtalk, but you also have to deal with the reactions. And that was not always possible for Khamidullin, sadly. To be fair, I’m not 100% sure, that the mockery was the main reason for him departing from the scene, it could also have been that he was simply tired by the game.
Despite all the drama the Russians did make an exception in their summer break – they organized an own clan league. That was more than surprising, because both ICCCL and BWCL had to deal with semi active clans, although their target audience was the whole world so to speak. The Russians could only hope for other Russians to particiapte. Luckily, their community was still very big. Yodin’s summer project was called ‘Nostalgia League’ and funded by reps.ru’s poker players and users. All in all $700 were added to the prize pool. 16 Teams signed up and every single clan war was played out. However, the English speaking world did miss this event completely, the Russians never advertised it on a big scale. Only few English casts were done by ICCup.Tesla; however, Tesla isn’t exactly the sharpest tool when it comes to Brood War.
The New Ranking
So far we learned that the trio of the tyrants was about to fall apart in early Summer 2010: Heme was mortally offended, Sziky was still active and Scan was disqualified from every major tournament in the English speaking world.
Sziky continued to dominate, although he reduced his activity a bit and only entered the biggest leagues and tournaments. The Korean continued to sign up for the Defiler tournaments, especially since he suffered from the hack accusations and the negative reputation, which went along with it. However, the ISL dispute had positive side effects there: He didn’t flame as much anymore, he was rarely the cause of flame wars; he only exploded if he was accused of hacking or flamed for his past, a lot of his original arrogance went missing.
These are only assumptions, but it seemed as if Ryoo played a lot more and harder after the hack rumors spread. He streamed his play a lot more, switching his races all the time and used even riskier and funnier strategies – he wanted to show the world that he could destroy everybody, regardless of skill, on any map at any given time.
As entertaining as this was, it also meant the end of his dominant position, at least in the context of the Defiler Series. He was still one of the serie’s top players, but stood no chance against Sziky with funny strategies.
In the same breath the new faces improved by a lot during the ladder stages of ISL 1 and 2. In the first 15 Defiler Tournaments the average skill of the players in the Ro16 was around a high C+ or a low B-, during Summer these players already were around a high B. Obviously, these new faces couldn’t be ignored anymore, there was no way to play like whatever and expect to win. The level was rising constantly.
Especially two players made their breakthrough during the summer break; both weren’t so notable in the pre-Beta foreign world. Now, they started to stomp the competitions outside the tournaments. Regardless where you saw them – Clan Leagues, Ladder or on their Stream – these two were up and coming.
Michael is another Korean, who grew up in the United States. The Zerg wasn’t bad before the Beta, but wasn’t exactly uber active on ladders or signed up for major tournaments.
He also wasn’t often to be seen in the early Defiler Tournaments, just like Scan he had a hard time with the time zones – you just don’t love to play in the night. However, in the few tournaments he played he was among the top players. One time silver (losing against the German Zerg Bakuryu) and one time gold with an impressing 3-2 over Ramms. The Zerg’s advantage: His strategies. He mixed agressive strategies, exotic openings, but was also able to play high class standard builds. This meant that nobody could be certain what to expect from Michael, a lot of opponent’s must’ve been mad after a longer series against this player. But you can’t possibly hold that against him, he’s a very friendly fellow, helps a lot and always has a few nice words for beginners, opponents or organizers. Especially rookies gained a lot from his streams and comments, organizers did not have to run after him – a big plus.
Russia lost a Terran, worse, a Top Class Terran (in capitals). This couldn’t be. Hence, a new face had to be found, one who could replace Heme. And so they dug out a new one: Jaegon ‘Pro7ect’ Kim.
Pro7ect was born in Korea, lived there, but grew up in Moscow. He speaks Russian, English and Korean fluently, a quite odd, yet helpful combination for the foreign scene. And he wasn’t exactly a nobody. In 2007 and 2008 he participated in the ASUS LANs and already demonstrated what he could do: He finished twice among the Top 8 and even defeated one of the most dominant Russian Zerg players of all time, NotForU, in his second year. This wasn’t enough to earn him a prize among the Russian giants, though.
Obviously, there was no place for him in the Russian WCGs. His Korean passport wasn’t exactly an advantage there or in another respect. He wasn’t an ogogo, the only Amateur to come far enough in the WCG Korea to qualify for the main event. Additionally, every Korean has to go to the military sooner or later. In 2008 Kim had to go back and serve – hence no more playing for RoX Kis, no more tournament entries for him. However, in Spring 2011 the monster was back in Moscow and started to play Brood War again. Apparently military duty doesn’t mean you lose skill.
During early 2011 he appeared under a relatively mysterious nick in ICCup’s and FISH’s ladder, stomping the best foreigners. Thanks to his stream Defiler’s and Teamliquid’s users soon realized how good that guy was. It really did not matter that he rarely signed up for tournaments or missed the ISL 1, his skill was simply impressing. He might’ve been even better than Heme, his APM reminded his fans of a NaDa, while his stamina and his ability to adapt to almost any situation did the rest. A man to be feared.
ISL 2: Summer 2011
In late August 2011 the tournament scene started again with the announce of the second ISL, now with the name Kaal’s International Starleague. Thanks to the drama revolving around ICCup and Game less players signed up – in addition to many player’s still being on vocation. This had some sort of impact on the group stage after. More less skilled players survived the ladder stage and the group phase featured a lot of unknown players, meaning that they weren’t a lot better than the very early stage of any given Defiler Tournament. Futhermore, Barr did not want to use seeds again, resulting in a lot of otherwise good players having to face good opponents early on. Consequently a lot of the supposedly new big names were defeated in the early stages. Despite all that, the tournament was yet another success, even better than the first one in terms of viewers. Sayle really did the job to make the best of what was there, backed up by more writers and helping hands from Teamliquid’s community.
Most of the veterans of the Russian Defiler Series didn’t make it far. The Round of 8 featured only few of the known names. Michael for example was defeated by the strong Polish Protoss Sneazel – who wasn’t a familiar face in the official Defiler Tours. Pro7ect suffered a similar fate; he had to take on Sziky and lost with a 1-3, it was to soon for the Russian to actually face Sziky on an even level. A few weeks more and he could probably have performed a lot better.
Still, for us Germans there was hope. One of the new faces came from our community.
Today Mike ‘Bakuryu’ Lange is among the most known foreign players and has a quite special reputation: He has a mustache and helps out beginners. Helping out is an understatement, there’s no guy who could be more helpful, nobody would ever write a giant wall of text, just to make sure the rookie got the message. But before Wings Of Liberty he wasn’t known. He never posted on the big German pages (or international ones), never participated in bigger community events such as the DBBW LANs, but channeled all his energy on training. He was member of the team infernal Gamers, shortly before the scene fell apart. In late Summer 2010 he had somewhat of a breakthrough, as he was able to qualify for the World Cyber Games in Soltau under curious circumstances. As far as the online qualification system is concerned, he made it far, but not far enough. But Lange also singed up for the Dragon Cups, which offered not only money but also seeds for the Nationals; he finished second in two cups, losing to HoRRoR.T and the German Templar Ace respectively. However, both of the winners couldn’t attend the tournament in Soltau, so Bakuryu got a chance to travel to Saxonia.
The story continues: He won his first game over the ex-Hacker w4sp.Felix due to a walk over (Felix didn’t attent). Afterwards he won his only game, but lost the match with a 1-2 against kolll. In the loser bracket he faced the veteran ZzanG, to whom he lost with a 0-2 – that was the end of Day 1. The Protoss thought he’d never survive this first day and had to leave, hence making room for Bakuryu who advanced to a, for the lack of a better word, walk over yet again. Lange’s next opponent was Klauso, another brutal opponent, who gave him the second 0-2. However, it was enough, at the end of the day Bakuryu finished on the fourth place, having not won a single match. Not a bad result at all, odd, sure, but not bad.
After the Beta Lange didn’t stop, never tried out SCII, but signed up for every tournament he possibly could. He was one of the new faces constantly being among Defiler’s Top 10, but still too inconsistent and unexperienced to actually aim higher. However, he did sometimes play a on a top level – which showed when he won a gold medal over Michael in the 21st Defiler Tour. He was among the better players at the end of spring, but still a dark horse at the big venues.
However, this was different in the second ISL. He was number six of the ladder and qualified directly for the Round of 32. In the elimination bracket he got a lot of really hard opponents, starting with the Polish veteran ZZZero, followed by the Chilean Protoss GoTuNk and the Peruvian WCG Champion CastrO. Nobody thought he could beat one of them, since all his opponents were really experienced. That didn’t bother the Zerg, he just killed them. He only lost to the Templar Ace in the Quarter Finals. Now he was finally a real threat, a player you could count on. Training pays off!
Other than Bakuryu there were not many surprises. Well, one. The Hungarian Kashu, a random player with a huge list of achievements before the Beta returned. He was known from the BW4Ever Series, the Hungarian WCG Nationals and the Rymarov LANs in the Czech Republic. He never left Brood War, but he also never really played in leagues or tournaments. If he did, he didn’t quite care. Nobody actually thought he’d be this dominant – he roflstomped his way through the tournament, only losing to Ace in the Semi Finals. It wasn’t too surprising, that the Hungarian monster could probably kill anyone, it was more that he changed his races constantly. That’s hard to do, almost no foreigner can beat the best with all races. Kashu could. Kashu did. The old school’s back, make room. Brood War is like driving a bike. If you know what to do, you can do it no matter how long you’re away.
The finals, although featuring the probably most boring match up ever, were another thing everyone was looking forward to. Vaczi made his way with clean X-0 wins, against really, really strong opponents. This time it looked as if Ace really did step up his game, as if he was on top of it all, nothing was in his way. Then Sziky appeared, veni, vidi, vici. 4-1 Sziky, Ace with yet another Silver for his collection. Hungary took places 1-3, Sziky, Ace, Kashu.
Part I will end with an overview about the biggest and most important clans. Up until now we learned mostly about individual tournaments, some players, organizations and casters. The teams however have always been the back bone of the community and shouldn’t be missed.
Obviously, the clan scene did suffer a lot of the major break down after Wings Of Liberty. Dozens of teams were torn apart, a lot of players switched. Others closed their doors before the real exodus started, the prime example being the legendary Templars of Twilight, the best team in foreign history. Their page still exists up to this day, but their Brood War squad departed. All in all it was a sensible decision, better stop in your prime than spoil the memories you have. The more professional clans, meaning those to pay wages and salaries, were disbanded or transferred as well. This was a result and made sense from a financial perspective – they were there to make money, so if they’d stick to a supposedly dead game, they could’ve never follow their interests or please their sponsors. Over night the divisions of the most important clan leagues, the ICCCL and the BWCL, were almost empty. Even small teams without financial ambitions, never wanting to really take off in the worlds of eSports, were falling apart. Almost no line-up was strong enough to be present in every play day of a league. The migration had similar effects on the strong national teams – no more nation wars.
This was not the end of line, most teams needed time, but eventually recruited other players or merged. Especially the clans with a longer history could cope with that, at some point you were used to have players coming and going. The longer your history, the easier it is to at least keep your page running and preparing a new roster.
The only really well running league was the Nostalgia project of Yodin. The ICCCL and the old BWCL had to fight a lot to maintain at least a few divisions. BWCL was down to one division, the ICCCL lost four out of eight. ICCup obviously hadn’t as much problems, especially the ISL 1 motivated a number of semi active players to train more – why not play in a team as well then. They could easily gather all foreigners, regardless of whether they spoke English well or not. The main problem of ICCup’s league were the minor divisions, especially newly founded teams had a tendency to diminish sooner rather than later, hence causing a lot of walk overs during an ongoing season.
Especially four clans made a difference past Beta.
Profile: LRM Evolutions
We already learned that one of the big players was reformed in late Autumn 2010: the Spanish / Latin American Los Reyes del Mambo and the infernal Gamers were merged thanks to Barr’s efforts. Both clans were known since the dawn of time, from the FragBet League, BWCL, WGTCL and ICCCL. They had a history and a number of still very good players. In addition to their already impressing line-up, clanless players were recruited – for example Kolll. But the German WCG star wasn’t the only impressing name, there were also names like the Bulgarian TechnicS, the WCG Bulgaria Winner of 2006, or the German Bakuryu, training all the time. Consequently, LRM Evolutions probably was home to the strongest Zerg – except maybe Sziky.
Profile: Team Noobs
The ‘Team Noobs’ from Bulgaria is one of the newer teams, at least if they are compared to LRM Evolutions. They were founded as some sort of clan for Hunters players and only played in the lower divisions of the BWCL and WGTCL before the Beta struck the scene. However, they did a good job to pick the real oldschoolers. There was Napoleon, who was already a known name in the very old days of WGTour’s ladder, the Romanian FlaF or Ramms, who we already heard about. Then there was GameZZZ and Mazur, strong Polish players, Terror, a participant in the Peruvian WCG Nationals in 2010 and WhistleR, a Norwegian national player.
Even though both teams had none of the tyrants (Scan thrown out of LRM quite fast, Heme playing for Yoda’s team Free Friends Russia, Sziky being part of sas) in their roster, they made a run for the top spots in the BWCL and the ICCCL. If you had a look at Defiler’s overall ranking, most players came either from Noobs or LRM, no surprise, that these two teams were rivals for the throne.
Both clashed twice in the overall finals of the ICCup CL, with LRM taking the crown with a close 3-2 in both wars. These clashes had a bit more to it: Noob’s organizer h00ligan and Game couldn’t really stand each other, were constantly provocing each other and thus added spice to the already tense atmosphere – not that the players cared, they just played their very best. Well, back to the drama. H00ligan had his reasons to not trust game at all, his accusations that LRM was amazingly well prepared in every clan war were not just accusations, but had a grain of truth to it. Although Game denies this until today, it is a fact that LRM would’ve probably lost or at least would have had a way harder stand against the Bulgarians, if it wasn’t for the cheating the American did with the help of Scan and befriended admins. A few months after LRM took the title, ICCup declared Noobs as winner due to the abuse incident.
As German community member you were used to play Stammkneipe and BWCL – the leagues, which were the go-to platform of traditional clans, only speaking German. We all remember names like ash, n.Sk, ips or ScT. Well, the list misses a lot of other names, obviously, but we veterans remember. The point is, it was nice to see that other traditional teams still continued to exist, even though they were not from Germany. One of the strongest clan was founded in Hungary: sas.
Sas is no abbreviation, but means eagle.
The team was founded in September 2009 as fun project – shortly after a bigger LAN in Hungary. Ace was one of their founders. The Zerg did play for sas, even though he was officially in the Templar’s roster – but these didn’t enter the smaller leagues like BWCL anymore. The team itself wasn’t too successful and was to be found in the lower divisions of most leagues. After the Beta Kashu and Sziky joined, so the tides turned, despite Ace leaving the team and transferred to the Noobs. The Hungarians had a lot of hidden talents, really strong players, for example the Terrans non and Skzlime. Their main problem was their swaying roster – one day the oldschoolers were there, next day they went missing. Sziky was a guaranteed win, but other than that, the outcome of the wars often depended on the motivation of each single member. Consequently, they could easily beat a clan like LRM, but it was just not enough to endure an entire season.
Profile: reps.ru fun-gaming pro team
In March 2011, shortly before the Nostaliga League took off, the Russians were back. Russia did have a number of good clans, for example the ‘international federation of Untouchables’ (winner of the Nostaliga Tournament), Yodin’s team Free Friends, but none was actually fielding enough top quality players to actually matter in the rivalry for the big international leagues – yet. Hence a new team was founded by the poker players and veterans Plumbum and Largo. This changed the community a bit, Russia was finally a big player again.
Nomen est omen: The team gathered a lot of reps.ru’s user base. And they had a couple of really strong beasts. In March the probably best player was already Pro7ect, even though he wasn’t completely back yet. Other than him, a lot of Russian veterans joined – Largo and Plumbum, the founders were already quite good, but there were also names like Djem5 or Tama, really experienced warriors in Russia’s big offline scene. All of them were only semi-active, they just didn’t train enough to be among the elite, but they were damn close and the potential. The clan lacked the big names, but no other teams had as much ‘almost top class’ players than the new Russian mafia. Consequently, they lost many individual sets to players like kolll, TechnicS or Sziky, but had more than enough players to give the not-quite-top-class players filling the enemy’s roster a very hard time. They were the opposite of sas – not high class, but generally way above average. Most results looked close, but they beat most teams. This concept wasn’t bad at all, it was enough to win the gold medal in the second season of the ICCup Clan League!
The Shape of Things To Come
This will be the end of the first part of the series. Nobody has enough patience to read over 20 pages of text at once. Also, after Summer 2010 the scene literally exploded. We already summed up about 20.000 games played in the ISLs, the Clan Leagues and the Defiler Tournaments. That’s a good start, but there will definitely be more, the number of games almost doubled by the end of December 2011. Moscow for one organized events on a weekly basis, growing bigger and more important week after week. The American didn’t stop and received major support from Teamliquid – and started new projects, this time not individual leagues, but also re-vived Nation Wars. A new teamleague was about to make up for what BWCL and ICCup CL missed to provide: More action. There were new rivalries, new clans, more money, more drama, new casters and obviously a ton of top level games, including show matches against the leading Korean players. Also, first steps towards China were done, the KeSPA was falling apart and there were chances to recruit some of these scene’s best players. Make no mistake, this was just the start and there is a lot more ground to cover.
All in all, I really do hope I didn’t bore you and you learned something. VODs and replays lack a bit in this articles, I’m aware, but I promise there’ll be a lot more to look forward to. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get some interviews from players and organizers involved. If you have recommendations, criticism or questions, feel free to ask here.