MLG Anaheim Starcraft 2
Where was the happiest place on earth this weekend? Yes, it was in Anaheim: No, it is not Disneyland. It was MLG baby, and they put on quite a show of Starcraft 2 for us. For those of you not particularly into the pro scene, I’m gonna break down the tournament and show you what nerds for freaking out over this weekend.
How the System Works:
MLG works with a pool play system, what that means is that they invite pros with the highest amount of MLG points. MLG points are accumulated through participating at MLG’s and placing well at them. However, recently MLG and GSL (the Korean Starcraft League), have agreed to trade players. This means that GSL sends 4 top Korean pro players to participate in the event. These players play in the pools along with the NA and EU players to win the top seed. The premise behind pool play is the winner of each pool is automatically seeded into the winners semi-finals with the remaining players having to slog through a losers bracket filled with tough competition with zero chance to rest. In addition to the pool, there is also an open bracket, where players who don’t have enough MLG points can slug it out to win a spot in a pool, like the loser’s bracket, these guys get zero rest.
Favorites to Win:
This guy is nothing to sneeze at; he has won two GSL Code S Tournaments, which means he has been on top of the Korean Pro Circuit twice. He is considered the best Terran player in the world.
DongRaeGu is currently in Code B of GSL, which means he hasn’t played many televised matches. However, in the few matches he has appeared in, he has completely destroyed the competition, showing innovative Zerg strategies and he was a favorite to win the tournament. Also, he broke 8,000 ladder points on the Korean server… That is all.
If you were around during Starcraft Brood War, this man needs no introduction, he was the dominant force in Brood War and has innovated many new creative strategies in Starcraft 2. He hasn’t posted many big wins, but he was the fan favorite to win.
BoxeR’s protégé, MMA was the winner of the last MLG and was the favorite to win this MLG. He SHAVED and M into the side of his head for this tournament and that M means business.
The Boss of Toss from Europe; Dignitas Naniwa is proof that you can come from the Open Bracket and win a MLG. At MLG Dallas earlier this year, he showed up and started ripping nerds’ heads off, ultimately winning the tournament with a total of 26 wins and only 2 game losses.
Don’t let the small stature of this little midget fool you. Liquid’Huk is far and away one of the best players from North America to date. He is known for incredibly timing oriented play, favoring heavy sentry/forcefield combos to destroy his opponents. Oh… and he’s won a MLG title too.
Ret hasn’t posted a major tournament result, but don’t let that make you think he’s bad. When you watch Ret play, you see some of the most solid and confident play. His macro Zerg style focuses on getting up on so many bases that all he has to do is trade armies until you can trade no more.
Yeah, Yeah, I know, he’s Korean, but he plays on a foreign team, lives in the United States, and can speak English, and that’s good enough for me. Select is known for his two time WCG championship in Dawn of War, but has been posting many tournament wins in Starcraft 2. Select has strong micro play, favoring early game pushes and doing crazy bunker rushes that would drive any player insane.
Evil Geniuses Idra:
You can hate on him all you want. You can’t deny that EGIdra is one of the best North American players out there. Idra is known for his rage and leaving games that he has clearly won (watch MMA vs. Idra if you don’t know what I’m talking about). Idra is mechanically and intelligently one of the best: if you make a mistake playing Idra, you WILL lose.
What Went Down:
MLG Anaheim kicked off the tournament with Huk vs. Naniwa, the battle of the two best foreign Protoss (don’t know the plural form of Protoss). Naniwa put up a valiant fight, but losing the first game led to Naniwa playing on tilt the second game, allowing Huk to slip a probe into Naniwa’s base on Metalopolis and build a pylon leading to a quick 2-0 to start the day.
As the day progressed, it became clear: Koreans = Win. Each of the Koreans in Pool Play managed to take every match in day one while the foreign favorites were struggling. It also became evident that the true winner of this MLG would not be one of the players, but a unit, specifically the Terran Hellion. Crazy hellion play from the Koreans would prove effective against the foreigners, whom had little experience countering the unit. Needless, the cry of Imba was heard as the Korean Terrans began to roast away the competition. However, two Zerg’s emerged after day one amidst the Terran dominance: DongRaeGu and Liquid’Ret both remained undefeated in their group.
When Day two began, the open bracket players were put into pool play. Liquid’Tyler, who specifically said that he did not want to play DongRaeGu before the tournament, was put into his pool. Two other dark horse Korean players were placed into the other two pools, FnaticRain and SlayersGanzi, with the final pool spot going to ColCruncher, a North American Protoss with relative success in tournaments. However, as these players began to play in their respective pools, it was clear the Korean Dominance was the norm, by the end of the day, the winners semi-finals was decided, and needless to say, all four spots were Korean.
Day three began with the two players in the Winners Semi-Finals duking it out, it was the GSL two time Code S champion IMMVP vs. Code B monster MVPDonRaeGu and Korean dark horse FnaticRain vs. the Emperor himself SlayersBoxeR.
MVP vs DongRaeGu:
The first game between MVP and DRG was on Metalopolis. The game was standard up to the point where MVP expanded to his third immediately after taking his natural. This gamble paid off, MVP’s production took off and DongRaeGu was forced to try to catch up, but the push of MVP was too great and DRG called the gg.
The second game, MVP opened hellion, but instead of doing damage and retaining map control with them, DongRaeGu successfully surrounds and dispatches them, leaving MVP with no vision and no ability to put on pressure. This forced MVP to build Thors instead of Siege Tanks to cover for the Mutalisk threat, but it became apparent that MVP needed to do a doom push, he did so, and it was looking promising, but a Zerg counterattack destroys MVP’s base and a well-timed roach surround kills of MVP’s Thors, forcing the gg.
IMMVP went into game three using only six hellions, which may seem like a lot, but consider the fact that every other Terran player in the tournament built about 50 per game. Despite this (or maybe because of this), MVP’s marine tank push into DongRaeGu’s third denied it while simultaneously dealing huge damage to the Zerg army. After that push was cleaned up, MVP instantly put up another army and pushed, this time killing the already faltering Zerg Army and he takes the series.
Rain vs. BoxeR:
Game one of Rain vs. Boxer was one that broke MLG record books. A 51 minute game where Boxer and Rain sat on top of a maxed army consisting of Vikings, Battlecruisers, and Ravens, it was unclear which army would come on top as the two players danced around for 10 minutes. Finally, Boxer was forced to engage when Rain’s tank line had crept up to his production facilities. In a single moment, Point Defense Drones, Yamato Cannons, and thousands of Viking Missle volleys flew across the screen, and in the end… Rain was victorious.
Games two and three were nearly identical. Boxer and Rain both opened Blue Flame Hellion, and BoxeR came on top due to him being the Emperor. The End.
From then on, the games become a blur of hellions roasting SCV’s and pure destruction of Terran units. In the Winners Finals, IMMVP takes the games of BoxeR with his trademark safe, but strong play, putting BoxeR in the losers bracket. BoxeR had to play MMA there in order for a chance to have a rematch against MVP, but lost to his protégé. SlayerSMMA would now have a chance to win two MLG titles in a row, something no other player has done before.
Finals: MVP vs. MMA
In this battle of the M’s, MVP would start in an advantageous position as he only had to win one best of three to win, while MMA would have to win two best of threes.
The first game was a testament to two different styles of play. MVP opened with Mech based Terran, a style very popular in TvT in Korea, but not so much in the US while MMA stuck to the traditional Marine Marauder ball. MMA utilized the fact he had the far more mobile army by using drops and excellent marauder snipes to deny MVP more bases, but MVP then showed MMA what was up with amazing blue flame hellion attacks, roasting away SCV’s, putting MMA on the backfoot which he could not recover from
The second game was the same as the first, except that MMA learned from his mistake and began protecting his mineral lines with well-placed missile turrets and marauders. When MVP’s hellion harass couldn’t do much damage, he was forced to defend, but MMA attacked when MVP was most vunerable, and despite MVP’s continued Hellion harass finally getting some kills, he had no answer for the army at his front door and he was forced to gg.
The third game between the two would show the power of positioning, forgoing the bio play of his previous two games, MMA chose a Marine Tank for his attack, and launched a timing attack against MVP aimed at killing him outright. However, MVP holds and breaks the Siege Tank contain with his own Siege Tanks, Hellions, and some pulled SCV’s, after losing the entire army, MVP marched straight into MMA’s base and drops the manner mules, forcing the gg and taking the tournament.
In my opinion, this was not the best MLG. There was some decent play and watching them hellions burn everything makes my mouth water as a Terran player myself, however, there were no interesting moments like the last MLG where Idra gg’d too early or amazing Cinderella stories like Naniwa coming through the open bracket. Simply put, the player who was favored to win won, and that was that. That being said there some pretty cool moments, in the open bracket, Liquid’Jinro made terrific use of Nukes in a game against FXOChoya
Overall, it was good entertainment and MLG did put on another fantastic tournament, hopefully the next tournament at Raleigh will be even better.