Close your eyes (after you read the rest of this sentence) and go back in time. Go over a decade back in time. At his computer you’ll find an eager and passionate Lim Yo-Hwan, or better known to us, the Emperor of Terran, BoxeR.
BoxeR was the first king of StarCraft. He was the first person to truly hold the throne at the top. He remained at rank 1 in KeSPA’s ranking system for 17 consecutive months. His story is legendary, and he is almost universally known to be the face of e-sports.
Lim "BoxeR" Yo Hwan, the handsome devil himself
Now we fast forward to 2008 where we have a young and naive Lee Young Ho. The 15 year old, also now known as Flash, God, the Final Boss, the Ultimate Weapon, and many more names, has just won his very first OnGameNet Star League title. This was the official beginning of an era. BoxeR was good, hell, he was great, but Flash was something else. Even being only 15, Flash continued to go on a dominant spree over the next several YEARS, winning over 70% of his games with a stride not even gazelles can match in how majestic and beautiful they were. Flash was the best that there ever was in StarCraft: Brood War. Despite there being other very dominant players in the past (see the term bonjwa), Flash was on a completely different level than these guys. Flash was THE bonjwa. He was THE player to beat. He IS the most successful StarCraft: Brood War pro-gamer to ever exist and will be forever more.
What made Flash so damned beautiful and majestic? He just got it
. He started his dominance at the age of 15 and was the kid that too many people just didn’t want to have to deal with. That is, until he started kicking everyone’s asses. Imagine, a child who cannot even sign anything legally under his own name, a child who can’t even legally be responsible for himself, was beating the best players in the world at that moment in time. He was nothing short of the exact definition of a prodigy. His skill and grace gave us nerd-shivers, inspired us, and fuelled us with more passion than we could accept into our feeble little mortal bodies. Flash was what every pro-gamer strived to be. Women wanted him, men wanted to be him, and he just continued to do what he does best and by "God" was he THE
The Ultimate Weapon being the ultimate adorable
Let's Flash forward to the present and StarCraft: Brood War has since been abandoned by KeSPA. Now it’s all about StarCraft II. In the time since StarCraft II has been released and played we’ve seen some very dominant players. While KeSPA was still the powerhouse of SC:BW, we now have eSports Federation (eSF) and GOM as the leads in the world of SCII. GOMTV Productions produces the most prestigious SCII tournament in the world, the Global Star League (GSL). We’ve seen plenty of BoxeR-esque players in SCII. SK.MC has 2 GSL titles, LG-IM.NesTea has 3 GSL titles, but most closely we have LG-IM.Mvp who boasts a whopping 4 GSL titles, as well as many other SCII tournament titles from varying countries around the world. Though all of these players have had their periods of dominance, and arguably still do, none of them have had an impact or a story as mind-boggling as KT Rolster’s Flash did for SC:BW.
However, there is a beacon of hope. Not too long ago, we met the 15 year old Lee Seung Hyun, a.k.a. Life. He had been playing for the team ZENEX, which had been bought out by StarTale, effectively making him StarTale_Life. He had just qualified for GSL Code S 2012 S4, and though we knew quite a bit about other StarTale players, we didn’t know much about Life. He was young, energetic, and seemed to be pretty good. We had seen him represent ZENEX in the GSTL, and we knew that he had an incredibly impressive ZvZ record, but we didn’t know much more about him. He was simply a ZvZ sniper, granted he was one of the best. Very quickly after his debut match in GSL Code S, we see that he’s no ordinary Code S regular, but he’s something special. His style was different from what we typically saw from Zerg players around the world. He was doing his own thing and he was rocking it.
When I say rocking it, I don’t mean he had a guitar plugged into an amp in his basement. I mean he had his own concert with a sold out venue rocking it. It was clear that he was amazing but the youngster seemed to lack focus. LG-IM.Mvp was on a storm as he was going for his 5th GSL Code S title. SKT.Rain was the KeSPA-born beast that was tearing through the eSF stars. Lastly, TaeJa was working on getting his first GSL Code S title after ripping through just about every team league in the foreign scene.
Our future leader celebrating his first Code S win
When Life defeated TaeJa to advance to the grand final without dropping a map against him, people still doubted him. Most people wanted and believed that Mvp was going to take his 5th title so that he could solidify his place as the best player of SCII. After a gruelling 7 game encoutner StarTale_Life won his first major title, also becoming the first royal roader in SCII, and the youngest player to win a GSL Code S title. Sound familiar?
Not only did he win that GSL, but the very next weekend Life defeated Flash 4-2, after being down 0-2, the snapshot image of the two competitors gracious in both their victory and defeat a defining snapshot of all that is great about Starcraft.
He went on to win that entire MLG event. Though he got knocked out of the RO16 for the following season of Code S, Life went on to win the 2012 GSL Blizzard Cup, an invite tournament with only the best of the best of all of the players of 2012. While being so young, he also just recently set the latest peak ELO of all time in SCII. Could Life be the Flash of SCII?
Life is just what we’ve been waiting for in SCII. He’s the one with the ability to dominate the game, and he doesn’t do it with some cheap tricks or gimmicks based around patch imbalances but solid play. He has a fun, aggressive and harrassing style. It’s fun to watch and it’s inspiring to see how well he plays. In a game that is sometimes accused of being "boring" when the games really matter, his style is the perfect antidote to such criticisms.
This will be the last GSL Code S to feature SCII: Wings of Liberty. If he can snatch this victory, then he can confirm his place as the final champion of an era. It would be the perfect stepping stone for him to enter into a reign of dominance. And even if you think that Heart of The Swarm will scatter the scene to the winds of change you shouldn't bet against this outcome. Why? You know what they say... Life always finds a way.