Let’s perform a thought experiment together. Name the best player in the world of each Starcraft 2 race. For Zerg that’s going to be rather easy. Sir Nestea, Arch Duke of Windsor, King of England, and whatever other titles Artosis has bestowed upon him. For Terran the answer will also be obvious, MVP. Sure he lost in the GSL finals to MMA, but that was after having to play in Blizzcon all day. Even MMA in his interview with MLG admits that MVP is the superior player. Both MVP and Nestea have 3 GSL championships, and MVP now has an MLG and a Blizzcon under his belt. Nestea is now officially the player who has won the most money in tournament winnings.
Now we come to a harder question, name the best Starcraft 2 Protoss player in the world. Six months ago the answer would have been just as obvious as Zerg and Terran, MC. I would have also been first in line to say it. But after the last few showings, I don’t think that case can really be made anymore. So who is the president elect, the heir to the Protoss throne?
We have a few Code A players who can make a legitimate claim to the throne. Sage, JYP, and to a lesser extent Oz all have a claim. Sage has been known for his stunning displays in the team league, including a extremely memorial series against Genius who has fallen down to Code A. However while his team league showings have been strong he’s sort of like DongRaeGu a few months ago, he cannot break the ceiling into Code S and seems to get overshadowed. Not that being compared to DRG is a weakness. JYP is less known for anything radical or new, and suffers the same trapped on Code A fate as Sage. Oz on the other hand did make it into Code S. But there’s just something about his play that’s well to be frank, boring. There’s more heat and excitement surrounding Sage and JYP. Whether that’s fair or not, it doesn’t leave him with a very strong claim to be the best Protoss in the world.
Now let’s examine the code S Protoss, of which there are only three. Puzzle went 0-2 in his group this past code S, losing to both MarineKing and Bomber, nothing to be ashamed of there. He then followed by getting second in his up and down group to stay in Code S. Not bad, not amazing, but not bad at all. The only problem was just how very close his last game against Sage was, a game Sage should have won by all rights. Second we have Killer, the only Protoss to make it out of group stage and into the round of 16. Killer has had some rough months lately, performing horribly in foreign event after foreign event. For his group stage he also had the added bonus of being the only Protoss to play after the latest patch with all the immortal and warp prism goodness. In the chaos of playing immediately after that with the meta-game so shifted, can we truly count that win? Especially once we consider just how easily Coca dispatched him in the round of 16.
This brings us to HuK, The only foreign player in Code S, and recent MLG Orlando champion. In his code S group pre-patch he lost to Virus. At the time Virus was a lower level name. However, that was before his series with Nestea. He went 1-2 vs the best Zerg in the world, and in the words of Artosis himself “the problem is he got matched up with Nestea, that is literally the case”. He played well enough where he would have beaten almost anyone else. Surely not the lower tier player we all thought.
In the one game HuK did win in his code S group he dismantled one time teammate Zenio, in flashy form. OK so there’s not a single Protoss doing well in the GSL, so let’s look at HuK’s recent MLG run. A group literally stacked with other Protoss and July for good measure. He started off with the first mainstage match of the event, and in doing so he trampled July. He even remarked on how confused he was because of how far ahead of July he was during the match. He then went on to beat every Protoss but Hero, and do so in dominating fashion. At no point did he ever seem behind in his matches. This brings us to the set against Hero, which he played while his father stood behind him and watched. I cannot imagine the stress of that, however if one watches those matches one thing is clear, Hero shouldn’t actually have won. HuK was ahead the entire time, and it was only one bad call during a base race that cost HuK the series.
Then we have his win against Marineking, which as Tasteless remarked in usual style “was more one sided than a mobius strip”. A quick 2-0 and HuK was moving on to the loser bracket finals against StC. StC took a quick game one with a cheese proxy barracks play, to which HuK countered in game two with a quick four gate which including dancing zealots in his base. In game three we get back to the general theme of HuK’s run which was that at no point did it ever truly feel like he was behind. This setup a rematch against our previous best Protoss in the world, MC. To say the games were one sided would be an understatement. The games were so one sided that in the following state of the game they spent a good 10 minutes talking about how boring the final was as a result. As in the group stage, MC was dominated, a fast two games and we had our first two time MLG champion, and the first western MLG champion since the Koreans started to show up.
As an aside HuK now has as many tournament wins against the Korean players as every other westerner combined. Stephano has two, and Idra one to HuK’s three.
So the selection for “best Protoss in the world” is not easy. We still have yet to have someone dominate as hard as MC did back during his reign as the Protoss president. That said, I would like to put forward my nomination for the role, EGHuK. MLG Orlando has widely been considered a harder tournament than any Code A. Time will tell if HuK can win the election, but with the recent joining of SlayerS and EG, the future only looks brighter. One thing can be said however, just like MC, he knows how to put on a show, and knows how to give an interview.