State on StarCraft: Four Foreigners That Can Win MLG
State on StarCraft is a weekly column on Game Front by Ryan “State” Visbeck, a pro StarCraft 2 player. Each week State brings you his unique perspective on all things StarCraft, including tips, tricks and stories from the front line of competitive play.
NOTE: “State” is officially sponsored by Game Front.
MLG returns this weekend with the Spring Championship at Anaheim. It’s arguably the best chance a foreigner* has at winning an MLG since HuK won in Orlando way back in 2011. It’ll also be the best chance a Protoss player has at winning in just as long—Alicia and First have come close, but no one’s been able to reclaim the title HuK lost nearly two years ago. These are the four foreign Protoss players with the best shot at winning the MLG Spring Championship:
Chris “HuK” Loranger
USA/CANADA (Dual citizenship)
HuK’s breakout tournament was MLG’s first-ever StarCraft 2 championship back in 2010. The next year was HuK’s by all measure: he won DreamHack Summer 2011, HomeStory Cup III a week after, and MLG Orlando only three months later. In the first three months of 2012, he placed third in the MLG Winter Arena and fourth in the MLG Winter Championship.
Though he has remained a very consistent player, HuK has been in a slump for the past year. His last tournament victory was in late 2011, and he has yet to post a major tournament result since the release of Heart of the Swarm. After training in Korea and boot camping at the EG house in California, the Spring Championship is his chance to win another major tournament and become the first-ever three-time MLG champion.
Kim “SaSe” Hammar
Sase is the last non-Korean to come close to winning an MLG Championship. At the 2012 Spring Championship in Anaheim, months of training at the StarTale house in Korea had finally paid off. SaSe started in Open Bracket Round 1 and went on to defeat Heart, viOlet, Rain, Grubby, Leenock, Polt, Stephano and more in one of the most impressive runs by a non-Korean ever. He eventually fell 2:1 to Alicia, placing fourth at an MLG that would later be championed by MVP’s DongRaeGu.
A few months later, SaSe participated in the International E-Culture Festival in China. He dominated at that event, taking first place with a 14-4 map score and netting $10,000.
After Quantic Gaming disbanded later that year, SaSe moved from the StarTale house to train with the Taiwanese team Gama Bears. Since then, SaSe’s been dedicated to practice, appearing in few live events after the release of Heart of the Swarm. Will he be able to top last year’s performance and win his first MLG championship?
Manuel “Grubby” Schenkhuizen
There’s no denying that Grubby is one of the most successful pro-gamers of all time. A former WarCraft 3 champion, Grubby has won more than 38 LAN tournaments, six of which are world championships.
Though he had a rocky transition into StarCraft 2, his recent success—including a second place finish at IEM Singapore—proves that he’ll be a serious contender in Heart of the Swarm. He has won his way into Premier League two seasons in a row, but has yet to have the breakout win deserved by a player of his caliber. The MLG Spring Championship just might be it.
Johan “NaNiwa” Lucchesi
Another MLG champion, NaNiwa is one of the most seasoned players attending this upcoming MLG. In his StarCraft 2 career, NaNiwa has placed in or won 13 major tournaments and countless more online events. What’s more, he has momentum on his side: NaNiwa enters MLG Anaheim after a strong second place finish at DreamHack Stockholm and two national championships in Sweden.
In a tournament stacked with Protoss players, NaNiwa’s apparent mastery of HotS PvP—for which he boasts a 15-8 record in tournament games so far—will prove incredibly useful on his way to yet another championship. Of all foreigners, NaNiwa is the clear favorite to win: his aggressive, calculating playstyle has only grown stronger in Heart of the Swarm.
I’ll be competing at MLG Anaheim as well and will tweet as the tournament goes on. Let me know what you’d like to see me cover next week from MLG Anaheim!
Check back every week for a new State on StarCraft post from Ryan “State” Visbeck!
*Foreigner: The StarCraft e-sports scene began in Korea and was the main geographic area where tournaments took place. Because of this any non-Korean player was, at that point in time, accurately referred to as a foreigner. Even though the StarCraft e-sports scene has taken hold in many other regions the term foreigner still refers to non-Koreans playing StarCraft professionally.
Photo credits: Kevin Chang, Team Liquid