sOs Wins $100,000 IEM World Championship
The old sports cliche of big players make big plays in big games applies to eSports as well. Just five months after being crowned the StarCraft II World Champion at BlizzCon, Korean Protoss player sOs staked his claim to being the closest thing that SC2 has to an undisputed world champion by winning the $100,000 winner-takes-all Intel Extreme Masters World Championship.
In the final, sOs took on Team CJ Entus’ herO who came into the IEM World Championship as the #1 seed. herO entered this weekend’s tournament as the only two-time IEM event winner having won back-to-back IEM tournaments in Singapore and Sao Paulo and on top of the 2014 World Championship Series points standings. sOs earned his entry into the tournament because of his 2013 WCS title rather than through a qualifier or a top two finish in a 2013-2014 IEM Season VIII tournament.
While he came in as the top seed, herO had an adventurous battle to the finals. He was taken to the limit in the first match of the tournament against HyuN, in which he had to come back from 2-1 down. herO also had a back-and-forth five game semi-final against Polt. sOs was often considered an underdog in his run to the final but dropped only two maps out of 11 against Oz, jjakji and TaeJa.
The first two games of the final played out almost identically. In both instances, sOs opened with proxy two-gate (two Protoss army producing structures outside of his base) in herO’s main base. While herO was able to react in Game One, a likely ill-advised aggressive push with his Mothership Core sunk his defense. In Game Two, herO was caught completely unaware until the first of sOs’s units started to attack which made that game academic.
The third game saw herO pick up a quick victory. He went with a dark templar rush. Without detection to see and stop the cloaked DTs, sOs quickly tapped out.
Game Four played out much more like a typical game. sOs opened expansion first while herO opened three-gate blink stalkers. It should have been an easy win for herO but having a Robotics Facility allowed sOs to build immortals and hold off herO in a hold that seemed nearly impossible when herO first launched his attack. The economic advantage allowed sOs to get a unit count advantage and march across the map to take the 3-1 advantage.
The fifth game saw herO try a page from sOs’s playbook but it wasn’t as crisply executed. herO went for a proxy one-gate but the attacking force wasn’t enough to take down sOs. This allowed Jin Air Green Wings’ sOs to launch a counter attack. sOs’s attacking force chewed through herO’s forces as he watched, head in hands, as his dreams of $100,000 disappeared.
As I mentioned off the top, this was sOs’s second World Championship in five months having won Blizzard’s World Championship Series last November. Given the number of tournaments and series of StarCraft II competitions held worldwide, this might be the closest the StarCraft II scene has come to having a proper World Champion seeing as sOs is the current Blizzard and Electronic Sports League SC2 champion.
And just like his WCS championship, this win was worth $100,000 for sOs. He even joked about changing his name to $O$. Given his penchant for coming up big in big money tournaments, you’re going to see the $O$ name a lot.
He also put himself well on the way to earning a return trip to BlizzCon. He’s accumulated 2,100 WCS points so far in 2014 which is only 1,100 points short of last year’s cutoff. He may have come into last year’s WCS final and the IEM World Championship as an underdog but I doubt he will again.