by mizenhauer
[image loading] - Mizenhauer

2017 was a lot of things. It was four first place finishes for INnoVation, three more disappointments for soO, two championships under Stats’ belt, and one huge payday for Rogue.

There were plenty of chances for the biggest stars to shine in the sky, but some of them fell back down to earth. Zest and ByuN experienced the worst of weighty expectations in 2017, while even lesser luminaries like Dear and Solar furthered their reputations for inconsistency. A year to remember, albeit for reasons they’d prefer to forget.

We look back on 2017 for aLive’s otherworldly antics at IEM Katowice, sOs’ attempt to hack the machine, and GuMiho finally getting that career defining win. These names serve as lighthouses at the water’s edge, constant and vigilant against the lapping of the years. Silt and sand are carried away, yet those shining beacons only grow taller and brighter—brick by brick, Starleague by Starleague.

What’s more amazing than all these astonishing victories and befuddling failures is the fact that even on the ever-narrowing strip of shore we call StarCraft II, the tide still drags away the accomplishments of so many players. In three seasons of GSL, only 43 players managed to make it to Code S. Three champions and four finalists told a story of INnoVation ascending the throne and soO bearing an ever growing burden. On the other end of the spectrum were players like Curious and Scarlett. The two of them qualified for every single GSL on the year, but barely eked out a combined record of 2-6. Their participation isn’t even an afterthought (for good reason, right?).

But for all the Curiouses and the Scarletts, the KeeNs and the Armanis—those who are easier to forget than to remember—there still exist puzzling cases that are harder to place. Do you remember, for instance, that in February of 2017, (Wiki)Classic headed into one of the most difficult groups in GSL history as the second best Protoss in the world?


Nine months ago, this was as good as you could hope for in PvZ.


It was a run over half a year in the making. Rewind to 2016, where Legacy of the Void had limited Protoss to a handful of openers in all three match-ups. For Classic—a player whose ability to innovate and optimize various strategies was paramount to his success—that was a change that hit particularly hard. Despite a disappointing start to 2016 and LotV, Classic showed shades of his Heart of the Swarm self in Season 2 of SSL, where he finally began to acclimatize to the expansion. He took defending champion Dark to a full seven games before falling at the end of a lengthy, desperate defense on Frost.

2017 arrived with yet more upheaval in the form of a major design patch, but this time Classic maintained his form. As one of the better players in the world headed into the first GSL of the year, Classic didn’t look a step out of place when he was thrust into the Ro16 group of death. INnoVation, Dark, soO, and Classic: a murderer’s row of championship contenders with more Korean titles and finals appearances than the other three groups combined.

After a 2-0 victory against Dark and a 1-2 loss to INnoVation, Classic faced soO—the best PvZ player in the world at the time—in the final match. Classic took the first map, but his old friend and teammate tied the series back up. soO clinched the deciding game three, continuing his march to his fifth GSL finals while banishing Classic back to the periphery of everyone’s attention.

Four months later, Classic was tearing through 2017's second GSL. His victims en route to the semifinals included Stats(TWICE!), TY and aLive. He was making mincemeat of the competition and looked poised to return to his championship form. Once again, soO stood between him and the spotlight, but this time in the semi-finals.

It was a complete demolition. Classic may have spent more time watching VODs on the subway ride to the AfreecaTV studio than it took for him to get swept by soO. It was a tragedy for Classic, but soO’s sixth GSL final obliterated all consideration for Classic’s disappointing performance. soO’s potential pain was a far more delectable dish, which we descended upon in a heartbeat.

Classic’s 2017 SSL run ended in a similar anti-climax. He finished second in Challenger in Season 1, before fighting his way through a difficult Fast Lane in order to secure a spot in Premier for Season 2. He was every bit the world-class Protoss player in Premier—he came in second place during the regular season, and even ran rings around the supposed GOAT INnoVation in a statement match.


Classic crushes a full-power INnoVation in the SSL.


Then, in the playoffs, for the second time that year on the penultimate stage, he lost to a superior Zerg opponent in Dark. Classic had again failed to reach the finals of a premier tournament in Legacy of the Void, while Stats and Dark were set to face off in one of the most anticipated finals in recent history. And just like that—poof!—the hype dissipated and Classic was promptly forgotten.

It’s all a bit absurd. It’s hard to say Classic's problem was that he didn’t win enough. Far worse players than Classic commanded the spotlight in 2017, simply for flaming out. Classic is one of the more decorated players in StarCraft 2 history. While he has struggled in Legacy of the Void, he has managed to reach the top four of the GSL/SSL in three of nine seasons. Sure, he wasn’t the favorite to win every tournament he entered. But which Protoss save for herO, Stats and sOs was more consistent throughout the year? Classic was flying just low enough to slip below the radar. He managed to collect the 11th most WCS points without anyone really noticing, and just one more series win might have earned him a spot at BlizzCon.

A big part of this collective amnesia lies in how the community digests the storylines the leagues, casters, and writers push. Classic’s story was, for whatever reason, not appealing enough. 2015 Classic had a hat of builds with three rabbits and twice as many cannon rushes. 2017 Classic was a less lustrous version. The whole “adaptable and deadly” narrative didn’t have the same legs now that Protoss was defined by powerful, brute-force strategies that rendered cleverness irrelevant.

Classic’s year was proof that the least noticeable person is often the one right in the middle of the pack. His play wasn’t spectacular enough to get Twitch clips to the top of /r/StarCraft or have appreciation threads made in his name. His results were good but not great, and ultimately he had no one to blame but himself for stumbling within shouting distance of BlizzCon. While ex-teammates soO, Dark and INnoVation were battling for an audience of tens of thousands of viewers worldwide, Classic went on a vacation no one knew about in Japan.

2017 is over and Rogue is the world champion. INnoVation could be the greatest ever, and soO is now 1-9 in finals. Stats is still the most consistent player of the last two years and Dark is still trying to recapture his place as best player in the world. Amidst all that, there's just no room for a pretty-decent former champion.

No, Classic’s 2017 wasn’t worth remembering. But it wasn’t worth forgetting either.



Credits:
Writers: Mizenhauer.
Editors: Wax.
Photo: leimmia.
Graphics: hexhaven.

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DieuCure
France1856 Posts
Mizenhauerbest writer

Harsh words, and, I disagree, Dark is the most consistent player of the last two years, stolen by Mech and ZvZ.
starkiller123
United States905 Posts
good article, Classic at times did look very strong this year and i think if he had played almost anyone other than Dark in SSL season 2 he would have advanced to the finals
Waxangel
United States25887 Posts
It's hard to tell why certain players appeal to the masses, and others simply don't have that spark. Classic is one of the great Protoss champions of StarCraft II, but you'd never know it from the level of hype around him.
starkiller123
United States905 Posts
On November 28 2017 08:43 Waxangel wrote:
It's hard to tell why certain players appeal to the masses, and others simply don't have that spark. Classic is one of the great Protoss champions of StarCraft II, but you'd never know it from the level of hype around him.

blame it on the chin
GoloSC2
370 Posts
nice read! my heart bled at the scarlett part, but indeed its worth thinking about what makes people overlook classic so easily
Argonauta
Spain927 Posts
In times like this, off season, no big Korean tournaments to talk about, its nice to read some recap miz.
Fango
United Kingdom3494 Posts
On November 28 2017 08:43 Waxangel wrote:
It's hard to tell why certain players appeal to the masses, and others simply don't have that spark. Classic is one of the great Protoss champions of StarCraft II, but you'd never know it from the level of hype around him.


sOs is loved for his blizzcon wins and sneaky playstyle, herO is liked for his nice personality and (often hated for) his playstyle, Stats grew a fanbase by being in almost every tournament final for months in a row, Zest is good looking and (when he's in form) wins with incredible dominance and style, Neeb is the biggest foreign hope of the last few years, and even Dear is fun to watch from a meme perspective

Classic just doesn't have the same starpower. As far as I'm aware everyone still ranks him a top 5 protoss, but without recent tournament wins or unique plays/characteristics, people won't talk about him as much. It's a shame because he could have easily made blizzcon this year had he not had some unlucky brackets luck. Even last year he would have likely made blizzcon if they had a loser bracket for SSL season 2 like in season 1
Waxangel
United States25887 Posts
On November 28 2017 10:24 Fango wrote:
Show nested quote +


Classic just doesn't have the same starpower. As far as I'm aware everyone still ranks him a top 5 protoss, but without recent tournament wins or unique plays/characteristics, people won't talk about him as much.


Dunno, I feel like he wasn't that far from being called a clever build-smith like Gumiho (not that I feel Gumiho gets enough credit either), or at least being infamous for his cheeses. Maybe he just never veered far enough into the extremes.
pvsnp
3856 Posts
Some great writing out of Mizenhauer, and I'm glad to see some more attention given to players outside the spotlight. Guys like Classic need all the love they can get from the community.

I've was a "fan" of Classic for years–by which I mean an STX and SKT fan–but I have to admit that he is definitely one of the most forgettable top players out there. He has the skill to win Starleagues and the trophies to prove it, but the most fame he can cash in on is the occasional joke about his chin.

Really, I think the community just couldn't find a common theme to stress with Classic and without that he kind of just drifts out of the public eye whenever he isn't actually holding up a trophy. Zest has his muscles and impeccable play, herO his smiles with cheese, sOs his crazy awesome builds, and even Stats is a nice guy with civilized macro. Among those greats, where is there room for Classic?

I remember soO talking about how when he was feeling down about his future, he took inspiration from Classic–older than him and less famous, but still practicing hard with a desperate hunger to claim another trophy before inevitable military retirement.

2017 was a lot of things for a handful of pros in the spotlight, but so many more struggled through the year in near-obscurity.
leublix
106 Posts
Nice write up.

Classic just needs to win a tournament again to get more hype.
Fango
United Kingdom3494 Posts
On November 28 2017 10:35 Waxangel wrote:
Show nested quote +


Dunno, I feel like he wasn't that far from being called a clever build-smith like Gumiho (not that I feel Gumiho gets enough credit either), or at least being infamous for his cheeses. Maybe he just never veered far enough into the extremes.


He would have to go very far to become known as a build-smith when there are protosses like Has, herO, sOs etc out there. The issue with Classic is that although he's very good, his playstyle isn't unique enough to stand out, and without trophies or personality to make up for it he'll always be seen as a background player. There's nothing about him that draws attention over the rest
pvsnp
3856 Posts
On November 28 2017 11:00 Fango wrote:
Show nested quote +


He would have to go very far to become known as a build-smith when there are protosses like Has, herO, sOs etc out there. The issue with Classic is that although he's very good, his playstyle isn't unique enough to stand out, and without trophies or personality to make up for it he'll always be seen as a background player.

Dammit, beat me to the "Has and sOs" counterpoint.

But yeah, I agree with uniqueness aspect. The most memorable players are the ones with that golden combination of personality, playstyle, and trophies.

Take Zest for instance, a very popular player with impeccable play, a shelf crammed with trophies, and most exceptional of all–muscles. He even has a catchy slogan to go with it all so his fans won't forget. Or INnoVation, the man who speaks with the personality of a machine, plays with the efficiency of a machine, and wins with the consistency of a machine. No points for guessing his nickname. Or soO, the Silver Surfer. And so on.

Is it any surprise that the most memeable players are the ones who stick in the community consciousness? Every time they play is an opportunity for fans to crack jokes about their defining characteristics, every trophy they raise cements their place ever further among the pantheon of nerd gods.
Cricketer12
United States12123 Posts
I would like to say that I liquibetted Classic in that match vs Inno
Morbidius
Brazil1918 Posts
Excellent article, so well written.
Aesto
5 Posts
Love the mention of Classic's cannon rushes. I don't think I'll ever forget Tasteless, full of delight, shouting "This is the cheesiest game of all time!" in that GSL final against Soo.

I'll admit, back when he won that GSL in 2014 (which should have been Zest's - damn you TRUE ), I was fully committed to the Classic patchtoss train, but I've become more impressed by him over the years. He's probably also the player I steal the most macro builds from...
Mun_Su
France1042 Posts
I went to TL thinking "it's been a while since the last very good read" and then I saw that

Very good read.
ejozl
Denmark2795 Posts
He started the Colossus drop, which btw is really strong right now in LotV with the + vs Light. They 2 shot workers.

I think he was also the first to bring mass Oracles into Korean tournaments, first in PvZ, then in PvT.
ejozl
Denmark2795 Posts
edit: oops
Veluvian
Bulgaria116 Posts
As a Classic big fan I may accept this article with some small reserves. This year Classic played much better than in 2016 when he actually didn't exist. Perfect PvT and good PvP, but his problem were zergs. His last dissapointment was the GSL Season 3 in Ro16 he was in a group with Rogue, soO and Dark. His biggest nightmare right now.
This year some casters and many players talkeb about Dear and Classic, how much they train an prepare and how dangerous become lately. But the problem for Dear was that he got out from GSL seasons too early and didn't show his potential. Classic showed that he is returning, but it was not enough. This is why this year is poor for protosses, yes Stats is in winning spot, herO is no different than before, but the huge strategists and macro tosses were missing. sOs shined for a short period, like he always does actually.
It was hard for me to accept that Classic would never achieve so many fans (as other charismatic tosses) and will be undersestimated everytime. It took two years of his domination with GSL, SSL and semifinals at Blizzcon in order to be called "the Wintoss" by Artosis. I really hope 2018 to be more successful for him. His matches against Maru were a piece of art in summer 2015 back in Proleague and Starleague. May be he will bring back the faith in Tempest units. We'll see. Thanks for mentioning Classic in this article, rather I agree with some people who said that the biggest dissapointment for the most consistent player in LotV is definitely DARK.
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