Coming into one of the year's biggest StarCraft 2 tournaments this weekend, it was hard to imagine anybody wanted to win quite as much as Jang “MC” Min Chul.
He was one of the big stars of the early days of StarCraft 2, taking home two of the most prestigious tournaments in the world in the first six months after the game launched, earning himself the nickname “Bosstoss.”
He went on to a great career in the foreign circuit, becoming the winningest player in the game's history with over $250,000 in career earnings. But then he went into something of a slump. He wasn’t exactly playing poorly, but in StarCraft 2 if you’re not winning championships then you’re just second best. And Jang was second best quite often.
This slump arguably began in July 2012, when Jang reached the finals of South Korea’s prestigious GSL Code S. At the time, this was for all intents and purposes the StarCraft 2 world championship. The tournament looked like a lock for Jang as he faced off against Ahn “Seed” Sahng Wahn, an unproven player who had never won a premier tournament before (or after) this match.
With some tricky play, Ahn overwhelmed Jang, and took the title for himself. Since then Jang has become the king of second place. He lost the WCS Europe 2013 Season 2 finals to Kim “Duckdeok” Kyeong Deok, yet another player who had not won a premier tournament before or after taking a title from Jang. He also lost the very next WCS Europe season again in the grand finals to champion Terran player Mun “MMA” Seong Wan.
This weekend, at the European finals for Blizzard's StarCraft World Championship Series, Jang entered as something of an underdog. Making the match even more climactic for Jang, he would face off against the player who took the title from him last season: Mun.
The two played a number of outstanding matches. Jang took two out of the first three games, but then things started to look very shaky in the fourth. Jang blew a commanding lead after taking an incredibly poor engagement that Mun not only survived, but rolled back on Jang to tie the series 2-2.
Sigh.. Poor mc threw that so bad :( nice comeback by MMA though #WCS— Geoff Robinson (@EGiNcontroL) April 13, 2014
In Game 5, Jang's fans were surely getting worried as the two players found themselves in very similar situations in a long game with large, critical battles. This time, however, Jang engaged much more thoughtfully and tore through Mun's army with a fantastic flanking maneuver that caught his opponent completely off-guard.
Ultimately, Jang took home Game 6 convincingly, sealing his title win and finally ending his long string of grand finals bad luck.
Well before this victory, Jang was clearly one of the most accomplished StarCraft 2 players ever to play the game. The world finally got to see his championship side of him again this weekend. The “Bosstoss” has finally regained his true form, and that's only good for pro StarCraft.
Photo via SK Gaming (remix by Jason Reed)