With two premier events taking place during the past few days, true StarCraft II fans, players and alike were glued to their screens, watching some of the best players from around the world compete while suffering from sleep deprivation themselves. Throw in an occasional The International 4 match, and for a day or two, we could basically forget about real life.
Now that we can finally take a breath, it is time to process what really happened: TaeJa continues to have an excellent year of 2014, already notching a 3rd consecutive victory of a premier event that he has attended, whilst defeating Jaedong once again on his way to the gold on IEM Season IX – Shenzhen. With an incredible lineup and $25.000 up for the grabs, IEM Shenzhen proved to be the tournament of the week(end).
However, for me, it was all about DreamHack Valencia. It was a rare sight to watch a fellow countryman compete on a premier StarCraft II event, especially if you come from Slovenia, a small country many have heard about, but struggle to pin-point it on the map.
On Friday, 18th of July 2014, Tina Maze, Goran Dragić and Anže Kopitar made way for Matic ‘Starbuck‘ Dejak, now an established name among the European StarCraft II peers, as he visited Valencia for a go on a $25.000 tournament.
After reaching Ro16 on 2013 WCS Season 3 Europe, so-called Coffee Zerg ended up among the Top8 on 2014 DreamHack Valencia, bagging 250 WCS points, $1.000 prize money and finishing as the most successful foreigner (together with VortiX). As if not enough, Starbuck is the only foreigner (out of two, but still) that won against a Korean opponent in the Round of 16 (VortiX won vs MaNa).
All that being said, it was a typical ‘Starbuck performance‘ for Starbuck in Valencia, as he showed almost everything, from extra-ordinary plays that break the meta to a few struggling games. But in the end, the young Slovenian Zerg managed to win when needed, beating the likes of Dayshi and First while climbing up to the quarterfinals, where he fell to Sacsri (who later won the whole event). The only other players to beat Starbuck in Valencia were HuK and MC, both in a winner’s match of the second and third group stage, and we know that losing those is not tournament-ending.
Love him or hate him, it is the style in which Starbuck plays (and wins) that really makes him unique. Like many (all?) Zerg players, Starbuck is confident with Swarm Hosts, but is still far from using that boring turtling style we know all too well – he sends them thru Nydus to burrow in the opponents base. In Valencia, we witnessed a few Nydus Worms that won games, as well as some early Roach aggression (for example, a successful 1-base Roach all-in vs. First), and to top it off, we even saw a failed attempt of the (in)famous drone stack against MC.
Speaking of which, here is the first ever recorded game of Starbuck doing the drone stack (9th of January, 2013), which he said he learned from Destiny. Me being the rookie streamer, I of course missed the stacking, but thanks to my colleague Over, we saw the action. The game starts at 3m 40s mark (watch, or search below) and lasts for three minutes. His more famous drone stacks are against Genius in the 2013 WCS Season 2 Europe qualifiers and versus Dear in the semi-finals of RaidCall EES Winter 2013.
Like it or not, Starbuck might be the closest we have to the foreigners’ hope and should be considered one of the brightest talents in Europe. Roughly the same could be said for his team mousesports. Ever since the changes in management and an assumed budget cut of StarCraft II division, the powerhouse of European eSports switched it’s focus from the names like LucifroN, Dear and VortiX to add young and up-and-coming stars, starting with Starbuck and followed by Majestic and Sjaak. The three joined the German duo of HasuObs and HeRoMaRinE to form one of the most exciting, unpredictable and young teams in the world of StarCraft. With the experienced WarCraft 3 legend Hasu on board to chip in with his guidance, it looks like we will start to hear about those players more and more.