March 15 - Collective cheers filled the Dallas Convention Center this evening as the Major League Gaming (MLG) Winter Championship began.
The event's Starcraft II tournament features 32 pros from around the world battling to take home a part of the $75,000 prize pool. The tournament's format - single-elimination, best-of-five matches - means players either win and continue to the next level or lose and go home.
All of today's games were very one-sided - five of the total eight played went 3-0 in the best of five. The other three matches ended at 3-1; thus, no matches went to the final game.
MLG puts all VODs of the games on their website, so you can see all of today's games online. Looking for specific matches to watch? Check out Leenock versus BabyKnight. In this series, Leenock demonstrated that he has truly mastered the Heart of the Swarm by dominating with the expansion's new Zerg units. He used swarm hosts in the first and second game to siege his Protoss opponent, even surrounding the vulnerable units with a mass of spine crawlers to bolster his defense. He then took the third and final game in the series with a strong midgame roach push, proving that he is more than capable of dealing with Protoss opponents. Fans will see if he is as adept versus Terran enemies soon, as he will play against INnoVation next.
If Leenock wants to see how to handle a Terran, he should take some notes from Bly. In the epic final match of the day, Bly (in possibly the unluckiest seed of the tournament) took on Goliath himself - Flash. After losing two seemingly impossible games, Bly looked all but defeated. But in the third game, the Ukrainian Zerg found his slingshot. In a risky move, Flash opened with the dreaded 8/8/8 early reaper rush build. Things looked dicey for Bly, but he miraculously held the attack, drawing cheers from the crowd every time he took out one of Flash's reapers. Flash then changed his method of attack, trying to deal economic damage with hellions; Bly defended the first attack, but the game seemed to turn for the worse when he lost several drones to more hellions. The Zerg player then lost all of his roaches to Flash.
Not ready to concede, Bly sent burrowed infestors to Flash's three mineral lines. There they patiently sat, while Bly baited Flash's army farther and farther away from the Terran's bases. Finally, Bly's infestors launched infested terrans at Flash's workers, killing many and distracting the Terran player just long enough to take out part of his army. Bly continued taking shots at Flash, again using brilliant infestor play to Neural Parasite an enemy thor, which went on a killing rampage through Flash's siege tank line. Bly even launched infested terrans directly on Flash's siege tanks, causing widow mines to take out the tanks on one occasion and even making two lines of siege tanks kill each other. After seeing a fleet of brood lords swarming toward his army, Flash finally conceded the game, and a roaring crowd stood to support the underdog Zerg player.
Although Bly continued to show fantastic play in the fourth game, Flash proved to be a king again, winning the series 3-1. Yet the crowd was not discouraged; in a seemingly impossible matchup, Bly had won a game against the "God" of Starcraft II himself - proving that eSports fans love an underdog, and even the mightiest of opponents can be bested with clever strategy and a will to win.
With their wins, Flash, Ret, Sen, PartinG, jjakji, Rain, INnoVation and Leenock will continue to the next round of the tournament. Bly, Suppy, ViBE, State, MarineKing, Seed, HuK and BabyKnight are unfortunately out of the competition.
Games are scheduled to resume tomorrow at 11 a.m. CDT. Check back tomorrow for another recap of the day's action!