The StarCraft II Showdown: Blizzard, Battles, And Blue Steel

Professional gaming is nothing new, but it is slowly coming out of its niche shell. Leading the way is StarCraft II, a game that is perhaps the most current example of competitive gaming at its peak. Last weekend I headed to Blizzard Entertainment’s South East Asia/Australia and New Zealand Invitational Tournament to see the region’s top eight players battle it out.

The Invitational Tournament saw the top eight players of the region invited to a showdown organised by the developers themselves. The stakes? A $13,000 prize pool and tickets for the top two spots to play on the world stage at BlizzCon as representatives for their country.

With the event being streamed live to spectators all over the world, to say that the pressure was on would have been an understatement.

Of the eight players invited, six were Australian – a testament to the growth of local talent. Speaking to the competitors, it was obvious that Andrew “mOOnGLaDe” Pender was tipped as the favourite to take it out. The Brisbane native alone holds more international experience than his rivals and has secured some impressive wins over the course of his professional gaming career. Despite his success, he was wary of the possible challenges he could meet.

"I'm feeling confident… but I'm also feeling cautious,” he said.

“All the players here are very good and they all have the potential to take games off me".

New Zealander Thomas Sung Jun "xGKing.JazBas" Cho and Thailand native Thanapol "RedArchon" Kuachart were both flown in for the event and also tipped as opponents to keep an eye on. The remaining five competitors were Australian representatives - Timothy "nGen.MaFia" Lei He, Daniel "TADeth" Haynes, David "TARossi" Rossi, Zi Ray "nGen.Light" Wang and Yojun "YoonYJ" Yun.

Sydney-sider nGen.MaFia was also a strong favourite of the day who ended up placing third. Prior to playing, he felt that "everybody had an equal chance" to do well.

Party animal YoonYJ, who has been noted in the past for his carefree attitude at events, admitted to being "slightly hungover" - a stark contrast to TADeth, who said that getting proper rest was "one of the most important things. If you come to an event and you're feeling under the weather, it's likely you're not going to perform well".

His clan-mate TARossi was a "little nervous" about his first match-up, which happened to be against long-time rival, nGen.Light.

Final results saw mOOnGLaDe take out first place and JazBas in second place in a match-up that ended 2-1. Watching the final game from the commentary room really enforced the intensity of the final matches for both players and spectators.

Even after losing to his opponent, JazBas was happy to receive second place as he spoke humbly of his victory.

"I didn't expect to get this far at all, I'm really stoked… and I beat mOOnGLaDe for the first time ever! I am really, really happy,” he said.

Post-final, mOOnGLaDe was "incredibly relieved" and elaborated that he "had confidence but it was always very scary. Every opponent was very good".

Both players will be representing their countries on the world stage at BlizzCon later this year. We wish them the best of luck, and many Good Games!

Kotaku would like to thank Zorine for attending the tournament on our behalf and convincing some of Australia's top StarCraft II players to do Blue Steel for the camera.


    Good luck to them at BlizzCon!

    Hoping to see sc2 pro-scene grow in SEA.. (or maybe more so AU/NZ).

    It's great to hear about local players! If only my pub aired these matches, I would have rallied my mates to go watch :D

    Does anywhere in Perth do Barcraft? Anyone know?

      Not sure about Perth, but the USYD/UNSW Starcraft societies apparently do Barcraft. Though from the confirmed guest-list, the demographic doesn't seem to be at all like the San Fransisco ones.

      I really want to hold a Barcraft here in Perth but I dont know of any way to reach out to enough SC2 fans to get it happening :(

        It seems Blizzard are beginning to take a keen interest in BarCraft, recently calling for BC organisers and attendees to fill out q questionnaire about their BC experiences. Depending on who you listen to Blizz are either trying to "take control" of BC or they're trying to find out how they can throw their support behind it.

        Either way very soon Blizzard themselves will themselves be helping folks to coordinate to get BC set up. I wouldn't be surprised if one day you log into and you can look up BC's that are happening near you or use a tool to set up your own.

    I think there was only one Protoss player in the 8 invited and they went out pretty quickly. Don't know how if double Motherships were possible :p

    OMG, that writer has the awesomest name ever!
    Oh, and it was an entertainingly written piece too, Harli. Nice work!

    Awesome read! Very nice article!

    Well done, Harli. Articles like these are what make Kotaku AU great.

    i think the screenshot is from SC2 beta... lol
    definitely a nice read =D

      Technically it's from a very early Alpha, Around the same time as the announcement video.

        The announcement video I was watching last night that said there can only be one Mothership out on the field at one time? :p

        Seriously, two Motherships is almost as imba as ponies.

          Reason for choosing image = pretty colours. :P

            I guess that rules out any real screenshots of SC2 then. They took all the colour out. Makes me very super sadface.

              When the Diablo II stories start coming through I'm going to use all the rainbow pics.

                I look forward to that.

                I honestly do.

                  Actually, if you find yourself lacking pictures with rainbows, just shop them in.

              You know that you can make the game that colourful again? There's all these lighting options you can tweak in the Map Editor, so you could presumably make a map with the full spectrum of colours. But yeah, it was too colourful, the ponies were imba so it had to be nerfed.

    Good stuff Zorine! You beat it like a drum!

    Nicely done Harli, and that picture of MoonGlade? SAVED TO DESKTOP!

    Wicked write up! So cool to see the community members getting pimped! w00t!

    Awesome summary, loved the article!

    Good article! MORE!

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