Team Liquid's 17-year-old phenom Yoon "TaeJa" Young Suh earned his first major Starcraft II title at last weekend's Major League Gaming Summer Arena, the first event of the MLG 2012 Summer Season. The Korean Terran player earned his team's first 2012 title, taking out Team Slayers' Yang "Alicia" Joon Sik, the Protoss player who has now finished second at three straight major events including the MLG Spring Championships and North American StarLeague Season 3 finals.
TaeJa's first major championship run at the Summer Arena caps off a month that saw him win the IGN ProLeague Season 5 International qualifier, a TeamLiquid StarLeague 4 qualifier, the E-Sports Vision Korean Weekly, and an all-kill of Team Prime in the IGN Pro League Team Arena. After defeating Incredible Miracle teammates Hwang "LosirA" Kang Ho and Kang "First" Hyun Woo in succession, the former SlayerS player was up against his longtime teammate and best-performing player in Alicia.
"This is my first time winning a big tournament so I'm really happy," TaeJa told GameSpot shortly after winning. "I wasn't expecting to win this weekend, but coming to this event, instead of getting knocked out and going touring around New York City, I wanted to go as far as I could. Winning was a surprise and makes me feel good."
Alicia himself only made his breakout performance and first final appearance at the recent star-studded Anaheim event. Despite an incredible run over three days, he lost a rather one-sided final against Park "DongRaeGu" Soo Ho. He had a similar experience last weekend at the NASL Finals, fighting his way to the end only to be swept by Frenchman Ilyes "Stephano" Satouri. Alicia's fight against TaeJa was the closest one yet, as strong timing attacks helped him win two maps, more than his combined wins against the previously mentioned Zerg champions. TaeJa put the hammer down in the final game with an early bunker contain, followed by a full five-medivac drop on Alicia's main, sealing the deal and the win.
"I saw Alicia losing two finals in a row against DRG and Stephano, so I wanted to make that happen a third time," TaeJa said. "I didn't have any specific strategy, but when I was playing against First in the semifinals, I decided just to macro up on two bases. So when I played against Alicia, I proxied fast-Marauder, which is the strategy I saved for the final. I didn't want to show this during my games against First. After I won that initial game off Alicia, I felt I had control of the final."
The win gives Liquid their first major championship of 2012, their biggest victory since Song "HerO" Hyeon Deok won DreamHack Winter last year. The team's most recent signed player has made consecutive Top 8 finishes in the Global Starcraft II league and is now No. 1 on TeamLiquid's Korean player ELO ranking.
"I am extremely proud of what TaeJa has accomplished here," TeamLiquid CEO Victor "Nazgul" Goossens told GameSpot. "When we picked him up, we knew he had the potential to become one of the best in the world, and he's making the steps to get there…For TaeJa to accomplish this in such a dominant manner is really something special."
For some, the win by TaeJa isn't good just for himself and his team, but also for the Terran race. Zerg and Protoss have both had much success as of late, much to the dismay of Terran players everywhere. "I think it's good that not only TaeJa took a title, but that a Terran actually won," said lead broadcaster Marcus "djWHEAT" Graham, a proud Zerg and known anti-Terran. For TaeJa, it's all about moving forward and using his success for the future.
"I'm proud of myself. This will be my motivation to win a GSL."
Translated by Sophie Jung