The efforts of two of the best “foreign” players weren’t enough to stop yet another all-Korean final from playing out at a StarCraft 2 major.
Norway’s Jens “Snute” Aasgaard excited fans with an unexpected run through IEM Shenzhen’s round robin play, despite being seeded into the tournament’s “Group of Death.” Aasgaard triumphed over two top Korean professionals on his way to a spot in the playoff bracket.
He would soon be joined by another international hopeful, Jin “Jim” Hui Cao of China. Jin’s run was even more impressive than Aasgaard, as he was able to sweep his group with wins over arguably a stiffer pair of opponents in Lee “Life” Seung Hyun and Yun “Taeja” Young Seo.
Adding to the excitement was the vociferous support Jin received from the crowd in his home nation.
Aasgaard put forth a fine effort in his opening playoff match, a quarter final bout with legendary StarCraft player Lee Jae Dong. But Lee proved to be too much in an extended series, defeating Aasgaard in the fifth and final game of their best-of-five meeting.
Jin would not be so quickly defeated. His quarter final contest with Kang “San” Cho Won would also go a full five games, but in this case it was the international hopeful who would emerge victorious. Jin deflected Kang’s desperate all-in attempt in game five and pumped his fists in victory before an adoring crowd.
The win left Jin just one series away from making the final. Unfortunately for both Jin and his fans, his next opponent wasn’t interested in seeing any Cinderella stories to fruition.
Kang “Solar” Min Soo was dominant in his semifinal set with Jin, sweeping the Chinese pro in a quick three games.
Spectators were still treated to an exciting final. In a best-of-seven series, Kang raced to a three games to two lead over Yun Young Seo before before the determined Terran player was able to win out the final two games in a row.
But even after an exciting finish to the tournament, many fans were left wondering when a challenger like Aasgaard or Jin might be able to accomplish more than an exciting run through the competition. For these StarCraft 2 players and others like them from outside Korea, ending such a run with a championship victory is proving difficult.
Screengrab via YouTube/ESL