MarineKing returns to GSL finals, gets second place for fifth time

The 2014 Hot6ix Cup finished this weekend, the last premiere StarCraft 2 tournament of the year

The 2014 Hot6ix Cup finished this weekend, the last premiere StarCraft 2 tournament of the year. With Legacy of the Void potentially set for release in the first half of 2015, the Cup may be one of the last major Heart of the Swarm tournaments.

The list of competitors read like a who’s who of this year’s StarCraft competition:

  • Three-time GSL runner-up Eo “soO” Yoon-Su.
  • GSL Season 2 champion Kim “Classic” Doh-Woo.
  • KeSPA Cup winner Joo “Zest” Sung-Wook.
  • GSL Season 3 winner and 2013 World Championship Series victor Lee “INnoVation” Shin-Hyung.

But it wouldn’t be any of these paragons, with dozens of accolades to their names, meeting Intel Extreme Masters World Champion Kim “sOs” Yoo-Jin in the finals.

It was a player without a major tournament win since 2012, one of the original superstars of StarCraft 2.

Lee “MarineKing” Jung-Hoon challenged the Protoss Kim in the Hot6ix Cup Finals. It was the first time the Terran player reached the finals of a premiere StarCraft event since March of 2012, when he beat Park “DongRaeGu” Soo-Ho in the finals of the Major League Gaming Winter Championship.

Bursting onto the scene in the second ever Global StarCraft League Code S tournament in 2011, Lee ran to the finals by dazzling fans with marine micro on a never-before-seen level. Lee fell to the dominant Jung “MVP” Jong-Hyun in the final, but captured the hearts of fans everywhere thanks to his flashy play and the way he wore his emotions on his sleeve, sometimes breaking down in tears after tough defeats.

That started a run that saw Lee reach four GSL finals. But Lee never captured the elusive title. This weekend, he had his fifth chance.

It’s the perfect story. The tale of the plucky and lovable star who loses his way but claws his way back to the top through hard work and perseverance. The problem? Lee lost in the finals yet again.

The Terran player fell 4-1 to Kim, giving “sOs” another major title and Lee a fifth second place finish in a GSL final. Kim swept the first three games in quick fashion, a trademark for the Protoss player sometimes lambasted for his tendency to obliterate foes so thoroughly that it takes the fun out of a series. 

Lee’s run was of course impressive. He topped his group by beating this weekend’s Intel Extreme Masters champion, Kim “HerO” Joon-Ho, and Kim “Stats” Dae-Yeob, one of KT Rolster’s key Protoss players. He followed it with a 3-0 win against Won “PartinG” Lee-Sak and a 3-2 nailbiter over KeSPA Cup champ Joo “Zest” Sung-Wook.

But a fifth straight series win against a top Protoss wasn’t in the cards.

Still, it was an emotional run for Lee, his fans, and his family, seen here shedding tears of joy after Lee qualifies for the finals and gets jumped by his coach, Lee “Choya” Hyung-Seop.

He may not have won the tournament, but Lee touched the hearts of fans again in only the way he can. It was a fitting end to the tournament.

Even if “sOs” destroyed the photo finish, in only the way he can. The Protoss player has a reputation for wrecking fan expectations thanks to his wily and unforgiving tactics.

Screengrab via GOM eXP Official/YouTube