StarCraft has always seen a divide between Korean and non-Korean players (every country outside of South-Korea). Korean players have dominated tournaments since the release of StarCraft: Brood War. This remains true in 2019, where Koreans dominate most tournaments. American player Neeb wrote history in 2016 by winning Kespa Cup in Korea. In 2018, Finnish player Serral managed to close the gap with South-Korea once and for all. First he defeated the Koreans on their home turf in GSL vs The World, and then he even defeated them on the biggest stage ever: The WCS Global Finals.
Top 5 Korean players of 2019
Maru did the impossible in 2018: Winning all three GSL’s. He seemed well on his way to win the WCS Global Finals too, until he abruptly got 3-0’d by teammate sOs. Nobody can deny however that he is the #1 Korean player and only Serral can match him. Maru displays a scrappy playstyle, creating chaos by creating his buildings near his opponents and constantly harassing their bases.
GSL and SSL winner Stats is currently the top Protoss player. Stats was the number 1 player in WCS points in 2017. His unparalleled defence makes him one of the most consistent players ever and earned him the title ‘Shield of Aiur’. Stats used to be in the shadow of Flash and Zest at KT Rolster. He proved that he has become one of the best players himself in 2016 and has continued this form in the following years. He lost the finals of the WCS Global Finals to Serral.
The eternally underrated Protoss. Classic always manages to fly under the radar and win tournaments out of nowhere. And every time expectations rise after his wins, he gets knocked out somewhere early. Currently, expectations are high again as Classic won GSL Super Tournament 2 and the GSL in the last six months. Let’s see if he manages to become more consistent and claim his rightful spot in the top 3 in the world.
Terran player TY became the youngest professional eSports player ever when he was 12 years old. He won his first premier tournaments 11 years later in 2017. These were the IEM World Championship and WESG. TY uses an aggressive but intelligent playstyle.
Dark was always seen as a big tournament threat but somehow never delivered. After countless second places, Dark finally managed to win the GSL in 2019 and establish himself as the top Korean Zerg.
Top 5 non-Korean players of 2019
Serral closed the gap with South-Korea by becoming the first non-Korean World Champion. His standard but solid playstyle makes him incredibly consistent, as Serral hardly loses to anyone anymore. He showed this consistency by winning all four WCS Circuit events, GSL vs The World and the WCS Global Finals in 2018.
Neeb won Kespa Cup in 2016 to become the first non-Korean to win a Korean tournament in over 15 years. In 2018, he broke another record by becoming the first non-Korean to reach the GSL semifinals since 2010. Even when Serral has surpassed him, Neeb shows that he can always compete with the best.
Mexican Terran player SpeCial has been playing StarCraft 2 since 2010. He leveled up his gameplay in 2017, resulting in two WCS top 4’s. SpeCial surprised the world by defeating Classic at the WCS Global Finals and reaching the quarterfinals. In 2019, SpeCial is a familiar face in the GSL, getting out of his pools twice. He also got second place at WCS Spring, only losing to Serral.
Scarlett is a very familiar face in the Western StarCraft scene. Her breakout tournament was IPL4 in 2013, where she made several upset wins after only playing the game for 6 months. She’s been on the top ever since, a unique feat as a female gamer. Scarlett’s biggest achievements in 2019 were 2 losses in finals: WCS Winter Americas to Neeb and GPL to INnoVation.
Reynor finally had his breakout year in 2018. The 16 year old Italian zerg travelled to South-Korea to practise and compete with the best. His efforts proved worthwhile: Reynor reached the WCS Montreal finals, where he narrowly lost 3-4 to Serral. Reynor got his revenge in the WCS Winter Europe, where he finally defeated Serral in the final to claim the trophy.
StarCraft 2 Hall of Fame
Mvp was known as the ‘King of Wings’ in Wings of Liberty. Mvp had the most dominant reign of any StarCraft 2 player ever. He unfortunately had to retire due to hand injuries. Mvp won four GSL titles, a feat only rivaled by INnoVation. Common opinion is that Mvp is still the greatest player of all time.
A Zerg prodigy. Life won the first GSL he ever attended when he was just 15 years old. He continued to become the best player in the world. Life could’ve challenged Mvp for greatest player of all time, if not for a major scandal. Life was declared guilty of matchfixing in 2016. He was stripped of all his titles in Korea and sentenced to prison.
Known as the Boss Toss, MC was the best Protoss player ever. MC conquered countless tournaments, including two GSL’s. He was one of the first Koreans to join a western team and regularly attend international tournaments. MC is still the top earner in StarCraft 2 with over 500.000 dollar in prize money. His eccentric personality made him one of the most popular players ever.
The king of international tournaments. TaeJa won 11 premier tournaments, more than any other player. Although he never won a tournament on Korean soil, TaeJa regularly defeated every top Korean and international player. TaeJa was also one of the best team league players. He notably scored 7 kills in a row in the IPL TAC3 finals against Incredible Miracle.
INnoVation was the first player after Life to challenge Mvp for greatest of all time. He won four GSL’s but is the only player in this top 5 who is still active. INnoVation is nicknamed ‘The Machine’ for his strong macro-gameplay and emotionless attitude.