Designated Loser

July 12th, 2015

soO defeats Dark 4–1 in the grand finals of the KeSPA Cup, and everyone rejoices.

In three years of StarCraft II, soO has been to five finals and returned with zero championships. By kissing the KeSPA cup trophy, he has broken the curse. He is no longer a symbol of failure, no longer the object of our sympathy, no longer a kong.

A few months later, it’s as if the KeSPA Cup victory never happened. The goalposts have been moved — soO is now a 0–4 failure in GSL finals, and he’s once more a kong.

October 3rd, 2016

Neeb defeats Trap 4–0 in the grand finals of the KeSPA Cup, and everyone rejoices.

Korea has dominated competitive StarCraft since the moment it began, and no foreigner has won a major StarCraft tournament on Korean soil in over sixteen years. Neeb’s triumph doesn’t just belong to him — it’s shared with an entire generation of players who have waited for the day the gods became mortal.

With his victory, Neeb changes StarCraft history. The 2016 KeSPA Cup will never be forgotten.

In light of soO’s fifth on GSL finals defeat on Saturday night, I have to wonder why this hypocrisy is allowed to exist.

One reason is that it’s self-inflicted by soO. He wasted no time in devaluing the KeSPA Cup after winning, bringing up its inferior WCS Tier 2 status during his post-match press conference. He talked about how with Tier 3 and Tier 2 victories in hand, he hoped to move on and win a Tier 1 championship in the future. Hard to argue with the man himself.

But let’s say soO actually did embrace the victory wholeheartedly, treating it as a moment of absolution that washed away his past. There’s no way we would have let him get away with it.

That brings me to the second, more important reason that soO is a kong and Neeb is a champion: It’s because we want him to be a failure, because it’s more entertaining that way.

Photo: Kevin “Silverfire” Chang

It’s nothing new — the StarCraft collective consciousness has been choosing entertaining stories over boring reality for decades. It may be obvious, but look at it this way…

Stork gets to be in the Taekbaengleessang, even though his accomplishments pale in comparison to the other three. The GameTV StarLeague, KT-KTF Premier League, and Gom Classic have been excluded from Brood War canon, while WCG is still considered a meaningful tournament. Sniper is a loathsome player for winning with Brood Lord-Infestor, while Stephano is a legend. Polt is a “Korean” and SeleCT is a “foreigner.” TaeJa is an all-time great with eleven championships while soO is a human manifestation of failure.

Even if it is obvious, it’s still ridiculous to count the number of markedly stupid and irrational things we believe, just because they make StarCraft more enjoyable.

Sadly, for soO, I can’t say any of this is wrong. Silly, for sure, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. After all, we’re all here to be entertained, and sometimes that means taking entertainment into our own hands. Even if it isn’t fair, or doesn’t make any sense at all, we will have our winners and losers, heroes and villains, and our triumphs and tragedies.

So, thank you, soO.

Thank you for being our loser.

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