Photo by: ESL
Eo “soO” Yoon Soo’s tears choked his voice on one of the biggest stages of StarCraft 2. In front of a stacked crowd in Spodek Arena, Katowice, the Korean Zerg had defeated his own demons. He had won a premier international championship after struggling for six years.
In StarCraft 2, soO is known as a “Kong” — a StarCraft term labeling players who tend to get second places all the time. It began with the legendary Hong “YellOw” Jin Ho, who lived in the shadow of the even greater Lim “BoxeR” Yo Hwan and never won a major StarLeague title. The StarCraft franchise has known many Kongs in its time, but none of their stories comes closer to soO’s.
Before IEM Katowice, soO had played at 10 premier grand finals. Out of all, he won only one, the 2015 KeSPA cup — a way less prestigious tournament than Korea’s highest stage: the GSL. And the GSL has not been kind to soO. Between 2013 and 2017, he made the GSL finals six times and lost all six finals. He was feeling cursed. In November 2017, he even made it to the grand finals of the very World Championship — and lost that one too.
soO could not get a single moment of respite.
“When I lost the first two games [to Stats in today’s IEM Katowice grand final], I thought, ‘Oh, god, it is happening again,” soO said on stage after he finally broke his curse, winning the match 4-2 against Kim “Stats” Dae Yeob, the Protoss who beat him at that 2017 Worlds Grand Final.
soO found it hard to continue, his voiced drowned in the emotion in the wake of this historic moment for the Zerg. But Spodek knew full well what was in the heart of the veteran. Everyone knew.
“I came here knowing it could be the last time I compete for the trophy.”
soO can now look at his championship-winning comeback and hope that this is a sign for more victories to come. The Zerg is already qualified for the 2019 World Finals by the power of his win in Katowice but there’s more competition to be had and more trophies to be won. On Mar. 9, soO will return to Korea to play the round of 16 in GSL Season 1.
Just maybe, this could be the year soO finally wins the domestic title he has chased for half a decade.