Over this past weekend, from Thursday until Sunday, the IGN Pro League broadcasted their StarCraft 2 and League of Legends tournaments to many thousands of fans world-over. Held in Atlantic City in Caesars and Bally’s, professional gamers from numerous countries competed together for their share of the prize pots. The battles were hard fought, and the outcomes were likely not what you would have expected.
The League of Legends Tournament
Both prior IPL tournaments have focused entirely on StarCraft, but this was the first time another game was included. A fairly logical choice given how quickly it has risen as an eSport, League of Legends was that new addition. Although smaller than the 32-player StarCraft 2 tournament, eight teams went head to head for their share of the $20,000 grand prize.
The initial games were held on Saturday as each team was paired off against another. The results are, if you follow League of Legends eSports, about what you would have expected. Counter Logic Gaming, Team SoloMid, EpiK Gamer, and Team Dignitas trounced their competition 2-0, each.
On Sunday, expectations were tossed out the window. EpiK Gamer went head to head with Team Solomid, once again literally pitting brother against brother, and EpiK claimed victory over one of the two biggest teams in the tournament. What was perhaps even more surprising was the match up between CLG and Team Dignitas. CLG, although placing only second in IEM Guangzhou, have basically won every tournament they entered after Riot’s big showing at the last Dreamhack. Team Dignitas, on the other hand, had only just picked up their new team, formerly playing under the name Rock Solid. They were also missing their top player, Voyboy, for the match, apparently due to age restrictions in the city. Largely dismissed, this match was expected to go to CLG, who would likely then go on to win the tournament.
That didn’t happen, and Dignitas claimed victory over the tournament favorites and progressed on to the final match. After a nail-biting, intense first game, EpiK took the win in the 60 minute long match. Dignitas responded in the second match, claiming a dominating win in under 30 minutes, and followed it up with the second, and final, win after another close match.
Congratulations to Team Dignitas for taking the championship title.
The StarCraft 2 Tournament
The main stage of IPL was dedicated to the StarCraft 2 tournament. Featuring 32 of the absolute best players from all over the world, this was an intense fight to claim shares of the $100,000 prize pot, and the $30,000 grand prize. Adding in their useful commentary was an extensive team of some of the best StarCraft 2 commentators: djWHEAT, Apollo, CatsPajamas, DoA, HDstarcraft, and PainUser.
While the group play had some interesting results, the real showing was the single elimination tournament. That’s also when things started to really go in unexpected ways. MC, after placing first in his group, lost soundly to the relatively new, fellow Korean Protoss player Inori in the first big upset of the tournament. IdrA showed that IEM Guangzhou was no fluke as he trounced Artist and ThorZaIN until he eventually fell to the excellent play of TheStC, who was another surprise of the tournament. The Korean Zerg Lucky began a path of domination against some of the best and most loved players in the game. Boxer, Ryung, Ret, and in one of the biggest upsets of the entire series, MMA, all fell as he secured his place in the Grand Finals.
The French player Stephano began a path of domination of his own. Starting off with some very close matches against KiWiKaKi, including perhaps the single greatest StarCraft 2 eSports match ever witnessed (the official video is still pending), he eventually took the win. Then he shut down viOlet, ended Inori’s amazing winning streak, and even claimed the rising star, TheStC.
This gave us a grand final match that no one could have ever anticipated: Lucky vs Stephano, Zerg vs Zerg. The first to four wins would take home the championship title. Despite excellent play from both players, including some back-and-forths, and extremely tense Zergling/Baneling dueling, Stephano took the title with a commanding 4-0 victory over Lucky, securing himself as the tournament’s champion.
Congratulations to Stephano for taking the title. You can also find the full, final bracket over at Team Liquid.
IPL3 and the Future
eSports tournaments are just about always excellent viewing. They’re filled with a lot of excitement and a lot of fun. This one was no exception, and the folks over at IGN put together a good show. They also put it together with surprisingly high production quality. With a split-screen capable stream viewer, full HD, good cameras, fancy venues, and excellent commentators, viewers were given quite the treat. Arguably the only real down point was on Friday when Atlantic City lost Internet for several hours after a car accident took out the backbone – hardly IGN’s fault.
During a live edition of Live On Three, the IPL’s creator, David Ting, talked about the history of the tournament and how it came to be. He also dropped some interesting information along with that: there will be at least four more IPL tournaments next year, each at least as big as IPL3, and probably bigger. He also hinted that more games would be included, and that we might even see both Counter-Strike and Quake in the future, along with Street Fighter 4.
It went a long way to signifying the explosive growth of eSports, and even Team Dignitas player SeleCT mentioned in one of the video interviews during the tournament that he believed eSports productions were getting better quicker than they did in Korea when Brood War blew up the scene.
While this was the last IPL for the year, it wasn’t the last eSports event. Later this week, the Intel Extreme Masters New York will begin. We’re already looking forward to it.