The StarCraft World Championship series is one of the longest running esport competitions in the world. While the competition has seen some excellent players, the championships have always been dominated by players from South Korea. Heck, the competition is South Korea’s national sport, and with their continued reigns, they’ve kept all other countries out of the Global Finals. This all changed when Finnish player Joona “Serral” Sotala joined the tournament, as he went on an unprecedented run this year, not losing a single match en route to the Global Finals at BlizzCon 2018. Then, he did the unthinkable, beating the defending champion Lee “Rogue” Byung-ryul in the Semi Finals, and then finishing off Kim “Stats” Dae Yeob in the Grand Finals to become the first non Korean to win the StarCraft II World Championship.
🌅 A NEW ERA DAWNS ‼
— StarCraft Esports (@esportstarcraft) November 4, 2018
On top of that, South Korea’s domination dates all the way back to when they officially started the competition with the Brood War expansion, which means that Serral is also the first non Korean to win any StarCraft Championship in nearly 20 years. That is an insane achievement, and something that we never thought would happen. Serral’s conquest includes winning four World Championship Circuit events this year, including the GSL vs. the World event last Summer. With an accumulated circuit score of 14,090, Serral was second in the power rankings, right behind Maru, the only player to who statistically had a better year.
Everyone expected Maru and Serral in the Grand Finals, however Maru was shockingly defeated early on in the tournament. This left Serral uncontested through the competition, as he went undefeated in every single matchup, leading to the Grand Finals against Stats. Serral took another 3-0 lead, until Stats starting fighting back by taking two wins in the set to go 3-2, making it the first time that Serral lost any matches throughout the tournament. The sixth match had everyone on the edge of their seats, as both players were neck and neck for most of it. Despite Stats having the advantage early on, Serral kept poking at his economy, dwindling down his supplies until Stats had nothing left. Recognizing his situation, Stats typed in the chat GG (Good Game) signifying his surrender, as the arena erupted, as a new champion was crowned.
Serral took home $280,000 for his efforts, and that sweet StarCraft II World Championship trophy, but he’ll be forever remembered for his achievement, and making history in the process. You can check out the entire Grand Finals between Serral and Stats here: