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Exceptionalism in strange ways: The soO and TaeJa case

Chiu on This
A short and regular opinion blast from Stephen Chiu

‘Chiu on This’ is a short and regular opinion blast

This weekend soO will play his sixth Global StarCraft League final. That will be the most times a player in SC2 has ever been in a SC2 final (excluding Mvp, as one of his finals being a the GSL WC, which was a different format and a weird case that either counts or doesn’t count depending on who you ask). He is also the first player to have ever been in four GSL finals in a row. In addition to that, soO has the longest consistent peak of skill in arguably the highest skilled era of SC2 from the end of 2013-2014 (World’s No. 2 the entire time). Other players have had higher peaks, but for shorter times. Mvp was the world’s No. 1, but only earlier on in the game from 2011-2012 and for a similar amount of time. TaeJa could have had an era of consistency spanning two years, but it was punctuated by a few months of weakness in early 2013 and 2014. Despite never winning a GSL final and only winning one final in his career (a KeSPA cup), soO’s career can be considered exceptional in ways no one else can match.

In that sense, he is similar to TaeJa in that he puts a very strange question to the mind of spectator. The reason TaeJa has become such a contentious figure is that he creates a very strange paradox. If there was a player who could win more weekender tournaments in the world and happens to beat all of the best players throughout his runs, but cannot win a GSL or prep tournament, where does he rank? We’ve seen other great players with similar chances not match a number of weekenders TaeJa has won like Parting, INnoVation, DRG, MKP, and others. In terms of top 10 players TaeJa has beaten, he ranked third highest of any player I’ve seen, I counted. So where does he go?

For TaeJa, the question was if you can win everywhere but GSL (and even in GSL he has had multiple deep runs), how far can you go? For soO, the question is if you can win everywhere but the finals, how far can you go?


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