Kang "Nal_rA" Min is a retired StarCraft progamer from South Korea who played Protoss for KTF MagicNs. He is one of the most influential Protoss players in the history of StarCraft, having revolutionized the way the race is played against Zerg and Terran. He is called the Dreamer because of his daring play, where - as if seized by the moment and in a fit of wild inspiration - he would switch gears in the middle of a pre-planned build, cancel structures, and rush headfirst into wild (but risky) all-ins and strategies.
He was one of The Three Kings, as the most accomplished and influential of the three.
Nal_rA vs Kingdom
The professional career of Nal_rA began as it meant to go on: with a loss to friend and perpetual rival Kingdom in the 2002 3rd OnGameNet Challenge League. While this was not Kang Min's first attempt, having previously won tournament games against strong players such as Reach and TheMarine, it marked the beginning of Nal_rA as a competitive player who would be seen on the podium over the next four years.
As Nal_rA began developing his play, his results became obvious. In 2003, he won the 2003 Stout MSL with a victory over NaDa who was one of the best players of his era. Immediately afterwards, Nal_rA won a small showmatch against IntoTheRain and ChRh. Fresh off these victories, Kang Min once again cast his eyes on the most prestigious of tournaments, the OSL. That year, in the 2003 MyCube OSL, Nal_rA had a strong series of play, dropping only one game in pool play, and breaking through a strong lineup of players to reach the Grand Finals. There, he once again succumbed to his now-definitely-a-rival Kingdom, and received his OSL silver medal.
2003-2004 was the age of Nal_rA. Around this time he became known as a revolutionary player who pioneered new builds that would later become the standard and taught Protoss players how to win. With the 2003-2004 NHN OSL looming, Kang Min was an early favorite. As the event came to a close in March of 2004, and after beating the fierce talents of BoxeR, JJu, Reach, and Zeus, Nal_rA finally won his first (and only) OnGameNet Starleague championship.
At the 2004 SPRIS MSL, Kang Min would once again run into his old rival Kingdom in the semifinals, and once again was forced to bow out. Nal_rA took third place below runner-up Kingdom and the Terran iloveoov. This would put a halt to his long rivalry with Kingdom, but another rival would soon take his place. From here, Nal_rA's results would become more inconsistent.
The Holy Wars
At the end of 2004 and leading into 2005, Protoss players began to struggle in tournaments. Reach was frequently the only Protoss representative in tournaments, and he famously stuck with his race despite mounting pressure to change. This era was punctuated by then-newcomer Zerg prodigy sAviOr, who won his first MSL in 2005. He then won two more Starleague titles in short order. A new age for Zerg players emerged which lasted all the way to 2007. This was a period of darkness for Protoss as they were significantly disadvantaged in the matchup.
During this period, Nal_rA was one of the few Protoss players who had success against sAviOr. Nal_rA was widely considered one of the best PvZ players in the world, and sAviOr was arguably the best ZvP talent. These matches between Kang Min and "The Maestro" are known as The Holy Wars, and they were always highly anticipated. Their rivalry spanned across 3 MSLs, a Blizzard WWI tournament, and a Blizzcon Invitational. It totaled 17 games, with sAviOr winning 10 and Nal_rA winning 7 -- the highest win rate any Protoss had against sAviOr at the time.
Although the Kang Min of this period is most known for his matches against sAviOr, this is also the period where he made some of his more lasting contributions to PvT.
The Dark Ages
Nal_rA would continue to play on and off, with mixed results. He did not qualify for the 2004 IOPS OSL, another tournament where Reach was the only Protoss representative, nor the next three OnGameNet Starleagues.
On the other hand, his MSL runs were quite successful. He qualified for the 2005 LG CYON MSL, but fell into the loser's bracket and eventually lost. His highest placement at this time was in the 2006 Pringles MSL Season 1, where he finally defeated his old rival Kingdom in the semifinals before losing in the grand finals to his new rival sAviOr. In the 2006 Pringles MSL Season 2 of the same year, Nal_rA did not initially make it out of pool play. However, BoxeR forfeited his spot due to his upcoming military service, and Nal_rA won the tiebreaker bracket to enter the tournament. He went on to claim fourth place.
2007 saw more success for Nal_rA, where he advanced through the MSL brackets in the 2006 GOMTV MSL Season 1. Nal_rA had success against some of the stronger players of the year: Canata, XellOs, Justin, before falling to Bisu. Besting the young Bisu in pool play was a significant feat, so when the two were matched up once again in the semifinal brackets, there was much anticipation.
Bisu summarily bested Nal_rA 3-0, and then went on to defeat sAviOr in the historic grand finals match. With Bisu's 3-0 victory over sAviOr, he put an end to the Protoss Dark Ages, and he did so using a variant of Nal_rA's Forge FE and modified Corsair opening. Thus, Kang Min's legacy was cemented in the annals of Brood War.
The Later Years
In 2008, Nal_rA announced his retirement from StarCraft, becoming a commentator for MBCGame and later OnGameNet. In doing so, he continued his historic rivalry with Kingdom, his now co-commentator and friend. On October 22 2009, TeamLiquid's lilsusie interviewed him. During the interview he revealed some of his thoughts on StarCraft and StarCraft 2.
In 2010, Nal_rA - now a veteran commentator - surprised fans by announcing his intention to qualify for the Korean Air Starleague Season 2. For this attempted comeback, OGN followed Nal_rA with a film crew to document his journey. This show became known as "Old Boy", and aired for a total of 13 episodes. His bid was cut short when, during the final episodes of the show, Nal_rA received the call to enter mandatory military service. As he entered the military in June of 2010, the StarCraft world bid him a temporary farewell.
Between 2002 and 2005 there were three Protoss players considered a notch above the other Protoss players of the era. They were called The Three Kings, with Nal_rA being the most accomplished of the three.
Although Nal_rA's most memorable games showcase his wild and inventive Dreamer builds, his true legacy is one of a lasting impact on the Protoss race. In his quest for innovation, Nal_rA developed a number of builds and strategies that would later become the gold standard.
On Neo Guillotine, Nal_rA created what is possibly the first consistently successful Forge Fast Expand vs Zerg build. This high-economy fast expand build led to even more inventions by Nal_rA, and he soon pioneered the use of Sair/Reaver - traditionally an Island Map strategy - against Zerg. Although Sair/Reaver would eventually give way to Sair/DT, it remained part of the standard Protoss arsenal until 2007.
Nal_rA's contributions to PvT is less striking, but he did introduce new ideas and at least one new build. He was one of the first Protoss players to explore the use of Arbiters in PvT, a strategy that was practically unheard of before 2005. Anytime, Pusan, and Stork would later develop this idea further, and now Arbiter tech is widely considered the most standard and vital part of lategame PvT. In 2005, Nal_rA played a Proleague game against NaDa on R-Point, where he became the first Protoss to successfully execute the 12 Nexus build on a land map and win. 12 Nexus soon became part of the standard PvT arsenal, and is still in use to this day. This ability to fast expand vs Terran also led to 2-base Arbiter play, a combination of his contributions to PvT.
Despite this lasting impact, Nal_rA is still most known for his wild rushes, unorthodox builds and cheese plays. He would often rely on Probe micro to fend off his opponent, and he made brilliant use of Photon Cannon rushes that were so cleverly placed that it seemed as though the maps were designed with him in mind. For his creativity, Nal_rA has been called the Protoss BoxeR, and his use of cannons earned him the nickname Flower Toss.
- In an interview he mentioned his favorite unit is the Protoss Archon.
- Nal_rA used a ball mouse for most of his career.
- During a match on MBCGame, Nal_rA suddenly paused the game. When asked by the commentators whether he was experiencing technical problems, Nal_rA abashedly responded with a request for a tissue to blow his nose. Nal_rA earned the nickname of "snot toss" from the incident.
- Once accidentally paused at the start of the game while trying to access the options menu. Pressing P instead of O led to a disqualification under KeSPA rules.
|In Premier Tournaments|
|2007-03-03||3 - 4th||2006-2007 GOMTV MSL Season 1||0 : 3||Bisu|
|2006-11-11||3 - 4th||2006 Pringles MSL Season 2||1 : 3||sAviOr|
|2006-07-16||2nd||2006 Pringles MSL Season 1||1 : 3||sAviOr|
|2004-08-29||3rd||2004 SPRIS MSL||1 : 3||Kingdom|
|2004-03-21||1st||2003-2004 NHN OSL||3 : 1||Zeus|
|2003-11-09||2nd||2003 MyCube OSL||1 : 3||Kingdom|
|2003-07-19||1st||2003 Stout MSL||3 : 0||NaDa|
|In Major Tournaments|
|2006-02-04||1st||Blizzard World Wide Invitational 2006||2 : 0||YellOw||$10,000|
|2nd||2005||K-SWISS OnGameNet Dual Tournament Round 1|
|1st||2004||OnGameNet Intel The Games Opening Best Couple League|
| MyCube OSL
| NHN OSL
21st March 2004-31st July 2004
| Gillette OSL|
| Baskin Robbins KPGA 4th Tour
| Stout MSL
19th July 2003-6th November 2003
| TriGem MSL|
Nal_ra's Old Boy Series
Similar to MBC's beloved Hyungjoon series, OGN decided to launch its own rendition of a famous celebrity in his journey to become a progamer. However, rather than picking out a random pop culture celebrity, OGN chose its own Kang Min, everyone's favorite Dreamer Toss in his quest to compete in the starleagues once more.
- Nal_ra's Old Boy: Episode #1
- Nal_ra's Old Boy: Episode #2
- Nal_ra's Old Boy: Episode #3
- Nal_ra's Old Boy: Episode #4
- Nal_ra's Old Boy: Episode #5
- Nal_ra's Old Boy: Episode #6
- Nal_ra's Old Boy: Episode #7
- Nal_ra's Old Boy: Episode #8
- Nal_ra's Old Boy: Episode #9
- Nal_ra's Old Boy: Episode #10
- Nal_ra's Old Boy: Episode #11
- Nal_ra's Old Boy: Episode #12
- Nal_ra's Old Boy: Episode #13
- vs GooDFriend, on Parallel Lines 3, at the 2004 SPRIS MSL - Hallucination Recall - the quintessential Nal_rA game.
- vs Midas, on Raid Assault, 2004, You Are the Golf King MSL - The little shuttle that could. Follow it's exploits in first person view.
- vs Casy, Peaks of Baekdu, Shinhan2006-1 OSL - How does Nal_rA respond to his opponent scouting his proxy? He re-proxies somewhere else, of course. Then he proxies more buildings in other locations.
- vs NaDa, on R-Point, SKY2005 Proleague Round 2 - Nal_rA debuts the 12 nexus build, and upon scouting it NaDa chooses a less-than-optimal 2 Factory. This game ended the 12nex vs 2fact debates before they even happened, as rA's 12nex was easily designed to handle any kind of factory-based aggression - even though his goon micro was nowhere near what it is today.
- vs Kingdom, on Nemesis, Shinhan Proleague 2007 - An epic PvP featuring one of the great Protoss rivalries.
- vs sAviOr, Shin Peaks of Baekdu, 2006, Pringles-2 MSL - At the apex of the Holy Wars we were presented with this strong game. Huge late game armies, and an elimination race for the ages.
- vs sAviOr, Rush Hour 3, 2006, Pringles-1 MSL Finals, Game 2 - Combining a +1 speedzeal attack with an early version of 4Gate/2Archon, Nal_rA punishes sAviOr's overexpansion.
- vs Chojja, The Eye, 2006, Pringles-1 MSL - Also capable of playing standard as well as any protoss of the time, Nal_rA shows us how to break a lurker contain with amazing storm usage.
- vs ZergMaN, Rush Hour 3, Shinhan2006-1 OSL - Nal_rA cannon rushes ZergMaN, who responds with an offensive hatchery.
- vs JulyZerg, Monty Hall, 2007, GomTV MSL 2, Game 2 - Nal_rA meets Monty Hall. Everyone is used to seeing weird stuff from the Dreamer, but no one could have envisioned a game as crazy as this one.
- (Korean)/ (English) vs Orion Blue Storm, 2007, GOMTV MSL S3 - Nal_rA proxies many structures into Orion's natural, including a well placed first cannon.
- vs TheWinD, on Arizona, 2005, MBC Team League - In an efficient game, Nal_rA shows us how to defeat Zerg using just the first couple reavers and dragoons produced. Several buildings were proxied.
- Nal_rA vs Reach, 2002
- Nal_rA vs TheMarine, 2002
- GO Special Event
- EVER2004 OSL
- IOPS OSL
- EVER2005 OSL
- 2004 You Are the Golf King MSL
- 2005 LG CYON MSL
- Bifrost ZvP Stats
- Mercury ZvP Stats
- sAviOr ZvP stats 2004-2005
- Fan poll of MU players
- TeamLiquid article calling sAviOr the "best ZvP player of all time"
- sAviOr ZvP stats 2004-2005
- TeamLiquid wrote lengthy love letters to Nal_rA
- Bisu Build
- sAviOr vs Bisu - MSL Finals Retrospective on TeamLiquid
- Nal_rA moves to OGN
- On the bench with Nal_rA
- Nal_rA's mouse thread on TeamLiquid
- Nal_rA cleans his ball mouse on the TV show Nal_rA's Oldboy
- Nal_rA pauses and requests a tissue
- Nal_rA's pause disqualification