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Lee "Life" Seung Hyun is a professional Zerg player from South Korea currently playing for the team KT Rolster.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Wings of Liberty
- 2.1 Mar 2011–Jan 2012
- 2.2 Jan–Mar 2012
- 2.3 An asset to ZeNEX in team leagues (Apr – Jun 2012)
- 2.4 Failure to get into Code S (Jul 2012)
- 2.5 Big break in the TSL 4 (Jul – Sep 2012)
- 2.6 Walking down the Royal Road (Oct 2012)
- 2.7 First event (and first title) abroad (Nov 2012)
- 2.8 Winning the Blizzard Cup (Dec 2012)
- 2.9 The End of Wings of Liberty (Jan – March 2013)
- 3 Heart of the Swarm
- 4 Trivia
- 5 Achievements
- 6 Championships
- 7 HotS Matches
- 8 WoL Matches
- 9 Interviews
- 10 Gallery
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Life first received recognition when he joined team ZeNEX in March, 2011 for being the youngest professional player on a South Korean team at the time. He was highlighted in January 2012 as the third youngest player to appear in a televised StarCraft II match at age of 15 years and 11 days when he competed in a set of the GSTL Season 1. From April to July, Life became a major asset to ZeNEX in team leagues as he all-killed Team Liquid in the GSTL Season 2.
In August, 2012, he became a member of the team StarTale when it absorbed ZeNEX, allowing him to be involved in a more effective training regimen. Life's first premier result quickly followed in September during the TSL 4, placing second. He then achieved an unprecedented run in the GSL Season 4, coming all the way from the up & down matches to the grand finals where he defeated Mvp, to win the Code S as GSL's first royal roader. Life's first titles in a foreign events would occur in quick succession with a North American title in MLG Fall Championship and a European title Iron Squid in January, 2013. This would make Life Starcraft's first Zerg Triple Crown recipient.
During 2013, Life would step down from a dominating string of 5 consecutive premier championship titles at the midpoint of the year and begin to attain more mixed results. Respectable top 4 finishes were seen throughout with one championship in IEM Season VIII - New York over Naniwa. Life began to gather greater momentum by April, 2014, picking up a title in 2014 DreamHack Bucharest (completing his second triple crown). DreamHack helped to secure Life a seed for the annual year's end WCS Global Finals. Life would complete an unexpected title run as the 14th seed out of 16, winning the $100,000 over MMA.
Wings of Liberty
Mar 2011–Jan 2012
Life's career as a professional StarCraft II player began in March 2011 when he joined team ZeNEX. At 14 years of age and being six months older than Maru, he was one of the youngest progamers in the South Korean scene. Life's first appearance at an official tournament came on July 4, when he competed in the iCCup Korean Weekly #4. In that tournament, he knocked-out PuMa before beating Hack 3-0. Life ultimately placed second in that tournament, losing to JYP in the finals. The outcomes of his participation in the iCCup South Korean Weekly in the following two weeks were significantly poorer. He was eliminated by his first opponent, Lucky, in iCCup Korean Weekly #5, and he placed last in his iCCup Korean Weekly Season 1 Finals #1 group.
He achieved his first success with his victory at the iCCup Korean Weekly #6, where he beat jjakji, 4-3 in finals. Life continued to participate in these events (which were renamed ESV TV Korean Weekly on August 27, after the dissolution of iCCup TV) until the end of the first season in December. However, he was never able to go any further than the quarterfinals as he was frequently eliminated in the first rounds of the tournament on a regular basis. He was nonetheless invited to the ESV Korean Weekly Season 1 Finals #3, where he topped his group with two wins over InCa and Puzzle. He ended up losing to Squirtle in the quarterfinals.
Life also managed a commendable run in the FXOpen Korean King of the Hill Week #9 on 25 September, and was awarded a $200 prize for maintaining a six-win streak (over Noblesse, Leenock, MajOr, HwangSin and XiGua, before losing to TheBest).
On November 4, Life attended a major tournament for the first time in his career, having been picked by the team ZeNEX to be one of their two representatives for the Arena of Legends – Team Ace Invitational, along with SuHoSin (who then went by the handle Line). He was unable to make it to the main bracket as he placed third in his group with two wins (over Genius and SuperNova) and two losses (against MarineKing and NesTea).
On December 10, Life made his first appearance in a team league when ZeNEX faced Prime at the inaugural 2011 Korean StarCraft II League Daily – Team Event, defeating MarineKing and losing to BBoongBBoong.
Life also became a regular competitor in the 2011 KSL Dailies (attending five of the eighteen events), placing second twice and winning one of them.
On January 4, Life qualified for the GSL on his first attempt, defeating Sage in the preliminaries, thus obtaining a sport for the 2012 GSL Season 1 Code A. Despite his young age and lack of experience, he expressed self-confidence, saying that he had got used to the pressure of the competition.
At the end of January, Life got to play his first match on GOMTV's stage, as he was called by his coach as ZeNEX's ace player during their encounter with oGsTL in the winner's round one of the 2012 GSTL Season 1 group stage, as the two teams were tied 4-4. oGsTL's ace SuperNova took the upper hand, dropping ZeNEX to the lower bracket.
Life was the third youngest player to appear in a televised StarCraft II match, being aged 15 years and 11 days (the youngest being Maru, who had appeared in the 2010 GSL Open Season 1 at age 13 years and 41 days, and Creator, who played in the 2011 GSL May Code A at age 14 years and 56 days).
Life achieved the first all-kill of his career the very next day, February 8, when he single-handedly defeated Team ReIGN, whose line-up was comprised of giX, KiWiKaKi, Axslav, inori, and Artist, at the IPL Team Arena Challenge 2 loser's round one.
He was eliminated by Dream in the second round of the ESV TV Korean Weekly Season 2 Weekly #4 and lost to Lucky in the match between ZeNEX and FXOpen e-Sports in the 2012 GSTL Season 1 group stage. ZeNEX was therefore eliminated from this season, with Life going 0-2 record in the league. He also attempted to qualify for the IGN ProLeague Season 4, but was unable to do so in both open qualifiers.
From February 13–16, Life was invited to and competed in the ESV Season 2 Grand Prix, whose prize pool boasted paid travel and accommodation to Assembly Winter 2012 for the winner. He got through the first two group stages, going undefeated in the second round with three 2-0 victories over Squirtle, Ryung, and Sting. His run was ultimately ended by aLive in quarterfinals.
The next day, February 17, ZeNEX faced New Star HoSeo in the IPL Team Arena Challenge 2 loser's round two. Life was sent in first and defeated Freaky, only to be taken out by San in the second set. ZeNEX eventually lost the series, hence dropping out of the league. Life was an integral part of his team's performance in that league, with a 6-2 record throughout the season.
He was eliminated by MarineKing in the first round of the 2012 Korean StarCraft II League Daily Grand Opening. In the ESV TV Korean Weekly Season 2he was eliminated in the round of 32 in both the first week by TaeJa and the third week by AcE. In the KSL Team League - January where he couldn't prevent ZeNEX from dropping out in the first round, losing to KeeN. He also was able to make the difference for his team in the first round of the IPL Team Arena Challenge 2 he lost to PartinG. Toward the end of February and in early March, he began to participate in a new South Korean weekly online event, the Esports Weekly Match Season 1, where he placed second in the fourth week.
In early March, Life attempted to regain his lost Code A spot in the 2012 GSL Season 2 preliminaries. He failed to do so, as he was defeated by Skit. Afterwards, he was picked by ZeNEX to represent the team in the IPL Tournament of Champions, which featured a spot and a paid trip to the IGN ProLeague Season 4 for its winner. He was immediately sent to the loser's bracket by SuperNova, who defeated him 3-2 (despite an early 2-0 lead for Life). He was able to making his way through the lower bracket, defeating Artist and Apocalypse 3-0 and Polt in a tied series that he won 3-2. Life was eventually eliminated by HerO, finishing in the fifth/sixth place, earning him a $500 prize (his largest tournament prize winning at the time).
An asset to ZeNEX in team leagues (Apr – Jun 2012)
In early April, the Iron Squid – Chapter I group stage, which was played online, came to a disappointing end for Life, who placed third in his pool and missed the qualifying spots for the playoffs. His performance was nevertheless quite impressive; he had indeed defeated the much more experienced foreigners Stephano and MaNa, and had managed to tie the series against the Terran-versus-Zerg specialists MMA and jjakji (losing 2-1 to each of them). Toward the end of the month and in early May, he claimed some successes in Korean online events as well, defeating Creator, ByuN and BBoongBBoong in order to seal ZeNEX's victory over Prime in the 2012 KSL Team League season 1 round robin, reaching the semifinals of the ESV TV Korean Weekly Season 3 week #2 and week #4, and winning the Esports Weekly Match Season 2 week #5 (which earned him a spot in the EWM Season 2 finals that boasted a Code A spot for its future winner). This was followed by two disappointing appearances in the KSL Team League, respectively a win and a loss against StarTale (he beat Hack and lost to PartinG) and a straight up loss against FXO's asd. ZeNEX ultimately placed second in the group stage, hence making it to the penultimate round of the playoffs.
On May 21, Life challenged the seven other winners of the Esports Weekly Match Season 2 events in the EWM finals, with the prospect of regaining a Code A seed without having to attend the next preliminaries (which he had previously described as something he didn't want to ever do again). In a providential turn of events, Life's opponents turned out to all be Zerg players, giving him the opportunity of play only in his favourite match-up throughout the entire tournament and to win the Code A seed in the 2012 GSL Season 3 at the expense of HyuN, Lucky, and CoCa. A week later, on May 29, Life made his third appearance on GOMTV's stage as he was called by his coach during ZeNEX's encounter with Team Liquid in the 2012 GSTL Season 2 round 1. The young player eventually all-killed the foreign team, defeating Zenio, HerO, Jinro, HayprO and TLO in order to send ZeNEX in the group winners's match, played the next day. SlayerS-EG eventually proved itself a more challenging opponent in this match, but Life still managed to achieve a 3-kill (defeating CoCa, CranK and MMA) before losing to Puzzle, and his team lost the encounter 5-4. ZeNEX therefore faced New Star HoSeo for a spot in the second round, but was soundly beaten 5-1, with Life defeating Freaky and losing to San. Throughout ZeNEX's short-lived run in this GSTL, Life had achieved an overall 9-2 record, the third best record of this season despite only appearing in three matches.
The day after ZeNEX's elimination from the GSTL Season 2, on June 2, the team challenged Prime for a spot in the finals of the KSL Team League Season 1. Life joined the fray as his team's ace player, Prime leading 5-1 at this point. He wasn't able to pull off an upset, beating MarineKing before losing to Creator, and ZeNEX ultimately took the third place of the league. Life was still a key contributor to this achievement with his 7-4 record, the second best for his team after TREME’s 13-6 record and eleventh overall (though he was far behind another highlighted fifteen years old progamer, Maru, who topped the rankings with his 19-7 record). Later in June, Life won a second ESV TV Korean Weekly, the Season 3 Weekly #6, and unsuccessfully tried to qualify for the MLG Summer Invite-Only Qualifier via its Korean qualifiers.
Failure to get into Code S (Jul 2012)
On July 2, Life attended the non-KeSPA preliminaries of the 2012 OnGameNet Starleague Season 1, the first season of the prestigious league to be dedicated to StarCraft II. He managed to reach the finals at the expense of Heart and of MMA, but was upset by San in this last match, hence falling one step away from the qualification for the OSL. A week later, Life made his entry in the 2012 GSL Season 3 Code A, facing VINES in the round of 48. He swiftly defeated his opponent 2-0 in one of the shortest series in GSL history, using a 2 base Speedling/Nydus Worm all-in in game one and a 6-Pool in game two. After the match, he expressed his self-confidence, claiming that he would skip the up & down stage and proceed directly into Code S.
At the same period, still eager to qualify for a foreign offline event, Life attempted to get a spot in the IGN ProLeague Season 5, but was denied this opportunity by TheStC and CranK in the international qualifier and amateur championship, respectively. On July 12, the TeamLiquid StarLeague 4 qualifying phase came to an end, with Life getting a spot in the tournament as the best-ranked player (except for the ones who won individual qualifiers) on the Korean server, making him the only player from ZeNEX to attend the starleague. However, the next day, it was announced that ZeNEX would merge into StarTale on August 1, and that subsequently Life would be acquired by this team along with seven of his teammate (the merger was prompted by the financial and managerial issues that had been occurring within ZeNEX since December 2011, with its manager running the team with his own funds, the team losing its training house, and the players training at home).
A week after this announcement, on July 18, Life went on to play his round of 32 match in the 2012 GSL Season 3 Code A, where he was pitted against the former MLG champion Leenock. The latter player, not much older but much more seasoned than his counterpart, secured the series 2-0, becoming one of the few player who had outclassed Life in the Zerg-versus-Zerg match-up. Life later admitted that he had been overconfident in his ability in that match-up, and hadn't prepared himself enough for this match. The next week, Life was upset again in this match-up, losing 2-0 to HyuN in the ESV TV Korean Weekly Season 3 Grand Prix #2, despite a good start in the event with two flawless victories against Sting and YongHwa. On July 26, although not yet officially a member of StarTale, Life played his first team league match with his new team, which was facing Prime in the IPL Team Arena Challenge 3 losers's round five, and failed to make an impact as he was beaten right away by Maru (StarTale nevertheless won the series and proceeded to the next round). In this round, Life met again Team Liquid, which he had handily all-killed in the GSTL Season 2 two months earlier. He entered the fray as the encounter was tied 1-1, and took down Sheth, HerO and Ret before yielding to Liquid's ace TaeJa, whom ultimately eliminated StarTale from the league.
Big break in the TSL 4 (Jul – Sep 2012)
On July 29, Life made his debut in the TeamLiquid StarLeague 4, facing elfi in the round of 32. He secured the series 3-2, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to ensure his advancement to the round of 16. There, he made short work of the veteran Kas, who was crushed 3-0. Life claimed that the time he spent in the StarTale team house (since he was on vacation) had helped him practicing better, resulting in an improvement of his skills. He however confided to have come under pressure at the prospect of facing his new teammate Curious in the quarterfinals. Their encounter took place on August 19, and turned into an intense back and forth series where Life eventually emerged victorious with a score of 4-3. A day before the TSL 4 semifinals, where he was scheduled to challenge KeeN for a spot in finals, Life had to play in the 2012 GSL Season 4 up & down matches, in a tough group composed of Oz, Ryung and TheStC (the fifth player of the group, viOLet, had forfeited the up & down matches because of schedule issues). Despite being regarded as an unlikely contender for one of the two Code S seeds and losing his first game to Ryung, Life managed to take the upper hand over TheStC and Oz, hence making it to Code S for the first time of his career. He praised StarTale's training regimen for providing him practice partners rather than letting him laddering, and claimed that he felt confident in his chances of winning the league this season.
The next day, on September 1, 2012, Life went on to play his TSL 4 semifinals against KeeN, whom he regarded as a theatening opponent. The series nonetheless turned out to be clearly one-sided as Life crushed his opponent 4-1 in order to reach his first premier tournaments finals. This grand finals were played a week later, with Life challenging for the title another fifteen years old progamer, the recent World Championship Series Korea champion Creator, whom appeared to be confident that he would be able to deal with Life's unpredictable Zerg-versus-Protoss playstyle. The Zerg player made a good start, leading the series 2-1 as he managed to repel a Colossi/Chargelot/Archon all-in in game two and benefitted from an economic advantage achieved by delaying Creator's attempts to take an expansion in game three. His opponent nevertheless turned back the tables, winning the three next games ( tricking Life into thinking that he was performing an Immortal expansion build while he was actually going for an Immortal all-in in game five) in order to become the new TSL champion. Life therefore had to settle for runner-up place, earning $7,000 for this achievement (the largest prize he had ever won at the time).
Four days later, on September 12, Life made his first steps in Code S in the 2012 GSL Season 4. He topped his round of 32 group in an dominating fashion, dispatching the former undisputed master of the Zerg-versus-Zerg match-up, three-time GSL champion NesTea, as well as the PvZ specialist JYP, without losing a game (which made him the only undefeated player in all Code S groups). The same day, he appeared in the IPTL Season 1 Premier Division in the StarTale versus Incredible Miracle match, losing to the reigning GSL champion Seed after he had defeated YongHwa. A week later, Life went on to play his GSL round of 16, where he had been the last player to be picked by his counterparts, a feat that is regarded as a sign of being considered to be the most in form player at the time. He placed first in this group as well, beating Happy and the defending champion Seed (2-0 and 2-1, respectively), hence proceeding to the playoffs and keeping alive the hope of becoming the first royal roader of the StarCraft II era, i.e. to win either the GSL Code S or the OSL on the first attempt (at this point in the tournament, he was one of the two royal road candidates along with the KeSPA player Rain).
Walking down the Royal Road (Oct 2012)
On October 4, Life met MarineKing in the GSL quarterfinals, in what would be his first best of 5 series in the South Korean league, as well as a test of his ability to deal with the pressure of playing high-stakes matches in front of an audience. He went for an aggressive mass Zergling/Baneling playstyle throughout the entire series, which proved itself too much to handle for MarineKing, leaving the Terran player to concede a 3-1 defeat (Life pulled off a Hatchery ceremony in game 3 in order to attempt to provoke a mental breakdown in MarineKing's mind). Life explained afterwards that his main concern at this point was the prospect of having to go back to school, which would impact his training regimen in a negative fashion. Two days after this success, Life appeared in the 2012 GSTL Season 3 for StarTale's encounter with team MVP and delivered an average performance, defeating TAiLS and losing to KeeN. He was much more useful to StarTale four days later when it beat Team SCV Life 5-1 in the IPTL Season 1 Premier Division, as Life soundly defeated HyuN, Revival, Symbol and inori before losing to Polt.
On October 10, Life challenged TaeJa in the GSL semifinals. TaeJa, who had achieved a string of great results since the last summer (including victories in the MLG Summer Arena, in the Assembly Summer 2012 and in the DreamHack Open Valencia, as well as an outstanding record in the IPL Team Arena Challenge 3), had handily defeated the Zerg-versus-Terran specialist Leenock in the previous round, and had swiftly beaten Life every time they had previously faced each others, was regarded as the favourite. The Zerg player nonetheless pulled a major upset as he crushed TaeJa 3-0, with the latter player melting a massive build order lead in game two by lowering a Supply Depot as Life's Zerglings arrived on his base. After the series, Life expressed his willingness to break StarTale's second place curse (the team had indeed seen three of its players losing in GSL finals: RainBOw in the 2010 GSL Open Season 1, July in the 2011 GSL March, and Squirtle in the 2012 GSL Season 2) and his confidence that he would win the league no matter what happened. At the same period, he eventually qualified for what would be his first foreign offline tournament, the MLG Fall Championship scheduled to be held in early November, as he secured a seed in group play thanks to his run in the Korean Invite-Only Qualifier where he defeated aLive, Ryung, Alicia and MarineKing. Three days after his GSL semifinals, Life competed in the Iron Squid – Chapter II Korean qualifier, where he made his way to the finals at the expense of Sting, Polt and HyuN, but had to all-ined his games in the last match against Brown because he was about to be forced shutdown (in Korea, the law for the compulsory shutdown forbids the children under 16 years of age to play online from midnight to six in the morning). The runner-up place still awarded a spot in the Iron Squid Chapter II though, making him the only player to attend both seasons of the French league by mean of qualifiers.
On October 20, Life went on to play his GSL finals (he famously had to drop the traditional media day interviews prior to the finals because of time conflicts with his attendance at school). His contender was Mvp, arguably the most successful player of the StarCraft II era with four GSL titles. Life for his part was competing not only for the championship, but also to become the first royal roader in the GSL history (FruitDealer had won 2010 GSL Open Season 1 on his first attempt as well, but since this was the inaugural season of the league, he was not considered to be a royal roader) as well as the youngest player to ever win a major South Korean StarCraft II league, at age 15 years and 283 days (and the second youngest if the Brood War era is included, after Flash's victory in the 2008 Bacchus OSL during the Brood War era at age 15 years and 254 days). The young player took an early lead 2-0 in this best of 7 series, managing to deal with Mvp's mech army long enough to produce a deadly force of Broodlords, Corruptors and Infestors in both games. His two base Mutalisk rush in game three failed though, as Mvp slaughtered his Drones with blue flame Hellions, and he lost game four as well as his economy was decimated again by Mvp's Hellion play. The Terran player even won a third game in a row, destroying Life's Ultralisks with a Tank-heavy mech push in the fifth set. Now facing elimination, Life went for a standard opener in game six, and was able to get rid of his opponent's Hellions and to force a cancel on a greedily placed third Command Center so that he could safely secure a fourth base while teching up to Hive and Broodlord tech, which eventually overwhelmed Mvp's army in order to tie up the series 3-3. The deciding set, played on Daybreak, featured Mvp going once again for blue flame Hellions while Life chose to build an early pool, forcing a Command Center cancel on his opponent. The Zerg player tried to rush up to Mutalisks to catch Mvp off guard, and successfully repelled the latter's Hellions, but later had to switch to a Roach-Zergling-Infestor mid game play. This army composition allowed Life to fend off Mvp's attacks, and he safely transitioned to Broodlords, once again. Mvp could not get sufficient anti-air up in time, and ultimately had to concede the series. Life therefore achieved his goal of becoming the first royal roader in the GSL, the youngest champion of the league as well as the fourth Zerg champion, taking home a nearly $43,000 prize.
First event (and first title) abroad (Nov 2012)
On November 1, Life appeared as StarTale's ace player in the IPTL Season 1 Premier Division semifinals against team MVP, and defeated Sniper to send his team in the finals. The next day, he was in Dallas for the MLG Fall Championship, his first offline tournament played abroad, which he entered as a favourite under consideration of his recent achievements. His run went smoothly in the group play, as he dispatched MajOr and viOLet (2-0 and 2-1, respectively) and crushed TaeJa 4-0 in the span of two series. This earned him a seed in the winners's round one of the championship bracket, where he was pitted against the Brood War Bonjwa Flash. His opponent won the series 2-0, but they faced each other again in the semifinals after Life had made his way at the expense of Heart. In spite of starting with a 2-0 deficit under the rule of extended series, Life managed to pull a great upset as he won four games in a row, hence eliminating Flash with a 4-2 overall score and proceeding to the grand finals. His contender for the MLG title was Leenock, a two-time champion of the American league. Life made a poor start, soon trailing by two games as Leenock led 3-1 in this best of 7. However, just like in the semifinals against Flash, Life got back on his feet and won the series 4-3, hence becoming the MLG champion as well.
Winning the Blizzard Cup (Dec 2012)
In Code S Season 5, Life fell out in the Round of 16 after losing two matches to Soulkey in the group stage. However, his MLG Fall championship qualified him for the 2012 GSL Blizzard Cup. On December 18th 2012, Life came 2nd in his group behind reigning GSL Code S champion Sniper. He beat Sniper 2-1, took down the reigning OSL champion Rain 2-0, lost to viOLet 0-2, then won against Seed 2-1. This placed him second, 3-1 on matches and 6-4 on maps. In the Round of 6, he faced DongRaeGu, who he defeated in a very close 3-2 series, placing him against Leenock in the semifinals. This was a rematch from MLG Fall Championship, but this time Life was able to quickly thwart Leenock's formidable ZvZ with a 3-1 victory. In the finals, he played his teammate, PartinG, known for a very strong PvZ style in which he could play comfortably in the early game, the mid game and the late game. His 'WonWonWon' Immortal/Sentry push was known to be very strong and had helped him win the Battle.net World Championship. Life looked weak at first, losing the first 2 maps, one of those maps to the infamous 'WonWonWon' style, but he managed to come back, deflecting more of PartinG's powerful mid game pushes allowing him to overcome his opponent with superior late game play. He eventually pulled through, winning 4-2 and taking home $37,200. This championship was the highest point of Life's apparent domination in Korea.
The End of Wings of Liberty (Jan – March 2013)
On January 26th 2013, Life attended Iron Squid - Chapter II's main event, held in Paris, France. Life's first opponent MarineKing was taken down with a comfortable 3-1 victory, netting the young Zerg yet another final. The final was played against DongRaeGu, who had defeated NesTea in the other semifinal. DongRaeGu started out strong, defeating the young Zerg three maps in a row, but Life finally managed to break the losing streak and won the fourth map. That win set him up for an amazing comeback, where Life's heavy aggression was put on display, putting on a clinic and running over DongRaeGu. Life managed to turn the series around, and pulled off 4-3 reverse-sweep victory, winning $12,500 and taking his first European victory.
In GSL Code S 2013 Season 1, on February 15, Life again fell out in the Round of 16, falling to eventual champion RorO and rival PartinG, who had recently joined SK Telecom T1. He was able to defeat PartinG in their first meeting of the night by countering his Immortal pushes with fast Hydralisks, but fell in the rematch after having his counter countered by fast Collosi.
Heart of the Swarm
Continued Overseas Success, Korean Struggles (March 2013 – March 2014)
On March 15th 2013, Life attended the first Heart of the Swarm tournament after release, at 2013 MLG Winter Championship. Coming into the event, many people gave the Zerg players almost no chance in the event, due to some supposedly heavy balance issues. But Life proved once again why he is a force to be reckoned with. Life cruised through a defenseless Minigun in the round of 32, setting him up against Polt in the round of 16. The match was incredibly back and forth, but one thing stood out: Life's super aggressive Muta Ling Bane style, which carried him to a 3-2 victory. In the quarter finals, Life's opponent was STX Soul's Last. Once again spectators witnessed a back and forth match and Life's aggressive style won him another close 3-2 victory. In the semi-finals Life met the Protoss powerhouse MC, an opponent who had been on a tear through heavy hitters such as herO, MVP and Bomber. Unfortunately for MC, Life crushed MC in a short 3-0 victory, setting him up for a potential back to back MLG championship.
In the finals he once again faced KT Rolster's Flash, whom he had previously met at the MLG Fall Championship winners round 1 and semi finals, where he had emerged victorious with an extended series win of 4-2. The finals had an impressive amount of hype going in, with record stream numbers and the first KeSPA vs eSF finals in Heart of the Swarm. They both started out trading maps, Life showing his Muta Ling Bane aggressive style and Flash showing his superior macro ability and multitasking. At 2-2, Life put it into high gear and swarmed his opponent, whose Bio Medivac Widowmine style just couldn't keep up to the constant aggression. Life once again defeated Flash 4-2, making him the first back to back MLG Champion and earning himself $25,000.
In the GSL Code S (under the banner WCS Korea 2013 Season 1), on May 9, 2013, Life was eliminated in the Round of 16 for the third consecutive time. Again he was defeated by PartinG in the final match after beating him in their initial match. His aggressive Zergling attacks in the second match were deftly thwarted by PartinG's Forcefields and building placements. In the Winner's Match against INnoVation, Life was unable to overcome the Terran's strong macro play.
From June 8 to July 28, 2013, Life played in the online 2013 Ritmix Russian StarCraft II League Season 5. Throughout the tournament he played and defeated top level players such as SuperNova, MMA, Scarlett, and his teammate Bomber to win the tournament and its $4,000 first prize.
Life attended his first DreamHack event on June 15, 2013 at DreamHack Summer in Jönköping. After the withdrawal of several Korean players, Life was regarded as the heavy favorite of the tournament. In the Round of 8, however, he was defeated 1-2 by the Swedish player SjoW. Using a Mutalisk heavy style that had allowed him to get that far, his attempts to camp the production of his opponent were thwarted by superior upgrades from his opponent.
In WCS Korea 2013 Season 2, run by OGN, Life was eliminated even earlier than usual in the Round of 32 without taking a single map. After losing to FanTaSy in a similar fashion to his loss to SjoW, he fell to KangHo after squandering leads in economy and upgrades by relying too heavily on Roaches while KangHo acquired Hydralisks and Infestors more quickly. Falling to Challenger League, he was unable to even qualify for the next season's Premier League, losing to hyvaa in the third round of the bracket stage and going 2-2 in the Up and Down matches.
Life played at the 2013 DreamHack Open: Bucharest tournament on September 14, 2013. The tournament had a much larger than normal number of high-level Koreans, including 2013 WCS Season 1 champion INnoVation, 2013 DreamHack Open: Valencia champion HyuN, 2-time GSL champion MMA, and many others. Life easily topped his second group stage group, going 6-1 against elfi, Venus, and Tefel. He had more difficulty in the third group stage, and by the end of it he was tied in match score 2-1 with HuK and StarDust. Based on map score and head-to-head results, however, Life was still able to advance second in his group. Against Nerchio in the Round of 16, his first game was reminiscent of his loss against KangHo in WCS, as he lost substantial leads in supply and economy to start the series 0-1. He regrouped and was able to win the next two games to take the series 2-1. Against SuperNova in the Round of 8, Life again lost the first game, but this time seemed outclassed from beginning to end in terms of multitasking and game management. Life was able to recover and take the next two games, including a defense of a Blue Flame Hellion attack, to win this series 2-1 as well. In the semifinal match against TaeJa, Life attempted a proxy hatchery, but was unable to significantly hinder his opponent and lost the first game. He used a Roach/Baneling attack in the second game, but wound up at a deficit after TaeJa was able to defend with a third Command Center. Life tried to finish his opponent on only two bases, but was eventually worn down and had to concede the match 0-2. Although he did not win the tournament, his 3-4th place finish was enough to qualify for the 2013 DreamHack Open: Winter tournament.
Top of the World
Life produced more strong performances in 2014 as he gained more success in Korea, taking 3rd-4th place in the 2014 Global StarCraft II League Season 1 after losing 3-4 in a hard-fought series against soO. His biggest win of the year early on occurred at DreamHack Bucharest, where he secured the championship by defeating Leenock, Stardust, INnoVation and Impact in the playoffs, including at least one opponent of each race. He also gained Proleague experience as part of StarTale's partnership with Incredible Miracle.
He arrived at the WCS Global Finals as the 14th seed out of 16, but instantly created shockwaves when he beat Zest 3-2 and ousted one of the biggest tournament favorites. He then arrived at BlizzCon as the last Zerg standing but electrified the crowd, and fought his way to the top with more big plays off Speedlings - first in a 3-0 win against San in the quarterfinals (only the second time he had taken a series off him) and then in another 3-2 win over TaeJa in a back-and-forth semifinal series that featured Life using proxy Hatcheries twice. He then bested MMA in a matchup of fan favorites 4-1 to become both the WCS world champion and the first Zerg to win a Premier event at BlizzCon. (Zerg players had taken second place twice - NesTea had been runner-up at the 2011 BlizzCon Invitational while Jaedong had been runner-up in the previous year's Global Finals.)
After becoming the 2014 World Champion, Life was seeded into the SSL, and went through the GSL Qualifier, seeding him directly into Code S. There, he went through players like BrAvO, Trap and jjakji to qualify in second place of his bracket, only losing 2-0 to Seed. In the SSL Challenge series, Life beat KT Rolster's Flash 3-0 in dominating fashion to move on to the main stage of the tournament. Meanwhile, he was seeded into a Code S group together with Rain, GuMiho and Panic for which he was strongly favored to go through. He beat GuMiho convincingly and moved on to face Rain in the winners match, losing 1-2 in a very close series, before coming back and once again beating GuMiho.
In his SSL Round of 16 group, Life met 3 Protoss players in herO, Stats and Classic. With ZvP being by far his worst match-up (something he himself confirmed), many were worried going into the group and his 0-2 loss to herO at the beginning did not help that. However, Life managed to cheese his way out of the group winning 2-0 against both Classic and herO, moving on in second place despite his lack of confidence in the match-up.
Before playing his GSL Round of 16 group, Life was invited to participate in the IEM Taipei as one of the 4 wildcard invitees. In his first matches, Life crushed his group, moving through with a 4-0 score at the end, beating both San and Soulkey 2-0, leading him to meet HyuN in the Round of 8, whom he beat 3-1 in very convincing fashion. Now moving on, he was to meet PartinG, who despite achieving the same score of 3-1 as HyuN did, made life much harder for the World Champion than his previous opponent did. Now in the finals, he was to meet young Terran prodigy Maru. Despite winning the first map, Life quickly fell behind in 3 games going down 1-3 in total. However Life would do the seemingly impossible and won the next 3 games in a row, eventually finishing IEM Taipei in first place also qualifying him for the IEM World Championship in Katowice.
Only several days later, it was announced that Life would be leaving his long time team Startale, to join the KeSPA giant KT Rolster, where he would be hoping to train with the best of the best and improve even further.
Contrary to his SSL group several weeks earlier, his GSL group turned out to be a lot better for him, as he was able to move through very convincingly with a 4-1 record only dropping a single map against Soulkey, after beating YoDa very convincingly. Meanwhile he was seeded to play against Dear in the SSL Round of 8 and managed to beat him convincingly, to move on to the semifinals, where he was going to face the up and coming SKT Terran Dream. The match turned out to be a lot harder for him than many anticipated as Dream really pulled out his best cards in an incredibly back and forth series eventually winning in game 7 and taking the series 4-3 against Life who was now knocked out of the SSL Season 1.
The day after, Life played his GSL Round of 8 match against INnoVation, one of the best Terran players in the world. He stated that he was greatly displeased with his performance the day before and was going to show a much better performance.[Citation needed] He kept that promise, winning in dominating fashion in games 1 and 2 and although he lost game 3 and 4 he eventually won game 5 to move on to the semifinals. Before that however, he would first fly to Europe to the IEM World Championship in Katowice. However he was eliminated in the first round in a rematch against INnoVation. Coming back to Korea, he had little time left until his GSL semifinal against herO. The match itself turned out to be rather close with Life edging out the win in a game 7 and moving on to the finals where PartinG was waiting for him and a match that seemed as if it had happened several years ago. A few weeks later, the match was played out in another nail-biting series where in the end, he won the entire thing and was crowned the first GSL Champion of 2015 and the first Zerg player to win a GSL ever since Soulkey's win over INnoVation in the WCS Korea GSL Season 1 in 2013.
- Life is the third youngest player to have ever appeared in a televised StarCraft II match, being aged 15 years and 11 days as he played in the 2012 GSTL Season 1 group stage on January 28, 2012. The youngest remain Maru, who appeared in the 2010 GSL Open Season 1 at age 13 years and 41 days, and Creator, who played in the 2011 GSL May Code A at age 14 years and 56 days. Other players appearing in a televised match in their fifteenth year of age include Leenock, who made his debut in the 2010 GSL Open Season 2 at age 15 years and 202 days, TaeJa, who played in the 2010 GSL Open Season 1 at age 15 years and 258 days, sC, who competed in the 2010 GSL Open Season 3 at age 15 years and 282 days, and Dream who appeared in the 2012 GSL Season 4 Code A at age 15 years and 327 days.
- Life is also the youngest champion of a major South Korean StarCraft II league, winning the 2012 GSL Season 4 Code S at age 15 years and 283 days. Before him, jjakji was the youngest GSL champion, as he won the 2011 GSL November Code S at age 17 years and 290 days. However, he's only the second youngest champion in both the StarCraft: Brood War and the StarCraft II eras, behind Flash who won the 2008 Bacchus OSL at age 15 years and 254 days.
- Life's young age occasionally conflicted with his progamer career, either because of his school timetable (being a 3rd-grader in the Chul Sung Middle School in Ko Sung) or of South Korean laws regarding the youths. He indeed had to be given a day off from school in order to prepare himself for the 2012 GSTL Season 2 match against Team Liquid (which he eventually all-killed), had to throw away the finals of the Iron Squid – Chapter II Korean qualifier because he was about to be forced shutdown (in Korea, the law for the compulsory shutdown forbids the children under 16 years of age to play online from midnight to six in the morning), and couldn't attend the traditional media day interviews prior to the finals of 2012 GSL Season 4 because of time conflicts with his attendance at school.
- The Zerg-versus-Zerg is statistically Life’s best match-up, with a winning percentage of almost 75% in Korean events during his entire career (which is higher than NesTea's 72% winning percentage in Korean events). He achieved his most impressive win streak in that match-up from April 16 to June 14, winning 17 consecutive matches in Korean events (with a 28-3 record in games, a winning percentage of 90.32%), which earned him the highest ever TLPD ELO peak versus Zerg. He is also undefeated in team leagues against Zerg players since March 31, 2012 both in Korean and in foreign events.
- Life’s original nickname was NEXLife.
- After defeating NesTea, Happy, and Seed on his way to the round of 8 of the 2012 GSL Season 4, fans began to call him the “LG-IM Code S Killer”. He also defeated Mvp in the finals, another player from Incredible Miracle.
- Prior to his first GSL final, Life stated in an interview that he did not understand why people wanted to kiss their GSL trophies after they had won the championship. "I will not kiss the trophy", he added. After defeating Mvp 4-3, he did however end up kissing the trophy anyway.
- He is the first player to win two MLG Championships back to back, winning both 2012 MLG Fall Championship and 2013 MLG Winter Championship.
- Only player to win an MLG championship and a GSL championship in both Wings Of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm.
- Life is the fourth player to earn the unofficial "Triple Crown" achievement, behind MMA, MC and Mvp. He is the second player to complete an additional Triple Crown alongside Mvp.
- Although statistically his strongest match-up, Life has stated multiple times that he strongly dislikes ZvZ, due to his hands hurting while playing it. On the same note, ZvZ is the match-up that has led to most of his eliminations from tournaments, with Snute eliminating him at IPL5, Soulkey at 2012 GSL5 and RorO sending him to the losers' match where he would lose to Parting in 2013 GSL1.
- Between September 9, 2012 and November 30, 2013, Life went 19-0 in best of 5+ offline matches. His streak was ultimately broken by TaeJa at DreamHack Winter.
- Ranked 2nd on the Liquipedia list of Accomplishments in Premier Tournaments behind TaeJa.
- Life is the youngest WCS World Champion, achieving it at the age of 17.
- Life is the first player to make two consecutive finals at BlizzCon. While he won in 2014, in 2015 he lost a close series to sOs, who went on to become the first 2-time WCS World Champion himself.
|In Premier Tournaments|
|2015-11-07||2nd||2015 WCS Global Finals||3 : 4||sOs||$50,000|
|2015-05-05||3 - 4th||2015 KeSPA Cup Season 1||0 : 3||Dark||$1,822|
|2015-03-22||1st||2015 Global StarCraft II League Season 1||4 : 3||PartinG||$36,099|
|2015-03-05||3 - 4th||2015 StarCraft II StarLeague Season 1||3 : 4||Dream||$4,061|
|2015-02-01||1st||IEM Season IX - Taipei||4 : 3||Maru||$10,000|
|2014-11-29||2nd||2014 DreamHack Open: Winter||2 : 4||ForGG||$15,000|
|2014-11-08||1st||2014 WCS Global Finals||4 : 1||MMA||$100,000|
|2014-08-31||3 - 4th||IEM Season IX - Toronto||1 : 3||Zest||$2,000|
|2014-04-27||1st||2014 DreamHack Open: Bucharest||3 : 0||Impact||$10,000|
|2014-03-28||3 - 4th||2014 Global StarCraft II League Season 1||3 : 4||soO||$7,612|
|2013-12-07||3 - 4th||2013 ASUS ROG: NorthCon||0 : 3||Scarlett||$3,000|
|2013-11-30||2nd||2013 DreamHack Open: Winter||2 : 4||TaeJa||$15,244|
|2013-10-13||1st||IEM Season VIII - New York||4 : 2||NaNiwa||$10,000|
|2013-09-15||3 - 4th||2013 DreamHack Open: Bucharest||0 : 2||TaeJa||$3,080|
|2013-03-17||1st||2013 MLG Winter Championship||4 : 2||Flash||$25,000|
|2013-01-26||1st||Iron Squid – Chapter II||4 : 3||DongRaeGu||$12,500|
|2012-12-22||1st||2012 GSL Blizzard Cup||4 : 2||PartinG||$37,200|
|2012-11-04||1st||2012 MLG Fall Championship||4 : 3||Leenock||$25,000|
|2012-10-20||1st||2012 GSL Season 4||4 : 3||Mvp||$42,600|
|2012-09-08||2nd||TeamLiquid StarLeague 4||2 : 4||Creator||$7,000|
|In Major Tournaments|
|2015-10-26||1st||Kung Fu Cup 2015 #2||4 : 3||Stats||$9,369|
|2014-07-25||1st||The Big One||4 : 0||HyuN||$2,500|
|2013-07-27||1st||2013 Ritmix Russian StarCraft II League Season 5||4 : 2||Bomber||$4,000|
|In Minor Tournaments|
|2014-12-21||1st||CaseKing X-Mas Cup||3 : 0||ForGG||$1,224|
|2014-07-14||1st||Dragon Invitational Tournament #3||3 : 2||Leenock||$1,200|
|2014-06-12||2nd||Dragon Invitational Tournament #2||1 : 3||INnoVation||$500|
|2014-02-09||2nd||JoyGear Cup||1 : 3||Creator||$659|
|In Premier Team Leagues|