Without any competitive background in e-sports, TaeJa began his progamer career during the summer of 2010 and remained a relatively unknown player for roughly ten months despite qualifying for the first ever season of the GSL. He started to make a name for himself after he joined team SlayerS in May 2011, as he achieved two all-kills in the GSTL and made his first appearance in Code S at age sixteen in the GSL October. Toward the end of the year and in early 2012, he completed a string of victories in ESV TV Korean Weeklies, but found himself unable of delivering noteworthy performances in offline events as well, dropping into Code A in December.
TaeJa signed for Team Liquid in March 2012, and rose to prominence during the next months. During the summer, he carried his team to the finals of the IPL Team Arena Challenge 3, achieving an unprecedented 23-3 record in the league. He became successful in individual tournaments as well starting this period, winning the MLG Summer Arena, the Assembly Summer 2012 and the DreamHack Open Valencia 2012, and reaching the semifinals of the MLG Summer Championship and of the GSL Season 4 – Code S.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Wings of Liberty
- 2.1 First Year as a Minor Player (Sep 2010 — Sep 2011)
- 2.2 Debut in Code S, Leaving SlayerS (Oct 2011 — Mar 2012)
- 2.3 Increased Presence in the Foreign Scene (Apr — Jul 2012)
- 2.4 First Titles, Carrying Liquid in IPL TAC (Jul — Aug 2012)
- 2.5 String of Good Results (Aug 2012 — December 2012)
- 2.6 Optimistic ending for the age of Wings of Liberty (January 2013 - March 2013)
- 3 Heart of the Swarm
- 3.1 New game, new beginnings, and more results to come (March 2013 — September 2013)
- 3.2 After a mixed performance in WCS, finishing the year on a high note (October 2013 — December 2013)
- 3.3 Getting back into the groove, and wrist problems (January 2014 - July 2014)
- 3.4 The end of the 2014 season (August 2014 - January 2015)
- 3.5 2015
- 4 Legacy of the Void
- 5 Trivia
- 6 Replays
- 7 Achievements
- 8 Championships
- 9 Gallery
- 10 Interviews
- 11 Articles
- 12 References
When he was in kindergarten, TaeJa's parents ran a PC Bang (a South Korean LAN gaming center), where he encountered StarCraft: Brood War. He first tried StarCraft II when the open beta started in August 2010, and ended up placing high on the ladder. While he was debating whether he should pursue gaming or continue his studies, his South Korean teacher suggested he try out for the GSL preliminaries. He was able to make it through the qualifiers, and made his GSL debut that way. He resumed his studies after that, but felt that it just didn't fit him. His parents were very against it when he told them he would play StarCraft II professionally, but with his brother's help he was able to become a progamer.
Wings of Liberty
First Year as a Minor Player (Sep 2010 — Sep 2011)
TaeJa's first official StarCraft II match took place in the GSL Open Season 1 in September 2010. Then a member of the South Korean clan NEX, he was granted a defwin in the first round, and met FruitDealer in the round of 32. The Zerg player, who would later win the entire tournament, handily won the series and eliminated TaeJa from the league. A month later, on October 18, NEX merged with clan Zenith to become team ZeNEX.
“Back then, I was studying hard, even staying for evening study sessions at school. I was barely able to practice, so I told myself I'd just participate [in the GSL Open Season 1] for the sake of the experience. I got a walkover in the RO64, so I think I got too nervous for the RO32 match. Since then, I always tell myself not to get nervous when I play games.”— TaeJa, Welcoming an Incredible Talent
TaeJa, who had failed to qualify for GSL Open Season 2 and 3, found himself tied with twenty-one other players in the 2010 GSL rankings. GOMTV organised tiebreakers in December to determine which of them would be seeded in the upcoming 2011 GSL January Code A, and TaeJa failed to earn a spot. In January 2011, he was used by ZeNEX in the Zotac Team Invitational Season 2 Group Stage, delivering an unimpressive performance with a 2-4 record. In March, TaeJa failed to qualify for the 2011 GSL May, losing to SuHoSin in the preliminaries. At the end of the month, he was reported to have left team ZeNEX, and later joined SlayerS at an unknown date in April or May 2011.[when?] However, he didn't move into SlayerS team house, preferring his own individual practice routine. TaeJa made his first apparition in his new colors in the best possible way, all-killing his former team ZeNEX (beating Puzzle, CoCa, ByuN, and Kyrix) in the GSTL May (an achievement that would remain his most memorable moment with team SlayerS upon leaving it in March 2012). SlayerS eventually won the league, with TaeJa playing only one more game which he lost to Leenock. Later in May, he bested his teammates in the Clash of the Houses: SlayerS, hence earning a spot in the main event which featured a paid trip to the 2011 MLG Columbus for its winner. In this event, he made his way to the finals at the expense of MarineKing and GuMiho (who then was a Random player), only to narrowly lose to July and to miss his opportunity to attend a live foreign event.
TaeJa, who had still yet to qualify for the GSL Code A, attended the LG Cinema 3D Special League in June 2011 after winning his regional qualifier. His run in the tournament was short-lived though, as DongRaeGu eliminated him in the first round. Two months later, he finally qualified for the GSL at the expense of BBoongBBoong, earning a spot in the 2011 GSL August Code A (which would be his first participation in the league since the 2010 Open Season 1 more than a year before). TaeJa's debut in Code A was almost flawless, as he defeated TAiLS, sC and JYP in order to reach the semifinals. Before that match actually occurred, TaeJa achieved the second all-kill of his career, beating SocceR, Moon, ThorZaIN and NaNiwa of team F.United in the 2011 GSTL Season 1 group stage. This all-kill would be the only victory for SlayerS during this season of the GSTL, the team eventually ending up at the last place of its group. A few days later, on August 22, TaeJa was swept 3-0 by GanZi in the Code A semifinals, meaning that he would still have the opportunity of earning a Code S spot via the upcoming up & down matches played in early September. He placed first in his group, qualifying for the next Code S season. TaeJa was successful in the WCG 2011 Qualifiers as well, beating Sniper and GuMiho to proceed to the round of 16.
Debut in Code S, Leaving SlayerS (Oct 2011 — Mar 2012)
TaeJa made his debut in Code S in the 2011 GSL October on September 28, being seeded in a group with Killer, DongRaeGu and Polt. He lost to the latter two players, hence placing last and dropping into the up & down matches, where he eventually recovered his Code S spot a month later. His run in the WCG 2011 Qualifiers group play came to an end on October 30 however, as he was knocked-out by Happy and Mvp. A week later, TaeJa entered the GSL November Code S, following a streak of good performances in Korean weekly online tournaments (he had indeed won six of the seven previous ESV TV Korean Weeklies). He placed third in his round of 32 group (beating NaDa and losing to CoCa and Oz), which, according to the new GSL format introduced this season, sent him straight into code A round of 32. In spite of a good start in Code A with a 2-0 victory over InCa, he narrowly missed his chance to immediately regain his code S spot as DongRaeGu defeated him 2-1 in the round of 24, and as he barely missed the second place in his up & down matches group.
In February 2012, before the GSL Season 1 kicked-off, TaeJa participated in the ESV TV Korean Weekly Season 2 Grand Prix #1, which boasted an invitation to the Assembly Winter 2012 in addition to its prize pool. He handily made his way to the playoffs, losing only one match in both group stages. TaeJa dominated the main bracket as well, making short work of Dream and aLive (3-0 and 3-1, respectively), before crushing jjakji 4-0 in the finals. His victory in this tournament awarded him a paid travel and accommodation to the Assembly Winter 2012 scheduled to take place a week later, for what would be his first participation in a foreign live event. TaeJa therefore flew to Helsinki, Finland, at the end of February to attend the Assembly Winter. He took the first place of his group in a dominating fashion, conceding a single game in the process (to elfi, while he defeated Jinro and Adelscott 2-0). He met Polt in the round of 16, and was eliminated by the former GSL champion who ended TaeJa's winning streak against Terran players (which he had started during the ESV TV Grand Prix that had awarded him his Assembly seed). A few days after his return in Korea, TaeJa recovered his Code S spot as he defeated Squirtle in the 2012 GSL Season 1 Code A round of 24 (he had made his way to this last round at the expense of HyuN and Lucky earlier in the month).
On March 13, TaeJa left SlayerS along with GanZi, expressing his willingness to pursue an opportunity in a foreign team. He later explained that he considered that foreign fans were very passionate and active, achieving a better atmosphere than in Korea, which surprised him at the Assembly as a lot of people asked him for autographs. TaeJa was eventually picked up by Team Liquid two weeks later, a transfer that was described by the team's CEO Nazgul as "Liquid's biggest acquisition in history". The South Korean player explained afterward that he had been introduced to Liquid's officials by a tournament organiser from ESV TV, and that he planned to visit the oGs-TL house for practice now and then but would still live at home most of the time. TaeJa made his first appearance under Team Liquid's colours a few hours after the announcement of his transfer, as he played his round of 32 pool play in the 2012 GSL Season 2 Code S. He was put in a tough group with the reigning GSL champion DongRaeGu, renowned for his mastery of the Zerg-versus-Terran match-up, as well as TheStC and the former GSL champion jjakji. TaeJa was barely defeated by the latter in his first match, but managed to turn the tables as he overwhelmed DongRaeGu 2-0 and beat jjakji in their second encounter, therefore securing a spot in the round of 16.
Increased Presence in the Foreign Scene (Apr — Jul 2012)
In early April, TaeJa travelled to Las Vegas in order to compete in the IGN ProLeague Season 4 as an open bracket sign-up, which was the first North American tournament he ever attended. He made a good start, proceeding to his bracket finals at the expense of Killer and Maru, but failed to earn a spot in pool play as he was defeated by jjakji in this last match. TaeJa eventually dropped out the tournament after he was beaten by ByuN in their losers' bracket finals. At the end of the month, TaeJa played his 2012 GSL Season 2 Code S round of 16 group stage featuring the reigning, two-time MLG champion MarineKing, TheStC, and the Protoss-versus-Terran expert PartinG. He first met MarineKing, and was beaten 2-0, but nonetheless made it to the main bracket as he defeated TheStC and took revenge on MarineKing on the same mark. TaeJa's run in the GSL came to an end in early May, when he was crushed 3-0 by Squirtle in the quarterfinals. During the same period, he started appearing for Team Liquid in team leagues, in the Evil Geniuses Master's Cup Series VII group stage, delivering a good performance as he won five best of three's (including an ace match) and lost two.
In late May, TaeJa travelled across the Pacific again in order to attend the Red Bull Battlegrounds in Austin City, where he had been invited. He placed second in his group, losing to SaSe and beating ThorZaIN and his teammate Sheth. A narrow defeat against Bomber in the quarterfinals eliminated him of the tournament. TaeJa headed back in Korea in time to participate in Team Liquid's second match in the 2012 GSTL Season 2 first round. He didn't make a significant impact on the encounter though, as he was defeated right away by Tassadar and couldn't prevent his team from dropping out at this stage of the league. In June, TaeJa flew to Jönköping in Sweden in order to attend the DreamHack Summer 2012. He flawlessly made his way through the three group stages, suffering only one loss against SaSe. He was ultimately eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, bested by his teammate HerO. One June 21, TaeJa made his entry in the 2012 GSL Season 3 Code S. He placed second in his round of 32 group, eliminating AcE and Leenock in the process. The round of 16, played a week later, featured a tough group for TaeJa who was put with the reigning, four-time GSL champion Mvp, viOLet, and Seed (who would ultimately win this season). The eve of this group play, TaeJa had achieved the third all-kill of his career as he had taken down AnNyeong, BBoongBBoong, Creator, Maru and MarineKing in order to secure the win for Team Liquid against Prime in the IPL Team Arena Challenge 3. In the GSL round of 16, TaeJa beat Mvp, and lost to Seed in the winner's match. He eventually made it to the playoffs, defeating viOLet in the last match, therefore equaling his best result in the GSL so far. Before his next match in the prestigious South Korean league was held, TaeJa qualified for the IGN ProLeague Season 5 by winning its international qualifier, knocking-out Squirtle, MC, TheStC and Polt in the process. TaeJa played his GSL quarterfinals on July 11. His opponent there was MC, against whom he battled in a close series. The Protoss player eventually took the upper hand, winning 3-2 and eliminating TaeJa from this GSL season.
First Titles, Carrying Liquid in IPL TAC (Jul — Aug 2012)
At the end of July, TaeJa attended the 2012 MLG Summer Arena in New York City, where he had earned his spot by placing third in the Korean qualifier (where he had lost to his teammate HerO). TaeJa handily made his way to the his bracket's finals at the expense of Dream, Welmu, GanZi and LosirA, and faced First for a spot in the grand finals. The latter player, a former Brood War progamer who had switched to StarCraft II in early 2012, was making here his second appearance in a live event after an unsuccessful run in the GSL Season 3 Code A. The Terran player took the upper hand and proceeded to the grand finals where he met another Protoss player, Alicia, who had placed second in the North American Star League Season 3 just a week before. TaeJa ultimately secured the series 4-2, hence winning a premier tournament for the first time of his career.
A week after this first major success, on July 27, TaeJa delivered another decisive performance for his team in the IPL Team Arena Challenge 3 (after his all-kill of team Prime in June). He was called as Liquid's ace as StarTale led 4-1, being one set away from victory, and achieved a 4-kill (defeating Life, Curious, Squirtle and Bomber) in order to overwhelm the South Korean team and send his own into the losers' bracket finals. Four days later, he carried Team Liquid in this latter match as well, achieving another 4-kill against SlayerS (defeating Genius, CoCa, Min and Puzzle) so that Liquid would make it to the grand finals. On August 2, TaeJa entered the Assembly Summer 2012 as a favourite, being the reigning MLG champion and on an impressive win streak in team leagues. He swiftly got past the group stages, defeating MaNa (the reigning DreamHack champion at the time) in the process. In quarterfinals, he met his teammate HerO, who had defeated him the two times they previously faced each other in competition, in the DreamHack Summer 2012 and in the 2012 MLG Summer Korean Invite-Only Qualifier. This time however, TaeJa was able to take the upper hand on his teammate, beating him 3-1 and proceeding to the semifinals. There, he bested ForGG on the same mark, and went to challenge MC for the title. The Protoss player, recent runner-up of the 2012 GSL Season 3, was eventually overwhelmed as TaeJa took the series 4-1 and won his second premier tournament in the span of two weeks, taking home a $13,000 prize.
The day after his coronation in Finland, TaeJa made his entry in the TeamLiquid StarLeague 4 (he had qualified for the event on the second attempt in the Korean qualifiers, and was, along with Ret, the only player of his team who had managed to do so) and faced Bischu in the first round. He took a 2-0 lead in this best of 5, but the Swedish player was able to come back and to force a decisive fifth game, which TaeJa won. A week later, on August 11, Team Liquid and Incredible Miracle faced each other in the IPL Team Arena Challenge 3 grand finals. TaeJa was called after Ret's loss in the opening game, and achieved an all-kill (defeating Seed, YongHwa, LosirA, NesTea and YoDa), his second in the competition and fourth overall in his career. However, since Team Liquid was coming from the losers' bracket, they had to win a second series in order to secure the title. This time, TaeJa entered the fray as Incredible Miracle led 3-1, and defeated First and YongHwa, but lost to Seed. The latter player ultimately secured the victory for team Incredible Miracle, while Team Liquid had to settle with the second place. Even though he wasn't able to make the difference in the second set of the grand finals, TaeJa's performance throughout the league was decisive for his team (which earned him the IPL Team Arena Challenge MVP award), with two all-kills and two 4-kills as well as an overall 23-3 record in games which was by far the best in the league, far ahead of Revival's 12-3 record (second best) and of Zenio's 8-5 record (second best for Team Liquid and fifth overall).
String of Good Results (Aug 2012 — December 2012)
The day after the IPL Team Arena Challenge 3 grand finals, TaeJa played his TeamLiquid StarLeague 4 round of 16 against First, whom he had swiftly defeated 2-0 MLG Summer Arena a couple of weeks earlier and in the IPL TAC 3 finals as well. This time however, the Protoss player, who had thoroughly studied his opponent's playstyle from his recent showings at the MLG Summer Arena and Assembly Summer, emerged victorious of a tied series and ended TaeJa's short-lived run in the tournament. At the end of August, TaeJa attended the MLG Summer Championship as the reigning champion, being regarded as the favourite. Things started off on the wrong foot right at the outset for him, as he lost to CranK in the first round of the group play and therefore fell into its losers' bracket. He made his way through it at the expense of Illusion, Ryung and Revival, and met CranK again for an extended series starting at 2-1 in favor of the Protoss player. TaeJa was unable to turn the tables, and lost the series 4-3. He was subsequently seeded in the fifth round of the championship losers' bracket, from where he defeated LosirA, aLive, and Revival, before meeting his teammate HerO. TaeJa emerged victorious of their match, for the second time in a row after their confrontation in the Assembly Summer earlier in the month. His run was ended in the semifinals by First, who had already eliminated him of the TeamLiquid StarLeague 4 two weeks before.
A couple of days later, TaeJa made his entry in the RSL Season 2 in a dominating fashion, placing first in his group with two 2-0 victories over Abver and Brat OK. On September 10, he made his debut in the GSL season 4 Code S as well, in a tough round of 32 group with Mvp, MMA and MaNa. TaeJa defeated the Polish player (still the reigning DreamHack champion at the time) and Mvp to top his group. His round of 16 group, played a week later, was also a tough one with Polt, DongRaeGu, and Rain. The latter, whose recent achievements had earned him the reputation of being the most successful player affiliated to the KeSPA since their switch to StarCraft II, handily beat the Terran player 2-0. TaeJa then turned the tables and defeated DongRaeGu and Polt, hence making it to the Code S playoffs for the third consecutive season.
At the end of this week, on September 22, TaeJa flew to Europe in order to compete in the DreamHack Open Valencia 2012. He easily made it to the main bracket (in spite of a defeat against NightEnD in the first group stage), defeating Stephano. TaeJa's run in the bracket turned out to be a seemingly effortless path to the finals, as he defeated 2-0 Bly, SaSe (whom he admitted beforehand to be a threatening opponent, due to him taking the upper hand on their previous encounters), and the upset of the tournament TargA (who had eliminated LucifroN and HerO in the previous rounds). He got off to a terrible start in the finals though, as his competitor for the title, ForGG, took a 2-0 lead and stood one game away from the victory. TaeJa nonetheless achieved a spectacular recovery, winning the last three games in a row in order to beat ForGG to the punch, winning the DreamHack and being awarded a $10,400 prize.
In early October, TaeJa met Leenock, regarded as an expert in the Zerg-versus-Terran match-up and reigning MLG champion, in the GSL quarterfinals. TaeJa overwhelmed him 3-1, and made it to the semifinals of the South Korean league for the first time of his career. The next day, he lost to VortiX in the RSL Season 2 playoffs, dropping into the losers' bracket where he eventually forfeited the tournament. On October 9, Team Liquid's run in the IGN Pro Team League Season 1 Premier Division came to a premature end as the team placed last in its group. Compared to his outstanding 23-3 record in the previous season (the IPL Team Arena Challenge 3), TaeJa's performance in the league was quite unimpressive with two wins and three losses. The next day, he went on to play his GSL semifinals against Life, whom he had swiftly beaten every time they had previously faced each other. This time, the fifteen years old Zerg player crushed TaeJa, inflicting him a severe 3-0 defeat and pursuing his path on the royal road. During the series, TaeJa melted a massive build order lead in game two by lowering a Supply Depot as his opponent's Zerglings arrived on his base.
At DreamHack Winter 2012 TaeJa had a blistering run through the tournament, only to fall second to team mate HerO. He dominated his group 5-0, dropping only 2 maps against Snute, fraer, TheStC, elfi and Stephano. In the quarterfinals he faced ThorZaIN, which he won in a close 3-2. Advancing to the semifinals, he faced Nerchio, whom he easily crushed 3-0. In the finals he faced HerO, which is the only time in the tournament he appeared to have floundered. His decision making and unit control were not on par with what we had become accustomed to and he was losing to builds he should not have done. This ended up with a heart-melting 4-0 loss, as HerO made all the right moves.
In the NASL Season 4 TaeJa started off well, going 6-2 on series and 14-5 on maps, finishing top of the group. The notable players in his group were MC, whom he lost to 1-2 and Ryung, whom he beat with a solid 2-0 victory. His first-place finish advanced him to the Round of 16, where he faced MMA. If that match had been against MMA of one year ago, it would have been a very close call, but MMA was not the monster he used to be and TaeJa swept him up with a solid 3-0 win. In the Grand Finals in California, TaeJa had to face HerO in a rematch from DreamHack Winter 2012. Before this match, they had both won the same amount of series this year against each other, with HerO of course taking the most recent just weeks before. This Round of 8 match would be the tiebreaker, and HerO once again seemingly destroyed TaeJa. Every move TaeJa made was perfectly countered and HerO often had a build order advantage if not straight up win in all the games. TaeJa lost 0-3 and lost his chance of winning the tournament. HerO went on to win the tournament in dominating fashion.
On December 12 Taeja would play in his Iron Squid – Chapter II Group, which had Brown, Canadian Zerg Scarlett, and MarineKing. He first faced the Protoss player and was upset losing 1-2. He then faced MarineKing and once again lost 1-2, thus ending Taeja's run in Iron Squid 2.
Optimistic ending for the age of Wings of Liberty (January 2013 - March 2013)
At the start of the new year TaeJa played in 2013 Global StarCraft II League Season 1 Code S group G which had Soulkey, Noblesse, and NesTea. TaeJa won against Nestea 2-0 in his first match, got 2-0'ed by the strong Woongjin Zerg Soulkey, and then edged out the final series against Noblesse, putting him into the round of 16. There, he was put in a group with rising Terran star INnoVation, DongRaeGu and Bomber. TaeJa lost 1-2 in his first match against INnoVation, but won his next two matches 2-0 and 2-1 against Bomber and DongRaeGu, respectively, which allowed TaeJa to advance to the round of 8. On February 22, TaeJa faced Soulkey, whom many predicted TaeJa had no chance at beating. In somewhat of an upset, he won 3-2 and advanced to the round of 4. After the round of 8 in GSL, TaeJa played in the invite qualifier called 2013 MLG Winter Championship: Showdowns which decided who would play at the Main MLG tournament. His match was against the Korean player viOLet, against whom TaeJa won 3-1 and secured his spot at 2013 MLG Winter Championship. Back to the round of 4 for the 2013 Global StarCraft II League Season 1, he faced another strong Zerg player in RorO, one that turned out to be too much for him to handle as he was defeated 4-1 and was eliminated for that season of GSL.
Heart of the Swarm
New game, new beginnings, and more results to come (March 2013 — September 2013)
With the end of Wings of Liberty era, TaeJa flew overseas again to attend the first Premier Heart of The Swarm tournament; 2013 MLG Winter Championship. In the round of 32, TaeJa played against the Swedish Protoss SaSe and easily dispatched of him 3-1. In the next round he faced Bomber and TaeJa was completely dismantled by Bomber 3-0, ending his run in the tournament.
In the first official 2013 WCS Season 1 Korea GSL: Code S, TaeJa placed in Group D with ex-Brood War player FanTaSy, a veteran StarCraft II player KangHo (aka LosirA), and TRUE. He defeated FanTaSy 2-1 in the first match, then KangHo 2-1 to get out of his group and into the round of 16. There, TaeJa was placed in Group C with Bomber, Shine, and sOs. In the first match, TaeJa won 2-1 against Shine, lost to sOs 1-2 and in the final match of the group he lost 0-2 against Bomber which ended his run in the first WCS Season.
After the first Korean WCS Season, TaeJa forfeited his spot in Challenger League to play in 2013 WCS Season 1 America. On May 4, the qualifier took place and TaeJa got a BYE in the first round, won 2-0 against TriMaster, and 2-0 against Hendralisk which qualified him for the first season of 2013 WCS Season 1 America: Challenger League. His first match in 2013 WCS Season 1 America: Challenger League was against the Korean Terran player Heart where TaeJa would edge out a victory 2-1. He then faced the young American player Illusion and once again won 2-1. In the round of 16 he faced another Korean Terran player, Polt, whom he was 2-0'ed by and sent to the group stage matches to determine whether he would go to Premier League, stay in Challenger League, or be eliminated from WCS America altogether.
Before the fate of his 2013 WCS Season 1 America run was to be determined, TaeJa attended DreamHack Summer, in the first two group stages he only lost 1 map and advanced to the third group stage. His group consisted of elfi, Tefel, and ThorZaIN. In an upset, he lost 1-2 against elfi, but then went on to 2-0 Tefel and ThorZaIN and advance to the round of 16 of the single-elimination bracket playoffs. His first opponent was the French Protoss ToD, whom TaeJa managed to dispatch of easily 2-0. His next opponent was his teammate TLO, whom he also won against 2-0, knocking his teammate out of the tournament. He went on to face the legendary Zerg player Jaedong, whom TaeJa unfortunately fell 0-2 to, as the Zerg player was too strong for him.
Going back to 2013 WCS Season 1 America: Challenger League Group Stage, his opponents in his group were Neeb, hellokitty, and Maker. He beat Neeb and Hellokitty both 2-0, which allowed him to advance into the Premier League for 2013 WCS Season 2 America.
TaeJa attended a staple tournament in the European scene HomeStory Cup VII, which was his first time playing in a HomeStory Cup. Group Stage 1 had TaeJa play in a group with NightEnD, Kas, and State, in which TaeJa would go 4-1 in games only losing a map to Kas. The 2nd group stage put TaeJa in a group with Stephano, Goswser, and MaNa. TaeJa advanced 4-0 in games, 2-0 against Goswser and 2-0 against Stephano. In the round of 8, he played against the former GSL Champion Seed, whom he easily 3-0'ed, showing his dominance. In the round of 4 he once again played against his teammate TLO. This time, the match was much closer, with TaeJa winning 3-2 and advancing to the finals. There, he faced yet another teammate, Snute, and once again TaeJa would edge out the victory 4-3 and he was crowned HSC 7 Champion.
Returning to 2013 WCS Season 2 America, in the round of 32 TaeJa was placed in Group B with Polt, the Australian Zerg mOOnGLaDe, and the Chinese player XY. TaeJa defeated Polt 2-1, getting revenge from the previous season's Challenger League where he got 2-0'ed. He would then cleanly beat XY 2-0 to advance to the round of 16.
TaeJa was announced as one of the invited for Finland's ASUS ROG Summer 2013 and in the first group stage he was pitted against Harstem, Dayshi, and LiveZerg, of which TaeJa defeated LiveZerg and Harstem 3-1 and 3-0 respectively. In Group Stage 2, TaeJa was put in Group A, which consisted of players HyuN, teammate TLO, and Bischu. TaeJa won 3-1 against TLO, and 3-2 against HyuN and consequently made it into the round of 8. There, TaeJa faced the American Zerg Goswser, whom he 3-1'ed to make it to the round of 4, in which TaeJa faced Alicia. He would ended up defeating Alicia 3-2 in a close series, and this put TaeJa into the finals where he faced San, a Protoss player formerly of New Star HoSeo, now playing for AZUBU. In the finals, TaeJa showed he was superior by defeating San 3-1 and once again winning ASUS ROG just like he did the year before, against another Protoss player as well.
In the Round of 16 for 2013 WCS Season 2 America TaeJa was put into group B, which had players aLive, DeMusliM, and Minigun. TaeJa easily dispatched of the group, going 4-0 in games; 2-0 vs Minigun and 2-0 vs aLive. This would push TaeJa into the Round of 8 where he had to face Chinese protoss player MacSed.After his 3-1 victory against MacSed, he went on to the Smifinals where he had to play against Polt. In one of the best TvT-series of the year, TaeJa narrowly lost 3-2 against him.
Because he had reached the semis in 2013 WCS America: Season 2, he qualified for 2013 WCS Season Finals, where he was placed in Group C with NaNiwa, duckdeok and INnoVation. First, he had to play INnoVation in a great TvT series. After he lost Game 1, he was able to pull off a comeback and win the series 2-1. In the winner's match, his opponent was duckdeok, who got defeated 2-0 by TaeJa. In the first round of Playoffs, he swept Rain 3-0, showing superb Ghost micro. In the Semifinals, he lost 2-3 against Bomber in quite a close series. This was his second consecutive 2-3 elimination in Semifinals against a Terran player.
In September, he attended 2013 DreamHack Open: Bucharest, which was arguably the most stacked DreamHack, and was placed in the second Group Stage into Group C with SjoW, Welmu and the relatively unknown French Terran Basterd. In the first match, he 2-0'ed Basterd. After that match, he defeated Welmu and SjoW both 2-1 to advance to Group Stage #3. He was placed into Group D with Grubby, Avenge and Symbol. After he had defeated Grubby 2-0 and Avenge 2-1, he played against Symbol, whom he kicked out of the tournament through a 2-1 victory. In the playoffs, his first opponent was the Korean Zerg YugiOh, who got eliminated 2-0. In the quarterfinals, he had to fight against sOs, one of the strongest Protoss at the moment. Once again, he won 2-0 and advanced to the semis against Life, who had no chance against TaeJa and lost 2-0. In the finals, TaeJa showed superb TvT against INnoVation, who had already lost against TaeJa the day before, when they faced each other in the Grand Finals of StarCraft 2 League, and won 3-0. By winning 2013 DreamHack Open: Bucharest, he was the second player to win two DreamHack Opens.
After a mixed performance in WCS, finishing the year on a high note (October 2013 — December 2013)
From TaeJa's previous performance in WCS Season 2 America, he was seeded into the WCS Season 3 America Premier League. In the Round of 32, he played against MajOr who defeated TaeJa 2-1. TaeJa defeated Top 2-0, before once again facing MajOr in the match for the second place, where he defeated him 2-0, advancing to the Round of 16. TaeJa then played in Group A for the Round of 16. In his first match, he defeated Sen, then lost to Jaedong, putting him against Heart in the final match of the group. He lost 0-2, knocking him out of Premier League.
With his good performance throughout the year, TaeJa was ranked 11th at the end of the 2013 WCS regular season, meaning he qualified to the Global Finals in the beginning of November. However, in the first round, TaeJa faced Dear, the Korean Protoss player who made his way to the 6th place of the WCS standings, by winning 2013 WCS Season 3 Korea GSL and 2013 WCS Season 3 Finals back to back. TaeJa only managed to win one game, before being eliminated, losing 3-1.
A week later, TaeJa was participating to HomeStory Cup VIII as an invited player. He easily made his way to the playoffs, placing first in the two Group stages, defeating MoMaN, Scarlett, TitaN and Symbol. In the Round of 8, TaeJa swept his teammate HerO 3-0, before winning 3-2 against Symbol in the Semifinals. In little more than an hour, TaeJa defeated HyuN in a dominating fashion (4-0) in the finals, to win his second HomeStory Cup in a row. Showing little emotion after his victory, TaeJa was nevertheless showing his motivation for more, targeting a win in DreamHack Winter.
Only a few days later, TaeJa greatly participated in Team Liquid's qualification to the playoffs of Acer TeamStory Cup Season 2, with four wins in the 5-4 victory against Axiom. With one match remaining the qualification came down to winning over Quantic Gaming with an all-kill, in order to have a better game record than Mousesports. TaeJa, fielded as the first player, went through a Zerg centric line-up defeating HyuN again twice, securing the needed 5-0 all-kill against Quantic Gaming and ultimately securing the team's participation in the playoffs.
It was now time for TaeJa to participate in 2013 DreamHack Open: Winter. With his formidable form in versus the other two races, TaeJa found himself in a group with four Terrans and the winner of 2013 WCS Global Finals in sOs. Like in HomeStory Cup, TaeJa did not drop a series in the Group stage, winning 2-1 against INnoVation, sOs and ForGG, and 2-0 against SjoW, reminding everyone of his iconic TvT prowess. Once again, he met HerO in the first round of the playoffs, winning 2-1. In Winner's Round 2, TaeJa faced MMA in a TvT series, again ending in a 2-1 victory for TaeJa and securing a guaranteed Top 3 finish. In the Winners Bracket finals, TaeJa was matched up against Life in a rematch of the Semifinals of 2013 DreamHack Open: Bucharest, beating him in a solid 2-0, before facing him again in the Grand Finals. Here, proving once again to be the better than Life, TaeJa would cement his position among the strongest players, claiming the championship with a strong 4-2 victory.
Two weeks later in the Acer TeamStory Cup Season 2 Playoffs, Team Liquid was matched up against Team Acer in the Semifinals. TaeJa was not able to reproduce his performance of the regular season, or his performance in Winner's Round 2 of 2013 DreamHack Open: Winter, as MMA all-killed them, going through TaeJa twice. Closing out the 5-3 with one win in the Lower Bracket against Western Wolves, TaeJa was sent out as the third player against Axiom's Impact, without any luck, resulting in another all-kill against his team. Having won only one of his four matches in the Playoffs, TaeJa's streak of domination streak came to an end. Team Liquid finished the competition at an honorable third place.
Getting back into the groove, and wrist problems (January 2014 - July 2014)
TaeJa started the year on a high note, beating ThorZaIN 3-2 at the 2014 Dreamhack Open Kick Off event to claim $4,000. In addition, TaeJa was seeded into Premier League of WCS America 2014 Season 1 due to his performance in Season 3 of 2013. TaeJa was placed in a Ro32 group with CranK, aLive, and MajOr. Although TaeJa started slowly with an opening loss to MajOr, he managed to come back with a win over aLive in the loser's match and a 2-0 victory over MajOr in the rematch.
In the Round of 16, TaeJa was placed in a group with an unpredictable lineup of Arthur, MacSed, and TooDming. In the end, TaeJa was able to advance with ease with 2-0 wins over both MacSed and Arthur. In the Round of 8, TaeJa faced HyuN in probably the most exciting matchup of the quarterfinals. The series was hard fought and back and forth, but HyuN was eventually the victor 3-2. HyuN would go on to win the season, while TaeJa was eliminated with a top 8 finish.
Meanwhile, in Acer TeamStory Cup Season 3: Group Stage TaeJa was having mixed success. Having been defeated by Dear and JYP, he went on to defeat the combination of Team Empire and Fnatic with four kills against Harstem, Happy and Kas twice, once again showing strong TvT form. In his match against Millenium, however, he was not able to take the win against ForGG. When he was again fielded against yoe Flash Wolves, TaeJa beat Has, but lost twice to San. Against Axiom TaeJa again pulled off another four kill, this time against CranK, Ryung, Heart and Impact, taking revenge for the all-kill in the Playoffs of TeamStory Cup Season 2. In the final Group Stage match against Team Acer, TaeJa and his team were run over by INnoVation. Team Liquid ended the Group Stage with a strong 9-2 record, tied with Team Acer, handidly qualifying for the Playoffs.
TaeJa was invited to attend the IEM Season VIII World Championship in Katowice, Poland along with sOs. TaeJa was able to take two exciting series over StarDust in the Ro16 (3-2) and Life again in the Ro8 (3-1). In the Ro4, TaeJa faced sOs, whom he had defeated twice in recent history. Despite TaeJa's best efforts, sOs was too strong an opponent off of a dominating 3-0 victory over jjakji in the Ro8. TaeJa was defeated 3-1. sOs would go on to win the tournament and the $100,000 winner take all grand prize.
TaeJa's performance in Season 1 allowed him to be seeded into WCS 2014 Season 2 Premier League. He was placed in a Ro32 group along with Check, Neeb, and Top. He was able to defeat both Top and Neeb by 2-1 scores to advance to the Round of 16. Still in a Group format, TaeJa was fielded against Arthur, MajOr and viOLet. In his first match, TaeJa defeated Arthur in quick 2-0 fashion. Facing viOLet in the winner round, TaeJa showed his TvZ prowess again, qualifying to the Playoffs with another 2-0. His match against Pigbaby ended up being an 0-3 domination, and meant the end of TaeJa's WCS 2014 Season 2 run.
After his exit in WCS, TaeJa took a trip to Europe to attend HomeStory Cup IX. He was able to escape the first group stage of HomeStory Cup IX in second placed despite a loss to Scarlett by defeating both roof and Patience. In the second group stage, TaeJa once again advanced in second place with a loss to Snute in his opening match but a win over both Balloon and Snute in their rematch. TaeJa faced Jaedong in the round of 8 and defeated him 3-2 in a close series. TaeJa then came back from his group stage loss and beat Scarlett 3-1 in the semifinals. He faced MC in the finals and dominated him in a one sided series, winning 4-0. This was TaeJa's third straight HomeStory Cup championship and is still the only player to win multiple HomeStory Cup titles.
A week after HomeStory Cup, TaeJa attended DreamHack Open Summer 2014. TaeJa started off strong, winning his Group in group stage 2 with ease over Prebs and MorroW in a 4-0 sweep of the group. In group stage 3, TaeJa would stay unbeaten at the tournament by beating both Oz and Harstem 2-0 to advance in first place. In the bracket stage, TaeJa faced the young Dutch player Sjaak and defeated him 2-0. In the Round of 8, TaeJa faced Patience and once again won 2-0. In the Round of 4, TaeJa would play Jaedong who should have been his most difficult challenge to that point. To the contrary, TaeJa dominated him 2-0 to stay unbeaten at the tournament and advance to the finals. In the finals, TaeJa would play his teammate HerO. TaeJa was able to defeat HerO 3-0 to win the tournament and avenge his 0-4 loss to HerO in the finals of DreamHack Open Winter 2012. Incredibly, TaeJa had won the tournament without dropping a single map, the first time a player had done so in a Premier Tournament since NesTea did it in GSL July 2011.
Around the same time as TaeJa won DreamHack Open Summer 2014, he was invited to participate in the Dragon Invitational Tournament series. Being pitched against the ultimate winner of the Dragon Invitational Tournament#2 in INnoVation, TaeJa was not able to advance the first round, as he was defeated 1-2. A month later, TaeJa was matched with First in the Ro16 of Dragon Invitational Tournament#3, who quickly eliminated him with an 0-2 victory.
Only a day after his elimination from this smaller tournament, the Acer TeamStory Cup Season 3 Playoffs began, with Team Liquid being matched against mousesports in the Semifinals. TaeJa, sent out as the third member of his team, dismantled Sjaak, HeRoMaRinE, Starbuck, HasuObs, and Starbuck again in a 5-0 sweep, all-killing his enemies in TaeJa fashion. In the Winner's Finals he was not sent out, as his teammate Snute all-killed Team Acer, securing their spot in the Grand Finals, being played after the upcoming IEM Shenzhen in the TakeTV house where he had just recently won the last installment of HomeStory Cup.
Instead, TaeJa focused on his invitation to IEM Season IX - Shenzhen, taking place in the latter half of July 2014. With Life coming through the first Group Stage, TaeJa's group in the second group stage also included TvT specialist MMA and the hungry Chinese Protoss Jim. Being matched up against MMA first, TaeJa quickly advanced to the winner's match, with a 2-0 victory, where he met Jim, who had upset Life. TaeJa's recent PvT weakness showed in this series, as Jim was able to defeat him 2-0, knocking him down to the rubber-band match, where he faced one of his arch-enemies Life. The series ended up being the best of the group, with TaeJa edging out a close 2-1 with a decisive Hellbat push in game 3. Coming out of the second Group Stage as the second place of Group D, his next matchup in the Elimination Phase of the tournament was against the winner of Group A, Zest. In dominating fashion TaeJa dismantled the KT Rolster Protoss in a spectacular 3-0, moving on to face the Tyrant himself, Jaedong, who had just defeated TaeJa's teammate Snute in the previous round. Taking revenge for Snute, TaeJa took the series decisively with a 3-1 victory, showing an incredible quality of games. From the other bracket, another Zerg had emerged as the victor. Having destroyed INnoVation and Jim in two 3-0 series, Solar was TaeJa's final boss on his way to a third title in two months. Going the full length of 7 games, with the two players alternatingly taking wins, TaeJa was able to pull through, and beat Solar 4-3, taking home the title, and the third consecutive $10,000.
Due to wrist issues, however, TaeJa's doctor advised him not to play for two weeks following his win at IEM Shenzhen. This resulted in him not participating in the Acer TeamStory Cup Season 3 Grand Finals. In a string of unfortunate circumstances, his teammate HerO was also unable to participate, resulting in a 4-5, 3-5 double takedown by Team Acer, who had made their way back up from the Loser's bracket, with an impressive 6 wins by MMA.
The end of the 2014 season (August 2014 - January 2015)
After recovering from his wrist problems, TaeJa followed the invitation of the Taiwan eSports League to play in the 2014 Taiwan Open, played Offline in Taipei, a tournament consisted of 1 Protoss, 2 Terrans and 13 Zergs. In a single-elimination format, TaeJa matched up against Leenock in the Ro16, where his two-week hiatus showed. He was quickly eliminated 0-2.
Following this rather unpleasant result, TaeJa made his third WCS showing in 2014 WCS Season 3 America: Premier. This time, his group in the first Group Stage consisted of the two Zergs XiGua and hendralisk, and his teammate HerO. TaeJa first beat hendralisk 2-1, and then narrowly edged out a 2-1 against XiGua. HerO also managed to go through in the group. In the second Group Stage, TaeJa went up against HyuN, who had eliminated him from Season 1, Pigbaby, who had eliminated him from Season 2, and Jaedong, who TaeJa had defeated at IEM Shenzhen. The matches played out similar, with TaeJa first winning against the Tyrant Jaedong, and then losing to HyuN and Pigbaby, to be eliminated from Premier League Season 3.
In between the first two Group Stages of WCS Premier League, TaeJa participated in the fourth event in the 2014 Red Bull Series, being the 2014 Red Bull Battle Grounds: Detroit. With TaeJa's last chance for an invite to 2014 Red Bull Battle Grounds: Washington, the Grand Finals of the 2014 Red Bull circuit, TaeJa went into this 128 player tournament with full ambition. Beating the American players DeeMo and DeFCoNSiX in the first Group Stage, TaeJa advanced smoothly into the single-elimination Bracket Stage Ro64. In a string of two quick TvZs TaeJa eliminated Midday and Revival both 2-0 without much effort. In the Ro16, he showed his TvT excellence, defeating qxc 2-0. The quarterfinals still showed no great hurdle, as Petraeus was dismantled in yet another 2-0 victory. TaeJa at this point had not dropped a single map. The Semifinal featured StarDust, who had just defeated Snute, denying the ever-present Team Liquid teamkill. TaeJa took revenge for his teammate, eliminating StarDust 3-1, and went on to meet crowd favorite Polt in a TvT final. So far, TaeJa and Polt had met several times in WCS America events, and the overall score stood at 4-6 in Polt's favor. But Polt was on a tear, crushing TaeJa 0-3, and snatching that last invite to the Red Bull Grand Finals.
Only a week later TaeJa travelled to Toronto to participate in IEM Season IX, having had the luxury of being invited, yet again. With his teammate Bunny emerging from the Open Bracket, his group also consisted of Zest, one of the two players from the Asian Qualifier, which TaeJa originally was meant to play as well, and Polt, whom had just defeated TaeJa a week before. TaeJa got no chance of getting revenge, as he went through Zest (2-1) and Bunny (2-0) to take the group. Instead, his teammate Bunny knocked Polt into the Loser's match, where Zest eliminated him, and went on to exit the Group Stage in second place, before TaeJa's teammate. In the Playoffs, TaeJa first met viOLet, who stood no chance and was eliminated 3-1. The Semifinals featured the other player emerging from the Asian Qualifier of this IEM in the Ultimate Weapon, Flash himself. Being a crowd favorite himself, he had just eliminated TaeJa's teammate Snute as so many enemies of TaeJa had done before. This time however, TaeJa was unable to take revenge, and fell to Flash 1-3 in a great TvT series. Flash won the Finals versus his teammate Zest.
At this point, everyone was preparing for 2014 WCS Global Finals, and few other tournaments were going on. TaeJa also did not play another tournament for 6 weeks straight, until finally aiming for the grandest title in StarCraft II in Anaheim at the Global Finals of WCS. Due to his relatively high 7th seed with 5100 WCS Points, he was first pitched up against soO, who was known for his second-place finished at big events. TaeJa beat soO 3-1, without ever really losing grip on the series. Next up, TaeJa had to fight a TvT with an opponent he had defeated before in INnoVation, whom he also beat handily with a 3-1 score. In the Semifinals then, his opponent from the other side of the bracket was all too well known. Life made another showing in the later stages of a tournament, and yet again he was facing TaeJa in a best of five format. Having never lost a series in Heart of the Swarm to him, TaeJa went into the series as the favorite and after having won the first map it seemed like history would repeat itself, but this time Life toppled TaeJa, and beat him in a great series 2-3. Life went on to beat MMA to become the WCS Global Finals Champion of 2014. TaeJa still ended up on a respectable 3rd-4th place alongside Classic.
With the WCS Global Finals out of the way, the European tournament season was beginning again, with the 10th Anniversary celebrated at HomeStory Cup X, and TaeJa as an invited player right in the middle of it. He went through Kane and Sacsri in dominant fashion to come out first in his group in the first Group Stage. His second Group, arguably the Group of Death of that stage, consisted of Jaedong, MC, and YoDa. His TvT skills secured TaeJa a quick 2-0 against YoDa, moving him on to the Winner's match, where he met the Bosstoss MC. This series was among the best of the tournament, going to the full length with three great matches. In the end, TaeJa won 2-1, and came first in his group yet again. The Playoffs featured one of TaeJa's recent nemeses in HyuN. This time, TaeJa managed to beat him rather easily 3-1. Again, TaeJa met an opponent who just previously defeated Snute, and again it was Flash, the Ultimate weapon. And again, TaeJa stood no chance. Flash eliminated TaeJa's hopes for a fourth HomeStory Cup win in a quick 0-3.
Two weeks after Homestory Cup X finished, DreamHack Open Winter 2014 fielded the best-performing players of the 2014 DreamHack Open series to battle it out over a $75,000 prizepool and one last championship in 2014. In groups of five, TaeJa was pitted against San, Leenock, Life and his teammate Bunny. He came second in the group with a score of 2-2, narrowly avoiding tie-breakers between himself, San and Leenock, with Life beating everyone in the group, including TaeJa. Starting from the Loser's bracket, TaeJa took a long climb towards become the last DreamHack Champion of 2014, first defeating his teammate HerO 3-0, then San again, as he had done in the group, 3-0. In the third Loser's round, he was matched up with Polt, who had defeated him in their last encounter. In a close series, TaeJa managed to topple him 3-2, and moved on to meet jjakji, whom he destroyed 3-0, securing his spot in the Loser's Finals. Here, TaeJa met up with Life again. Life had lost the Winner's Finals against ForGG 3-2, and was now looking to get a rematch. Yet again, the TaeJa vs. Life rivalry created a great series, going the full length of 5 games. Finally, Life edged out the last win with a strong Ling, Baneling, Mutalisk strategy on King Sejong Station, eliminating TaeJa 2-3 in third place.
Just a few weeks before the end of the year, TaeJa participated in the qualifier for 2015 SSL Season 1 on December 11, 2014. After a default win in the very first round, TaeJa was able to surpass Protoss Oz with a 2-1 victory. His next opponent was the zerg player Curious, whom he beat with a score of 2-1. Completing all 3 match-ups, TaeJa had to play GuMiho in the final match, but he lost. In the deciding match, a rematch against Curious, TaeJa once again took the series over the full distance, winning with a score of 2-1 and thus qualifying for 2015 SSL Season 1: Challenge.
On December 17, TaeJa was matched against Terminator in their 2015 SSL Season 1 Challenge match. In a TvP series going the full distance over all 5 maps, TaeJa was eliminated with a score of 2-3.
In January, TaeJa was drawn into a GSL Code S Ro32 group with Terminator, herO and Curious. He initially played against herO, who was considered to be one of the strongest protoss players at the time. TaeJa could not keep up with him and lost 0-2. Down to the loser's match, the Terran from Team Liquid faced Curious, a player whom he had beaten twice in the SSL qualifier. But this time the result was swapped and TaeJa lost 2-1, thus being eliminated from Code S, finishing in a 25-32nd place.
Being eliminated from both Korean leagues, TaeJa had to play foreign tournaments. Due to his win at IEM Season IX - Shenzhen he was invited to the IEM Season IX - World Championship in Katowice, Poland, taking place from March 12 to 15. In the very first round, his opponent was fellow Korean Dark, a Zerg player who had shown a trend of improving results. Despite being able to win one map, TaeJa was eliminated with a score of 1-3.
On April 1, 2015 GSL Season 2: Code A recommenced with TaeJa playing Sorry, a rather unknown Terran from SK Telecom T1. In a close TvT series, the underdog prevailed on the final map and eliminated TaeJa with a score of 2-3 from GSL.
In July, TaeJa travelled to Valencia to participate in 2015 DreamHack Open: Valencia. He was already seeded into group stage 2, facing the greek protoss player Seraphim as well as the dutch Zerg and team mate Ret. He won both matches with a score of 2-0 and 2-1, respectively, advancing in first place from his group. His Ro32 match was a tougher challenge as he was matched up against korean Protoss San, but he was nonetheless able to win with a score of 2-0. In his next match, he had to play against MorroW, a swedish Terran. Once again, he won cleanly with a score of 2-0. Having already reached the quarterfinals, TaeJa played against HyuN, a korean Zerg notable for the amount of international tournaments he participates in. This time, Team Liquid's Terran lost with a score of 1-3, finishing in 5-8th place.
Legacy of the Void
In December 2015, TaeJa participated in the 2016 SSL Season 1 qualifier. In round 1, he got a default win, but had to play TY in the next round. In a TvT series going all 3 games, TaeJa eventually lost with a score of 1-2, unable to qualify. On December 29,, he played in the 2016 GSL Season 1 qualifier, facing Choya after a getting a walkover in round 1. Beating Choya 0-2, he advanced to the final match against Trap. Despite losing the TvP match with a score of 1-2, TaeJa qualified for Code A.
Over a month later, in early February, TaeJa was matched against Blaze, formerly known as Panic, in their best-of-5 series in 2016 GSL Season 1: Code A. In a TvP series going the full distance, TaeJa was able to beat the Protoss with a score of 3-2, thus advancing to 2016 GSL Season 1 Code S. In his round of 32 group TaeJa faced Zest first and lost 0-2 against the KT Rolster Protoss. His losers match opponent was Rogue whom he was able to defeat to play against Journey in the deciders match. TaeJa beat him 2-1 in close matches therefore advancing to the round of 16.
In the round of 16 of 2016 GSL Season 1: Code S, TaeJa was put into Group A together with fellow Terran SpeeD and the two protoss players herO and Trap. Being defeated 1-2 by the latter, TaeJa dropped into the losers' match against SpeeD, whom he swiftly eliminated with a score of 2-0. In the deciding match, the Liquid Terran had to play against Trap again. This time, he was able to get revenge for his loss earlier and defeated the Protoss with a score of 2-0, thus advancing into the quarterfinals of GSL Code S, for the very first time after February 2013, over 3 years earlier. On April 15, TaeJa faced Zest, whom he had lost to in the round of 32 already. In the match, history repeated itself and TaeJa was swept 0-3, finishing in 5-8th place and having won an invite for 2016 GSL Season 2: Code S.
“Since March of 2012, I was able to spend four happy years on TeamLiquid, thanks to fans who always cheered for me and showed me love, regardless of whether I was doing well or doing poorly.
[...]For me, my time as a progamer was a succession of unforgettable moments, because I played on the best team with the best teammates.”— TaeJa, Liquid`TaeJa Retires
On June 2, 2016, Team Liquid's co-founder Victor "Nazgul" Goossens announced that TaeJa "had finally decided—once and for all and with absolute certainty—to retire". This marked the end of TaeJa's almost six-year long StarCraft II career, leaving him the most decorated player in premier tournaments to date. He however later confirmed that he will still play his remaining matches in 2016 GSL Season 2. 
- His ID, TaeJa, means "heir apparent" in Korean.
- TaeJa's 23-3 record in the IPL Team Arena Challenge 3 was not only the best record of the season, but also the best of every season of the IPL team league, over ThorZaIN's 13-4 and KeeN's 9-0 in IPL Team Arena Challenge 1 and over jjakji's 11-3 and GuMiho's 11-4 in the IPL Team Arena Challenge 2.
- He is the first player and only player to win four DreamHack championships, and to win two DreamHack championships back to back, winning 2013 DreamHack Open: Bucharest and 2013 DreamHack Open: Winter.
- He won the 2014 DreamHack Open: Summer without losing a single map and with an overall score of 17-0.
- He is the first player and only player to win three HomeStory Cup championships.
- Ranked 1st on the Liquipedia list of Accomplishments in Premier Tournaments.
- Razer Replaypack of the Week #28: TaeJa
- Razer Replaypack of the Week #35: TaeJa
- The Liquid Advantage: TaeJa vs Maru
- Razer Replaypack of the Week #40: TSL4 Special (TaeJa & Ret)
- The Liquid Advantage: TaeJa vs Bomber
- Razer Replaypack of the Week #53: IPL5
- Razer Replaypack of the Week #62: TaeJa
|In Premier Tournaments|
|2014-11-29||3rd||2014 DreamHack Open: Winter||2 : 3||Life||$10,000|
|2014-11-16||3 - 4th||HomeStory Cup X||0 : 3||Flash||$2,500|
|2014-11-08||3 - 4th||2014 WCS Global Finals||2 : 3||Life||$15,000|
|2014-08-31||3 - 4th||IEM Season IX - Toronto||1 : 3||Flash||$2,000|
|2014-08-24||2nd||2014 Red Bull Battle Grounds: Detroit||0 : 3||Polt||$4,000|
|2014-07-20||1st||IEM Season IX - Shenzhen||4 : 3||Solar||$10,000|
|2014-06-16||1st||2014 DreamHack Open: Summer||3 : 0||HerO||$10,000|
|2014-06-08||1st||HomeStory Cup IX||4 : 0||MC||$10,000|
|2014-03-15||3 - 4th||IEM Season VIII - World Championship||1 : 3||sOs||$0|
|2013-11-30||1st||2013 DreamHack Open: Winter||4 : 2||Life||$30,490|
|2013-11-17||1st||HomeStory Cup VIII||4 : 0||HyuN||$10,000|
|2013-09-15||1st||2013 DreamHack Open: Bucharest||3 : 0||INnoVation||$9,240|
|2013-08-25||3 - 4th||2013 WCS Season 2||2 : 3||Bomber||$10,000|
|2013-08-11||3 - 4th||2013 WCS Season 2 America||2 : 3||Polt||$7,000|
|2013-08-04||1st||ASUS ROG Summer 2013||3 : 1||San||$10,000|
|2013-06-23||1st||HomeStory Cup VII||4 : 3||Snute||$10,000|
|2013-06-17||3 - 4th||2013 DreamHack Open: Summer||0 : 2||Jaedong||$3,080|
|2013-03-01||3 - 4th||2013 Global StarCraft II League Season 1||1 : 4||RorO||$4,683|
|2012-11-24||2nd||DreamHack Open Winter 2012||0 : 4||HerO||$15,090|
|2012-10-10||3 - 4th||2012 Global StarCraft II League Season 4||0 : 3||Life||$4,300|
|2012-09-23||1st||DreamHack Open Valencia 2012||3 : 2||ForGG||$10,400|
|2012-08-26||3 - 4th||2012 MLG Summer Championship||0 : 2||First||$7,250|
|2012-08-04||1st||ASUS ROG Summer 2012||4 : 1||MC||$13,000|
|2012-07-19||1st||2012 MLG Summer Arena||4 : 2||Alicia||$10,000|
|2011-08-22||3 - 4th||2011 GSL August — Code A||0 : 3||GanZi||$740|
|In Major Tournaments|
|2014-01-26||3rd||Warer.com Invitational||3 : 2||INnoVation||$1,000|
|In Minor Tournaments|
|2014-12-01||1st||Leifeng Cup Monthly #2|| 2 : 0
2 : 0
|2014-03-08||1st||No Dice Gaming Invitational #1||4 : 0||Dragon||$500|
|In Premier Team Leagues|