eSports Update, 11/5/2010: GSL Round of 4, MLG Dallas Preview

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Between the Global Starcraft League semi-finals, MLG Dallas, and SlayerSBoxer landing a fat sponsorship deal, it's been a busy week. Read on for the abbreviated version of the last week of pro Starcraft II.

Global Starcraft League: And Then There Were Two

The Global Starcraft League finished up the semifinals this morning, leaving two players left for the November 13 finals.

Dark-horse-turned-fan-favorite Jung-Hoon "Boxer" Lee demolished last season's second-place finisher Sung-Je "IntoTheRainbow" Kim in a 4-1 Terran vs. Terran set. Now, Terran vs. Terran is typically a slow, plodding affair centered around Siege Tank positioning and Viking air dominance--even NaDa vs. SlayerSBoxer's matches in the previous GSL round hinged on smart Tank play. (Watch the first Boxer vs. IntoTheRainbow game.)

Boxer's games, however, were anything but. Instead, he showed how his Marine-heavy play, which won him several fans after he beat Kyrix in the round of 8, fared against a textbook Terran player. No matter whether IntoTheRainbow tried to out-tech him and harass him with cloaked Banshees or hold him off with Siege Tanks, Boxer came out ahead with some masterful micro-management and excellent timing.

It's worth noting that in the one game IntoTheRainbow did manage to take from Boxer, he won with a "proxy" Starport--a Starport hidden near Boxer's main base--which allowed IntoTheRainbow to provide constant Banshee pressure. It's too early to tell if that loss was a fluke or if it hints at a deeper weakness in Boxer's strategy, but you can bet that NesTea will be paying close attention to those replays while gearing up for the finals in a week.

Meanwhile, Jae-Duck "NesTea" Lim completely shut down Yo-Hwan "SlayerSBoxer" Lim's tricky Terran techniques in a 4-0 Zerg vs. Terran series, ending SlayerSBoxer's run in this season of the GSL (and demolishing my hopes for a Boxer vs. SlayerSBoxer finals). SlayerSBoxer opened each game of the series with a high-risk gambit--bunker rushes and proxy Barracks attacks with early Marine pressure--but each time NesTea deflected the attacks and kept SlayerSBoxer playing catch-up. Better luck next time, SlayerSBoxer. (You can watch the first SlayerSBoxer vs. NesTea game here.)

SlayerSBoxer Lands $180,000 Sponsorship From Intel

Despite losing in the semi-finals of the GSL, SlayerSBoxer's Starcraft II competitive debut was enough to catch someone's eye at Intel, because word has it they're sponsoring him to the tune of 200 million won--about $180,000 USD. Yes, that's $180,000 for being really, really good at a video game. (For comparison's sake, the winner of the GSL finals will take home $87,000.) Parents, take note: your game-addicted children might turn out like this.

MLG Dallas This Weekend

In domestic news, Major League Gaming is closing out its 2010 season with a tournament in Dallas, Texas. The Starcraft II lineup is star-studded, to say the least. In addition to the usual North American players like, Hyung-Hyun "SeleCT" Ryoo, and Jonathan "KiWiKaKi" Garneau, we'll also be seeing the entirety of the elite Team Liquid: Chris "HuK" Loranger, Dario "TheLittleOne" Wunsch, clan founder Victor "Nazgul" Goossens, and the rest of the gang.

At the moment, HuK is 300 points ahead of the pack in the standings, but with so many amazing players in one tournament it's still anyone's game. GSL competitor Greg "IdrA" Fields will also be in attendance, and he's had HuK's number in every tournament so far. If he can pick off HuK and KiWiKaKi before the final matches, he might be able to pull ahead and take the $6,250 prize.

For the insider scoop, check out JoshSuth's excellent MLG Dallas preview and LuckyFool's What To Watch For.

Explaining The Game: Proxy Attacks And Defender's Advantage

Every now and then, you'll hear the announcers refer to a "proxy pylon" or some other kind of "proxy building", but they don't often explain what it is or why it matters.

Starcraft II maps are designed with a "defender's advantage" in mind, particularly for the early game. For example, each player's starting base typically has only one or two ramps leading in and out of the base. Units standing at the top of the ramp can see (and attack) units at the bottom, but units at the bottom can't see or attack the units at the top. Even if you have a clearly stronger army, you can lose it in a second to a weaker army if they take advantage of the ramp.

The other defender's advantage, however, is the length of the map. If two players are making the exact same units at the exact same time, and one of them attacks the other, the defending player will win because in the time it took the attackers to walk from one base to the other, the defending player will have been able to produce extra units. Even if the attacker is making reinforcements, they'll need to walk all the way across the map, and by the time they arrive at the battle the attacking player may have already lost his army.

In order to get around this, players (typically Protoss and Terran players) hide structures near the enemy base before they start the attack. This is particularly popular with Protoss players because they can build a pylon (called a "proxy pylon") near the enemy base and use their Warp Gate tech to instantly warp reinforcements near the battle. Terran players, meanwhile, often hide Starports closer to the enemy base so their Banshees can harass without having to travel the entire length of the map. This has the additional benefit of making those Banshees hard to prepare for--if the opponent doesn't check all around the map for a hidden Starport, they won't see it in the Terran base and won't prepare as many anti-air units for defense.

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