Rogue becomes champion of IEM Katowice 2020

Even though this year’s edition of the biggest StarCraft II tournament outside WCS, IEM Katowice 2020, was due to concerns regarding coronavirus empty, it was, as usual, packed with thrilling battles and surprising moments. The winner of the tournament Lee “​Rogue​” Byeong Yeol has entered the StarCraft II history as first two-time IEM Katowice champion. The Korean Zerg defeated Joo “​Zest​” Song Wook in decisive 4-1 victory and defended his title from 2018.

The competition was intense and only elite players were fit to secure a spot in battles for a desired trophy. Four of the world’s top players had advanced from Saturday’s quarterfinals: Rogue, Zest, Serral and Maru. The whole tournament was in the name of rush and proxy plays, as the current meta is very aggressive and players tend to take more risks instead of playing prolonged macro games.

Serral vs. Zest

As the only non-korean player that is a threat to Koreans dominating on SC2 scene, Finnish Zerg legend Joona ​”Serral” Sotala was a great hope for European fans to finally crown a European champion of IEM Katowice. And he was clearly aiming for win, as this is the only trophy missing in his collection. Unfortunately, he fell short by 2-3 against Protoss Joo “Zest” Sung Wook in the first semi final match up and had to postpone the dream for now.

After the first game it looked like Serral is not going to give a chance to the IEM katowice 2015 champion Zest, but next matches proved that Protoss wasn’t going to let Serral off easy either. They shown a gripping back and forth game and in fourth match, Zest caught his opponent off guard using Glaive-adepts and evened the score. In game five, he broke Serral’s defenses, overpowered him with Chargelot-archon composition and secured for himself a spot in grand final.

Maru vs. Rogue

In the second semi final Rogue faced his teammate from Jin Air Green Wings, Cho “​Maru​” Seong Ju, one of the only two Terran players that got to the playoffs. The second one was INnoVation who got taken out by Serral in quarterfinals. Just like Serral, Maru was also aiming to take Katowice trophy for the first time and they, ironically, ended up sharing 3rd/4th place.

The Jin Air teammates showed a traditional Terran versus Zerg game. Rogue took the first game, as Maru was playing extremely safely and was simply overwhelmed by Roaches.

Maru continued with this cautious playstyle and it paid off in next two games. Being in lead, he finally changed the tactics and decided to take a few risks, but it cost him the fourth game. Rogue countered his tactics with Nydus attack and quickly took over. In decisive game, Rouge was the one who chose safe playstyle, not letting Maru to get to him at all. Maru was forced to GG and that was a ticket to grand final for Rogue.

Rogue vs. Zest

The grand final was a battle of two previous IEM Katowice champions. However, it was a fast one and most of the matches were decided in early game by either Roach rush or proxy protoss tactics.

Zest started first matchup aggressively with a cannon rush and it worked out for him, but that was his last win on the tournament. Rogue then went with risky and aggressive strategies and basically steamrolled over Zest, using Baneling bust for a win twice in a row. In last two games, Rogue countered most of Zest’s attempts to get back to the game and claimed the championship, becoming the first SC2 player to do so twice.

Even though Rogue didn’t enter playoffs as a favorite, not only he won the championship, but he also holds a tournament 13-2 map record. This victory earned him $150,000 in prize money, a seed at IEM Katowice 2021 and a slot on the ESL Pro Tour Global Finals.