Dark has finally won a GSL Code S Finals after being Starcraft 2's best Zerg throughout pretty well the entirety of Legacy of the Void. It has been a rough few years for Zerg in the GSL—the last time the race made the finals of a GSL was over two years ago, when soO lost what was easily his best chance at his first GSL title to an upstart GuMiho.
To find the last Zerg GSL Champion, fans need to go all the way back to March 23, 2015, when Life beat PartinG in an electric finish. Life was the de facto best Zerg at the time, but his brilliant career has since been tarnished by a match fixing conviction that saw the player sentenced to prison time in South Korea. Since then, there's been something of a curse on Zerg players in the most competitive tournament in the world, and despite several players rising up to win smaller variants of the GSL, none of them have managed to make it count in the most prestigious tournament series StarCraft 2 has to offer.
That curse, and the six year wait for Dark to finally ascend to his rightful place as the best Zerg in the world, are both finally over. Dark defeated the equally dynamic and game Trap in a 4-2 Grand Finals victory that included multiple close calls between two players who had never made a GSL Finals before. The series was characterized by aggression from both sides—Protoss all-in builds have been powerful over the past few months, and Zerg has been notoriously soft to them. Dark's answer was to take the tempo of the game for himself and never let go, and it proved the long-held theory that Dark is simply transcendent as a Zerg player.
To put things in perspective: out of the 11 Zerg players who began this season's GSL tournament, only 4 were able to advance to the Round of 16. There, their numbers were cut in half to just two, soO and Dark. soO was torn apart by Classic in a 3-1 series, but Dark mowed down herO 3-0 and Hurricane 4-1 to make the Finals. When Zerg is at its weakest, it's always Dark who finds a way to move forward. In many ways, his victory in this GSL Finals is closely reminiscent to FruitDealer's historic win in the first-ever StarCraft 2 GSL. There, FruitDealer was one of 2 Zerg to make the Round of 16, and the only one to move past that stage. There was something about his play, like there is Dark's, that enabled him to win with Zerg when nobody else seemingly could.
For Dark, it's success for perhaps the most consistently great Zerg player we've ever seen in the history of StarCraft 2. Life had dizzying highs, but we may never know what his career would have looked like if he wasn't throwing matches for money, which inevitably tarnished some of his results. Serral was the best player period in 2018, but has come down to Earth somewhat and had a mediocre 2017 before it. Dark has always been great. He's appeared in 16 straight Code S tournaments, has made the finals of eight different major tournaments, finished second place at the highly competitive and lucrative BlizzCon, and has won an SSL, a tournament series that will live on in notoriety for being even more difficult than the GSL when they were both being played.
Now, though, he's a GSL champion, an accolade that still holds an incredible amount of weight in the StarCraft 2 scene. After 15 consecutive attempts that saw him bow out in head-scratching fashion before the finals—whether by losing to an opponent he really shouldn't have, or by being placed in a series of Group of Deaths in the Round of 16—Dark has finally made good on the hype. After being the catalyst for INoVation's renaissance, Maru's brutal 2018 reign of terror, and Classic's career swan song victory in his last three GSL semifinals, Dark is telling his own story. The best Zerg of the Legacy of the Void era has finally shaken off the curse that's followed him around for 16 seasons. He'll be going to this year's BlizzCon with a crown many would have thought was a mere formality for him to earn in 2013 and on.
For StarCraft 2, it's a tantalizing prospect, the chance to witness Zerg rise from the ashes during an era of Protoss dominance and for Dark to establish himself as the lone tactical genius who was able to win against all odds. For the rest of the players looking to earn some of the spotlight in 2019, it's terrifying. Serral awaits as the Zerg player looking to turn one incredible year into a legacy of foreigner perfection, but it's Dark whose consistency and championship resume now stands above the rest, and fans can only hope we see the two battle it out for Zerg supremacy in a major finals soon.