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EGStephano has left the game!
At the end of his contract with Pro-gaming team Evil Geniuses, Zerg player Ilyes “Stephano” Satouri is retiring from competitive Starcraft 2. In a scene heavily dominated by Korean players, Stephano carried the foreign flame going toe-to-toe with the world’s best. Stephano is arguably the best foreign player that has graced the scene.
Stephano started turning heads with his failed transfer to Complexity from his team Millenium. Apparently, he agreed to the transfer only to retract his decision a few hours later. In a scene that is striving to be taken seriously by the mainstream media, this is very controversial. The incident could have had a very negative impact on his Starcraft 2 career.
Luckily enough, it wouldn't as his raw talent more than makes up for his unprofessionalism. Stephano went on to dominate the IGN Pro League Season 3 beating notable Korean players like viOlet, inori and Lucky. This tournament quickly established Stephano as a contender and won him a spot in the Blizzard Cup All-Stars. From there, Stephano would go on to win various premiere and major tournaments like Lone Star Clash and the third season of the North American Star League.
Stephano would go on to join the foreign powerhouse Evil Geniuses when his contract with Millenium expired.
Stephano has been known to revolutionalize the metagame particularly the Zerg versus Terran and Zerg versus Protoss match-ups. During a period in Wings of Liberty where Muta/Ling/Bling has been the dominant Zerg composition, Stephano would be one of the first to experiment with mass upgraded Zerglings with Infestors into Ultralisks. Stephano would replace Banelings with the Infestor’s Fungal Growth as his splash and this would synergize well with Ultralisks. This composition would prove to be far superior to Muta/Ling/Bling and would go on to be the standard metagame and comp for ZvT until Heart of the Swarm.
The Zerg versus Protoss matchup is where Stephano's mark will be felt. Stephano would get three early hatcheries and set his gas timings in order to max out on Roaches at the 12 minute mark. This hits an extremely deadly timing that would outright kill a Protoss that can’t defend it properly. Protoss players would eventually have to develop a specific counter to the build: the dreaded Immortal-Sentry all-in. The Roach Max gas timings would become the standard gas timings for months to come.
Stephano’s strength lies on his impeccable game sense and can often win games with minimal scouting. As such, the very reactive Zerg versus Zerg match up proved to be very difficult for him. Stephano was very vulnerable to Zerg all-ins but his impeccable micro saves him more often than not.
Did you know?
Koreans are the best at Starcraft 2 and that they dominate so much that pretty much every other player who's not Korean is referred to as a foreigner.
Heart of the Swarm
The release of the first Starcraft 2 expansion Heart of the Swarm proved to be a new beginning for most players and true enough there were noticeable shifts in individual strength as some players become stronger where others just fail to adapt well. Stephano would remain a strong contender coming close to winning the first season of WCS EU only to be stopped by heavyweight and multi-GSL champion IM.Mvp.
Stephano was also brought in to participate in Proleague under the EG-TL alliance. In his first game, he well-mannerly typed "gl hf" in the chat as per tradition. Unbeknownst to him, however, Proleague has a strict no chat rule in its games that had disqualified players in the past. Luckily his opponent herO responded with a "gl" and prevented a disqualification. Stephano would then defeat herO using his trademark 12-minute Roach Max build.
On August 6, Stephano fought Lucifron in a grueling series which ended in his defeat 0-2. In the last game, Stephano would type out his farewell to the community which was expanded in a post-game interview. While he said that he loved being a part of the game community, he felt that the game was no longer for him. He was to go back to his studies and pursue a degree.
The first game of Stephano I’ve ever seen was against a Terran on Xel’Naga Caverns. I distinctly remember Stephano splitting his Zerglings to avoid the Siege Tank’s splash damage. This micro and control may be standard now, but back then I was pretty new to Starcraft 2 and that just blew my mind.
As proof of his impact on the scene, it has been suggested on r/Starcraft that Stephano would have an "Immortal Game" taken from chess tradition. In chess, if a player retires or dies, his best game played would be known as his Immortal. Personally, I believe a game where Stephano would crush his opponent with his signature 12 minute Roach Max would be appropriate.
Legends come and legends go. The best dominate but eventually decline as new players step up and best them. Stephano, while not entirely on the decline, is quitting while he is ahead but he will be leaving behind a legacy as one of the best.