The two baduk players are rivals and friends. For over 10 years, they have met through 34 games. They also get together often for drink. Both born in 1983, Lee Se-dol and Ku Ri are both grade nine. Now in their 30s, these baduk players have passed their peak years, but will meet again in China. On Sunday, they will battle in Beijing and then tour around China for more games. The fourth round will be held in Korea. The player who wins six games first will receive 5 million yuan (826,382 U.S. dollars). The loser will get 200,000 yuan (33,055 dollars).
The two first fought in June 2004 in Guizhou Province. Prior to the league, Lee was a second year winner at the Fujitsu league and got three wins in international competitions including the LG league. Ku grabbed his two successive year win at Cheonwon league in Korea and was ranking No. 1 in China. Lee who was first running for Guizhou league lost twice and then met Ku. He lost to Ku.
In November the same year, the two met again in semi-finals at the Samsung Marine and Marine Insurance league. Lee won the first round, Ku the second and Lee the third. Lee went to the finals with a 2:1 win. Ku had nine successive wins until the third round, but lost to Lee eventually. Ku is known to have remained silent for several hours in a dark room that day. The same year, Lee also grabbed a win at the Samsung Marine and Marine Insurance league.
The two Korean players have officially contested 34 times so far. Ku has better records in official games (17 wins, 1 tie and 16 losses) and Lee wins if unofficial games are included (18 wins, 1 tie and 17 losses). It was a four-stone tie. The two made 12 ties of 1-1, 2-2, 4-4, 6-6, 8-8, 9-9, 11-11, 12-12, 13-13 and 14-14.
At the finals in 2012 Samsung Marine & Marine Insurance league, Lee said, "I am excited to see him rather than wanting to win," and Ku said, "I want to play baduk with Lee until I`m 60 years old." Both are calming themselves down ahead of the game. Lee has been showing sluggish performance these days, but fans believe he will rise again.