A really awesome interview of one of the most inspirational StarCraft progamers. By far the oldest champion ever. Very well done by Jeff Alejos, director of Sons Of Starcraft.
I just got up the VODs and MP3s to episode #4 of my new show, META. For anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, it dives very deeply into the strategy and gameplay inside of StarCraft 2. This episode had myself, IdrA, CatZ, and iaguz, and is my favorite yet. Definitely worth a watch!
MP3s can be found here:
The most prolific headline-maker in StarCraft history has been removed from the richest and most famous team of the world and all I got to read about it was a couple of paragraphs of facts and an extended quote from the official statement. The real world is still in a galaxy far, far away from us.
Hey all, thought it was about time to post some new strategies on here since Heart of the Swarm has been out for a bit over a month already.
Today on my stream, sponsored by http://www.Ttesports.com (awesome sponsor, and maker of some of the most badass gaming peripherals ever), I ripped a build from Axiom’s CranK, a really great Protoss player. The build order follows:
9 Pylon in main
19 Gateway (3:28)
19 Cannon, Scout
(chrono Nexuses nonstop until mentioned otherwise)
27 Cybernetics Core
29 +1 attack
37 Pylon, Sentry, Warpgate
40 Gas x 2 at expansion
Chrono +1 attack on Forge
43 Mothership Core (Chrono it), Pylon
53 Gateway x 3
57 +2 Attack, Pylon, Blink
59 Robo, Pylon
Warpgate Finishes (8:11)
61 Gateway x 2
Warp-in 2 Sentries, 2 Zealots
Move immediately to 3rd base and make Nexus there (8:45)
Make observer then Immortal and +3 attack, as well as at least 1 defensive cannon at your new 3rd base.
Side note: Make sure you are scouting with hallucinated phoenixes semi regularly to spot incoming attacks and the tech of your opponent.
I’ve just started using this build, so I don’t have a guide on the follow-up branches, just this base to work with.
If you want to see me work on it, I stream almost daily at http://www.twitch.tv/artosis
Thanks for reading! :D
What is a skill ceiling? Well I’m glad you asked! The skill ceiling is how high you can go with your skills. Why is it important? Another great question! The higher the skill ceiling, the more room there is to differentiate your skills from your opponent. The lower the skill ceiling, the more everyone looks the same.
StarCraft: Brood War has an almost impossibly high skill ceiling. Because of this, the level of play went upwards endlessly over the ~12 years that it was played professionally. Also because of this, the most skilled, talented, and hardest working players rose to ridiculous heights. Let’s talk about Flash, Jaedong, Bisu, and Stork in SC1 for a moment. These four players became much, much better than everyone else. With a constant 8-10 houses full of motivated and intelligent progamers with endless resources to learn from and silly amounts of practice time, 4 players became much better than everyone else.
You don’t understand how good flash was at SC1. His accomplishments don’t do his skill justice. Even if you were a huge fan, and watched every single game he ever played, you probably still don’t understand how good he truly was.
NonY had a perfect quote about Bisu. It was something like this:
You can’t understand what Bisu is doing unless you are fast enough to do it yourself.
He said it a bit more eloquently than I remember it, but the moment he said it, I got chills. With an almost endless skill ceiling, beautiful things are possible. Things so beautiful, that if you put in more time into the understanding of them, they will become more beautiful.
The most important factor in StarCraft 2’s life expectancy is a high skill ceiling.
Heart of the Swarm has, without doubt, raised the skill ceiling of SC2. By a lot. It will take time to see exactly how much, but it is definitely noticeable. And the funny thing is, it raised it in a very different way than SC1.
SC1 was about a lot of things: battling the AI, battling unit selection restrictions, macroing with single building selection, micro, macro, etc, etc. The list of course goes on and on.
SC2 made a much smarter AI that you don’t have to battle very much. Also, it has unlimited unit selection, so you don’t have to battle that (even though there is a bit of a trade-off with having to be more careful vs splash). SC2 also has multiple building selection, so the macro aspect is definitely easier.
Well, now we have a lot of other things to juggle. The amount of abilities used in HotS right now is pretty crazy. Imagine a standard PvT. Sentries with Force Field and Gaurdian Shield and a Mothership Core with Time Warp and Nexus Cannon, in the first ~6 minutes of the game. Soon after that’s followed by Blink on Stalkers and Storm and Feedback on High Templars.
There are a lot of examples in any matchup. Now this isn’t to say that SC2 is harder or easier, or that it has a higher or lower skill ceiling than SC1. That is a question that is going to take a lot of progamers a lot of time to answer.
I just wanted to write this because I’m so pleasantly impressed, both in my games and in others’ that I’ve watched, with the much increased burden given to players in Heart of the Swarm over Wings of Liberty. I’m so excited to see where this takes us.
The IEM World Championships start in just a few short days, and I have a building excitement inside of me to watch them which I haven’t felt for a tournament in a long time. With this being the first “for realsies” tournament in HotS, it may seem obvious why. While that is obviously a great contributor, there is far, far more. The off season is over. Every year in eSports, we have an off season starting around December, and ending around March. While StarCraft is finally getting so big that you can see some action even then, there definitely was a lot of time off for progamers. With a giant lack of travel, and fewer events to prepare for, the most hard-working pros will benefit greatly from this time period. It’s a big enough block to reinvent key pieces of your play, and to get an edge on anyone who takes it easy. I just love seeing who put in some extra time and effort, and what change that has made to their play.
Hasuobs is patient. Very patient. He will work on his unit composition all game long, and set up a great end game for himself. HotS has made Protoss much better for his style, in my opinion. Between the addition of the Tempest as an end-game siege engine, and the removal of an unbeatable Zerg late game, I feel like Hasu’s career is going to get a facelift in HotS.
One of my absolute favourite Zergs in WoL, I have always viewed sLivko as a player that cannot lose if undisturbed in the early game. With the power of his signature composition of Broodlord/Infestor being greatly nerfed, I don’t think this will be his best IEM tournament.
PartinG came up much in part due to Squirtle’s amazing brain and build orders, as well as his own micro. While no one doubts his prowess in WoL, will he be able to dominate in a world full of new strategies? Are his new teammates Rain, Bisu, and BeSt up to the challenge of helping him figure everything out like Squirtle did before?
This Protoss badass has been innovating Protoss for years already. While IM was known for its brainy tosses YongHwa and Seed before, now MC lives with them. Oh yeah, and Squirtle joined the team as well. The one thing that scares me for YongHwa though, is how well Seed seems to have been doing in the beta. They are both brilliant Protosses, but their styles don’t mesh well. The challenge for YongHwa might be retaining his own style while utilizing the brains of all the ridiculously smart Protosses on his team.
Nerchio was considered one of the best Zergs in Europe, even during the WoL beta. That means something, as Zerg was incredibly weak back then. I haven’t seen too much of his play in HotS yet, but if any European Zerg is going to be able to hold off all the new early game P and T tricks while keeping their macro going, it could be him.
Every single time LucifroN has popped up, he has preformed amazingly. With his own style. With his own strategies. Nowadays he uses a lot of aggressive macro play, but back in the very beginning of SC2, he was as 1 base focused and cheesey as the best of them. This means he has a full range of skills to utilize Terran’s new units. Oh yeah, and he’s playing full time now. This is really his chance to show what he can do against Koreans.
LucifroN and YongHwa advance, 3rd player is too close to call.
If enough people let me know they enjoyed this write-up, I will do the other groups as well in the coming days.
As I catch up on all the games I didn’t get to see during my last big bunch of travel, I saw something beautiful. Something that I don’t think we see enough from Protoss of any level. Here are some quick thoughts on the game:
The map was Metropolis, and it seemed to me that throughout the series, but especially in this game, HerO had great mapped out responses to whatever TaeJa did.
The game starts out as standard as can be.
- Fast Expansions by both players.
- Denial of good scouting by both players.
- Fast 3rd CC by TaeJa
- Fast Robo by HerO
Nothing fancy there. HerO also opts to get a very fast Robotics Bay for Colossus tech. At this point, HerO still could have branched in a number of ways. He could have done a one Colossus build, he could have gone for Forges, he could have gone for a Colossus allin.
Then, at 8:22, still when HerO had just 3 gates and 1 Colossus building, his observer scouts exactly what TaeJa has done this game (3 fast CCs, slower Starport).
Immediately, HerO starts Thermal Lance, and adds 3 Gateways.
HerO then goes into a 48 Probe 2 base attack, using 3 ranged Colossus, 6 Sentries, 6 Zealots, and as many Stalkers as he can muster.
While this isn’t ground-breakingly extravagant or fancy, it is beautiful in its own way. With strong execution, especially on this map, it gives HerO an excellent chance to kill TaeJa at a very specific and somewhat easy to hit timing attack. With the fast 3 Colossus, HerO abuses the lack of Starport production time (not enough time to make Medivacs and Vikings). With the 3 very early Sentries (and 3 more added on after buying his Colossi as fast as possible), HerO abuses the relatively small choke point at TaeJa’s expansion.
Players often times get caught up in the way they play, or the way they think the matchup should go. This instant, decisive, and perfectly executed reaction is awesome to see, and shows one of the many reasons why HerO is one of the best in the world.
As I’m sure many people know, the Intel Extreme Masters is going on this weekend in Singapore. Here are some of the reasons why I’m excited about the upcoming 3 days:
Last weekend, Grubby was at the Blizzard World Championships in Sanghai, China. It was an event he tried very hard to qualify for, and obviously wanted very badly. I have no doubt that he came to Shanghai very well prepared, even staying in Korea for a bit beforehand for some extra training.
Sadly, Grubby got a terrible case of food poisoning at the even ( as did many others). Although he was reportedly feeling a bit better when he played, I doubt that he was able to show what he was truly capable of. Now, with a bit more rest and recovery time, I’m looking forward to seeing a fully prepared Grubby, and I feel like this could possibly be his first huge tournament win in SC2.
If you didn’t see Yugioh play in the final SlayerS team league match, let me sum it up for you: he was mad. He’s always been a solid Code A (and sometimes higher) calibre player, but he just ripped through everyone with amazing play. Now Yugioh sits in this tournament, having no team and having just dropped out of Code A. It almost seems a bit do or die: play super well and possibly get picked up by a foreign team with a good budget to fly around, or go back to Korea empty handed and become “just another Zerg” in one of the many great Korean teams.
The thing is, if you look directly at how YugiOh plays, he’s perfectly built for this tournament. YugiOh is a player who takes a lot of damage from sharp timing attacks in the early game from Code S quality opponents, but then stays alive FOREVER and sometimes even wins on a tiny economy by never losing a Broodlord or Infestor. In this tournament, full of many very strong players, not many of which are known for having the sharpest of timings, he may be able to make it deep.
Ask any fan of the Australian scene, and they will tell you that Ninja is really good ZvZ. Ask Artosis, and he will tell you that the kid is a strong up and comer who can do very well in a situation he knows. In a group with Tarrantius, a somewhat untested German Protoss, WhiteRa, a solid but not unbeatable veteran, Zenio, a Zerg who has lacked great results lately, and almost lost ZvZ to a relatively unknown Singaporean Zerg already this weekend, and Jabito, an almost completely unknown Terran, Ninja has a pretty decent shot at making it into a career altering bracket phase.
PIG AND MAFIA:
Everyone knows mOOnGLaDe is a top performer, even recently placing very highly amongst non Koreans at MLG. What not as many people know is that MaFia and PiG, while not as famous or accomplished as mOOnGLaDe yet, are of a comparable level. Singapore, not being too far off time zone wise, and both showing very good results lately (PiG via practicing with the Prime Team in Korea for a month, MaFia in slamming down Lucifron on day 1), this could be a breakout performance for either player.
VORTIX AND LUCIFRON:
The brothers. They seem just about unbeatable, except to each other, and to Code S champion level players. What really excites me though, is this question: in what round will they face off this time?!?!?!?!
How long is it really going to take him to win a million dollars??
One of the most beautiful things, (in my eyes, at least), is the intricate dance the strategies and build orders take around the current Metagame. The Metagame is a very misunderstood concept. The term itself is one of the most misused in the entire game.
What is the Metagame?
The Metagame is the concept of shifting strategies based upon whats popular at the time. For instance:
Somewhat recently, hidden Marine move outs became very popular in early game TvP. With Protoss often times controlling watch towers with their single Stalker, and making Sentries at home to begin collecting energy, the Marines would dodge areas Protoss could easily see them, and attack into the Natural base, taking down Probes and Sentries alike. This was a metagame move. In response, some Protoss players started making 2 Stalkers right away, and added in new scout patterns to cover the previously unscouted areas which these Marines frequented. This, too, is a metagame move. Neither are necessarily “optimal”, but in the current states of play in which they were introduced, they were very intelligent and useful. As the Marine move outs have been working less and less due to the double Stalker scouting, the move outs have become less common already.
SO. That is a reasonable example of what the Metagame is. There are a lot more, and they aren’t always exactly like that. Some are even more specific, some are very broad and open.
The Metagame is continuous, and varied.
The Metagame is not the same everywhere. Each and every region has its own Metagame. Korea, China, NA, and Europe, for certain, each have their own Metagame. Sometimes these Metagames can line up with each other. They most often line up after a huge tournament (normally in Korea). If a player in one of the absolute top leagues displays something totally awesome, it can immediately effect all the servers at once. During drier periods where nothing super ground breaking is occurring, the Metagames diverge again. Sometimes an “inferior” Metagame can work very well against a super thought out (normally, Korea), Metagame. In theory, the Korean Metagame is the “smartest”, as they play the most games, have the most skilled players, and the best mechanics. This doesn’t always matter though. Heavy metagaming can bring into play the “Tactical Wheel”, where being too far ahead of the curve hurts you, just as being a little bit behind can hurt you. You may have seen an angry progamer say something to the effect of “you only beat me because you’re bad.” Quite often the true meaning of a statement like this is that the winning player didn’t know or understand (or even ignored) the current trends on what is smart/good/etc, and the losing player, who kept up and did his or her homework, was too far ahead, and thus unprepared for something which was “stupid”.
I also said the Metagame is continuous. The further back, and more you know, can greatly help your understanding of what’s going on in a world where everyone’s on top of things. An example as to what I mean here:
I personally rip a huge amount of professional build orders off of VODs, right after they are played. Within about 3 days, I assume that the build is slightly dated, and there are better versions out, to combat the counters people are coming up with for the specific style or build which I’m using.
The beautiful moments.
There are some awesome moments of pure brilliance that having a current and up-to-date understanding of the metagame can help you to experience. Of course, now that I’ve chosen to finally sit down and write this article, specific examples are hard to come by in my brain. Ah, ok, here’s one. Not the absolute best, but here it goes:
Rain vs MVP, game 5 of the GSL round of 4, on Cloud Kingdom. Earlier in the tournament, Rain used a super fast and efficient 1 Gateway DT expand build (vs TaeJa, iirc). Pure beauty, that game. But that’s a story for another time. Anyways, currently in PvT, there are a handful of standard openings after your expansion:
3 Gates + 1 Robo
Twilight + Forge
Triple Nexus into 8 Gates
6 Gateway rush
Of course, 3 Gates + 1 Robo is by far the most popular and stable. It’s also the one that Rain uses the most, by far. Another thing to mention is that Rain almost every game gets at least 2 Stalkers out early (for scouting denial, as well as safety vs early pressure). So, Rain took all of this information, which he knows MVP knows, and devises a new strategy. With multiple Stalkers, he stops all possible intel MVP can get with SCVs. He likes his DT build, but knows that MVP has studied his recent games, and will know that build if he does it again. So he goes for a modified build, making 3 Gateways and a Robotics with it. The DTs are slower, and the Gateways/Robotics are not used optimally. Rain purposefully did an inefficient build, based upon him knowing that MVP is really smart, saw his build, and will want to know if he’s doing that. When MVP scanned, he saw the 3 Gateways and the Robo. Amazingly done, an awesome moment this season.
“Hey Artosis, I have infinity free time, and don’t ever, EVER get bored of StarCraft. How can I play catchup and have a deeper understanding of the current Metagame?”
Wow! I’m glad you asked! Sometimes I’m on the road for more than a week at a time. When I’m on the road that long, I lose track of the Metagame somewhat, and have to play catch-up when I get back to keep up to date enough both to play and to commentate at the level I feel appropriate. So then I sit down and watch every game (in the order they were played — that part is super super important!) ((oh, and don’t forget to only take the games from one region! don’t mix Europe and Korea, or USA and China. Choose one!)), and take notes. Instead of explain exactly what I look for, I’ve uploaded a couple of pages out of my notebook which followed my most recent extended trip abroad. I like to watch them in pretty rapid succession, so any games I find really interesting that I want to watch again or rip builds from, I put a star next to.
The end for now.
There is so much more I could write about metagame stuff. Its even more than I made it out to be, but really impossible to explain fully for me at the moment. Its a really interesting topic, and I hope I’ve been clear enough for you to enjoy!
“Brood War changed StarCraft 1 completely. HotS is a glorified patch.”
Lets talk specifically about PvT for a moment. PvT is the match up for Protoss right now which is evolving the least slowly. While there are some clever things going on, overall you will play a macro based Colossus style with a couple of Forges at the top level. Not quite as much innovation going on there as in the other Protoss match-ups at the moment.
When HotS came out, there was this unit called the WarHound in it. Oh god, it was craziness. This WarHound unit, it KILLED mechanical Protoss units, especially in the early game! When I logged on, it didn’t take me long to figure out that all my old Robotics openings didn’t work anymore. I played a whole bunch, and started coming up with clever openings to adapt to this new unit. I’m fairly certain that PvT was going to now switch over to StarGate tech as the default opener. Totally cool, especially since the early game defense given to you by the Mothership Core allowed you to do such a thing without dying. Later into the game, I was experimenting with all sorts of transitions against these new armies I was facing in PvT. Eventually, there was some pretty sturdy early triple Robotics builds after StarGate openings, totally new stuff, which was working the best. Really awesome and exciting time.
Sadly, the WarHound’s exact stats were not exactly where they should theoretically be at. Of course, that seems reasonable, right? It was still early on in the beta, and there are lots of factors to take into account to tweak a unit just right. Didn’t matter. The community went into an uproar about how terrible the WarHound was, how imbalanced it was, and how it would single handedly destroy HotS and SC2.
Blizzard removed the WarHound. PvT went back much closer to normal. Now people are extremely upset that the patch is lacking and not fun. That it doesn’t change anything.
“Brood War completely changed StarCraft 1.”
Let’s talk a bit about what Brood War actually did.
StarCraft 1 Vanilla (without Brood War) is a completely imbalanced game. Disgustingly imbalanced. Zerg just straight up wins. With no medics and no Goliath Range, Terran is screwed. With no Corsairs (not to mention DTs), Protoss is screwed as well.
We didn’t know this back then. People were absolutely terrible at RTS games back then. Micro and Macro were just ideas. Timings, build orders, cost efficiency…. all completely new and unmapped. Anyways, that stuff doesn’t really matter either, because the tools simply were not there to make SC1 Vanilla balanced in the long term.
Brood War came in, and somehow gave us a set of units, that over time, would end up allowing the game to be balanced. Did these units change the game? Yes, of course. The DT, the Medic, and the Lurker were frightening new units who made so many things different. But really, everything was becoming different all the time, because we were all still learning how to play RTS games properly.
Now remember a few paragraphs before how I said that Brood War gave us the units which allowed the game to be balanced in the future? Here’s one specific example of HotS doing this: The Tempest. Right now, super late game PvZ is a problem. Take a look at Seed vs Symbol from the recent GSL games, or Creator vs Curious from the recent WCS Asia Finals, to get an idea of something that is likely to become a big problem over time. Carriers do not cut it in SC2. They are a huge sink of resources, and in the mined out map game, are not efficient enough. The Tempest gives us a real answer to work with, costing nothing to engage away from the static defense and Infestors which are becoming so standard in the later game. Blizzard is giving us a tool to have balance in this unit. Yet many people hate the unit, and complain about it constantly.
“Something about the way races are supposed to be, and how Protoss is a mere shadow of its former self”
I’ve seen arguments and threads (especially when people were unhappy with the power of Protoss in early HotS) about Protoss not being the race with big heavy hitters like its supposed to be. WHAT? If you look at SC1, Terran was the least mobile race, normally sitting around turtling nonstop, getting an insanely good mech army up to fight against itself or Protoss. Hell, even sometimes against Zerg. And even against Zerg, the overall standard was to wait for a Science Vessel and 3 Tanks before really doing very much. Yet people welcomed moving around the map all game with Marines and Marauders. The Marauder has nothing to do with the “flavor” of what Terran was in SC1.
StarCraft 2’s future
People need to stop bandwagoning and jumping to conclusions. SC1 was 1 or 2 years old when BW was released. We now have almost 14 years of RTS experience to work with. We are so much further ahead of where StarCraft 1 was when Brood War was released in terms of understanding how to play RTS games, that the only way to see game changing units is to make them insanely good like the WarHound.
StarCraft 2 is in an amazing spot right now. It’s already entering that phase that SC1 was in for the past several years, where each week or two there are some slight variations to builds coming out, both because we are learning how to play better, and because of the metagame shifting.
I am still very much looking forward to the actual release of HotS, so that we can watch these new units get added into top level play, and watch the ways they will effect the movements of the metagame.
I listened to people decreeing the end of SC1 from 2002 until 2010 (when the SC2 Beta was finally released). They were all wrong, and anyone talking about it now is wrong too. SC2 is the best damn game in the world. Its more beautiful and complex than anything else being played at the moment. There is absolutely no RTS game on the horizon which could possibly knock it off its pedestal.