SHOUTcraft Kings: March

StarCraft Weekly Recall

Welcome to my fifth Weekly Recall, a recap of the major events in StarCraft over the past week.

 

Highlight Games

 

GSL Semifinals – Eo “soO” Yoon vs Kim “sOs” Yoo Jin (Abyssal Reef)

GSL Semifinals – Kim “Stats” Dae Yeob vs Kim “Ryung” Dong (Daybreak)

SHOUTcraft Kings – Joo “Zest” Sung Wook vs Tobias “ShoWTimE” Sieber

SHOUTcraft Kings – Stats vs Artur “Nerchio” Bloch

GSL Semifinals – Stats vs Ryung (Daybreak)

 

 

GSL Semifinals

 

 

soO vs sOs

 

Echo

Game 1 on Echo was an interesting idea from sOs. Here he attempted to keep soO on the defensive through repeated multiprong Adept harassment while teching up back at home. Instead he continually traded out waves of Adepts for very little return. By the time sOs had completed PsiStorm it was just too late. soO army easily overwhelming sOs in the end to take an easy lead to the series.

Whirlwind and Proxima Station

This game would set the theme of the series. Where sOs maintained the role of aggressor while soO’s defensive ability would be put to the test. sOs would break soO’s defense on Whirlwind, getting himself into a favorable mid game to tie up the series. Again on Proxima however soO’s defense would hold out against sOs’ series of aggression letting him take 2-1 lead.

Abyssal Reef

As they always do, things eventually did get interesting on Abyssal Reef. sOs took a massive economic lead early into Game 4. Taking out soO’s 3rd Hatchery with an Immortal drop reinforced by Adept Warp-Ins. From there soO maintained an airtight defense that allowed him to get back into the game. sOs would again take a massive lead after soO attempted to engage sOs’ from a choke point. soO would lose most of his Lurker based army in the engagement forcing him to retreat. A tech shift into Brood Lords would catch sOs off-guard letting soO again bring himself back into the game. Unable to fight soO in a head-on engagement sOs instead used his superior mobility to his advantage. While sOs played a strong tactical game for a while he was eventually cornered and without a base to retreat to. Putting soO at a 3-1 lead.

Cactus Valley and Newkirk Precinct

sOs went into Cactus Valley with a standard Dark Templar-Prism build. Following up with a second Prism and a second wave of Dark Templars sOs dismantled soO through multi-prong harassment. soO wasn’t able to recover from sOs’ early lead taking us to Game 6 on Newkirk Precinct.

It’s possible this match could have gone to a Game 7 had sOs’ play been up to standard. Or at least the same level we saw in Cactus Valley. Instead he went for a Pylon rush into soO’s third failing to kill the hatchery after a lackluster engagement. He would later attempt to followup with a massive Adept push but seemingly forgot to research Resonating Glaives. soO took a huge early advantage just by holding off sOs’ attempts at aggression which sOs would never recover from. Running over sOs in the inevitable counterattack, soO closed the series advancing to the finals 4-2.

SHOUTcraft Kings: March

Hatchery bleeding almost as heavily as sOs’ supply

 

 

Stats vs Ryung

 

Abyssal Reef

Stats had a rough start to Abyssal Reef losing his first Oracle to a Widow Mine. Shortly after his third was to cancel by an early push by Ryung denying any chance of early aggression. Stats and Ryung fell back into a defensive game for a short time to build up their tech. As both players entered their mid-game tech the game became a street fight.

Stats made the first engagement with an army of Colossi, Adept and Phoenixes. After trading out his Adepts for worker kills Stats was forced back and Ryung made his counterattack. Stats’ main was brought to its knees by Ryung’s bio-drop, having most of his expensive tech taken out. But Stats would retaliate with Adept harassment sending Ryung’s worker count plummeting.SHOUTcraft Kings: March

Behind the frantic attacks at eachothers bases Ryung teched into Ghosts while Stats built up his High Templar count. The final stage of the game was decided by EMPs and PsiStorms. While Ryung landed several solid EMPs Stats’ superior positioning let him deal crippling damage with PsiStorms deciding the game.

Act II

Echo was decided in just over 30 seconds where Stats found a gap in Ryung’s defense to land a Prism right behind the mineral line of Ryung’s main then cutting off Ryung’s army as he attempted to fall back. One game later on Cactus Valley, Ryung crippled Stats’ economy in the same way, exploiting a gap in Stats’ defense to make a massive drop into Stats’ 3rd base.

This put the series at 2-1 heading into Newkirk Precinct. Apparently not wanting a repeat of Cactus Valley, Stats’ defensive game was completely on point in game 4. Defensive play made all the difference in this game as both players made attempts at harassment. While Ryung had some relative success with a single Reaper, overall Stats’ was able to clear Ryung’s aggression taking very little economic damage in the process while dealing economic damage on the other side of the map. This created a huge economic gap that Ryung wouldn’t recover from.

The deciding moment of Proxima Station actually took place in the first few minutes of the game. Stats attempted a proxy StarGate but failed to do anything with it. After losing both his Void Rays while failing to secure any real economic damage, Ryung was given a massive advantage he never let go off taking the series to Game 6.

Daybreak
SHOUTcraft Kings: March

Well, you don’t see that everyday

Stats went for another proxy StarGate again on Daybreak. And if possible, this went just as bad as the last. While he did get some damage in, he would lose his Oracle for it. A widow mine drop into Stats’ base would level the game for Ryung and propel him into an advantage. From there the game entered a deadlock with both players seemingly determined to take the game as late as possible. Stats kept up his attempts at aggression while teching up in the background. Each took there own turns attempting to cripple the others economy. Stats focusing on small economic attacks. Ryung on the other hand went big, pinning Stats’ 6th base with a Tactical Nuke. At one point Ryung had as many as three silos available.

For all their tactics however, it eventually it came down to a final engagement. Stats having repeatedly picked off Ryung’s Ghost with Feedbacks and had the advantage with free use of PsiStorm. And after several Storms weathered down his army, Ryung was forced to tap out advancing Stats to the finals after a 4-2 victory.

SHOUTcraft Kings: March

 

 

 

SHOUTcraft Kings: March

 

SHOUTcraft King: Han “aLive” Lee Seok

 

Streaks

aLive: 4

Kim “herO” Joon Ho: 4

Stats: 3

ByuN” Hyun Woo: 2

 

 

Map Pool Updates

 

New Maps

• Ascension to Aiur by SidianTheBard
• Blood Boil by Avex
• Sequencer by NegativeZero
• Defender’s Landing by YoungRustler

 

Dropped Maps

• Newkirk Precinct TE
• Bel’Shir Vestige LE
• Cactus Valley LE
• Honorgrounds LE (Please for the love of Tassadar NO)

 

Mapmaking Community Discussion

 

 

 

 

Featured images courtesy AfreecaTV and Blizzard Entertainment.

Follow me on Twitter: @Stefan_SC2

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Stefan!

Diva Cup

Diva Cup Insight With Allayrce

 

Just over two weeks ago, AfreecaTV, organizers of StarCraft II’s flagship event, GSL (Global StarCraft II League), announced their first ever female tournament, the Diva Cup.

With the Diva Cup just days away, I got a chance to talk to the event organizer, Allaryce, for some insight into the tournament and the female StarCraft scene.

Note: This interview has been edited and revised for clarity.

 

The Diva Cup

 

The Game Haus: How did you first become attached to this project?

Allaryce: “Someone from Afreeca Global reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in running a female only tournament, so of course, I said yes! I started participating in tournaments only 3 weeks after I first started playing so running a tournament is something I’ve always wanted to try.”

 

To your knowledge, how long has the Diva Cup been in planning?

About a month

 

What can you tell us about the behind the scenes planning involved in this project?

“When it comes to running a tournament, it’s pretty simple. You figure out the format (this one is double elimination), the players, and the prize pool. Since Afreeca was providing the prize pool and I got other additional sponsors, the rest was easy!

The only tricky part of the planning comes from finding a time and date that works for all the players considering they’re all in different time zones. It’s all about staying on top of communication between everyone, even while I was away for IEM Katowice in Poland. With my work schedule and other obligations I have, it’s also great to have the team at Afreeca work on the promo/PR stuff for the tournament.”

 

At risk of asking the obvious, is there a story behind the name “Diva Cup” or is it just because of the Overwatch character?

“Yes, it’s inspired by the Overwatch character. D.VA‘s lore, for anyone who doesn’t know, is that she’s a pro StarCraft II player who became the GSL Code S champion at 16 and went undefeated for 3 years. I would love to see that story step out of fiction and into reality. Someday, I hope we can see a female lift up that trophy in a moment of glory on the big stage!

Many people seem to think that I, as a female, have ignorantly chosen this name for my tournament. To me, that’s very laughable. It’s meant to be a double entendre. It’s meant to be a provocative and funny play on words. I hope that people can appreciate my sense of humor and laugh with me! Even if they can’t, I would encourage them to look past the name and focus on the players instead!”

 

 

“I’ve asked many of my guy friends how many girls they think play Starcraft II and many of them estimate around five and are surprised to learn there’s about 20+ that I know of. It’s not sexism… It’s just unawareness.”

 

TGH: One of the key criticisms that has been brought up regarding female-only tournaments has been: why is there a need for a male/female division? How would you respond to this question?

 

Allaryce: “There’s no defined male division, it’s just that they’re more likely to sign up more often for online and offline cups. Girls are more than welcome to join and there’s nothing stopping them but themselves. I can only speculate that a few of them don’t feel like their skill levels are up to par and therefore don’t enter. I refuse to speak for the other girls and make assumptions about this matter since it’s not a question I’ve asked them about. Everyone has their own individual feelings about it and deserves their own voices.

For me, the Diva Cup is a way to highlight the many female players in the scene that people may not know about. It’s not meant to be a gender divided issue.  Many of these girls don’t promote their social media as much or may stream every once in a while. Others participate in the FSL (Female StarCraft League) or they just play on their own. This is a way to bring awareness to them as players and promote their play.

I’ve asked many of my guy friends how many girls they think play StarCraft II and many of them estimate around five and are surprised to learn there’s about 20+ that I know of. It’s not sexism… It’s just unawareness.

There was a really great article published by Polygon that explains the need for female tournaments and uses Chess as an example. In summary, the female demographic is under represented and it’s a good way to foster growth in the community and encourage other girls to try the game and compete!

I also hope that these girls will join more online and offline tournaments, regardless of results. There are many that cater to all skill levels no matter the player. Regardless of the reason why girls play in female tournaments or gender neutral tournaments, what’s important is that they’re putting themselves out there to compete and enjoy the game we all love to watch: StarCraft II!”

 

 

“I, personally, don’t think it’s demoralizing to see SCII being a male dominated scene. Anyone who plays StarCraft II enjoys the competitiveness to a certain degree.”

TGH: I’d imagine it’s also potentially demoralizing on many levels to see a competitive scene so male dominated. There’s a psychological aspect there that isn’t often explored.

I’ll use a contrasting example, if my first competitive experience were to be against 100 women, I think it would make an already intimidating situation exponentially more so. And if I were to get crushed, it would psychologically reinforce the idea that I didn’t belong there.

Regardless of the reason, I think it’s important to have events like these to let the female StarCraft world know there are competitive outlets available for them.

 

Allaryce: “I, personally, don’t know anyone who’s cocky enough to enter a tournament and expect to win. I’ve spoken to a few of my friends who are pro gamers and almost all of them are very humble about their skills. They mostly just want to perform well enough to their own standards. When it comes to competition, failure is inevitable but it’s how we cope with our losses and come out stronger that matters. It’s a character building tool, if anything, which is why I think tournaments are important. This is one of the reasons I enter tournaments no matter what skill level I’m at.

This is why it’s called ‘tournament experience.’ You’re forced to face your opponents head on, in real life, in defeat or victory. How you choose to handle your sportsmanship says a lot about yourself.

Again, I cannot speak for the other girls, nor would I want to generalize their experiences. I, personally, don’t think it’s demoralizing to see StarCraft II being a male dominated scene. Anyone who plays StarCraft II enjoys the competitiveness to a certain degree. Many people have different reasons that drive them to play the game. That being said, seeing it be male dominated encourages players like me to do better and raise myself up. I can still find role models in the men because I see them for the player they are and not their gender.

Speaking from a personal perspective, I have never once felt like I didn’t belong in the scene. Quite the opposite, in fact. People have been nothing less than generous with their time when it comes to teaching me how to play and my understanding of the game. They encourage and inspire me to improve every day. Some even go as far as to ask me ‘so… when are you getting GM?’ I love the Starcraft II community!”

 

Follow up question; do you think growth of the female StarCraft scene is possible and what do you think is necessary to foster further growth?

“Yes I think it’s just about having a community they can be a part of. This game can be quite intimidating to get into, regardless of the gender, so having friends to talk to is important!”

 

Players

 

TGH: So now let’s move on to the participants. Who would you say are the players to look out for?

Allaryce: “Based on her track record, I think Koshkii has a really good shot. Miyako also seems to be a favorite among some of the girls so I’m looking forward to casting their games! We also have a few newcomers that I haven’t seen play before so I think it’s still anyone’s game.”

 

Any personal predictions?

None

 

Fair enough, any players you would like to see participating in (potential) future Diva Cups?

“Most of the girls, on average, are diamond and above so I encourage any of the other girls to get to diamond and come to compete!”

 

If you were competing yourself, where would you rank yourself among the competition?

“I’m a bit out of practice because of my work and travel so I don’t think I’d make it past the second bracket. I only get maybe two to three hours of practice these days. Some of the girls are better practiced and have a better shot!”

 

Allaryce

 

TGH: Finally, let’s talk about StarCraft a bit. What are your thoughts on the current state of the game?

Allaryce: “I think we’ve seen some of the most exciting gameplay lately in premier tournaments and even online ones. I’m excited for the new changes to Zerg (which is what I main) and to see how that translates amongst the top players. I’m also excited to play on a new map pool! Who isn’t hyped for that?”

 

It really has been a great year of StarCraft gameplay so far. IEM produced so many amazing games and the GSL Quarters was just one mic drop moment after the next. It helps as well that we have a really exciting map pool at the moment. I would be surprised if there’s ever been a map that has delivered as many amazing games as Abyssal Reef has in the short time its been live.

 

If there is one change you can make to StarCraft what would it be?

“I think if they made it free to play, it would be really great for people who are hesitant to pick up the game. We’ve seen that kind of success with LoL and DOTA so I think Starcraft II could benefit from it as well. They’re starting to finally move towards DLC, which I think is a good direction but there needs to be a good balance for people who can’t afford some of it.

I think for everyone who’s purchased the game up until now, they can release some kind of exclusive skins or content to ease the transition. I’m no expert about what this would mean for Blizzard internally, so I’m not sure how feasible the strategy is.”

 

I share this sentiment. Though I think it’s still a bit early to go free to play, currently. Of course I’m no expert on this either but I think there needs to be more micro-transactions available than what we currently have to make it a feasible model. I expect there will be a huge spike in traffic and interest if StarCraft II does go free to play, the game should be well stocked with cosmetic options to capitalize on that. Blizzard is on a good track at the moment.

 

 

TGH: Finally, any last words to close?

 

Allaryce: “Regardless of viewership, I’m really happy to be working on this tournament with Afreeca and give these players a platform and a little extra cash! I’m also excited to cast with my friend Temp0 since we see each other at events often but have never done a cast together before.”

 

 

Tune into the Diva Cup on Saturday March 18th at 12PM PST on Afreeca.tv/Allaryce

 

For more from Allaryce follow her on Twitter, AfreecaTV Global and Twitch.

Follow me on Twitter: @Stefan_SC2

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Stefan!

Skytoss vs Zerg - Leviathan

Unit in Review: Zerg vs Skytoss

To start with the obvious, late game Skytoss vs Zerg has been a community concern for a while now. The balance team has been attempting to address this, but a large part of the community has felt they’ve been consistently missing the mark up to this point. As of the latest fix, Terran has now officially been dragged into a Protoss/Zerg feud.

As such, I think it is a good time to look at the road up to this point so we can try to figure out where we have to go from here.

 

The Carrier-Corruptor Conundrum

 

Naturally, we need to to first talk about Corruptors. The current answer to the Carrier problem. At first, the balance team focused on nerfing the cost of Interceptors before it became clear it did nothing to solve the core issue. Now, Corruptors have always been a hard-counter to Carriers. The latest update which buffed their ability to hunt, just makes them more efficient at doing so.

Corruptors still get zoned out by Archons and PsiStorm though. Attempting to chase Carriers with Corruptors behind an Archon frontline is effectively suicide. This has always been the core problem, and this update does very little to change this.

Interestingly, while this update was meant to help ZvP, it actually has a much more profound impact on ZvT. Corruptors were already very effective against many Mech-Terran and Starport unit compositions. Even before the buff. As it is now, Corruptors can out-micro or out-damage every Terran air unit, making them the undisputed kings of the sky in ZvT.

So it raises the question, if buffing Corruptors isn’t the answer to Carriers, then what is? Well, I think a good starting point is looking at units that aren’t already great at doing their jobs. Rather than ones that already are.

 

Swarm Hosts

 

Now, understandably, when you think of a unit for countering Skytoss, the Swarm Host usually doesn’t come to mind. For starters, it doesn’t even attack air. But when you consider the defensive nature of Carrier strategies, the value of Swarm Hosts become more apparent. Teching into Carriers is a massive investment for Protoss which provides a window for Zerg to attack. The problem is currently, Zerg still struggles to break a Protoss turtle, even during this window of “vulnerability.”

Skytoss

We’ll call it “Mutate Electromagnetic Disruption… Wings?” Yeah I have nothing.

If Zerg is unable to break Protoss’ defense, then the obvious answer is buffing the Zerg unit designed around breaking fortified positions. A shield damage upgrade seems the safest option as it entirely avoids interfering with ZvT and ZvZ. Naturally a concern would be Swarm Hosts becoming too oppressive against Protoss in the mid-game. For this reason, gating this buff behind an expensive upgrade with a short research time seems apt. An expensive investment makes the upgrade an actual decision rather than a go-to; but a short research time ensures that it can still be used as an immediate response to scouting a Carrier turtle.

The investment behind Carrier strategies means Protoss is supposed to be vulnerable during their production. If Zerg scouts a Protoss walled in and vulnerable for an extended period, then logically the Swarm Host should be able to break Protoss during that time.

Ultralisks

Patch 3.8 rebalanced the armor of the Ultralisk, resulting in a net of -1 after Chitinous Plating. But as of how the meta has played out since then, perhaps that nerf is no longer necessary. The obvious effect this would have is Ultralisks can more easily drive back Archons. Since Ultralisks have never batted an eye in the direction of a PsiStorm, the only real issue would be Void Rays. But Zerg does have other means of dispersing Void Rays, as is, namely Parasitic Bomb.

Admittedly, this is the one I was hesitant about. Since I’m not entirely sure what the impact on ZvT would be like as a result. But given Terran’s main counter to Ultralisks are Ghost’s “Steady Targeting” which ignores armor anyway, I’m inclined to believe the impact will still be less than what Corruptors are currently doing.

 

Vipers

Naturally, I had to save my favorite for last. Even as a Protoss player, Vipers are among my favorite units in the game. When it comes to picking off units, Vipers are the best in class. That’s really what the problem has always been here. Corruptors can kill Carriers. They’ve always been able to. But they need to actually get to them which is where Vipers have always excelled. The problem is, to get within range to “Abduct” a Carrier, the Viper has to risk entering the range of the Protoss’ High Templars, consequently getting Feedbacked to death.

It’s a bit of a tricky situation. Because Abduct and Feedback have the same range, you can’t buff the range of one, without becoming a hard-counter to the other.

One possibility is to temporarily increase the range of Abduct by increasing synergy between the Viper’s spells and abilities. I’m of course referring to “Consume.” Consume has always been intriguing, but for an ability with the occasional side-effect of killing your own structures, sometimes you could get a bit more value out of it.

Giving Vipers a temporary buff after using consume is one way to do that. A temporary range buff on Abduct would allow Vipers a home-field advantage against Carriers and High Templars. Most importantly, it makes engaging Zerg’s base with Skytoss a much less straightforward affair.

Skytoss

Let’s be honest, “Consume” is easily the most ominous animation in the game. And any excuse to see more of this can only be a good thing.

 

 

 

Featured images courtesy AfreecaTV and Blizzard Entertainment.

Follow me on Twitter: @Stefan_SC2

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Stefan!

IEM XI

StarCraft Weekly Recall – IEM Katowice Special

Welcome to my fourth Weekly Recall, a recap of all the major events in StarCraft over the past week. What better way to celebrate one month than with an Intel Extreme Masters World Championship special recap.

 

Intel Extreme Masters XI – World Championship

 

Because there’s so much to cover, we’re going to be changing up the format a bit this week. The priority here is getting you to the good stuff.

 

Group Stage Highlight

Zest vs Nerchio: Newkirk Precinct

 

Quarterfinals

 

Players

Han “aLive” Lee Seok, Lee “INnoVation” Shin Hyung, Koh “GuMiho” Byung Jae, Jun “TY” Tae Yang, Joona “Serral” Sotala, Park “Dark” Ryung Woo, “ByuN” Hyun Woo, Kim “Stats” Dae Yeob

 

Highlight Games

aLive vs Innovation: Newkirk Precinct

aLive vs Innovation: Abyssal Reef

Byun vs Stats: Newkirk Precinct

Byun vs Stats: Cactus Valley

 

With the exception of Dark vs Serral, the IEM Quarters was a street fight for a sport in the next round.

To comment on Dark vs Serral, Dark at the moment seems to be near unbeatable in ZvZ. He delivered Kang “Solar” Min Soo a 3-0 defeat one round earlier. Solar, notably defeated Dark 4-3 in the finals of the last SSL. It seems since then, Dark has focused on refining his ZvZ to the frightening point he is now at.

The final score of the TvT’s speaks for themselves. Both Gumiho vs TY and aLive vs INnoVation went the distance. Of the two, however, aLive vs Inno was the show to see. Whereas Gumiho vs TY played out as a cerebral game of chess. There was a very savage form of strategy being played between aLive and Inno. To the very end, neither player would budge. This was a pattern defined from the very first game, as INnoVation brought the game to an almost deadlock for several minutes after having his economy entirely wiped out.

IEM XI

Command Centers are overrated anyway.

 

ByuN vs Stats

Despite the final scoreline, ByuN vs Stats was arguably the best match of the day. Despite ending 3-1 for Stats, in a round with two full best of 5’s, at no point in this series was any player in clear control. Most of the games were won through almost unthinkable comebacks. Game 2 in particular featured both players trading commanding leads before the end.

Even aside from the incomparable ferocity of their competition, there is a fierce rivalry story building between both players. ByuN, the current World Champion, was the one to eliminate Stats in the Semifinals of the WCS Global Finals in November. They faced again in the Round of 32 at GSL 2017, Season 1, where Stats defeated ByuN 2-1 in the Group G Winner’s Match. Every time these two face is always a spectacle, and the ferocity of competition in their games continues to escalate.

 

Semifinals

 

Highlight Games

aLive vs TY: Abyssal Reef

Dark vs Stats: Proxima Station

Dark vs Stats: Newkirk Precinct

 

aLive vs TY

 

Act I

A back and forth series if there ever was one. aLive and TY spent the first few games swapping roles of aggressor and defender. The first game on Newkirk had TY taking complete control of the game from the get-go through repeated harassment. One game later on Proxima, aLive dismantled TY in the same way, pinning TY into his base, unable to respond in any meaningful way.

 

Act II

Cactus Valley was the first game that showed a clear battle for control. aLive opened with Cyclone harassment, TY returning in kind with his Helions. By midgame TY had taken map control. After taking a favorable engagement on the open map, he sieged the base of aLive, forcing evacuation of his third and pinning him to his natural. Establishing a clear economic advantage, TY had Cactus Valley won. However, an eager attempt to end the game early resulted in a massive mis-positioning that left his third completely exposed. This allowed aLive to counterattack, forcing TY out of the game in one swift, decisive strike.

With his back against the wall, TY came into Honor Grounds determined to make a case. Similar to Game 1, TY pinned aLive down with harassment. While never establishing control, aLive did manage a valiant fight, finding retaliatory damage where others would have folded. Ultimately, he had no economy, and was eventually overwhelmed in one crushing engagement.

 

Finale

This brought us to Game 5 on Abyssal Reef. For such a scrappy series, this match could not have ended in a better way. This was a non-stop skirmish, start to finish, with both players clawing at the others base in a constant struggle to return economic damage. aLive started the game with an early push into TY’s third, forcing him to evacuate the Command Center back to his main. TY responded with a drop into aLive’s natural, while sieging a pair of tanks across the gap, completely decimating aLive’s worker count. He would then double around to aLive’s third, forcing lift-off and taking a massive economic lead.

IEM XI

Tally-ho

Not even a minute later, aLive would make a retaliatory attack with Ravens into TY’s natural and landing Vikings into his main, managing to pick off at least 20 workers in the attack, leveling the game from a harsh disadvantage. Unfortunately, perhaps the most critical moment of this game happened off-screen around this time. As aLive made his retaliation attack, TY managed a drop into aLive’s base to finish off the third Orbital Command he bruised minutes prior. aLive continued to siege at TY’s base for several minutes, leveling himself economically and taking an upgrade advantage. When TY eventually did stabilize his base, the fact that he still had an Orbital Command to move to his third put him at an economic advantage from that point forward.

An advantage TY would further secure with a drop into aLive’s base, denying aLive the breathing room to rebuild a third. Unable to keep up with TY economically, aLive would eventually have his army wiped out in a retaliation attempt shortly after, ending the game and advancing to the Finals 3-2.

 

 

Dark vs Stats

 

Proxima Station
IEM XI

Come to daddy

Games 1 and 2 of Dark vs Stats were among the best of IEM. Proxima Station is a map with a secure pocket expansion and a tight choke point on its third. This makes it ideal for defensive strategies. With Zerg currently struggling against late-game Skytoss, Carriers are a natural choice on Proxima. While Stats dictated the pace of the game through constant harassment, Dark’s vigilant creep spread. It let him slowly march a blockade of Spore Crawlers deep into Stats’ territory and allowing Dark to push the burden of engagement onto Stats.

The need to stop Dark’s creep spread forced Stats’ eventual misstep, which Dark capitalized on without hesitation, Abducting Stats’ Carriers with his Vipers and running through the ground army with Ultralisks.

 

The Marathon Event

The second game on Newkirk may have been one of the scrappiest PvZs in StarCraft history. A marathon game with almost non-stop aggression on both sides. Multiple times, Dark looked just on the edge of breaking Stats, only to be pushed back. At one point, he even leveled Stats’ main base and all the air tech, only for Stats to survive by buying time through counter-aggression.

Stats’ resilient defense put Dark into a situation where he was forced to move into Stats’ side of the map.IEM XI Having nearly completely mined out his side of field, Dark invaded to steal one of Stats’ last remaining bases. Stats responded by decimating Dark’s side of the map and boxing Dark into one expansion. Eventually taking the fight right to Dark, even after blanketing his army with repeated PsiStorms, the final engagement ended up being too close to call. Not until the final units were left standing did it become clear that Stats had just won the game.

Dark’s position on the map ended up being the pivotal factor. After trading out his army, Stats was able to Warp-In a reinforcement of Stalkers at the nearby WarpGates right outside of Dark’s base.

From this point forward, Dark seemed completely unwilling to play a late game, opting for early all-ins and timing attacks. Stats’ resilient defense would prove too much for Dark, however, allowing Stats to close the series, advancing to the finals 3-1.

 

Grand Final

 

Highlight Games

Abyssal Reef

Honor Grounds

 

Without question one of the closest finales in the history of StarCraft 2. This match could have been a best of 11 and I would put the odds on the series going to the final map.

 

Newkirk Precinct

If you ever wanted a guidebook on defensive PvT, this game is it. Stats took control of Newkirk from the get-go just through his airtight defensive play. TY played an aggressive game, attempting to find economic damage. His attempts at harassment were consistently deflected on multiple fronts though. From here, Stats just played the game by the book. Returning harassment damage but never compromising his defensive positioning as he teched up into splash damage.

After crippling another aggressive push by TY with a single Purification Nova, Stats would safely push out after playing a highly cost efficient game, eventually overwhelming TY with relative ease.

 

Proxima Station

Proxima, on the other hand, could not have gone more differently. TY opened the game with a widow mine proxy can, getting in massive economic damage in the early game as Stats failed to accomplish much with his own Oracle. TY’s harassment game was much more on point in Game 2 compared to Newkirk.

This economic lead TY took in the early game would pay dividends in the late game, allowing him to hit a window of vulnerability for Stats as he attempted to tech into High Templars. TY hard engaged into Stats just before PsiStorm could complete, ending Game 2 in dominant fashion.

 

Abyssal Reef

This took us to Abyssal Reef. If you’ve been following, you already know this is going to be amazing. This one, beautiful map put out one amazing game after the next for all of IEM; and this may have been the best in show. TY took early control of this game, dealing near crippling damage, taking out Stats’ third. Within minutes, Stats would retaliate with an Adept drop, closing the economic gap. Able to stabilize just a bit, Stats teched into a Templar Archives almost immediately, clearly not wanting a repeat of Proxima.

This would end up paying off, as Psionic Storm would complete as TY attempted an engagement. Several PsiStorms would cripple TY’s army, letting Stats take the fight and forcing a retreat, putting himself in a favorable position.

Unable to take Stats in a head-on engage, TY split his forces up, resorting to multi-prong harassment. Several defensive PsiStorms would prevent TY from getting any real economic damage, but kept Stats at bay. Unable to mount a full on attack into TY’s base without leaving himself exposed to harassment, Stats attempted to transition once again into Thermal Lance Colossi and Tempests.

With Colossi on the field, Stats made another attempt at sieging TY’s base. Expertly taking advantage of the general low mobility of Stats’ comp, TY outmaneuvered him, making a beeline to his base. This baited Stats into splitting his army in an unfavorable position, allowing TY to get a surround. With Stats’ army split up and superior positioning that prevented him from even retreating, TY easily took the engagement, ending the game.

IEM XI

What’s wrong with this picture? That’s right, 720p

 

Paladino Terminal and Bel’shir Vestige

What followed from here were two quick harassment focused games, back to back. On Paladino, Stats quickly overwhelmed TY with a Phoenix, Double Oracle push, ending the game and tying the series once again. On Bel’shir, TY decimated Stats’ economy with Helion harassment, coupled with a Widow Mine drop. TY then quickly followed up, showing us for the first time his Liberator, three Siege Tank push. With his economy in shambles, Stats was unable to mount a defense.

Honor Grounds

TY returned again with his Helion, Widow Mine harassment. Stats however was much more prepared, deflecting the Helion attack with seemingly little effort and intercepting the Widow Mine drop with a few defensively positioned Stalkers.

From here TY followed up again with his three Tank push, though instead of having his Liberator cover his Siege Tanks, this time he sent his Liberator to harass the mineral line of Stats’ natural. This time, in a much more stable position and without the Liberator complicating matters, Stats easily took the engagement.

With his push stopped, TY returned to drop attempts. At this point however, Stats’ defense was as airtight as in Game 1.

The game entered a deadlock at this point, with both Stats and TY trading failed attempts at economic harassment. TY would eventually find his opening. Again, taking advantage of the low mobility of Stats’ army, TY would make a doom drop into Stats’ base. Stats would lose both forges in this attack and TY would further secure his upgrade advantage.

TY pressed his advantage further by sieging a mass of Liberators over Stats’ fifth base, forcing every probe in the area to evacuate. At this point TY seemed to have a near unbreakable hold. Stats in turn would exploit the lack of mobility of TY’s Liberators to maneuver out of their attack range. Stats would lose all of his Colossi in the attack, but would succeed in wiping out the bulk of TY’s Liberators.

After a short period of trading bases, Stats would eventually corner the rest of TY’s army to end the game and bring the series to Game 7.

 

Cactus Valley

This was a short and one-sided game sadly. It was an unfortunate end to one of the closest, most intense finals in StarCraft history. TY again returned with his three Tank, Liberator push, and Stats fumbled the engagement hard. He left only one Stalker to deal with the Liberator, and initially forgot to focus fire his other two Stalkers. By the time Stats attempted to correct this oversight, both TY’s Liberator and Siege Tank had gotten in several seconds of near uncontested damage, nearly wiping out Stats’ ground army by the time the Liberator went down.

TY closed the series 4-3, becoming the IEM Katowice Champion.

 

Featured images courtesy ESL.

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3.11

Community Concerns – Patch 3.11

Micro-transactions. Often described as the plague of modern gaming. But for much of esports, they’re the very foundation that keeps them from collapsing under its own weight.

Very few know this better than the StarCraft community does. The ability to support the scene through micro-transactions has been one of the most requested features by players for years. These requests were finally answered in Patch 3.7. The introduction of the Collection Tab brought with it unit skins and new in-game advisers or Announcers. Since then, Blizzard has continued to support the Collection tab with a steady supply of new Announcers. Alongside a healthy rate of Co-Op Commanders releases, players have had many opportunities recently to keep the scene funded.

However, one area that has been notably lacking are unit skins. The launch of the Collection tab brought three new skins for purchase in StarCraft II. A month later at Blizzcon, The War Chest, StarCraft’s answer to DotA’s Compendium, was announced. Promising unit variations were among the list of rewards. Since then, information has been scarce.

Now Patch 3.11 brings bundle packages for unit skins as well as other purchases. This is, of course, a good thing. But the fact is, it’s been over four months since 3.7, yet those three skins have been the only releases. And now rather than releasing a new line, Blizzard is bundle packaging the only three skins that are available.

While not bad, it’s very easy to see why more than a few red flags have been raised.

 

The War Chest

 

 Before we can discuss what we want to know, we should first establish what (little) we actually do know. And that is The War Chest.

As said before, The War Chest is StarCraft’s answer to DotA’s compendium. They’re a single purchase, seasonal item that unlocks rewards over the course of a season just through playing the game. Most notably, faction specific skin lines. Like the compendium, a percentage of the proceeds from The War Chest will go towards the World Championship total prize pool. The latest update on this upcoming feature came in late January. On Janurary 25th, it was announced that the current ETA on the first War Chest is Q3 of this year.

Now just to be clear, this isn’t a bad thing. Of course, it isn’t a good thing either, it’s just a thing. New features take time to develop. This is just to be expected. As a general rule of thumb, the more you attempt to rush out a product, the probability of that product releasing as a busted piece of crap rises exponentially. That’s just science.

There’s no reason to rush development on this. Contrary to what many seem to believe, Blizzard isn’t out to spite StarCraft. They’ve done a damn lot to support StarCraft in recent years. This is a project that’s potentially profitable for them. It will release when it’s ready. So all there is to say with regards to War Chests is patience is a virtue.

So what else is there? Well, nothing. That’s literally all we know at the moment. This is actually where the concern starts.Patch 3.11

 

Everyone’s Got a Theory

 

From the initial announcement, it sounded as if themed skin lines would be specific to War Chests. Or, at the very least, faction themed lines. But there has been absolutely no information about non-War Chest affiliated skins. This has naturally raised speculation as to whether there just aren’t any plans to release any. A few of those themed skins were previewed at the announcement, and the initial line does look somewhat uninspired in comparison (in my opinion of course). So I wouldn’t necessarily say this is a bad thing. But the lack of transparency is odd, to say the least.

Naturally, in the wake of information, speculation has risen to fill the gap.

Perhaps the most thought-out rationale was raised by TheSkunk_2 who speculated the original engine limitations may still be a mitigating factor. While unit skins have been a heavily requested feature for years, Blizzard’s stance on the matter for a long time was that they were unable to without raising the system requirements. It’s speculated that while a handful of cosmetics have surfaced now, the engine still needs work before they can start featuring unit skins en masse.

Many others proposed the initial line just didn’t sell enough to warrant a revisit, while some suggested the art team is just occupied with other projects.

Whichever you fancy, they all rose from the same source. A lack of information to work with.

 

Required Reading

 

All we really know on the matter is that there is a lot we don’t know. What’s more concerning is that we don’t know, why we don’t know, what we don’t know. And that’s never a fun place to be in.

A good starting point is actually being transparent about why there is no real conversation taking place. Then perhaps taking a few of the questions that there’s been absolutely no information about. An example being Structure skins, which has not been discussed in any way, despite being a long requested feature. While we do know there are certainly beautiful structure variations within the game, we have no idea if there’s any intention to bring them into multiplayer.

StarCraft has actually come a long way in terms of community engagement. The balance team actively tries to keep the community in the loop regarding what changes they’re considering and why they’re considering it.

But in other aspects of the game, we’re still very much kept in the dark. And it is reason for concern because at the end of the day, when it comes to cosmetics and micro-transactions, we’re the ones that are going to be buying these things. So we should have at least some input into what’s on the menu.

Patch 3.11

 

 

Featured images courtesy Blizzard Entertainment and Gamespot.

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recall

StarCraft Weekly Recall

Welcome to my third Weekly Recall, a recap of all the major events in StarCraft over the past week.

 

GSL Season 1 2017 – Quarterfinals

 

Players: Jun “TY” Tae Yang, Eo “soO” Yoon Su, Kim “Stats” Dae Yeob, Lee “Innovation” Shin Hyung, Kim “herO” Joon Ho, Kim “sOs” Yoo Jin, Kim “Ryung” Dung Won, Cho “Maru” Seong Ju

 

TY vs soO

The first match of the quarters got off to a confusing start, with soO attempting a 12-pool Ravager all-in. 12-pools in general are much more common against Protoss than Terran. After having his all-in held, then being pulled apart from every angle by TY’s multi-pronged aggression in the next game, soO looked minutes away from being the victim of one of the hardest stomps in GSL Quarterfinal history.

Then TY decided to make things weird. He went for, an admittedly intriguing, mech build against soO. Of course, there’s a reason mech isn’t often used against Zerg. And that reason is the Swarm Host. Mech builds are high power, low mobility compositions, and the Swarm host does nothing if not punish low (or lack of) mobility. At the highest echelons of the Zerg tech tree, Brood Lords also excel at devastating stationary positions.

So naturally, it was hardly surprising when TY’s mech build was overwhelmed by soO’s Swarm Host, Brood Lord based army.

Game 4 saw the return of soO’s 12-pool Ravager all-in, and this time on a two player map, TY would be unable to hold.

And just like that. Just as quickly as we were looking at a potential 3-0 stomp, the match was brought to Game 5.

SoO made full use of the open map on Newkirk Precinct. He was repeatedly taking fights in the wide open areas that favor Zerg. SoO was able to keep TY at bay for the majority of the game, eventually overwhelming him. Completing the reverse sweep, soO advanced to the semifinals 3-2.

 

Stats vs Innovation

Innovation started the Match with two fairly clean wins on Cactus Valley and Newkirk Precinct. In both games, Stats opted for a defensive early Colossi opening. In Game 1, Innovation took a favorable early engagement, trading out his siege tanks for most of Stat’s Gateway army. Pushing out Vikings on the resupply, Stats’ Colossi based army was overwhelmed on the followup attack.

Say it with me: Instant Karma

In Game 2, Innovation took advantage of Newkirk’s terrain to pull Stats’ defense apart with a two-pronged attack. Punishing Stats’ inability to secure map control, the fast followup push almost completely surrounded Stats’ defense at his third, ending the game in a rain of MULEs. This put Stats in a familiar position, having lost 0-4 to Innovation at IEM Gyeonggi, barely two months ago.

On Daybreak, Stats swapped out his defensive Colossi strategy for a mobile Adept-Phoenix build, hitting Innovation with waves of harassment. Taking repeated damage at home and completely unable to respond, Innovation had to attempt a doom drop to get himself back into the game. Anticipating the desperate attack, Stats easily intercepted Innovation’s Medivacs, bringing the hammer down on Game 3. Taking the Adept-Phoenix build back into Game 4, Innovation put up a bit more of a fight. In the end, Stats took full advantage of his superior air mobility to crush Innovation’s main army.

Stats brought back his Colossi build for Game 5. Reading Innovation like a book, he set a row of pylons in anticipation for an incoming doom drop on his main well. He did this before the attack happened, and crushed the attack once it did. After a repeat failed doomdrop into Stats’ main, Stats took the fight to Innovation, ending the game in convincing fashion and completing the reverse sweep.

Recall

herO vs sOs

A failed cannon rush by herO brought a quick end to Game 1. Both players started off on relatively even footing going into Game 2, both starting on Phoenixes. After attempting to transition out of Phoenixes, however, herO lost his footing in the game. PvP is always a dangerous matchup to transition in. Very often when you start mirror tech paths, you end up locked into it out of risk of your opponent walking over you with superior numbers.

By transitioning out of Phoenixes, sOs was given free reign of the skies and would use his superior air mobility to bleed out herO’s mineral lines.

Taking advantage of the large four player map for Game 3, herO took a greedy early expansion to secure an early economic lead. Deciding to commit to harassment after having scouted the expansion late would put sOs even further behind and the game would quickly snowball into herO’s first win.

HerO took an early lead in Game 4 on Daybreak with some strong StarGate micro, getting solid economic damage done with an Oracle and several Phoenixes. A well placed Stasis Ward would secure a fight at sOs’ base for herO, and he would close the game a few short minutes later.

The final game on Abyssal Reef was easily the best game of the match. Very back and forth, sOs opened making multiple attempts at adept harassment in herO’s base, trading out for little more than other combat units. HerO would pick off sOs’ Warp Prism and followed up with a push into sOs’ base. SOs’ retaliation would spin the game into his favor, completely wiping out workers at herO’s natural. SOs would corner herO in his attempt at getting retaliatory damage, wiping the rest of his army. This advanced sOs to the semifinals, 3-2.

Recall

Who knew, right?

Ryung vs Maru

Many would have assumed that this would have been the most one-sided match of the Quarterfinals, and they weren’t exactly wrong. This was a straight up chess match. Ryung, for the most part, was constantly ahead in the game.

The first two games saw Ryung putting Maru on the defensive while exploiting gaps in his positioning. Ryung is often said to be one of the most hardworking players in the StarCraft professional scene. In the first two games, it really did show. He showed a far more refined understanding of Echo and Whirlwind than Maru. Knowing exactly where to doom drop based on Maru’s positioning. At one point, even playing hide and seek with a cornered, almost dead cyclone to get it out alive. Ryung was in full control of the first two games. At times, he even made Maru, the number one ranked player in the world, look like an amateur.

Maru, however, was able to show much more assertion in Games 3 and 4. On Daybreak, Maru showed off some interesting Raven harassment in the early game. Later, he took advantage of poor positioning, when Ryung sieged his full army of tanks against Maru’s highly mobile composition. This allowed Maru to freely doom drop into Ryung’s main, dealing crippling damage that would spiral the game into Maru’s favor.

The final game on Newkirk was perhaps the best game of the week. Maru was once again in total control by virtue of his multi-pronged aggression. Game 4 was over if not for Ryung’s patience to acknowledge his desperate position, hiding the lion’s share of his army to wipe out Maru’s tanks as he moved up his siege line.

Ryung advanced into the semifinals, 3-1.

Fun fact: Whoever won the Reaper fights at the start of every match, went on to win the game.

 

Balance Team Community Feedback

The changes on the test map are in the final stages and will go live in a future patch if no further issues come up. Reapers in TvZ are now being looked at, and changes to KD8 charge are on the table. Changes currently on the table include increasing the ability cooldown or removing its damage to structures.

Changes currently on the Test Map that may go live sometime in the future are listed below.

Terran

Widow Mine: +shield bonus damage on splash reduced from +40 to +25

Zerg

Corruptor: Movement speed changed from 4.1343 to 4.725. Acceleration speed changed from 3.675 to 4.2. Parasite Spore weapon damage point (ie. attack delay) changed from .1193 to .0446.

Hydralisk: Health increased from 80 to 90

 

Community Highlights

 

The new WCS Website is now live.

Rotti just wants his due credit.

Nate makes the top of StarCraft Reddit again.

Juiced_Potatoes unearths a childhood relic.

 

 

Community Content Highlights

 

From BaseTradeTV, performed by Temp0. Lyrics by Rifkin. Abyssal Reef of course, designed by SidianTheBard.

 

PiG takes a look at the Ravager 1-Base All-In

 

 

Featured images courtesy AfreecaTV and Blizzard Entertainment.

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AoE

Protoss Insight – Blazing your Path

Let’s talk a bit about Area of Effect (AoE), or more specifically, AoE in Protoss vs Terran. While Protoss and Terran start on relatively even footing, as Terran’s army complicates, Protoss needs to tech into some form of AoE in order to keep from being overwhelmed.

Each form of AoE comes with its own benefits and limitations that can severely affect your defensive ability. As such, it’s important to have an understanding of these limitations when planning your strategy.

 

Disruptor

 

First of all, I’ll start with the unit least commonly seen in Protoss vs Terran. It’s easy to see why; the Disruptor is a unit that’s too easy to out-micro for Terran. Drag and click on an empty Medivac and the threat of the Disruptor is gone. Even discounting Medivacs it’s still not exactly reliable. Depending on a unit for AoE that can be dodged with proper micro is more akin to gambling than an actual strategy.

It’s not to say the Disruptor isn’t without its benefits. Their ability to force caution makes them solid defensive units while pressed into your own base. In a desperate situation, reliability becomes much less of a concern, and Disruptors are Protoss’ ultimate Hail Mary play.

At max range, a Disruptor actually outranges a tank in siege mode. Against heavy mech where Medivacs are less common, the Disruptor actually is a bit of an underrated unit. While still not 100% reliable, the lower mobility of mech comps heavily stacks the odds in the Disruptor’s favor.

Against the standard MMM, Siege Tank, Liberator, Widow Mine, the Disruptor is found lacking. But against mech builds and in desperate situations, they actually become a viable option.

 

Colossus

 

Once the most hated unit in the game, the Colossus has fallen far from grace in LotV. Following a well earned 20% nerf to their damage output, the Colossus isn’t seen outside of niche builds in PvP and PvZ. The Colossus has found its place however in PvT.

With Extended Thermal Lance researched, the Colossus boasts massive range that heavily punishes any overly aggressive Terran bio-ball. The Colossus’ greatest asset, however, is its tech path. Both Observers and the Warp Prism are produced from the Robotics Facility. In any matchup, Protoss will always want to get Robo tech out as soon as possible.

Being able to produce your core units out of Robo tech heavily streamlines the process as well. You avoid resource dumps into detouring tech routes which leaves windows of vulnerability. This makes for a very safe build path.

Naturally, the Colossus is not without weakness. While it makes for a strong opening, if Terran is given time to mass Vikings, Colossi can quickly become vulnerable. Colossi become liabilities the longer you stay on them without switching tech routes. For this reason, it’s important to use your initial window of power to your advantage. This can mean any combination of securing an expansion, pressing an enemy vulnerability, or safely making a tech switch. It’s important to get value out of your Colossus early because, if given time, they eventually become giant walking resource dumps.

AoE

 

Psionic Storm

 

High Templars are an extremely versatile unit against Terran. PsiStorm can be used to devastating effect against most Terran compositions. It’s a flexible ability that can be used both offensively to crush an engagement, or defensively to force an enemy retreat. AoEThe Templar’s most underrated ability, Feedback, is exceptionally powerful against Terran in the right situations. Really, the only thing in StarCraft that feels more satisfying than blowing a fully-loaded Medivac out of the sky with a single Feedback is doing so to several.

Of course, for its versatility, High Templars suffer from many of the Colossi’s strengths. Getting out a Templar Archives, researching Psionic Storm, and producing even a handful of High Templars takes an absolutely massive investment of Vespene. And even after, Templars aren’t able to use PsiStorm immediately after being produced. High Templars have to first build 25 energy more on their 50 energy starting point.

For this reason, it’s important to treat teching into Templar Archives the same as taking an expansion. Doing so leaves you heavily vulnerable for a period of time, so it’s best to do so as you’re making an aggressive move on your opponent.

 

Archon

 

By virtue of its design, the Archon naturally suffers from all the flaws of the High Templar. Unlike the High Templar, Archons have limited range and become vulnerable during engagements. However, again, unlike the Templar, they’re actual combat units and can hold their own if pressed. They can also be exceptionally effective with Chargelots, Adepts, or Immortals to cover behind.

Overall, during engagements, it’s important to get rid of as much energy as possible from your High Templars before merging them into Archons. While solid combat units with strong AoE, they’re also very vulnerable for their massive cost. Even so, you shouldn’t depend on them as your main source of AoE. However, they are exceptional at cleaning house once your Templars are spent.

AoE

 

 

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Weekly Recall

StarCraft Weekly Recall

Welcome to my second ever Weekly Recall, a recap of the major events in StarCraft in the past week.

 

GSL Round of 16 – Group C

 

Players: Kim “herO” Joon Ho, Cho “Trap” Sung Ho, Kim “Ryung” Dong Won, Lee “Leenok” Dong Nyung

 

Advancing Players: herO, Ryung

 

herO

herO came into Group C looking to make a statement. With so much focus recently on the top Terrans, it’s easy to forget there are genuine threats from other races. And he made his point, tearing his way through the Group, making it too clear he’s still in the running for the trophy. HerO advanced in 1st place, 4-1, dropping a game only to Trap. It’s no secret that herO has been a dominant force in PvT, and he proved it here.

Especially with the top three Terrans currently playing tournament favorites. If herO can make it past his next round into the final stages of GSL, there is a very real possibility that this could be the season herO finally takes his first GSL title.

Ryung

If there’s one thing to say about Ryung, it’s that he’s resilient. He showcased some intriguing Mech builds against Leenok, taking a relatively clean series 2-1. After getting taken out by herO 0-2 in the Winner’s Match, he took a close series against Trap 2-1. Advancing in second place after a final game on Cactus Valley simply by surviving Trap’s repeated waves of Adept harassment and pushing the fight back to Trap’s side of the map at his most vulnerable point.

Trap

Trap’s ability to harass has to be among the best in the world right now. We saw his ability to dig himself out of a massive disadvantage with only a handful of Adepts against Armani. His Oracle micro against Solar was nothing short of inspirational. And again here against Ryung, taking a map of Ryung with repeated Adept harassment. Taking out as many as 30 workers in a single run to win Abyssal Reef.

Again, in the final game on Cactus Valley, Trap continuously traded out waves of Adepts, but dealing almost crippling economic damage in return. Unfortunately, Trap’s over-commitment to his harassment style ended up costing him the game. Ryung eventually took the fight right to Trap’s main army and Trap was simply unable to hold. He failed to tech up into any form of AoE Protoss needs to take a fight against a complex Terran army.

He ended a hard fought day 4-4.

Leenok

Leenok was, for the most part, just outmatched, ending the day 1-4. He took a single map off Ryung from a disadvantageous situation with some impressive Fungals and swift punishment of Ryung’s aggressive positioning.

 

Weekly Recall

I feel like this one moment is a metaphor for herO’s performance in PvT at the moment.

 

GSL Round of 16 – Group D

 

Players: Kim “sOs” Yoo Jin, Hwang “KeeN” Kyu Seok, Lee “Bunny” Jae Sun, Cho “Maru” Sung Ju

 

Advancing Players: Maru, sOs

 

Maru

A week ago, I said Jun “TY” Tae Yang looked like the best player in the World. Maru came out in Group D to make his case. After dismantling Bunny in his first match 2-0 through superior tactical positioning, he went on to crush KeeN in the winners match. In his first game, he punished a heavy over-extension by KeeN in TY’s base by making a doom drop right into KeeN’s army before he had a chance to replenish.

His second game against KeeN was hard to watch. Pushing into KeeN with a heavy Reaper harassment, taking him apart through nothing but Reaper micro. Closing out the game in less than four minutes and dropping a “manner-MULE” into KeeN’s base for his trouble.

Maru ended the day 4-0, advancing cleanly in first place.

sOs

Ever the wildcard, sOs ended up in the Elimination Match against Bunny after losing to KeeN 1-2 in the first match of the day. SOs would then proceed to win the next four games in a row, first 2-0 against Bunny, and then again against KeeN in the final match. Showcasing his unique take on PvT with mass Phoenix and Adept harassment. Reminding us that sOs’ greatest asset has always been his ability to know exactly what his opponent’s least expects.

SOs ended the day 5-2, advancing in second place.

SOs will face a rematch in the quarterfinals against herO, both of whom met previously in the last GSL, in the quarterfinals as well. SOs took that series 3-0. With herO looking near unstoppable in PvT at the moment, sOs is now looking to play upset, possibly being all that stands in the way of herO’s first GSL win.

KeeN

We really have to give some love to KeeN because he got nothing of the sort from the pair from Jin Air. He first got manner-MULE’d by Maru, then BM’d again from sOs as he closed out the Final Match. KeeN put on a strong show against sOs in the first match of the day. Game 3 of the first match on Abyssal Reef was perhaps the best game of the day. But for KeeN, the day went downhill from there. KeeN ended the day 2-5, losing 0-2 to Maru in the Winner’s Match, and then 0-2 again to sOs in the Final Match.

Bunny

It seems the theme of Week 2 of the Round of 16 to have one player that just failed to show up. For Group D, that player was Bunny. Though it’s unfair to compare Bunny’s performance to Leenok in Group C, Leenok for the most part looked like a fish out of water. Bunny put on a resilient show against Maru, but was just outclassed.

 

 

Weekly Recall

Maru vividly reminds me of one of those pre-teen school girls from those Japanese Horrors. He looks cute and harmless on the outside but there is nothing even remotely resembling a soul on the inside.

 

 

Call to Action: Test Map Updates

 

Terran

Widow Mine: +shield bonus damage on splash reduced from +40 to +25 (to be clear, damage on primary target will be unchanged from live, only the splash damage has been nerfed).

 

Zerg

(New) Corruptor: Movement speed changed from 4.1343 to 4.725. Acceleration speed changed from 3.675 to 4.2. Parasite Spore weapon damage point (ie. attack delay) changed from .1193 to .0446.

Hydralisk: Health increased from 80 to 90

 

 

 

Community Highlights

 

 

And since this is my first Community Highlight ever, I’m just going to cheat with two bonus entries from a couple weeks ago.

 

 

Featured images courtesy AfreecaTV and Blizzard Entertainment.

Follow me on Twitter: @Stefan_SC2

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Recall

StarCraft Weekly Recall

Welcome to my first ever Weekly Recall. A recap of the major events in StarCraft in the past week.

GSL Round of 16 – Group A

 

Players: Jun “TY” Tae Yang, Kim “Stats” Dae Yeob, Han “Byul” Ji Won, Han “Alive” Li Seok

 

Advancing Players: TY, Stats

 

TY: Fresh off his first premier tournament victory at WESG, TY continues to make a strong case for why he’s a tournament favorite. Advancing 4-1, TY cruised his way through Group A. While he did drop a game to Stats in the Winner’s Match, the games he did win were stomps. TY is as close to his peak form as he’s ever been. And based on performances across the board last week, he could be the best player in the world at the moment.

Stats: Stats’ games against Byul were as close to a Code-S level guidebook on defending early Zerg aggression as we’re ever going to get; he made short work of Byuls repeated attempts at early rushes with increasing effectiveness throughout the day. The few games that went into the late-game never showed Stats threatened in any real way. All-round, Stats’ PvZ at the moment is currently near pristine.

Against TY however, Stats looked simply outmatched. If Stats hopes to make it to the semi-finals he’ll need to step up his PvT to at least the level he showed against Byun and Ryung in the Round of 32. The good news for Stats is, if he can make it past his next round, he will have essentially booked his spot in the finals.

Byul vs. Alive: While Byul and Alive would fail to advance, their head-to-head would deliver the most climatic game of the week. Byul vs. Alive on Newkirk Precinct was a 35 minute deadlock. While Byul expanded more aggressively early, Alive’s MULEs would compensate hard. This was especially relevant as ultimately the deadlock would only be broken as Alive’s economy bled out just that much faster.

Recall

The kinds of games that remind you of why you watch StarCraft

GSL Round of 16 – Group B

 

Players: Lee “Innovation” Shin Hyung, Park “Dark” Ryung Woo, Eo “SoO” Yoon Soo, Kim “Classic” Doh Woo

 

Advancing Players: Innovation, SoO

 

Innovation: Innovation would advance 4-1 following a hard fought series against Classic in the Winner’s Match. Inno’s TvZ looked as clean as one would expect from the favorite coming into GSL, moving past SoO 2-0. Classic however was able to reveal cracks in his armor. His TvP was no longer looking as flawless as it did against Stats in IEM Gyeonggi. With a rematch against Stats coming up in the quarter-finals, Stats is without question going to be looking for revenge for Gyeonggi.

SoO: SoO put on an interesting show in Group B, seeming to get better as the day progressed. While he lost 2-0 against Innovation in the second match of the day, he won a clean 2-0 against Dark in the Loser’s Match. SoO would drop a game against Classic in the Final Match, but for the most part, SoO was never in any real danger of losing the series. The last game in particular saw the Protoss struggling to respond to SoO’s aggression, closing out the series against Classic far more cleanly than Innovation.

Classic: It says everything about Group B that Classic, one of the most decorated Protoss in StarCraft II, came in as the underdog. Yet in a Group stacked with monsters, it was Classic that turned out as the unexpected entertainer of the day. Opening Group B with an unusual early Immortal, Classic came out the gate putting on a show. After 2-0ing Dark, Classic went on to put on a spectacular display against Innovation. At the conclusion to a close 2-1, Classic at one point looked as if he were minutes away from punching his ticket into the quarterfinals. However, Classic overextended an advantageous situation, losing his main army as a result, and was wiped out in the counter-attack.

At the very least, Classic got his revenge on Dark for picking him into the group of death. A rare feat as any in Legacy of the Void.

Dark: Dark, the unrivaled King of WCS Korea in 2016. Dark came into the Round of 16 looking in top form, advancing 4-0 from his group. One round later, he exits GSL 0-4. While it would be easy to write Dark off based on this performance, StarCraft II isn’t that type of game. In StarCraft II, anyone can show up having a bad day. It actually says more about the competition at the highest level of StarCraft that even the best Zerg in the world will get destroyed on a bad day. In StarCraft, Gods will inevitably bleed.

But make no mistake, Dark is still a God. And his performance here will be remembered as nothing but an outlier in a legacy of greatness. If remembered at all.

Now I’m not going to pretend to know what Classic was thinking here but I’d imagine “F*** your extractor” is a reasonable guess.

Balance Team Community Feedback

 

Widow Mine
Reaction to the Widow Mine nerf has been positive. However, the balance team will be paying attention to concerns that, coupled with the Liberator nerf, may prove that it was an over-correction. The changes discussed are listed below for reference.

Widow Mine: Splash damage +shield bonus reduced from +40 to +25 (Currently Testing)

Liberator: Concord Cannon damage changed from 85 to 75 (Live)

 

Carrier
The balance team will be exploring buffs to the Corruptor rather than nerfs to the Carrier, based on feedback that the proposed changes have been ineffectual.

Carrier: Interceptor cost increased from 10 to 15

 

Hydralisk
Hydralisk buff will remain in testing due to lack of feedback. Hardly surprising and most likely as a result of community concerns being heavily fixated on the proposed Widow Mine buff.

Hydralisk: Health increased from 80 to 90.

 

 

Balance Team Community Feedback post.

Featured images courtesy AfreecaTV and Blizzard Entertainment.

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The King Falls Early – An Explosive Ro32

The first GSL Code S of 2017 is underway, and already we’ve seen some excellent games and huge upsets. The most notable story from the Round of 32 was the shocking elimination of defending GSL and Blizzcon champion Hyun “Byun” Woo.

Byun

 

Considered widely to be the best in the world, Byun lost a close series with top-tier Protoss Kim “Stats” Dae Yeob after crushing an the unknown Zerg, Lee “DRGLing” Won Ju. Byun rushed to Liberator range in a back-and-forth Game 3, but found himself out-positioned by the high mobility of Stats’s Stalker/Colossus composition. Stats closed it out by faking an attack on Byun’s third base, luring out the inferior Terran army, and blanketing it with Psionic Storms.

 

Next, he would face the Terran-vs-Terran expert Kim “Ryung” Dong Won for a chance to move on to the Round of 16. Game 1 was a very convincing win for Byun, utilizing doom drops and multi-pronged attacks to out position his opponent. In Game 2, Byun went for an odd two-base tank push that Ryung easily repelled with a mirror build, prompting a swift counter with double the siege tanks to choke out Byun’s natural base and win.

Then there was Game 3… Game 3 will surely haunt Byun for years to come, and cost him both a chance at a second consecutive GSL championship, and the title of best in the world. After taking some heavy worker losses from an early Cyclone attack, Byun attempted a doom drop in Ryung’s main base with four full Medivacs. To the horror of Tastless, Artosis, and Byun fans everywhere, he flew over a missile turret, decided NOT to drop after all, and flew back over that same turret without a Medivac boost. 20 supply and two siege tanks exploded out of the sky in a matter of seconds.

“This was the most indecisive thing I’ve ever seen Byun do… This is the worst move that Byun has done that I can remember.” – Artosis

Less than three minutes later, Byun typed out “gg” and buried his head in his hands.

 

 

Scarlett

 

Second only to the fall of the King was Canadian Zerg Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn’s remarkable run in Code S – a very rare occurrence for a non-Korean. After smashing the Protoss Kim “Myungsik” Myung-Sik 2-0, she went on to face Kim “Classic” Doh Woo. Game 1 was very short, as Classic masterfully countered her proxy hatch all-in.

 

 

Game 2 we saw Classic go for the very popular archon drop, but Scarlett was able to push away his mid-game Immortal-Sentry push while defending her main from charge Zealots and a pair of Archons.

 

 

Scarlett immediately launched a Roach/Ravager counter attack on Classic’s third base with a 180 degree surround, wiping his Sentry-heavy army and winning the game.

 Game 3 was one of the best games of group stage. Classic’s first two adepts managed to get a devastating seven drone kills. His follow up with glaives killed another six. Behind massively in economy against a Protoss starting up double-stargate Phoenix production, Scarlett attempted a full force Baneling bust that failed to do game-ending damage.

 

 

He would use that lead to roll over Scarlett’s Hydralisk force with a high-tech Protoss army of Immortals, Archons, Void Rays, and High templar a few minutes later.

 

Another fantastic series and the one that would deny “the foreign hope” passage to the Round of 16 (last time this happened was 2013) was Scarlett vs. Han “aLive” Lee Seok. Scarlett was able to come back from a huge deficit in Game 1 with some fantastic burrowed Infestor play and Zergling counter attacks.

 

She almost took Game 2 with a Roach/Ravager timing, and almost won it again later on with a very low economy Brood Lord play. Before the Brood Lords could arrive at the Terran’s base, Scarlett made a questionable choice in attacking into Alive’s tanks with just her ground army, leaving the Brood Lords exposed to his small Viking force and fully upgraded marines.

 

 

 

Game 3 was very close as well, but Scarlett’s burrowed Infestors and Muta/Zergling/Baneling were not enough to handle Alive’s impressive macro and bio control.

Other great games to watch from the Round of 32 were Solar vs. Trap Game 3, sOs vs Curious Game 2, and Ryung vs Stats Game 3.  All VoD’s can be found organized and in high quality at SC2Links.com. The Round of 16 Groups Selections will be held on February 1.

All photos courtesy of AfreecaTV

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