Very often when learning a new skill, your win rate will plummet for a while before you can come out stronger. This is a consistent phenomena, even if you’re attempting to learn a build that is supposedly stronger. This is a seldom stated fact of StarCraft II that sometimes catches newer players off-guard. It leaves you with a feeling of starting over from square one each time you attempt to pick up a new skill and is one of the key reasons the game’s learning curve is known to be infamously treacherous.
Multitasking is just one of these skills but especially in Legacy of the Void, it is a pivotal part of the learning process. Harassment has never been more important in StarCraft’s history as it is in Legacy of the Void. A player’s ability to multitask their production behind harassment is a determining factor in their efficiency.
Today I’d like to talk about a simple harassment tactic new Protoss players can use to soften the learning curve.
Under most conditions, the harassment game consists of three layers: production upkeep, harassment micro-control, frontline micro-control. What we’re going to do is eliminate one of these layers. Or at the very least, greatly soften it.
Adepts, Oracles, Dark Templar into double Archon drops, Disruptor drops, Storm drops. If you ask about Protoss harassment tools, these are the tactics that immediately come to mind. While they’re all powerful forms of harassment, they also require a decent level of micro-control to use.
Zealots, the Protoss baseline unit, rarely enters the conversation. Perhaps for good reason, Zealots (or more specifically Chargelots) aren’t the best units for hitting specific targets. While they do hit hard enough, their design is the opposite of control. A fact we are going to exploit to create a harassment style for players with low actions per minute (APM).
This is a decent general purpose tactic but does not match-up well against an aerial all in. Against Zerg and Terran you’ll want to do an early scout on their gas geysers. If both are taken there’s a good chance the enemy is taking the fight to the skies. Protoss is far more gas dependent so you’ll want to monitor their Gateway count instead.
The Art of War
“Never argue with an idiot. They’ll bring you down to their level and proceed to beat you through experience.” – George Carlin
As a beginner, you don’t have much APM to spare, that’s something you can’t help in that moment. Instead of fighting on their terms, you can try to bring them down to your level.
The general idea here is by warping rounds of chargelots into your opponent’s mineral line, you are forcing them to split more APM holding your attack than you are spending on harassment.
Of course this style isn’t completely free of micro-control. As with all Protoss drop tactics, keeping your Warp Prism alive is imperative to keep your opponent on the defensive. In that respect, this is why this tactic works as an excellent harassment introduction. The basics are the same as the core drop tactics but the execution is far less APM intensive.
Notes and Limitations
For what you gain in APM you give up in control and consistency. Setting a horde of Zealots loose on your enemy mineral line generally gets work done, but you don’t know for sure that someone’s not going to get distracted by that shiny Command Center just inches away.
Furthermore, for the most part you are resigning to letting these Zealots die. As your baseline unit, Zealots are very inexpensive. If they can get some solid economic damage done (ie. if they do kill out a decent amount of workers) it’s generally very worth it. But it’s important not to overindulge. Investing too heavily into units you’re not getting back can result in your opponent proceeding to just walk over you, even if you do get your money’s worth in economic damage.
As you get more comfortable with the ability to control multiple fronts, you can start moving into more APM intensive drop styles. Dark Templar into double Archon is my harassment style of choice and is a good step up from this introductory level.
Alternatively, you can attempt to mix Chargelot warp-ins with other forms of harassment. Trap notably mixed this style with his pristine Oracle control against Solar in the GSL 2017, Season I.
A week ago I wrote an article discussing the most stressful units in StarCraft II. Here’s the followup to that piece, a discussion of some of the most interesting designs StarCraft has given us. Here are units that prove that it is possible to create gameplay that is satisfying for the player without causing your opponent’s blood pressure to spike.
Perhaps a trigger warning is necessary here for victims of the Blink-Stalker era. Either way, I do maintain my point from last week. Aesthetically speaking, my honest opinion is that Stalker is the Little Nicky of StarCraft designs. The Stalker’s gameplay, however, is another story, and in a way, distinct.
Among all core units in the game, the Stalker is by far the weakest in terms of raw dps. For its lacking offensive ability, the Stalker boasts superior mobility. Once its ability Blink is unlocked, the Stalker becomes unrivaled in its ability to pick-off priority targets.
Stalkers can’t survive prolonged engagements without the support of units higher up in the Protoss tech tree. Instead, as its name implies, the Stalker functions as a sniper unit for both cutting off units attempting to retreat, and giving the Protoss the ability to dictate the terms of engagement. The latter is usually achieved by using blink to hard engage a dangerous target before it can react, or up to higher ground to secure a tactical advantage.
Like most standard Gateway units, the Stalker functions as reinforcements in long engagements; they will eventually fall-off without actual heavy firepower at the rear, so focus fire is imperative.
The idea of taking a mobile low damage unit and making it a race’s core is a tough sell but the Stalker carved its own niche with its distinct and satisfying play-style. Now if only it didn’t look like a concept reject for Genesect.
Conceptually, the Ghost seems like what you would get if you told a 10 year old boy to make a StarCraft unit. To start, it’s a spellcaster built to counter other spell casters. It can stealth and has massive burst that can shred even the tankiest units; if need be, it can call in a Nuclear strike, which, appropriately enough, is nowhere near as broken as it sounds.
That’s pretty much the theme of the Ghost. It’s a unit that, on paper, sounds like it should be all kinds of busted, but isn’t. The fact that it’s on one of the furthest ends of the Terran tech tree has a lot to do with this. Furthermore, its more outlandish abilities either require additional research or further investments to prepare.
The Tactical Nuke is worth particular note for being the first supply pit in StarCraft. Ironically, it is the best example of a supply pit done right. In both StarCraft and StarCraft II, each Tactical Nuke requires further investment to build. Usually only one could be prepared at a time. Although in StarCraft II, both the direct and opportunity cost is significantly lower than its predecessor.
The significant investment that goes into preparing even a single Nuke makes it a rare sight. But it’s still an exceptionally powerful tool that can be devastating in the right situations regardless. The rarity of the event just makes it that much more of a spectacle for both players when it actually does happen.
My personal favourite unit from StarCraft I, and possibly just StarCraft in general. The Arbiter is the unit at the furthest end of the Protoss tech tree in Brood War. Furthermore, even despite its heavy cost and even heavier build time (longest in the game, yes even longer than the Carrier), it has three further upgrades to research that collectively take close to 4.5 minutes, and 450 minerals/450 gas to complete.
In that way, it’s very unique. Most notably, for a unit at the furthest end of the tech tree, its direct offensive ability is almost non-existent. It has an attack, but it’s mostly negligible. Rather, the value of the Arbiter comes entirely from its spells and abilities. Of its three abilities/spells, the Arbiter starts with one, its Cloaking Field. Cloaking Field, as you can guess, cloaks (grants stealth) to every unit in an area beneath it.
Its only two spells, both of which need to be researched, are Recall and Stasis Field. They both feature their own respective strategies for which they act as the focal points. Stasis Field freezes any unit caught within the spell’s area of effect. Under stasis, units are completely immobile and cannot be attacked for its duration. It’s a particularly powerful tool against Terran and Protoss for shutting down Siege Tanks and Reavers, respectively.
Recall is a global spell that teleports all units under a 5×5 spell area directly to the Arbiter. The Mass Recall strategy centered on this ability usually involves flying an Arbiter directly into an enemy base and using recall to teleport an army onto the enemy’s production facilities.
The Arbiter is unique as the only final tier support unit gated behind massive investments and research upgrades like none other, but somehow ends up being undeniably worth it.
Side Note: You’ve probably noticed from the Ghost to the Arbiter that there’s a reoccurring design principle here that StarCraft II ignored. That principle being – if you’re going to give a unit some seriously busted-ass spells, stick it at the furthest end of the tech tree and lock its potential behind a million upgrades.
I didn’t mean to order this list but it happened anyway, I guess this would be the number one spot. As much as I love the Arbiter, the Viper just wins on so many levels.
I’ll start with Parasitic Bomb, which proves it’s possible to create a spell for punishing mass-air deathballs without being a spell that instagibs mass-air deathballs. Furthermore, while Parasitic Bomb will significantly slow, if not stop, the advancement of a mass-air army, its effect can be significantly mitigated with practiced micro control that feels very satisfying to outplay.
This is a very rare mechanic in StarCraft where a punishing spell can actually feel somewhat rewarding on the receiving end for having successfully mitigated the full effect.
But by far, Viper’s most intriguing ability is Consume. It’s an ability that uniquely allows the Viper to replenish energy by sucking the life from (damaging) your own Structures. Not only is the spell absolutely ominous to watch, particularly when watching a swarm of Vipers kill their own Hatchery, but it adds a distinct depth to the Viper. After exhausting its energy, Vipers can be pulled from the front-line back to the Zerg’s base to replenish their energy at the cost of damage to their own structures, after which it can return to the field.
The Viper has its own synergy between its abilities, spells, and the battlefield itself. An intriguing novelty unlike anything else in StarCraft that I can only describe as an absolutely beautiful model of sound game design.
Balance revisions are once again in season in the StarCraft world. And while these changes are far from insignificant, it will be a while before the next major overhaul. As such, I thought I would get an early start on the list of units that should be considered for the next renovation.
The units in this discussion aren’t on here because of poor balance, and to be clear, this isn’t a balance discussion. Rather, today I want to look at units infamous for their toxic design.
Most of the units here serve important roles in their race’s design. But in some cases, those roles could stand to see some revisions, into forms that accomplish similar goals but in a way that doesn’t inspire players to put their fist through their monitors.
There are many units in StarCraft that can cripple you if you’re not prepared for them. The Oracle, however, is a special case.
If your anti-air is mispositioned, an early Oracle can end the game. There’s an indescribable feeling you get seeing an Oracle fly-by and realizing your grave has already been dug. Some would suggest you could say the same thing about detection and stealth units. The thing is, workers can run from a Dark Templar or Banshee. Try as you may, there’s no running from an Oracle. It raises the question as to why Pulsar Beam is necessary in its current form, especially with Stasis Ward becoming more common as a means of harassment.
The mine that got away
It’s not exactly surprising to say the Widow Mine is a unit that inspires a special kind of loathing. But I’ve always been of the firm belief that it’s not the Widow Mine’s damage that makes it a toxic unit. Rather, the most toxic thing about the Widow Mine is watching it get away – watching a mine being dropped into your mineral line and then just barely failing to kill it before it borrows is an exasperating feeling that’s made worse knowing you need to evacuate your mineral line immediately and deal with finishing it off before you can get back to work.
Nerfs to the Widow Mine were a huge talking point earlier this year but it seems surprising that the Mine’s 90 HP never came into question. For reference, the Widow Mine’s predecessor from Brood War, the Spider Mine, only had 20HP. For that 20HP, the Spider Mine could only hit ground units, could not be moved once set, were only good for one-shot and yet were still widely used.
The Widow Mine is not going to get its health cut anytime soon. That would be a balance call rather than a design call. But the next time issues with the Widow Mine come up, rather than just cutting its damage again, maybe think about adjusting its durability instead. Personally, I would even be in favor of the Mine getting a damage buff if it meant a durability trade off.
I’ve gone through a lot of this already so I’ll be sparing on the details here. Psionic Transfer was an interesting experiment but the results are back and they don’t look good. I almost feel it’s a cop-out to include this because of how vocal the community has been about this ability. But still, the balance team hasn’t really done anything about it so maybe it’s not as obvious as I thought. Sure they cut the shade vision, but all that did was make the shading process into guesswork.
This arguably made the Adept even more toxic to play against. At least when the Adepts had vision you could reasonably predict when the Protoss would commit or not. Now that the shades are blind, you really never know when the Protoss is going to go full yolo. This new layer of unpredictability means that the act of activating Psionic Transfer alone is enough to keep an opponent on the defensive.
The community has been vocal enough about this that the fact that Psionic Transfer still exists in its current form can only be described as stubbornness on the balance team’s part. Yes, we Protoss players have had our laughs with this one but the joke is getting old. The ability to cancel shades needs to go.
Let’s talk about offense vs defense in esports. As a rule of thumb, you generally want defending to be somewhat more skillful than executing an attack. This is done to encourage aggressive tactics and discourage passive playstyles that risk creating boring or monotonous shows for audiences. Supply Pits are units that take this concept to the absolute extreme. These are units like the Disruptor and Seeker Missiles that are exponentially harder to defend against than they are to use. And failing to defend against them can at times have game-ending results.
Spending 10 minutes building up an army only to lose it all in a second is a unique experience, and one not often seen in the RTS genre. Being on the receiving end of a Supply Pit is easily the most toxic experience in StarCraft II and one of the most toxic experiences in any esport.
With this in mind, the damage fade of splash and AoE damage is worth reviewing at least once. We can call it a social experiment. And if there is any aspect of StarCraft II that’s worth experimenting on, this is it.
Why does my Core Unit look like ass?
It shoots lasers from its eyes. You know, just in case the design wasn’t dumb enough as is.
While we are on the topic of bad design, let’s talk about the Stalker. Granted, the Stalker is badly designed in a different way but it still makes me want to break my screen so here we are. Every race has one or two core units. These are units that are generally useful at all points in the game which are capable of fun micro-mechanics. Terran has Marine-Marauders, for Zerg: Hydralisks and Ravagers. If you only started playing StarCraft some time in the last few months, it’s easy to think that our Core unit is the Adept.
To a certain extent, the Adept has become a core unit despite scaling poorly into the late game. But Protoss has had another core unit for years prior to Legacy of the Void and that is the Stalker.
It’s a Winter’s Veil Miracle
If I had to describe the Stalker, I would say it looks like the result of an underachieving demon possessing a mashed-on beetle. I wish I could say that was an exaggeration, that really just is what the Stalker looks like. Just like it isn’t an exaggeration to say the Stalker is possibly the single ugliest unit ever designed in the history of the RTS genre.
How or why the Stalker’s current design came into existence is a mystery. My theory is that some famous Protoss player slept with Dustin Browder’s wife and this was his revenge. Whatever the case, I think we’ve been punished long enough. Zerg has their sleek Hydras, Terrans have their badass Marines but somehow Protoss got stuck with Little Nicky.
WarChests are coming later this year, all I ask is that we get a skin that makes the Stalker not look like ass.
Lynching the entire Protoss player base has been the hot topic of discussion in the StarCraft II community recently, as is the norm following any major Protoss win. That said, it seems wrong to waste the opportunity to talk about one of the most controversial units in the game while everyone is yelling about it. Of course, I’m referring to the Adept.
Even amongst the unfiltered hatred there are very valid criticisms about the Adept, let’s not be mistaken. It’s a unit without a clear method of counter-play which is never healthy design. To Blizzard’s credit, they have tried interesting, but ultimately unsuccessful, ways of providing workarounds. It’s a delicate subject because there’s really no statistical evidence to show the Adept is imbalanced. However, it is undeniably a frustrating unit to play against which has always been the core issue.
What makes the Adept so frustrating, why have previous design changes failed and what can and should be done? These are the topics of today’s discussion. So let’s get into it.
For the unfamiliar, Psionic Transfer is the Adept’s ability to project un-targetable shades of itself. After 7 seconds, the Adept teleports directly to the location of its shades. Now, what makes the Adept frustrating isn’t its ability to teleport. Rather, it’s the Adept’s ability to cancel it.
If it were not possible to cancel Psionic Transfer, the solution becomes obvious: just follow the shades. Instead what we have is a mind game, for which there is no clear solution. Attempting to follow the shades will only result in the Protoss canceling them. If you stick with the main body, then the shade goes through. Attempting to split your army creates the worst possible scenario where the Protoss can potentially prey on the divided force whether they decide to commit to the shades or not.
Now this commitment went badly for Stats but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The solution becomes obvious then, why not just take away the ability to cancel the shades?
Indeed, this is hardly a unique idea. In fact, it’s been brought up for as long as the Adept was available for testing in the Legacy of the Void beta. And since then, the balance team’s stance on the matter has been to avoid creating overlap with the Stalker. Now, this is a frustrating response for many reasons, which I’ll get into in the next section. And given that Blizzard has gone to great lengths to dance around this idea despite how often it comes up, it indicates their stance on this hasn’t changed.
Blizzard’s solution for shades was admittedly clever. They cut the vision of the shades, effectively making them blind, making it much riskier for Protoss to commit to shades, and giving opposing players the ability to counterplay by dodging the shades. This worked in the short-term, but eventually players learned to gauge the amount of resistance they should expect at certain timings. Giving rise to the YOLO strategy. Accepting that you don’t 100% know whether it’s safe to teleport in, but you have the statistics on your side, so YOLO.
Stalker-Adept Overlap – The Design Dilemma
To start, the Adept and Stalker are functionally different in too many ways. The Stalker with its ability Blink, which allows the Stalker to immediately teleport a short distance, functions as an assassination unit. Blink allows the Stalker to pick off priority targets before they’re able to respond. Alternatively, it’s a precise tool for picking off an enemy unit, particularly transport units, attempting to retreat.
The 3 tank, Liberator timing. The Liberator sieges from the sky while the Tanks zone out from the ground.
Unlike the Stalker, which can attack both ground and aerial units, the Adept can only attack units on the ground. Furthermore, the timed delay on the transfer limits the Adept’s ability to make decisive assassinations, even more-so when you consider shades are restricted by terrain.
The design overlap explanations become even shakier when you consider Liberators and Siege Tanks. The Liberator is another unit that was added to StarCraft II with Legacy of the Void. And much like the Adept, the Liberator has been cause for more much frustration. Particularly, the Siege Tank and Liberators both fulfill very similar roles. They are both stationary units that excel at zoning control. This overlap between Liberators and Siege Tanks has been cause for some of the most oppressive strategies over the last season, most notably, the 3 Tank-Liberator timing which has been largely responsible for the Phoenix-Adept meta of PvT.
This sends a very confusing message that design overlap is fine when it comes to creating oppressive gameplay but when it comes to solving oppressive interactions, then it becomes an issue.
It’s just not a valid concern. Even if there was an overlap, which there isn’t, there is no argument to be made between whether toxic design should be upheld to avoid creating redundant design.
As I mentioned before, the balance of the Adept really isn’t in question, only the design is. So removing the Adept’s ability to cancel shades will have to be compensated somehow.
One of the more elegant possibilities is reducing the Adept’s damage point in exchange for the shade nerf. Damage point is the initial delay period between an attack command and the attack execution. This does not directly affect a units damage per second but has a large effect on a unit’s micro control. Units with a lower damage point are able to stutter step with better efficiency. This means, for the nerf the Adept could be given better potential for micro control.
Smoother Power Curve
Another possible solution is creating a small percentage splash damage buff as a tier upgrade above the Adept’s research upgrade, Resonating Glaives. The net result of this will be a direct nerf to the Adept’s early game survive-ability but creates more utility for the Adept in the late game. The Adept, traditionally a unit that becomes useless in the late end of the game. This change would effectively soften the Adept’s power curve, trading out its early game dominance for longevity.
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.
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.
Hatchery bleeding almost as heavily as sOs’ supply
Stats vs Ryung
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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?
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!”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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. 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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Widow Mine: +shield bonus damage on splash reduced from +40 to +25
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. The 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.
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.