Posted on Monday, February 18th, 2013 at 6:06 PM by Raymond Newell
Your eyes do not deceive you, as the title may suggest eSports weekly is back! And this time, we’re diving in-depth into arguably the most popular eSports title; Starcraft 2.
The “Starcraft” franchise has been popular in competitive play since early 2002, when players were forming teams and it was being televised in South Korea for the first time and as the years go on, it’s presence has become stronger and stronger and is not likely to decline with Wings of Liberty still being broadcast and Heart of the Swarm only a month away.
So for those unfamiliar with Starcraft, it is a Real-Time Strategy game which pits 2-8 players against each other in an arena style battle. There are 3 races to choose from (Zerg, Terran and Protoss) each of which have many different advantages and disadvantages, and are surprisingly balanced – so much so that if you ask 3 hardcore SC2 players which is the most overpowered/best, they’ll most probably give you 3 different answers which is really incredible for a game to achieve.
The Zerg are typically melee with some ranged troops that are cheap, fast, strong early game units which mean you can do the infamous ‘Zerg Rush’, where you create a few inexpensive units and attack the enemies natural base at the expense of longevity. If this tactic works then it is almost certainly an instant win but good players know the signs of a Zerg rush and how to combat it, and if you get the timing so much as 20 seconds out then you’ve potentially thrown away the game.
The Terran are the second race, and as a Terran player I have to say they are very weak in the early game and very prone to Protoss and Zerg rushes. Their troops are mainly ranged and have a medium-slow pace, getting slower higher up the proverbial units food chain you progress. Terrans do have several advantages over the other factions though, the first being that they can move any structures they place, meaning you can easily do an early expansion without risking building outside the base and then move it once completed. The second is medivacs – these handy little ships can heal Bio units from above as well as having the ability to pick up a number of units, then drop them off behind enemy lines, enabling them to harass the enemy workers and launch surprise attacks, preventing the enemy from mining for resources. These are called Hellion drops, as the fast-paced, flamethrower wielding units are most commonly used.
Last, but not least, are the Protoss. This high-tech civilisation is armed to the teeth with technological warfare devices and have the ability to warp in structures and units. Despite being able to do some of the most popular rushes with them, such as 4-Gate and Cannon Rush, they are strongest late game and commonly use a strong set of abilities such as forcefields and void rays, allowing them to block off and lift up enemy units respectively. The unique feature of the Protoss is their shields which absorb damage and protect their forces against enemy attacks.
All of these factions start with a base at which they can collect minerals and gas, as well as 8 workers which you use to gain said minerals and gas via mining. You keep creating and mining minerals with these and create yourself more supply in order to create more units. You then build a troop spawner and start collecting gas, for gas is needed to create most of the units used for fighting. From there on you can decide to do whatever you want to and there are many different build orders for different play styles, so before you start playing ladder matches you may want to play around with different build orders and experiment with different things.
The 2 main focuses of SC2 are macro and micro. Macro is to do with your supply, minerals and gas as the more you have of them then the more units you can make. Micro is ordering your troops around in combat. Knowing when to move back, attack, split and go for the surround are essential parts of Starcraft and can always be improved. At a pro level the macro of players is more often than not perfect as they almost become robots, automatically creating workers and troops to send out as soon as the previous lot were done, whereas the micro can always be improved upon and skills honed as new, more effective tactics are introduced.
After that not so short explanation I shall move on to just what it takes to become a pro at Starcraft. Firstly, coordination is essential. You need to know exactly what you are doing and when you are going to do it. Secondly, multitasking. You need to be able to create units whilst also harassing the enemies’ workers and fighting him on the front lines, a task which sounds a lot easier than it is. Thirdly, you need to be from South Korea. You think I joke? I’m actually being serious here; the vibrant culture there means that people are more open to the pro scene. A high percentage of Koreans (compared to US players) play a lot of SC2. They spend more time on SC2. They play against each other and improve because they play against people who are more skilled. Pros in Europe and the United States get to practice with less skilled players. Unless they go to Korea, they can’t practice with a lot of top level players. Finally, fast fingers. The top pros in SC2 get around 120 actions per minute. 120. Do you have any idea how many things that is? You try to do 120 different things in a minute, whilst keeping your composure and reacting to enemy plays and you’ll gain an appreciation for how skilled the top-tier players are.
So in summary:
Oh and that reminds me of one last thing, learn your acronyms. GL HF out there and always make sure you never have a BG! See you on the Pro Circuit in 5-10 years.