Observations about the KeSPA Exhibition, MLG Spring Championship, and Heart of the Swarm

Hopefully you didn’t miss the yet again biggest weekend in StarCraft 2 eSports, which was this time held in Anaheim. I actually managed to watch quite a bit of it, so here are some thoughts.

Stephano v. MKP in the Championship Bracket

Phenomenal. Now, it seems difficult to not be a Stephano fan because he consistently delivers great series of games. In my mind, this series showed how pro SC2 has become truly refined. It was slight mistakes in a single major engagement that really determined 2 of these games. In the first game, Stephano attacked from 3 sides but didn’t quite get the tanks killed fast enough or fungal enough Marines to death. In the second, MKP got too far onto creep without sieging and cleaning it up and got trapped. The final game went back and forth with trades and sacrifices. Great games.

KeSPA Invitational Tournament

I watched all of Flash’s games and the 2nd and most of the 3rd of Jaedong v. Bisu. Sadly, I dozed off for the apparently embarrassing parts of Jaedong’s play, but overall, I thought the games were solid. Flash was sometimes clumsy with small groups of units, but his micro in big engagements looked good, and he maintained his macro throughout the matches. I thought the early game was quite interesting, with the Marauder rushes and quick Mutas. The builds seem almost too straightforward to be used professionally, but there’s apparently some merit to them, and the games ended up playing out more normally. I’m looking forward to where they are in a few more months.

Heart of the Swarm

Watch the unit update, Battle Report 1, and Battle Report 2 if you get a chance. Overall, I like the changes they’ve made since the Blizzcon announcement and am actually quite excited to play post-expansion. The Battle Reports are somewhat silly as I think it’s clear that they were playing to show off the new units and how overpowered David Kim is. The race I’m least excited about is Protoss: the Oracle looks more annoying than anything else, and the Tempest doesn’t seem like it adds much to micro control. In any case, it’ll totally be worth playing when it’s released. Hopefully it brings a few more friends into (or back into) StarCraft 2.

Roaches and Hydralisks have a melee attack w/ no delay or overkill


No delay means that Stalkers can’t blink away. No overkill means that all of your Roaches won’t waste extra shots when you focus fire, say, an Immortal. Additionally, because it’s melee, it isn’t affected by Guardian Shield or Point Defense Drone and is packaged with a different animation. It does, however, still count range upgrades.

How did I not know about this? And I thought that the Roach surround was just to stop kiting. I now have a good reason to micro my Roach-Hydralisk balls even more than just getting them all in range.

Will Proleague change the metagame?

Brood War pros may only be Masters league on the Korean server, but you have to admit, it is fun to watch them play in Proleague.

I watched the first night of Proleague and have caught a few games here and there before heading to bed, and I have constantly been wondering whether we’re going to see something new from the Brood War pros. Of course, it’s only a matter of time before their understanding of and familiarity with the game brings them up to a competitive level against the current StarCraft 2 pros, but will they converge to the accepted play style, or will they bring new builds and looks to the game? I’m hoping for the latter, and a few things are giving me hope.

First, I have seen some strange stuff. Maybe Motive is weird, but how do you play Protoss without Colossi? But what about these guys, playing PvP without Colossi? Phoenix v. Phoenix fights aren’t actually that much fun to watch, but it’s certainly a strange game state to end up in. And proxy reactored Hellions into a Viking-Siege Tank contain? In the end, the midgame looks normal and it doesn’t work, but that early game was more fun than most TvT I watch, which maybe has some Marine pressure that gets held off by a single bunker.

Second (which the last game I mentioned is a good example of), these guys are all about aggression. Call it cheesy if you want, but 2 base all-ins are fun, unpredictable, and possibly devastating. Some of it fails and makes the player look really bad (Jaedong’s Roach play in his first game comes to mind), but it’s refreshing. Artosis made the point that cheese can be the first step in learning to get better, and to be honest, I don’t really remember what people were trying when SC2 was first released and whether it’s the same stuff that we’re seeing in Proleague now.

But it is fun to watch, and you even get a bit of both worlds in Proleague to wield against the Brood War hipster. To show Julie, I played a game of Brood War the night before Proleague. Despite funky mouse acceleration problems in OSX, I impressed myself with my play: I’m way better than I ever was now that I’ve learned how to macro from SC2. If you haven’t in awhile, fire it up: it’s frustrating, but I think you’ll enjoy it.

Apollo’s analysis of a bad engagement

I happened to catch the last game between Bomber and Stephano in the GD Studio SC2 Arena this morning. Forgive me if I’m a little stale on the metagame, but Stephano’s style felt very similar to his ZvP. His third comes later and his tech comes faster, but he depends on heavy upgrades and just enough ling/roach/infestor to carry him through the midgame.

I agree with Apollo that he rushed into things and didn’t commit. When he goes into the last engagement with 4 Brood Lords, some Infestors, and a few lings and roaches, he probably could’ve come out much more favorably had he gone for it. Stephano does a great job running his lings by, and between that and Broodlings, he could’ve gotten a surround and let tank splash damage mop up the army.

In the end, though, the better advice would’ve been not to take that engagement. He might have noticed the lack of Vikings and felt that he had a timing there, but without his 4th saturated, he would’ve been safer getting a few spines and using that as an anchor for a push.

qxc mentioned something about this in the last State of the Game, but Zerg is really pushing to get to the late game as soon as possible, which is a little strange. Stephano especially wowed a lot of people with extremely effective Zerglings in the early and mid game. Perhaps he found that other players were locking down better, but constant pressure feels like the right way to play Zerg.

But this is all theorycrafting on my part. I’m just proud I played a few games of random 2s last night. It turns out that playing random 2s instead of Zerg 1v1 is much less stressful, and now that I finished Mass Effect, I might be playing more StarCraft 2 until I pick up another game.