I am excited. I’m pretty sure the paltry writing skills I have in no way attempted to foster can express how excited I am for the 2013 year of Starcraft 2 pro-gaming. When in doubt, go Caps Lock.
I AM SO FUCKING EXCITED.
With the launch of Heart of the Swarm, Starcraft 2 has been truly reborn (not unlike a certain character in the campaign). Between IEM Cologne, MLG Dallas, and GSL I am convinced that we are headed for our most entertaining and fulfilling year of professional SC2 competition yet. The skill ceiling is higher, and I don’t think that phrase really does it justice. The skill ceiling was just raised in such a way that some people got dropped into the basement.
This match, played at MLG Dallas between Innovation and Flash is the best game of Starcraft 2 I’ve ever watched. It’s a best of 5, and I was captivated by every game. Keep in mind that the actions executed by these two could be done by less than a handful of pro gamers right now.
I also want to talk about Blizzard’s announcement of this years World Championship Series (WCS). This is huge news, and I think it was handled really well by Blizzard. There is already some complaining that NASL (North American Star League) and Dreamhack were left out of the rotation, but there is only so much you can do at once, we’ve gotten word that Blizzard and Dreamhack have something in the works together. But I’m not going to get into that here.
This is a major step forward for Starcraft 2 in the eSports scene, because we finally have a storyline to follow throughout the year. Players will compete all season long in an attempt to accumulate points that will determine who gets an invite to the Global Finals at the end of the year, to be played at Blizzcon 2013. There is going to be some incredible tension at the Season 3 regional championships and finals when there are only a few spots left up for grabs. There should be no shortage of compelling storylines to follow this year, and WCS Korea has already started.
While we don’t have information regarding how the points distribution will go, RorO (Zerg) got off to a strong start winning Group A with a 2-0 record, and an impressive 4-1 map count, dropping one map to Bomber (Terran), the other player to advance. Complain about balance if you will (and people are – big time), but there are excellent Korean Zergs who are still winning games, so let’s cool it on the IMBA bitching until we have more evidence. Anyway, I have more thoughts on balance I’ll share shortly. Bomber’s two victories both came against Creator (Protoss), who complained about IMBA before gg’ing out – and if I’m not mistaken did so at MLG Dallas too. Season 2/WCS Korea continues next week on Tuesday April 9th at 5:10 am EST.
The group I’m really looking forward to is Group F with INnoVation, HyuN, and Rain. I can’t wait to see more of Rain in HotS, I think that he could be even better than in Wings of Liberty when he was regarded as one of the top Protoss in the world, and INnoVation just came off from an excellent showing at MLG Dallas with a third place finish.
A word on balance. I really don’t think we have enough evidence or time to determine where there are problems with balance. In my short experience watching pro SC2, most pro players can be broken into two groups – the researchers and the surgeons. The biggest reason some pros are having trouble with HotS is that they continue to use the thinking from WoL to defend and attack, when a different thought process is required. “I can’t deal with proxy Reaper” is probably more accurately “I don’t know how to punish/defend proxy Reapers.” And we probably won’t have those answers until an innovator comes along and sees the game in a different way than other players. The surgeons are the ones who takes the researchers discovery, and uses it to create build orders that can crush their opponents. Right now, we just don’t have the necessary research to draw good, solid conclusions yet. But we will.