30 Jul 2012

ASUS ROG Summer 2012

From Thursday to Sunday the Summer Assembly 2012 in Helsinki will host the fourth ASUS ROG StarCraft II Tournament.
32 of the best SC 2 players will be there, and so will The Starcraft Stalker of course.

We will do our best to try and get some funky interviews with some of our favorite players or casters, while we enjoy all the great games that are hopefully going to take place over the weekend.

We can't wait to see fantastic players like Liquid_Hero, EG.HuK, SK_MC, LiquidTaeJa, EGPuMa, EGDeMusliM, LiquidRet, EG.IdrA, EmpireViOLet and many others battle to get their quick nerdhands on part of the 30.000 dollar prize pool.

There are also 9 great Scandinavian players participating, all of whom we hope can perform well.

A special cheer from us goes out to BabyKnight of course, since we are from Denmark and thus a bit biased. However he will have to play his very very best to stand any chance of advancing as he has been placed in the same group as MC.
But yeah, it's not every day you get a chance to test your skills against a two time GSL winner and recent finalist.

For general information on the event click here: ASUS ROG Summer 2012

And please check out The Starcraft Stalker for cool updates, photos, videos and interviews during and after the event.

29 Jul 2012

GSL finals: MC vs Seed


A pretty one-sided and disappointing final that was almost over before it began. IMSeed took the first couple of games quickly with the same build twice. In both games he tricked SK_MC by canceling the second assimilator and doing a 4 gate + warp prism all in. In the third game MC was punished for expanding early by flawless blink stalker play by Seed who took the game easily.

MC did manage to take the fourth game by doing a very fast 4 gate with a hidden pylon in Seeds base. The fifth and final game went into a long game with a colossus based army from both players. For a long time it looked as though it could go both ways, but when the two armies met, Seed positioned his collosi much better. MC had also thrown away two immortals earlier in the game so all in all his play seemed a bit off.

So Seed took the series 4-1. Congratulations to him even though we would have preferred a closer series.

A cool thing Seed did in the third game was a gas and mineral steal. He build an assimilator in MCs main and then just went back and forth between the assimilator and the mineralfield stealing quite a bit of gas and minerals.

All in all impressive play by Seed who simply looked better prepared than MC.

Nordic participants found for the WCS European Championship

So it has been decided who is going to represent Scandinavia in the WCS European Championship.

From Denmark it's our great FXOBabyknight. This is no real surprise, but still very nice that he was able to deal with the pressure and qualify. He is a great player and a cool guy, and we will definitely be cheering for him.

From Sweden it was EGThorzain, AISeiplo and WWSortOf who qualified. All of them great players, however it cannot be denied that it was a big surprise that neither Naniwa nor SaSe managed to qualify. Not to take anything away from the three other players but SaSe and especially Naniwa certainly didn't play up to their best at the Swedish Nationals.
It was nice to see Naniwa battle Thorzain since it's a natural rivalry (as they are the two best Nordic players based on results) but Thorzain was certainly the best player on that day. In the game Naniwa lost to SortOf it actually felt a bit like Naniwas head was somewhere else completely.

From Finland it was FnaticNaama who qualified. He is a very promising Terran and in the final of the Finland nationals he took out the protoss player Elfi who really played great as well.

And finally it's going to be Noticimus who will represent Norway. This fine Protoss looked very strong against both Zerg and Terran, as he managed to take out players like Snute and Seriously.

So we will have three Protoss, two Terran and one Zerg representing Scandinavia in the WCS European Championship which will take place on September the 15th to 16th and we believe all of them has potential to do well.

Generally though, Stephano will probably enter as the overwhelming favorite. But know knows. If all the other 31 players gang up on him they might have a chance :)

23 Jul 2012

Debate about casters

It's obvious that there's been a growing tendency among many StarCraft 2 players (professionals as well as amateurs) to criticize casters for not being analytically competent enough. Personally we believe that this discussion is crucial to the community, but that this specific viewpoint is in some ways very damaging to the development of the game.
Basically we believe that many of these players aren't seeing the big picture, and that it's important that they do. Especially all the professional players out there because their voices are heard the loudest.

We believe StarCraft 2 can be watched by anyone. This game is brilliant entertainment and this is of course primarily due to the numerous great strategic aspects of the game.
However if the game is to become mainstream entertainment then the casters have a central role to play. And even though it's important that the casters know a lot about the game and all the constant strategy developments and so forth, we believe that it's just as important that the casters show charisma and great sense of humor.
The reason for this is that StarCraft 2 will not, and should not have millions of professional gamers. However it could and should have millions of viewers. And most of these viewers will not, and should not be experts in the game. So in order to catch the attention of all these people it's essential that the casters aren't F-king boring or pretentious. No matter how strategically competent they are.

That's also why we feel that casters shouldn't be trying to impress the professionals that are watching but instead aim to entertain everyone else. This is truly how StarCraft 2 can be spread to everyone.

The way we got really hooked on watching competitive Starcraft 2 was when we by chance saw a GSL final casted by Tastosis in early 2011. At the time we didn't know much about the game except what we had learned from playing it on the ladder (which means nothing).
What got us hooked was of course the impressive stuff that the players were doing. But more than that, is was the enthusiasm and humor that Artosis and Tasteless constantly expressed.
It felt so unique the way that they were able to illustrate beautiful strategic maneuvers, and at the same time talk about all kinds of random shit that was funny in so many ways.
Since then we have watched pretty much every game that Tastosis has casted, plus of course a ton of other games from tournaments around the world.
By now we are of course deeply interested in the specific strategic developments of the game but we still prefer charismatic casters over the analytical ones.
However, the best casters are of course both charismatic and analytical.

Anyway. If you know A LOT about StarCraft 2 then you will often hear stuff the casters say that you do not agree with. Furthermore you will notice stuff that the casters fail to mention. But viewers who are professionals or expert ought to be a minority. Most viewers (if SC 2 is to become mainstream entertainment) aren't gonna be experts and that's an important fact to remember when judging casters.

We think that many StarCraft 2 casters are so much more talented and entertaining than most other sports commentators, especially when it comes to casting with enthusiasm and personality. And it's important that the community acknowledges that.
The casters are a big part of what makes competitive StarCraft 2 so unique and also what makes it a sport that could be destined for massive success among even the masses sometime in the future.

What we're trying to say is that casters should be judged not only by knowledge of the game but also by the ability to make the game even more entertaining.
It's cool to see the way that StarCraft 2 is getting more and more professional at every event. For instance all the analysis took place at this weekend's MLG Summer Arena really made it seem like a legit and serious sport like football or whatever.
BUT we believe that Starcraft 2 can be much more than that. It can be a sport and a community that manages to constantly shine with magnificent enthusiasm and at the same time express an endless amount of original humor and self irony. 

In our 1 and a half year of watching SC 2 we've heard so many funny comments and jokes by Tastosis, Day 9, Husky or other funny casters, and we will remember many of these comments for years. That's pretty damn awesome and one of the unique aspects that we believe puts Starcraft 2 miles ahead of so many other competitive sports.

That's our opinion anyway. What do you think?

MLG Summer Arena - SPOILERS

The MLG Summer Arena is over and all there is to say is a big fat congratulations to Taeja.
His victory was well-deserved and he was easily the player that impressed us the most throughout the event. His control with his ghosts and drops in the final series against Alicia gave us lots of nerdy goose bumps. Actually come to think of it Taeja used ghosts in every set against Alicia didn't he? That's how we remember it right now anyway.

Our favorite game of the event however, was Stephano vs. Ryung in the loser's bracket round 4. This BO3 series was so freaking tense. Both were fighting so hard to stay in the tournament.
The third game was insane and we thought both players had it in the bag like 4 times, and every time the other player came back. There were brilliant and poor engagements from both, but the excitement in the entire game was so nail biting. Just watch it man!

Another great pleasure throughout the tournament was watching the games of IMFirst. His great play surprised us a bit, and he just seemed to have an excellent overall game sense in every math we watched.

All in all a really cool event although a few more toplevel foreigners might have helped if the Koreans were to be challenged. The only ones that ever really stood a chance were Sase and Stephano and they didn't really have it in them to go all the way this weekend. Even though Stephano played great as usual in almost every game.

21 Jul 2012

Day 1 of MLG Summer Arena

Watch out for SPOILERS below:

A lot of people are saying that the difference in skill between foreigners and Koreans is decreasing, but day 1 of the MLG Summer Arena certainly didn't support this theory.
Overall most Koreans had a very easy time winning their games. Only big surprise was perhaps that Welmu defeated EGPuma, but Pumas play hasn't been super impressive lately.
Generally LiquidTaeja impressed us the most. Especially his beautiful use of Ghosts (perfect EMPs and Snipes) against Welmu.
Unfortunately the Scandinavian hope SaSe lost to LosirA in round 2, but SaSe didn't play his best games and we still feel he has a good chance of going far in the tournament through the loser's bracket.
A lot of great games coming up. We are hoping for a Hero vs. Stephano match in round 6 of bracket 1 and a Taeja vs. Alive in round 6 of bracket 2.

20 Jul 2012

Who will win the MLG Summer Arena?

The MLG Summer Arena starts in 5 hours and they have an exciting lineup.

If we have to guess, we believe either Alicia, Hero, Stephano, Taeja or Sase will win.
However we are cheering for the fantastic norwegian zerg GLSnute, and we think he can achieve a good result in a big tournament like this. But it will be very tough and in round 1 he has to battle Ganzi.

Good luck to him and also the four other Nordic players (Sase, SortOf, Cytoplasm, Welmu).

Best foreigner in the world!

One of the most interesting and discussed questions on the Starcraft 2 scene is always who the best foreigner is?

At the moment, based on results from the last couple of months, we believe most people would say the contest primarily stands between QuanticNaNiwa and MillStephano.

QuanticNaNiwa has managed to reach round of 8 twice in a row in the GSL and MillStephano just won NASL Season 3. Both players are playing great at the moment and on top of that they both have a lot of charisma in the sense that a lot of people in the community have strong opinions about them.

Therefore it would be fantastic if MillStephano were to participate in the next GSL since it would be interesting to see who could get the furthest of the two.
It could be the beginning of a deadly rivalry as well :)

Unfortunately it's hard to say if it will be possible for MillStephano to participate since there is at least a month till the next GSL starts and we don't know when exactly MillStephano can stay in Korea.

Symbol vs. Seed in GSL round of 8

The Bo5 series between IMSeed and TSL_Symbol in the GSL round of 8 was great. Symbol was arguable the most hyped player at that moment and Seed had also shown great play in the earlier rounds so the expectations for the series were really high.
Although these games took place more than a week ago we'll still try to avoid spoilers when it comes to the specific results of the game.

What was really interesting was that TSL_Symbol reintroduced an kind of oldschool style of ZvP in that he insisted on investing quite a lot on ranged hydras in practically every game. This was without a doubt his way of trying to counter IMSeeds well known godlike forcefield abilities.
In a lot of ways this worked well for TSL_Symbol and there weren't many moments where the hydras looked really silly (as they often do for instance when trapped off creep).
However the problem for TSL_Symbol was not in itself his usage of hydras, but the fact that it seemed like his investment in hydras caused his general play to be less creative and certainly less mobile. And this was a big contrast to his play from earlier rounds where he was constantly doing insane stuff ten different places on the map.

Great series anyway. Go watch.

BabyKnight joins FXOpen!

We are from Denmark and to be honest the danish Starcraft 2 scene is quite depressing. Therefore it's always great news when anything good happens to cool danish Starcraft 2 players.
In our opinion BabyKnight is the best danish SC 2 player and we have been following him for a long time. We have also been wondering why he hasn't been sent to more tournaments since he definitely has had the talent to do well against top players for a long time.
Hopefully FXOpen has the capacity to help him become an even greater player and also send him to a lot of big tournaments where he can take out billions of nerds.

Check out his Twitter here: http://twitter.com/#!/BabyKnightSc2

With regards to why we think the danish Starcraft 2 scene is depressing there are a lot of reasons.
For instance if you compare Denmark to Sweden, as a danish SC 2 enthusiast you almost want to kill your self. There are so many great Swedish SC 2 players and only a few from Denmark.
The reasons for this are many, we believe. For starters Sweden certainly has a greater tradition for big LANs and tournaments in general.
Furthermore gaming is considered a waste of time by A LOT of older (50+) people in Denmark.
And on top of that there are actually so many young people as well, who laugh at the idea of competitive gaming and professional gamers. This is probably the same in most countries outside Korea, but it often feels a bit extreme in Denmark.
However this is changing of course, and no doubt one day soon we will all find our parents getting drunk at a Barcraft event.