24 Nov 2012

Dreamhack Winter - TLO

It's not hard to fathom why so many people describe TLO as one of the hardest working players out there.

Yesterday after he was knocked out of the tournament by Snute in a heartbreaking loss in one of the most entertaining games we've seen in a very long time, guess what TLO did?

That's right.

He went down to the empty SC2 tournament area and sat there practicing all alone and streaming for a couple of hours.

His intense laddering was only interrupted for a few minutes when at one point he left the computer with the following message to the viewers of his stream and a certain other individual.

22 Nov 2012

Dreamhack Winter 2012 - NaNiWa shows his love for Russian Romanticism

In order to have a decent chance of advancing from group play, NaNiWa needed to defeat Ret in the last deciding set of the night. 

So this is how NaNiWa prepares: checking his build-orders while listening to Rachmaninoff's Piano Concert No 2 on Youtube. 

This classy move almost makes us forget the badmannered and aggressive remark against Thorzain a couple of hours earlier...

Dreamhack Winter 2012 - EG vs. Liquid

At this Dreamhack as well as at other big European LANs, we've noticed something that we find quite interesting.

Whenever we spot a player from Liquid they are almost always surrounded by teammates/coaches/managers and so forth.

On the contrary the EG players always seem to be by themselves.

We do not know the reason behind this, and for all we know it might be a coincidence, but it certainly feels like the Liquid players at the european LANs have a greater sense of teamspirit surrounding them.

We realize that our experience might not reflect reality at all, and might be due to the Liquid team being bigger at these events, but it still feels rather odd to witness this difference.

Actually most of the pictures we took today of the players from the two teams, reflect our point pretty well.

Thorzain by himself after he was defeated by Ret

Ret watches replay from the last game he lost to NaNiWa with teammate Hero and manager Robin Nymann

Hero in action with supporters watching closely

Stephano battling and ending the day with a score of 2 wins and 2 losses

Dreamhack Winter 2012!

We're at Dreamhack Winter and it's crazy huge! A mixture of pro nerds and amateur nerds everywhere. We'll be reporting from the event all weekend, with lots of pics and other stuff. Here are the first couple of pics from the event:

SaSe playing and losing against Bly. Maybe he should have worn that hat!

TaeJa, MaNa and Stephano.

We caught a glimpse of the WoW Panda looking hungry and stalking Stephano.

The casters doing their thing.

Opening ceremony.

12 Nov 2012

Has Zerg always been IMBA?

TL;DR - Stephano feels Zerg has always been IMBA. In our opinion the different races require different skills and therefore depending on who you are, different races will seem easier to you.
This post isn't about the current balance issues, as we too feel there are some zerg-nerfs that needs to be done.

After beating CranK yesterday at the Lone Star Clash 2 event, Stephano said something like:

"It's easy. I've always said Zerg is the best race and it remains that way. It's way way IMBA."

Since Stephano often brags and sometimes comes of as a bit of a douchebag (intentionally we think), it's funny to hear him say that Zerg is IMBA, since in a sense it is the same as saying that his success is not simply due to his overwhelming amount of talent.

At the Lone Star Clash they had the eye-tracker feature that showed where the players looked the most during the games. What was really interesting is that Stephano looked a lot more on the mini map than CranK and as a result a lot less on the actual battlefield.

It's hard not to regard this as proof that for Zerg players, map awareness is often more important than micro. At least it might seem that way when solely looking at the eye-tracker results with race differences in mind.

And when we think of the best Zerg players over the last couple of years like for instance Nestea, DongRaeGu, Symbol, Life or Stephano we don't primarily think of great micro.
Instead we think of skills like fantastic macro, map awareness, game sense, decision making, movement and so forth.

So what's the point with this?

Well we basically feel that it's far too simple to say that the Zerg race in itself is "way way IMBA".
If that was the case then Zerg would have won everything during the last couple of years and they haven't.

However what can be said with certainty is that it requires different skills to master the different races.

And though Infestors might currently be in need of a nerf (and we think they are), it's ludicrous when people rant about one race generally being IMBA and fundamentally easier.
What everyone should acknowledge, is that different people find different aspects of the game easy. Therefore the different races also seem easier to different people.

And to Stephano Zerg seems IMBA because the skills required to master that race feels natural to him. He understands the race and everything about it so of course it's easy for him.

But that's what's great about the game: The three races are so different!

And the different aspects of the races relate to different aspects of your personality and to master them you have to draw on different parts of your mind.

In our opinion this is what makes the game beautiful to watch.

And in fact this is also what makes some of the games feel like genuine art.

Lone Star Clash 2 update

Stephano once again proved why he is considered the best foreigner, as he reclaimed his title at the Lone Star Clash by beating Bomber in grand final.

Stephano didn't drop a single set in the tournament before the final against Bomber, and Stephano's ZvP especially looks absolutely godlike. In fact after watching his dominating wins against AxslavCranK and BabyKnight we can't possibly imagine how a Protoss could beat him right now.

Speaking of our cute and well-mannered danish hope BabyKnight, he actually played very well at the event as he finished top6 in a very strong field of players.

Yesterday he started out by beating Sheth in a great comeback series.

BabyK lost the first set and in the second set he was pretty far behind, but by playing very patiently he slowly won engagement after engagement and even though Sheth did some nice run-bys he never found a way to deal with BabyK's army.

In the last set BabyK engaged absolutely beautifully with stalkers and colossi at the fourth of Sheth. He blinked beneath all the corrupters of Sheth, while positioning his colossi perfectly in the top out of harms way and they could thus safely tear apart Sheth's ground force. It looked a lot like BabyK needed to prove that he could engage a lot better against Zerg than he had done against Stephano the day before and he certainly did that.

BabyK vs. Sheth = 2 - 1

After BabyK took that series he had to face Polt who had beaten BabyK 2 - 0 one week earlier in the MLG.

In the first set against there were some fantastic defense from BabyK against Polt's massive drop play. At the same time BabyK was investing a lot in upgrades and partially because of this and some really good micro he was able to take out Polt's fourth base. From here BabyK slowly got more and more ahead, and while Polt though did manage to stay in the game for a long time, he eventually had to give up.

In the 2nd set BabyK did an aggressive blink stalker build from 1 base, and with that he forced Polt to lift his natural and retreat to his main. On top of that BabyK killed a lot of SCVs and from there he took his own natural and transitioned to Colossi while delaying Polt's natural for quite a while. A couple of minutes later when BabyK had 3 colossi with range, he attacked and Polt desperately tried getting vikings out, but it was too little to late and BabyK took the series.

BabyK vs. Polt = 2 - 0

From there BabyK had to face Violet and to be honest that series was pretty one-sided, but sadly not in BabyK's favor.

In the first set Violet did a very big and nasty overlord drop into BabyK's main and it did so much damage, practically removing most of BabyK's important structures. BabyK though did manage to stabilize somewhat and get up to a good max'd army with mothership. Unfortunately though his mothership was hovering for 2 seconds over the abyss in the middle of the map and Violet's corrupters took it out for free, and that was pretty much GG.

In the second set BabyK tried some early gateway aggression on Violet's third, but Violet defended well. From there BabyK tried taking his third, but left it a bit undefended and Violet forced a cancel on it. From here BabyK decided to go for an all-in and he did manage to take out Violets fourth, but could not push further and ended up losing most of his army. He then tried taking his third again, but Violet got up to 5 bases quickly and was far ahead in everything and eventually just rolled over BabyK.

Violet vs . BabyKnight = 2 - 0

All in all a really good tournament for BabyK who got a chance to show some really impressive PvT, and after winning 2-0 against both TheStC and Polt he is starting to prove that he is a Korean Terran slayer. We still think that it's his PvZ that sometimes looks the least impressive, but then again, he lost to Stephano and Violet and they are certainly two of the best zergs out there, so no shame in that.

We look forward to seeing him in the WCS finals in Shanghai in 5 days.

FXO.BabyKnight fighting!

10 Nov 2012

Lone Star Clash 2 Update

Stephano just owned danish hope BabyKnight in the second round of the winner bracket in Lone Star Clash 2.

Stephano played his usual perfect ZvP whereas BabyKnight unfortunately made some strange mistakes and choices here and there, so Stephano took the series 2-0 rather comfortably and he now has to face Ganzi in the next round.

BabyKnight on the other hand was knocked into the loser's bracket where he has to face either Sheth or Tod. We're sure however that he still has what it takes to make it far in tournament.

Lone Star Clash 2 update

The Lone Star Clash 2 is underway and if you aren't watching you should.

16 of the best players in the world battling right now in Texas for their share of the 15.000 $ price pool.
You can watch it here:

BabyKnight just won the first match of the tournament against TheStC.

The first set was on Ohana and BabyKnight did a sneaky but risky quick three nexus play without TheStC being able to do anything about it and eventually BabyKnight's great economy allowed him to overwhelm TheStC.

In the second set it was TheStC that was playing a bit greedy taking his natural quickly and only throwing down 1 defensive bunker without more than a couple of units to support it. BabyKnight had also taken his natural, but at the same time gone for some 3-gate pressure that was in no way an all-in. TheStC though wasn't ready at all and with perfect forcefields and micro in general, BabyKnight was able to trample all the way in to TheStC's base and that was it.
BabyKnight moves on to round 2 of the winner's bracket.

BabyKnight vs. TheStC = 2 - 0

8 Nov 2012

GSL Season 5 Round of 32 - Zerg edition

We just finished watching Life absolutely dominate the last RO 32 group of this GSL season.

Everyone is talking about the current Zerg dominance and this RO 32 certainly felt more zerg dominated than ever before, with three Zerg players winning their groups with a 4-0 score, and 8 Zergs moving on to the RO 16.

We took a quick look at the win rates of all the Zerg featured sets of this GSL RO 32.

In all the sets played, the Zerg players had a combined result of 37 wins and only 15 losses meaning a win percentage of 71 %

That's a pretty nasty overall win percentage for a race...

What we find most interesting though is that a lot of people are focusing on Infestors and Broodlords being Imba and therefore being the problem.

But if we actually take a look at the Zergs that dominated the most, Leenock and Life (arguably the two best zergs in the world right now as well) their play wasn't really that centered around Infestors or Broodlords.
In fact their play was heavily dominated by all kinds of other stuff like Mutalisk play, Roach pushes or Baneling busts.

So what is it exactly that makes Zerg players dominate so much right now?

Hard to say.
Perhaps it's just God's (or Nestea's) way of bringing more attention to the Zerg race and thus provide a natural transition to Heart of the Swam :)

Anyway, the following players moved on to the Round of 16

ZergSymbolCurious, SoulkeyHyunDongRaeGuSniperLeenock and Life

Terran: PoltHack, YodaMarineKing, Bogus and Ryung

Protoss: Parting and Creator

4 Nov 2012

Day 2 of the MLG Fall Championship

In our opinion yesterday was one of the most intense days of gaming in the Starcraft 2 history.

Soooo many good players battling in both the open bracket and the group play of the MLG Fall Championship that it was impossible to watch all the games you wanted.

If we have to pick our favorite games of the day it would be set 1 in the series of Leenock vs. Oz and then the entire series between NaNiWa and Flash.

The 1st set between Leenock and Oz was a crazy basetrade game where Leenock ended up taking a base in the ex-main of Oz via Nydus play and well, we've just never seen a game quite like it.

The series between NaNiWa and Flash was just epic, and you need to watch it right now!

Two of the most famous and infamous players going at it first in a normal series, and then an extended series that ended up going all the way to the seventh set.

Flash did a proxy 2-rax in the last and deciding set, and NaNiWa had taking his natural Nexus quickly so that was basically GG and Flash claimed a spot among the top 6 of the Championship.

Flash thus showed exactly how long it takes for the best Broodwar player in the world to transition to a new game. 

NaNiWa on the other hand showed that he more than anyone in the world has the ability to come back when people think he is done and out.
For months he has seemed depressed and tired of the game and suddenly he plays like a God. That's a charismatic player for you right there.

Unfortunately our danish Protoss hero BabyKnight is now out of the Championship!

He first lost 2-0 to NaNiWa, who had had prepared perfectly and figured out exactly how to play BabyKnight.

After that BabyKnight proved he wasn't out of the tournament yet when he took out Idra 2-1 in impressive fashion and showed some great PvZ.

From there BabyK had to play against HwangSin again and even though BabyK had a lead of 2-1 going in to this extended series he could not take home the victory. 
HwangSin beat BabyK in surprisingly easy fashion when he won 3 games in a row taking the series 4-2

This meant BabyK was down in the Loser's bracket where he suddenly faced Polt, one of the absolute scariest Terrans in the world, in an elimination match.
Polt was too good and defeated BabyK 2-0 meaning the end of the danish player's first MLG.

A lot of great games coming up today though.
Of the 16 players left, NaNiWa is the only one who isn't Korean and he has lived and trained in Korea for a long time.
So much for the korean dominance ever decreasing...

3 Nov 2012

First day of MLG Fall Championship

What a great opening day of the MLG Fall Championship we got to experience yesterday.

The most important result was in our opinion of course BabyKnight's beautiful 2-1 victory over HwangSin.

Their PvP series was really close, but somewhat weird as well.
The three sets included a lot of cool moves from both sides, but also some rather odd mistakes.

HwangSin took the first set even though BabyK got a good economic lead early on. Later in the game though the danish Protoss attacked too aggressively into HwangSin's Colossi.

The second set was on Tal'Darim Alter and BabyK went for a 4-gate that HwangSin defended well against with only 3 gates.
From there on HwangSin took his natural whereas BabyK went for a Blink-Stalker all-in and with beautiful blink micro BabyK was able to take the set.

In the last set HwangSin went for a proxy robotics build that BabyK defended against. From there BabyK could contain HwangSin in his main while getting his own natural up. This gave BabyK an economic lead and he played the rest of the game carefully and eventually overwhelmed HwangSin with a max supply army.

BabyKnight now has to face the winner of the game between NaNiWa and whoever comes up from the from the Open Bracket.

A lot of great games are coming up today and we can't wait. 

2 Nov 2012

Group B, C and D of GSL Season 5 RO 32

Unfortunately we didn't have time to do a recap of this week's group B, C and D of the RO 32 of this GSL season.

We did however watch a lot of the games from the groups so here's our quick summary of how we experienced them

Group B (Symbol, Hack, RorO and Happy)

From what we saw of this group's games it seemed pretty one-sided in the sense that Symbol dominated   the group heavily.

Symbol defeated both RorO and Hack 2-0 and thus took first place in the group.
We got to see one set of each of these matches and in both of these sets Symbol looked clearly like the better player. It just felt like Symbol was better at dictating where the games ended up going, and that is generally something you see in a lot of Symbol's games, in our modest opinion.

We also got to see the entire last elimination series between Hack and RorO and that was actually a pretty close and cool series. Hack ended up taking it 2-1, but they were evenly matched and of this group's games, the sets between Hack and RorO definitely seemed the most enjoyable.

Symbol and Hack advanced to the RO 16

Group C (Curious, Soulkey, HerO and Maru)

Once again we experienced the group as being somewhat one-sided, with Curious this time being the one that was somewhat dominating. He defeated Maru 2-0 making it almost look easy and then took down HerO 2-1, in a much closer series though.

Generally what this group made us think the most about was that we felt sorry for HerO once again.
Maybe it's just because we've always liked his style, but it just feels like he's always so damn unlucky.

This time he started out by defeating Soulkey 2-0 in a series in which he clearly looked better. He then lost to Curious as mentioned, but the experienced zerg was on fire and Hero made a few strange mistakes so we were still optimistic about Hero's chances.

In the final elimination series Hero was then once again up again Soulkey.
The first set was on Daybreak and here he once again crushed Soulkey giving HerO the 1-0 lead and at this point we felt absolutely certain that he had it in the bag.

Then Broodlord/Infestor happened in set 2 and Soulkey ended up taking it after a long basetrade. But Hero had played fantastically all through the game until the basetrade. His harassment had been perfect and he had kept Soulkey on a few bases while expanding him self so all in all it reminded us a lot about his tragic loss to Leenock in the last season.
In the 3rd set Soulkey did a 6 pool that HerO didn't handle perfectly and this gave Soulkey a lead that eventually won him the game.

Curious and Soulkey advanced to the RO 16

Group D (YoDa, HyuN, GuMiho and Rain)

Before the group was played Rain naturally looked like the clear favorite coming directly from his OSL victory. Unfortunately for everyone Rain cancelled in the last minute due to him going to Dallas for the MLG championship instead.

So we suddenly had a group of three very lucky players.
We only watched a few of the sets and from what we saw we made the following conclusions.
Yoda is better than we thought, and HyuN is worse than we thought and GuMiho is just as unstable as we thought.

We watched one of the sets between Yoda and HyuN and in that set Yoda had HyuN's game totally figured out and was able to defeat him easily even though HyuN got up to Broodlord tech.
We also watched a few of the sets from the final series between HyuN and GuMiho and in those games neither player looked particularly good.

GuMiho made some strange decisions and HyuN made some very poor engagements and threw away units in weird ways a couple of times.
But Hyun was able to take the series in the final set and thus move on, but we fell pretty certain that he would have had a harder time if Rain had been present.

YoDa and HyuN advanced to the RO 16