An Opinion Piece #1
Gather 'round children while uncle Chef rambles to himself
Gather 'round children while uncle Chef rambles to himself
What the hell? WHY does everyone think that StarCraft II is the end of progaming in StarCraft I? Does that really make sense to anyone? It's the sequel in the franchise, not the progaming circuit. There have been tonnes and tonnes and tonnes of new games with better graphics and competitive elements and none of them have anywhere near the success that StarCraft I has.
Do you know what will make StarCraft I take a backseat to StarCraft II? Us. If we start believing StarCraft II is the sequel in the progaming circuit, or rather, if the Koreans do, then that's what's going to happen. The market will go where the fans go. But that's not going to happen. There's too many of us expressing regret over the idea of StarCraft II replacing StarCraft I in the proscene. Too much nostalgia, too much rooting in our minds. Sure, we'll all give StarCraft II a chance. We'll play it a bit, wait a year for people to get good while they air a few gimmicky T.V. spots, but there's not even going to be a proper league for the game for at least a few months. There might not be one ever.
Remember when we all said StarCraft I was a complete fluke? That getting three races, so completely diverse and interesting, so generally easy to understand, and then turning them into a completely balanced and strategically diverse game is virtually unrepeatable? I still believe that. We have an entire industry of ESPORTS to prove it. If there were a superior race to choose in StarCraft, by God they'd have have found out, and they wouldn't be playing anything else.
StarCraft II is WarCraft III in space. I can't be the only person who wants to keep watching StarCraft I long after Blizzard's newest RTS. And the next one. And the next one. And the next one.
What would happen to the proscene if every time Blizzard made a new RTS, the old one was kicked out the door? Games would become more gimmicky and less professional. StarCraft I has evolved so much since its early days, and has become such a well thought out and interesting sport. We lose all that when we switch games. We also lose motivation to climb all the way back up, if we know it's only going to last until the next commercial release.
But you know what? I'm not even worried. People said this every year since StarCraft I first came out. That somehow the game is going to leave us, no one is going to care, and it's going to be replaced. People even said that when WarCraft III came out, and look where that is. They even got their own proscene, and it's absolute crap compared to StarCraft I. People say things like 'the game has been figured out, people are going to start getting bored' every year too. Bitter people who are trying to find reasons to quit StarCraft I and move on with their lives. But you know what, they always come back. You don't move on from StarCraft I. StarCraft I is immortal.
StarCraft is Getting Old
But it's not getting repetitive. Or boring. Or too mechanical.
Lots of people look nostalgically at the old days of StarCraft. That era when anything went, and players were supposedly more 'creative' in their strategies. This is bullshit. I know every BoxeR interview you'll ever read has him lamenting the invention of the replay, and lamenting the supposed death of innovation, but you can't take every word he says as absolute truth. Replays are the best thing that ever happened to StarCraft. Replays are what made people get really good, really fast. BoxeR is looking for excuses as to why he's losing these days. BoxeR is looking back to those days when he was just some random dude owning people in small tourneys. I love watching his games, but replays aren't the reason he's losing these days. He's losing these days because he couldn't cope with the evolution of StarCraft, because he's just plain slow compared to other players, and because he's giving himself huge mental blocks.
The fear of replays BoxeR expresses is the same thing people claim is present in the scene today. That the game has been totally mapped out, where any creativity is immediately copied or scribbled out after players have seen it once. We all read Artosis' guide to TvZ "how to get good really fast." He said these same things. StarCraft is not going to change, every player who's any good does this virtually every game, and everyone knows it's the best way to play StarCraft. It didn't take that long to find out he was wrong though. We saw mech make a comeback against Zergs for a long time, and save Terrans from maps where they would have otherwise been very weak if they didn't evolve. Even now that the mech age is ending, Terran is not the same as it was before. The builds Terran has to use are changing because Zerg have evolved too. Games are not some static cookie cutter rutine of actions, but a constantly changing and improving lifeform that is fun to watch. What was acceptable last year gets run over this year.
There is also a lot of regret for old progamers retiring or no longer succeeding in the scene. While I admit I like watching old pros trying to slug it out one more time (JulyZerg's Golden mouse run was so incredible), I don't think there's any reason to think the golden age of heros has ended. These days we have plenty to cheer for, all you need to do is choose someone. So what if they aren't winning league after league after league anymore. They are showing AMAZING games. They are changing StarCraft. They are still exciting. Don't stick yourself in some hole where you cry about Reach not qualifying for any leagues. If you do that StarCraft will start to get boring because you won't be on the edge of your seat cheering in any of the games that are happening right now. You have to care about who wins, and you have to care about someone who actually has a damn chance in hell.
It's not even hard to choose a player. There are so many interesting players in the scene right now to choose from, who all have completely different styles and incredible skill. It's mind boggling how so many different paths of focus can all be viable in such a competetive environment. You can choose Jaedong, for that ultra stylish attacking micro, or you can choose Flash, for his stoic push-until-I'm-dead rigor. You can follow the underdogs, Calm who's strategy is much, much better than his multitasking, or TurN who's all or nothing attitude leads to incredible climaxes in games. Anyone really, as long as they're not some has been pro who only gets a televised match once every 2 months.
StarCraft has been so good lately
Seriously. Every OSL and MSL game has been fantastic, there's been tonnes of memorable games in the proleague, and really incredible innovation recently. I can't believe how awesome every game gets after ro16, and they only get better and better. [obviously there's going to be spoilers in this section]
Take Zero for example. When Pimpest Plays first came out, its goal was to find moves that were at once innovative, but also practical and emulatable. What Zero has done with queens in ZvZ is remarkably obvious, yet completely new. It's so basic to understand that late game ZvZ means huge muta balls where every individual muta makes less and less of a difference on its own. What's another 9 damage when you're already doing 300 a volley? Ensnare works on the same principal as upgrades. It's better to have +1 damage each for 24 marines than it is to have another 6 damage total that one extra marine could provide. It's better to make your enemy 25% (or whatever it is) less efficient than it is to make your army 1% more powerful. It's going to be essential in midgame ZvZ from now on, and Zero has proved it by coming from behind against a player who didn't grasp that basic idea. You know why else I like Zero? He reminds me of NaDa. Ever since I heard he has ridiculously high apm, I've always wanted to watch his games, thinking he was destined for at least part of the greatness NaDa was. I don't know if he's exactly the trooper NaDa is, but I sure do like his multitasking. Clean, and efficient. That's what Zero is.
Shine is another player who's impressed me suddenly. Everyone who says he didn't deserve to knock Stork out is a fool. Did you even see Shine after set 2? He was sweating like crazy, and totally exhausted. That's what I like to see. I want someone playing their hardest, getting desperate, and really really wanting to win. If it weren't for those glasses and that awful haircut, he might even look half decent. In any case, his play in set 2 was great. Sniping reavers and observers even after 30 minutes of gameplay... Great use of burrow (so it's not totally innovative, he still did magic with it)... Overall just very intense while Stork did his boring old thing and slowly took the map. Don't get me wrong, Stork has his appeal, but he wasn't who I was watching in those games. When he got rolled in set 3 I was glad. Stork didn't deserve either of those last two games, and I'm glad Shine made it through.
Calm's lair before hatch timing attack, Flash's 7rax overlord snipe, Movie's mother fucking thx2theshield battery 2gate zealot rush. If you haven't been loving StarCraft lately you haven't been watching it.
The only bad thing about StarCraft recently is these split BO5's. I'm not saying anything novel here when I tell you they're awful. The finals aren't done this way, and neither should the semi's. I don't care if a player has a bad day... That's not what makes StarCraft exciting. How am I supposed to care about a series when I watch the first game one day, and then 10 days later when the result is a vague memory I see the last two, or four? Where's the excitement of metagame where you get to imagine the stress a player is under from a tough loss, or a long game? Where's the sweat running down their faces from being exhausted by a totally epic nerd war? What's the point even? It's not lengthen the tournament, since they just do everyone's set1 on the same day.
+ Show Spoiler +
Sorry that was pretty long and disjointed. I was really inspired when I started writing it, got a few points in and then you can probably tell where my train of thought is completely lost, because I was interrupted for 12 hours and I still wanted to write it for some reason.