We (me and my wife) got to SC2 some time in August 2010, shortly after launch. Back then it was possible to play the campaing in guest mode for unlimited amount of time if you got a guest pass (the 7 hours limit applied only when playing online) and we got one from a friend. The only computer we had that could run SC2 was my notebook and I was going to leave for a week just when we could not get past the last mission. So the last night before I had to leave she played it after I went to sleep and she actually beat it at 4 a.m. She woke me and we watched the romantic ending and subtitles backdropped by the rising sun in the real world, it was actually remarkable. Don't tell me the SC2 stroy is shit if you didn't live it like that!
A couple of weeks later, SC2 become the second game we ever bought - yes, we used to be bloody software pirates (the other game was HoMM IV that was cheaper to buy than the electricity to download it at that time). 2010 was kind of a turning point in our life, when we finally started to have some money, so even after only two years it is getting difficult for me to understand how much we discussed if we are actually going to pay something like $50 for a game. Nowadays we are wasting money for fun so much faster!
I have never before had anything like the "ladder" and it was a great experience to just click that button and start playing against complete strangers. Quickly I learned to say gl and hf and at that time there was actually some interesting chat going on. I "played" BW with friends (extremely badly, as I haw learned since) so I thought "I got this, noobs" and was genuinely surprised to end up in bronze in the first placement. Oh man, I was so clueless back then. I literarly didn't know what to do. I just tried wierd things and used the units that looked fun. Thanks to the amazing matchmaking of SC2, I was meeting other poeple with the same problem and so the games were quite fun anyway.
But it didn't take long and I discovered TL. The first thing I found was actually liquipedia, where I read about these "build orders" that some poeple seem to follow. But most of these were absolutely outrageous. Look at the 4gate, for example: I am supposed to build 4 gateways before I even have almost any units and invest my first 50 precious gas into an upgrade that makes building units more difficult? You have got to be kiding me. And FFE? I am supposed to make a nexus before any units? Who do you think I am, a Korean or what? And even many of the less absurd builds seemed completely impossible because I would not just have enough money to build all that shit.
So I continued my brave quest of proxy 2gates and 1base void rays, usually losing any games that went longer than 10 minutes ... and I somehow managed to get to gold even without ever converting my gateways into warpgates. But then it happened. I started to follow the "SC2 strategy" forum and ran into a couple of posts about macro and how you should be just able to win no matter what if you macro up a lot of units. It looked kind of suspicious, but I have already built up some respect for TL so I decided to give it a try. I learned to primarirly hotkey production instead of army, to finally use warpgates, to strive to keep my money low, to actually expand... and it worked!
I still remebmer the day when I first accepted that FFE could be possible and decided to give it a try. The first couple of games it did not go so well, but I learned to be a little more carefull and suddenly, the world of SC2 changed. My PvZ experience can be literarly divided into th pre-FFE and post-FFe periods. Before, I would be shaking in fear every time I saw a zerg in the loading screen. And bam! Suddenly I was happy to see a Zerg. It felt like almost hacking - I would just have so much more stuff at the same time that I could simply overrun my oponent with sheer units.
In the other two matchups the change was more gradual, as I tried different approaches, but together, I was on the road to long macro games. I completely switched my map vetoes and my feelings towards the maps: suddenly I was winning more on the larger maps. It was about the time when Taldarim Altar was introduced and for some time I would win almost any game on that map, based simply on my overwhelming greed. Finally, after several hundreds of games, I became platinum - something I would only dream about several moths ago! It also made me the highest rakned from my friends, so I got some respect (however laughable that may sound for any masters player ). I even had that period when I was often put against diamonds, but sadly, I never got the promotion.
Time went by, as did my life and I stopped playing so much 1v1, got more into team games and eventually got back to the other things in life from the pre-SC2 period - culminating in my humiliatig demotion to gold. I don't think that I got so much worse (and comparing replays proves that) - the others were just improving so fast that my stagnating play could not compete anymore. Surprisingly, this very demotion was what I needed to get back to the game as it opened my eyes about how bad I actually am and I started to play again, this time more focused on my mistakes, perfecting build execution, esystematically taking expansion beyond natural, managing worker saturation across bases and just keeping money low throughout the game.
Now I am platinum again and even though I had to go through some frustrating stages, I enjoy the game more than I ever did. Ironically, I do not even FFE in PvZ (I use the wonderfull Adonminus style instead because it is much more fun), but the legacy of my "waking up" period (and the unhealthy probe obsession) is still there everytime I feel like doing some stupid reaction to what I have scouted and I suddenly stop and realise that I know better now.