Style Will Set You Free
TeamLiquid: Final Edits
Everybody walks. That is to say, anybody with two functioning legs knows how to walk: swing your right foot forward, shift your weight, then stick your left leg forward. Repeat until you get to wherever you were going.
So, everybody walks. But everybody walks differently.
The basics are the same: Right leg forward, shift weight, left leg forward. But some people dip their shoulders a bit. Some people swing their arms more. Guys with rhythm bob their heads. Girls with flirt shake their bottoms. The cool cats glide. The gangstas strut. The soldiers walk stiff and tall. Show me 20 different people, and I'll show you 20 different ways to walk.
So, everybody walks. But the small choices we make as we walk, about how to move our head, shoulders, knees, hips, and feet, are all different. Those choices are what we call, STYLE.
Every pro has the same goal for each game: to win. In order to defeat their opponent, pros must mine resources, build buildings and tech, produce units, and use those units accordingly. But along the way, each pro makes a million little choices, depending on his opponent and the situation. Do I expand now, make more units, or climb tech? Should I place my units up front to contain, or keep them home to defend? A lot of these choices are purely tactical - it makes sense to counter mutas with corsairs. But a lot of these choices come down to a pro's personal style. Savior doesn't have to go 3-hatch to violate some Terran. But more likely than not, he will. That's his style, the accumulation of the choices that he makes.
So, by now you're saying, "I get it, pros have different styles, that's great, so what?" Well, the reason I'm talking about it is, you can't win without style.
In progaming, a personal style is as necessary an element to success as is two arms and a keyboard. Yes you need good fundamentals (micro and macro). You need good Build Orders (strategy), and good in-game awareness (management). These are the building blocks of success. But so is style.
Because without his own style, a pro is just another of the hundreds of little FE-to-macro drones that sprung out in this new generation. Without style, you are DarkElf, champion of the Dual Tournament. But once your game develops personality, you are iloveoov, champion of the universe.
Every successful pro who has ever made a name for himself has their own personal color of play
Let's examine Bisu. When he first arrived on the scene, Bisu was a promising protoss who learned macro from Pusan, and it really showed. For a while he was just another macrotoss. Then, his game got more and more polished with practice and he became a competent pro, being successful in the proleagues. But he was still lacking Starleague success. There's a clear wall between being successful in random proleague matches, and winning on your own, in the individual leagues, in best-of-five series. Bisu was banging his head against that wall.
So what did Bisu do? He came out with the "Beesuit," and defined himself. His game's personality would be to harass, keep his opponent always on the ropes, keep them busy. And Bisu is now a Scout-using, Stasising, Zerg-raping, world-saving, repeat MSL champion.
It's the same for any winning champ. Believe it or not, Savior was once upon a time a chubby little rookie who everybody knew had solid Zerg fundamentals, but nothing else. He only became SAVIOR CUBAN GANGSTER when he solidified the 3-hatch and became the ultimate management-based, late-game Zerg - the Maestro.
Boxer? The emperor was nothing until he started playing around with marine control and learned to use a dropship now and then. A distinct gameplay personality is what separates the Julys from the Zergmans (Zergmen?).
Style is a weapon. Without it, you are just another good player. With it, you are a great player. The best pros are those you can identify by just watching their replays. A Nada TvZ will look distinctly different from a Midas TvZ, and that's why both players are successful.
Style can also be that extra little that separates the great from the champions. How else can we explain the fact that Casy has a title while GoodFriend has none? Overall, GoodFriend is the more balanced, better Terran. It's not like he doesn't have his own gaming personality – he had shown enough of a style to be a great pro (standard play, two-facs against P, good fundamentals... not flashy, but he is the soldier walking straight and tall). But it's just that Casy's style is so much more unique.
Casy won an OSL based on the pure strength of his hyper-micro, TvZ-oriented style. One could say that Casy was lucky, running into a Zerg-dominated OSL and never facing a Protoss, but the point is that he was able to seize that luck because of his deeply unique style of play. Put GoodFriend in the same situation and he loses to Yellow in the semis. But Casy being Casy, he takes it all the way.
There are a million examples: Zeus was an OSL runner-up based on the uniqueness of his slow yet flamboyant game style. Yellow, despite always coming second, was a dominant Zerg because of his aggressive, "storm" style. (and his only losses were to even more stylistic Terrans - Boxer, oov, and Nada). Free and Chalrenge are two badass muthas who are fighting for the title of Next Big Toss, based on the smashmouth personality of their gameplay. Of course, to be a true, well-rounded champion, you need much more than style. But sometimes, style alone can take you far. (Just don't tell that to Rainbow)
And the best, best, absolute fucking best thing about style? No game is better than two players with strong playstyles facing each other. When two strong pros clash for a best of five, style is the spice that pulls the whole meal together. Think about the best series you can remember. Boxer vs. oov, Ever OSL Finals. Boxer vs. Anytime, So1 OSL Finals. Reach vs. Chojja, UZOO MSL Semis. Savior vs. Iris, Midas, and Hwasin. When the two players have strong styles, it's the fans who ultimately win.
So, everybody walks. But it's about how you walk. Style is what separates the great pros from the regular pros. It is what separates a Starleaguer from a Proleaguer. It separates the final four from the bottom 16. It separates the champions from the runners up. It gives us super rookies, legendary champions, and everything in between. It is the bright neon lights for the fans. It keeps us warm at night. It helps old ladies cross the street. It will lead us not into temptation, but to paradise. It will cook for you and do the dishes.
Style will set you free.