To Celebrate the 3rd anniversary of the best RTS game of all time, Millenium is proud to present you a part of our work about this event. WoL beta started three years ago, and this game gave us a wide list of sensational feelings. On this news, we provide you our video and our timeline, but later on, we will translate our work, even if someone does it before !
Video realized by Jack, directed by @M_Spit
3 YEARS OF WOL FULL ARTICLE by @M_Nazca
On February 17 2010, Blizzard opened the beta-testing phase of Wings of Liberty, first chapter of the StarCraft 2 trilogy. To celebrate this anniversary, and before we all switch to Heart of the Swarm, let's dive together in our memories and analyse how these three years of WoL have gone so far.
Timeline by Castouni+ Show Spoiler +
2.The races in tournaments
Imba or not imba ? That is the question. As we are coming to a conclusion for Wings of Liberty, I've wanted to know if a race had dominated the http://wiki.teamliquid.net/starcraft2/Premier_Tournaments overall. Counting the victories per race, we get the following table :
Over these three years, it seems that Terrans are the big winners with 37 victories out of 93 tournaments. However, this triumph is mainly due to the Terran success in 2011 : they won half of the competitions that year. The metagame taking a certain time to stabilize, it's not surprising to see that 2012 was much more balanced than 2011.
Needless to say, the domination of a race depends on numerous factors. Let me cite for example the patches, the metagame, or the map pool. This is why the success rate of races varies over time. 2012 has, on this regard, been quite eventful.
The graph above shows the winrate per race in 2012 premier tournaments. The first thing to notice is how close the curves are with the ideal value of 50%. Overall, we see that - at least in major competitions - the game is pretty balanced.
As 2012 was starting, the Terran domination of 2011 continued during several months with e.g. MMA and MKP victories overseas. But two consecutive patches were going to change this : the Ghost nerf in February and the Queen buff in May. These two modifications had Terrans winrate droping between April and May. From then on, Zergs were to take the power and keep it for the rest of the year. Worthy of mentionning is the Protoss curve which is the closest to 50%, oscillating very few over the twelve months.
3.The ladder leagues
People always talk about the pros, but for us too, ordinary people, things have evolved quite significantly in three years. How is the distribution inside the leagues ? Are there more Zergs, Protosses or Terrans ? Here are some answers.
Let me remind you : at the beginning of the beta, there were five leagues : Copper, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum. On May 22 2010, Blizzard removed the Copper league and added a Diamond league above Platinum. But it was not until January 10 2011 that a Master league appeared, followed by the Grand-Master league on March 22.
Over the first year, the league distribution went as follows :
In these stats, we see the creation of the Master and GM leagues but that's not the only thing that catches the eye. Between July 2010 and the Summer 2011, Protosses dominated in the leagues ! And more importantly, no one, not even the pros, wanted to play Zerg. It's true that with the injects and the creep spread, the Zerg macro has changed a lot from Brood War to SC2.
Also, in low leagues, rumors say that Zerg is the hardest race to play. Whether you agree or not with this statement, many new players do prefer the clean and shiny design of Protoss to that more underground and bestiary of Zergs. Moreover, in Bronze and Silver, the Terran race is over represented. One of the reasons is that the campaign of Wings of Liberty is played as Terran and hence many players start laddering with that race. The ratio between the races tends to get more balanced as you get to higher leagues though.
The distribution is very far from what Blizzard once announced : 20% in Bronze to Platinum, 18% in Diamond and 2% in Master. With an average of 42% of the players, the Bronze league is the fullest. The league filling then gradually decreases as we go up before dropping enormously in Master and GM leagues since those are restricted.
+ Show Spoiler +
Between September 2011 and now, the most significant phenomenon is the Zerg impulse. Whereas low leagues continue to sulk at Kerrigan's race, quite the opposite happens from Diamond to Grand-Master. To the extend that nowadays, it is the Terran race that collapses : only 24% in Grand-Master compared to 37-38% for Protoss and Zerg.
In November 2011, Blizzard publicly released a ladder points system showing the cutoffs to reach in order to be almost assured of a promotion. From that moment on, the leagues distribution got greatly modified. Over the last two periods, Bronze have dropped to only 30% of the players and hence the other leagues' filling increased. The Master league went from 1.5% to 3.5% in a year. Is it that the overall level of players increased or is it that it has become easier to get promoted ? There's no real way to judge.
4.Evolution of the metagame
To say that the metagame has evolved in three years is a huge understatement. And to try to summarize its evolution would probably be impossible. A way to illustrate how the metagame has developped, however, is to follow a particular player in a particular matchup and to study several of his games.
For the matchup I've chosen the PvZ as it is in my opinion one of those that has evolved the most. As for the player, well, it's two players that I propose to follow : HuK and IdrA. Everyone knows that these two have been involved in a lovestory that would put Captain Hook to tears, and it's always delightful to read their conversations at the beginning and end of games. But this is not why I picked them.
First of all, HuK and IdrA have played 1on1's countless times, thereby providing more replays to analyse than needed. Besides, both of them are standard players, enough at least to be fairly representative of the PvZ metagame at any given time. Of course, some may say that their level has significantly decreased lately but once again, our goal here is to study the evolution of PvZ over three years.
Game 1 : End of the Beta
The first replay that I chose to watch brings us back to July 23 2010 when Day organised the http://wiki.teamliquid.net/starcraft2/Razer_King_of_the_Beta tournament. Our two players faced each other in the group stage. The three games of their BO3 are absolutely worth watching for the lack of clear strategies is so shocking. This game is the third one and it's played on Lost Temple.
HuK opens with a nexus first followed by two gates. He then goes for a forge and the cybernetics core before switching to double robo. IdrA, on the other hand, adopts a style close to that of Brood War : a quick ling-speed and fast lair, a two-base play and an army mainly composed of hydralisks and roaches. After scouting his opponent's composition, he decides to morph some corruptors. The upgrades come quite late for both of them. Worth noticing is the absence of charge, storm and archons for the Protoss player, and infestors or broodlords for the Zerg.
The general impression in this game is that no timing whatsoever is settled. Not only the strategies are quite chaotic, but the players stay on low economy for a really long time.
Game 2 : Infancy of the Metagame
The next game is from December 13 2010 but is from a ladder replay pack released by Team Liquid (HuK's team at the time) and hence we don't know exactly when it was played. We are on the old version of Shakuras Plateau.
This game shows very clearly the beginnings of PvZ mechanics. The opener is a 3-gate expand followed by a stargate. Zerg on the other hand tries to expand as much as possible while being safe. IdrA continues to make a really fast ling-speed into hydralisks, but Husky himself says in the video that the hydra-play tends to disappear. Overall, the macro is far better than in Game 1 : expands are taken little by little, the economy is good for both players.
The army compositions too are starting to incorporate key elements of the matchup : blink stalkers, colossi and storm for HuK ; roaches, corruptors and broodlords for IdrA. But we get a hint that we're still at the beginning of PvZ's metagame by noticing the excess of colossi without gateway unit support, how storms are stacked (their effect would add up in BW but not in SC2) and the absence of mothership (KiWiKaKi hasn't introduced that yet) for the Protoss ; underproduction of corruptors and complete absence of infestors for IdrA.
Game 3 : and Zerg discovered Infestors
Early April 2011, at http://wiki.teamliquid.net/starcraft2/2011_MLG_Pro_Circuit/Dallas, that very same where HuK hallucinated his voidrays and provoked one of the most memorable idraquits… The game we're going to watch is on Crossfire and I believe it's the first game where the guys faced each other in the group stage.
Little do I have to say about HuK's play in this game : 3-gate expand opener to which the Zerg replies by delaying his third base. The production of immortals lasts a relatively long time since HuK never really managed to secure his third and sustain colossus production.
The most important point here is the evolution in the Zerg's gameplay. Exit hydralisks, welcome roaches and infestors ! The transition to hive tech and broodlords happens at 14.20min which is arguably early seeing how late the third was. Altogether, the feel of this game is that Zerg's play is much more fluid and is starting to stabilize.
Game 4 : Forge Fast Expand
During the http://wiki.teamliquid.net/starcraft2/ASUS_ROG_Stars_Invite in November 2011, HuK and IdrA face each other in a showmatch. Over summer 2011, the PvZ metagame has started to stabilize quite a lot, as the following game shows.
Protoss opens with a forge fast expand, opening that has become more and more popular in the previous weeks. The interesting point here is that FFE was the PvZ standard opening in Brood War. It's quite remarkable that it took something like a year and a half to reach SC2. Notice that Zerg's third is now taken before the 5 minutes mark and that ling-speed is not researched as early anymore. Also, the army compositions are very close to what we can see nowadays.
Game 5 : The last fight
The Evil Geniuses team organised last year an internal tournament : the Most Evil Genius. The finals on April 30 2012 saw the very last HuK vs. IdrA of WoL history.
If I've chosen this game it is because it shows how much PvZ has enriched itself over time : IdrA goes for a ling-infestor style followed by a very standard 12-minute hive. Protoss too has emancipated : they're not afraid to take a 9-minute third anymore. Finally, the mothership has become absolutely mandatory to counter a broodlord-infestor army.
Game 2 and Game 5 of this list are sixteen months appart. They both take place on Shakuras and in both cases HuK opens with a stargate. However, these games are like chalk and cheese.
5.Has there been a Bonjwa in WoL ?
Many among us have wondered if there had been a true bonjwa in Wings of Liberty. Some also overuse the word bonjwa anytime a new comer defeats with a certain ease his opponents in a tournament. So, have we had a bonjwa or not ?
According to Liquipedia, bonjwa is a term used to describe a player who dominates the StarCraft scene for a long period of time. A bonjwa has a very high winning percentage and successive title wins. However, a bonjwa is not defined by his statistics or records. Rather, a general consensus is reached that he is the most dominant progamer of his era. In other words, a bonjwa is a boss who reigns unchallenged and crushes those trying to steal his crown.
BoxeR, the Emperor, the first Bonjwa
In Brood War, five players have been recognised as bonjwas : BoxeR, NaDa, iloveoov, sAviOr and Flash. Many people think that JaeDong should also be in the list but no real consensus has been reached on this point. Among the titles gathered by BoxeR, we note two OSLs and two consecutive WCGs. Flash, on the other hand, has won three MSL, three OSLs and a WCG. Not bad.
But how can we translate these criteria on WoL ? For instance, the first clear and obvious difference is the frequency of tournaments. In BoxeR's times, there were few international competitions and the Korean champions didn't use to go out of their country so much. Nowadays, there are many major tournaments and teams have to establish their bidget very carefully to determine which players they send to which event. Therefore it's not really about how many tournaments a bonjwa has to win, but rather how much he dominates in the tournaments that he can attend to.
Flash dominated the Brood War scene for almost 3 years
The notion of time is also very important. The era of BoxeR started in January 2001 that is approximately two years after Brood War was released (November 1998). In a RTS like StarCraft, the game takes a certain time to mature. The metagame continously evolves and a bonjwa cannot decently emerge until the game stabilises, and that a standard of strategies is established. In that sense, since WoL is only 3-years old, to not have seen a bonjwa yet wouldn't be surprising at all. In addition, SC2 differs from Brood War since it's a regularly patched game and that certain patches have drastically modified the metagame. To consider that a bonjwa has to dominate over a year, for example, in a game so often revised is very hard.
Since palmares and time are arguable criterias, let's consider the communitary aspect. It's all the SC2 scene that recognises if a player is a bonjwa or not, but it's also his personnality and his fanbase. One could say that MarineKing, who was quite dominant last year and won several MLGs, has been a bonjwa. However, his quest for the Grail (a GSL) has never been successful. Following the same idea, NesTea has won three GSLs and the community agrees that he has been dominating back in the days. But he's never managed to be constant enough nor to win any premier foreign tournament.
Mvp earned the NesTea Award for his 10 qualifications streak in GSL Code S
It should be clear by now that it's very hard to determine if a particular player has been a bonjwa on Wings of Liberty. But without any doubt, the one that comes closest to it is Mvp. Winner of four GSLs, an MLG, a BlizzCon, WCG 2011 and IEM VII Cologne, Mvp has been crushing souls on WoL. Some may say his international titles are not sufficient, but let me emphasize that Mvp hasn't participated in the last MLGs. In fact, the last one he attended dates back to February 2012. He's also never participated in a DreamHack. And don't even get me started with his health issues… In summary, everything leads to say that there has been an Mvp era, even though it seems to be over.
Life, the next Bonjwa ?
Another candidate to being called bonjwa is Life. He shows all signs of it at least. Coming from nowhere, Life started to win every tournament in which he participated. For the last three months, he's been dominating without any clear rival on the SC2 scene - except maybe PartinG. Only time will tell if he can be constant, but with the upcoming release of Heart of the Swarm, all the timers are set back to zero. To be continued….