QuesterX presents StarCraft II, E-sports and the Meta game

Since I appear to be the only person here at DLC-Live who knows anything about StarCraft II (for the rest of this article SCII) let alone loves it, I thought I would start giving the boys, and you guys, a bit of an insight into what is fast becoming the largest and certainly the most profitable E-sport in the world. For those that are unfamiliar with the term ‘E-sport’ I am talking about people who play SCII professionally and definitively shift the ‘Meta game’ in a way that trickles down even into the lower leagues where people like myself dwell.

Explaining ‘Meta game’ is not a simple matter but basically the ‘Meta game’ is concepts as to how you should play the game, handle certain match ups and the like. For ‘shifts’ in the Meta game, people look to the pro’s “how do I deal with banshee harass?” “Can you really use 2 barracks aggression against a fast expanding Zerg?” etc.

SCII is certainly not the only game with a ‘Meta game’; to use another ‘e-sport’, CS had Meta game shifts based around patches and around maps – things like using recognised terms to describe in game scenarios ‘Camp the Catwalk’ on Dust 2 for example.

However it is in SCII, where the Meta game can shift like sands in a desert that one can truly understand what it is and how hard it can be to be a ‘pro gamer’. People like Idra or anyone with an ‘OGS’ infront of his name practice for 12 hours a day. While this sounds like the job of your dreams (being paid to play SCII *sighs*) it isn’t incredibly well paid, with the winner of the GSL getting around US$85,000 for one month’s play. However, there can only be one and so most don’t see more than 1k US a month from actual winnings. This is a high stakes profession, one which pays off only through incredible diligence and prohibitive amounts of practice.

Most people won’t care, however there are certainly enough in the world, GSL for instance attracting millions upon millions of viewers each month, for a site which is about gaming to ignore its influence.

Thus I am going to write a few short items about SCII and e-sports in general which will hopefully help in some (very) small way to bring light to a growing (and awesome) phenomena.

GSL Season 4 – The finale

MVP is the WINNER!

Of fecking course he is, the man is a god with the APM of a city destroying angel and a heart as black as coal. However the tale of the final is one, which shows the power of the Meta game, that concept that I am attempting to hammer down the throat of everyone who doesn’t know what I am talking about.

Go back…

So if you know anything about SCII (and you should, if you don’t go and buy it and get in on the online revolution before I do something I shouldn’t) you will know the humble marine. If you play at a higher level you will also know the horror of the ‘humble’ marine. A unit spawned from the deranged minds at Blizzard who sat and stared at a white board with three words on it: ‘Swiss army knife’. I can see it ‘a ranged unit, only costing 50, tier one, highest DPS in the game… we’ll nerf them a little by making them incredibly gooey’. Well… that was then.

TvT is a horrible match up. You get tanks, I get tanks. You get Vikings so I get Vikings. Then we stare at each other for 50 minutes while mining everything everywhere. The winner is, as someone on the GSL forums stated, the man who doesn’t play in the first place. However, this is the way it always has been. Marines are gooey right? Tanks blow them up real good yeah? Well… that was then.

Marine King

MVP vs. Marine King; two stupid handles for two awesome players. Where one focuses on just being better at standard play than everyone, the other says ‘nuts to that’ and turns the SCII world on its ear with his play style. In GSL 2 he got to the final and lost and now Marine King is here again and he plans big things.

The problem with having your own style is that, if you do it enough then what was initially frightening and different starts to be worked out. It also starts to be copied.

Marine King builds marines. He builds lots of them. He doesn’t stop for any reason. Where other players build tanks he builds marines. Where others build banshees he builds marines. Where others bui… you get the point. He builds lots, and lots, and lots of fucking marines. In the words of InControl “The guy just builds lots of fucking marines and he wins everything”.

His style of play is therefore very unique. He excels in strange situations and thrives when his back is against the wall.

Unfortunately the community loved his style so much they began to copy it (badly). And because he is a public figure, and his video’s abound everywhere, the professional SCII community has taken a good, long look and said ‘so that’s what he does’.

MVP is currently the best player in the world, as recognised by most commentators. He beat Marine King 4-0. He smashed him. I would recount the games individually but I really don’t have to. MVP takes his army to MK’s base, he starts destroying it. MK then goes to MVP’s base and. MVP is ready for him. It’s a move that won MK so many games that he made it to the finals, but once he was there it just wasn’t new anymore. The game moves on and suddenly he’s left behind.

It wasn’t just that MVP was better; it was that what MK was doing was old hat, worked out, and cracked. Every move was anticipated, every trick blind countered.

So, unfortunately, for 2 horrible weeks TvT returned to the pre-MK style of tanks and Vikings.

Enter iEchoic – my hero

Team Liquid, the English speaking home of all things SCII.

In a recent post a top 50 US player turned the English speaking SCII world upside down and changed the game forever. His topic has 600 replies and over 5000 hits. A responding topic is titled ‘Has iEchoic broken TvT?’ The community speaks in deeds, and it echoes with iEchoic’s manly voice.

The new build is predicated on the idea that tanks and Vikings are fucking boring. As a result iEchoic realised that marines burn real good when hit by hellions. Hellions are also fantastic at killing workers. If you get rid of marines then Terran probably can’t shoot up, in which case banshees will own.

Hellion Banshee. The next day the US server exploded with Terran’s attempting to execute this build while others tried to stop it and failed. Now there are threads all over Team Liquid that read ‘I beat iEchoic’s build with *this*’, however the build still resounds in the Meta game of SCII and will resound because players hate tank Viking and this build utterly destroys those that use it.

Meta Game bites

The discussions, the analysing, the commentating, the theory crafting, its all a part of the Meta game structure that churns and builds when the game is off. If you don’t keep up then you will end up like Marine King, broken and fallen on a stage of your own making.

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QuesterX

nothing interesting to report.
  • Anonymous

    Hellion Banshee? Sounds interesting. Must try it. Anyway, nice article. You aren’t alone in the loving Starcraft 2, and the community, though.