Monday, February 28, 2011
Since I began watching the GSL last year, I've started to follow ST_July or Julyzerg, who was a professional SC1 player, even winning the OSL three times, and is sometimes known as "The God of War." His story was made interesting by the fanboy mentality of Tasteless and Artosis, who adored July from his SC1 days and would speak of him in hushed and reverent tones while casting his games. He was knocked out in Round of 16 by oGsMC in GSL 3, and got to Round of 8 in the January Code A matches and was eventually able to break into Code S in the Up/Down matches that followed. He made it through and started GSL 4 in Code S.
Although he did very well, and making it into Code S was a big feat in and of itself, July wasn't showing the God of War powers that Tastosis kept bestowing him. Ironically, they called oGsMC, the Protoss who beat July in GSL 3 "the Kraitos Protoss" who is the title character from the series God of War. And in GSL he seemed to be more worthy of the title.
One thing that July has shown me so far in the GSLs is that he can be hyper aggressive in the early game. This hasn’t always worked out for him, as zerg isn’t meant to do it, and my brother hates it when I talk about wanting to see more zergs take control of the game early and not let Protoss or Terran dictate things by whether they choose to rush or not.
In last night’s Code A, a similar thing happened to LiquidRet, who was better than Haypro at stopping the harassing or at least minimizing it, but still fell to a similar starving out strategy against Slayers_M. On a night where many a zerg was slaughtered and the first three matchups were taken 2 -0 by Protoss or Terran, in the final round a zerg was finally able to beat a Protoss, but only by creating a massive Muta ball which could one shot pylons and canons. The zerg ended up losing though.
The GSL Code S started last week with the “Group of Death” which had two players who are considered by most to be the best players of their race, IMMvp (Terran) and oGsMC (Protoss), and someone who revolutionized zerg in SC1, but has yet to prove himself “god-like” in SC2, ST_July. I felt bad for the remaining player in the group oGsHyperDub, who stood in the shadow and would be shadow of all the others, and struggled in the matches to prove himself.
July had made this more interesting by wanting to be in this group in order to take out MC who beat him out of GSL 3. Although July lost to MC, who easily made it out of the group on top, most everyone who was watching the group of death was probably blown away by the fact that it was July and not Mvp, who moved on to the next round. MVP won the first GSL Code S tourney in January, becoming the first Terran to do so by defeating MarineKingPrime.We. His win rate was phenomenal in SC2 for the past few months, massacring zergs and being known as unbeatable against Terran as well.
But on the first day of the GSL, July beat MVP twice to move on, both times by being aggressive early, the first time failing miserably and then coming back, the second time, by being very very lucky, and attacking at exact moment he should. In the first match, July got his banelings into the main of MVP but did very little except killing a supply depot, a tech lab and no SCVs. His economy in shambles, he tried to rebuild, but MVP was clearly in the lead and Tastosis was already calling it for MVP. MVP pushed too early into the main of July, thinking him to be weaker than he actually was. The push failed, and although July lost quite a bit, MVP lost his advantage. July came back with mutas, and attacked again with speedlings and banelings and broke MVP.
The second match, on Metapolis, July once again went for early aggression, intending to baneling bust MVP. MVP walled in with two barracks, and did not notice July waiting outside his main when he lifted up his buildings to move them around. July had already attacked, not knowing that the buildings were lifted up. When July waltzed right into the main, with all of his units intact, he actually hesitated and turned around, not sure what was going on, and if there was some trap waiting for him. He only turned around for a moment and then pushed back in, easily massacring MVPs units and SCVs. Most players when they lose they stare off into space for a bit or shake their head and mutter to themselves as they unhook their keyboard or mouse, MVP put his head down on his keyboard and didn’t move.
I’m looking forward to see how July can do in the next round and to see if he can really make it to the top of SC2.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
I tumuge' este, i na'an-na Kelly, taotao Singapore yan gof kinenne' gui' nu todu kosas SC2.
Estague iyo-na blog, a diva and her demons. Sina un dalalaki gui' lokkue' giya Twitter.
Mampos "geeky" este na betsu, lao taya' guaha, dipotsi mampos geeky este na blog.
I don’t want to be an overlord wandering forever in the lost temple skies,
Or a Lair that can never transit to a Hive.
You caught me out like a burrowed baneling,
After losing you, I am like a queen without her king.
I remember when I first saw you, my heart was concussive shelled,
Who is this medivac, that was to save me from hell?
You sieged up and protected me,
You gave me stim-pack and set me free.
You are like a blink stalker that caught me by surprise,
Heck for you, I would even leave Aiur for life.
When I miss you, my zealots refuse to charge,
When I yearn for you, my forcefields misses too much.
They say my heart is full of ice,
My eyes are full of lies.
I might be doomed to walk this mortal life,
Without you by my side.
I still want to tell you that you’re so fine,
And you’re always on my Overmind.
I don’t want no MarineKingPrime,
I just need you to be my Valentine.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
as well as my brother
These are all players who are part of my brother's team "tQ" or "Think Quick" which is made up of some of the best players on the North American server.They have been around since Brood War, but made the transition to SC2, and recently updated their website, with plenty of info about them and what their plans are. They are looking to become a professional team soon, with sponsors to help their members travel to tournaments around the US. The biggest SC2 tournament in the US right now is the MLG in Dallas, but I read that they are trying to start a regular league similar to the GSL soon.
One of the great things about the new Team TQ website is that they have their roster of players and each has a page where they can upload replays of some of their favorite matches. They also have recaps of recent clan wars and news on upcoming events they'll take part in.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Michael Lujan Bevacqua
The Marianas Variety
December 22, 2010
Part of the reason for why I somehow believed that this was possible even into my middle school years was the 1989 movie The Wizard, starring Fred Savage from TV’s The Wonder Years. The film is pretty silly, about an older brother breaking his younger brother Jimmy, out of a mental institution in order to cure him of an unnamed mental disorder that he develops after his twin sister is drowned. Along the way they find out about a Video Game tournament in California and that Jimmy is incredibly adept at playing them. The climax of the movie involves a video game tournament in LA, with a $50,000 prize. In the end, the film was as critic Robert Ebert noted basically 100 min. long commercial for Nintendo, with the highlight of the movie being the introduction of the 3rd Super Mario Brothers game to US gameplayers.
The Wizard has faded from most people’s memories save for the hard-core geeks such as myself. But one of the first video game films to reach a broader level of impact, Tron, just had a sequel premiere last week. Tron is high-tech sort of down the rabbithole tale leads to revolution story. A computer programmer named Flynn is digitized and transported into the world of computer programming which is being dominated by an entity called the Master Control Program. Here computer programs are not lines of code but personified as people who Flynn can interact with and in some cases watch be terminated. The name of the film comes from a program developed by a friend of Flynn. Tron was designed to monitor the MCP and with the help of Flynn they eventually destroy freeing millions of programs which it had been controlling.
Tron has become a historic film primarily because of its unique look which was light-years ahead of most films in 1982 and its style has gone on to be parodied and emulated numerous times. But for me, the historic nature of this film wasn’t its surface, but rather the depth that it created. Tron was historic because of the way it added depth to something which was even at that time perceived as being flat. Video games were simple at this time both in their appearance and in their function. They were pure wastes of time; simple lines and shapes moving across the screen, leisurely wasting your time. Things which punk kids in seedy arcades would waste money on instead of preparing for life.
Like most movies which take a subculture and try to give it substance reveal its inner dimensions, complexities of it, Tron provided a very concrete metaphor for the expansiveness of gaming. As we are sucked into the world of computer programs with the Flynn, we are made to see that the simple veneer of video games masks a universe unto its own. This is something which lurks within all technology. We experience the surface, we can come very adapt at using the surface, but lying beneath all of that is a universe potentially beyond our comprehension.
Just because a game such as Pong appeared simple enough did not mean it just happened naturally. There are no old women who take young girls as a part of their rite of passage to the liyang down by the saddok and they harvest video games from the lumot on the walls. People create them. People work hard to make them. There is not only a world of code within them, but a world of business which makes and markets them.
In today’s high-tech world we have seen video games move from being a subculture into being part of popular, dominant culture. Gaming is no longer nerdy but also has casual dimensions as well. Sports gaming was something which hoped up the video game industry to demographics they never imagined they could tap into before. Hardcore gamers no longer determine the market, for instance, the philosophy for the Nintendo Wii system is geared towards the more casual gamer who doesn’t play for 12 hours a day, but just a few hours each week to kill time.
Part of this mainstreaming of gaming is that the type of video gaming tournament featured in The Wizard is now common and that the idea of winning as much as $50,000 in a competition is not so farfetched. Right now we are seeing the emergence of “esports” where people literally live the dream that I had as a child, where they play video games professionally. Small tournaments followed primarily by nerds have been happening since the 1990s, but now have reached a global level, with huge cash prizes. Over the weekend a session of the Global Starcraft 2 League or GSL just finished in South Korea, a country which has helped lead to the rise of esports especially in terms of the Starcraft games, where you can literally watch matches on TV.
There are professional teams where players are sponsored and receive their room and board free and simply practice playing all day. In this most recent round of the GSL, hundreds of players even some from the US and Europe competed for a chance at first prize which was more than $80,000!
All this progress makes me melancholy, for sometimes I think I was born a generation too late to ever get that dream of playing video games for a living.
Friday, February 11, 2011
The video above is from last weekend where Leevin Camacho (a fellow SC2 player) and I led a news crew from PNC News (Pacific News Center) down to an area of north eastern Guam called Pagat, which may soon be closed to the public is a Marines Corps firing range is built nearby. The Pagat area is one of the few places on Guam today where you can see artifacts from ancient Chamorro life still lying on the ground. It is a place which many consider to be a sacred place or at least a place which is beautiful and educational and should be kept safe. The firing range will not be built at Pagat necessarily, but rather built above it on a bluff, and so the area below which is full of artifacts will be in the surface danger zone, the area which may possibly be hit by bullets which miss their targets or ricchoet unexpectedly.
You may be wondering why, although this is an important issue, why it is being discussed on a blog about the game Starcraft 2. The reason should be obvious if you watch the video. As I am being interviewed, I am wearing a Starcraft 2 hat which I bought myself for Christmas from the website Jinx. Despite the serious tone of the piece, I did get a few more people laughing who know I play Starcraft 2, and made the connection.
I love the way I am a both a hopeless video game air con nerd and also someone who takes people on historical and educational hikes.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Storylines must be present for any sport to succeed, and in the 1st season of the GSL (Global Starcraft League), the producers could not ask for a better story than Fruitdealer, (aka Cool, Kim Won Gi). Being the 1st season of a newly released game, the game was still being figured out, but one thing that was known is that Zerg was the most underrepresented race in competitive leagues. Terrans were dominating, and Protoss were decimating, but the sheer amount of Zergs being slain at the highest levels of gaming were astounding. The phrase “Zerg tears” was coined as famous players such as Dimaga were even of thinking of switching to other races due to their frustration. However in this dark time, in the biggest Starcraft 2 tournament in the world, a humble ex- Starcraft:Brood War progamer showed everyone the power of the swarm.
In the 1st season of the GSL, no Zergs but Fruitdealer and Check Prime made it past the Round of 32, 16 Zergs qualified out 64 spots, and with the aforementioned Check being knocked out convincingly in the Round of 16. Some say the maps played a big difference, such as the Zerg graveyard Kulas Ravine, but Cool showed the true tenacity of a champion by going undefeated in that map. His gameplay was truly special at the time, mixing his styles of a macro game with early aggression, Cool had flair. Cool also had brains, often anticipating what strategy his opponent was going to use and then countering it (see Game 4 on Desert Oasis versus IntoTheRainbow, where he blindly made a baneling nest that defeated an early marine stim push, as Rainbow assumed he was going mutas on a close air position map like Desert Oasis). His 1st game against NexLiveForever on Metalopolis is still imprinted in my mind. He dealt with constant aggression from the Terran (lost over 80 drones in the 1st 12 minutes of the game) but persevered until he got 5 bases and every late game tech the Zerg has to offer and then rolled his human foe. His Queen usage was so spectacular that game as well. He handled early pressure so much better than any other Zerg in the world.
If you can Watch Fruitdealer’s run in the 1st GSL , watch it. You can learn what E-SPORTS is all about, an underdog story who turned into a legend. An ex-progamer who helped his parents sell fruit during, hence his name, to a S-class progamer with a solid 80,000 dollar prize in his pockets, it’s a story all gamers can aspire for. All players, even if you do not play Zerg, can learn from his play and mental aptitude.
Highlight Video of Fruitdealer, thanks to Teamliquid.net
Monday, February 7, 2011
For those who don't know what this means, the 8 best teams in Korea with players in the GSL will be competing against each other to see who is the best Starcraft 2 team in South Korea right now. All of the famous names will be on standby over the next few days and may be called forth to defend the honor of their team. The teams in question are:
The SCV Life (TSL) home to Clide, Killer, Alive, Rain and winner of GSL Season 1, Fruitdealer.
Old Generations (oGs) home to Nada, Ensnare, theWind, and winner of GSL Season 3, MC.
Startale (ST) home to July, Rainbow, Squirtle and the foreigner Torch.
Incredible Miracle (IM) home to winner of GSL Season 2 Nestea and winner of GSL Code S IMMvp.
For Our Utopia (fOu) home to Leenock, thebest, scf and choya.
Prime World Elite (Prime.WE) home to check, anypro, polt, maka and the always predictable unpredictable (2 time finalist but never champion) MarineKing.
Slayers home to really only Boxer (although training with him could make anyone badass).
And finally Zenex home to Kyrix, Byun Choa and ButterflyEffect.
I was searching online to see who people are favoring to win this Team League, and most divided the league into two tiers, with only 3 or 4 teams capable of winning the whole thing. OGS, ST and TSL were clearly favored, with IM close behind, although not for any depth of their team, but simply because they have the best Terran and Zerg on their team (although not much else after that).
For me, it's hard to pick who I think will win. I've only been following Starcraft 2 for a couple months now and don't have any real team favorites. So instead of picking the team which I like or think will win, I've decided to root for the team which I want to win, simply because everyone else thinks they can't win. I don't know much about the team Zenex, but they are my underdog choice for winning the GSLTL this week! I hope that I don't have magic powers of negativity and tragedy in the same way Artosis has, in which whatever he says will happen doesn't simply because the universe likes to make him look stupid.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
If you read this blog, you've probably seen that while I suck at Starcraft 2 and could probably be beaten by Wildebeast playing Zerg on 1 Base vs. me on 3 base as Protoss, my brother Jeremy (or Kuri) is pretty good at the game, and sometimes appears in the Top 200 of North American players (last week he was #108). He'd probably be higher on the ladder, but 10 - 15% of his games were lost because of disconnects, because GTA's idea of high speed DSL, means that there is a 50% chance that you're internet connection won't get snapped if someone picks up the phone.
I wanted to get him the Korean version of the game so he could play on the Korean Ladder, which is considered to be the best ladder our there. For those who don't know although Starcraft 2 is meant to be a global game, you don't really play a pool of players from around the world, but instead you are grouped into regional ladders, such as South East Asia, Taiwan, North America, Europe, South Korea, etc, and you play against those who have a copy of the game from that same region. In order to play people from other areas, you have to buy a copy of that version, and you usually lag like crazy when you play on it.
I have heard plenty of stories about the Korean ladder, and Artosis is always making interesting generalizations about how people are playing on the ladder there and how things are or aren't evolving (primarily about zerg tactics), and so I wanted Kuri to test his might there. Even though the players are supposed to be better, I'm sure that doesn't mean less cheesy, but maybe just as much (if not more cheese)but maybe with better micro?
He hasn't started playing the Korean version yet, mainly because he's trying to fight his way to the top of his Masters League division right now (he's number 11). He also apparently needs a South Korean Social Security number in order to activate the Korean version, and so if anyone out there has a spare SS# to lend to us, we'd really appreciate it!
Friday, February 4, 2011
Signups for Season 2 has begun! In the 2nd season, we will be splitting up all who have played in both seasons into two divisions: Code A and Code B. Here are the placements for all the players:
Each tournament time will have both Code A and Code B tournaments running simultaneously. Any time a new player enters, you will be placed into Code A if you are Platinum Division or above. Otherwise, you will be placed into Code B.
Sign ups for the next tournament has begun! GL HF!
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
White-Ra or The IEM (Intel Extreme Masters) European finals were held in the city of Kiev 2 weekends ago. The participants were players who traversed through their own national qualifiers, and while all 10 players are worthy participants, the racial distribution was rather embarrassing. 8 Terrans and 2 Protosses qualified. The two heroes that hail from Aiur are
Socke, a German player who’s creativity has no limits, especially in the Protoss vs Terran Match up. Socke’s style has had the tendency to create epic games, for reference watch (Jinro vs Socke) (Socke vs Drewbie, cast is in German but the game is still sick) (Socke vs Sen).
There are no better two players to represent the Protoss race in a field of Terrans in Europe (Except for Naniwa) However sparring off with Terran players such as:
Sjow- a flawless Terran player from Sweden, has shown incredible tactics and multitasking in his gameplay
Kas- A macro monster terran, has shown his solid play by steamrolling opponents in the 1st TSL Open Qualifier (Team Liquid StarLeague)
Naama- Winner of Dreamhack Sweden who showed his Tank heavy TvP in that same tourney
The other players like Tarson, Predy, Goody, Demuslim, Sarens are all beasts in their own rights as well.
A game that was played though that I found comforting as a Protoss player was Socke vs Sjow on Xelnaga Cavern. Socke played a beautiful game to say the least, using the Protoss arsenal to its fullest and making Sjow fight on Socke’s terms. Things to watch out for in the VOD
- Sockes Map Control is brilliant, using Void Rays to keep Sjow in his own base while securing his own expansion
- A smooth transition into Collosus play, but once the Terran gets that critical mass of Vikings, changes aptly into other tech. Also Socke’s micro and unit positioning is phenomenal, and all Protoss players should take notes.
- A Dark Templar transition after the 3rd is secured, creating a constant threat and making the Swedish Terran player waste valuable scans to end the cloaked assassins.
- His High Templar usage on harassing Sjow’s expos late game decimated the Terran’s economy
While Socke’s play is nothing revolutionary, it is just that his execution and decision making are amazing. This was Sjow’s only loss in the tournament before the finals (He played more than 15 games).
This drama makes it more attractive to non-Korean players who watch the tournaments with an unconscious nationalist bent, who see themselves as involved in some mental battle for world supremacy. Even if people don't articulate themselves in such way, they draw from imagined cultures, countries, civilizations and so it becomes an epic war where countries that are used to be at the top, are now the new underdogs. You cheer for people who in another situation you might see little connection to except for a love of SC or SC2, but in this moment you become the eager coalition of non-Koreans, a gosu group of rebels seeking to topple the gosu Galactic Empire.
GOMTV, even opened a foreigner house recently so that overseas players can have a place to sleep and practice while they are in South Korea trying to qualify for a tourney and whittle away at the South Korean Starcraft behemoth.
If you're interested in following how foreigners are doing in SC2, someone who is following it very carefully is Artosis and has uploaded over the past week several videos of interviews with foreign players who have been comign into Korea from Europe, the US and Australia to try their hand in the GSL.