A Year of Starcraft II
I’m sorry it took me so long to update this, to let everyone know how the year ended. It was pretty surprising to see that people still check from time to time, and I appreciate that. The couple comments calling for updates made me feel progressively worse until I finally am sitting down to write this out. I need to put it out there, this does need closure, and if it’s not all about Starcraft, it is about me, LeTemps, and this past year. So, warning: personal shit incoming. I’ll try not to whine. (Please forgive the overly generalized next few paragraphs, I was trying not to give too many details and may have gone too far in my vagueness.)
My life took several turns at the end of my year of Starcraft II, mostly for worse, and it was all I could do to keep myself going day to day. Which is itself something I learned from this year: just keep going. Even if nothing seems to be working, if you suck horribly, keep trying. If it doesn’t work out, you’ll at least have a little bit more experience in what doesn’t work.
I have never been good at interacting with people on more than a superficial level. If it goes further than that, into an honest to god relationship (either friendship or romance), I tend to read too much and too far into things. I will swing between over-dependence and avoidance. It is something I have talked to professionals about but not something I’ve ever been able to get a real handle on.
As this year came to a close, I found myself in a position that I have been in many times over my life, but to a degree that I had never before experienced. As things took a turn for the worse, I was in a horrible depression and couldn’t figure out what to do. There was no way to just suck it up and keep going, at least none I could see. It was a very low time, probably the lowest I have ever been. I finally just decided to move, and was gone within a month.
It all seems stupid now. I mean, it doesn’t hurt any less, but I don’t think about it as often. I’m getting situated in my new area, trying to start over and working on myself as much as I can force myself to. Starcraft kind of faded into the background. I’ll watch the occasional stream, catch a few matches from a tournament when I can, and play very infrequently. It did not turn out to be a crazy lifelong passion. It feels bad to say that. I think maybe I let some people down. But it did accomplish my original goal of getting me to commit to something for longer than a month. There was a success, not as much of one as I hoped, but still I think the year was worthwhile. I don’t look on it as wasted time or effort.
I am tempted to do this all over again, asking reddit for another hobby to commit to for a year. Half of me screams yes, the other half is moaning complaints and just wants to sit around watching TV, surfing reddit and playing whatever the latest video game is. The whole “Reddit Pick My Hobby” was a good idea. It did force me outside of my comfort zone, into a mini-spotlight where I had to come through. I enjoyed it and feel like I have a skill set now that I would never have had if I had not done it.
The blog was something I screwed up on, it was more work than I realized forcing myself to sit down and write something of substance (which may have been my problem, poring over a blog post for two hours after hours of play). The blog was also kind of a side-thought originally, a way to prove progress on something, but turned into what people really followed. I don’t think I got over 10 stream viewers at a time after that first month. I don’t blame you, I couldn’t watch myself play those mind-numbingly slow bronze games either.
I’d like to illustrate my point though, on my own personal weirdness with finding things that interest me, picking them up and then putting them back down again shortly. In the last two months, with not much to occupy my time other than work, I have been through trying to learn programming, making my own video game, and writing a novel (this is a bi-monthly occurring interest that pains me each time it comes up and gets left by the wayside). I think I’m stating this to remind myself that yes, I may have done one thing for a year, but now I am back to my old ways. I am not cured, as it were. Pretty sad that I don’t know what else to do but ask Reddit to pick something for me.
It seems I am looking to be great at something. I believe that’s what is at the heart of all of this searching. And what every book about writing says, “You must apply ass to chair and write.” works for pretty much everything. Effort is what is required, not some innate talent that is waiting to be discovered. But I have no ability to force myself to do this without some kind of external pressure.
I started in Gold, went down to bronze when I stopped doing the seven roach rush and tried to learn how to actually play, and ended my year in Platinum. I really did like the game, the people, the scene, and enjoyed almost all of the time spent working to get better. I was introduced to dubstep, K-pop (shudder), Xsplit, twitch.tv, Day9, cheesing, micro, macro, e-sports, drama with the accompanying pitchforks, mechanical keyboards, a thousand memes, basically a whole culture I didn’t know existed. It was frustrating and glorious. It was Starcraft II.
I thank each of you who read, watched, chatted, helped, coached, and messaged me weird shit. For the final time:
It’s been a while since my last update. Part of the reason (besides my own laziness) was that when the new season started I was placed into the Platinum league. I wasn’t sure if I would stay there and didn’t want to put up another promotion blog and then be knocked down in a week. But, hooray for me, I haven’t. I’d like to say I’m solidly mid-Plat, flirting with the top 8 every couple of days. I believe there are two things that have helped me get here: the new matchmaking system and a tip that was big on reddit from Destiny.
The new matchmaking system, I think, is a boon to us mid-level players. I never know who I’m playing (I’m not one to ask at the start of a game), so I have to be on the lookout for all kinds of tactics, like a silver who goes all voidrays, or a platinum who plays a steady macro game. It keeps me on my toes, allows me to keep, it feels to me, more even with wins losses across a day of play. Before, it would be more like win a bunch one day, lose a bunch the next. Overall, I like the change. I’ve even played a few diamonds and beat two (I think).
The tip from Destiny was essentially to one-base until you can do that perfectly. I know it was tongue in cheek when referring to Zerg players, as that’s not really feasible except for cheese builds. But, I took this more to mean, learn one build and learn it perfectly. I started doing this with that Roach All-in VS Protoss, and have tried to apply it to the other races as well. The builds don’t work all of the time, but I am least working on my mechanics as much as possible. Those first six to ten minutes are what I’m trying to focus on. Not forgetting when to drop the pool, or roach warren, or muta den. I think it’s helped inform my play across the board and assisted in keeping me playing steadily in Platinum.
Oh, and holy shit, ONE MORE MONTH! Crazy to think I started this eleven months ago. I can definitely see myself continuing to play SC2 after the year is up. Even now, on a day off, I will load it up to play some. It has become my go-to game. I wish I followed the tournaments more, but I work so late and end up missing everything. I have and will watch a few VODs, but for some reason it’s not the same as watching live.
Streams I’m watching: InControl and Sheth (when those two are on) or Fitzyhere and MsSpyte. The last two are interesting Zerg players. Not the best, but entertaining and educational.
Goodnight and GLHR.
I liked the single use of the hard consonants in the comment left on my previous post so much I used it as my title (:p). I agree, it’s been way too long since I’ve updated this blog. I’m still playing, streaming even. I got away from streaming for a few weeks, taking kind of a break. It allowed me to just play retardedly for a while and I enjoyed it. But streaming again feels good. I’m going to try and stick to the usual schedule, from midnight until around 2 each night except Tuesday for the next 3 months. That’s all that’s left.
The last 9 months have gone by very quickly. And yet it feels like I’ve been playing Starcraft forever. I am actually surprised I still enjoy it, still laugh at the BM, still get pissed when I miss-micro and a bane pops 1o of my lings or cloaked units catch me unawares. Each game is so different, it doesn’t get boring. I think my only problem was giving myself the goal of making it to Masters. I think I secretly believed (I guess we all do) that I’m better than I actually am. I’ve not resigned myself to gold, but feel good just for playing and am not worrying about promotion. I’m not pulling a Naniwa and throwing games because I “have to play”, but am not so down on myself with each loss. I learn something each time, win or lose.
I’ve been sticking with 14/14 for the most part in all of my match-ups the last month or so. It works to keep off the fast rushes (if I catch them), and doesn’t stunt my economic growth either. In ZvP, I’ve been using Leenock’s 10 Roach Rush to great effect. It is a fun build that, to learn and get down pat, I used in all the match-ups for a few days. That was actually hilariously fun. Vs Terran it is horribly inferior. I may have won two against opponents who just weren’t ready. The rest held it off easily and probably laughed when I GGed out. It is also useful vs some Zergs. Roaches just aren’t used that much in the early game lately. I do believe that when I started they played a much bigger role in early ZvZs. I actually prefer it to banes because I don’t have to worry about my crappy micro tripping me up. “Oh, you have five banes? Sure, throw them at my roaches. lol” I have to be quick with the hydras after I have the roaches, though, or else mutas will slaughter me.
The consensus on the games I put up for review was two things that I agree with and am trying to work on: Macro (SPENDING) and Teching (TIER 3). In games that go on longer than around 10 minutes, both of these problems hit me hard. Floating thousands of minerals and still being on tier 2 units hurts me badly in almost every match-up. My goal is to be on tier 3 by 15 minutes if possible. This helps somewhat with spending, but getting those expansions up will help more. Also by 15 minutes, I should be on at least 4 bases, if not 5. If I find myself hemmed in, I will throw down a macro hatch or two to be safe and pump units.
So, until next time (shooting for every Saturday update until the year is up), GLHR. :D
Oh, and a fun stream I’ve been watching and thought I’d promote a bit: inVader’s from Bronze to Masters. He’s pretty interesting to watch and is already in Gold (I know the feeling).
I decided to do a duo of replays from each race, one loss and win vs P and T, and two losses vs Z. I feel like this will help point out my problems better, perhaps. Reviewing them myself, I see problem areas already. In the Entombed Valley ZvZ loss, I made too many drones towards the end. If those were roaches or lings, I perhaps would have fared better. In the ZvP loss, I had way too few drones until a minute or two before my opponent attacked. The shorter ZvZ is a classic case of my crappy micro, I believe. It was also included because a redditor (Rexel) was my opponent and was adamant that I upload it to Reddit. Hopefully this post and my cross post to StarcraftFeedback will suffice.
It is obvious too, from watching these, that I have decided on a open to use across the board- 14g 14p. It was suggested to me by a masters player who helped a few times and I have had success with it. I think that sticking to so much ling/bling/muta is a detriment rather than a good plan. I thought it would help me focus on my play issues, but don’t know if it’s working.
Thought this new site might make it easier to upload, but was basically the same as simple SC2. Hopefully it’s just as easy to download. Could not figure out how to do a pack, so the individual links are:
I don’t expect any incredible revelations from this, really. I am thinking, though, that the problem most pointed out by those who comment will be worked on for a week. Then, I will move on to the next most suggested problem. A sort of coaching by vote. I’m still at a loss for why I’m stuck where I am. It is the sum of all the little things that lead to my losses, but why I win one game, but not the next eludes me. I feel overwhelmed with problem areas, and don’t know how to fix my game, so any suggestions are appreciated.
I had this dream last night that was both hilarious and terrifying:
I was apparently competing in an SC2 tournament, on the stage. I could hear casters talking about the match as we started up. I don’t remember who was playing or who was casting, but I was completely and utterly terrified. Everybody around me was staring at me as the game started up. Hands shaking, I missed the drone split and sent a group way, way off and didn’t catch it quickly. I heard the casters laughing and making fun of the play. “Oh, well, isn’t he pro,” etc. As the game went on, it was constant comments like that in my ear. “Who is this guy?” “What is he doing?” Everyone in the audience was laughing as my opponent reamed me. Strangely, the last thing I can remember is a caster saying, “Naniwa, lol.” (in reference to a picture of JP’s notes I saw in a picture on reddit). I woke up laughing from the final comment and with a definite case of performance anxiety.
I’m still in that place where I’m not sure what I’m doing is making a difference. Focusing on overlords this week has helped. I’ve gotten my own little schedule down into a focus on one thing for a day, then play to win the next day. It helps, keeps the focus fresh in my mind, but doesn’t let me wander like I do if I try to work on one thing for a week. I already have less of an issue with this, but I am worried that shifting my focus will once again move this into a problem area. Someone had asked in comments if it was a problem, and I am sure it is. It was every third game or so an attack would be coming and I’d be blocked, with plenty of minerals and larvae. I know it’s an issue and because of my day on/day off training, I’m going to keep at it for a while. I’ve lost these little things along the way, and I’m not going to improve if I don’t fix them.
I haven’t streamed much lately, partly because I’m playing at later times and partly because of how bad I feel at how crap I still am. It makes it harder to just enjoy myself when I think about people watching, especially when nothing is said and I have a truly horrible game. Perhaps it’s those feelings that led to the dream. I will at least stream a couple times a week, at varying times, but am going to stay on this little mini break from streaming.
It’s been suggested that I post replays here, for some comments on my play and what I can improve. I will do this for my next post, in a couple of days. I’ll gather the games where I both thought I did things well and poorly. I think a pack of four, one vs each class and a stand out game.
Until then, GLHR.
I’m sorry for the lack of updates here, it’s been a rough couple of weeks. I think it’s strange how much external factors effect my play, but along with the shitload of personal things I’m dealing with, I’ve really been crapping out in game lately. Still mid-level gold, haven’t even moved up much. It gets harder and harder each day to start the stream and play for hours at a time. If I’m not streaming, it’s somewhat easier, perhaps because I’m not worried about people seeing how crap I’m playing. I am still loving Starcraft, watching Dailies and Gom, but I guess I’m upset with myself at how much I suck. There have been a some bright days, where I’ll win five or six in a row, but those are few and far between.
I’ve tried to get advice, from one GM player and another Diamond, I think it was. I feel like I’m missing something. And I told those players that. It feels like there’s something in the game, that I’m not doing correctly and that’s what is screwing up my play. But no one can pinpoint one thing. Maybe it’s not even one thing. The answer I’ve gotten is just, “Play more. You’ll learn.” I have to say it’s kind of disheartening. I want to be better. I can’t say I’ve learned everything (I know I haven’t), but I do know what to look for and what should be coming when for the most part. I know what the units can do, the muscle memory is there for every single hotkey I have, I have builds I use for specific match-ups, I alter those builds based on what I see coming. And still I lose. I am hovering around 50% win rate (using SC2 gears, over all of my games since I started). Perhaps I’m just a gold level player.
Reading over this, I sound really stupid and whiny, thinking there’s one thing that could make me a better player. It is really all of the little mistakes adding up to equal crap play. Missing an overlord here, my army being out of position there, not droning when I could, making drones when I shouldn’t, and all of those things tip the game further and further in my opponent’s favor. It’s the small things that I’m sucking at and need work. Instead of being disheartened, I need to pick one and work on it for a week, then pick another, then go back to the first, and repeat. This is how getting better works, I can’t just keep playing and expect to magically get better. I have gotten out of that mindset and into the entitled, “I should be better than this,” bullshit mindset. That doesn’t work.
Overlords. I won’t miss a goddamn overlord. I will focus so hard on this, I will lose games. That is my goal this week.
Thanks to those who left comments asking me where I was. I needed to come back here and actually think about what’s going on. Through it all, having to write this blog and actually think about what I’m doing has been the biggest help. Without that, I’m just playing with myself (:O).
The halfway point. It seems crazy that it has gone by so quickly. And yet, I feel like I’ve been playing Starcraft II for a looooong time. My head is packed full of timings, builds, pro games, names, tournaments, and lore. It has truly become a part of me. There are very few people in my life to whom I have not mentioned SC2. Some probably roll their eyes when I bring it up, but I don’t really care. It feels great to finally have a “thing”, a hobby, a passion. It is a nightly struggle to turn off GSL, knowing I have to be up for work in eight hours. My “day off” has turned into a night I look forward to, not to get away from Starcraft, but to be able to watch State of the Game live and in its entirety. I have participated in tournaments (even won a game or two), had coaches, made friends, and been entertained and educated for countless hours (somewhere around 400 I guess). It’s been great and I’m looking forward to the next six months. Back to Platinum and beyond (-_-).
It’s been awhile since my last update (I suck, I know), but I’ve been going at it pretty steadily the past week or so, after my vacation. I have become a bit more addicted to streams and watching games rather than playing them. It was something I was warned about many times when I started, and I guess it took me a while to finally appreciate the warnings. I feel like I’m at that point where I can see the differences between great play and my own play. Rather than getting disgusted at my own games, I watch the pros and higher level players do it all correctly. I’m attempting to remedy it, playing more games each night, and just letting the streaming take over more of my free time instead of my prescribed playing time. There has honestly not been a day since I returned where I haven’t watched and played at least 3 hours, usually more. Take now, for instance. I have played a couple hours and am getting ready to watch the Blizzard Cup Finals (Awards show is okay, but when are the matches?!?!). Like I said, I’m loving all of it.
Game wise, I have been feeling a lot better in all of the match-ups, especially ZvZ. It feels like I’m on my way up, hopefully in this next season. Once again, I’m trying to focus on droning, with the addition of trying not to spend so much time microing, which was hurting my macro. It is still hard for me to do many things at the same time and, while I am getting better, it is one of the biggest blocks I have in moving up. I believe I’ve said this before, but it really is a weird kind of limit I’ve reached on splitting my focus. I’ve been told it’s something that comes with time and I am better now than I used to be. It’s just a kind of strange thing I worry I can’t do. I’ve actually been trying to speed up my play consciously for the last few days and it seems to be working for the most part. I guess those are the three things I’m keeping at the top of my TO DO list this week: drone, focus and speed.
Goodnight and GLHR.
Thanks to everyone who commented on yesterday’s post. I’m going to go along with the unanimous decision that it was cool to take a week off. And I’ll just keep my normal days off. I guess I didn’t need to punish myself. I take things too seriously sometimes, especially when I think someone might suggest I’m being less than honest. I’m even worse about being “correct” online. Weird, but whatever. I’m happy to keep going and jumped on tonight and had a lot of fun, once again.
Tonight was a night of basically all ZvZs. I think there was one Protoss game in there, but it was over quickly. I am always happy to get away with a ling rush vs. a toss, and with the prevalence of FFE and general FE builds in the match-up, I pretty much try it every game. A quick 13/13, hatch on 20 after Queen and one ling. I pump about 16 lings and try to attack. Unless the toss blocks off completely or walls off perfectly, it is a cinch to run in. Cannons at the natural mean I just go straight for the main. It’s fun, has the chance to end the game quickly and doesn’t really put me all that behind. The lings I can use, if I can’t get through a wall, for map control and to keep an eye on pushes. I think it’s a good build for the current metagame.
My Zerg games are pretty much a coin flip, which is I guess what it boils down to most of the time. Early lings can be good here too, but banes shut that down hard. Roaches, while good for defense, pretty much melt to ling. It seems I should play a bit more defensively in this matchup, instead of going for the win. Setting myself up to get ahead on economy and tech is preferable to either a quick win or loss coin flip. I’ll try to keep this in mind going forward.
No Terran games today, so I’m not sure where I’m at there. Usually ling/bane/muta.
A quick little story before I retire for the night: I have actually gotten someone else interested in Starcraft 2. I’ve been talking about the game to a friend at work for a while. I finally convinced him to watch a little of a tournament, MLG Providence, and he loved it. When we were talking about it, he was all excited about it and telling me the stories of players and games that he had watched. He was particularly impressed with Naniwa. It was great to finally have someone to talk about the games and players with and do what I can for E-sports.
Goodnight and GLHR.
I’ve failed my year or I can get a one time pass. Hear me out.
My vacation for thanksgiving was probably the biggest drain I have experienced in the last year or so. I guess spending that much time with family (not necessarily all people I like, but still must love), and doing that much driving was too much for me. I am, literally, spent. Add to that giving a giant fuck you to my normal, for me, sleep schedule and I have been unable to drag myself to the computer to play Starcraft. At first, I thought I would just marathon the hours the next day, then the next. It adds up quickly. I then, for a bit, contemplated just giving it up. Which made me feel even worse.
I mean, how could I stop now? I’m at basically the half way point. I can do this, I know I can. More importantly, I want to do this. Starcraft has become my hobby. It is the thing I think about, the thing I want to talk about and watch if I’m not playing. A week off because of outside influences doesn’t seem that horrible when I look at it like this. But I actually feel pretty bad. I’ve been beating myself up everyday about it. It seems so stupid to screw up the thing I set up to keep myself working at something. And to those of you following me, I’m sorry. I feel I’ve let you and myself down, but I want to keep going.
So I’m asking for a one time pass on the week, and to add it to the end of my year. Also, I will not take a day off for two months. If I don’t get a deluge of “You failed” comments or the like, I’ll go ahead with this and be on track to finish my year on June 15 instead of 8th.
Goodnight and GLHF.
I start my holiday vacation with family today. And while I thought I would be able to continue playing without anyone being the wiser, it is not going to work out like that. So, I won’t be able to play until Saturday night. I have a few days off after that, so I will be trying to marathon my hours Sunday and Monday, but I will keep up with my reading and watching Starcraft while I’m up North. I hope it’s sufficient. I will try to post blog posts while I’m doing this, showing what I’ve been watching/learning.
MLG was once again awesome. I spent most of yesterday watching the matches available, paying most attention to Leenock’s games. I have to say, he’s pretty great. I was impressed at how good his early game pressure is. It seemed that no matter how much he kept pressing on his 0pponent, he didn’t fall too far behind in drones. And that drone split! I got nerdchills. I will be on the lookout for more of his games.
And now I have to start with the driving. Goodnight and GLHR.