As with every game, we need to embrace change, something I've mentioned dozens of times over the course of the last year. It's happened to the Counter-Strike scene, the Call of Duty scene, about 100 other scenes in gaming and it's about to happen to the Starcraft scene.
Quick plug to R1CH
for all the amazing HD pictures from MLG Anaheim. Being more of an FPS-oriented player and never really stepping deep into the RTS scene before Starcraft 2 released, I can see this just as clear with the transition from CoD2 to CoD4, ultimately with the Pc scene dying off and branching out into more sponsored events popping up at small LAN centers across NA and EU with MW2 and MW3; although it's a negative change, we need to accept this and realize that although some tournaments every now and then may pop up for our (the FPS scene excluding CS) beloved CoD2/CoD4, the games are indeed near-extinct and won't be returning anytime soon, unless a miracle happens.
On the contrary, there's a massive switch in modern e-sports going on aside from the CS:GO movement: the old Brood War veterans are switching to SC2 and Heart of the Swarm is being released. For those of you that don't follow BW or SC2, this means two major things which we'll be looking at today through a very vague looking glass. Keep in mind I'll attempt to make this easy for all readers to understand, as I know the majority of us aren't too keen on the game and we won't know what the bigger picture is until we understand the smaller pieces.
The Brood War pros take a minute to sign young fans' gear.
The first thing that's going to happen is that the Brood War players are going to absolutely dominate the scene, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Although a negative aspect to competition and entertainment value in most people's eyes that haven't followed the Brood War scene, this only adds to the excitement for the "old-schoolers" that lived in the era of the intense storylines, amazing reigns and uncomparable rivalries that was known as the Brood War Era. Flash has already gone 8-0 in his first tournament, and he still considers himself a mediocre player -- always a perfectionist, even in his early career stages. Jaedong's been quoted as saying to Flash right after the match was over: "How are you so good already dude?!" (thanks to Sue Lee for that little tidbit via Twitter).
Many people think that the aura that surrounds Flash is all hype and just to boost the PR value of articles and interviews the guy gives out; true to an extent, but he's proven to live up to the hype ever since he started playing games. Read a headline "Flash to win it", and he does. See an interview where he says that he's going to take the tournament, he does. Flawless the groups, he does. There's nothing this guy can't do, and it's been proven again and again and again; he's reached the highest MMR ever recorded in Starcraft and he's still a teenager... that says something about what level of play this guy's on.
In shock and awe at the current games shown on the main stage.
Jaedong's nothing less than Flash at best, having won his slew of tournaments in the 2008-2010 era, reigning supreme as the youngster that wiped out the legends of the game. As a community of e-sports and gaming, a change in the scene can't be seen in a negative way, as it's pushing the game forward more than ever. Remember: what doesn't kill the scene only makes it stronger, and this will do anything but demolish the scene. Although League of Legends dwarfs Starcraft's scene as a whole in size, that gap will be very small in a year or two when that "Era" feeling comes back from the ashes and rises to stardom.
That's the first thing to happen. The second? Heart of the Swarm. As Greg "IdrA" Fields said in an interview with #1 Troll Hot_Bid on Saturday after manhandling Spades with 12 nydus worms and dancing ultralisks, "it's the future of the scene and that's that." -- a strong statement, but a truthful one as well. When asked about his practice regimen, he stated a 75/25 dip in favor of HotS, saying that unless Wings of Liberty stays on the circuit because HotS needs tweaking, there's no reason to practice on the "old game".
It's basically Wings of Liberty with new units and a brand new campaign that profiles the Zerg race, but the competition adds many things including new units, forcing players to adapt to certain styles that they didn't have to in Wings of Liberty. There's also one more thing that, again, IdrA mentioned in early 2011 that not many people took note of, brushing it off as a "yeah, ok bro." comment: the idea of mechanics.
Terrible, terrible damage! -Dustin "LolImTheGoliathInSC2" Browder
Anyone that's played BW knows that it's a lot harder than SC2 in nearly ever aspect; unit management, economic decisions, engagements, keeping track of build orders, the list goes on. The precision needed to perfectly rush an opponent without stalling is something that very few people can do -- the ones that can were invited to the KeSPA tournament this weekend, if that says something about the number of people capable of said feat. With the new units in play with HotS dropping right before the holiday season, players will need to study up on their unit lore and ability book to make sure they know what every single unit does, why it can do what it does and how to utilize the features that the unit has. If they do not, they will fail and not advance in skill.
Global play is being introduced, but this just saves you $120, nothing more -- it's not stated whether or not you're able to play cross-region yet; if we take a look at D3, we can play on any of the three main servers Blizzard offers, but NA <-X-> EU, EU <-X-> KR, KR <-X-> NA, and vice versa. This does NOT mean that we can now mix with Korean players while playing on NA -- this simply just means you don't need to buy 3 copies of the game to play the way you want. Details to come, though -- nothing's set in stone.
Overall, the change has been somewhat a crapshoot for many players and viewers -- a quick survey from friends ranging from the casual gamer to the top level pro that's competed in Starcraft 2 lead me to believe the BW pros are indeed welcomed, but not as much as we'd like to think. Time will tell whether or not they'll steal the thunder (sidenote: OKC Thunder to take it all in the NBA Finals) of the current SC2 stars or if they'll hold the ground themselves and show the BW guys that it's not their land to tread on. For now, we all need to accept these two massive changes about to occur and be appreciative that we're able to witness it happen, as it really is a huge transition in gaming as a whole -- love or hate the game -- not just e-sports or professional gaming. Expect an MLG review for Anaheim to go up as soon as the tournament concludes.
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