So for those of you that may not know, today marked the launch of Starcraft 2’s second season. What this meant for players like me, is that we were each given a placement match to sort of try and take that performance, combined with where we were last season and plug us into new divisions & leagues.
As you can see above, I’m now sitting in the Silver league, something I’ve worked fairly hard to get to, and before, got fairly frustrated by seemingly hitting a wall that I just couldn’t break through. So I stopped playing for about 5 months. Other things took up my interest and my time. i still watched and followed Starcraft 2, but it became much more of a spectator type of role. Then I recently watched Day9’s episode of his 100th daily. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJztfsXKcPQ) I sat there watching the entire thing, and by the end, I was inspired to give it ago once again.
In deciding to give it ago, I saw some patch notes, and saw that Blizzard recently removed losses from being tracked and visible by players. This has undoubtedly brought about a great deal of controversy, but this made me happier to return to StarCraft 2. I was afraid to lose.
There, I said it.
I was afraid to lose. OMG I said it twice now. I know that sounds so stupid. Why would you be afraid to lose on a video game? I can’t entirely put into words just why I was so paranoid about losing, but I just was. There is a forum I’m a member of, regular participant of, and while the forum focuses on dozens and dozens of games and other topics, there was a lengthy Starcraft 2 thread that began back in beta and is still some what active to this day. I saw people there posting, “Oh yeah, made it to Gold without even trying.” or “yeah, I got Platinum but really I should be diamond.” I saw very few people who were in bronze league. Yet there I was, placed in the bronze league when I did my 5 placement matches.
It was almost as though it had some sort of impact on me, that it some how meant something, or that it said something about me. Typically I don’t let my skills, or lack there of in various games really equal into the equation, but Starcraft 2 was different, and I do not know precisely why.
Now, for full disclosure, I’ve had less than 200 1v1 ladder matches. Toss in about 60 custom games, and maybe 10 2v2/3v3’s etc. So I don’t exactly have a depth of experience like many players do. I only dabbled in part of Starcraft 1’s campaign. The only other RTS experience I had was Age of Empires II, and even back then I mostly played the single player or silly games with friends. Yet, I some how NEEDED to be good at Starcraft 2. I don’t know if I look up to it as beign something more than say a FPS game or what not. But I know that SC2 is one of the most balanced games out there, as was SC1, and when you win or you lose, you typically do so on your own merits, with little else to blame.
In season one, my winning percentage hovered at just about 60%. At the time, I thought this was terrible. In my time in the bronze league, I had plenty of wins where I felt like I was in control and knew what I was doing. Some wins where I just sort of fluked my way to victory. Even some from the opponent disconnecting. On the flip side, I had losses where I felt like I shoulda won, losses that I had no business even being in.
It was only later that I discovered that people who are considered the best in the world, often hover around a 60% winning percentage on the ladder. Now I’m in no way trying to equate my skills to theirs, but facing similarly talented opposition, I was having a similar win rate, and that made me feel a bit better about my performance in Starcraft 2. But even still back then, each loss just felt gut wrenching, as though it carried with it some sort of inherent humiliation that I should be ashamed of, and even now, typing this, that sounds ridiculous.
When I saw that they had removed losses from being tracked and revealed to the players, it was like a weight was lifted. My nemesis, was being taken away and shoved in a corner some where. Only my wins would be displayed. I like this. I can’t fully explain why, but I just do. It feels as though that I won’t care as much about losing, because there’ll be no evidence of it, there’ll be no nagging stat lingering over me, taunting me, or being available to other people as ammo to make decisions about what that stupid number might actually mean.
So today, Athena knew that season 2 had started and what that meant to me. She doesn’t have any interest in SC2 at all. I think she thinks Day9 is neat, but that’s about it. Later in the day she had assumed I had played my placement game and got ranked. I informed her I didn’t. She told me to march to the computer and play it, to just do it, like Nike says.(her words.) I whined and stammered, giving excuses like I need a warm up match against AI, but she wasn’t having any of that non sense. So off I went to the computer and fired up Starcraft 2.
I selected my race, and 1v1, and my finger nervously poised itself over the button to find an opponent. I finally clicked it. I saw that it was searching for an opponent, and I got more and more nervous. But then, an opponent was found. This was it, there was no backing down, there was no hiding. One way or another, I was going to find out what Battle.net measured my worth as.
As I load into the game, its on one of the new maps, I can’t even tell you the name of it at the moment without looking. But the feel of familiarity was gone. But that didn’t matter, I was against a Protoss player. Just the other week I beat a Protoss player who was gold, and I had my way with him. I began my typical build that I like to employ. 3rax 1 factory to make a push out while I expand.
Nervous of a cheese tactic, after building my 9 supply depot, I send out an SVC to scout out the map. My brave little WALL-E buddy marched across the map with pride. He found my opponent on his first try! He circled around the base, there was no cheese in sight. I was not being canon rushed, nor a wall off to go mass void rays. So I pulled Wall-E jr out of there and moved him to the safety of the nearest watchtower.
Things were going smoothly now. I built up a contingent force of about 4 marauders and 8 marines, and decided to take a peek out there while my factory was constructing. I met him at the Watchtower, he had much the same idea. We met, and seemingly had equal micro skills, in the end, we traded armies. I limped back to base with two Marauders, and he ran back with 2 stalkers and an out of energy sentry.
I took refuge at my ramp and steadily rebuilt my forces, now backed up with two tanks with siege capabilities. I pushed out again with a larger size, looking to push out to carve myself a cushion to expand. I again met his force, this time just outside of my base. It was then that I knew I was up against a 4 warp gate fast pressure. I fought bravely, but in the end two critical errors cost me, a poorly timed un-sieging, as well as very well placed force fields. I was done.
I put up a valiant fight, as best I could with the reserve force I had macro’d up while out in the fight. But it was too little, too late. I pulled my little buddies from the mineral lines as a last resort, but it was truly that, my last resort. I said GG and surrendered the match. He laughed and exited the game. I shrugged a little bit.
Feeling down, I left the game, and moped slightly to Athena, who had been sitting by, keeping a watch of my progress. I was met with encouragement that I’d be able to get back out there and have another go. When the loading screen ended, I was greeted with a message that I had waited so long to see. I was now in the Silver league. I smiled, I was happy. Upon researching my opponent, he was a gold level 1v1 player and a top 10 diamond level 3v3 player. I can accept a loss to a superior player.
This my friends, for the two of you that are still reading, is not the end, but only the beginning. Today is the 29th of March, and starting tomorrow, I intend to begin a modest quest in StarCraft 2. I intend to play 5 games a day, 1v1 for the next 30 days. Will I improve? Will I hit another wall? Only time shall tell. But I do know, the only thing holding me back, is myself. I’m not going to advance in skill, or ever move up in leagues, if I still allow my fear of losing to hold me back.
I do think I shall attempt to update you guys on my progress, I know a few of you read this. Perhaps even one or two of you play Starcraft 2. Maybe you’ll also decide to try and match my efforts or push them even further. Either way, wish me luck, I’m going to need it.
Silver League Terran Player