Being gold level doesn't mean you're remotely good at Starcraft

| Monday, July 4, 2011
I finally got Starcraft and before finishing the single-player campaign, decided to delve into the scary world of getting zealot, zergling, or ze marine rushed, also known as multi-player. The first step is to say, "no, I am already awesome, I don't need practice matches." Then you do a few games to figure out an initial ranking.

It sounds like a great system. Win a bunch and you're probably a good player. Lose and you can go in the copper bracket (it's like bronze, but worse*). This way when you're playing for real glory and fame, you're playing for the correct amount of glory and fame and against people with similar capabilities in amassing glory and fame.

Sure sounds great. But me? I like to ruin the system. I didn't mean to, but it happens.

My placement matches were mostly filled with me rolling over mediocre players in about 15 minutes. I wasn't playing great or anything. Okay. Average, I'd say. Not especially fast or with any great strategy. My micro is pretty good, but that doesn't compensate for my awful macro. But my opponents... Impressively bad.

So I ended up in a gold bracket, which I think is supposed to be good. Ranked 8, which sounds pretty good to me. So of course I was frightened. Gold? I'm not a gold level player! I watch Day9 and he's talking about how really basic stuff like having a plan for your buildings is how you get out of silver or bronze, and that's what I fail at. My fail is silver-level, not gold. I should be bad at, I dunno, reaper kiting, not basic construction.

But maybe I'm expecting too much. Not only does me being at gold not mean I'm good, other players being at gold doesn't mean they're good either. My first few opponents were awful. I faced an enemy who, based on the replay, built no offensive units for at least 5 minutes, until finally he built: one reaper. His refinery went up before his first supply depot. The next opponent wasn't awful, but a slightly slow zerg player, which is disastrous for a race that must expand quickly.

Then there were the possibly good players who quit before the game was anywhere near over. They'd launch one attack which got beaten, and then surrender. I'm not an aggressive player, so it's not as if these were players making their final push for survival or trying to retake the initiative: they already had it. Though the most recent player like that at least made sense to quit, based on his strat failing horribly. He rushed, slowly, with marines and... all his SCVs. It might have worked if he'd been faster, but he delayed and I had a bunker up. So everything died and he had 10 minerals. Recovery wasn't totally impossible, given my defensive nature, since he at least had an orbital command, meaning mules could get him going again if I wasn't quick.

But before long Starcraft realized that I was clearly faced gold-plated players and set be up against solid gold. Those players promptly crushed me into the ground. Painfully. The kind of defeat where you watch the replay and start running through the tactics and seeing what you could have done better, and then realize that the second wave was right behind so you were screwed no matter the tactics.

Despite my losing record, I actually feel pretty good about 1v1. I'm ever so slowly improving. Besides, until I fall into silver, I'm ahead of where I should be, so until then I don't think I'm really losing. Sadly, 2v2 isn't the same story. My first ranking match I was with a pretty good ally and we were able to work together for a solid win. Then I got a string of bad allies who felt more bronze than silver (my 2v2 is silver), so I figured I'd try 1v1 where I could only fail myself.

Happy Independence Day, Americans! Hey Britain, how's it feel seeing your empire get crushed by a bunch of jackasses with poor equipment in a distant land? Is there anything that makes it feel better?


Anonymous said...

Hmm. Vodka? Helps most things (especially crushing defeats!)

scrusi said...

Well, by definition the gold league is pretty much mediocre. It is the middle of the five "normal" leagues. Assuming a somewhat equal population distribution and ignoring the top 2% of players that are in the master's league, you are pretty much smack in the middle.

As for "gold-plated" vs "real gold", your league does not really determine who you play against. That is done by your hidden rating which only loosely correlates to your real rating and league. After your five placement matches the game was still quite unsure where to place you. After you kept winning against lower players you were matched against higher ones to see if you merited promotion. Quite obviously you didn't ;)

That all said, I'm glad you are enjoying SC2 multiplayer and am sure that you'll be good enough to stay in gold :)

Klepsacovic said...

@Pilfkin: Alas, we have nowhere near enough.

@scrusi: You really didn't have to make it clear how bad I am. But thanks.

Anonymous said...

RE: Independence Day. You do realise were always planning to LET you go, right? Notice how Canada and Australia are independent without having a lot of stuff blown up in the process? You kids just jumped the gun. Our plan was always to ship our religious zealots to America, our convicts to Australia and our really, really boring people to Canada and then get shut of them in an effort to improve the mother country :)

Klepsacovic said...

@tremayneslaw: What was your plan for India, send the violent racists?

scrusi said...

@Klepsacovic: Oh, the pleasure is all mine! :)

Hyperian said...

I never looked at it that way Trem haha I suppose it’s the best way to sneak out from under the umbrella of losing, just say it was the plan all along! Jokes aside I love our island cousins, even the crazy Canucks who shield use from the Arctic winds. I shot liquor, pucks and bullets with you both and we shall be allies till the end. On the starcraft point, I remember being stationed in Korea right as SC2 went into beta and I decided doing some multiplayer was a good idea.... what I didn’t realize (while watching the StarCraft Championships being televised over Korean TV of course) was Blizz dedicated an entire server farm for sK beta players and of course that where I ended up.... and after a week of getting my ass STOMPED by 9 year old Korean kids and getting cussed out for sucking I ended that little adventure hahaha. I wouldn’t say I was bad, but if a dude who had barely played chess before went up against bobby fisher and got annihilated, should he feel bad?

Max said...

The designation of SC2 leagues/levels is a clever marketing trick to make players feel better than they actually are.

Read this :

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