I Fear No Elephant
The recent thought provoking article entitled The Elephant in the Room talks about the vast amounts of talent still fighting the good fight in Brood War. It compares win/loss statistics of current StarCraft II champions, and claims that due to that gulf in skill, current competition in StarCraft II is a farce.
But Brood War -- that elephant in the room -- is also an animal stuck in a corner, surviving on the stashes of food and goodwill it has managed to collect over more than a decade of existence. Where intrigue, author of Elephant in the Room, appears to see the current StarCraft II scene and yearn for the golden fields of Brood War, I have a different perspective.
I see the incredible wealth of talent in Brood War, and I could not be more excited for StarCraft II.
Because when that aging, still-proud beast finally marches to the elephant’s graveyard, the resulting migration of talent will mean even more high level games and even more nerdchills during even more epic matches.
The Good, the Bad, and the Bonjwas
Most fans of either Brood War or StarCraft II can agree on one thing: currently, as it is, there are more skilled players in Brood War than exist in Wings of Liberty. This should not be a controversial stance, or even an alarming one. Brood War carries the weight of thirteen years of existence. StarCraft II, meanwhile, currently suffers less than a year of retail existence.
Brood War’s training fields are intensely optimized to produce the best possible players for its fans. Over the past decade, player houses and teams have figured out what combination of rigorous schedule and dedication to the craft results in the most effective professionals. It shouldn’t be a surprise then, that in this crucible of constant competition, players like Flash and Jaedong are given the tools and experience needed to temper themselves into the sharply toned weapons they are today.
Meanwhile, that same kind of environment cannot currently be matched by StarCraft II. That, again, shouldn’t be a surprise. Still in its infancy compared to Brood War, StarCraft II is essentially at the pre-Brood War StarCraft 1 stage of development: the first expansion has not yet been released, and Blizzard still has ample opportunity and time to introduce new units, new mechanics, and new ways to engage the audience.
Would I say that Brood War players are good and StarCraft II players bad?
Perhaps, but not in those words. StarCraft II players are not bad, in an objective sense. They are merely not as good. And being not as good simply means, in my eyes, that as fans of the game, we are able to grow along with our favorite players. We are able to witness, first hand, the increase in skill as StarCraft II matures.
All Good Things
The current Brood War scene is in a weird spot. Though still popular in Korea (but steadily waning), the international Brood War scene has essentially shrunk to a core group of steadfast fans. Brood War games are just as exciting as they ever were, and Brood War players are just as enthralling to watch as before, but the momentum of the fan base, of the scene at large outside of Korea has shifted to the heir apparent.
Team Liquid, the largest English speaking community for both Brood War and StarCraft II, has largely shifted to the StarCraft II in terms of volume of community discussion. Though it still thoroughly covers Brood War, the excitement and attention of a large (if not majority) of its user base are focused on the sequel.
This is not a bad thing.
All good things eventually come to an end. But sometimes, the good times, that end leads to the birth of something even greater.
The Undiscovered Country
When I read over the stats of current Brood War players, when I see the amount of dedication they put into the game, my impatience to see players of that level of skill compete in StarCraft II reaches body-quivering levels.
Blizzard has put into StarCraft II a suite of observing tools that is unmatched by anything Brood War has to offer. From real time unit counts to live production bars, never before has StarCraft been able to engage the viewer in such a close fashion.
We’ll sidestep LAN
When Brood War was released on top of vanilla StarCraft, the scene and the matches played in the game became immediately more intense and entertaining.
With two expansions still to come, the potential for an ever more interesting and ever more dynamic game is huge. Where some may see the potential for more patches and expansions as distracting from the pure competition of unfettered skill, I see the potential changes as simply making the game ever more relevant and ever more mature.
What It All Comes Down To
The fact that there are more skilled players in Brood War does not matter to me at all. I watch StarCraft II because I enjoy the game. I’m entertained by the matches, and the players playing those matches. I watched Brood War for much the same reasons.
When someone tells me then, that the higher skill levels in Brood War ruins their StarCraft II experience, or that it makes a farce of the competition in StarCraft II, the only response I’m able to give is a confused shrug.
So what? I enjoy StarCraft II, and if you’re telling me that the skill level is only going to increase as more Brood War players move to StarCraft II, then hell, I’m jumping for joy.
Or put more bluntly: when I’m sleeping with one girl, I am not thinking, “Shit, this would be so much better with two.”