Hello everyone! It’s been an exciting time at WCS Valencia. Many different strategies have been utilized, all three races were well represented in the playoffs (for us on the balance team this is always heartwarming to see), new faces made it into the top 16, and there were plenty of hats for everyone. Congratulations to Serral for winning WCS Valencia, and hats off to Has for showing us the power of unorthodox play!
To start things off, we wanted to mention that the Team Liquid Map Contest 11 is going on now. The judging phase ends July 30, so make sure to check it out when the finalists are revealed. We are always excited to see all the new maps the community comes up with. Good luck to everyone participating!
In the tournament world, we’re not seeing anything immediately concerning. Interestingly, we’ve been getting some conflicting reports about ZvP. We’ve seen conversations in the community about late-game being Protoss-favored. However, reports from some pro players have said the opposite. Of course, it’s normal for players on any side to believe the others are too strong while also feeling like their own faction needs buffs. From our perspective, Protoss Carrier with High Templar support is very powerful, but if the game goes on for a long period of time, the Zerg does have options to pull them apart and punish that composition’s relative low mobility.
Additionally, many ZvP games are focused around mid-game Zerg pushes and how the Protoss player responds to these, which can be an issue if the majority of games are decided around this singular, pivotal moment.
ZvP also continues to have Stargate as the most common opener. This isn’t a completely unexpected development—Oracles and Phoenixes are some of the fastest scouts for early game Protoss, and they can also double back and defend their base in case of early attacks. Beyond the early build choices, ZvP does have very interesting back-and-forth dynamics during the mid-game and early late-game, so we’re not looking to make an immediate change here.
In TvZ, the previous Raven changes have had the desired effect of reducing the ability of mass Ravens to defeat Zerg armies on their own. It also has generated a number of reports that TvZ has now shifted into the Zerg’s favor late-game in head-on fights. Having an advantage at different points of the game can be fine, as that provides incentive to tech up in a matchup rather than investing deeply into lower tier units and fighting with those. But having it be unwinnable is certainly undesirable. We don’t think this matchup has developed to the point where a tactic can be said to be “unwinnable,” but we will be watching for these situations going forward.
TvP’s biggest change was the Marauder buff. This seems to have had the desired effect of making mid-game battles closer, which results in micro and positioning being very important for both sides in order to gain an advantage. We are still observing how the matchup is playing out in this regard. Since Terrans have a stronger mid-game, Protoss will have to adjust and discover areas where they can get away with more workers or squeeze in an upgrade here and there will take time. Ideally, both races would be able to pressure each other throughout the game through offensive action, although at different times.
For mirror matchups, we are not planning on making any short-term changes. PvP has historically been a matchup where your opening builds are extremely important, but lately, we’ve gotten reports that it’s difficult for games to go safely go beyond three bases. ZvZ has decent diversity between Zergling/Baneling openers, Mutalisk-focused games, and Roach-focused games. This matchup also often evolves in a healthy way into Lurker pushes or Hive tech. In TvT, the early game often centers around Cyclones, but the matchup can diverge into different playstyles, i.e., Bio vs Mech as the game goes on. We are keeping an eye on this matchup in particular to see how it develops.