Polt, Scarlett, Zest, 9 other StarCraft pros react to the current map pool

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Thumbnail image courtesy of N/A / Blizzard Press

Blizzard has decided to approach Legacy of the Void's map pool with a dash of eccentricity. The seven maps that make up the pool have been a hugely debated topic amongst StarCraft players as they begin to find their niche in Legacy of the Void’s still-new meta. With that said, certain maps seem to favor one race over the other, and that, along with awkward pathing, has led to its share of frustrations.

Dusk Towers has proven to be one of the most standard maps due to its ability to fit into the current meta. The natural is easier to secure without suffering heavy punishment with early aggression. With that said, it might be considered too dull to play on because of the inherent ability to turtle and prolong games. There are also maps like Prion Terraces that have pros scratching their heads, as the natural expansion now has a gold mineral line that makes it more favorable for Zergs while also making it difficult to hold off early to mid game aggression. As a fairly new expansion, this creates a unstabilized structure for a fair game. From a viewer's perspective, these maps create exciting and unique matches. However some pros view playability as a trumping factor over uniqueness.

The map pool’s diversity is a hot-button topic for pros in the competitive scene. From two-time GSL champion Lee “INnoVation” Shin Hyung to Team Liquid’s Jens “Snute” Aasgaard, here are what some of the scene’s best players think of the current map pool.

Zerg Players

Sasha "Scarlett" Hostyn

After a few months of playing on this map pool, I mostly like it. It's a much more diverse pool than we've had over the past few years which lets players have their own unique style by vetoing maps that don't cater to them (also helped by LotV being less figured out than HotS was).

There is only one map — Central Protocol — that I really dislike with the current game design. Having an open third, no ramp to main, short distances between bases, large air space around main, and open main; there's just too many things that are hard to deal with.

Jens "Snute" Aasgaard​ - Team Liquid

I was always in favor of standard-ish maps such as Coda, King Sejong Station, Polar Night, Whirlwind and Cloud Kingdom. Maps like Ulrena, Prion Terraces and Bridgehead for example, don't appeal to me in the same way.

I do enjoy the variety a little, each map plays out differently. Ulrena for example has some nice features to it. I just wish that they would help reduce randomness a little overall, and then it wouldn't be so bad. For example, on the previous version of Prion Terraces, there was a lot of luck involved with the opening build orders in ZvZ. To some extent, there still is. Central Protocol had issues with vertical positions initially being enabled. Some maps play out incredibly differently based on the spawns. Ruins of Seras horizontal is very different from Vertical and Cross. I don't think that's a good thing if the rush distance is too short. I don't mind four-or-three player maps as long as the rush distances are long, regardless of spawning positions — like Cactus Valley, or Whirlwind.

I think Dusk Towers is a great map that is well appreciated by players across all skill levels. It has the size of a four-player map, without the randomness. In general, I think the map pool isn't all that bad, but a lot of maps are just flat out in favor of certain races. I think that there are many maps out there that would create a better map pool as a whole with more room for stylistic vetos rather than vetoing maps because they're really bad in a matchup.

Shin "Hydra" Dong Won​ - ROOT Gaming

In my opinion, the best map for me is Dusk Tower because I like a straight map that I can play basic skills vs basic skills. I think Dusk tower is the most simple and flat map in the current map pool. I didn't like Lerilak before they patched it, but after they patched (blocking the thirds with breakable rocks), it's much better to play on than before. I like current map pool basically.

Stefan "PengWin" Mott​ - mYinsanity

Overall, I think it’s fair to say that the official Blizzard map pool has been nothing short of abysmal since release. Blizzard has said that they want unique maps so that we get a wide variety of strategies, but essentially we are stuck with maps where people will only do one or two strategies because abusing them is so much better than anything else. An example of this would be Ulrena where now, in ZvT and ZvP, it is almost impossible to hold a properly executed ling-queen drop all in even if the Zerg doing it is making a fair number of mistakes. Another good example would be roach-ravager-ling all ins against Protoss on Lerilak, or multi barracks reaper TvZ on Central Protocol. Even on a map like Ruins of Seras where it’s not really full of “abusable tactics,” the game will almost always be decided simply on the spawn locations and the advantages they give. The changes that have been instituted on Prion, Lerilak and Central are decent changes, but you can’t fix a complete failure of a map with a bandaid.

Many people seem to agree that this is the worst map in recent memory since the Dreampool, and it’s frankly something of a travesty that Blizzard decided to keep the maps for a second season running and will only remove half of them next season.

Kudos to whoever made Dusk Towers though. That map is actually not horrible.

Terran Players

Choi "Bomber" Ji Sung​ - Afreeca Freecs

Out of the seven maps, Orbital Shipyard and Dusk Towers are the ones that have the best balance between the three races. I don’t like Ruins of Seras. If the starting point is vertical, the distance between the two teams is too close and so the strongest build is to go for an early to mid all in. Random factors also occur too often making the balance between the races very divided.

Choi "Polt" Seong Hun ​

In my opinion, the current ladder map pool is quite favored for Zerg, and I think it is one of the main reasons why Zerg players are performing very well right now. For example, Lerilak Crest and Ruins of Seras could've been a decent map in HotS, but they can't be like that in LotV. The game has changed a lot, but those two maps are very similar to the maps in HotS. The trait of the maps with wide main entrance were not too bad in HotS, but it is hugely favored for Zerg in LotV. Prion Terraces looks cool with a lot of gold bases, but the map maker should have thought of why almost all of the other maps have gold bases in the middle of the map or somewhere hard to secure. Dusk Towers is ok balance wise, but playing on that map is quite boring because the map forces players to take the third base in the early game.

Ethan "iaguz" Zugai ​

The changes they made recently were good changes, but I wouldn't be against just having a new map pool. Blizzard stated their goal was to not have a map pool dominated by four boring macro maps and a slightly weirder one and they certainly accomplished that.

As a nerd who likes a bit of consistency in his games, my preferred maps are the boring ones like Dusk Towers and Orbital Shipyard. The other change that made maps bearable was the adept nerf which made it harder for Protoss to cheese Terrans out on f******** maps like Ulrena or close air Ruins of Seras. Not impossible, but a good bit harder.

Lee "INnoVation" Shin Hyung​ - SK Telecom T1

I enjoy Orbital Shipyard and Dusk Towers because they are maps where you can secure your second base. Safely, I think of this as a map where you are simply having a match of skill. I don’t like Ulrena and Prion Terraces. Playing Ulrena versus Zerg is ok but there are small details in the map that make it difficult for me. Prion Terraces has a gold natural and it is difficult to block off an all in versus Zerg. On Ruins of Seras, If the starting points are diagonal, push and management is hard versus Zerg. While on the other hand, there is no good feeling versus Protoss and the opponent cannot do anything strategically. It is too hard to scout on this map.

Protoss Players

Théo "PtitDrogo" Freydière​ - mYinsanity

I think Blizzard did a good job creating maps that create a lot of different kinds of games. But this come at the cost of great imbalance, especially in PvZ where you just expect to lose always lose prion/protocol and hope to be lucky on Lerilak/Serras (close position is always pretty much gonna be a loss against Queen/ravager all-in if the Zerg knows what he's doing).

Overall there's a lot of very stupid situations created by the current map pool and its "unique" maps, but it seems that from Blizzard's point-of-view, these are entertaining and good for the game. So I guess that if the imbalance looks cool then it's alright.

Ahn "Seed" Sang Won​ - MVP

First of all, I don’t know why there is such an emphasis on gold mineral on Prion Terraces. It’s not just one, it’s two. The race that has the easiest time acquiring the expansion means Zerg receives a lot of advantages. Also, Protoss players who face Zerg have only a 10 to 20 percent winrate so I don’t understand why there is no patch for this map.

Second of all, Ulrena. This map is too close. Especially, the streets or the air space are too close so even though you know about the Zerg player's early strategy, there is almost nothing you can do to block it (early zergling, ravager, queen rush or fast queen and zergling drop, etc.).

Thirdly, Lerilak Crest is a map that has been around since beta, but is a map that really shows how lacking the map designer’s knowledge of the game is. If the entrances are this large, in a TvP, the Terran, or in the instance of ZvP the Protoss, the early damage you get due to the map is really hard to recover from. Before you make a map like this I think it is critical that they have to understand how the three races are designed. The current maps are the worst. I don’t understand how though the season changed, we are to keep playing these maps.

Chris "HuK" Loranger​ - Evil Geniuses

In general, I feel like they are good maps. I'm happy to see Blizzard trying to keep the map pool fresh. At the same time though the balance on them isn't perfect but at least Blizzard are making steps in the right direction, especially listening to the community and pro feedback.

For me, as a pro player, I will always want maps that aren't difficult as a Protoss player, but more importantly as a fan of the game,I just want to keep seeing new maps. I think the most important factor is to not let the map pool get stale, so new maps constantly would be a lot more preferable for me as a fan/spectator and even pro player.

Joo "Zest" Sung Wook​ - KT Rolster

I like Dusk Towers because it is generally considered a very balanced map. A map like Orbital Shipyard because you can secure your expansions pretty safely. For maps I don't like, it would be Prion Terraces and Central Protocol. For Zergs, Prion Terraces is a map where they can acquire gold minerals very easily so it is hard to face them. On Central Protocol, the distance between the opponent and me is close but our expansions are far apart from each other. Therefore, it is an open terrain so it is hard to play on it.

The interviews in this article have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Skye Bui has a passion for dry humor and esports. Follow her on Twitter.

New 1v1 ladder maps revealed for 2017 season

us.battle.net 3d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of N/A / DreamHack

SCII pros predict the WCS Global Finals

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Thumbnail image courtesy of WCS Logo / Blizzard Entertainment

Before the WCS Global Finals get started at BlizzCon, theScore esports reached out to some of the WCS Circuit's most well-known names to get their take on the upcoming matches and their predictions for the final.

Here's what Aleksandr "Bly" Svusuyk, Maru "MaSa" Kim, Grzegorz "MaNa" Komincz, Marc "uThermal" Schlappi, Dario "TLO" Wünsch and Kevin "Harstem" de Koning had to say.

RELATED: Top 8 locked in for WCS Global Finals; Elazer, ByuN, Neeblet, Stats through to bracket

Who are your picks to win the quarterfinals?

Match Elazer vs. ShoWTimE Neeb vs. Dark ByuN vs. TY Zest vs. Stats
Bly Elazer Neeb ByuN Zest
MaSa ShoWTimE Dark ByuN Stats
MaNa ShoWTimE Dark ? Stats
uThermal ShoWTimE Dark TY Zest
TLO ShoWTimE Dark TY Zest
Harstem Elazer Dark TY Stats

Bly

1. Elazer: He won the last few times vs. ShoWTimE.

2. Neeb: I doubt there is anybody except me that can stop him #proxhatch.

3. ByuN: He’s the best and will win it all.

4. Zest. He beat Neeb in PvP, so OFC YES.

MaSa

1. ShoWTimE. He'll just stop the dark horse with no passion.

2. Dark: Neeb is really solid in PvZ, however Dark will use different strategies to beat him I think.

3. ByuN: TY is really solid in TvT but I don’t know if that applies to ByuN's micro.

4. Stats: PvP-wise, Stats is better than Zest, I’ve heard.

MaNa

1. ShoWTimE: Elazer is a great player, very unpredictable in his builds, but he's been playing vs. ShoWTimE a lot and I think the experience between these two will come out ahead.

2. Dark: He has played some impressive ZvP and we are yet to see Neeb's PvZ in a big tournament since KeSPA Cup. He has lost vs. Scarlett recently, and I think Dark knows his weaknesses too. Dark wins.

3. This one I have no idea about. I am sure we are going to see some incredible TvT.

4. Stats: Teammate-on-teammate PvP is unpredictable. I want to say Stats is a slight favorite, but since it's a teamkill anything may happen.

Park "Dark" Ryung Woo

uThermal

In the upper bracket ShoWTimE and Dark should win, just picks based on skill. Then TY would win against ByuN, because I think he's stronger in TvT. The PvP could go either way, but I'll go with Zest.

TLO

1. ShoWTimE: While Elazer recently beat ShoWTimE, I believe ShoWTimE's experience and consistency will be decisive.

2. Dark: Neeb impressed us all, but I'm afraid Dark will make better use of preparation and exploit weakness to aggression.

3. TY: Very hard to call, think it'll be very close but my intuition says TY.

4. Zest: Zest's series vs. Neeb convinced me he'll also take out Stats.

Harstem

1. Elazer: Elazer beat showtime 3-0 at WESG. I would be surprised if that would change.

2. Dark: I really want Neeb to win, but I'm afraid Dark might be too good.

3. TY: TY might be the best player at preparing, and ByuN is probably the most predictable.

4. Stats: I believe Stats to be the best 'toss in the world. I would be really surprised if he lost.

Which player is most likely to exceed expectations?

Bly: Elazer.

MaSa: If Zest does beat Stats (opposite to my prediction) he'll exceed expectations because he's really been lacking in results lately.

MaNa: I think the only one who can exceed expectations and have a chance on doing so is Elazer. I think any one of the other players advancing to the next round wouldn't be a surprise.

uThermal: I think Zest might be. Most of the other players already have high expectations, but I feel like most people aren't expecting too much from Zest, even though he's one of those players that could win a tournament out of nowhere — just like IEM last year.

TLO: Elazer is a massive underdog but definitely underrated. He could make the Finals if the stars line up.

Mikołaj "Elazer" Ogonowski

Harstem: I think Elazer already exceeded expectations, and I think he is capable of a Top 2 finish.

Which player is likely to fall short of expectations?

Bly: Stats.

MaSa: TY. A lot of people are picking him as possible champion but falling off at Ro8 RIP.

MaNa: Neeb. He said Dark is not that good, but the chances of Neeb beating him are like 30-70 in my opinion.

uThermal: ByuN and Neeb. Both players have lots of hype behind them, but they both drew really rough opponents. Dark is the best Zerg by pretty far, and TY has always been a master in TvT, so even though people have high expectations of ByuN and Neeb it’s not that unlikely they both lose in the first round.

TLO: Byun and Neeb have everyone's eyes on them, but looking at the bracket, I can see both losing in Ro8.

Harstem: I'm afraid Stats might fail in the quarters or the semis.

How likely is a foreign finalist? What about champion?

Bly: Neeb will be in the finals for sure, no doubt about it, but ByuN will win it all.

MaSa: I have no clue on this, because due to my prediction it's ShoWTimE vs. Dark, and I have no information on either.

MaNa: It's very likely actually. It will all depend on the day that Dark has. Of course he's a clear favorite at that side of the bracket, but foreigners have already shown that they can fight with the best. I think if a foreigner in the Finals meets a Terran there, then we're not going to have a foreign champion. Korean Terrans are just that much better at the game, it feels like playing different matchup.

Tobias "ShoWTimE" Sieber

uThermal: The chance for a foreign finalist is decent, a foreigner to win is not very likely though. Neeb has a chance to beat Dark, it'd be much harder for ShoWTimE or Elazer though, so the best chance is probably Neeb winning against Dark, then Neeb losing to ShoWTimE and ShoWTimE winning against a Terran in the finals. I'll give it a solid 15 percent.

TLO: I'd give a foreign finalist a 60 percent, considering there's two chances to beat Dark. Champion is hard to predict, depends too much on the individual players.

Harstem: The chances of a foreign finalist are about 50-50. The chances of a foreign champion about 15 percent.

Who do you think we are going to see in the Final (head/heart)?

Final Match Prediction
Bly Neeb vs. ByuN
MaSa Dark vs. Stats
MaNa Dark vs. TY
uThermal Dark vs. Zest/TY
TLO Dark vs. TY
Harstem Dark vs. TY

Bly: Neeb/ByuN, ByuN wins 4-2.

MaSa: Head: Dark vs. Stats, Stats will beat ByuN with imbatoss. Heart: Dark vs. ByuN. Terrans unite then ByuN beats Dark with amazing TvZ.

MaNa: Head says Dark vs. TY, heart says Dark vs. ByuN and ByuN taking it. I like ByuN’s attitude, very open to the community and what a story it would be if he would win both GSL and BlizzCon as a teamless player and now with a new Team Expert.

uThermal: My favorite Final would definitely be ByuN against Dark, but I think it will probably be either Zest or TY against Dark, with a slight edge to Zest.

TLO: Heart: ShoWTimE vs ByuN. Head: Dark vs TY. Prediction: TY will take the title, he's on an insane streak right now.

Harstem: Head: Dark vs. TY. Heart: Elazer vs. Stats. I think Dark will win. But I hope it's Elazer.

Thanks to all the players who took the time to make their predictions, and good luck to all those competing at BlizzCon!

Christian Paas-Lang is an esports journalist from Toronto waiting for the 4-0 Elazer cheeseout of ByuN. You can follow him on Twitter.

Navneet Randhawa does stuff and things at theScore esports. You can follow her on Twitter.

Jaedong retires from competitive StarCraft

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Thumbnail image courtesy of Blizzard Press

Lee "Jaedong" Jae Dong has retired from professional StarCraft after a career that spanned 11 years, Evil Geniuses announced Tuesday.

"I don't think I'll ever be able to forget the three years I spent with team EG," Jaedong said in a statement. "I made so many great memories while being active overseas, and I would like to say thank you to my teammates and the staff who always treated me with kindness. Thanks to EG, I was able to meet many new people and my attitude toward my own life changed while travelling through various places around the world. I believe that the time I spent here matured me not just as a gamer, but also as a human being. I will always cheer for Team EG's success in the future. May EG be the best and everlasting team."

Arguably the most iconic Zerg player in StarCraft history, Jaedong began his StarCraft career in Brood War when he joined Team Plus — later rebranded to Lexaf Oz — in 2005. He made his professional debut in February 2006. After winning Rookie of the Year at the Korean e-Sports Awards after the 2006 season, Jaedong won the 2007 EVER Starleague after decisively defeating Song "Stork" Byung Goo 3-1 in the Finals.

In an interview with Team Liquid, Jaedong said that his Starleague match against Stork will always be one he remembers.

“For me, the match I remember the most is the Starleague final against Stork, who I defeated to win my first championship as a Royal Roader,” Jaedong said. “It was the winter of 2007, and I still remember it well. The reason I remember it well is the practice for that final was so hard. I made it so hard on myself that I can remember it clearly, even now. I took it upon myself to make the practice so difficult.”

Jaedong would go on to win the 2008 GOMTV MSL, 2009 Batoo OSL, 2009 Bacchus OSL and the 2009-2010 NATE MSL as an individual player, becoming one of the top Zerg players in the latter years of Brood War. It was in 2010 that Jaedong took on Lee "Flash" Young Ho in multiple tournaments, beginning a rivalry that would define both of their careers. Ultimately, it was Flash who emerged victorious, winning three of their four duels and emerging as the most dominant player in StarCraft history.

Shortly after the release of StarCraft II, Jaedong joined EG, where he remained for the rest of his career. Though he would win only two premier tournaments as a member of EG, Jaedong did advance to the finals of the 2013 WCS Global Finals, where he ultimately lost to Kim “sOs” yoo Jin 4-1.

Though Jaedong is retiring from SC II, he does not know what he will do next, but thanked his fans for following him through the years.

“I don’t think anyone can change the passing of the seasons (laughs),” Jaedong said. “A lot of time has flowed by, and I need to think about my life going forward. Whatever I end up doing, I’ll do it while remaining thankful that I remained in the minds of some fans. I’d be thankful if when people think of StarCraft, they remembered that there was once a player called Jaedong.”

In his 11-year career, Jaedong has won 11 premier tournaments, two of which were in SC 2. He most recently competed in the 2016 GSL Season 1: Code A, where he finished 31st-60th.

Preston Dosza is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

GSL to rein in LOTV balance patch with invitational event Nov. 10-14

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Thumbnail image courtesy of Blizzard PR / Blizzard

GSL and Afreeca TV will be hosting a 16-player StarCraft 2 tournament Nov. 10-14 in honor of the upcoming post-season balance patch, which promises to radically change the SC2 meta.

Among those invited to break in the new patch are 2016 Global StarCraft II League Season 1 winner Joo "Zest" Sung Wook and 2016 WCS Korea Season 1 Cross Finals winner Kim "Stats" Dae Yeob. Stats and Zest are set to face off against each other in the quarterfinals of the 2016 WCS Global Finals at BlizzCon next weekend.

Here's a look at the full list of invited players, according to a post on Team Liquid:

Protoss Terran Zerg
Classic aLive Rogue
Dear GuMiho Solar
herO Ryung
MyuNgSiK TY
Patience
sOs
Stats
Super
Trust
Zest

Though there's no shortage of talent, the list is a bit heavy on Protoss players, so fans may have to wait for the next big event to see how Terrans and Zergs adapt to the new meta. Notably absent from the list is 2016 GSL Season 2 champion Byun "ByuN" Hyun Woo, who is considered by many to be the strongest Terran in Korea at the moment.

The week-long event will feature a prize pool of ₩ 7,400,000 (about $6,452). It comes as a welcome sign of life for the Korean SC2 scene, which was recently jolted by the end of KeSPA's StarCraft ProLeague and the loss of teams like SK Telecom T1 and KT Rolster. Though the sponsorship status of many of the invited players remains unclear, GSL has shown no signs of slowing down next season.

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. Follow him on Twitter, it'll be great for his self-esteem.

Artosis: 'The Korean [SC2] scene isn't dead'

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Thumbnail image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

With the shuttering of the StarCraft ProLeague as well five Korean teams, speculation has run rampant in the StarCraft 2 scene about the game's future as an esport. Dan "Artosis" Stemkoski, the legendary player turned commentator currently living and working in South Korea, recently spoke to Cyan Esports about the game's future.

Artosis began by addressing theories floating around social media, saying that "People are pointing their fingers at like Blizzard or the WCS region lock or things like that and that just doesn't really have anything to do with it."

"If a player flies to another tournament ... is that gonna make it so Proleague doesn't go away, that he can still do that? No," he said.

When it comes to concerns that the loss of Proleague will have an impact on the top level play in Korea, Artosis believes that people's passion for the game won't go away. With plenty of people still queuing up for pubs, tournaments and cups like Olimo League and Leifeng Cup, it adds up to Korean SC2 sticking around. As Artosis put it, "the Korean scene isn't dead. I'm not gonna say it's fine, this is a blow to it but we'll see how it goes."

Though Artosis admits he doesn't know exactly where the scene will go in the future, he believes that people need to stop hurting the public perception of the game by calling it dead.

"I assure you it's not dead, I live out here with my wife and child and I will continue to pay my bills by casting StarCraft," he said. "It will continue somehow, some way, we'll see [...] people should try to hold their judgement a little bit."

Annabelle "Abelle" Fischer is a writer for theScore esports with a love for Dota 2, birds and cheese. You can follow her on Twitter.

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