on May 4, 2013
I don’t pay a lot of attention to the Starcraft 2 scene, but once in a while the mood takes me and I watch a couple of pro-league games. Here is one from late last year that’s probably the best Starcraft game I’ve ever watched. I just discovered it this afternoon and I thought I’d share. Maybe you need to be familiar with the scene to appreciate just how crazy this game is, but the players spend about half an hour in a state where it feels like the game could end at any second.
The full match is just short of an hour, and the whole battle seemed to be balanced on the edge of a knife until the very end. This is pretty unusual when your typical league game is about 15 or 20 minutes, and the winner is often clear the the audience after just 10.
The pink-haired guy is Knight Light. (Or Knightlight, knightlite, Knightlife, or whatever. In-game he’s just “Knight”, but the commenters call him Knightlight.) He’s down in the lower right corner playing the red Terran.
The guy in the red hoodie is Moonblade. (Or Moonglade? I dunno. What the game says in the chat doesn’t match what it says at the top or what the announcers say.) He’s in the upper left, playing blue Zerg.
And here is part 2:
You have to watch very carefully at the end to see who wins, because the message goes by too fast and the announcers never officially call it. For the record,
Moonblade conceded, making Knightlight the winner.
I usually prefer to watch Korean games. I adore the audience enthusiasm and the fan groups that form around individual players. In this video, I’m really sad we never get to see any audience reaction shots.
On the other hand, I love that we can see the keyboards. Back in the Starcraft 1 days, we never got to see player keyboards. Look at how fast their fingers move. Players are often rated on their APM – Actions Per Minute. Having a high APM is like being a fast runner in football. It’s not a guarantee of success, but it’s a big part of it. At the highest levels players have more than 60 APM, meaning they are making decisions and issuing unit orders faster than once per second.
Generally you group units to hotkeys using the numeric keys on the main keyboard. So, you select one or more units and hit CTRL-2 to bind that unit to the number 2. Then later you can press 2 to select that unit again, even if they’re not on screen. Press 2 again and your view will jump to the unit. Keep all this in mind when you watch their fingers fluttering. They’re rapidly switching units, issuing orders, hopping around the map, and then moving on to other things.
At any given moment a player might have their attention split between three different areas of the map, all doing unrelated things. Maybe they’re building things at their main base, guiding a lone peon around the map to scout for enemy activity, and moving a multi-group army towards something they plan to attack. It’s amazing to watch a battle unfold, with both players giving specific strategic orders to single units (called “micro” management by the commenters) and moving groups around in complex formations. The battle is fast and confusing and as a member of the audience it’s hard just to understand what you’re seeing. Then the view jumps back to base, where a bunch a new units and buildings have been produced, and you realize the player was doing all of this while at the same time managing the battle you just watched.
It’s an amazing display of multitasking and no less amazing to me than watching Usain Bolt be the fastest recorded homo sapien. It really is amazing what people can do.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.