I am enjoying myself on the ladder, even if I do lose a fair few games. Its certainly markedly different from playing the AI or even 2v2/3v3 or 4v4 games with the sole responsibility of your success resting on your shoulders. This is a learning experience and the best way to learn is from your mistakes.
Over the past week, and more so on the last night before the ladder reset I was defeating high level Bronze players (Rank 1 or 2) and the last match was against a Silver player which I won convincingly. I also had my first stalemate (tie) in a TvT where we both lifted off buildings and floated around Delta Quadrant. My army destroyed his Command Center, subsequently his army destroyed my army and neither of us could produce any further forces to defeat the other.
In the end, I finished the season in 17th in Kerrigan Sigman moving up from 30th. To get the top 8 milestone I would have needed and an extra 755 points on the night – not very likely :/
The good thing was that I was winning more matches than I was losing. By my calculations I had a 41-40 record, and if I could keep up the recent trend I might get a promotion sooner rather than later.
Part of my success was from being shown a build to use by one of my livestream viewers, liqhydro. It involved a four Barracks build with one Tech Lab and three Reactors to push out on the 9-10 minute mark. It proved effective in a few games. But it is a little all-in-ish, so I want to develop the opening a little to include some mech play and possibly a fast expand. Thanks for your help liqhydro!
Laddering Lesson #1: Learn a build and stick to it
The build mentioned above won a few games for me in Season 1. Previously, I had no real idea as to what to actually building up to. That is, what was I going to do to defeat my opponent? Marine Rush? Marine/Marauder Drop? Fast Expand? I was a little aimless early on and this build gave me focus – a timing push with Stim, Concussive Shells and Shields. It also allowed me to get Medivacs if I so chose.
Regardless of your race, find a solid build and stick to it. Once you know your build and can effectively manage it without having to worry about what to build next, you can then tweak that build accordingly to your opponent and map.
So Season 2 has begun and you have to play a placement match to determine your league. With my recent victories I was pretty confident going into this. My opponent was a Protoss player and we were on Shattered Temple, a new ladder map. This drew out into a long macro game and I ended up losing because I could not get a fourth base up and running due to my enemy having better expansion timings and harassing me in the late game. As a result, I was placed in the Bronze league again.
I ended up 6-7 for the night and in the top 8 (reaching a high of 3rd) for my league. This obviously wasn’t going to last as I am sure the placement match was to weed out inactive players, thus the league ladders are full of active players. I was reasonably happy with the performance but knew I could have done better in a couple of games where I was cannon rushed and also subjected to a baneling bust. I was determined to improve the following night.
Oh my, what a horror run last night. I went 0-5 initially, losing all my points and top 8 ranking of course :s
I don’t why I was losing these games initially. But I did notice that my build execution was quite lacking. My clicks and decision making was a bit scattered and I was tired from the previous nights play. I looked over a couple of replays to determine what could be fixed.
Here are a couple of examples of where I went wrong:
- I scanned a Void Ray rush and decided to expand! Stupid!
- My macro was really off in a couple of games early – mis-clicking, wrong buildings, or late building
- late expos coupled with push into meat grinder defence
- no scouting
The last point was something I worked on and it helped in the later games. It allowed me to defeat a 6 pool Zerg all-in, allowed me to do a rush on Shattered Temple and drop my opponents main on Shakuras Plateau in my last three games of the night.
Laddering Lesson #2: Scout and adapt correctly
When I scanned the two stargates and saw Void Rays, I made a critical error by expanding to my natural. What I should have done was to bolster my defences on my main. On the flipsde, the 6 pool was scouted by my SCV that built the first supply depot at 10 on Xel’Naga Caverns. I was able to set up my defence on my ramp and repair my depots and deflect the Zerg all in of lings and drones. This put me in a great great position and was able to close out the match with Battle Cruisers!
StarCraft II is a game of information and what you do with that information is critical to your success. The game gives up very little information, thus, you have to work for it and adapt your play on what your find.
One thing I will be looking at is unit counters. I am not sure if this has been updated recently but I found this SC2 Unit Counters spreadsheet on Team Liquid a while back – can’t find the original post though.
Currently I am 10-13 so far for the new season and sitting in the top 25. Taking the lessons above into account, I hope to have a more regular run of victories. Fingers crossed!
Also, I highly recommend SC2Gears for stat tracking as well. There is a lot of useful information on your match ups and build orders as well as tracking your Win:Loss ratio now that Blizzard has taken this stat away from us mere mortals in the recent Patch.