Snakes and Ladders
Laddering can be frustrating at times. Even more frustrating when you lose games and lose points and then have to grind it back up to where it once was. Looks like it might be changing… slowly!
So what has happened in the past week? A quick look shows that I played 23 games over the week with a 13-10 record! I am actually surprised! Thats the first time I have seen that stat (oh, I love stats). In the first week of laddering my record was 16-23, so you can see why I am surprised. My overall record for the new season so far is now 29-33 and sitting in 23rd position on the ladder.
By looking at this simple statistic, I can surmise that I am improving on one level with an improvement of 15% Win/Loss record from Week 1 (41%) to Week 2 (56%). Statistics can give you a lot of information but am I really improving? Am I learning from my mistakes? StarCraft II works on so many levels though it can be hard to tell at times. So how can I see if I am really improving. One method I have adopted is by keeping a little spreadsheet to keep tack of a couple of items I see as important to the game.
This spreadsheet has the usual columns for wins, losses, points etc. Great for recording your rise and fall and working out you Win:Loss ratio, however, I have one critical column that I refer to after each match – Notes. This field is important because it helps identify critical issues in your play as well as what was successful. I don’t write up a 500 word essay on each game, but something concise in a couple of words. For example, ‘3 Rax FE not good for map – build workers’.
How did I come up with this note. I watched my replay and worked out why I lost. In this particular game it was a TvT on Scrap Station and I thought I would try to fast expand to get my economy going for a Marine/Marauder push. The replay showed that my macro was terrible and that by the ten minute mark I still had 18 SCVs on two bases to my opponents 35 and could not keep up in the economy stakes. FACEPALM!!! As a result, I was not able to fully protect my expansion with a suitable army or able to put any pressure on my opponent. Needless to say I lost that match.
Laddering Lesson #3: Review your replays
This I cannot stress enough. Replays will show you exactly what went wrong with your game. That way you can take one or two points from that loss and work on them in the next game. The very next game, I made sure I was constantly making SCVs while making my production buildings, units and expanding. I won the game convincingly.
Reviewing your wins may not give you as much information but are still worth having a look at what you did right.
SkyBreaker over at www.sc2sea.com pointed me to a very good article on Team Liquid about How to Analyse your Replays – give it a read, it will definitely help you identify flaws in your play. Thanks SB!
Replays will give you so much information about your game that if you ignore them you may as well play the game with your monitor off. If you find one little thing that caused you to lose the match then you are on your way to success – as long as your work on improving that. Use all the information you have and put it to good use.
Statistics. A wondrous part of StarCraft that breaks down everything into a simple set of numbers that can show you where you need to improve. Besides my spreadsheet, I am usingSC2Gears (which I mentioned in my previous post – Laddering Horrors). This is a fantastic tool which automatically records my Wins, Losses, Opponents, Build Orders, Maps and heaps more. One of the items that I am finding as a great reference is my race match up. I can see that my TvZ is ok with a 56% win ratio, closely followed by TvP at 47%. My worst match up is TvT at 40%.
With this information I should be reviewing and practicing my TvT match ups as this is really letting me down. I feel the dread come over me when I see it on the loading screen – which is most of the time! So from reviewing my replays in these match ups I should be able to see what I doing wrong as well as consulting my quick note of the game.
Laddering Lesson #4: Practice your match ups
Practice is possibly not something everyone does. I know I don’t do it very much as I would like to just get into the game and play on the ladder. However a few articles on Team Liquid have convinced me otherwise. How do you think the Koreans got so good? Yes insanely talented, but not everyone is Flash who can instantly counter anything thrown against him. Watching the GSL you always hear the match winners give a few shout outs to their practice partners. These guys work their butt off to learn counters to certain builds and race match ups constantly. You should do the same.
Get a practice partner and practice defending that Baneling Bust or the Korean 4 Gate so that when you scout it you know how to react. If you can’t find a practice partner, an alternative is YABOT. The guys over at www.sc2mapster.com have put together an awesome little package on the current ladder maps to practice build orders and match ups. There are presets builds that you can try to master as well as opponent builds to counter at the same time. Just run one of their maps from the SCII Editor to get practicing.
This goes back to Laddering Lesson #1: Learn a build and stick to it, but expands on that as you can learn a number of builds and see how they fare against the common builds found on the ladder. Thus arming you with counters to what you scout in the early and mid game.
The old adage, practice makes perfect, rings true.
So we go back to the opening questions. Am I improving? I damn well hope so! I don’t want to be in Bronze forever and I certainly don’t like losing! My most important lesson I have learnt this week is that I have to keep making workers. If I can do that then I know I can win. That game on Scrap Station was awful to say the least and I could not believe how long I stayed on 18 SCVs for. Never going to win a game that way! You really are your own worst enemy sometimes!
My stream is being tweaked and I will be moving over to Justin.tv soon – its a bit jittery at the moment and I am trying to get it running smooth so I can stream my games. Livestream is just bad, bad quality from here. Will let you know when its up, hopefully this week sometime.
I also have another project coming up for the entire SC2 community which should be up and running soon. Stay tuned.