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Great moments in PC gaming: Winning a ranked match in StarCraft 2

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.

StarCraft 2

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Year: 2010

There isn't another feeling on Earth or in the Koprulu Sector quite like watching the countdown timer for a StarCraft 2 ladder match tick down. From the moment the client finds you an opponent to when the map finishes loading, it's like seeing a portcullis raise very slowly before being thrown into a gladiatorial arena. You probably don't know who your opponent is. This could be a cakewalk or you could be on the verge of being completely rekt. You take a deep breath. You meditate on your build orders. Suddenly, you're looking at a Command Center and a small squad of SCVs.

It's go time.

I've played my share of competitive games over the years, but there's something unique about StarCraft's frenetic pace, one-on-one competition, and complex multitasking that I've heard compared more than once to playing the piano. Once I overcame that beginner's frustration and got bored of using cheesy strats like cannon rushes and 6-pools, which can scrape up some cheap victories for relatively little skill investment, I found a real flow in it.

Remembering to hit my MULE timings while stutter-stepping marines in a tricky engagement and trying to deal with a raid on my mineral line used to be a chaotic mess that would make my brain give up and attack-move everything in a desperate attempt to force a base trade. But once I found that flow? It was like becoming one with my mouse and keyboard. I could practically feel my brain splitting up into multiple streams of thought to track everything that was going on. Getting good at StarCraft makes you feel like you're actually getting smarter.

And when you win? That's a rush I'll never forget. The first ladder match in which I really played well and forced a "gg" from an even opponent almost got me kicked out of the community college library where I'd posted up with my laptop because I wanted to jump up and yell and do victory laps. I macroed my economy beautifully. I put together an army purpose-built to take on what I'd scouted the enemy building. I'd dictated the time and place of the big, decisive engagement to be to my advantage. I got on a roll that saw me promoted into Silver, and eventually, Gold league. Not exactly pro material, but it was a positively euphoric feeling for a former scrub like me.

It's the desire to feel that surge of triumph again that kept me clicking Find Match again and again. The chance to prove myself in a test of wits, focus, and speed against another intelligent person is the true beauty of StarCraft. The timer starts ticking down again. The portcullis begins to rise. In a few moments, I'll see that command center pop up again.

GL HF