At GDC last week Dustin Browder, Starcraft II's lead designer, talked about how Blizzard's development was intensely focused on making the game an e-sport . One of the most interesting points he made is that an e-sport can't just work for its players: it also has to be interesting for spectators.
“We did anything we could to make this a more watchable viewing experience,” says Browder. Anyone obsessed by the intricacies of Starcraft II, and PC Gamer is guilty as charged, would say mission accomplished. But what if you're curious rather than obsessed? Don't know a drone from a battlecruiser? Where to start?
Over the following pages we'll take you through ten awesome games of Starcraft II, old and new, where you'll never see the same strategy twice. They showcase some of the world's top players, commentators, every race combination, and the majority of each race's units. Some of our favourite matches are on GOM.tv , but they require a paid-subscription to watch. Our picks are free for everyone.
We've taken the liberty of preparing a basic glossary , but we'll leave the rest in the capable hands of the casters. No excuses: stick the kettle on, sit back, and let's get ready to rumble.
1. MvP vs Idra
Terran Vs Zerg
Cast by: Artosis
An incredible, incredible game – if you watch only one match, watch this. MvP is currently the top ranked Starcraft II player in the world, champion of the most recent Global Starcraft League (GSL), and a titan of a Terran. Idra held S-Class status, the top rank, in the GSL before his departure last month: he is a Zerg monster.
Cast by Artosis, one-half of the GSL's S-Class commentating team, this is the closest thing here to the Korean professional games (though you get one for free at GOM.tv before having to subscribe: we'd recommend Tuesday's between July Zerg and Nada ). This match is a long, involved battle fought on multiple fronts, and an absolute belter.
2. White-Ra vs LaLush
Protoss vs Zerg
(If you have any issues viewing this match, watch it on Blip.tv )
CAN ANYONE STOP THE MONSTER THAT IS WHITE-RA ?!? So scream a jillion nerds awed by the Ukrainian Protoss and his mastery of their deathball. White-Ra (at the moment going by Duckload-Ra thanks to a sponsorship deal) is currently the top player in Europe, has a nasty tournament-winning habit, and if you need any more build up then he's also known as The Beast From the East.
What lamb shall come to this slaughter? Step forward, LaLush ! Not the most promising name, but this smiley Swede is a killer in disguise. This game begins with a fight, has fights all the way through it, and ends up in a massive endgame battle that showcases a certain unit perfectly. It's a great game, a real slugfest of a match, and the ever-excellent Day and SOE do it full justice.
3. Huk vs Mana
Protoss vs Protoss
Cast by: xHydrax
Huk is a Canadian progamer currently playing in Korea, and all you need to know is what his fans call him: Huk Norris. Bosh! Mana is less well known but certainly no patsy, as his appearance in the final of December's Dreamhack tournament showed. This PvP has great micro throughout, with beautiful use of Dark Templars and some exquisite dancing from both player's Stalker armies.
This one's commentated by xHydrax, who deserves a shoutout: a Portuguese caster, he doesn't quite have the name of an HD or Husky yet, but fully deserves to. He's analytical, passionate, and (to paraphrase Brian Clough) speaks better English than my friends from the home counties.
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Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."