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After a long (and occasionally controversial) series of events, announcements and actions, this chapter of Blizzard’s Korean eSports saga appears to have reached a conclusion: GomTV is coming out on top with all other Korean eSports organizations receiving a sort of a grace period to adjust to the new reality until August 2010, the end of the current pro-gaming season.

According to multiple sources, most importantly TL’s detailed translation of the Korean news pieces, GomTV will have exclusive rights to operate and broadcast all Blizzard games in Korea. On the flip side, all other current operators, many of which have been managing leagues and TV broadcasts for almost a decade – such as KeSPA(Korean eSports Player Association), OnGameNet and MBCGame (Korean television channels) – are no longer authorized to handle Blizzard titles.

Mike Morhaim

Mike Morhaime, Blizzard’s CEO, has commented on the Korean situation multiple times in the past. Mike has now released an open letter to the Korean eSports community, explaining the reasoning behind the partnership, as well as its terms and meaning to the community. Here are some highlights from the letter:

In 2007, we were shocked and disappointed to learn that KeSPA had illegally sold the broadcasting rights for Starcraft tournaments without our consent. With this clear violation of our intellectual property rights, we were forced to become more actively involved in the situation and make our voice be heard. Even so, we began talks with KeSPA in good faith so we could find a way to protect our intellectual property rights as well as help e-Sports to grow further.

2007 also happens to be the year that StarCraft 2 was announced in. Selling broadcasting rights to a game KeSPA doesn’t own obviously angered some people over at Blizzard.

For the following three years, we tried very hard to have negotiations where we could correct a skewed situation and reach mutual understanding. However, during this process, what we learned was that KeSPA did not recognize our intellectual property rights, and that our suggestions even up to this day, echoed unheard while KeSPA offered no solutions of their own.

This three year period, which we have recently covered, had only one predictable outcome, and it comes as no surprise to fans who have followed Blizzard’s very consistent line of statements.

With the release of “Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty” approaching, we decided we could not delay any further in finding a trustworthy partner who respected our intellectual property rights, and decided it was time to find a new way altogether.

Our best wishes and congratulations go to GomTV for securing such a valuable and exclusive partnership. Hopefully, it will keep eSports clean, increase its popularity and broadcast it free for fans to enjoy worldwide.

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Continuing our Strategy Overview series with the Terran race, we explore commonly used strategies in mid to high level of play in StarCraft 2. The Terran race is a totally different animal from the Protoss race previously explored here, and, therefore, the format will not be exactly the same as before – the rugged space hicks are actually not as straightforward as they seem!

To start off, we’ll focus on the common rush-type openings, before moving on to the more general gameplay strategies.

Reaper Rush

The Reaper, The Terran’s jetpack-equipped infantry unit, has been hotly discussed from day one. This super fast, ranged, cliff-jumping, light-damage dealing, tier 1.1 unit takes down workers in three rapid shots and can infiltrate an enemy mineral line before he’s able to produce a single unit. The fastest variation calls for building a Barracks and Refinery before the first supply depot, attaching a tech-lab to it and getting a Reaper out as soon as possible.

Since this is an economy-crippling build, the goal in this rush is to inflict more economy damage to the opponent than the Terran player has sacrificed for it. In low-mid levels of play, groups of 2-3 Reapers will be gathered first before an attack. However, in higher level play, players can smell a Reaper rush a mile away, and so, the Terran player will send his first Reaper to attack as soon as it emerges from the Barracks.

Doing it wrong: Reapers approach the Terran choke head-onYou’re doing it wrong

Reapers are basically invulnerable to tier 1 melee units and can kite those forever while taking shots at them if proper micromanagement is applied. The only exceptions are Zerglings on creep and Speedlings, which can catch up with the Reapers and quickly surround them. Still, with the Reapers’ ability to jump up and down cliffs, their survivability and harassment potential are greatly increased.

Some are calling it the “Terran 6pool” because of the somewhat obnoxious feeling one gets from being attacked before any defensive capabilities are available. However, just like early Zergling rushes, Reaper rushes can be defended against as well if one scouts ahead and prepares accordingly.

Counters:

  • A single Stalker or Marauder in the mineral line, Roaches
  • ~2 Marines per Reaper
  • A Spine Colony or Photon Cannon + whatever units are at hand to chase the Reapers

Fast Banshees

Banshees, the Terran’s rotor-spaceships, are somewhat slow and can’t take a lot of hits, but dish out damage at an incredible rate. Despite being relatively high on the tech tree, the Terran’s walling-off abilities make this strategy both relatively safe and hard to scout. Getting these out to the field quickly gives the Terran player a good chance to find his opponent lacking any meaningful anti-air capabilities. With more than a couple at hand, the Banshees are very capable at hit and run attacks against anti-air defenses and units, wearing down the opponent until the mineral line is exposed and the workers are good for the picking. However, even single Banshees can take out their immediate counters in one on one battles – Both Queens and Stalkers lose to a Banshee in a head-on fight, and groups of Marines are not guaranteed to repel it as well. When the defenses go down, two Banshee volleys are enough to kill one worker! If that wasn’t enough, delaying the Banshee attack a little longer can allow the Terran player to research Cloak for it, making its harassment (and game ending-potential) even more effective.

Counters:

  • Missile Turrets with Marines, quick Vikings with Ravens
  • Spore Colonies, quick Hydralisks with Overseers
  • Photon Cannons, Stalkers with Observers added later on

Marine Rush

As simple as it gets. Get a bunch of trusty Marines and send them to the enemy base, mowing down everything on the way. This build was very uncommon in the early days of the beta – the simplest things are sometimes hardest to see – but it’s been gaining traction as of late, despite the nerf to the Marine build time in patch #6. After getting a first Barracks and an Orbital Command, three more Barracks are quickly added (before the second Supply Depot, for brave players) and Marines start being produced in masses. The gang heads out to the enemy base, trying to take advantage of their long weapon range and concentrated DPS to quickly and painlessly take down any target of opportunity. With some micro inserted into the mix, the Marines will run back a bit after each firing cycle: this makes them take less hits from melee units and prevent them from getting surrounded as well as makes it harder for shorter ranged units to engage with their full attack potential. When the Terran player finally pushes his Marine force into the enemy base – usually supplemented by more and more waves of rallied reinforcements – the opportunity to deal a knock-out blow to the enemy economy is great, and the game is often decided right at that point.

Counters:

  • Bunkers, especially with Reapers OR very quick Siege Tanks
  • Banelings, Roaches and/or Spine Crawlers in sufficient numbers
  • Quick Colossus, dancing Stalkers, Cannons + Force Field in chokes, Charging Zealots

Hellion Opening

Hellions, the StarCraft 2 Firebat/Vulture hybrid, have been seeing more and more use throughout all stages of the game. Still, one of their most effective uses is early in the game, where few offensive units are available. Their linear splash damage effect makes them particularly suitable for killing workers – especially if these try to run away – and makes the Hellion one of the units most benefiting from good micromanagement. The Terran player will get a fast Factory right after the first Barracks, on which a Reactor addon is pre-built, and then move the Factory over it to quickly start pumping out Hellions for a devastating drive-by on the enemy economy. With their bonus damage against light targets, the Hellions remain very handy later on, if Zerglings, Banelings, Hydralisks, Zealots, and Dark Templars come into play. While the Hellions can’t survive many hits, their relatively long range allows them to stay safely behind the rest of the Terran army, scorching enemy units without inflicting friendly fire damage in the process.

Upgraded Hellions devastate the Protoss worker line

Counters

  • Blocked ramps and choke points (units on Hold Position work well!)
  • Static defense in the mineral line

Standard M3 Ball

Ahh, the dreaded M&M&M army. Much has been said about this unit composition – comprising Marines, Marauders and Medivacs – and not surprisingly so, as it can be seen in the vast majority of Terran games, in all match-ups. The reason, of course, is the incredible robustness and all-roundedness of this build – and some would say: ease of use. The M3 ball, composed of easy to mass units, capable in both defense and offense, mobile to the extreme yet beefy enough for a stand-up fight, is clearly the “correct” go-to strategy in many situations. With Marauders dishing out heavy anti-armor damage, Marines – the highest DPS/cost ranged unit in the game, who have a great anti-air weapon – and Medivacs, the mobility and healing granting fliers, the M3 ball can be where it needs quickly, counter almost any unit composition, and stay alive long enough to get the job done. With the three upgrades added – Combat Shields, Concussive Shells and Stim Packs – the ball can serve many Terran players for the entire match.

Perfect Combo - A big MMM Blog with a Thor on the side

When building up for an M3 ball, one would best be served by quickly setting up two extra Barracks after upgrading to an Orbital Command. One Barracks should have the Reactor addon while the other two get a Tech-Lab. From then on, pumping out units is an easy affair, and the ball is quickly formed by continually building two Marauders and two Marines at a time. This build allows the production of a relatively heavy army while still teching up and/or getting unit upgrades – a must for a dedicated M3 ball. When a small complement of M&Ms is gathered, a Starport is built to supplement them with Medivacs.

The M3 ball is made! This well-rounded army can then push out, look for weaknesses in enemy positions, drop on unsuspecting mineral lines, or serve as cannon fodder for Siege Tanks.

Counters

  • Siege Tanks, Cloaked Banshees
  • Fungal Growth, Banelings + Swarm, Brood Lords in the late game
  • Colossi or Psi-Storm with Charging Zealots

Mid-game transitions: Siege Tanks, Thors

Once the Terran player has opened with one of the above and successfully transitioned into the mid-game, the time comes to choose a unit composition that will best serve the next transition – into a victory, or at least into the late-game. The Terran race has a variety of options and answers for all situations, but some counters are very hard and serve almost no purpose against anything but their intended targets.

Siege Tanks

The Siege Tank, one of the Terran’s most symbolic units, returns to serve the same role in StarCraft 2 – ground-control and crowd-control. With the huge damage and splash effect, Siege Tanks are effective in all numbers, whether by softening up enemy units for an M&M blob or by completely denying an area of the battlefield from ground units when large enough numbers are used. Often, the Terran player will quickly get a couple of Siege Tanks after settling into the game and march straight towards the enemy base, slowly wearing him down with the help of the incredible long range of the sieged-up tank artillery cannon. From then, the Terran player is a Siege-Tank push away from victory – slowly leap-frogging the Siege Tanks closer and closer to where it hurts while keeping the enemy contained inside his base.

Counters

  • Siege Tanks, Banshees
  • Swarming the tanks when they unsiege, Brood Lords
  • Immortals, Phoenix Gravity Beam, Dark Templars, carefully managed Charging Zealots

Thors

The Terran Thor, still a menacing unit despite the recent size cut, has slowly managed to find a niche on the battlefield, thanks to some patched-in changes to its attributes and a greater understanding of its role in the game a couple of months into the beta. Despite its cost, the Thor has many advantages and is very useful in many army compositions – and sometimes, even just by itself.

Thor Doom Drop an Unsuspecting Protoss

Since the Thor is able to take down many units – including workers – in one volley of its cannons, Thor drops can actually be very effective if done right. A Terran producing a Thor quickly and dropping it on an enemy mineral line will rack up a few worker kills easily and will also be able to deal with many offensive units unless they swarm him all together – in which case, it’s back to the Medivac.

Thors are also a great addition to an M&M ball when deciding to push out with one. Its great anti-air attack, which deals area-of-effect damage in a small radius, is a perfect complement to Marines against flying threats such as the Mutalisk and Banshee. The Thor’s special Strike Cannon ability is great when dealing with other Massive targets, since, despite not dealing much more DPS than its normal attack, the bombardment stuns the unit in place until it dies. Also, since abilities ignore the Immortal’s hardened shield, the Strike Cannons destroy a fully-shielded Immortal in one use.

What is the Standard

When Terran players wish to play it safe and solid, they’ll often wall-up inside their base while gathering the standard M&M force. Constantly scouting the enemy, additional units will supplement this basic army to counter upcoming threats to the Terran infantry: Hellions for masses of light units, mainly Zerglings, Banelings and Zealots; Vikings for heavy air units, such as Brood Lords, Void Rays, Carriers and Battlecruisers, as well for decapitating Colossi; Siege Tanks to deal with masses of tier 1-2 units; Thors to deal with light-air swarms; and eventually, Battlecrusiers to put the hurt on everything or break down turtles. Some pressure can be applied using Reapers, Banshees or Hellions, as described above, until the Terran player is ready to seal the deal with a well-timed push.

Addendum: Terran as the Real Infestation

While fighting the Zerg often feels like dealing with bugs that keep harassing you all over and are impossible to get rid of, the Terran race can actually play the infestation game just as well, “infesting” the battlefield and never releasing their hold on it. The Terrans have always been the turtle-friendly choice, but in StarCraft 2, thanks to some new tools and additional mobility, the turtle can now more easily spread around and hold more and more of the battlefield. Almost every Terran unit can be treated like a mobile turret with various properties designed to keep enemies away from the Terran mining operations. Their units have the longest range, their buildings are bulky and durable, and their static defenses – Bunkers, Missile Turrets and Planetary Fortresses, provide the most robust defense.

The Thor often makes more sense when seen as a walking turret, patrolling the base and guarding it from Mutalisk invasions; Vikings, one of the slower flying units, have an incredible range of 9, and are more than suitable for taking down Void Rays trying to penetrate the Terran base before they even think of charging up. With Siege Tanks, the building armor upgrade, the Raven’s Point Defense Drone and Auto-Turret, and the amazing staying power of infantry backed by healing Medivacs, a well-built Terran fortress is indeed the hardest to break.

Fortressing - Terran Player claims the high yield

A Terran player playing the infestation game will periodically take over an expansion, sending many SCVs to quickly put down defenses and buildings as well as Siege Tanks and the other necessary walking/flying turrets to secure the area. The purpose, of course, is to create a stronghold that the enemy will have to spend many more resources to remove than it took to secure. Slowly taking over the map while occasionally harassing the enemy, this strategy is often hard to deal with even if it’s seen coming.

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Patch 13, the long-awaited Zerg-enhancing patch, is here. Well, almost – the patch notes have been released, but the patch itself hasn’t been applied yet. As with the last few patches, this one comes hand-in-hand with a detailed Situation Report, written by the Blizzard developers to let players in on the decision-making process leading to all the latest balance changes.

General

  • Map Publishing is now enabled: Using the map editor, you can upload your custom maps to share with the Battle.net community.
  • Facebook feature is integrated: Here’s a quick way to expand your social network by seeing who among your existing Facebook friends also has a Battle.net account.
  • 3v3 and 4v4 formats are now enabled.


Numerous updates have been made to the Leagues & Ladders system:

  • Removed Copper League and added Diamond League above Platinum League.
  • Player ratings start at 0, rather than 1000.
  • No longer displays loading screen odds in placement or practice league matches.
  • Matchmaking system logic updated.
  • UDP is enabled to help improve game performance.
  • Numerous performance and stability improvements.

Making it to the Platinum League Was Easy... How about Diamond?

A week before the end of this phase of the beta, Blizzard is delivering the long-awaited 3v3 and 4v4 game modes – with new maps for these to be played on, quite likely. It will remain to be seen how the other improvements affect matchmaking and the game.

When asked about the league naming change, the official response by Zarhym was:

Honestly, we feel copper and bronze are a bit too similar and this should clear up some of the confusion.

Moving on, this patch brings about some interesting balance changes:

PROTOSS

Sentry


Force Fields can now be destroyed by Massive ground units walking over them.


Situation Report

We are seeing a lot of great games that rely on Force Field as a key part of protoss strategy. The ability is fun, but we do want to create some more options for enemy players to deal with Force Fields to create some additional gameplay choices in a fight against the protoss. Now Massive units (Thor, Colossus, Ultralisk) will smash a Force Field if they are told to move through them. Ultralisks can use this ability to lead a Zerg charge onto a protoss position while protoss players can use their Colossus in an emergency to allow their army to attack or retreat.

Blizzard has said before that the Force Field ability will be looked at and reevaluated. With the previous patch lowering the Sentry’s damage by 25% to discourage bringing too many of them to a fight, this next change wasn’t anticipated. With this move, Force Field becomes counterable in the mid-late game rather than functioning as completely immovable forces that the Protoss can spawn at will.

Void Ray

Range decreased from 7 to 6.


Situation Report

Void Rays are being used aggressively against terrans now, using their range and speed to trap a terran player in their base. This is pretty fun for the protoss player but at a variety of skill levels it is too difficult for the terran player to stop, even if the player sees it coming with good scouting. We think a slight range reduction will help with this match-up without doing too much damage to other matchups.

Void Rays Supporting a Large Protoss Assault

Warp Gate

Subgroup selection priority changed from 2 to 3 so that it takes priority over Gateways when selected.

TERRAN


Marine

Stimpack research cost decreased from 150/150 to 100/100.

Combat Shield research cost decreased from 150/150 to 100/100.


Situation Report

We still believe that the terrans are spending too much on infrastructure and are struggling to compete at certain times in the game against the protoss. Reducing the cost of essential infantry upgrades should make the terrans a little bit more dangerous when going with an infantry heavy force.

ZERG


Infestor

Infested Terran spell removed.

Frenzy spell added:

Costs 25 energy.

Targets a single biological unit which deals 25% more damage and is immune to snare, stuns, and mind control for 30 seconds.


Situation Report

We are cutting Infested Terrans since the ability rarely saw use. We have buffed this ability in internal testing and were unable to find a place in which we were happy with it on the Infestor. We are introducing a new ability called “Frenzy” that is especially useful for the short range zerg to get close up to the enemy to do some real damage. Frenzy should be especially helpful on Ultralisks who are trying to get past Thor Strike Cannons, Fungal Growth, or Neural Parasite.

Infested Terran, No Longer in Multiplayer

As promised, the Infested Terran ability has been removed in favor of a more interesting choice for the Infestor. With the Frenzy ability, the Ultralisk will be able to take down a Marauder, one of its hardest counters, in three hits rather than four. Of course, this is already an improvement over the previous patch, thanks to the accompanying Ultralisk damage buff against armored units:

Ultralisk

Life decreased from 600 to 450.

Damage changed from 25 to 15 (+25 Armored).

Damage versus structures increased from 60 to 75.


Situation Report

We have put in a large number of buffs to the Ultralisk to allow him to close the gap on his enemies. The Ultralisk can now ignore Force Fields and with the Infestor’s Frenzy ability he can ignore all of the ways that the enemy could disable him. With all of these buffs the Ultralisk needed to be rebalanced. We are focusing him more as an anti-armored unit since zerg players already have a few ways to deal with mass light units (Banelings and Fungal Growth). This Ultralisk should be able to deal with both mass Marauders and mass Roaches which are a common threat to zerg players in some end game scenarios.


Overseer

Contaminate spell added:

Costs 75 energy.

Targets a single enemy structure which cannot train units or research upgrades for 30 seconds.

Infested Terran spell added:

Costs 125 energy.

Infested Terrans have the same stats as those previously created by the Infestor and are placed directly under the Overseer when spawned.


Situation Report

The Overseer is designed as a harassment caster. We don’t want to see hundreds of Overseers flying around, but we do like the ability for the zerg to annoy and harass the enemy with spells like Changeling. We added two abilities on the Overseer that were recently removed from other more “combat oriented” units. We expect that player’s will still build 1-2 Overseers to watch the enemy base and provide detection support for your force, but now you can also use the Overseer’s energy to disrupt enemy production and research, or to make small drops that force the enemy to spread their forces.

Up until today, the Overseer has mostly been used as a mobile detector for the Zerg. With these new abilities, more options open up; as promised, the Zerg race just got more interesting. Will the Overseer be crowned “most annoying unit in the game”?

Battle.net Interface


Revamped summary pages for player Profiles and Leagues & Ladders.

Added a Help system with tech trees and other tips and tricks.

Removed identifier from the character naming process and added the ability to refer friends for invitation into your party or lobby.

Updated the Battle.net user interface to consistently use a nested menu system.

Added in-game blocking and player muting.

A few more updates that we will soon get to experience. A noteworthy change is to the identifier system, which has apparently been removed from Battle.net. With the system gone, unique names will once again be sought after, since no two characters will be able to share a similar alias.

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Phase one of the StarCraft 2 beta test is coming to an end for all regions at the end of this month, Monday the 31st. Here’s the official word from Xordiah, Blizzard’s RTS community manager:

We’d like to let all of our StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty beta test participants know that the first phase of the beta test will be coming to an end in all regions on Monday, May 31. The beta test will be unavailable for several weeks while we make some hardware and software configuration changes in preparation for the final phase of the beta test and the release of the game. We plan to bring the beta test back online for a couple of weeks prior to the game’s launch to complete our testing. We’ll have more details to share about when this final beta-testing phase will begin at a later date.

With the game launching on the 27th of July and phase two of the beta only commencing a couple of weeks prior to that, StarCraft 2 addicts are going to face a harsh withdrawal for more than a month. Fortunately, replays will still be available and the map editor will be fully functional, though no game of any sort will be playable since Battle.net servers will be down.

Final StarCraft 2 Beta Key Contest

If you’re aching to play some StarCraft 2 for the little time left in the beta, we invite you to participate in our third and last beta key contest! This time, we ask you to create StarCraft-related demotivational posters.

Over the next three days, we’ll be giving out 15 StarCraft 2 Beta keys to readers who create the best, most creative and most entertaining demotivational posters.

Instructions:

1) Create a demotivational poster. Poster generators are allowed.
2) Post the picture or link to it in the comments or post on our Facebook page, along with your email address.

By Saturday, May 22nd, we’ll select the top submissions and send out the keys!

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