There is a common saying in the world of eSports that goes, “If you want to be the best, you have to play with the best.” Although there are some rare exceptions, generally a person’s gaming skill is largely dependent on the playing environment he is in. This holds true for many other games as well such as League of Legends, DoTA 2, and even board games like chess, et cetera.
The simple fact is by having highly skilled practice partners and access to stronger competition, you learn faster, get better practice, and it also motivates you to push your game to the next level. In this article, guest writer and WCG 2011 StarCraft II champion, Bryan “nirvAnA” Choo will focus on how you can take your StarCraft game to the next level.
All StarCraft gamers know that South Korea is the mecca of StarCraft II. The holy land where top foreigners go on pilgrimages and try their luck living in Korean team houses, where fans travel to watch games live and where StarCraft II is accepted as a legitimate sport and broadcasted on cable television to millions of households. Today, it is no longer a surprise to see Koreans take all the podium spots at any big-money international StarCraft II tournament, from the recent MLGs, to the Dreamhacks, and to the GSLs. It is in fact quite common to see Koreans take 9 out of the 10 top spots! And as time goes by, the gap only continues to widen. This happened for StarCraft I where, from 2002 onwards till 2012 today, virtually no foreigner has been able to win a big invitational event. This will no doubt follow suit in StarCraft II, and the gap between Korea and the rest of the world is already widening by quite a distance.
So why are Koreans so good at Starcraft? Are they born more hard working or with better strategic minds? The simple answer is no — Koreans are just like everyone else. The only difference is the playing environment that they have, which happens to be completely different from the rest of the world. In Korea, being a “pro-gamer” gets you respected among your peers, “Boxer” is a household name that even all the wives of my Korean friends know about. The best gamers have earned over US$300,000 playing StarCraft II already, have good looking girlfriends, and travel around the world playing the game they love. This alone is a huge incentive to many pro-gamer wannabes who wish to one day be like their heroes, playing a game they love. So what do you get when you have a whole nation of young gamers wanting to be like Boxer and MC? Trivia: Did you know that MarineKingPrime, arguably the best Terran player in the world now, initially named himself “Boxer” after his hero?
So first of all, you get a much larger gaming population. If Singapore has a few hundred competitive gamers, Korea would have a few hundred thousand. This enormous difference inevitably results in a higher chance of producing more “World Class” players. You then have all these “World Class” players who start practicing with all the other “World Class” players all the time, and they only end up getting better, whereas the rest of the world would have only one or two world class players in their whole country, with not many players they can practice with, or the infrastructure or teams to support and encourage them.
So how can you be more like these Koreans? A smart way many of the top foreign players have discovered, besides flying over to Korea and living in a team house — which is extremely difficult (and expensive) for most people — is to simply try to play with the Koreans, in their own environment. This helps mitigate the situation somewhat, as suddenly all the top foreigners (if good enough) will have access to world Ccass practice partners and get the chance to play with the very best in the world.
One way to do this is to get access to the Korean server by simply buying a StarCraft II Korean account. It has become a popular trend even for casual gamers, who want to play on the best server in the world or at least have the opportunity to play with real Koreans. It is also the only server which any top foreign player considers as getting in proper practice. For many of the top players in the SEA region, it is common for them to play on Korea and end up with a 200-200 (50% win ratio) record because its so tough, and then suddenly come back to the SEA ladder and absolutely destroy it with a 200-40 (80% win ratio record).
And the reason for their increase in skill, and the bottom line of this article? To be the best, you have to play with the best, and for StarCraft II, playing on the Korean server is undoubtedly the best way to do that.
This article was contributed by Bryan “nirvAnA” Choo, WCG 2011 Singapore StarCraft II Champion, for No Game No Talk. You can read more articles and learn more ways to improve your game by checking out the StarCraft II guide he wrote with mOOnGLaDe & OxygeN.