Starcraft 2 is a game that both attracts and intimidates people. It has this power within its quality and polish that inspires either reverence or fear. It must be said that this is not an easy game to play. You have to do so many things in so little time and make decisions quicker than what life usually forces you to on a daily basis. It’s done as such that it’s called the “chess of the 21st century” and is even taught in some universities as an actual course. So it is understandable that some people may be hesitant to play ladder matches.
As a beginner, everything would seem so complicated and erratic as you start in the practice league. The fear of losing sets in immediately and you try to do what you can with your clumsy hands to make as many units in buildings as you can. This may be after many hours of playing against the AI, trying to keep up with the game speed set on “Faster”. Everyone has gone through this, even the pros who have gone through 12 years of Brood War.
The First Games
It’s alright to be a newbie since that’s where everyone starts from. This is where the learning process starts, so get your feet wet and play a few games. You start out with 5 placement matches to determine in which league you will end up. Just loosen up and play your best in these placement matches. Wherever you may end up in, it shouldn’t concern you too much if you’re still a beginner. In most cases, it may either be Bronze or Silver League, where you can go against those of your equal skill level.
One of the first things you’ll learn about is in improving your mechanics. Proper use of hotkeys and control groups, as well as using the minimap to navigate around the map instead of just scrolling all the way are definite improvements that every beginner can practice on. This is the biggest thing that separates the bottom of the pack from the top is the ability to maximize the controls to do as many things in as little time as possible. Strategies and tactics come after picking up those fundamentals.
But the most important thing to improve on during your first few games is your nerves. The reason why a lot of players don’t go any higher is because they don’t play any ranked ladder games in the first place. Most of them would venture as far as custom games and some don’t even play a single practice league match, leaving the remaining games at 50. The only way you can really improve is to actually play some ladder games so that you can get a feel for it. No one gets good at a sport without having played it in the first place, and the same applies to Starcraft 2.
Getting to a Higher League
For example, you are now working your way up Bronze League. As you win more games, you earn more points, which then raises your division rank. Having more wins than other doesn’t necessarily mean that you have more points though since you also lose points for losing. In fact, there are cases where a player actually had over a thousand wins, but only had 900+ points, so he’s in Bronze League. The author of this very guide is a witness to that.
Getting used to the league’s trends in strategies is a good way to find ways to rise up the ranks. These trends are affected by what races most of them play, as well as the current patch implemented in the game. For example, when patch 1.3.3 came out with the increase of research time on the Warp Gate tech from 140 to 160 seconds, Protoss players started to cannon rush more and relied less on the 4-gate rush because it became at least 20 seconds slower. You will notice things like this as you get more into Starcraft 2.
When you get to that point where you’re stuck at a certain rating, you are now in what is called “ELO Hell”, which is basically not getting any higher in the rankings for some reason. At this point, you should start assessing yourself carefully and not obsess over your inability to go further. It happens to everyone, so just relax and take it one game at a time.
Improving Your Game
Although methods of improving your game have already been discussed in the previous sections, another section must be dedicated to this in order to clarify misconceptions, most of which focus on the mindset involved in vain in Starcraft 2 or any real-time strategy game in general.
The major factor here is in how much the brain can handle and process at any given moment. It is obvious enough that no one can think about multiple things at the ones without difficulty. SC2 is all about processing every bit of information laid out in the screen and addressing as many of those problems in the shortest amount of time as you can. Decisions have to be made constantly and on-the-fly, lending much to the game’s level of difficulty.
It is best to work on one aspect at a time to improve at a steady pace. Focus on consistency and solid macro to do this, so do less wily cheeses and just keep practicing. A good way to maintain your pace is to have some sort of daily quota, like ten ladder games minimum or something. This is also a good way to track your winning percentage in that you can gauge your progress by how good the games get as you improve.
When you hit your talent wall, that’s the time when you plan on your next move. Different people have different corresponding ways to reassess their situation. Some stop playing for a week or so, while others watch videos like shoutcasts, tournaments, and shows like the Day Daily to learn and get inspired about Starcraft 2. Whatever you do, have fun with it since that is the biggest factor to becoming a better gamer, since games are about having fun in the first place.
The only reason why you should be playing Starcraft 2 is fun. Keep playing if you enjoy the challenge and competition, as well as the technical aspects of the game. The best way to have fun is to play it with other people. You can get your friends to play with you, or you can join in the forums and communities online, wherein players from all around the world share their experiences and their love for this amazing game.