Terran Talk – The State of Terran Post IEM Katowice
My love of playing and watching Starcraft II runs deep. Yet, my love for discussing Starcraft II runs just as deep. For months I have toiled with the idea of contributing content to this sub. As my university duties nears their competition, I feel I will have more time to invest myself into creating something fun and unique. Realistically, this is more for my enjoyment than for the subreddits benefit, however, I do hope to spark some conversation and offer some quality reading content. Please note, I am not a great writer, but I will do my best to be entertaining.
In this article I plan to cover numerous Terran topics. As a Terran player myself my heart and focus are naturally drawn toward Terran games. I can never get enough. In this Terran Talk, I offer my best Terrans in the World, question what happened to mech, teach you a few valuable lessons from one pro, and more! I encourage you to debate me, to add to Terran Talk by offering your own insights and opinions. If you like this, please vote, if well received I shall continue to produce more content. With no further ado, lets get to it.
Power Rankings (Top 10)
Headed into IEM Katowice, the Terran landscape was shaping up to be something exciting. Clem, the young European Terran was poised to make his mark. Cure had seemingly flipped the switch and was now among the best Terrans in the world. Heromarine was winning multiple ESL Sunday tournaments. I myself was ready to argue that TY had surpassed Maru as the worlds best Terran. Alas, things didn’t pan out and the landscape pretty much remains the same. Maru is still the worlds best Terran while everyone else fights to make their mark. Here is how I see the Terran power rankings post IEM Katowice Note- these are based largely on 2020 results which at this point is mainly Katowice.
Maru – Still the one true hope to win a tournament. While Maru is not beyond disappointing with an early exit now and then, he remains the most consistent Terran with consistently deep runs in premier tournaments. Every tournament there is seemingly one series in which he pulls out some of that magic that makes you shake your head and smile. Maru is possibly the most dangerous person on the planet when there is less than 10 units on the field. Maru’s run ended just short of the finals where the eventual champion Rogue defeated him in the semi-finals 3-2.
Innovation – One of the old guards at Terran has had a recent resurgence. While he never truly left, only Maru can claim to be the better Terran. Innovations run was cut short in a disappointing series against Serral. However, before that he looked truly like an unstoppable macro machine. Innovation may not be innovating, nor even the most exciting Terran. Yet, he still is one of the worlds truly elite players. As for not being innovative, for those who didn’t see, his game 2 against Serral where he unleased a blue-flame build was a thing of beauty.
TY – As mentioned above, I was ready to crown TY the new champion of Terran headed into this tournament. While TY performed admirably and had some of the tournament’s best series, he was inconsistent often dropping 2-0 in matches. Alas, this led to him being eliminated in the round of 24 with Hurricane slipping past him. However, TY still remains the most creative and experimental Terran in the bunch. Combined with his strong macro capabilities TY remains an elite player on the world stage, if not just short of Maru and Innovation.
Cure – Cure remains just outside the elite tier. With recent strong performances online, Cure was poised to make a deep tournament run. Unfortunately, he dropped a vital series against TY (one in which he had a solid lead in Game 2) that led to him being eliminated. Yet, despite his disappointing exit he made strides and showed improvement. Cure now must be considered the new addition to the current 4 Horseman of Terran. Cures macro remains strong and his micro above average, but he needs to make that final step in consistency if he hopes to become a top-3 Terran.
Special – The list to this point almost writes itself, with clear-cut hierarchy amongst the Terrans. Alas, after Maru, Innovation, TY, and Cure things get murky quick. Despite the difficulty, I am ready to claim Special as the final entry into the Top 5. Special continues to hold off Heromarine as the world’s best foreign Terran. Special continues to show amazing play and a depth of builds that is rivaled by no one other than TY. The only foreign Terran to crack the top 24 is no small matter. Despite that, against the truly elite in the world Special measures up short, even if that distance is shrinking with each premier tournament. In a group with Dear, Stats, Dark, Parting, and Has; Special managed a 4th place finish in the round of 24. Protoss victories continue to elude him. Despite downing Has and Parting, Stats and Dear both bopped Special 2-0 which led to his eventual demise.
Heromarine – Is there a Terran player out there who doesn’t love Big Gabe? Be it the memes, his strong macro, or his great stream, Heromarine has truly become a fan favorite. Outside of Special he is the only true great foreign Terran. He also remains one of the most exciting Terrans to watch. While there may be players who match him, no-one surpasses his splits against disruptors. Unfortunately, it was a huge disruptor shot in Game 3 against Showtime that prevented him from making the round of 24 (Btw, is there a better rivalry right now than Heromarine vs Showtime? Maybe Reynor vs Serral). While disappointing, Heromarine continues to show strong performances in tournaments. One day, he may even win a big one if he continues to improve. That would be Gabe… err I mean huge!
Uthermal – Uthermal is an enigma wrapped in a riddle. Often, he looks like one of the best Terrans in the world with amazing series. This is not hyperbole. His counterattack against RagnaroK (game 1) with just 2 banshees and hellions was jaw-dropping. The fact that Uthermal can eliminate a top-10 Zerg in Ragnarok alone speaks to his skill. However, Uthermal tends to be the most inconsistent Terran often dropping matches in a horrible belly-flop fashion. After that exciting series against RagnaroK, Uthermal went out with a whimper against Trap offering little to no resistance. While Trap is an amazing player in his own right and there is no shame in losing to him; the style in which Uthermal lost that match is disconcerting. Nonetheless, IEM Katowice was an excellent performance from Uthermal, and I eagerly await his next jaw-dropping feat.
Bunny – The forgotten Korean Terran. Bunny is a strong player, no doubt, but in field with amazing Terran players, Bunny doesn’t quite measure up. Make no mistake, Bunny can go toe-to-toe with the best of them, but he doesn’t bring the results that one would expect from a Korean Terran. Still, I would consider him to be currently ahead of Dream, Polt, and any other Terran not listed above. Bunny’s run in IEM Katowice came up short as Nice eliminated him 2-0 in the bracket stage. By the way, who the hell is Nice? What a performance from him. Anyways, Bunny is still a top 10 Terran but will need to show amazing strides in his play if he wishes to win a tournament anytime soon. Please note, despite this paragraph Bunny would most likely destroy anyone reading this, I did not mean to be so down on him.
Clem – It is getting hard to find Terrans worthy of the top-10. Clem earns his spot due to reputation alone. His performance was not horrible per-se. Losing to Hurricane (a top 24 finalist) and Nice (who the hell is Nice??) is nothing to be ashamed of. However, the pre-tournament hype was real, and Clem was poised to make a huge move. Perhaps, he is better than Bunny and Uthermal, but he is going to have to prove it first. Clem still is an exciting Terran to watch and I love the way he constantly moves his army about the map. A top 10 Terran for sure but after Katowice I think the 9th best Terran in the world is a good spot for him.
Kelazhur – Didn’t Kelazhur retire last year? I am not quite sure what his status is but I know he showed up strong in Katowice. He bopped Vindicta 2-0, took a game off Dear, and won a few games in the loser bracket before being eliminated by Trap 2-0. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to watch many of his games, but his tournament run was by far the best of the remaining Terrans. At this point, ranking Terrans is like splitting hairs. Is Kelazhur actually better than Polt? Dream? Soul? It’s hard to say. However, his results argue that he still is a Top-10 Terran in the world.
Game to Learn From
In this section, I hope to highlight one game that I felt Terran players could learn from. The game I chose from this tournament was Uthermal vs. RagnaroK Game 1 of their best of 3. The reason I chose this game was because Uthermal displayed numerous skills that every Terran should strive to emulate. Themes likes slowly expanding, securing space, preserving units, tempo, and more. Let’s discuss.
How does Uthermal manage to take out a premier Korean Zerg. Well it was a combination of many decisions and techniques which Terran players can learn from. Uthermal had a beautiful counterattack this game that highlighted some of his excellent micro. However, its hard to learn from micro (just micro better! Lul) so despite the beauty of that play, it is not something I am highlighting today.
Keep up your macro – During Uthermal’s counterattack the camera remained on the action the entire time. Yet, after the counterattack is pushed away the camera returns to Uthermal’s base where amazingly you see a Terran base that hasn’t been neglected. Barracks are incoming, a third is transferring, upgrades are happening, and walls are being built (which in turn keeps supply up). Uthermal never sacrificed his macro for short term micro-gain. If you watch his counterattack closely you can see the times where his attention is back home and his units are not being microed. Top Terran pros know that macro in the long run is much better than micro. This is one of the hardest skills to develop, always being mindful of your base even when battling on the field. It is a lesson that is constantly pounded in the head of improving players and for good reason. Yet, macro is far from all we can learn from Uthermals play.
Securing space – For Terrans, securing space is making sure you have your walls up. Yes, in this current map pool it more difficult than ever to limit attack angles with walls. Yet, Uthermal never shied from his responsibilities. Not only did he ensure that both entrances to his based were walled off, but he ALSO left units to defend those walls. (Something I wish to discuss later in this article). The trade-off to this slow safe play was that Uthermal’s 4th base was delayed by a considerable amount. Yet, where so many Terrans were losing to Zerg counterattack/backstabs, Uthermal was able to keep his base economy healthy. This increased the effectiveness of his pushes and allowed him to reach the late game with even chances. Even “better” Terrans in this tournament failed to adhere to these solid-play principles.
When Uthermal took a 4th (much later than usual) he turned it into a planetary. Then and only then was it no longer economically viable to continue to wall off paths. Nonetheless, your orbital commands should always be protected by walls AND units. Learn from Uthermal, be disciplined, be slow and deliberate, and maximize your pushes by securing your Homefront.
Tempo and Potential – There was a point in the game where Uthermal dropped a bunch of barracks but DID NOT immediately build add-ons. Why? Well without asking him directly I can only hypothesize his reasoning. However, I felt this had two advantages that many Terrans don’t often consider. First off, it allowed him to produce units immediately. Terran is known as the timing race and by not wasting time building add-ons Uthermal was able to pump out marines faster to maximize his windows for pushing. This is something the broadcasters wisely picked up on. However, the second advantage that wasn’t commented on. was potential (flexibility). Without committing to an add-on, Uthermal was able to save that decision for later. When Ultras appeared on the map it was easier to shift into marauder production. If RagnaroK had not switched into Ultras but had stuck with a unit composition that favored Marine production, Uthermal also had the choice to continue to build marines through unchanged Barracks or with reactors. Whether or not these were the actual intentions of Uthermal, I cannot say. However, he has given me plenty of food for thought. It is often these little details that separate a pro player from your average GM. Perhaps more Terrans should consider avoiding add-ons to not only hit timing windows but to maintain options as the struggle hits the late-game stage.
Preserving Units – This is an old lesson, as old as Macro itself. Alas, it often gets neglected in lieu of macro reinforcement. Look no further than what Uthermal did with his banshees. His banshees continued to play a role far beyond the counterattack they were initially involved in. Whether it was clearing creep, picking off lings, or even drawing attention during pushes, Uthermal was careful yet active with his Banshees. They payed for themselves 3 times over. Less skilled Terrans should be reminded that keeping expensive tech units alive is far better than just diving for drones. Cloaked banshees can be a thorn in the side of any races. Even having them on the field forces certain concessions (overseers, cannons, turrets, etc). Another unit Uthermal did well preserving was the Medivac. This is important because it allowed him to continue to pressure RagnaroK from different attack angles. Another point by keeping his Medivacs alive, Uthermal was able to transition into Liberators easily, rather than spending time and resources rebuilding Medivacs. It should be noted that merely preserving units does no good if they do not remain active on the field. Uthermal did an excellent job of preserving and being active. Again, its these little details that separate players at the highest levels. Yet, all of us Terran scrubs can strive to better ourselves in these areas.
Debate – Are Walls Worth It?
It’s a silly question isn’t it? Of course, walls are worth it you claim! Yet, are they? In the three possible matchups walls are typically only seen against Zerg. Against Terran they become a liability to siege tanks and do little against drops. Against Protoss they have more value (especially against DT builds or Chargelot all-ins) but it is not common see them always built. In my experience, walls against Protoss can be vulnerable to Stalker harass before stim/tanks are out. Truly, the only matchup where Terrans consistently build walls is the TvZ matchup. Yet, a common theme I saw time and time again was unmanned walls that offered little resistance to Zerg counterattacks. Another theme I noticed is that once a wall was destroyed, it was rarely rebuilt. This makes sense as the resources are often just not there to spend another 300-400 minerals rebuilding a wall that didn’t do its job in the first place.
My argument is, and please debate me on this, that a wall is only cost-effective if there are units manning it. 7 depots against 20 zerglings and 5 banes won’t do much for you, those minerals would be best spent in other areas. Yet, as mentioned above in the Uthermal game, a manned wall is infinitely more valuable. The question remains why pros don’t leave more units at home to protect their walls. Since you have never heard of me, I am obviously not a pro. Yet, I can only imagine it comes down to two reasons.
Neglect, pros just don’t respect the idea of protecting their walls.
Pressure to have every unit on the front line against Zerg swarms.
Now here is the next question I pose to you. If a wall were to be unmanned would it be better two walls that act as sort of a maze? (think of a bank line partitioned off with ropes that require you to walk back and forth before reaching the teller) Now, I know this is a silly question, but it is often silly questions that lead to insights. How would the pathing work on something like that? Would the Zerglings just maneuver through the maze or would they spend time knocking down the wall. Either way the time saved is minimal at best. Ok, ok, lets move on to our next discussion.
What happened to mech against Zerg?
Mech did not have the resurgence that was expected ever since the Thor buff in the last patch. While it initially saw a large boost in usage, it seems to have tapered off. What do pros know that we don’t? Of course, the current working theory is that Swarm Hosts are just too destructive to mech armies. Yet, could it be that simple? Could there be more to the equation? The first thing that comes to mind is that mech is just too immobile, especially on these large maps. It is too hard to push against a quality opponent who constantly forces you to siege as you progress. Another possibility is that Tanks are too vulnerable against blinding clouds, while Thors are too vulnerable against neural parasite. To further complicate matters it seems that hellion run-byes are not nearly as effective as medivac drops in the form of harassment. In terms of not only preserving units but in damage potential. Sure, hellions can devastate minerals lines, but they will rarely take down important tech structures. Another factor is that Zergs seemingly are shying away from Broodlords in favor of other compositions. If there are no BroodLords then there is no reason to build Thors. If that is the case, then the buff to Thors are not enough to make Mech enticing. Most likely, it is all these reasons and more that mech continues to have a poor showing in the Zerg matchup. However, it seems to be quite live and well in the TvT matchup (see Innovation vs Maru).
Best Series of Tournament
Of course, no Terran Talk could be complete without mentioning the best games of the tournament (involving Terran of course). Here are my picks for the best games involving Terrans. At first I was going to write comments but to avoid spoilers I will keep them to a minimum, instead I will leave a few remarks and rate them.
Heromarine vs Showtime – What a series! These two continue to meet in tournaments and continue to produce some of the most exciting games. Showtimes affinity for disruptors versus Heromarine’s splits is one of the true joys of watching professional SCII. 5 out of 5!
Uthermal vs RagnaroK – As I have already discussed Game 1 was highly informative from a Terran-theory standpoint. Beyond that Uthermals micro gymnastics in Game 1 was perhaps the best display of micro in the tourney. 4 out of 5!
Maru vs Innovation – Wow, the two best Terrans facing off in a 3-game set!? Yes please! 5 out of 5
Cure vs TY – One of these games featured a battle that made the front page of reddit! The rest of the series was perhaps even better 5 out of 5!
Maru vs SoS – Maru’s magic was on full display, that alone is must watch SCII. 3 out of 5!
Rogue vs Maru – This match guaranteed a Jin Air Wings finalist, the question is who would advance? 4 out of 5!
That’s it for now! See you after out next premier tournament!
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