Heart Of The Swarm: the pro player's opinion
Fri 2nd Dec 2011 - 7:13pm
Heart Of The Swarm is only a few months away, and with recent announcements from BlizzCon about HOTS (if you don't already know about the changes then read about the units announced here), it's a good time to see what some pro gamers make of the upcoming expansion pack to the ever popular Starcraft2 Wings Of Liberty.
We asked a number of players the following question; 'What do you think of Heart Of The Swarm? And what are your expectations with it ?'
Samayan ‘BlinG’ Kay is one of Starcrafts most exciting prospects playing for Team Dignitas, and is widely regarded as the best British Protoss player. He recently placed Tied 5th at Insomnia 44 in the IGN Pro League Season 4 qualifier.
BlinG: 'I haven't really paid too much attention to it if I'm honest, I saw a few things about it at BlizzCon but that was about it. But from what I've seen it looks fairly interesting, there's a lot of new units being added with some being removed and with the way the metagame currently is, I think it should change it quite dramatically, especially with the new Protoss unit that can clone itself, i'm sure there will be a lot of funky builds revolving around that.'
Artur 'aAaNerchio' Bloch is a top Polish Zerg player who plays for Team Acer, regarded as one of the best players in Europe and recently won 'Battle In Berlin' Beating GoOdy in the final 3-0. As of 1/12/2011 is ranked 3rd in EU Grandmaster.
Nerchio: 'I think Heart Of The Swarm will be a really cool add on since new units means a lot of new strategies which leads to more diversity in games and probably will make the game more skill-requiring(there will be bigger gap between good and the best). To be honest I wasn't too interested in new units because I think a lot will change and there is no point in looking at that, they will nerf or buff things for sure and maybe they will not even bring some of the new units into the game. I prefer to wait before it becomes more of a reality.'
Geoff 'eG.iNcontroL' Robinson is a former brood war professional and current captain of team Evil Genius. He currently plays as Protoss and placed 4th at MLG Dallas. He is a host on 'Inside The Game' and a co-host of 'Attack with TL'. He is very well respected and recognisable figure in the Starcaft2 community.
iNcontroL: 'Excited and nervous. Introducing new units and getting rid of some current ones means the game once again enters a huge balance stage that some would argue we are still in and others would say we just got out of in the last 1-2 patches. That means another year of balancing and perhaps some periods where the game is grossly imbalanced for one race or another.'
It seems that balancing is a major concern for most of the players, who have witnessed the long balancing act which has happened over the last year or so with Wings of Liberty. Blizzard are going to have to really focus on balance before expecting eSports events and pro players to make the switch to the new game.
He countinues, 'Whether that is good for the game or bad makes me nervous as a guy who plays this game every day all day and on the biggest stages. I hope the transition is as smooth as possible but like I said, it just makes me nervous. The stuff proposed however seems pretty cool.. especially if you are a Protoss player. But we will see!'
Carlo 'aTnCloud' Giannacco is a former Brood War professional and is top European Terran player, currently signed for Team Alternate. Notably, he recently beat Empire.Kas in an online cup match 3-1.
Cloud: 'I think the expansion will be a mess and blizzard won't be able to balance and control what they are about to do. I have very little expectations and I gave up on sc2 since it seems so many bad players can have decent results by just abusing the gamble aspect of this game.'
Jesper ‘Bischu’ Johansson is a top Swedish Protoss player playing for Team Dignitas. He is currently 2nd in EU Grandmaster as of 1/12/2011. Bischu finished tied 5th with dBling, however earlier in the tournament 2-0'd team-mate dBling, staking his claim as the top Protoss player in the team.
Bischu: 'Hmm, I'm very sceptical towards heart of the swarm. All new units are really boring and it saddens me that they keep implementing units with set roles. Like the oracle "if you're going to harass we want you to build this unit" furthermore I think the other units are very boring. I wouldn't have been surprised if the day they presented the units was April first. My expectations are still high for the expansion though since I think blizzard will make it good, you have to consider its not even in beta yet and if you look at history blizzard usually comes trough at the end.'
Nathan 'Infused.Tt Lau' Lau is a British Terran playing for Team Infused.Tt. Lau has enjoyed success in England winning ECL Loughborough, and is one to look out for in the future.
Lau: 'Heart Of The Swarm is probably going to be the equivalent of brood war was to Starcraft, I believe everyone will move over to it after the game is balanced out. Personally I dislike the Terran vs Protoss match up as it requires stutter stepping from the Terran to stand a chance in most battles, hopefully the new units will change this. Also the new units will open up a new set of strategies and play styles which I look forward to.'
Olivier 'LLL.Orly' Bellemans is an up and coming Belgian Zerg player who plays for team Low Land Lions. Recently Olivier was unlucky to be drawn in the 'group of death' at DreamHack winter 2011 against idrA, Puma and HuK managing to take a game off HuK. Orly is a name to look out for in the Starcraft2 scene.
Orly: 'Most of the Zerg changes look interesting as do the Protoss. A little unsure about the Terran changes. I like the warhound as a replacement for the Thor, but not a big fan of the new super Thor unit. I expect HotS to bring an influx of new players into the scene. I do hope tournaments don't pick up the expansion before the beta is at least close to complete, to prevent balance issues.'
Olivier brings up a great point about new players. The new game is a great platform for unheard of players to catch up with the current Starcraft talent.
Aleksey 'White-Ra' Krupnyk is one of the most iconic figures in Starcraft2, at 31 he is one of the oldest, but comes up with new strategies and is an all round solid player. In January he won three tournaments in succession, more recently finished 2nd in the MLG Global invitational, showing he is still at the top. White-Ra is most famous though for his phrase 'Special Tactics' which he and fans alike use to describe his strategies.
White-Ra: 'I'm waiting for it because I can make more special tactics here But at the same time too many spell units and Protoss needs too much gas!! We need some cheaper units for Protoss too.'
It seems as though there is a mixed opinion among the pro gamers, some who are excited for the new units, and what new strategies will be seen. One of the most interesting things about Starcraft is the strategies pro's create and execute in certain situations makes it work so effectively, with the game being new it's a great chance for players to find new tricks and builds which could really help get them noticed early. Some however appear to not really care about it, however it is still early and you have to remember the game isn't even in beta yet. Perhaps, only once the game is close to being balanced will we know the full extent of what Heart Of The Swarm has to offer Starcraft2.
With a general consensus of negativity surrounding Heart Of The Swarm, could this mean a stutter in the rise of e-sports? Perhaps a backward step even? A scenario we could see in the future is a divide, half of the Starcraft2 players move on to Heart Of The Swarm, whilst the other half stay on Wings Of Liberty, splitting the talent and the community alike.
Perhaps the players are more focused on the current release and focusing on that title, waiting for Heart Of The Swarm to be released before crossing that bridge. What we all find in life is that we as people often fear change. It is our love for the present which makes us fearful of the future.
What is for sure is that players and fans alike will get a taste of Heart Of The Swarm sooner rather than later.