The first season of 2013 is about to begin. KeSPA players are no longer surprises coming into the tournament, while the pride of the eSF players is at stake. However, the main discussion point is not KeSPA vs. eSF, it is the invasion of the swarm.
For months, the biggest topic of the starcraft 2 community is the rise of the patch zerg. The general conclusion is that infestors are overpowered, and the late game composition of broodlords and infestors are unbeatable. On the hand, zerg players are arguing that since the beginning of GSL Open Season, Terran has the highest representation and therefore is the best race. Surely, every statisticians will tell you that stats do not lie. But it is also crucial to have a critical mind to think beyond statistics. As noted at the end of Super Cruncher (a book regarding the use of statistics to crunch data), the future belongs to those who can combine statistics and expert opinions. Statistics give a holistic view of the big picture, but it is down to individuals to make sense out of it. Indeed, people often form opinions and conclusions, then look for statistics to back it up. When the results are not consistent of what they think it should be, they conclude that statistics are limited due to various reasons. That’s the typical fallacy of expert opinion.
The purpose of examining the race distribution of the GSL is to observe the trend. Unlike other tournaments, GSL do not just represent the highest level of competition, it is a ‘continuous’ tournament. In order to play in Code S, the players have to perform well consistently, and thus the players of Code S are both good and consistent. There are players who caught the eyes of the community, but they just do not stay in Code S. The main reason is consistency. Consistency is perhaps the best judge for a dynamic game like starcraft 2. Although many people use the high number of zergs in recent major tournaments as the key evidence that patchzerg is imbalance, I believe looking at the trend of the relative race distribution might shed more light to this phenomenon.
Much attention has been given to the obvious fact that Terran is not the highest represented race for the first time in GSL history. The focus should be the sharp rise in the number of zergs and not the number itself. This reinforces the argument of the rise of the patchzerg, that is, it is the patch that improves the result of the zerg players instead of their individual improvement. If the improved result of the zergs is down to the collective progressive improvement of the players, the increase in the number of zerg players in Code S should be more gradual. In contrast, the sudden increase in the number of zergs demonstrates the impact of the patch. When one looks back at the huge number of Terrans back in 2011, the increase was relatively more gradual. It took four seasons for the Terrans to reach 62.5% of the race distribution.
To be fair to the zerg players, many have been improving constantly and have produced some good results in other tournaments. For example, Hyun sets the record the IPL fight club. Rather than pointing the finger to the zerg players that they are winning games against better opponents because of the race advantage, one should look at the performance of the top zergs before the patch. Nestea wasn’t performing well prior to the patch based on his standard, while DRG was the undisputed best zerg. Interestingly, DRG did not perform even better and dominate after the patch as many would have expected. While the best zerg did not seem to be affected much, the rest of the swarm benefited from it drastically. Perhaps, a logical explanation is that the patch lowers the difficulty to play Zerg.
On the other side of the coin, the number of Protoss drops by 44.4% to 5. This is quite worrying even though this is not the first time. In contrary to popular belief, it seems that the patch affects the PvZ match up more than the TvZ match up. It is mathematically possible that no Protoss advances to RO16.
As for the Terran, there really isn’t much to talk about. Just being typical GSL Terran. With that being said, I will love to see Polt and Flash in Code S. At least we have Bomber this time.