Polt’s Tips from Training Camp

Six videos of the CSN Training Camp have been released on youtube recently. I qualitatively analysed the tips suggested by Polt in these videos and summarised them as insights in this post.

Background

CSN Training Camp is “a reality web series focusing on StarCraft 2 professional players Choi “Polt” Seong Hun and Kim “Violet” Dong Hwan. … This series examines their daily training, experiences, and lifestyle as professional gamers, with the additional challenge of coaching a team of lucky Starcraft amateurs. Ten players in total will get the opportunity to learn from Violet and Polt during CSN Training Camp.” These players will then play against each other for their respective teams.

The show initiated way back in May 2014, and we only got to see the content two years later. Based on what’s posted on reddit, it seems like the the video editing process is where the delay occurs.

Tips from Polt

Please keep in mind that Heart of the Swarm was used in the Training Camp show, and the current expansion is Legacy of the Void. With that being said, some of the tips are still relevant.

I rephrase what Polt said into tips and not just paraphrasing what he said. Also I provide context to some of the tips, because they won’t make much sense otherwise. I essentially did a qualitative analysis to extract the insights, and it took a lot more time and effort than I expected.

Mindset

How to handle defeat (ep3 – 5:56)

  • The two main thoughts after a defeat are that you are unlucky, and you are just worse than your opponent. While the second thought gives you the motivation to practice harder, it can hold you back in a series. If you think that you are not as good as the opponent after a defeat in the first game, it affects how you play the series.
  • It is difficult to shape this mindset because you are after all the same person playing the game. Thus, it is important to approach a tournament with a different mindset that you use in practice.
  • My opinion – I guess this is like the saying “practice like you’ve never won, play like you’ve never lost.”

Knowing what went wrong (ep3 – 9:40)

  • It is important to know why you win and lose. It can be the build order, the engagement or other factors.
  • If you play when you are tired, it is difficult to know whether your defeat is due to fatigue.
  • My opinion – Polt was replying to the question about whether you should practice when you’re tired, and I think Polt’s answer shed light on his overall approach to practice than just answering the question itself. I have the same deduction mindset, which I also apply to my work and other hobbies.

Mental issue with knowing your opponent (ep4 – 5:36)

  • Knowing that you are going to play someone whom you have lost to before may affect your mindset towards the next game negatively.
  • You may perform better if you don’t know who you are playing against.
  • My opinion – This is more of a self-evaluation than an advice.

How to approach a match when you know you’re the underdog (ep5 – 8:50)

  • Overcome it by practising hard and you are able to beat this person in the late game.
  • Mix in all-ins, and this will result in opponent worrying about these builds. Consequently, it gives you an advantage in a standard macro game.
  • My opinion – The first point is, well, duh? The second point is important when you play in a tournament or you are a “known” player.

General tactics

Sensor tower location (ep2 – 6:50)

  • The sensor tower should be placed at a location where it covers as many incoming attack paths as possible.
  • Polt has specifically pointed out a location at the natural on King Sejong Station (see image below).

Untitled-6

Spotter Marines (ep2 – 7:17)

  • Marines should be positioned at various locations on the map that provide you information on where your opponent army is (see image below – the white [!]s).
  • It is much more valuable to have that few Marines around the map to provide the vision than it is to have that few more Marines in the main army.

Untitled-8

Vanguard Marines (ep2 – 8:26)

  • When you are moving out with an army, stim a few Marines to move ahead of your main army. This gives you information of what is ahead. For instance, it gives you better reaction time if you know opponent has Banelings ready for an engagement.
  • My opinion – Even though Polt specifically discussed this based on TvZ, this is a common and important tactics that can be applied to every match up. I come up with the term “vanguard Marines”, let me know in the comments if there is a more common term for it.

Select only loaded Medivacs (ep3 – 8:50)

  • Select all the Medivacs and click drop (default hotkey – D) on a location, and only the loaded Medivacs will react to the command. Then reselect and regroup the army accordingly.
  • My opinion – Polt’s answer to the question wasn’t exactly clear, but this is basically what he was suggesting.

Terran versus Zerg

Attack direction (ep2 – 7:58)

  • Attack the latest Hatchery if possible, because the creep is less spread out. The closest Hatchery may not be the better choice.

Getting on creep (ep4 – 6:20)

  • Generally, it is a good idea not to get on creep.
  • If you want to get on creep to pile up the pressure, make sure you know where opponent’s army is.
  • My opinion – Basically you need to gauge how vulnerable your army is.

How to deal with Broodlord (ep4 – 7:08)

  • Gather army at a base (I think he’s referring to the base that opponent is attacking), then drop units at multiple locations. This is because Broodlords are not mobile.
  • At the same time, you should be making Vikings, while the drops are buying you time.
  • My opinion – Polt suggested to drop two Medivacs at each of the several locations. I think the number itself is more flexible and it depends on your army size and other factors. The key takeaway is that you should commit more to dropping rather than thinking you should have a sizeable army at the base.

Command Centre on the high ground (ep4 – 8:03)

  • The Scv scout should provide you information on whether it is necessary to build your Command Centre on the high ground.
  • If you are worried that opponent sneaks Zerglings to attack the building Scv on the low ground, you should station the second Reaper at the natural instead of building the Command Centre on the high ground.
  • My opinion – Related article

Against mass Mutalisks (ep5 – 5:53)

  • Terran don’t have a unit that can counter 30 to 40 Mutalisks.
  • You need to keep pressuring to force the Mutalisks from attacking at your side of the map.
  • My opinion – Terran have Liberators now. Nevertheless, the general approach is still applicable.

Using Banshee (ep5 – 6:09; ep6 – 4:48)

  • If there is no Spore Crawler at the mineral line, the Banshees should be used to kill Drones.
  • If there is a Spore Crawler at the mineral line, group them with the Hellions to attack the third Hatchery.
  • It is alright to loss one Banshee, the second one should at least apply pressure to buy time. You are vulnerable to Mutalisks or Baneling attack, because you don’t have that many Marines due to the investment in Banshee.
  • The decision to get a second Banshee and Cloak upgrade should be based on the timing of the third Hatchery and Lair.
  • My opinion – I disagree with the last point (maybe I misunderstood Polt), because the chronological order of these timings doesn’t allow you to make such adjustment. I have discussed extensively about Banshee and early Mutalisk interaction in another article.

Counter drop against Roach and Hydralisk (ep5 – 6:48)

  • It is not a good idea to counter drop when opponent’s Roach and Hydralisk army wants to engage with your main army.
  • If you lose the main army battle, you lose the game. The drop won’t matter. Thus, it is better to drop up your forces.
  • My opinion – I lost many games because I did exactly that. However, it is not as clear cut as not dropping against Roach and Hydralisk, because dropping is important against this army composition. The key is to ensure you know that opponent is not in a position to commit to a big fight when you drop.

When and where to attack (ep5 – 7:15)

  • Do not move out to attack if Zerg do not have a fourth base, and you already have your third.
  • Move out to attack Zerg’s fourth, when opponent expand.
  • My opinion – There is this “plus one rule” in TvZ. If you are having the same number of bases as Zerg, you should be more defensive. You should only attack when Zerg has one base more than you.

Scouting (ep6 – 4:01)

  • Always check the timing of the third Hatchery and the timing of the Lair.
  • My opinion – Related article

My opinion

There is one underlying thing that stood out from the tips suggested by Polt, and that is the importance of information.

The most important thing in this game you need is information.” – Polt

The general tactics like having spotter and vanguard Marines are fundamentally about gathering information. This then allows you to make decisions according to the situation, and the implication is evident in the match up specific tips Polt have given.

In fact, Polt is the best Terran player for tactical decision making. I have written many pieces about his tactical brilliance for the last four years. You can read the following articles to appreciate just how tactically smart Polt is.

The mindset related discussion is interesting, and it relates to something that I have been thinking about for a long time. That is, is a Starcraft game independent or is it dependent on the games you have played before? By that I am not referring to practice and learn from previous games at the personal level, but I am referring to how the results of previous game played against a specific opponent may affect how the players approach the subsequent games.

Polt was saying that he initially thought he couldn’t defeat a certain player, but he actually defeated him when he didn’t know the opponent was that player. This implies that it is beneficial to think that each game is independent, and the last defeat does not have an impact on the next game against the same opponent. This rationale is reinforced when he said it is better to not think that you lose because the opponent is better. As counter intuitive as it may sound, there is merit to attribute defeats to external factors. Of course, as he had also mentioned, it is crucial to separate the practice and tournament mindsets.

I have so much to say about the topic on the independence of consecutive games that I should refrain myself from diverging away from the topic of this post. Anyway, there are people who said that I look like Polt in Pig Story Cup. Really? I am the one in grey in the image below. At least, Polt and I have some similarities, and I think we approach problems with the same deduction thinking process.

Untitzczcxcled-2

The featured image is taken from Redbull. I just add the Training Camp image and the #TeamPolt.

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4 thoughts on “Polt’s Tips from Training Camp

  1. Just FYI: There is a video missing/broken after “..and it took a lot more time and effort than I expected.” = Video does not exist.

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