Complete Beginners Guide Watching Starcraft II – Part 1

By: Scott

Starcraft II is an incredibly competitive game with hundreds of the world’s best players competing for a stake in the millions of dollars in prize money paid out each year. In the first two years since the game’s release, over 5 million dollars has been paid in prize money, with dominant players such as Jang “MC” Min Chul and Jeong “Mvp” Jong Hyeong winning $350k and $330k respectively. Large events can draw thousands of live spectators and a hundred thousand more online.

Many of whom don’t even play the game.


It’s a strange idea, watching videogames instead of playing them. For many people, the idea will seem absurd; we watch traditional sports because the players are able to perform feats of athleticism that we are incapable of. This doesn’t apply to playing videogames, does it? Why not just pick up a mouse and keyboard and play yourself?


The fact is, you can’t just pick up the game and play like these guys. Starcraft II requires creativity, intelligence, speed, nerves of steel and thousands of games of experience to even begin to be competitive. The multitasking, intelligence and ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances exhibited by professional players is amazing, even to those that play the game regularly.

A professional needs to do more than just play the game well; players belong to teams, live in team-houses and often have coaches that enforce physical fitness and mental health. Many potential champions, such as Lee “MarineKing” Jung Hoon, have fallen short despite their superior mechanics due to mental exhaustion or pressure. Many of these are ‘practice bonjwas’, players that are known by their peers to be among the very best but continuously fail to perform in televised matches.

Being a champion requires skill, hard work and a deep understanding of the game and one’s opponent; It also requires the mental fortitude to not throw these out the window when you are one game away from winning $50,000 and the respect of thousands of players and fans.


In the simplest possible terms, Starcraft II is about two players trying to destroy the other’s base. There is an immense amount of complexity involved in this simple-sounding task; I will get into things like resource management, army compositions, timings, macro and micro in subsequent parts. Each game is played on one of many maps, which are essentially game boards with different terrain, features and layouts that can drastically modify strategies. Needless to say, there are many different methods of defeating your opponent, and this allows the players to develop successful yet vastly different styles. There are players known for exploiting their opponent’s lack of defense in the early game with focused aggression, yet there are also players who prefer to slowly contain their opponents for a more patient and safer victory.

The beauty of Starcraft II is that many such opposing styles can be viable. The goal of this series is to get you to a place where you can understand and enjoy watching it, as well as appreciate those that devote their lives and passion to the game. Give it a chance!