He turned and stormed off. Nico was bent over double with tears in his eyes.

Marissa turned back and batted her eyes. “You will teach me, won’t you?”

Michael frowned. “Yeah, I mean we have plenty of time. Tommy and I don’t actually play today: we’re seeded into Group Stage 3, and they have to do the open bracket before starting the first group stage.”

They turned to search for an open computer, and saw Kevin and his girlfriend. He was gesturing at the menu screen and talking while she watched. Marissa held a finger to her lips and stepped closer to hear.

“…see, there’s three races, and they all play out a bit differently. Protoss is defensive and uses lots of micro and spells, Zerg is usually aggressive and tech switches a lot, and Terran is pretty middle-of-the-road. They have a brutal midgame if they open 3 Command Center and you don’t punish it. In most cases when they macro Protoss goes for a stalker/adept/immortal/storm composition vs. Terran, and blink/disruptor vs. Zerg and Protoss. You usually open with adepts and phoenix in those matchups though.”

“I don’t think he’s doing a very good job.” Marissa whispered. “I barely understand a word he’s saying.”

“Yeah,” Michael replied, “he’s explaining it from his perspective. Upper-level game theory is worthless though if you don’t understand the basic principles. The vast majority of people play at a level where the person that has more stuff wins. Changing your composition and build order are just ways of refining your army so that it’s more efficient.

click here Basically, you start out with a single base structure and a few harvesters. You need to build your economy by making more harvesters and taking additional bases at resource locations around the map that you play on, create an army by making production structures and training units out of them, and research upgrades to make your army units stronger. Everything happens in real-time, so a large part of a player’s skill is how quickly and precisely they can perform actions.

Macro—that’s just spending your money that you collect—is super important. Only the very best players never have any unspent money, everyone else slips up at some point or gets distracted. Micro is controlling your units so that they live longer and do as much damage as possible. That’s what the crowd loves to see. People get too caught up in it, though. They spend too much time trying to take a beautiful engagement and don’t stop to build units or even think about what they’re doing.” He paused for breath, wondering where all those words had come from.

Marissa frowned. “I guess I kind of understand. When I watch you or Tommy I have no idea what’s going on though.”

“Yeah, Starcraft is one of the most complex games created. The average player can’t even grasp the implications of a pro’s smaller decisions.”

“Do you think you could play and try to explain to me as you go?” she prodded.

Michael ran a hand through his short hair. “I really wanted to get in some practice today, and I don’t play nearly as well when I try to commentate. When I play, I get completely absorbed. Trying to talk ruins that.”

readme “Oh- OK. I guess I’ll go wander around for a while, then. Keep Tommy out of trouble.” She turned and left before Michael had a chance to respond.

He sat down at an open computer, plugging in his peripherals. The “Find Match” button beckoned, but first he meticulously went through the menus, altering all the sensitivities and hotkeys. Michael opened a Micro Trainer arcade game, absentmindedly repositioning a practice army while making sure everything felt right. The warm-up process was ritualistic, and had gradually lengthened over since he’d started playing casually five years ago. The game he’d bought to waste a few hours playing the campaign in middle school was by-and-large the same, but it felt vastly different from the digital entity that now permeated his entire life.

He searched for a game, and another, and another. Soon, Michael lost himself in wins and losses. It always felt like that, like he was in another world. Hours flew by as his fingers flew over the keyboard. Each time he finished a game, Michael glanced up to see more and more people in the room. The open bracket had probably begun- its matches could be played from anywhere in the stadium, unlike the following stages. Michael wondered how many of these unfamiliar players he had matched against today without ever realizing. He looked up during an especially long queue time, and realized that the room was basically empty except for himself, Carlos, and River.

Carlos made his way over to the Korean, looking nervous. He asked him a few questions with a hopeful expression. River frowned, then shook his head. Carlos nodded and walked back to his PC.

Did he… did he just ask the tournament favorite for practice games?

It was basically unheard of. Actually, it was completely unheard of. If people had any worry that they’d have to play a certain person in the near future, it was normal to do whatever you could to avoid playing them. River was probably completely confident against Carlos, and even he wouldn’t risk it.

After nine hours and fifty games, he found a vendor and ate in silence. In the distance, a dozen speakerphones called for the second group stage. He browsed the brackets, noting that Nico had made it through as expected.

out site Michael reluctantly checked his phone, and saw a message from Marissa. Hey, Kevin said he can show us all around the city tonight. He’s leaving at 9 after his group matches, so text me back soon!

He checked the time. 8:46 PM.

Sorry, I want to have plenty of sleep for tomorrow and maybe practice some more. I’ll just take the bus back to the hotel.

readme He was treated with several uncharacteristic minutes of silence, and then

That’s fine, I guess…

Michael shook his head and walked out to the bus stop.

Let us know if you enjoyed Part 3! The finale will be posted this Sunday.



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