Can 2v2 become more than a casual diversion in Starcraft 2?



Sun 6th May 2012 - 1:48pm

There are a growing number of players who are beginning to focus on 2v2 as their main speciality, and there is certainly a noticeable rise in interest of following top-level 2v2 competition. In the MLG Spring Arena, we were treated to a mini 2v2 tournament, with MC and DongRaeGu forming a formidable partnership to collect the $1,000 prize money after a great victory over Parting and Ganzi.

This $1,000 first prize was the largest for any 2v2 Starcraft 2 tournament in the world, and we can only hope that it is the beginning of many more in the future.

Please, more 2v2

Although there was a breakthrough with MLG trying to legitimise 2v2 in a competitive sense, there are still a lot of factors that are holding the 2v2 game type from reaching its true potential. The complexity of 2v2 is mind-blowing, but it is truly sad that the majority of the Starcraft community overlooks the endless possibilities provided by merging races. When approached seriously, the skill and strategy of 2v2 is just as impressive as any 1v1 game.

The excitement is summed up best by creating build orders with your partner, creating insane timing attacks with unit compositions that cause nightmares. A traditional 1-1-1 tweaked to combine perfectly with a two-base colossus timing is one my personal favourite compositions in a Terran & Protoss team.

Colossi and 1-1-1

These composition possibilities are in addition to the huge strategic impact of two sets of eyes on the battlefield instead of one. The team constantly discuss the game as it's flowing, and the knowledge that you share with one another allows you to discuss the strategy and plan for a perfect game.

So why is 2v2 held back?

The Community Perception

Today, professional Starcraft 2 players are paid to play in the 1v1 bracket exclusively, and many of them have absolutely no interest in expanding into 2v2. The majority of active players in the community view 1v1 exclusively as the king of Starcraft game modes - the purest form of skill, where players rely only on their own tactical decisions, abilities and reads to try and defeat their opponents.

Many Starcraft 2 enthusiasts go as far as to describe 2v2 as the 'fun' game type, designed to play alongside a friend to wind-down from the pressures of constant 1v1 scrimmage. 2v2 provides a welcome relief to these players. It also must be said, that despite the MLG Spring Arena broadcasting their 2v2 tournament the quality was compromised by the fact that players used tactics that were designed to entertain rather than to win, that players announced freely their build orders for their opponents and that MC off-raced to Terran (and still won).

The Map Pool

One of the biggest complaints from players who have considered taking 2v2 seriously is the map pool. The maps are exclusively designed by Blizzard, and no leagues have taken it upon themselves to create a map pool for 2v2 competition.

The maps in the 2v2 map pool are all designed in such a way that games are generally limited to strong one or two base timing attacks exclusively. On some maps, even the first expansion is incredibly dangerous to secure and teams are punished immediately for it. On all maps, a third base is impossible to secure without complete map control - by which time, arguably, the game is already won.

Tournaments starting to host 2v2 competitions

The MLG Spring Arena paved the way for other tournaments to begin to follow suit. The viewing figures suggest that fans were extremely excited to see something slightly different alongside their serving of constant 1v1. If more tournaments do the same, 2v2 could become legitimised in a competitive scene.

The upcoming Insomnia Festival in the UK will be hosting a 2v2 tournament, albeit without a prize pool.

Popular 1v1 Players linking up to make awesome 2v2 teams

Stephano is a pretty big fan of playing 2v2 - there is quite a large replay pack online of him playing with White-Ra on the North American server. In addition, he has played a few games with his close friend Samayan ‘BlinG’ Kay over the past couple of seasons.

When you watch the replays when Stephano plays with White-Ra, you can see that they have given real respect to the playlist and have devised strategies that work in 2v2 - rather than playing as two separate 1v1 players.

Blizzard giving respect to the playlist by updating the ladder pool

Although Blizzard cannot give any sort of priority to balancing 2v2 match-ups at the expense of 1v1 (no one in the world would condone this), they could do a lot more to support the scene. A glance at a leading community forum where 2v2 is being discussed shows any developer that there is a high demand for a new map pool - at the very least just to freshen up, if not to address the issues outlined above.

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