If there’s one thing to be taken from MLG’s National Championships at Dallas it’s that there’s a changing of the guard as far as Blizzard e-sports is concerned. StarCraft 2 remains a powerful draw while for multiple reasons; World of Warcraft was no longer at the event. The fact is WoW, while having easily the biggest player base has numerous issues attached to it and has seen a steady decline in viewership. Coupled with a focus on an even larger scale competition things are starting to look shaky.
StarCraft 2 doesn’t have these issues. It’s also arguably the easier of the two titles to follow when competition is going on. A passing knowledge of RTS games is all that is required to understand the basic ebb and flow of a SC2 game. Two players race to build a powerful army to crush their opponent. It’s incredibly simple as its base but the game, as others do, has incredible depth with unit composition, micro/macro based play-styles and other key factors to determine the match. Legendary commentator day9 also provides some of the best color and technical commentary anyone could ask for, making it easy for both novices and experts to understand any minute factor that determines the outcome of a match.
World of Warcraft on the other hand requires a much more trained eye, especially considering the types of games that evolved in the 3v3 arena scene towards the end of Wrath of the Lich King. Considered cheesy and overpowered by most in the arena community, Wizard Cleaves dominated the scene and decided the winner at the true grand finals at Blizzcon ’10. Unless you’re a diehard fan the games were almost painful to watch: six players more or less humping the life out of a pillar to stay alive and poking out every so often to attempt a kill. Skill was definitely present but it surely didn’t lend well to the average viewer. People want to see kills and when a significant portion of the games are being decided by overall damage when the timer runs out, it gets boring.
A less commonly addressed issue is the fact that people tend to like following certain teams or in StarCraft 2’s case, individuals. Take one look at the bracket for SC2 at MLG Dallas and you’ll be treated with a myriad of players, some of which you’ve probably never heard of. But on the other side, you’ve definitely heard of IdrA, HuK, Jinro, Machine and several others. Keeping up with a WoW player isn’t too difficult but for a relatively new guy seeing team changes, comp changes and the like, some end up gravitating to their own class rather than a player.
World of Warcraft hasn’t been put in its e-sports’ grave as Cataclysm will herald a different type of ranked competition but it’s become apparent that StarCraft 2 is going to be the new go to e-sports title as far as Blizzard’s games are concerned.