Platinum Skills Report Card

I've been thinking about the various skills that go into Starcraft, and this is my attempt at generating a report card for myself.  Some of this is to document my own progress, and some of it is so that other players who wonder what it takes to be at League X can see what worked for me at this level.

The Grading System
S- Superior.  This aspect of play is highly polished, consistent and comprehensive.
A- Excellent.
B- Good.  Significant effort invested into this area has produced significant strength.  May not be strong in all aspects or consistent.
D-Poor.  Minimal effort in this area has yielded only the lowest hanging fruit.
F-None or Negligible

My Report Card

  • eAPM  100
  • Mechanics  C overall
    • Mouse D
    • Keyboard B
  • Macro C overall
    • Spending C
    • Economy B
    • Injects C
    • Creep C
  • The Mental Game D
    • Task-switching D
    • Attention space C
    • Focus under pressure D
    • Applying pressure F
  • Tactics D overall
    • Positioning/Terrain D
    • Composition D
    • Spellcaster use C
    • Micro D
    • Cheekyness F
  • Scouting D overall
    • Control D
    • Recognition D
    • Reaction D
    • Mini-map Awareness C
  • Knowledge C
    • Zerg Knowledge C
    • Protoss Knowledge D
    • Terran Knowledge D
    • Meta Awareness C
  • Game Sense C
Thoughts and details

eAPM.  The elephant in the room.  People are fond of saying that it doesn't matter but the correlation between APM and league looks pretty strong to me.  It makes sense.  In a real-time game with so many moving parts that even pro-players must triage their attention, being able to issue commands quickly is a meaningful advantage.  No point in giving a letter grade when we have an actual measure.  100 APM as an average for me.  I can sometimes reach 130APM and I would like to learn to do this more consistently.

Mechanics-Mouse. My mouse hand is slow and imprecise.  I'm practicing some with Aim Booster and a few other games.  D.

Mechanics-Keyboard. My keyboard hand is pretty good. I'm a touch typist.  I use The Core.  I have spent a lot of time further customizing my keys and thinking about how to do things efficiently.  I'm proficient with steal control groups and base cams.  I sometimes make use of another camera location, but not usually. I can build most buildings and units without needing to look at the command card or keyboard.  I sometimes fatfinger something, and usually I know that but I have occasionally constructed the wrong building.  I could be a lot smoother with army movements. B.

Macro-Spending.  Platinum as an average on ladder games, but when I focus on a known build I can pull off Master or sometimes GM level spending.  Pressure throws me off.  This is my primary area of improvement focus right now.  When I'm off-script I can sometimes pull off reasonable spending.  C.

Macro-Economy. I'm reasonably good at droning up bases and taking gases.  I sometimes get messy beyond 3 bases. B.

Macro-Injects. Fairly strong in the early part of the game when it counts the most.  I can lose track of this when combat heats up.  Working on having a telltale queen on her own control group so I can monitor energy more efficiently.  C

Macro-Creep. Not great and inconsistent.  This is the first thing in my play that falls apart under pressure. I have no real plan of attack beyond making creep queens and spreading tumors when I can.  C.

Mental-TaskSwitching. Still trying to develop muscle memory to come back to army at the end of an inject cycle.  Need to add in coming back to army while looking for next creep location on mini-map or looking at mini-map generally.  Not really tapping at all, or when I do I lose track of important macro items. D.

Mental-AttentionSpace. Injects don't disrupt my mental flow at all.  If I'm at a part of a build that I know really well then I can focus on controlling units without losing track.  In general this is a weaker area and one that I think could see significant improvement as I commit known/repetitious parts of the game to habit. I occasionally get supply blocked due to distraction but not usually.  C.

Mental-Focus. Pressure can really get me frazzled and blow up my macro.  I can also panic and blow all my larva on the wrong unit.  I've managed to train myself to sometimes stop staring at combat and macro. D.

Mental-ApplyingPressure. I do no drops and almost no multi-pronged attacks.  When I do they tend to be poorly timed. F

Tactics-PositioningTerrain. Beyond respecting the value of a ramp and knowing that zerg prefer to come into an open area from multiple angles, and avoiding funneling my army into obvious defensive kill zones, I have paid no attention to this. I do tend to split my army into 2 control groups for a better surround before an engagement and this is really important. D.

Tactics-Composition. I'm using pretty normal meta stuff and not really thinking about forcing tech switches that I can counter, and the like.  I have a reasonable idea of which units are good against which units but not necessarily which compositions are good against other compositions.  I don't have a clear idea of what ratios of units I would like to spend my supply on, or how that might change if I'm at 80 or 66 drones.  D.

Tactics-Spellcasters. Zerg spellcasters are really strong and I have gotten myself to have a basic familiarity with them and their use.  I'm not proficient but against opponents that do not have great army control I can definitely get value out of my infestors or vipers.  C.

Tactics-Micro.  I do a little stutter step when needed.  I don't really split.  In ZvZ my micro isn't great but I can make my banelings scary and try to keep my ling swarm away from their banelings.  I don't usually spread units within a control group out before an engage for a better concave, but I will bring two different control groups in from different angles.  I don't do much target firing and often forget to even when it's important (like queens should be attacking medivacs). D.

Tactics-Cheekyness.  I'm not really doing any cute stuff like making use of burrow, drops, nydus.  I burrow my infestors and I occasionally get a pretty sick neural parasite but that's about it. F.

Scouting-Control.  I really do not have the APM/Task Switching/Attention Space to control an effective scout right now.  Early game I check the natural and maybe peek up the ramp.  I will send out overlords or zerglings to watch other expansion locations so that I can do Base-count Scouting.  I basically never scout tech, etc. I don't usually know what the enemy has or is building until I'm in combat with it.  I check my natural for cannon/bunker rushes in the early game.  I'm pretty good at leaving a canary zergling to detect when the enemy moves out, but not always. D.

Scouting-Recognition.  I mostly don't know what I would be looking for even if I saw their buildings except for some super-obvious stuff.  D.

Scouting-Reaction. Beyond adjusting away from being hard countered or building a composition that is obviously bad against what the enemy has, I'm not really reacting a lot.  I go in with a game plan and I pretty much do that. D.

Scouting-MiniMap Awareness. I've trained myself to spend a fair amount of time looking at the mini-map.  I won't normally miss major army movements, but I don't usually see drops in advance.  I try to be aware of when the enemy expands and to where but sometimes I am not staying on top of having the vision for it.  C.

Knowledge-Zerg.  I'm familiar with my units and buldings.  I have a reasonable idea of what they are good or weak against.  I know exactly what some of them cost and approximately what others cost.  I have some very limited specific knowledge, like spire and hive have the same build time, or that vipers and evolution chambers have a close enough build time that you can put the evos for consume down when you start the vipers.  I've done a little bit of upgrade value study.  I know some tricks, like abduct can unburrow things or pull liberators out of anti-ground mode. I really only have two builds I can execute, one is 1.5 base ling/bane in ZvZ and the other is 3-base ling/bane/hydra for ZvT.  I'm pretty much freestyling ZvP with ling/roach into whatever I feel like.  I can improv a ling flood or ling/roach or something reasonably.  I don't know any timing attacks, bane busts, etc.  I follow conversations on /r/allthingszerg closely.  C.

Knowledge-Terran.  I mostly know what their units are and do and what they build from.  I may not be clear on details and I may not know all of the requirements.  Like I'm really not sure what does or doesn't require an armory.  Thors and hellbats, right? Battlecruisers I think? I have a vague idea of what is or isn't expensive.  I sometimes follow /r/allthingsterran to get their perspective on vs Zerg and what gives them trouble or is hard to execute. D.

Knowledge-Protoss. About the same as Terran.  D.

Knowledge-Meta. I have a vague awareness of normal things that people will usually try to do in matches.  I know to expect liberators and drops in ZvT, or possibly hellions. Terran will go bio with medivacs and either tanks or widowmines. I know mech is a thing and I know roughly what it is and that it's a defensive playstyle that scales well into late game. Protoss tends to harass with oracles and adepts, maybe phoenixes.  Zealot warp-ins on the high ground.  Protoss usually has a deathball of zealot/immortal/archon/templar or something like that.  I know skytoss is a thing but haven't faced it.  Gotta check for cannon rushes vs toss.    I've watched a fair number of the zerg matchups in GSL Season 3. C.

Game Sense. I think I have reasonably good instincts for when I am ahead or not, when my opponent must be up to something odd, when they are probably vulnerable to a counter attack, and so on.  I know when my opponent probably needs to all-in me or show up with DTs or something and can make preparations to not throw the game.  If they have a hidden expansion I will probably "feel" that something is off with their army size.  C.


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