Monday, 22 November 2010

Pushing won't be the best way to play

An Interview with Team Empire

Greetings to all our readers and the growing 2v2 community. Thank you all for your support. Each and every view motivates me to keep updating in weekly basis with indepth analysis of the mode and adding opinions of additional 2v2 pros. Speaking of which this week we have an interview of probably the best team you can find out there in the european ladder. Representatives of team Empire; today we have the pleasure to meet Aristeo and Cubert. Multiple times winners of ESL 2on2 Cup, the team with an astonishing over 90% win to loose ratio and the mentors of some insane tactics.


-So hello guys, who is Aristeo and Cubert? Why don't you introduce yourselves?

-Hi , i am Anton "Aristeo" Vasilyev and i play with Marat "cubert" Shakirzyanov , but he is not able to give this interview. We are from Russia , Yoshkar-Ola both. Friends in real life, 22 years me and 23 years old for cubert.

-Do you guys play together in a Lan Center? or you are using internet voice chat to communicate?

-We are playing from our homes and using chat , not voice. Never used skype or something like that. Dunno why, just dont need to.

-So, what's your practise shedule? When do you play on the ladder and how many hours a week you train?

-Well , depends only on our wishes/mood. We dont have any schedule also , just phoning/writing whether the other wants to play. And if both agree - lets go. This is not counted for tournaments sure. Tournament must be played and not much reasons from anyone can stop us from this :) . Dont know how many hours a week on ladder , but i think that 10-15 hours a week. Except tournaments.

-Nice. Cubert recently switched from Protoss to Terran. What was the reason behind that? Do you agree that TZ is the strongest combo nowadays?

-Yes it is. We switched because of 2 reasons. The first one is 7pool + 8/9barracks reapers from Zerg/Terran against Zerg/Protoss. This was simply unbeatable. We lost many matches against this when we were PZ. The second is that TZ is stronger than PZ in our opinion. So we switched. This imbalance was fixed soon , but we will be TZ anyway. TZ has more opportunities in middle/late game than PZ. And this is not only for TZ against PZ. This is for every other matchup.

-I see. However during your PZ period you achieved great success. What was the secret behind that success? Coordination? Some accused you for inventing the "unbeatable cheese". I think that goes for 4gates Stalkers and ling/bling 7 mins push. What's your thoughts on that?

-Well we have good coordination , thats for sure , but we got such success mostly because in bnet good teams is very rare nowadays. Mostly people simply dont understand how to play and this is easy win against them. Our push could be countered by pz/tz/pt/tt/zz easily. People just cant play correctly. The only mu that cant defend is pp in my humble opinion. So when teams will learn how to play - pushing would be not the best way to play.

-I see your point. The past times we met on ladder I figured you played a bit defensively. Do you favor more of a midgame battle over the rush or does your plan change according to the match and your opponents?

-Our plan always changes according to the opponents (if we have information about them) and the map. Also we dont have a clear strategy after the start which we would follow. We change the plan during the game immediately when we see something that could be better here than we planned before. Many teams don't do that , and this is their worst mistake. As for the midgame , the answer is simple: Rushes/Pushes will not work soon. 2v2 game is coming to this point because of maps. You are always close to your ally so if you play ideally - you won't be beaten by rush/push. So we are changing our game even though push will work anyway right now. We want to be 1 step ahead of the others. For example in Brood Wars - you could spawn on diagonal positions with your ally - so the game would be pretty aggressive from both sides (if they were good). In sc2 this can't be. So mid/late macro games is the future of 2v2.

-That's interesting and optimistic. But don't you think this is a bit general. I can understand that on Discord IV for example, but what about Arid Wastes? I feel 10 pool will always be powerful there. What do you think?

-Well Arid Wastes is the only map in bnet ladder that you are not close to your ally. And all the others are close enough. So we cannot count it. But of course we don't play defensively there because of the map construction. Aggression is the key to win on such maps , but not early - some tech aggression , for example push after stimpack for terran or banelings for zerg or both. Early aggression is almost autolose against good opponents. Dont really remember when we lost to 10pool or less last time. May be when we were PZ and played against TZ with reapers (imba). 12-15pool or 14-15hatch is the best openings for Zergs. Of course i dont count ZZ pair. ZZ can do many things which can work.

-Fair enough. Speaking of reaperling. Did you train that and use it pre-patch? Some teams still use that. I think I recently saw that from Osho and Easygun. Do you still use that on games?

-No , we dont use it now. Before the patch it didn't work against TZ except Arid Wastes so this is the only map where we played it and only against TZ. Against other pairs we don't use it because we didn't want to play imba. We could use p7+b8 reapers every game and it would be win everytime. But thats not interesting , so we played other strategies , that is standart after the patch. As for nowadays - reapers is killed to being massed. Factory for speed - thats why you can't do it. So using mass reapers now is lose. We are glad for it anyway , people should learn to play standart games , not winning by imba. Also this patch is the reason why on top ladder you can now see mostly PZ teams. Before the patch it was TZ all they way, fed by imbalance.

-So what's your hardest matchup at the moment? In fact your combined teamplay always seems smooth and stable. Which teams give you a hard time? Perhaps team Tera?

-We were surprised by many players , but didn't have stable hard games against any team. After someone would surprise us with some strategies and win - we would adapt and then we would win. The closest example is cast/surrey. They placed protoss gas on terran ally base and terran mined it from assimilator and then went really fast factory with reactor from barrack. That totally countered our push with lings/marauders and we lost 0-2 on ladder. But then we won against them on 3 tournaments and 5 times on ladder. We adapted. And this happens to every strategy that is not standart - but catches the opponents unprepared. As for the hardest matchup - i am pretty sure that this is TZ against TZ. Because on this matchup the key to win is not to attack. You should make more economy than the opponents does and not be killed for this. If you attack hoping that there is economy and opponents made enough defence - they will defend against this and also they had better eco. After this they can counterpush or make more and more macro. And you can't scout whether opponents are making eco or mass push or something else. You have only scan which can't always tell you what is going on.So TZ against TZ is pretty random matchup on high level. That's why i hate it.
About Tera. They are good enough , but they need a little more time to understand how to play against us.

-What would you say is the major weakness of your team play? Aristeo do you consider yourself a macro player or an opportunist? How easy is it for you to drone safely into the midgame?

-Well i dont see any weakness for us right now. Not modest but true. We can lose only when the opponents would play better than us , or if we would play really bad. And i think that i am more of a macro player , but thats not always needed at 2v2. As for the safe mid game i told previously - the worst problem is against TZ. Against PZ you can scout with your first ling and scanning gives you enough information, and against others it's even easier to know what is going on. So it is pretty easy to go to mid game.

-Alright. To change the topic. Do you get cheese'd often? Or people are intimitaded by your names?

-Huh , we are getting cheesed in many games. But that doesn't mean that we lose. Opponents cheese - we scout early, see everything and prepare. We almost never lose to cheese. I explained the reasons before. Early rushes won't work. And some photons / dt / banshee and so on is easy to be countered also. 2v2 on high level has its standarts so you better follow them and try to win in fair game :D.

-I couldn't agree more. Now into a more standar question. What do you think of the map pool? Do you remove maps on ladder? If you could make changes and force blizzard to implement them what would it be?

-We don't remove any map for sure. If we want to win everything - we must train everything. And maps are awful for me , as for any brood war player. These close mains will make 2v2 to mid/late macro game. And in BW early aggression was used almost in every game and it was really interesting to watch and to play. I loved that 2v2. For example PZ vs PZ in BW was 2gate and then may be more zeals and p9 + speed lings. Both teams tried to win the battle on the mid by their micro and dancing. That was really exciting. Now games are slow and nothing even close to this will appear if the maps won't change. So if i could make changes i would definitely make the sc1 maps. No need to make exactly the same - but respawns would be randomly for all players and all 4 mains would be on the same distance for others. It will make the 2v2 much more interesting and the strategies would totally change.

-To associate 2v2 with 1v1. What do you believe to be the major differences? What makes 2v2 so unique? And what pushed you and Cubert towards playing team games?

-In 2v2 you should counter not one opponent but both with help of your ally. So this is the main difference and this is also why we are playing teamgames. We like this, it makes the game more interesting. I like 1v1 too , but it can't be compared to the pleasure gained by the 2v2 gaming.

-I just loved this answer! What do you think of Starcraft 2 overall? What's your position on current game balance and what's your gaming background other than broodwars? What features do you anticipate blizzard adding on the following patch and future expansion besides the ones you mentioned already?

-Starcraft 2 is much better than sc1 thats for sure. But blizzard needs to change maps , not only 2v2 but 1v1 also. As for the balance - Terran is much more ahead than the other races. So terran need to be nerfed. And i am pretty sure that it will be done someday.
Almost every tournament is won by Terran players. Also look at GSL. On the last season in 1/2 there was 3 terran and 1 zerg. And on both GSL 1 and GSL 2 finals terran just played like shit. Thats why zerg won both. Foxer played great first 2 games and then he played too bad. Look at his previous games in 1/2 1/4. Thats how he should play. So I would like to see terran nerfed and 2v2 maps totally changed.

-What's your favorite unit? And which unit you think is underused or perhaps underestimated in 2v2? I, for instance, I haven't seen or used a mothership or Ultralisks for ages? You think they don't fit?

-My favorite unit is Stalker with blink despite i am Zerg at 2v2. But i was random at 1v1 , so I played each race for enough games. Also i play only random at 3v3/4v4. I love to micro them and blink with focused stalkers. And i dont see unit that is underused at 2v2. All units are used in the situations that they are needed to. As for tier3 units , it's really hard to get them in 2v2. And in small amounts they won't help enough. Mothership is good for sure, but getting stargate (which is made very rarely) , fleet beacon and then 400/400 mothership is too expensive for 2v2.

-What's your opinion about Infestors on 2v2? Not only you can transition into them easily from the lings-blings era but they also synergy great with tanks, Thors and high templars. Do you find Zerg being too strong in 2v2 and team games in general?

-I am starting to use infestors in at least 50% of my games , it is very useful in almost every combo. As for Zerg - Z always was the needful race to play. In BW it was even more important. That's all because of loweco fast mass army - it is very important at 2v2 and gives your ally time to do everything he needs. Even to go macro. But in sc2 pairs without z can still play , in many situations they are even better than ZX. So everything is fine for Z being strong in 2v2.

-I think you guys are a step ahead from the rest of the teams out there, or at least those I have met and played against. What are your future plans on competitive section of the game? And also do you see 2v2 becoming a big esport event like 1v1 is atm?

-I guess we will continue playing 2v2 for a long time. I really don't see 2v2 to becoming as important as 1v1. But it still can have enough tournaments to involve people to play 2v2. Also 1-2 2v2 matches in almost every Team Leagues wont let 2v2 to die.

-Closing this fine interview I would like to have a personnal question about our blog. Have you got the time to navigate through? How do you find our effort overall and do you have any suggestions (besides adding a replay section for high rated 2v2 teams)?

-Yes, i read your state about TZ and interview with Jazzybelle and Scorched haven state. All of it was very interesting so i would be glad for you to continue in this way. Replay section is good also , but i dont see what else to improve :). Everything is fine , you need just to continue.

-Thank you for your time and your thoughtful input on all the questions. Im sure our readers learnt a lot today on this amazing interview and we hope to be hearing from you guys soon! Any special shoutouts to your fanboys out there (including myself :P)?

-Well , thank you too for this interview and thanks for everyone who is involved in 2v2. 2v2 is living because of you all. :)

Stay tuned, the next week we have amongst us a 1v1 star! One of the highest skilled Zerg players on EU, with his own stream channel. You might have guessed already, Magulina. He and his partner Oreon will help us understand the basics of playing 2 Zergs. Any questions you might have for him (even regarding 1v1) be sure to add them on the comments or contact me at or AcidRain#260 ingame.

Follow the LINK to download an Aristeo 'n' cubert original replay! Till then, farewell and enjoy your games!