August 17th, 2012
Author: Anders Ingebrigtsen
We catch up with Team Dignitas’ Starcraft II player, Merz, and talk about the recent twists and turns in the game.
Tim Olsson, known in the Starcraft world as Merz is a Swedish Terran player currently playing for Team Dignitas. He has been a loyal member of the team since August 2010. Early on in 2012 Merz was making waves, qualifying for the MLG Winter Arena. But since then, however, he hasn’t had as much success.
Hi Merz, thanks for talking to us, how are things going?
dignitasMerz: Hello! No problem, things are going okay, I guess.
It's been a while since your last interview, what have you been up to since then?
dignitasMerz: It's been quite a bumpy road for the past few months. I'm currently trying to sustain myself as a full-time professional pro gamer, but not seeing much success as of yet due to various reasons that are not really worth going into here.
2012 started out well for you, qualifying for the MLG Winter Arena, you have kind of fallen out of the spotlight after that, when can we cheer for you in one of the bigger events again?
dignitasMerz: Not quite sure as I just failed qualifications to both WCS Sweden and Assembly Summer. I will be attending the Swedish IeSF-qualifiers in Linköping, Sweden, at the end of July though. This is currently my only planned offline attendance.
A bi-product of your current lack of streaming is insight into your current match-ups, how would you rank your match ups at the moment?
dignitasMerz: My TvT always feels the most solid when it actually matters. However I don't enjoy practicing the match up that much anymore because I feel that I have a lot more to learn in TvP and TvZ, which makes my TvT games in practice quite dull. I'd say it probably goes 1) TvT 2) TvP 3) TvZ right now.
How much has the Queen buff been a factor in the TvZ match-up, and do you think Blizzard has any choice but to nerf the Queen?
dignitasMerz: The queen buff was absolutely devastating to the TvZ matchup. TvZ was always my best or second to best match-up, ever since the release of the game. Now it's by far my worst. The Queen buff is a big factor, but what I think people are forgetting the big picture. The reason why Terrans are struggling right now is basically because of one big Zerg buff, one small Zerg buff, and one BIG Terran nerf. The Terran nerf came in a previous patch, which was the Ghost nerf. Previously Terrans had a response to late game Hive units such as the Broodlord or Ultralisk (combined with Infestors) and that was the Ghost. When they nerfed Ghosts, Terran’s late game capability got severely limited and Terrans started focusing a lot more on a strong mid-game (such as fast 3 Command Center builds, into a strong 2-2 mid-game push) to simply try and end or deal severe damage to the Zerg before they reached Hive.
This style however relied a lot upon the fact that we could limit the Zerg's creep spread with Hellions early on, pose a threat and do economic damage with them, then delay a possible third expansion from Zerg. With the Queen range (coupled with the fact that Zerg can now scout pretty much everything with the minor Overlord buff) we can no longer do any of these three things, and thus, even taking a quick third doesn't really matter much because their Hive tech comes out a lot faster now with a better economy behind it. Blizzard has to either revert the Queen buff or bring back Ghost snipe to fix it in my opinion.
Now that some videos with footage from Heart of the Swarm have been released, have your expectations gone up or down with regards to balance in the expansion, and what new unit is exciting you the most?
dignitasMerz: Balance will be terrible at first and no amount of pre-game videos is going to change that in my opinion. History proves that every time a new game or new expansion is released which hasn't been tested thoroughly by pro-gamers, or a wide audience, (which is literally every game or expansion) imbalance will be a huge factor in the beginning. It's basically a coin flip regarding what race it'll be. We can't know simply by looking at videos, but hopefully it's Terran :). The new mech units for Terran excites me the most, because they were a big reason I loved playing Terran in Starcraft:Brood War and I never really got the same feeling from Terran in SC2. Hopefully this brings back more of a SC:BW play-style to the Terran race.
Something that is also being added in the expansion will be resume from replay function. People are already toying with the idea of this being a practice tool, do you see yourself and your practice partners using this, and in what way?
dignitasMerz: Yeah, I can think of ways I'd like to use it in practice. For me, it would probably be a scenario in a game where both players are pretty much 50/50 in chances of winning the game. Say you both have 3-4 bases, you are both max supply, max upgrades, and from that point, pure decision making will affect the outcome of the game. If we could just restart from that point every time, rather than having to play up until that point each new game, It could help out overall decision making in late game scenarios a lot, or so I hope at least.
When the expansion is released, will you consider switching races?
Why will you be sticking with Terran?
dignitasMerz: Due to the new mech units, I have hope that Terran in HOTS will once again feel like the Terran I used to love to play in SC:BW. Also, the only reason I'd switch races in the new expansion is if that race is terribly imbalanced, but like I mentioned above, you can't really tell that until the game has been played for a while, so it's a huge coin flip. I'd rather just stick to Terran, hope I enjoy playing them more, and have my fingers crossed that they'll be terribly imbalanced at first.
Recently, there have been a lot of training houses established around the world, for instance the Ministry of Win house in Poland, and the Razer house in the USA that MrBitter runs, do you have any intentions of moving into a training house, or do you plan to stay on your own for 2012?
dignitasMerz: If I had the financial means to do so, I would have loved to, but right now money is really tight and I don't really see it happening unless something changes in that department in the up and coming months. Basically, I'll probably be on my own, even if I'd loved to do something like this.
The goal for any StarCraft player, is to travel to Korea, and live, practice and take part in the tournaments they have there, GSL and OSL, do you see this in your future?
dignitasMerz: With regards to what I answered above, currently, no. The ultimate "end goal" for me has always been to compete in Korea, but that goal looks very distant as of right now.
Quite a few people say they stay in the West so they have a chance to win more money, considering the few number of tournaments held in Korea, did this factor into your decision?
dignitasMerz: No. Going to Korea is not always beneficial and it's a tough environment for a foreign player. Going to Korea as a foreign player that still matches up evenly against EU/NA players doesn't feel very smart. As long as there are still things for me to learn here, I'll remain here. Seeing how communication, culture, food and what not is much more pleasant for me here. I feel that the best time to go to Korea is if you reach a very dominant position in the foreign scene, such as the likes of Stephano, or previously Naniwa. They smash most of the competition in EU/NA, and the people they only really struggle with are Koreans. That's a sign that you need to go to Korea to continue to improve, at least in my opinion. Regarding the chance to win more money in the West, that statement is no longer true, seeing how every Western tournament these days are flooded by Korean players anyways.