Blizzard has dropped a controversial new StarCraft 2 patch just a few weeks before a major tournament, and it looks like the Zerg cabal is winning again.
If you don't know how StarCraft works, it's a strategy game featuring three playable factions: the human Terran, ethereal alien Protoss, or buglike Zerg. Competitive StarCraft arguably set the stage for modern esports, and while StarCraft 2 hasn't kept up with the popularity of esports games like League of Legends or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, it remains a lucrative sport for top teams and players.
It's been very difficult to compete with Zerg players for a very, very long time. Zerg players have been taking consecutive world championship wins for the better part of a decade, and as of the most recent patch launched in July 2022, Protoss pros in particular have been struggling against the Zerg onslaught. With one more balance patch landing before the massive IEM Katowice tournament in February, players were holding out some hope that the situation would be addressed.
Patch 5.0.11 (opens in new tab) landed on January 23, with a host of buffs and nerfs for all three races that are essentially indecipherable if you haven't spent the last few years digging out your spot on the StarCraft 2 ladder. But basically, the sentiment from players is that changes to key Protoss units make them even less effective at a high level, and the handful of improvements for the faction doesn't do enough to counteract them.
You don't need me to quote a bunch of tweets and Reddit comments for you here - you can just browse social media to see the meltdown for yourself - but there's one comment by silverbean (opens in new tab) that basically sums the situation up: "I just love this. Literally no one is happy. This is great."
Last week, caster Nathanias suggested in a (now-deleted (opens in new tab)) tweet (opens in new tab) that speaking up about the "Zerg cabal" had led to blacklisting from tournaments. The notion of a secretive cabal of Zerg players running the game from behind the scenes, like some StarCraft Illuminati, quickly became a meme (opens in new tab) among the community, but a Zerg-favoring patch landing just weeks before a major tournament is turning a lot of StarCraft players into conspiracy theorists. Most of them are joking. (Probably.)
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