While you were stuffing your face over Thanksgiving weekend, Global Starcraft League and DreamHack competitors were throwing down in some amazing matches. Read on to see what you missed.
Global Starcraft League: Round of 32 ends
The field has narrowed from 64 to 32 in the third open season of the GSL, knocking out several notable names.
Team Evil Geniuses' Greg "IdrA" Fields (Zerg) was sent packing by Jong-Hyun "IMmvp" Jung (Terran) in a best-of-three set that went the distance. IdrA lost the first game on Blistering Sands, took a surprising win on Steppes of War (which isn't thought of as a Zerg-friendly map), but lost on Metalopolis. Jos "Ret" De Kroon (Zerg) of Team Liquid also bit the dust early, losing to Chan-Min "TheBestfOu" Kim (Terran) in three games. He took the first game on Metalopolis, but lost on Steppes of War and Jungle Basin.
Thankfully, Jonathan "Jinro" Walsh (Terran) of Team Liquid managed to carry the foreigners' torch by dismantling Jae-Ho "FOXMoon" Jang (Zerg) in two games on Scrap Station and Xel'Naga Caverns--you can watch the first match here.
Also, Yo-Hwan "SlayerSBoxer" Lim (Terran) lost to Seong-Hun "PoltPrime" Choi (Zerg) in three games, beating him on Blistering Sands but losing on Delta Quadrant and Jungle Basin, so you'll have to wait until next season to see the Terran Emperor return to the GSL stage.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the most epic match of this season so far was between two not-so-well-known players in the round of 64: Kyu-Jong "Clide" Han (Terran) vs. Dong-Nyung "LeenockfOu" Lee (Zerg). Frankly, words don't do this series justice, so watch the first game and decide for yourself.
The round of 16 starts on December 2nd, and there's plenty of excellent matches coming up--especially if you like watching Terran vs. Zerg. Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing season 2 champ Jae-Duck "NesTea" Lim (Terran) take on Han-Eul "MakaPrime" Kwak (Zerg), Nam-Kyu "BitByBitPrime" Kim (Terran) try his luck against season 1 champ Won-Ki "FruitDealer" Kim (Zerg), and last season's fan favorite Jung-Hoon "MarineKingPrime" (formerly "Boxer") Lee (Terran) against Dong-Nyung "LeenockfOu" Lee (Zerg).
Naama Takes DreamHack
Lots of high-level players were in attendance for DreamHack, a twice-yearly LAN party and tournament in Sweden, including Aleksey "White-Ra" Krupnik, Tyler "LiquidTyler" Wasieleski, Chris "HuK" Loranger, and Dario "TheLittleOne" Wunsch. That's why it was so surprising to see the finals clinched by two members of team Mouz, Santeri "Naama" Lahtinen and Grzegorz "MaNa" Komincz.
Both MaNa and Naama are relatively unknown players with a handful of notable European wins but virtually no presence on the international scene. In fact, MaNa wasn't even seeded--he had to qualify from the bring-your-own-computer tournament bracket. Ultimately, Maana took it in five games--check out the videos from the tournament at Day's Blip.tv.
Explaining the Game: Actions Per Minute
You may not need to bench your bodyweight or run a seven-minute mile to play professional Starcraft 2, but you do need to be in shape--of sorts. Players can measure their ability to a certain extent by checking their Actions Per Minute rate (APM). Basically, it measures how fast you are in Starcraft 2--if you can perform more tasks than your opponent, you can build more units, expand your base, and micro-manage your army more effectively. (Of course, APM doesn't mean anything if you're not performing the right actions, but that's another story entirely.)
You can check your own APM during a replay by pressing "M", which will display your average and current APM as well as your opponent's. However, you can't use this menu during an actual game, so if you want a reminder in-game, you'll need to try something else. We've reviewed the Razer Spectre, a gaming mouse aimed at Starcraft 2 players in both design (note the Terran-influenced looks) and functionality--the mouse can light up to different colors that correspond to increasing or decreasing APM levels. At $80, however, it's not cheap.
Personally, I prefer a companion app called SC2Gears, which will appeal to statistics junkies everywhere. Not only will it let you set up an APM alert that will warn you when you're slowing down in-game, it also lets you auto-save replays and perform batch analyses, so you can figure out which maps or matchups are giving you problems with lots of graphs. Best of all, it's free.