It's been close to a month now since the last balance patch went live and players now have had some time to adjust to the new maps and design changes as we're already half-way through the current season (2018 Season 4 is currently set to end on January 23, 2019). Now that it's Dec, 20th, it's time to take a look at the new pro and semi-pro data made available via the efforts of statistics aggregator Aligulac.
The sample size this period rests at a cozy 3038 games played by pros and semi-pros alike, collected over a two-week period with a sample population of 553. The results of this period are a bit surprising so without further ado, let's get into it and find out why.
Why Are Things Surprising?
That's probably the burning question everyone's asking so I'm going to answer it right now: According to the current trend, Protoss is over-performing. If you want to find out why read on.
Who's Currently the Strongest Player?
Although Maru is currently still the highest ranked player and the projected favorite to win vs. all match-ups, to suggest that he's currently the strongest would probably be false. Why is that? Because Serral exists and his results have been better. As a reminder, these periodic rankings have a slight lag and are not entirely indicative of recent performance as the function predicting a player's ranking (and theoretical performance) is gathered over the current and the last period to help determine consistency and therefore, certainty. Depending on how consistent and how specific the function was (based on previously gathered results), the longer it'll take for recent performance to affect certainty. To help illustrate that point, Serral has been performing better because his results are better, but Maru is still the highest ranked. However, since the last ranking, Serral is now within striking distance of just 1 point before matching Maru's score. By the next ranking, the Finnish Zerg will probably be on top.
Which Is Currently the Strongest Race?
On the upper right, you'll see the list of 230. As I've already reported, the current sample size is gathered over 3038 games from a pool of 553 pro and semi-pro players. As a reminder, unlike other survey sources such as opinion polls, this sampling is based off of the recorded results from players playing at the highest level of StarCraft II, which means that while this is not predictive of the player-base at large, it is predictive of the meta to follow as these are all expert sources.
In this period, Zerg is currently leading by 8% but is now trending downward. Protoss is currently lagging by 11% though it is trending upward.
But what does this mean?
Well, the whole leading/lagging races thing is just a predictive tool to determine which race is most likely to win in a match and does not account for individual player strengths. To determine who the leading and lagging races are, imagine the results of the top 5 players of each respective race being combined into one player and having those players play a battery of games against each other to determine which race is most likely to win against other race match-ups. The winner is the leading race, and the loser is the lagging race. It is therefore NOT an indicator of game balance, but how rather how the meta is shifting based on how the most dominant of each race is currently performing.
Now I know what you're asking: how can Protoss be over-performing if Protoss is lagging?
If you look at the chart showing the statistical percentage of specific race match-ups, you can see that Protoss is expected to win 54.67% of the time vs. Terran, 53.55% of the time against Zerg, and that Terran is expected to win 54.09% against Zerg. Based on these results, Protoss is expected to win more than 3% against the other races, and as such, Protoss is currently the strongest race. Zerg is currently under-performing except at the very, VERY top.
Why is this happening? Well, it's probably because the meta's still changing and everyone's still trying to get used to the design changes. In the last patch, a lot of unit interactions were revised, and specific builds are being exploited. Terrans, for example, are now fielding Battlecruiser rushes to deal damage to Zerg economies. Lurkers are weaker now because Disruptors are strong again. Meanwhile, the loss of the reactor-Cyclone means that Protoss can be much more aggressive in the early part of the game. That and a million other reasons is why we see these results.
Now it's still too soon to say whether one race is OP or not as the meta hasn't settled yet but based on this period, Protoss does appear to be a bit too strong, but we won't know for sure until later – only time will tell.