Dustin Browder, Lead Designer of StarCraft 2, has posted a lengthy and interesting article detailing StarCraft 2′s race usage and win percentages as well as gameplay balancing plans for the next patch.
For the Zerg race, the present looks grim (but the future seems bright!) – Blizzard’s numbers show that less than a quarter of all players play as Zerg.
Protoss are played 38.5% of the time.
Terran are played 38.0% of the time.
Zerg are played 23.5% of the time.
These cross-league statistics leave no doubt as to which race drew the shortest popularity stick. Indeed, the Zerg have become increasingly harder to play as the meta-game settled in with both Terran and Protoss openings being “simpler” than the Zerg’s fragile early game.
In reality, however, players that willingly pick Zerg are not the underdogs comapred to their Terran and Protoss opponents. The Diamond numbers are actually quite reassuring, displaying a fairly balanced 3-way relationship, while Platinum is currently favoring Zerg in terms of win percentage.
Win % in Diamond (accounting for player skill)
49.6% win rate for Protoss when fighting Terran.
52.8% win rate for Protoss when fighting Zerg.
49.6% win rate for Terran when fighting Zerg.
Win % in Platinum (accounting for player skill)
56.3% win rate for Protoss when fighting Terran.
47.3% win rate for Protoss when fighting Zerg.
44.5% win for Terran when fighting Zerg.
Win % in Gold (accounting for player skill)
61.0% win rate for Protoss when fighting Terran.
61.1% win rate for Protoss when fighting Zerg.
49.5% win rate for Terran when fighting Zerg.
Win % in Silver (accounting for player skill)
63.6% win rate for Protoss when fighting Terran.
50.7% win rate for Protoss when fighting Zerg.
51.6% win rate for Terran when fighting Zerg.
Win % in Bronze (accounting for player skill)
59.0% win rate for Protoss when fighting Terran.
55.1% win rate for Protoss when fighting Zerg.
45.4% win rate for Terran when fighting Zerg.
Interestingly, while the Zerg are not as popular – likely due to being slightly less comfortable to play with, as Chris Sigaty himself had said recently - it is the Protoss vs Terran match-up that appears to be in need of balancing, especially across the lower leagues. We’ve highlighted those numbers in green. Curiously, Diamond-level Terrans enjoy a slight advantage over the Protoss – probably because of much better use of EMP, abundant M&M drops, and efficient Reaper micro at these higher levels.
Dustin also took the time to preview some of the balance changes planned to be included in the next patch:
• We’re increasing roach range. This will allow roaches to be more effective in large groups, giving the zerg more options in the mid to end game.
The Roach has received many nerfs throughout its life in StarCraft 2, and this change will definitely help settle the score in its favor. By giving extra range to the Roach, large groups of these units become much more viable. Not only can more of them shoot over their brethren on the field, but they’ll also offer nice support when Ultralisks join the battle and clog-up the front lines with their massive size. Busting up walled ramp-chokes will surely become an easier task as well with more Roaches firing.
• Fungal Growth will now prevent Blink, which will give zerg a way to stop endlessly Blinking stalkers which can be very challenging to deal with in large numbers.
• The Barracks are going to require a Supply Depot, which will impact a lot of early terran reaper pushes.
• The reaper speed upgrade will require the Factory, which is meant to weaken a lot of the early terran reaper attacks that dominate so many matches, especially in team games.
Despite being completely ignored by players in the mid and late game, the Reaper is slated to be hit with more early-game nerfs. While on paper, Reapers have the potential to be great economy harassers and tech-deniers, their extreme fragility makes even the puniest defensive measure a prohibitive obstacle – and these can be found anywhere beyond the first few minutes of a game. It’s unclear what Blizzard has in store for the Reaper, but for now, it will definitely see a lot less play.
• We’re making a number of increases to the health of zerg buildings, which will make the very vulnerable zerg technology structures more resistant to raids. We don’t expect these hit point changes to have a super significant impact on the game, but the current numbers felt way too low.
All in all, this patch will definitely make the Zerg’s life easier. However, since it doesn’t address any of the complications in Zerg play that we mentioned in our post on the subject, it’s not clear that it will actually increase the amount of Zerg players. That will remain to be seen.