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Hard times for Protoss in latest StarCraft 2 balance patch

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Hard times for Protoss in latest StarCraft 2 balance patch

Blizzard’s latest balance patch for StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm attempts to address the disparity between Protoss and Terran, which has become one of the biggest issues in the game.

In keeping with Blizzard’s cautious approach to balance, they’ve made some significant tweaks that will hopefully address the major problems without radically overhauling the way the factions play. Still, there’s no getting around it: Protoss are hit hard with this patch.

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Blizzard open up Heart of the Swarm art tools in beta; "The full capability of the StarCraft II engine is at your disposal"

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Blizzard open up Heart of the Swarm art tools in beta; "The full capability of the StarCraft II engine is at your disposal"

You might remember StarCraft Universe - the aspiring MMO built entirely in the SCII engine, now eight days away from its Kickstarter deadline. Arriving a little too late to be of use to its team but just in time to enable a new wave of Battle.net modders are StarCraft 2’s art tools - now released in open beta, “to do with as you see fit".

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Worth watching: WCS EU StarCraft Ro32 today, Wednesday

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Worth watching: WCS EU StarCraft Ro32 today, Wednesday

Today at noon Eastern / 5 PM UK (just a few minutes away!), the round of 32 in Europe’s WCS Premier League continues with BabyKnight, Ret, ThorZaIN, and Welmu competing to advance to the round of 16. It’s an all-European group featuring some incredibly seasoned, accomplished players.

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Snute puts on a StarCraft 2 clinic, SHOUTcraft Grand Finals tonight

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Snute puts on a StarCraft 2 clinic, SHOUTcraft Grand Finals tonight

One of the many nice things about Heart of the Swarm has been how it’s made the Zerg a much more flexible and interesting faction to watch. That really hit home for me yesterday watching the first group of the WCS America round of 16, where Norwegian Zerg Jens “Snute" Aasgaard showed off the variety of play with Heart of the Swarm Zerg, and his own resilience as a player.

You can watch last night’s play over on Twitch: his series against NesTea starts at 9:30, and his series against Alicia (highly recommended) starts at 2:15:30. The MLG-operated WCS America continues tonight (and every night this week save Friday) at 11 PM UK / 6PM Eastern. Tonight, however, the WCS America broadcast is preceded by the first-ever SHOUTcraft America Grand Finals, between Sam “Kane" Morrissette and Ryan “State" Visbeck. It starts at 8 PM UK / 3 PM Eastern and streams via TotalBiscuit’s Twitch channel.

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Celebrate independent StarCraft 2 with the DreamHack Open Stockholm this weekend

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Celebrate independent StarCraft 2 with the DreamHack Open Stockholm this weekend

Poor DreamHack, we all cried. Left out of the StarCraft 2 World Championship Series, shunned from the cool kids’ table where Blizzard and its new pals MLG, ESL, and OGN / GOMTV were planning to revolutionize StarCraft 2.

Now, after weeks of confusing mixed-signals, a troubled North American qualifying tournament, and some problematic tournament rules that may quash the kind of vibrant regional play the WCS was supposed to encourage, DreamHack is looking like a pretty great alternative. While Blizzard and its partners put the WCS back on the rails, StarCraft fans can spend this weekend enjoying the start of the 2013 DreamHack open series in Stockholm. Play starts at 10 AM UK / 5 AM Eastern on the DreamHack Twitch stream.

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Blizzard on Heart of the Swarm’s first week: “Nobody is close to figuring the game out yet.”

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Blizzard on Heart of the Swarm’s first week: “Nobody is close to figuring the game out yet.”

In the last eight days, Heart of the Swarm’s dev team have been looking on in awe as StarCraft’s international community burrow into their creation. They’ve watching every single major match so far, through the IEM World Championship and MLG’s Winter Championship, and have drawn a few early conclusions.

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Five lessons from MLG's Heart of the Swarm Winter Championship

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Five lessons from MLG's Heart of the Swarm Winter Championship

The first Heart of the Swarm MLG championship concluded in Dallas this weekend, with Korean Zerg Lee “Life" Seung Hyun taking first-place with a 4-2 victory over Terran StarCraft legend Lee “Flash" Young Ho. In addition to the $25,000 grand prize, Life also had the distinction of becoming a back-to-back MLG winner, having won the 2012 Fall Championship as well. As this was the first Heart of the Swarm MLG, we were watching closely to see what trends and changes showed up in this high-level competition.

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MLG Winter Championship begins in Dallas tomorrow, featuring League of Legends and Heart of the Swarm

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MLG Winter Championship begins in Dallas tomorrow, featuring League of Legends and Heart of the Swarm

Heart of the Swarm launch week concludes, fittingly enough, with the first MLG Heart of the Swarm championship in Dallas. League of Legends will also be broadcasting this week’s North American division LCS games from Dallas, as well as the North American Summer Promotion Qualifier and an international exhibition tournament. The streams begin at 6 PM Eastern and the games start a half hour later, at 6:30 Eastern / 10:30 UK. 

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Blizzard expand StarCraft 2’s Gold League to 32% of players to be “more inclusive”

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Blizzard expand StarCraft 2’s Gold League to 32% of players to be “more inclusive”

So Heart of the Swarm’s out, and it’s changed everything. Go to bed this evening and you’ll probably find Dustin Browder and his team at Blizzard have tweaked the way you clean your teeth. But one of its most significant changes is to something you likely haven’t spared a thought for yet: league percentages. If you play in ranked matches, Heart of the Swarm is going to change who it is you wind up fighting.

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Heart of the Swarm international launch times: get ‘em here

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Heart of the Swarm international launch times: get ‘em here

When Blizzard say that Heart of the Swarm launches on March 12, as they have done increasingly often of late, they mean that Heart of the Swarm launches on March 12 in California, where they live. However, shocking anecdotal evidence has revealed that as many as eight StarCraft 2 players don’t live in California. Indeed, as the snow mounts up outside my window this morning, so does the nagging feeling that I don’t live in California either.

Thankfully, Blizzard have seen fit to publish approximate unlock times for every region getting a Heart of the Swarm release, beginning in less than three hours’ time with Bangkok. Find your corner of the world in the list below.

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Blizzard’s 21-hour Heart of the Swarm launch broadcast begins now; Day[9]’s King of the Beta tournament to come later

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Blizzard’s 21-hour Heart of the Swarm launch broadcast begins now; Day[9]’s King of the Beta tournament to come later

Top StarCraft 2 players have been embedded in Blizzard’s Irvine headquarters today in anticipation of Heart of the Swarm’s staggered global release across the next two days. Under the seasoned eye and inspired commentary of Sean ‘Day[9]’ Plott, they’ll clash in King of the Beta tournament matches, to be broadcast alongside international launch events and community-created videos in a 21-hour stream on Twitch.

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IEM World Championship begins today with Heart of the Swarm group play, League of Legends starts tomorrow

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IEM World Championship begins today with Heart of the Swarm group play, League of Legends starts tomorrowToday the Intel Extreme Masters Season VII World Championship begins in Hanover, as some of the world’s top StarCraft 2 pros get a trial by fire in Heart of the Swarm in a $100,000 tournament. Pool play begins at 3:30 AM Eastern / 8:30 GMT and is can be streamed via ESL TV. The full schedule is available here.

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StarCraft 2 mutalisks strafe Day9 in Paris

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StarCraft 2 mutalisks strafe Day9 in ParisWell, this isn't your average attempt at viral marketing, Blizzard have released a short video of a Sean "Day9" Plott taking a short walk outside the Palace of Versailles only to be accosted by a cloud of mean-looking mutalisks. Unfortunately, we don't learn of his fate. It may be that at this very moment Plott is being munched on by a space lizard-y-thing.

See the terror below.

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Blizzard hosting StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm livestream tomorrow, new trailer incoming

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Blizzard hosting StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm livestream tomorrow, new trailer incomingStarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is arriving in just a matter of weeks, which has compelled Blizzard to host a livestreamed event tomorrow revealing the game's new Vengeance trailer alongside a collection of other treats, such as a developer Q&A and an eSports showmatch with commentary from Messrs TotalBiscuit and dApollo. There's a harrowing possibility that this Blizzard livestream may clash with the simultaneous announcement of more beautiful hair in games.

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UK StarCraft 2 tournament will say Farewell to Wings of Liberty

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UK StarCraft 2 tournament will say Farewell to Wings of Liberty

To celebrate the launch of Heart of the Swarm, and to give Wings of Liberty a send-off, retailer GAME and peripheral manufacturer Razer are co-sponsoring an enormous, 512-place, 1v1 StarCraft 2 knockout tournament for UK gamers. Farewell to Wings of Liberty will start on February 25th and the finals of the two-week tournament will be played in London on March 11th, the eve of Heart of the Swarm's release.

Expect live streaming of key matches for all the world to watch, with commentators Adam “Madals" Simmons and Robert “Pughy" Pugh. Click through to find out how you can sign up, join in and Zerg rush your way to victory.

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StarCraft 2 custom UIs and Heart of the Swarm replay features on show in new video

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StarCraft 2 custom UIs and Heart of the Swarm replay features on show in new videoTake Command is perhaps the most exciting of the features Blizzard cover in their latest Heart of the Swarm spotlight; one which allows you to take control of an already-played game midway through a replay. Consider it a ‘What if?’ mechanic comparable to Forza Motorsport’s rewind button - a means to work out exactly how things might have gone if you’d gone right instead of left, metaphorically speaking. It can also function as a focused training feature if, for instance, you want to improve your micro. And most brilliantly of all, it can even be employed to leap into the recorded games of professionals in memorable tournament matches, and most likely make a hash of them.

There’s plenty more, though - elsewhere Blizzard cover custom UIs, group spectating and game recovery.

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