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Passive and Aggressive play. Life, TaeJa and Mvp

Chiu on This
A short and regular opinion blast from Stephen Chiu

‘Chiu on This’ is a short and regular opinion blast

League of Legends caster LS recently said something along the lines of: In a theoretical world where both players have theoretically perfect strengths, the passive player should beat the aggressive player.

The statement makes sense as the aggressive player must make more gambles and reads that can be punished. While passive play can be harder to execute, it is by nature less of a gamble. At least in the theoretical sense.

In actual games between players, it doesn’t usually work out that way because players have natural attributes that make them better suited at a specific type of play. That type of play is usually found within the first few thousands of games as they figure out what works best for them to win and stick to that.

In StarCraft2, the best aggressive player of all time was Life. He understood on an instinctual level how to find the critical moments in a game or series to all-in or fight. He knew how to create and force comebacks in games where he was behind. He is still the best that ever did it.

His opposite was TaeJa, who was the best passive player of all time. He understood better than anyone on an instinctual level the current flow of the game, positioning and how to punish or stop aggressive movements before they even happened.

Because of those reasons, these two often had some of the best games and series played against each other as their divergent styles created for philosophically-charged games. The strongest offense vs. the strongest defense. Which isn’t to say that Life always attacked or that TaeJa always defended, but the specifics of that is an article in and of itself. As it turned out, the two of them had a fairly even all-time record against each other with TaeJa being ahead.

But when we talk about a theoretical scenario of what kind of play style is the best, I think Mvp was the closest to the ideal of what a player should be. Life and TaeJa’s styles are dependent on form. So long as they are the best, their styles are the best. Granted both had two of the longest careers of any SC2 player. Both had longer careers than Mvp, though Mvp did have crippling injuries.

But what makes Mvp stand out was his incredible evaluation. When I watched his games, it felt like he took everything into account. His own injuries, his form, his opponents form, the meta, what styles he could employ and what style his opponent used. What makes Mvp special is that he had the largest array of styles he could play so he often analyzed a matchup then picked the one that gave him the best percentage chance at winning. When those chances hit zero percent, he’d create a new style or an entire series game plan that gave him a chance to win. Mvp was Sun Tzu: he knew himself and he knew his opponent.

Having said all of this, none of the styles is wrong as the three of them are the three most successful SC2 players (by my criteria) of all time.


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