‘Chiu on This’ is a short and regular opinion blast
Stephano is the greatest non-Korean to ever play StarCraft 2. Twelve days ago he tweeted that he was enjoying his first foray into Brood War. So a natural question is: what if he had played BW earlier? Would he have been a pro?
The simple answer is no. BW knowledge was a black box up until KeSPA dissolved it. You could find basics. You could perhaps find a floating replay pack of a top pro somewhere out there. You could watch the VODs. But critical parts of builds were covered up by crowd shots. It was a complicated and evolving game on all fronts: strategically, tactically, mechanically, and in build orders. On top of that, the only game in town was Korea. Stephano could be the most brilliant player to have ever touched StarCraft, but he was also a person who needed his own space to do things he wanted. This is something the Koreans would not allow; Nony once gave them a chart with scientific proof that he could not function without a certain amount of sleep and they ignored it.
But if we were in a hypothetical world, where it was more akin to the SC2 scene, I could see a case for Stephano being good. There are a few key components to Stephano’s play style that can transfer over. First is the obsession with detail. Stephano cut down the roach max time by two minutes in Z-v-P so that he could dominate that matchup and forced every other player to change their timings to match his or die. Second, he had great knowledge about position and economy relative to his army size and composition: What was a good choice, what was a risky choice, what choice did I need to use at this moment. Finally, he had that rare trait only a handful of players ever had: that clutch factor that let him avoid the pitfalls of many other players. If a player is stuck in a losing battle, they will often commit more in the heat of the moment to salvage it. Stephano was the opposite. If he saw there was no hope to be had, he cut off his own leg from the bear trap and proceeded to find another way to win the game. He had both the patience and vision to win games from deficit, and that was why it was so difficult to put him down even when ahead (though I will grant that a large amount of this time was under bl/infestor, where infestors were the greatest unit to have ever existed).
Now would he become a great at BW equivalent to what he was in SC2? I doubt it. The games are way too different, and there isn’t much correlation between success in BW and SC2. But he’d have been a fun player to watch. I’m pretty certain of that.