The notorious Orc versus Undead
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the Orc vs Undead match up. 9 out of the 20 last Gera Cup finals were Orc vs Undead. It doesn't come as a surprise there is a lot of discussion going on about which race is favored. In fact, Happy's and FoCuS' stats are some of the most looked up ones in our stats section. As I have been working on a new stats database (which will be released next week), I will use this opportunity to display the opinions of community members and players and highlight the main statistics about the match up.
What does the community think?
I made a small poll on Twitter to get an idea about the general opinion of Orc vs. Undead.
38% of people who voted believe that Orc is favored but the opinions were quite mixed.
"At the highest level, I think it's map/item dependent. On the ladder, among average to good players, I think the matchup favors Orc. I say this as an Orc." - SwanOfAvon22
Many people think Orc vs. Undead is balanced or that it depends on skill level. Only 11% believe that Undead is a clear favorite.
"You really have to start this again ha? :D" - B2W.Neo
Neo is referring to one of the biggest discussions on the Wc3 Reddit which was triggered by his comments about the matchup.
"From a noobs perspective, I used to struggle immensely as UD when facing Orc. But after a little bit of research and watching some games, I feel like each of my UDvORC games come down to micro and positioning to determines who wins." - CorsairSC2
This comment touches an important subject. There is certainly a lack of recent strategic guides for less experienced players which can lead to a lot of frustration. Ena and Bizzare recently wrote a small guide with some strategies for Orc vs Undead which I recommend checking out if you are an Orc player that is struggling with the match up. Overall, it would be nice to have some more people writing guides again. I would definitely support anyone who wants to publish a strategy guide.
Back to the topic: Let me introduce some stats into this discussion: Undeads have won 49% of their recorded tournament matches against Orc since 2015. I was surprised by that. At our sample size (810 matches), this is basically the same as 50/50. This year, Orcs have won 53% of their tournament matches. Since the margin is so small and our sample size is limited, one cannot conclude that Orcs are way ahead in this matchup. These percentages always shift a bit. There is no strong indication that one race is a big favorite against the other. Of course, this data contains players from all levels. Furthermore, tournament games are obviously not the same as ladder games. It would be interesting to get the race data for W3Arena or for Battle.net but both haven't released anything to my knowledge. For the latter, I might have some ideas for the future.
How to spot Orc lame by RoyalUranus
Last year, Netease released some data about the win rates for each map. They didn't provide total win rates. Orcs won significantly more often on Amazonia, Terenas Stand and Turtle Rock. Undead was ahead on Last Refuge. Ancient Isles, Echo Isles and Twisted Meadows were mostly balanced. This highlights the importance of a good map pool and veto system to balance the match up in tournaments.
What do the Pros think?
I forced asked Ugrilainen to get me the opinions of some well-known players on the following question:
"Do you think there is a clear favorite in Orc vs. Undead and what is the key to the match up?"
"The matchup is 50/50 but it depends on maps, items and critical frequency (hahaha). The key for Orc is BM with good items and safety for orc's heroes in battle. Both Undead and Orc need invul potion." - So.in
"The matchup depends on having good items like claws or potions, levels and positions. Of course micro and timing are equally important. One cannot go without the other. The games in this match up usually don't end with the first fight. If Orc doesn't get lvl 3 Shadow Hunter, he will lose almost always." - Sheik
"Undead vs Orc is balanced at the amateur level. On pro level, Orc is favored against Undead. In Undead vs. Orc, the Undead player has to be sharp in all aspects (macro, micro and map awareness). When the Orc player chooses to base rush with raiders with pillage, the Undead has less room for mistakes." - XiaoKK
"Orc is the clear favorite due to balance reasons. They key to the matchup is probably superior play (micro, timings, decision making like going destroyers or banshees in certain situations). Item drops also play a huge role. I personally think Orc can't lose to Undead with superior/equal drop (considering Orc doesn't make any major mistakes)." - Happy
In terms of statistics, it becomes hard to argue who is ahead on a pro level since there is only a handful of players. A couple of weeks ago, Ugrilainen tried to organize an awesome match between the Undead and Orc Gods, 120/Happy/WFZ vs. Lyn/Focus/Fly. Sadly, not all the players were interested in his idea. Let's see which team would be favored in terms of their stats:
|Player||Match Winrate||Map Winrate||versus|
If we compare both groups, Orcs are ahead. They won 56% of 66 Orc vs Undead tournament matches. Obviously this is just a handful of players and not statistically representative for their whole race. Happy hasn't even faced Lyn or Fly in a tournament. With Happy denying his GCS spot, we will most likely never see him face any player in a tournament environment other than FoCuS who plays Gera Cup often. On a side note, my "Farsight"-tool gives him a 45% chance in a Bo1 against Fly100% or Lyn.
Let us look at tournament finals: Undeads won 49% of all recorded tournament matches and maps that were at least Best of 5. These kind of matches are usually tournament finals. Of course, the sample is rather small with only 39 matches and 168 maps. But it also indicates that there are no major anomalies that would make you say "Orcs are winning way more often than Undeads".
Is this article gonna end all discussions about imbalance in Orc vs Undead? Definitely not! I cannot prove there is no bias against Orc or Undead in the matchup. And even if I could - many people would most likely not believe me. But the data indicates that if an overall bias exists, it cannot be very strong.
There is a clear consensus on the importance of items for the match up. Since Orc relies on a strong Blademaster who depends on good item drops, Blizzard's latest changes to maps and item drops could potentially upset the match up in one way or the other. If you would like to know more about the changes, I recommend reading this article by Ugrilainen where he interviewed Qiaolin and Neo on the latest patch.
Furthermore, you can watch the following video where Neo explains the changes on Terenas Stand in detail:
I hope the stats I presented have made you guys excited for the new stats database which I will introduce next week. It will contain more data and details than ever before! With the new system, you will be able to do your own research and find out more about the stats between races or even countries. I would be happy of you guys left a comment ;)
Furthermore, I would like to extend my gratitude towards Ugrilainen and to all the players and community members who gave their opinions on the matter!