PROTIP: Press 'i' to view the image gallery, 'v' to view the video gallery, or 'r' to view a random entry.
Zerg Rush is an online gaming term used to describe an overwhelming scale of attack carried out by one player against another in real time strategy (RTS) games. The term originates from the popular RTS game Starcraft, in which the “Zerg” race is notoriously known for its ability to mass-produce offensive units within a short time frame, thus allowing the player to overpower the opponent by sheer number.
Similar to You must construct additional pylons! and In Ur Base, Zerg Rush came from StarCraft, a military science real time strategy game originally released on March 31st, 1998. In the game, each player can choose to play as one of the three species: Terran (humans), Protoss (humanoids) or Zerg (insectoids).
In the real time strategy genre, “rush” is a type of fast-attack strategy that involves mass mobilizing one or a combination of different unit types as rapidly as possible in order to overrun the opponent’s base and inflict most serious damage. This strategy is especially conducive to StarCraft’s Zerg players, whose average unit build time is significantly shorter in comparison to the other two species. As a result, it became common for players to set “no rush in x minutes” rules in online matches.
The first infantry units of Zergs are Zerglings. They are small and inexpensive Zerg units which can be produced quickly. A Zergling rush is the tactic of attacking an opponent with 6 or more Zergling units as early as permissible. The Zerg race is gladly favored concerning speed and power in the earliest moments of the game and the “Zerg Rush” strategy caught on really quick in wide scale, when gamers realized that one decisive Zergling attack could finalize a game in less than 5 minutes.
The meme in itself stems from a multiplayer match played by Koreans, who represent a significant portion of Starcraft’s international fanbase. During the match, one of the Korean players launched an early Zergling rush attack against an opponent player, who exclaimed “OMG ZERG RUSH.” In response, the Zerg player replied “KEKEKE,” a popular Korean phrase that is comparable to “lolololol” in English. This conversation has been frequently cited as the origin, however, no visual evidence has been found to support the anecdote.
While the romanized Korean expression “KEKEKE” (ㅋㅋㅋ) usually conveys a mischievous snicker, it also perfectly embodied the sound of Zerglings (Zerg’s basic infantry unit) in attack mode. Due to the prevalence of Korean players who are extremely skilled in this tactic and lack of Korean input support in multiplayer until February 2005, “KEKEKE” quickly became associated with Zerg rush among English-speaking players.
On YTMND, the earliest instance of “Zerg Rush” reference was created by thecombatwombat on May 17th, 2004. Although the site remained in latency with less than 10,000 total views, another site was created by CheezWhizWario a month later, which became the viral instance of the “Zerg Rush” series on YTMND. It eventually led to more than 40 YTMND variations based on similar themes, the most popular instance being LOLZergRush by GoldBean, dating from 2006 with more than 50,000 views.
The first definition of “Zerg Rush” was registered via Urban Dictionary on December 25th, 2004. The encyclopedic resource site Encyclopedia Dramatica also offers other alternative situations in which “Zerg Rush” can be used:
- In a debate, if someone throws a pile of links or facts around, reply with “OMG ZERG RUSH!!!oneoneone”
- A horde of Kids leaving school grounds can also be considered a Zerg Rush [etc…]
Google Easter Egg
On April 27th, 2012, Google enabled an Easter egg for the search query “zerg rush”, which would launch a playable game with small “o” characters that destroy search results if they are not clicked with the mouse pointer.
While “Zerg Rush,” along with the phrase “KEKEKEKE” spawned dozens of derivatives on YTMND, the term also evolved into a series of image macros, instilling a new, more generic meaning. No longer bound within the context of the Zerg race or even Starcraft, people began using the term in a broad sense to describe any situation where one is surrounded and outnumbered by a swarming crowd.