Proleague (SPL) is back for 2014. I have become a bit of a StarCraft snob and think that Proleague is by far the most exciting and interesting StarCraft out there. It’s a bummer that they have changed the time this year so that all matches start at 2AM (at the earliest) for me, but I’ll happily follow along with Fantasy Proleague and by watching VODs.
Having just rewritten my Zerg versus Protoss strategy guide, I’m very excited about a game I just watched between IM ByuL and Remember Prime. Played on the new map Sejong Science Base, I think it perfectly illustrates with the type of safe, reactive Zerg style that I had seen before and was recommending for you to try.
ByuL opens with a 15 Hatchery, 16 Spawning Pool. He takes his gas at 3:35 (17 supply, after the Overlord), which allows him to get Metabolic Boost for his Zerglings early. He makes 4 Zerglings as soon as the Pool finishes and sends them to scout his opponent.
2 Zerglings reach his opponent’s base at 5:00, and thought both are killed on the ramp, he sees the Nexus timing (1 Gate Expand, not a Nexus first or FFE) and sees the Sentry. His Overlords (1 at the main, 1 at the natural) completes the scout seconds later to see 4 Gateways go down, which could mean early pressure. As such, he doesn’t start a 3rd base and cranks out 10 Zerglings for defense. Meanwhile, his other 2 initial Zerglings are still out on the map watching his opponent.
His Roach Warren comes down around 6:40, and he starts his Lair at 7:10 to stay on track with tech. The Evolution Chamber comes sometime between 7 and 8 minutes. All of this is possible because his 3rd base starts so late at 6:30.
This is a little late as 3rd bases come down as early as 4 minutes. The casters even point out that ByuL temporarily falls behind on workers, and most importantly, this flies in the face of conventional wisdom that Zerg must stay 1 base ahead.
But this is a justified choice. The 4 Gateways could signify Warpgate pressure, so ByuL’s ready for that, though it doesn’t come. He sees no 3rd base from his opponent, so he’s not falling way behind. And since his Roach Warren and Lair come roughly on time, he can tech up to Hydralisks for a 2 base timing, which does come.
Had he seen a 3rd base, I assume that this would have played differently. Later, he’ll burrow a Zergling at the 3rd to watch and deny that 3rd base.
Around 7 minutes is when Zerg can really diverge, and ByuL chooses Burrow. Even having made it cheaper and available earlier, Blizzard still hasn’t convinced most of us about the value of the Burrow, but ByuL shows some very convincing use for it.
The key to reactive play is scouting, and ByuL is all over it. At 9:00, he sends an Overseer through Remember’s base. Had Remember been paying attention, he might have sniped it, but as it is, his entire game plan is revealed.
ByuL sees the Chronoboost (and of course, research) on the Twilight Council to show Blink. ByuL has a Zergling at Remember’s 3rd to see no base there. Although he doesn’t catch the Gateways at the top, it’s obvious that it’s a 2 base Blink timing attack. Within the next few seconds, we see ByuL crank out a few more Roaches, then it’s all Zerglings to prepare.
A classic strategy for Zerg to buy time and do damage is to run Zerglings into the Protoss main as soon as the Protoss moves out. ByuL has seen Remember’s main and though he probably can’t get in, he still has the Zerglings out, which he uses to pick off a Pylon. They still remain a threat and can buy him time.
At this point, ByuL just needs to defend without taking too much damage, and he’s set. One of his random Zerglings on the map sees the other Pylon, and he knows the new angle for the attack. He starts a Hydralisk Den and prepares his defense.
He burrows at the top of the ramp for the trap. Without Hydralisks out (and even with), these timings are very dangerous because of the Sentries. The burrow allows him to get in position against the Stalkers and do some damage even with the Blink.
This is the ballsy moment of the game when he lets his Hatchery get into the red without unburrowing. He’s waiting for the Hydras to get into the battle or possibly for Remember to make a mistake and step forward. If the Hatchery goes down, they would be back to 2 bases for both players. ByuL waits until the last moment, then unburrows for the clutch defense.
After this, ByuL is about 40 supply ahead and has the game in hand. Avoiding a disastrous mistake, he continues to deny the 3rd, takes his 4th, and maxes out his army. It’s completely over after he baits plenty of Forcefields, and he gets a surround.
So to summarize, here are the things that I think ByuL did right:
- He scouted constantly with Zerglings on the map and Overlords and Overseers around his opponent’s base
- He stuck mostly to a standard build and had a game plan (burrow), but he also deviated to stay safe in response to the scouting
- He denied that 3rd base and pinned his opponent’s strategy (2 base Blink)
- He defended (barely), then used his advantage to get further ahead
What did he do wrong? Well, this is where my knowledge ends. To be honest, I’m not really sure. He wasn’t very aggressive with the early Zerglings, but I’m not sure if the map allows it in this matchup.
And it wasn’t entirely luck. Spoiler alert, but in the ace match, ByuL scouts a proxy 2 Gate and plants down a Spawning Pool for an easy defense. This guy sees everything.
And kudos to Wolf and Brendan Valdes on their casting. Although many casters have been criticized for not appreciating the finer points of the StarCraft, I thought they provided entertaining and insightful commentary throughout the games.
One more thing: I think this is my first in-depth analysis of a game (with screenshots and everything), and I’m not sure if they’re useful to you guys or not. If you like them, I can keep doing them, but if you don’t, I’m fine focusing on other content. Let me know what you think.
Should I write in-depth game analysis posts in the future?
- Yes! This is some of your best content (79%, 15 Votes)
- Sure. It's good to mix in with transcribing build orders (16%, 3 Votes)
- Nope. You don't know what you're talking about (5%, 1 Votes)
- No. I don't think these posts are valuable (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 19