Analysis of ByuL’s reactive ZvP in Proleague

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.

Link to the VOD

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.

ByuL Zergling Scout Continue reading

Flash build orders from Proleague (TvZ Hellbat drops!)

At some point, my friend George told something like, “It just doesn’t feel like real StarCraft unless it’s Proleague.” Well, thanks to Fantasy Proleague, I have really gotten into Proleague, and it’s just about all I watch.

The timing is not terrible. Friday and Saturday nights work well, and I’m willing to stay up Sunday/Monday night until 1 watching games. The gaps between games give me time to take care of chores and get ready for bed. But of course, the real draw is that these are the best players playing high stake games and are willing to do all sorts of crazy all-ins, map-specific strategies, and builds tailored for the matchup.

This past weekend was the start of round 5, which is an all-kill round. Instead of each team picking a full lineup of 7 players, the winner of each match stays on while the losing team picks another player. There’s more variance for Fantasy StarCraft, and you don’t get as much exposure to new players, but the aces come out for more games. Innovation looked good in an all-kill of EG-TL, but I think the bigger bounce-back was Flash, who did poorly last round and got knocked out of his GSL Code S group of death (Life, Innovation, Parting, and Flash).

I have a few Flash builds written up. Let’s jump into them.

Flash’s Standard TvP

(v. Terminator on Neo Planet) (TwitchYoutube)

  • 10 Supply Depot
  • 12 Barracks, Refinery
  • 15 Reaper, Orbital
  • 17 Command Center, Reactor
  • 18 Supply Depot
  • 19 Bunker
  • 20 Engineering Bay
  • 20 Marine x2 (continuous)
  • 27 5:20 +1 attack
  • 30 5:45 Barracks
  • 6:20 Barracks
  • 6:35 Refinery
  • 6:50 Tech Lab
  • 7:10 Factory
  • 7:15 Refinery
  • 7:20 Stimpack
  • 7:30 Tech Lab
  • 7:55 +1 armor
  • 8:15 Reactor (on Factory), Starport
  • 8:35 Combat Shield
  • 9:15 Medivac x2
  • 9:40 Armory
  • 9:45 pushing out, delaying Protoss 3rd
  • 10:00 Command Center

This build should look pretty normal: Reaper opening into Bio. The funny part of htis build is the very early Engineering Bay. This lets him get out +1/+1 upgrades for the usual 10-11 minute push. Otherwise, this should be reassuring since it looks like Apollo’s progression.

Flash’s TvZ Hellbat Drops into Mech
(v. Roro on Akilon Wastes) (Twitch, Youtube)

  • 10 Supply Depot
  • 14 Command Center
  • 15 Barracks
  • 16 Refinery
  • 19 Marine, Orbital Command
  • 22 Refinery, Factory
  • 23 Reactor
  • 26 Supply Depot
  • 27 Bunker
  • 29 Starport
  • 6:00 Swap, Hellion x2 (+ a few more), Marine
  • 6:10 Armory
  • 6:35 Medivac (continuous)
  • 7:15 Hellbat x2 (continuous)
  • 7:30 Factory, Tech Lab (will swap onto Factory)
  • 8:00 First drop out, Refinery
  • 8:45 Siege Tanks start
  • 9:00 Command Center
  • 9:20 2nd drop arrives, Refinery
  • 9:35 +1 Attack
  • 10:05 Factory

I myself have been looking for a Hellbat drop build, and it looks roughly like what I should have expected. CC first if you like, or maybe don’t: I certainly won’t. Otherwise, it looks like Polt’s drops, but you add in an Armory for the Hellbats. Disclaimer: none of us can micro like Flash, but Flash was continuously dropping at 2 locations. The Starport and Reactored Factory are an endless stream of drops, and even Roro was losing tons of workers. This is a great way to punish quick 3 bases from Zerg.

Flash’s TvT Mech
(v. Reality on Whirlwind) (Twitch, Youtube)
10 Supply Depot
12 Barracks
15 Refinery
16 Marine, Orbital Command
17 Supply Depot
17 Marine
19 Marine
20 Command Center, Reactor
22 4:20 Factory, Supply Depot
23 4:50 Marine x2
5:20 Starport, Refinery, Swap Reactor, Hellion x2 (continuous)
Orbital Command
6:10 Viking (defend drops)
6:50 Tech Lab (Barracks)
7:20 swap onto Starport, Raven
7:50 fends off a drop and run-by (takes some damage)
? 9:00 Hellion pressure
8:30 Command Center
9:00 Armory x2
9:45 Refinery x2
9:50 Factory x2
10:30 +1/+1 vehicle
11:00 Siege Tanks x2, Hellbats x2 start
11:20 Engineering Bay
12:00 Medivacs, Missile Turrets

I don’t have much to say about this build: it kind of speaks for itself. I have just 2 things to draw attention to. First, there’s the early Raven. I have been looking at ways to integrate a single Raven into my own builds (great in TvZ for clearing creep, right?), so I guess the answer is just to go for it. Second, Siege Tanks start really late for mech play. Barring any signs that you need the defense, I guess it’s okay to go up to 3 bases before getting Tanks. I guess it worked in this game because Reality revealed his hand in the 7:50 Marine/Hellion pressure, but even so, that’s really late.

I hope you like the builds. To be honest, all Terran play is starting to look very similar to me, but I guess that makes it easier to put together a guide. On that note, I heard that Apollo will be doing another set of videos, so you should look forward to those. On a related note, I’m feeling good enough to write up a Terran guide at this point. Maybe you can look forward to that.

Finally, Blizzard is getting serious about replay analysis, and I’m very excited. They apparently have enhanced the data provided and released an open source library for parsing that data. I have already put together a tool for extracting build orders that I’m calling the Spawning Tool, so check that out when you get a chance. Note that this is primarily just a proof of concept, so there are a lot of bugs. I would go into more detail, but that’s not really what this post is about, so expect more news about that soon!

Play Fantasy Proleague!

The 5th round of Proleague is starting tomorrow night, and in the 36 hours before that, sick nerd ballers everywhere are filling out their Fantasy Proleague teams. I highly recommend that you all play.

If you’re unfamiliar with Fantasy sports, the idea is that you put together a team of players, and based on their performance in real games, you get points based on their statistics. For Fantasy Proleague, each player has a value. At the beginning of the round, you put together a team with a value up to 30 for your main team, and at least 13 points on your anti-team. When players on your main team wins, you get points. When players on your anti-team win, you lose points. Each week, you can make a few trades, and player values fluctuate based on their performance. That’s it.

Is this nerdy? Tremendously. But if you watch Proleague, it will definitely enhance your knowledge of the games, and if you don’t watch Proleague, you should. In the Americas, it’s conveniently on in the evenings over the weekend. You will pay a lot more attention to individual players and follow their performance much more closely, which hopefully enriches your StarCraft knowledge. And fantasy in itself is fun.

To get started, you just need to sign up at If you want to do additional research, here are a few more resources:

I hope you play this round and enjoy!

P.S. Here’s my team right now. I might change my mind multiple times in the near future:

Main Team

  • 8 – Innovation – might be the best SC2 player. Also can win a lot of games against EG-TL this week
  • 6 – SoS – people seem to think he’s undervalued, and I would agree. He’s good, and he’s on Woongjin Stars
  • 6 – CJ herO – he didn’t do so well last round, but he’s still the CJ ace and should bounce back
  • 3 – Brown – he starts in week 1, is on SKT1, and did well in his first Proleague round in round 4
  • 2 – Mekia – he starts in week 1 and is on Woongjin Stars. Good enough for me
  • 1 – Bear – I didn’t see any 2 point players I wanted, and he’s on STX Soul, so that’s worth something
  • 4 – SKT1 – They have Rain, Fantasy, and Parting. And then they have the rest of their lineup


  • 5 – Crazy – I wanted to go 5-4-4, and had a really hard time picking a 5 point player. I went with Zero, but WJS are just too deep, so Crazy and KT seem safer
  • 4 – Hitman – KT hasn’t looked good recently, and Hitman is pretty deep on their lineup (5th best player, behind Hydra who I already don’t like)
  • 4 – Mini – again, he’s deep on their lineup (maybe 5th best player, 3rd best Protoss)

PvZ Skytoss from Dear

YouTube VOD and English VOD (subscription required)

If you’re not watching Proleague, you’re missing out. I wasn’t watching too closely for the past few rounds, but then I started playing Fantasy Proleague, and it’s now consuming my life. If you’re not familiar with Proleague, it’s a team format where 8 teams play best of 7 matches once or twice a week. Each team comes up with their lineup based only on the maps, and they spend the week practicing that map. Because the lineups are announced early, this leads to very different games from the individual, weekend tournaments. Instead of just needing to be in good shape for any games you might play, you can prepare a specific build for a specific map for a specific opponent for one week.

Last night, STX Soul’s Dear came ready with a 3 base Skytoss build against SK Telecom T1’s Sacsri on Naro Station. This build looked great on Naro Station, where the natural has 1 choke and another path, which leads to the 3rd, blockable by collapsible rocks. The 3rd also has 2 entrances, with rocks at one of them. Dear walls off the natural, then quickly moves to take the 3rd and walls that off as well. And the best part of Skytoss is that the 3rds are close by air, so Tempests can almost shoot from your 3rd into your opponent’s third.

Anyways, here’s the build. You can probably follow it up till around when the Tempests start at 9:20. The rest should be reactive.

Dear’s PvZ Skytoss on Naro Station

  • 9 Pylon (in base)
  • 16 Nexus
  • 17 Forge (in base)
  • 17 Pylon
  • 19 Gateway (wall natural )
  • 19 Cannon (at natural)
  • 21 Assimilator x2
  • 4:20 sees 3rd base
  • 27 4:30 Core (wall nat)
  • 29 Zealot
  • 31 Pylon
  • 5:30 Stargate
  • 38 5:40 Assimilator x2
  • Sentry
  • Warpgate
  • Sentry
  • 50ish 6:40 Void Ray
  • Mothership Core
  • Void Ray
  • 7:30 Nexus (3rd)
  • 7:45 Gateway x2 (walling on 3rd)
  • Void Ray
  • 8:10 Fleet Beacon, Stargate
  • 8:10 (Zerg starts Spire)
  • 8:35 +1 Air Weapons
  • 9:20 Tempest x2 (continuous)
  • 9:20 (Zerg starts Hydra Den
  • 10:40 Stargate, Tempests attacking 3rd
  • Cannons
  • 11:40 +2 Air weapons
  • 12:20 Sees Mutas, Switches to Phoenix
  • 14:10 Zealot Leg speed
  • 15:30 Back into Void Rays (maybe 12 Phoenix at this point?)
  • 16:20 Templar Archives

So, a few notes on how this game went.

The 3rd base comes very quickly, and this build depends on being able to secure this. Of the current ladder map pool, I think Akilon Waste is maybe the only viable map to use this build on. Maybe Newkirk Precinct if you’re lucky.

Dear doesn’t harass with his early Stargate and instead gets Void Rays. I can’t really explain that. Please comment if you know why.

For defense, Dear walls in a lot and gets lots of Cannons. This does leave his main open for Mutalisk harass, but some emergency Stalker warp-ins and bringing the Void Rays home rescue that. The Mothership Core will also be a huge help in defense.

In the midgame, he switches into 3 Stargate Phoenix, which locks things down. They’re good against both Mutalisks and small numbers of Hydralisks.

In the late game, he has a Tempest/Void Ray force with Phoenixes, High Templars, and Zealots (the mineral dump). The High Templar can deal with the Hydralisks and Abducting Vipers.

Dear doesn’t take a 4th until 19 minutes into the game. I guess that’s not part of the game plan as he depends on good control and retaining his core, valuable air units.

Sacsri never builds Corruptors, and I’m assuming this is because of the Void Ray count and the new Prismatic Alignment ability.

So, try it out and let me know how it works. It’s a little wacky, but this is Proleague: you will see strange, but very well optimized and thought-out builds.

Will Proleague change the metagame?

Brood War pros may only be Masters league on the Korean server, but you have to admit, it is fun to watch them play in Proleague.

I watched the first night of Proleague and have caught a few games here and there before heading to bed, and I have constantly been wondering whether we’re going to see something new from the Brood War pros. Of course, it’s only a matter of time before their understanding of and familiarity with the game brings them up to a competitive level against the current StarCraft 2 pros, but will they converge to the accepted play style, or will they bring new builds and looks to the game? I’m hoping for the latter, and a few things are giving me hope.

First, I have seen some strange stuff. Maybe Motive is weird, but how do you play Protoss without Colossi? But what about these guys, playing PvP without Colossi? Phoenix v. Phoenix fights aren’t actually that much fun to watch, but it’s certainly a strange game state to end up in. And proxy reactored Hellions into a Viking-Siege Tank contain? In the end, the midgame looks normal and it doesn’t work, but that early game was more fun than most TvT I watch, which maybe has some Marine pressure that gets held off by a single bunker.

Second (which the last game I mentioned is a good example of), these guys are all about aggression. Call it cheesy if you want, but 2 base all-ins are fun, unpredictable, and possibly devastating. Some of it fails and makes the player look really bad (Jaedong’s Roach play in his first game comes to mind), but it’s refreshing. Artosis made the point that cheese can be the first step in learning to get better, and to be honest, I don’t really remember what people were trying when SC2 was first released and whether it’s the same stuff that we’re seeing in Proleague now.

But it is fun to watch, and you even get a bit of both worlds in Proleague to wield against the Brood War hipster. To show Julie, I played a game of Brood War the night before Proleague. Despite funky mouse acceleration problems in OSX, I impressed myself with my play: I’m way better than I ever was now that I’ve learned how to macro from SC2. If you haven’t in awhile, fire it up: it’s frustrating, but I think you’ll enjoy it.