This morning, I tuned into Stephano streaming Legacy of the Void. Simply, I was blown away. I have watched various streamers over the past 2 weeks, and most of them are still working out through new units and strategies. Even if he hasn’t solidified his builds, Stephano played with the decisiveness in engagements and ease of micro that made him an instant success in Wings of Liberty, and it was a tremendous pleasure to watch. I watched him play 3 ZvT and 1 ZvZ games, so let’s dive into some analysis about what he did.
If you weren’t watching the WCS Europe Finals, you were missing out. I myself happened to only catch the finals after sleeping in, which were some fun games. Games 1 and 2 were pretty standard, but in games 3 and 4, MVP came out with a sick 2 base all in.
It starts with Hellbat drops shortly after 7 minutes, which is relatively normal and can do some damage. From 7 to 10 minutes, MVP gets a Hellbat Marauder composition, which can defend against Roach Zergling pushes (especially if the Hellbat drops force the Zerg to go all in). Then, he cranks out 4 Marines at a time with 2 Reactored Barracks to have Marines ready for 11 minute Mutalisks. The push then goes out slightly after that.
So here are the builds.
Hellbat drops into a 2 base Marauder/Hellbat/Marine All In
- 10 Supply Depot
- 12 Barracks
- 13 Refinery
- 15 Marine, Orbital Command
- 16 Supply Depot
- 16 Marine
- 18 Factory
- 19 Reactor
- 22 Command Center (low ground)
- 4:45 Swap, Hellion x2, Supply Depot
- 5:15 Armory, Hellion x2
- 32 5:50 Starport
- 6:00 Barracks Tech Lab
- 6:10 Orbital Command, Refinery
- 6:15 Hellbat x2 (continuous)
- 40 6:40 Medivac (continuous)
- 7:15 Stimpack, Marauder (continuous), Hellbat drop goes out
- 8:00 Barracks x2
- 9:15 Barracks Reactor x2
- 10:00 Marine x4 (continuous)
- 10:50 Concussive Shell
- 110 11:15 Push, SCV pull
- MVP never gets a Reactor on the Starport. I think Terran players just instinctively swap, but he wants the Reactor for the Hellbats.
- There’s no 3rd Refinery, which may contribute to the lack of Medivacs
- There’s also no Engineering Bay
- He cuts SCVs from 7:30 to 9:00, then again after 10:00. He has the money, so maybe it’s a mistake, but this is MVP, so maybe he really need the money
And the second build. It starts with Reapers, but the rest of the build turns out similarly.
Reaper Expand into Hellbat drops into a 2 base Marauder/Hellbat/Marine All In
- 10 Supply Depot
- 12 Barracks
- 13 Refinery
- 15 Orbital, Marine (canceled for Reaper)
- 16 Supply Depot
- 18 Reaper (both out to harass and scout)
- 20 Command Center
- 21 Factory
- 23 Barracks Reactor
- 24 Refinery
- 26 5:30 Swap, Hellion x2, Armory, Marine
- 6:00 Starport
- 6:15 Hellion x2
- 6:50 Barracks Tech Lab, Hellbat x2 (continuous), Medivac (continuous)
- 54 7:30 Stimpack
- 7:45 drop goes out
- 8:00 Marauder (continuous)
- 8:15 Barracks x2, Bunker
- 9:25 Reactor x2
- 9:45 Barracks x2
- Marine x4 (continuous, x6 with
- 10:55 Combat Shield
- 120 11:15 Push, SCV pull
- The big difference is that he goes for a Reaper opening in this game. He doesn’t cut the 13th SCV to get out a faster Refinery, though, so perhaps it’s not too important
- Compared to the last game, he isn’t cutting as many SCVs. Again, not sure how to read that.
- At 9:45, he gets out 2 more Barracks for more Marines. Again, I’m not sure how to read this choice.
I like the build a lot, and because of that, Zerg players beware: you might be seeing a lot of this on the ladder.
Hopefully you didn’t miss the yet again biggest weekend in StarCraft 2 eSports, which was this time held in Anaheim. I actually managed to watch quite a bit of it, so here are some thoughts.
Stephano v. MKP in the Championship Bracket
Phenomenal. Now, it seems difficult to not be a Stephano fan because he consistently delivers great series of games. In my mind, this series showed how pro SC2 has become truly refined. It was slight mistakes in a single major engagement that really determined 2 of these games. In the first game, Stephano attacked from 3 sides but didn’t quite get the tanks killed fast enough or fungal enough Marines to death. In the second, MKP got too far onto creep without sieging and cleaning it up and got trapped. The final game went back and forth with trades and sacrifices. Great games.
KeSPA Invitational Tournament
I watched all of Flash’s games and the 2nd and most of the 3rd of Jaedong v. Bisu. Sadly, I dozed off for the apparently embarrassing parts of Jaedong’s play, but overall, I thought the games were solid. Flash was sometimes clumsy with small groups of units, but his micro in big engagements looked good, and he maintained his macro throughout the matches. I thought the early game was quite interesting, with the Marauder rushes and quick Mutas. The builds seem almost too straightforward to be used professionally, but there’s apparently some merit to them, and the games ended up playing out more normally. I’m looking forward to where they are in a few more months.
Heart of the Swarm
Watch the unit update, Battle Report 1, and Battle Report 2 if you get a chance. Overall, I like the changes they’ve made since the Blizzcon announcement and am actually quite excited to play post-expansion. The Battle Reports are somewhat silly as I think it’s clear that they were playing to show off the new units and how overpowered David Kim is. The race I’m least excited about is Protoss: the Oracle looks more annoying than anything else, and the Tempest doesn’t seem like it adds much to micro control. In any case, it’ll totally be worth playing when it’s released. Hopefully it brings a few more friends into (or back into) StarCraft 2.
I happened to catch the last game between Bomber and Stephano in the GD Studio SC2 Arena this morning. Forgive me if I’m a little stale on the metagame, but Stephano’s style felt very similar to his ZvP. His third comes later and his tech comes faster, but he depends on heavy upgrades and just enough ling/roach/infestor to carry him through the midgame.
I agree with Apollo that he rushed into things and didn’t commit. When he goes into the last engagement with 4 Brood Lords, some Infestors, and a few lings and roaches, he probably could’ve come out much more favorably had he gone for it. Stephano does a great job running his lings by, and between that and Broodlings, he could’ve gotten a surround and let tank splash damage mop up the army.
In the end, though, the better advice would’ve been not to take that engagement. He might have noticed the lack of Vikings and felt that he had a timing there, but without his 4th saturated, he would’ve been safer getting a few spines and using that as an anchor for a push.
qxc mentioned something about this in the last State of the Game, but Zerg is really pushing to get to the late game as soon as possible, which is a little strange. Stephano especially wowed a lot of people with extremely effective Zerglings in the early and mid game. Perhaps he found that other players were locking down better, but constant pressure feels like the right way to play Zerg.
But this is all theorycrafting on my part. I’m just proud I played a few games of random 2s last night. It turns out that playing random 2s instead of Zerg 1v1 is much less stressful, and now that I finished Mass Effect, I might be playing more StarCraft 2 until I pick up another game.
Julie and I watched Polt v. Stephano in the ASUS ROG Assembly Winter 2012 finals (replays) over lunch earlier today, and it was pretty phenomenal. Polt managed to win 4-1 after losing the first game, and he was in terrifying positions in each game. From huge Baneling hits in his main base mineral line to Mutas unchecked at an expo where he had dropped all of his MULEs, it felt like he was always on the edge of defeat. Some may interpret the games as a sign of how imbalanced Terran is to come back in situations like that, but I think a better read is that Polt wasn’t quite that far behind, and Polt himself is imba.
I apparently am a fan of Stephano v. Terran series, and this is no exception. He pulled out some new tricks, and I’m still amazed that even though he managed to do pretty much what he wanted in a lot of those games, he still lost. If it were anyone other than Polt, he would’ve had it, but with Tank positioning and Marine splits and target fire like that, there’s not much you can really do.
meanysc2 on reddit made an interesting observation earlier:
one thing I have realized about stephano as I have been watching his ROG games is that he uses his infestor eggs very cleverly. It is widely known that he pops those eggs out to absorb tank fires but there are a lot of times when he just throws 3 out and not attack. I have realized that this is to see how many tanks there are at least in range of the position that the egg is in. You’ll see that he throws the egg in different position of the field. He will only attack when he knows that he has got the right amount of lings to win the push. I’m kind of surprised that none of the casters who have obviously seen more games than me have realized this.
I myself hadn’t noticed this either. I knew about the Tank shots thing (basically, you get to discount 1 round of Tank shots while your Zerglings run in), but the positioning gauge is also interesting. That sort of play is far beyond my own ability to take advantage of, much less perform, but something it’s something to think about.
So congrats to Polt. Although I usually cheer on other Zerg players, Polt was just working so hard in those games. I couldn’t help but be a fan.
My Starcraft separation continues amidst other things in life, but I did get to watch 2 or 3 games from the SHOUTcraft Invitational 4 finals this weekend between Stephano (Z) and Thorzain (T). My opinion of Thorzain goes up and down, but he has already participated in one of the best ZvT finals I’ve ever watched against DRG in the Dreamhack Valencia finals (VODs here). That series was traditional Marine-Medivac-Tank against Ling-Baneling-Muta and really showed how back and forth it could be.
The Stephano-Thorzain series (VODs here), however, shows how Stephano completely blows that matchup apart. Best I could tell, Thorzain played it by the book: early hellion pressure while expanding, transition into marine-tank with some early pressure, and then into the midgame. Stephano completely crushed this by going for a ling-infestor composition with a lot of lings early. This did a few things for him:
- the tank count never got very high because Stephano had so many lings out. When the first push came, he just kept pumping lings. Without a sufficient number of tanks, Thorzain was always vulnerable
- to make them less vulnerable and more effective, Thorzain spread his tanks. When he did this, Stephano used Infested Terran bombs to have the tanks splash and kill themselves
- with low tank counts, Thorzain’s marines were vulnerable to fungals and banelings, and that completely opened up the game
- since Stephano had the infestation pit and not a particularly heavy commitment to the midgame, he got Hive quickly and started tier 3 before Thorzain could really ever build his perfect composition
SC2NoobSchool appears to have a tutorial about this style, though I admittedly haven’t watched it myself. I’m not really sure how terran is expected to deal with this, as Thorzain even stuck by hellions a little longer in a few games, to no avail, as the ridiculous ling count always got a surround.
We’ll see how popular this style gets as we get back into tournament season.