Stephano’s muta-less ZvT

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.