Protoss: The Road to Diamond Weeks 5-6
With the new season starting, this week was mostly full of highs, but it wasn’t without its pitfalls. Well, one pitfall, anyway – I placed in Gold! I briefly considered going back to Terran to fix this error of sorts, but that wouldn’t be very genuine of me now, would it? Besides, my fundamentals with Protoss are getting pretty good. It’s my mouth-breather decision making that’s holding me back. I’d like to hear from anyone who shares in my issue with patience when it comes to the RTS genre, because seriously, sometimes I just get to this point in a match where I just want to get it over with. That leads to throwing whatever army I have left after a big engagement at the enemy and hoping for the best. If it turns sour, I GG out and move on. It’s horrible, I know. What’s worse is knowing that when I put my mind to it, I’m really not bad at macro games at all. My brain just goes into cruise control. I guess that’s what people refer to when they talk about stamina at tournaments.
Anyway, I had a lot of fun these last couple of weeks. I think it’s because I mostly just tinkered with some stuff that I’ve been tossing around in my head as opposed to watching in a VOD. I believe I’ve nearly perfected my PvP build, which I’m very proud to admit. It isn’t a very flexible build, and it’s certainly all-in(ish), but I won all but two of my PvP matches this time around with it. Basically, it’s a 2 Gate Robo with an immediate Robotics Support Bay and a delayed forge. I only build Zealots, a couple of Cannons and maybe one Sentry, saving the gas for Colossi and upgrades. The one Sentry is pretty key, surprisingly. The first Forcefield sometimes buys you enough time to get your first Colossus out, and if they slip on micro, they’ll take some extra Cannon damage. So far, this build has been especially weak against 2-Gate pressure and early Blink play.
The reaction to this build is varied, but I can generally count on a couple of things happening depending on how their initial push goes. The first scenario basically has them committing too heavily to their initial attack, resulting in heavy or total losses. This is usually the case in Gold/Plat. They see that you don’t have many units, and either try to focus down the Colossus or micro around it to kill off the Zealots. If you don’t lose the Colossus and push them out, generally you win because your second Colossus is on its way, along with +1 attack and more Zealots. My opponents thus far follow up with an expansion and/or Void rays, so I’ve been pushing with 4 Colossi, a few Stalkers and mostly Zealots around the 12-13 minute mark with great success.
Scenario 2 is less common, and infinitely more deadly. These are the smart ones who will test the ramp and back off after seeing the Colossus or Cannons. If this happens, it’s going to come down to micro and upgrades because nine times out of ten, you’re going to be facing a whole lot of Blink Stalkers and Immortals. The key is to make sure you’re at least at +2 attack and have Charge researched before you push. If you keep your Zealots from charging to their doom, you should be all right. When the attack comes, or you meet on the field, be sure to concentrate your Colossi fire on the biggest clumps of units, for obvious reasons. If they blink in as a ball, you’re in excellent shape even if they kill all the Colossi (doubtful, but it happens). The amount of splash they’ll be taking, along with Zealot DPS, should result in a very quick annihilation.
Of course, that’s just the battle – which should have gone your way. From here, it depends on your game sense. If you have enough minerals banked and a reasonable amount of Zealots, it’s probably best to expand instead of attack since you have the forces to defend, and the minerals to fortify with Cannons. Being a fairly all-in strategy, this puts you in a pretty good position. However, if your opponent expanded, he probably did it awhile back. If this is the case, I’ve found that pressing the attack is almost a necessity, as he will be able to reinforce his army much more quickly than you. Typically even a Zealot-only army will suffice, provided your numbers are adequate. Again, being all-in, if your numbers aren’t good and his expansion is fortified, it’s probably GG.
While PvP is easily my best matchup right now, PvZ is my “average” matchup, going at around a 50% win rate. Against Zerg, I’ve accepted the fact that I cannot approach the matchup like I did with Terran. Simply put, I have no Hellions or Marines with which to put on the pressure. But at the same time, FFE has left me wanting. So basically I’ve just been expanding off of two Gateways unless I scout Roaches or early Speedlings. From there, I just play straight-up, with Colossus into HT/Archon. I’ve ditched gimmicky strategies for the most part, as I felt they were distracting me greatly from the mechanics of PvZ. My aim is not to just get into Diamond league for the sake of getting there, I want to understand Protoss and do it right.
As per my last article, I’ve been further examining the importance of timings and positioning against Zerg. Taking even more pages out of CombatEx’s book, playing a more reactive style of Protoss has been paying off for me and has helped me focus on my mechanics in a very straightforward way. Even if I lose, I’ve been able to successfully take many more games into the later stages, which is a small victory for someone with my playstyle. With the new Phoenix upgrade providing a linear tech path to the Mothership, I’ve even started bringing her out, which is unheard of. It’s funny how sometimes you can watch dozens of videos where people utilize certain strategies, yet you either simply don’t emulate them or you forget to. That’s me with the Mothership.
Nothing new to report on the PvT front. I mean, at least I’m winning some games, but they’re never pretty. I really don’t know what I’m doing wrong. There’ve been times when I know I was way ahead and still manage to not win. Yet I keep reading that PvT is Protoss’ best matchup overall, so I don’t know. I spent so much time examining PvP over the last few days that I haven’t really paid much attention to what’s going on against Terran. The only thing I know for sure is that I’m feeling that stress that people talk about when going up against Terran. There are just so many openers, and so many timings they can roll with. It gets crazy when you think you’re scouting one thing, but it turns out to be another. I think in this case, I’m going to have to figure out a way to put on some risky early pressure, or experiment with Warp Prisms or DTs or something. I’m just at a loss while playing straight up.
Overall, everything is improving slowly but surely. As soon as I can get up to a 50% win rate against Terran, I should be able to shoot back up to the top of Platinum. As it stands now, I should be graduating from Gold the next time I get a decent play session in. So until next time, “always compete against yourself”. GG