Hello Ladies and Gentlemen of Team Liquid, it is a great pleasure to present my newest strategy guide on Zerg vs Protoss and I'd like to thank you all for viewing!
It is with great caution and respect that I approach writing a strategy guide focusing on the style Stephano uses against Protoss who FFE. I approach this topic with caution because it is in no way new: it has been covered numerous times in detailed guides, team liquid discussions, and even Day9 Daily #388 . I approach with respect because Stephano is one of the most successful and creative professional Zerg players to date, and I do not assert that I know everything about his style or thought-processes. However, in studying Stephano's stream, using his builds in ladder, and teaching his style to students, I have developed insights into learning and improving with this style – and that's what I aim to share with you today.
Simply put, you must mark your progress if you want to improve the efficiency of your practice! Therefore, I will only be briefly analyzing Stephanos games and will instead focus on a step-by-step process of setting detailed timings and macro benchmarks to help players grasp the key components of this style, improving their timings, speed, and execution along the way. I define a macro benchmark as an interval in the game where you count any macro-related elements (Workers, Bases, Queens, Tumors, Upgrades, etc.) The primary goal of this guide is to help you max out at the 12 Minute Mark by securing an optimal 3 base economy by the 8 Minute Benchmark:
8:00 Satisfactory Benchmark: 3 Bases, 60 Drones, 4 Queens
60 Drones (16 Mineral Drones x 3 Bases = 48, 3 Gas Drones x 4 Gas = 12. 12 + 48 = 60)
This economy is sufficient to not only max-out with decent upgrades by the 12 minute mark, but also continuously trade armies and reinforce to ensure protoss never gets that critical third base.
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Day9 Daily 388 on Stephano's ZvP:
kcdc has sparked an insightful discussion on how protoss players can defeat zerg players using this style:
NrGMonk's discussion on how Protoss Players can take a 3rd base can be found here:
Belial's guide on fast-third ZvP provides detailed analysis on scouting and responding to different protoss builds:
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Step 1 - Basic Timings:
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3:15-3:45 First expansion hatchery begins
If you're lucky, you can start the hatchery on 16 supply before your 2nd overlord.
Usually expansion is taken at natural, occasionally you can take it at the 3rd base location if your natural is blocked with probe or pylon.
4:00-5:00 Second expansion hatchery begins
Can take 3rd right after the natural (~4min, 20-22 supply)
Can take 3rd after first inject is used on drones (~4min, 28-30 supply)
6:00 Double Gas Geysers
This can be delayed slightly, but 6 minutes is an effective general timing to start piling up gas for lair, ling speed, roaches.
7:00 Roach Warren and Evolution Chamber
Again this can be delayed slightly, but it's a safe/standard timing to have roaches in time to hold 6-7 gate timings, zealot warp-ins, stargate pressure.
7:20 Lair and 3rd Gas Geyser
First hundred gas generally goes into lair for roach speed and continuous upgrades.
3rd geyser needed to afford upgrades and roaches.
Second hundred gas goes to zergling speed.
8:15 Roach Production and 4th Gas Geyser
Start Roach Production to be used defensively in event of pressure.
Begin +1 Roach Weapons.
9:00-10:00 Roaches, Speed, 4th Base (~60-65 Drones)
Continue producing roaches
Start the speed upgrade
Zergling speed is done – can mix in zergling production if pressured.
Begin a 4th base around 9:45/10:00
10:30-11:00 Roach/Ling Aggression with +1 (No additional gas)
You should have a large army of roaches with +1 and speed completed or nearly so.
Deny 3rd base, pressure protoss natural (kill units, cyber core, force him to use Force Field)
Note: This is a critical window to do damage.
12:00+ Start a Macro Hatch and Max Out (Assuming minimal army casualties)
Constantly pressure with Roach/Ling to deny a 3rd base
Multi-Pronged attacks (Protoss natural/3rd if they have it)
With Protoss on the defensive, trade armies knowing you can out-produce a 2base Protoss before his army reaches your base.
Continue Roach Upgrades
Here is an example game casted by HDStarcraft. Notice there are subtle difference, but all the steps remain the same:
Step 2 - Basic Food-Relative Build Order:
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16Overlord (Send a drone down to expansion, don't let probe wall your ramp with pylons)
16-18 First Queen
20 Hatchery (Natural Expansion)
21 Hatchery (Third Base)
22-29 Drones (Optional: Produce a few zerglings)
31-42 Drones (Optional: Produce a few zerglings)
42 Double Gas
54 Roach Warren/Evolution Chamber
58-70 Drones, 4th Queen
70 3rd Gas, Overlords (Almost impossible to make too many overlords)
70-90 Roaches, 4th Gas, +1 Missile Attacks (Optional: Produce Zerglings)
90-110 Roaches and Roach speed (Optional: Produce Zerglings)
110 Hatchery (Fourth Base)
160 Hatchery (Macro hatch)
Step 3 - Macro Benchmarks:
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So often people assume that queuing up more ladder games leads to faster improvement, or as WhiteRa puts it: “More gg, more skill!” While it is true that practicing more will help you get better, it is perhaps more important to ensure that your practice time is as effective as possible. This is why the first thing I do when coaching a new student is advise them to “Open a word file or get a pen and paper...you're going to need it!”
Remember: you MUST mark your progress if you want to improve the efficiency of your practice! Therefore to learn and perfect Stephano's ZvP style, I encourage you to make a total of eight detailed benchmarks, analyzing every minute between 5:00 and 12:00. This will help you assess your current strengths and pinpoint exactly when and where you're deviating from the build. To analyze your games so close might seem a little excessive at first, however it is the most effective way to pinpoint your mistakes and improve your note taking skills.
For the Stephano-Style, here are benchmarks you can aim for:
Note: These benchmarks are estimations that you can compare to your own timings. The most important benchmark is the 8:00 Mark, where you've reached peak 3 base saturation and can begin producing Roaches and Zerglings.
5 Minutes – 28+ Supply, 18+ Drones, 3 Hatcheries, 2 Queens, 0 Gas Geysers. 0 Tumors Spread
6 Minutes – 40+ Supply, 30+ Drones, 3 Hatcheries, 2 Queens (3rd Building), 2 Gas Geysers, 2 Tumors Spread (Total)
7 Minutes – 60+ Supply, 40+ Drones, 3 Hatcheries, 3 Queens, 2 Gas Geysers, 5 Tumors Spread, Roach/Evo Building
8 Minutes – 72 Supply, 60+ Drones, 3 Hatcheries, 4 Queens, 3 or 4 Gas Geysers, 8+ Tumors Spread, Lair Building
9 Minutes – 94 Supply, 60+ Drones, 3 Hatcheries, 4 Queens, 4 Gas Geysers, 15+ Tumors Spread, +1/Ling Speed Building
10 Minutes – 126 Supply, 60+ Drones, 4 Hatcheries, 4 Queens, 20+ Tumors Spread, Roach Speed Building
11 Minutes – 160 Supply, 60+ Drones, 4 Hatcheries, 4 Queens, 25+ Tumors Spread, +2 Building
12 Minutes – 200/200 Supply, 60+ Drones, 4-5 Hatcheries, 4-5 Queens, 30+ Creep Tumors, +2 Building
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As the game progresses, you'll see Stephano and other pros keep 16 drones mining in the main and then rally additional drones to their expansions (even long-distance mining a little). The ultimate goal is to have 2 drones mining per mineral patch on each base, while avoiding single-mining or triple-mining any mineral patches – keep this in mind when you're taking drones off your mineral line to build structures, you want to avoid having only 15 or 14 drones mining a base.
The key to three base economy is 60 drones mining efficiently: 48 Drones mining minerals on your 3 bases, 12 drones mining gas in the 4 geysers. Once you reach this level of saturation, 3 hatcheries with 3 queens is not enough production. Even with perfect injects, you need a 4th base or a macro hatch (And, eventually, both!)
Here are a few tips:
For general purposes, take all 6 drones and right click either patch 3 or 6. Then select 3 while they're on the way and right click the other patch.
Next, rally additional drones to mineral patches that aren't being mined yet. If you forgot and rallied to the bottom patch, for example, your drone would first go to that patch, then “bounce” off and go to one of the top two patches. Earn a few extra mining seconds by rallying to patches that aren't being mined.
One patch left that isn't mined, rally to that one.
Now that you have 1 drone on each mineral patch, it's time to double-mine the closer patches. Make sure your drones “Stick” to the patches you want them to go to. What often happens is the drone you rally will get there at the same time as the drone that is already mining, causing one of them to “Bounce”. You can avoid this by repetitively right clicking the patch with both drones (or the one that wants to bounce)
Again, we're rallying to those closer patches
Uh oh one drone wants to bounce, continuously right click until it “sticks”
This is what 16 drone saturation looks like, notice no drones are single or triple mining any patches. Always double-mine!
Once you reach 16 drone saturation, you can rally your hatchery to your expansion.
12 Min Max Stephano Examples:
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Stephano vs Loco (Game1):
Game begins at 45:45
Stephano opens 11Overpool to put on early ling pressure, but still keeps the standard timings of his mass roach/ling style the same. Loco attempts to go Sentry/Immortal while taking a fast 3rd base. Maxed by 12min, Stephano denies the 3rd and continously reinforces his push to end the game.
Game 2 vs Loco(Game2):
Game begins immediately after previous game.
Loco uses Dts to pressure, but since the Lair is early enough, Stephano’s overseers keep his 3rd alive (Long enough, anyway). Again, 12min max roach denies the protoss 3rd base. Knowing the protoss is on two base and can’t match production, Stephano repetitively assaults Loco’s 2base sentry/immortal/stalker defense. By 15 min Stephano maxes again, denies the 3rd base, and busts the front. Note the multi-pronged aggression in the protoss main, natural, and third base to ensure protoss cannot keep a 3rd base or build the “critical” stalker/immortal/sentry ball.
Stephano vs NMxMomo
Game begins 57:00
This game goes similarly – Protoss tries early zealot pressure but is shut down by queens and slowlings. Then, the mid-game timing attack is shut down by 8min roach/ling. The mass roach/ling contains the 2base protoss. Stephano mixes it up by incorporating overlord drop with his mass roach/ling style, which is an interesting way to approach to apply even more pressure to ensure protoss cannot secure three bases.
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2) Are burrow and burrow-move helpful upgrades for your maxed-out roach push?
3) In the event the protoss player secures his 3rd base, what is the correct transition for Zerg?
4) What time should zerg have detection at all their bases, and what is the best way to do this? (Overseers/speedlings? Spines/Spores?)
5) In what situations should the zerg player continue droning past 60 drones?
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4 - Solid Guide, good analysis, pretty helpful (42)
1 - There is nothing to be learned from you, Tang. You're ruining eSports. (33)
3 - Average Guide, probably going to help some people. (6)
2 - Some helpful material, but overall not very informative (2)
437 total votes
Your vote: Do you find the content, structure, and style of this guide effective?
(Vote): 5 - Excellent Guide, concise information, extremely helpful
(Vote): 4 - Solid Guide, good analysis, pretty helpful
(Vote): 3 - Average Guide, probably going to help some people.
(Vote): 2 - Some helpful material, but overall not very informative
(Vote): 1 - There is nothing to be learned from you, Tang. You're ruining eSports.
LiquidZenio's ZvP 7 Minute 3-Hatch Ling/Baneling All-In (97)
Mid-Late Multi-Prong Overlord Drops in ZvP (with reference to Stephano and other pros) (46)
None, damnit. How many times do we have to tell you to stop? (30)
Other: A better option (Comment suggestions) (2)
324 total votes
Your vote: Help me choose a topic for my next guide...
(Vote): LiquidZenio's ZvP 7 Minute 3-Hatch Ling/Baneling All-In
(Vote): Mid-Late Multi-Prong Overlord Drops in ZvP (with reference to Stephano and other pros)
(Vote): DRG ZvT - The 8:40 Roach/Ling/Baneling "All-In or Is it?"
(Vote): Other: A better option (Comment suggestions)
(Vote): None, damnit. How many times do we have to tell you to stop?
Once again, I'd like to thank you all for reading and commenting. I look forward to your questions and wish you the best of luck in your games.
MouzMorrow's Tips for Protoss Players:
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i think this "build order" is just an example of what happens if you let zerg drone to the exact amounts and then only pump units
its obvious zerg will be in a great shape and has a silly amounts of units if he makes pure drones => pure units
if ur a toss and have trouble against zerg just getting way ahead in economy and then just runs u over with sick amounts of units. try manipulating his drone unit balance while taking a 3rd base.
the more ur able to make zerg go unit,drone,unit drone etc the slower he will reach the 200 food mark.
a standard build you can do is 3 zealot pressure first from ur initial gateway and then 4gate (8:00minute) to force out a ton of units out of zerg before he gets the drone count he wants to. and then take ur 3rd base without actually ever losing or killing too many units. just being in zergs face gives him enough of a threat to build units when he doesnt want to
if u do this correctly you should be able to hold 3base rather easily
it should be obvious to everyone whos familiar with zerg at this point that if zerg makes only drones then only units his army will outnumber the other 2 races very heavily
stephano has great success because mostly tosses in eu are bad in general but also they either go for a 2base attack, and really attacks (and ofcourse that fails cause stephano only makes units at that point to respond) or they just sit passively and let him drone how he wants and then they take 3base and are clueless why they cant defend it.
to put it short, you need to be in zergs face, and manipulate his drone unit balance very much throughout the game. zergs greatest strenght is that he can focus only drone or only unit, so you cant let him do it exactly how he wants to
On April 25 2012 01:31 Excludos wrote:
I don't think you're being entierly fair here. You're pretty much just saying every single protoss player is bad. Putting pressure on the zerg is nothing new in PvZ. Everyone has experimented with all kinds of different pressure, and some have been successful for a while (like +1 4gate zealots with either voidrays or DTs). But in the end zerg manages to figure it out and stop it easily.
The reason most tosses these days goes for a 2base allin attack is because thats what they're having most success with, not because they've never tried anything else.
yes. ofcourse zergs figure out how to stop it and so on. the point is your making units and showing them as aggression to the zerg (units that you would already need to defend ur 3rd anyway, so your basically investing nothing into your attack) while zerg has to respond by investing into things other than drones, which makes his eventual mass attack with roaches or whatever on you much much easier to defend
the point im trying to make is you dont need to do damage such as killing stuff, your damage is by forcing him to make units before he gets the critical amount of drones so early that he can just make units for the rest of the games, attack and kill you
all this (that i said) rather than just throwing down your nexus and dont show any signs of aggression to the zerg is the best way to go about securing your 3rd.
so if you 4gate zealot, if you force 8 roaches and 12 lings on the production tab, if you then go onto losing 7-9 gateway units while "forcing zerg units", then it doesnt pay off cause you lost a bunch of units. your not really forcing zerg to make units if he manages to kill your stuff in the process. the point is to show it and force units without actually losing units.
so if you have trouble defend against zergs who max out on 48 drones on minerals and 15 drones mining (63 drones in total) then you need to force him to make units before he gets to 63 drones
my suggestion to tosses who want to learn how to defend 3base toss is to actually practice a ton and ton of different 2base allins and learn exactly the drone count zerg needs to defend the different 2base allins you do. then make similar macro oriented builds where you display the same threats to the zergs eye (so he will think its that allin) but instead back off and take ur 3rd.
fake impressions and forcing zergs unit/drone balance is a very complicated thing and it takes alot of practice and knowledge about the matchup to do right
ill say a rather standard way to do it safely but still very fast and solid.
go for the 4gate +1 stargate (your stargate should go down at 6:20, gates at 7:00 and your first 4 zealot warpin at 8:10~), then with your next 400 minerals put down your 3rd nexus and make a robo, sentries (at home).
the 4 zealots should be warped in as close as possible to their 3rd (normally right outside the creep)
robo finishes and try get out the observer asap and 3 immortals and 3 phoenixes. add a few gates to your 3rd base and a cannon if u like.
so now you should be on 7gates and have about 8 sentries and 3 immortals (also a ton of stalkers), not to mention the voidray and the 3 phoenixes that you must have kept alive.
you forced alot of units before he got to his 63 drones with and u also forced 3 spores and a bunch of extra queens)
there is no way for zerg to max out that fast on roaches and there is really no timing window where he should be able to kill you. this is just 1 example build how to get ur 3rd up, but there is over 10 different ways.
just focus on learning the standard basics of forcing zerg to make units without you losing units at the same time ur taking a 3rd and youll be more than fine
and to emphasis on what you said that they have more success killing zerg with 2base than securing 3base is because of what i talked about. the zerg plays too greedy early on and dies to 2base, if he doesnt die then he gets an advantage which he uses to hit a timing to kill protoss later instead.
so assume zergs played more safe and never died to 2base, then they wouldnt have this timing window to just go kill protoss that tries to secure a 3rd. makes sense right?
i read the other comments about the timing of the 3rd base. you might naturally think the later you take your 3rd base the safer it is, thats not actually true.
if your doing a 2base attack on 13 minutes against a zerg, thats too late and hes just going to kill you easily. because he had been gaining so much more money from 3base than u been mining from 2base. so take that thought into your 3rd nexus completes at 13 minutes. now how are you supposed to defend a zerg when he has been mining from 3base for all that time?
you want to take your 3rd nexus as early as possible and make it kick in BEFORE zerg actually can attack. in that way you get more units more everything.
a quick 3rd is considered around 8:00, a normally timed one is between 9 and 10 minutes. 12+ probably just means your bad. you cant take such a late 3rd and expect to defend the zerg rallying thats been mining from full 3base for 4-5 minutes
its not a simple task to defend a 3rd base as protoss safely, but trust me its even harder for zerg to do so
On April 25 2012 01:31 Excludos wrote:
I don't think you're being entierly fair here. You're pretty much just saying every single protoss player is bad.
well if you look at the gsl statistics its actually <30% winratio for zerg for 2 seasons now in zvp
and its much more likely that its protosses outside korea being bad rather than korean zergs being bad
coming from korea was there for 3-4 months practicing alot especially with sage (whos expert mu is pvz) he didnt have much troubles taking and securing 3rd base defending vs mass roach ling attacks. also he never just took the 3rd without doing pressure or harassment at the same time
so far in europe, practicing on the ladder and tournament games the eu tosses play alot more passive when they are playing macro style and i think thats the key reason they have hard times against zergs
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