Hey guys, my name is Gemini and I'm a Grandmaster Protoss player who has been making guides since 2011 on various sites. The Build of the
Each write-up includes build order notes, an explanation/analysis of how the build works, and a VOD section so you can check out the source game and how it should go. I'll also include the Spawning Tool link so that you can practice it in game yourself and download the replay of me doing it. I hope you enjoy and be sure to read the whole write-up before asking any questions as I'm sure some of them will be answered in here!
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[PvT]Zest's Fast-Colossus into StormWe're reaching back into the IEM Katowice bag because there are so many replays from that tournament that can still be studied and learned from. This week, we're taking a look at Zest and an interesting Colossus opener he used against Bunny.
Two-base Colossus openers are something I haven't used in a long time, mostly because they haven't been very good. While it's an uncommon opener at the highest level due to its passive nature, Colossus builds can still be strong due to the immense amount of sustained firepower Colossi can bring to bear. It can be very difficult, especially for lower league Terran players, to break through a Colossus-centered defense. Protoss could then go for relatively quick Storm to round out its composition. So, if multitasking Oracles or getting by with just a handful of Blink Stalkers while you pray Storm gets done in time isn't your thing, then perhaps this old school, macro style will suit your fancy.
Fast colossus into storm/h5>
|14||Pylon [@100% --> Chrono]|
|16||Gate [Chrono Nexus]|
|17||Gas --> Rally in|
|@100% Cyber --> Adept [Chrono] + WG|
|@100% Adpet --> Stalker|
|@100% Stalker --> 2nd Stalker|
|@100% Robo --> Obs [Chrono] --> Obs|
|43||Pylon + 3rd Gas|
|@100% 2nd Obs --> Robo Bay + 3rd Obs [Chrono]|
|@100% 3rd Gas --> 4th Gas|
|@100% 3rd Obs --> Warp Prism|
|@100% Robo Bay --> Colossus [Chrono]|
|4:30 Defensive Shield Battery + First warp in: 2 Zealots + 1 Sentry|
|@150/150 --> Colossus Range|
|Pause Probes @47 (5:04)|
|3x Adept @Warp Prism|
|@100% Colossus --> 2nd Colossus --> 3rd Colossus --> Immortals|
|5:20 3rd Nexus|
|5:40 3x Gate|
|6:00 Twilight Council --> Blink --> Charge|
|6:30 2x Forge|
|~7:40-8:00 Templar Archives --> Storm|
Build Explanation & Example Games
Zest goes against Bunny and shows the true power of Colossi and Storm.
Link to replay from IEM Katowice
Zest uses a nearly identical build vs INnoVation, but goes into Disruptors and actually gets Forges and a Twilight.
Link to replay of Zest vs SpeCial from IEM Katowice where SpeCial tries to go for an early Cyclone push
As I said earlier, this build is meant to be very safe and solid. It's difficult to crack head on. That's what Colossi offer you. Zest's build is the most modern rendition of that style that I've seen, and it even comes with the option to do some Warp Prism harassment while you're teching up.
Like always, we start with a normal 20-Nexus opener and go straight into a Robotics Facility after the first Gateway unit. Zest goes for an Adept as his first unit so that he can get his Robo down just slightly faster, and to have the added scout potential after dealing with any Reapers. Zest doesn't send his Adept across the map in his game against Bunny, but there's no reason you couldn't do it if you felt the need. After the Adept, Zest gets two Stalkers to round out his early game defense and then goes right into Observer production when the Robo is done. Zest goes up to three Observers in the example game to get as much vision as he can, even Chrono Boosting some of them out. After the second Observer is done, you'll want to put down your Robotics Support Bay as you start the third Observer. To keep the build nice and lean, Zest gets his third gas at 43 supply and then waits for it to finish before he gets his fourth. This is simply done to optimize income, and you can just put down both gasses down at once if you find it more convenient (you'll take a slight efficiency hit, but it shouldn't impact the build too much).
If you find yourself facing any of those fast Cylcone pushes off of two bases, you can simply Chrono-Boost out an Immortal instead of all those Observers, alongside an earlier shield battery. Opening Robo-first basically hard counters any of those types of openings, as long as you know what's coming. If you're aren't totally sure if a Cyclone push is a possibility from your initial Probe scout, then just leave a Probe patrolling by their base to see if/when they move across the map so you can react in time. If you just feel safer going for a blind Immortal, that's also fine—you can simply get it instead of a Warp Prism. However, it will delay your first Colossus just a little bit. Zest actually played a game vs Special (replay linked below) who went for an interesting proxy-Factory Cyclone build off of two bases that Zest scouted with one of his Observers. All Zest had to do was make an Immortal and a few shield batteries to hold very easily. That would be how any game looks if you suspect early game shenanigans. Of course, if your opponent went for a one-base build, you'd have to delay your Nexus and get your Robotics Facility ASAP off one base.
In any case, the 'normal' execution of this build sneaks out a Warp Prism before Colossus production begins so that you can get some presence on the map and punish any early move outs by the Terran. It's usually not a good idea to sit completely passively with nothing out on the map, and that's where the Warp Prism comes into play. A few Adepts dropped into the mineral line whenever the Terran moves out serves to split his attention and make it so he can't move out at will. In lower leagues, this isn't really necessary, but it's a great way to learn some very simple multitasking and harassment mechanics as it doesn't demand as much attention as other forms of harassment. The Prism harassment is just a supplement to the build, and not what the entire build relies on to work. However, it does give you the potential to deal a significant amount of damage if you time counter-attack warp-ins as Terran moves out across the map.
Colossus production should begin as soon as the Robotics Support Bay is done. You want to make Colossi non-stop until you have to three and then switch over to Immortals. You can throw in a defensive Shield Battery as well if you want—Zest gets his at 4:30 along with his first warp in of two Zealots and a Sentry to round out his gateway composition. Pause Probe production at 47 supply, around 5:00, so you can afford the upcoming tech structures and units. It's important that you do this, otherwise you won't be able to get your follow-up buildings and units quickly enough. It's vital that you get the three Adepts at your Warp Prism (if you chose to make one), your second Colossus, your third Nexus at 5:20, and the three extra gates at 5:40.
The example game that I got this build from gets a bit weird at this point, with Zest making some interesting decisions. Namely, he never makes any forges. Instead, he prioritizes getting Psionic Storm a bit too much, and skips out on both Blink and attack/armor upgrades. Eventually, Zest finds himself in a base trade when his and Bunny's armies pass right by each other. Zest had killed enough of Bunny's forces earlier and delayed Bunny's third base to the point where his own army was simply larger, and was able to win the base trade. However, this isn't how you should expect a typical game with this build to look.
So, the timings for follow-up tech structures are my own suggestions. These may vary a little bit in your games based on how much pressure you find yourself under. However, if all is going well then, you should be able to afford a Twilight Council around 6:00 with a double Forge at 6:30. One of the downsides to opening fast Colossus like this is that it limits your Gateway count. You'll be staying on a low number of Gateways for quite some time since you still need to invest into all the other tech as well. It can get a bit tight when you're trying to get your Twilight upgrades going at the same time as double Forges, while also continuing with Colossus production. Eventually, (ideally as fast as possible) you'll want to go into Templar Archives for Storm to quickly round out your splash composition and make it difficult for the Terran player to properly counter your army.
Something else you can do that was brought to my attention by Seracis is to go for double Forge before the 3rd base instead of a Warp Prism. Zest did this vs INnoVation in the GSL RO16. The build is essentially the same, except instead of getting a Warp Prism, Zest goes for double Forge and a third Nexus at 4:45 before he even starts his first Colossus. Now, if that's too greedy for you then feel free to delay the Nexus slightly to get the Colossus first and then go for double Forge right after the Nexus. I think that would be a very safe and solid way to go about doing this opener. Zest ends up getting the Twilight Council around when I said would be a good timing (5:50 in the example game against INnoVation), and then follows up with Blink and Disruptors instead of storm. This is still another solid way to go about playing from this opener, but just focuses on some different strengths and has more brute force power to it. It's especially good if the Terran is delaying Liberators and trying to push really hard, since Disruptors are a very punishing unit if the Terran does not micro or position his units well.
The Classic Composition
I mentioned earlier how this is a very old school style PvT. Back in WoL and HotS it was very common to assemble a Death Ball of mass Colossi and High Templars for maximum splash damage. You would then play a game of tech switches to play around what the Terran had at any given point. If you started with Colossi and your opponent went into heavy Viking production to counter, then you'd go High Templars to abuse that. That's where these super-fast Storm styles came from to begin with. Then, once Terran had Ghosts and you'd bled away away their Viking count, you could go back into heavy Colossus production from multiple Robos. The cycle would repeat until someone won the game.
That's what Zest was going for against Bunny, but things just spiraled out of control. He did a counter-attack after losing some Probes and ended up denying Bunny's third for a while, but also delayed a lot of his tech and upgrades due to his aggression. While I'm sure Zest would have still gone for his extremely fast Storm transition even if the game had gone more normally, I do believe he would have at least gotten one forge, if not two, had the early aggression played out slightly differently. It is up to you to decide how you want to play it, though. If you want to stick on Blink-Stalkers and Colossi for a lot longer with more gateways, then by all means go ahead. If you like going straight into Storm, then that obviously works too. Whichever one you choose, just be sure to commit to it and macro well and you should be more than fine.
If you do go for the fast Storm style, then there's the question of whether or not you need Blink. A lot of times when I see players go for fast Storm transitions after opening with a different tech, they skip Blink and go straight to Charge. While Blink is a pure mobility spell, Charge gives Zealots some added on-hit damage alongside the ability to engage the enemy faster. I personally never felt safe skipping Blinkg, however, and I feel that I always need Blink to deal with Medivacs drops and Liberators. I recommend lower league players always get Blink, as the trade-off in safety for damage isn't worth it.
Regardless, I think this build is a good set-up for a strong, mid-game defensive style. It has solid branches and tech variations, and doesn't sacrifice the ability to punish Terran if they push carelessly.
Thank you all for reading and if you have any questions/comments please leave them below and I'll try to get to all of them!
Brought to you by the TL Strategy Team in collaboration with Overwolf and Spawning Tool.
Brought to you by the TL Strategy Team in collaboration with Overwolf and Spawning Tool.