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 Week is my most popular series of build order guides that I've been making for about three years now on /r/allthingsprotoss. With the help of TeamLiquid.net and Spawning Tool I'm now bringing my guides over to TL as well!
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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[PvP]Hellraiser's Sentry-first into Blink Stalkers & Disruptors
Homestory Cup continues to be a wonderful source for replays and build orders. While this guide isn't inspired by a top GSL Korean player, the strategy is still very well-constructed. Hellraiser is a Ukrainian Protoss player who has turned some heads in the European scene and he's been especially strong in PvP. He even beat the fearsome ShoWTimE 2-0 during the WCS Challenger Group stage, so he definitely knows what he's doing.
This week, we'll be taking a look at Hellraiser's Blink-Stalker + Disruptor play. Given how popular Stargate builds have been lately (seriously, the amount of games I had to go through to find a non-Stargate variation was absurd), it was inevitable that Blink builds would come back as a counter. This Sentry-first version adds a few extra Stalkers that help you go up to Disruptors in the safest way possible.
Sentry-first into Blink-Disruptor
|14||Pylon [@100% --> Chrono]|
|16||Gate [Chrono Nexus]|
|17||Gas --> 2 in each, then rally in|
|18||2nd Gas [Chrono Nexus]|
|@100% Gate --> Cyber|
|@100% Cyber --> Stalker + Sentry + WG [Chrono]|
|Pause Probes @24|
|@100% Stalker + Sentry --> 2x Stalker|
|@100% 2x Stalker --> 2x Stalker|
|36||Twilight Council + Pylon|
|Shield Battery in main|
|Resume Probe Production|
|@100% Twilight --> Blink|
|Resume Probe Production|
|4:00 Robo + Forge (Slightly later)--> +1 Attack|
|@100% Robo --> Obs|
|5:00 2x Gas|
|@100% Obs --> Robo Bay|
|@2 Base saturation --> Pressure w/~11 Stalkers|
|@100% Robo Bay --> Disruptor produciton + 2nd Robo + 2x Gate|
|@100% + 1 Attack --> +2 Attack|
|~7:20 3rd Nexus|
|Constant Stalker warp-ins + 2x Disruptor Production|
|Extra gates when affordable|
|After 3 base saturation --> Templar Archives + Charge + Extra gates|
|If vs Phoenix --> Add Colossus|
Build Explanation & Example Game
Source Replay: Hellraiser vs PtitDrogo
This build is conceptually similar to Classic's safe 3-Sentry expand in the sense that it gets more early Gateway units than most builds. The basic idea is that you delay tech in favor of getting more early Gateway units, while still expanding relatively early. Since this build gets Blink before Robo tech, the extra units out of the Gateways are Stalkers. With a single early Sentry for Hallucination scouting, you can react to whatever your opponent is doing.
There ARE some Blink builds that go for a faster Twilight off just two Gateway units (you can even go Sentry-Stalker into Blink if you wanted to), but they can be a bit risky to do vs early pressure builds. With things like 6 Adept openers and 4-gate being so popular recently, it can be helpful to get out a lot of early Stalkers on defense. Hellraiser shows us how to do this while going into Blink to help control the mid-game. He then transitions into Disruptors to compliment his Stalker-heavy army.
To explain the build a little more in detail for anyone who is unaware of how it should work, the normal 2-Gate opener starts with a Stalker and Sentry along with Warp Gate research right when the Cybernetics Core finishes. Having used the previous two Chronoboosts on Probes, you should be left with one more to use on Warp Gate research. To get a hint about your early-game concerns, you can Pylon-block your opponent's natural after you make your own 28-supply Pylon at your natural. This forces the opponent to show their hand as to what early units they've made so that you can properly prepare. Cancel the proxy-Pylon once you know what they've built.
If you see two Stalkers from your opponent, send your own Stalker to check for proxies on your side of the map (two-Stalker openers can signal aggression). If you see Adepts, then your Stalker should keep patrolling outside your natural to fend them off (keep a Probe at your wall to block any aggressive shade-ins). If you see a single Stalker (which implies the other unit was a Sentry) or your opponent directly reveals both Stalker and Sentry, then you don't have much to worry about. Still, you should send your Stalker around to deny a second Probe reconnaissance run. This entire time, your Sentry should be waiting at the edge of your main base until 3:33 where it gets 100 energy to send out a hallucination scout. Behind this, you should get two more Stalkers and then expand at 32 supply (Hellraiser expands at 33 in the source replay because he accidentally made one extra Probe). Make another round of Stalkers which should bring you up to FIVE, alongside that one Sentry you made. At this point you get your Twilight Council for Blink, as well as another Pylon. (If you want to do a slightly greedier version of this build you can get the Twilight immediately after you start the initial pair of Stalker-Sentry, and then expand or start another Stalker out of the Gateway.)
Hellraiser skips a very important step in this particular game, which is a Shield Battery in the mineral line to defend against Oracle openers. Even though you are making a lot of early Stalkers, Oracles do so much damage that they can still ignore Stalkers and kill quite a few Probes before going down. Getting a Shield Battery completely negates this. It's at this point you should resume Probe production (since you should have paused it at 24 Probes after you make your 3rd Pylon) and go into Blink. (I'm presuming Hellraiser decided to cut the Shield Battery because he noticed that Drogo was not going for Stargate often at HSC).
This is also when your hallucination scout should have gotten to the enemy base to scout their tech. In this source game, Hellraiser saw a Robo being made with a lot of early units which meant that Drogo was going for a safe sentry-expand. In response, Hellraiser decided to continue with Blink, while also getting a Robo of his own and a Forge to go into a macro game (based on the info he had, he could have even gotten the Forge a little bit earlier). Had he seen Stargate play, I wouldn't have been surprised to see him forgo the Robo and go into heavy Blink-Stalker pressure off two Gateways while expanding. After that, he could have gone straight into chargelot/archon/immortal. Alternatively, he could have countered Stargate by adding more Gateways to do a 1.5 base Blink all-in. If Hellraiser had scouted a Dark Shrine, he would simply have made a Robo and held his units at his wall (maybe even getting an extra Sentry for force field). If he had seen his opponent getting Blink as well, he could have played similarly to how he played vs Robo or gone aggressive.
Regardless, even in what is considered the worst build order match-up that he could have drawn, Hellraiser stuck with Blink. He did this in order to apply a bit of pressure onto Drogo with his Stalkers, but also to transition into a non-standard style.
Blink Stalkers and Disruptors in PvP
Once upon a time (before 4.0 and the Charge buff) Blink-Stalkers + Disruptors was the be-all and end-all in PvP. Things have changed significantly since the 4.0 patch change to Disruptors. Nowadays, it's very rare that you see someone go Disruptors since it can be difficult to find a timing to make it work. If you attack too early with too few Disruptors, your opponent can easily negate them with micro. If you attack too late, your opponent will have built enough Phoenixes to keep your Disruptors dangling uselessly in the air.
Despite this, Hellraiser found a sweet-spot to make Disruptors work, and even had a plan for a late-game transition. As I mentioned, the correct response to someone going Disruptors is to go into two Stargate Phoenixes to lift up the Disruptors and cancel their shots. This makes the Disruptor player have to micro more intensely to keep the Phoenixes away from the Disruptors so their shots can hit. It's also important to go into a 2nd Robo quite quickly when going for Disruptor styles so that you can get a solid head start in Disruptor count before the Phoenixes catch up.
Hellraiser attempts to do a Blink-Disruptor push into Drogo's 3rd base when he has six Disruptors, out but at that point Drogo had enough Phoenixes to dissuade Hellraiser from fully committing to an attack. Had Hellraiser attacked a little bit earlier I think there was a good chance that he could have denied the 3rd base, as he had picked off a couple of Phoenixes earlier. But like I said, it's a bit of a fine line you have to walk. If you try to engage when you only have 2-3 Disruptors and your opponent properly baits shots out, then you can quickly find yourself on the losing end of a game-deciding fight. You need to resist the urge to be trigger-happy and patiently wait until you know you will be able to get a good connection. Alternatively, you can use your Disruptor shots as a powerful zoning tool. Stalkers can tear down/cancel a third base while you send out Disruptor shots one at a time.
When the Disruptor and Phoenix counts get higher, you have to play very cautious to get good engages. Hellraiser demonstrated this well in his attack on PtitDrogo's third base, patiently waiting for the Phoenixes to get too close before sniping a few of them off. Meanwhile, his Disruptors stayed in the back to provide covering fire that forced Drogo to disengage.
Once you get to the point where it's an awkward stalemate of Phoenix vs Disruptor where neither side feels comfortable attacking first, it can be difficult to know how exactly to play out the rest of the game. A common option is to transition into Colossus once the Phoenix count gets too high, and Hellraiser showed why this is a strong choice. Colossus are basically unused in PvP because of how expensive they are and how little damage they deal to anything other than Zealots. However, Hellraiser showed us why this is the rare situation where going for Colossus is actually a smart move. Having forced your opponent into making so many Phoenixes, Colossi enter the battlefield as a source of consistent splash damage that can't easily be dealt with. Sure, Phoenix can attack the Colossi, but they kill them so slowly that the other player is left with an awkward choice: Do they try to kill the Colossi as quickly as possible by target firing with Phoenixes, or do they stick to their initial job of countering Disruptors? In combination with a chargelot/archon switch that happens at the same time, Hellraiser ended up with an army that was extremely awkward for PtitDrogo to deal with after spending the mid-game making Phoenixes. This entire time Hellraiser was also constantly upgrading out of his Forge, so he had +3 Attack to go along with his Colossi, Archons, and Chargelots.
Drogo decided to lift as many Disruptors as he could, which let Hellraiser pick them off with Stalkers while his Colossi were left to dole out consistent splash damage. It's also important to note that Phoenix don't exactly do much damage to Disruptors, so it doesn't really work out if you lift just a few Disruptors and try to kill them with Phoenixes. In the example game, Drogo couldn't even click on all of the Disruptors because they were packed in the middle of a huge death ball. Drogo ended up losing all of his Phoenixes while his ground troops still took significant damage from Disruptors.
Overall, this composition is definitely very micro intensive and requires some specific practice to get right. However, if controlled properly, and timed with proper transitions, it you can present your opponent with an unsolvable, nightmare composition.
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.