Bomber’s Counter Intuitive TvZ

vs zerg

Bomber does not come to one’s mind as one of the best TvZ players in the world. Although he may have a decent shout based on his recent victories over Jaedong and Scarlett at the WCS Season 2 Final, I still rate INnoVation as the undisputed number one TvZ player now. However, if you compare Bomber’s TvZ games with INnoVation’s, they adopt very different style. If INnoVation’s TvZ is the textbook style, then Bomber’s is definitely unorthodox.

Background of Bomber’s TvZ

TvZ is Bomber’s worst match up since Wings of Liberty. Although Bomber has shown that his worst is far from bad recently, statistically it is not top notch. TLPD: 22 win/ 20 lose (52.38%)

If the WCS Season 2 Final games are excluded, his win rate falls below 50%. Jaedong’s ZvP is the perfect analogy for Bomber’s TvZ. In fact, it is his relatively poor TvZ that prevented him from qualifying WCS Season 1 Final.

bomber stats

Image from TLPD

Moving away from statistics, Bomber’s TvZ style is one of a kind. He emphasizes on macro since the Wings of Liberty days. Bomber likes to get a third command centre early and just defend. He carries this approach to Heart of the Swarm. Although getting a quick third command centre is considered standard in modern TvZ, Bomber takes it to the next level. He rarely has any units outside his base until he reaches around 180 supply with +2/+2. His games against Scarlett and Jaedong on Star Station sum up his unique TvZ style.

Before I go into the actual analysis of Bomber’s TvZ, let’s lay down what are considered the key concepts in TvZ.

Key concepts in TvZ

1. Wall off

If there is a match up that Terran should wall off, it is against Zerg. Early Zerglings run by can be game ending.

2. Early attack is ineffective

In general, every TvZ build out there aims to be economical to a certain extent (exclude cheese like 11/11 proxy). So you do not see any 1-1-1 or gas before barrack builds in TvZ. Zerg can shut them down effectively.

3. Cannot be over-passive

This is an extension from point 2. Although Terran do not emphasize on specific attack early on, it is important to have some forms of control. At the basic level, it is Hellions. They provide map control and have the potential to deal massive damage if Zerg “over-drone”. This is important as Zerg can get out of control if they can macro up undisturbed

4. Do not fight on creep

Whenever possible, do not fight on creep. Zerg trade much more efficiently on creep with Baneling and Zergling speed. Further, they know the position and composition of Terran army on creep, and hence, creep allows Zerg to prepare for the best answer. For example, set up flank and catching unsiege army. Thus, it is vital to scan and clear creep, instead of just walking the army on creep.

5. Marine micro is critical

Trading cost efficiently with Marines make or break in TvZ. It sets the tempo of the game. The first engagement has huge impact on the second engagement, the second engagement has huge impact on the third engagement, and so on. This is why when Terran make a great engagement, Zerg often lose to constant aggression due to snowball effect.

Revolution of Bomber’s TvZ

Bomber’s games in WCS Season 2 Final do not follow these five basic concepts. Some work to his favor, but some do not.

1. Wall off is optional 

Bomber still wall off, but it is not a must. There are games whereby he does not build his first supply depot on top of the ramp. For example, his game against Scarlett on Bel’Shire Vestige. In that game, Bomber used a one barrack expand into three barracks before gas against Scarlett. The build shapes up to a combat shield timing to snipe the third hatchery. It is important to deny scouting for this to work. In line with this, the “weird” position of the first supply depot is to spot overlord. Interestingly, the subsequent supply depots are not built at the entrance of the natural. They are built on top of the ramp instead. Still, they deny scout to set up for the combat shield timing.

walloff1

walloff2

2. Early attack can be effective if they are unexpected

Bomber’s combat shield timing was effective against Scarlett. Scarlett did not expect a combat shield timing, and paid a heavy price for it. Combat shield timing is an old school strategy and has fallen out of style even before Heart of the swarm. Zerg expect to see Hellions at that time frame, and not 10+ Marines with combat shield. Bomber’s passive play style in game 1 and standard Hellion opening in game 2 set up the perfect stage for such timing attack in game 3. Scarlett was still making Drones when the Marines are walking over. Her unit tab clearly shows that she did not expect the timing attack.

combatshield

Bomber applies the same approach even when he uses a standard INnoVation 14CC into three command centre build. He gets only four Hellions instead of six, and runs them to the mineral line to trade with Drones. These Hellions are typically meant to serve as map control units, and scout for potential all-in. Thus, Terran would generally rather to keep them alive than to do a risky run by.

On the flip side, such assumption can be an “unexpected” factor that catches Zerg off guard.

4hellion

3. It is called Bomber-Macro style, not “over-passive”

Bomber chose a macro oriented passive build on Star Station against both Scarlett and Jaedong.

10 – Supply Depot
14 – Command Centre
16 – Barracks
19 – Command Centre
21 – Refinery
29 – 3x Barracks

Instead of converging back to a Hellion opening after the third command centre, Bomber built three barracks. With the additonal barracks, his intention is clear. Play defensive and move out with +2/+2.

However, Zerg get +2/+2 before Terran at around 13:00. Moreover, Zerg is well saturated with close to 80 Drones by then.

vsjd

vsscarlett

For both games, Bomber chose to move out at around 13:15. The Zerg players with the upgrade advantage were more than willing to engage. While Bomber was crushed by Scarlett because of his poor positioning and unsieged Tanks, he had a more successful engagement against Jaedong. Nevertheless, his build is questionable, as it does not shape up well for a timing attack and also does not provide a superior economy. Furthermore, in Jaedong’s game, the creep spread was out of control and had almost reached Bomber’s base. In many ways, such passive macro build is inferior to INnoVation’s standard 14CC into Hellions and three command centre build. It is hard to understand what Bomber sees in this build.

vsscarlett2

jdcreep

4. Fight on creep – Mule not scan

This is perhaps the most defining aspect of Bomber’s TvZ. He uses minimum number of scan to the extent that he battles on creep.

Let’s use the game on Newkirk Precinct between Bomber and Scarlett as an example. Bomber used a standard 14CC into three command centre build and moved out at around 10:30. He used one scan to clear active creep tumors. Typical.

creep1

Later, Bomber made a good engagement and killed the third hatchery. His army then walked straight toward the fourth, when it was a good opportunity to scan and kill creep before regroup.

creep2

Bomber moved out with his second batch of army after the first was cleared up by Scarlett. He spent several scans along the entire edge of the creep on the map to kill active tumors (14:00 – 16:00). The aim is simply to kill active tumors to prevent further creep spread. Unlike other Terran players, he does not want to scan on “dead” tumors. As a result, Bomber has to battle on creep. Nevertheless, he is still capable to trade well enough to overrun his opponent. This is counter intuitive because Terran should not trade well on creep. Then how did he manage to do that? Bomber simply overruns his opponent with numbers. He spends his orbital command’s energy on Mule instead of scan. This ensures he can outproduce his opponent.

Bomber would rather scan to know the position of opponent’s army is and not use it to clear creep.

creep4

creep5

Bomber’s macro approach is consistent throughout his play, and this leads to the next discussion point.

5. Marine macro is critical

Terran cannot trade cost efficiently on creep. At least not with extreme Widow Mine or Tank shots. The main factor is that Baneling (with speed) on creep is faster than Marine with stim. This is an undeniable truth even in the hands of Bomber. Indeed, Bomber does not even bother to do progamer level Marine split on creep. To compensate that, he spends his orbital command’s energy on Mule and his apm on macro. Bomber may not trade as cost efficiently as a normal Terran who scans on creep and does gosu Marine split, but he reinforces with a bigger army time after time until his opponent taps out.

Consistent with his game plan, Bomber does not do multi-pronged drop play like many top notch TvZ players do (e.g., INnoVation). He simply attacks with a big force in face to face battles and reinforces time after time.

creep3

Conclusion

Bomber’s macro-oriented TvZ style is refreshing in the modern micro-based TvZ. Although his “Bomber style macro build” seems questionable, his general counter intuitive approach warrants attention. He mentioned in his post WCS season final interview that he does not do harassment because of his slow hands. This is certainly worth learning for lower league players who do not have good Marine micro.

This is posted on GosuGamer.net

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5 thoughts on “Bomber’s Counter Intuitive TvZ

  1. Yeah, Bomber’s TvZ certainly is an interesting contrast to Innovation’s! It seems to be he is using his old 3 base all in that Day9 analyzed (http://day9.tv/d/Day9/day9-daily-395-terran-week-bomberss-tvz/). It seems even better now because you don’t need to research siege and there are widow mines added.

    Another thing that is super good and I think he does this too, is the fact that HoTS has added a select all army button (I think I saw him hotkey it to CAPS), which in this instance is very useful to this style of play, since he is just going to be drilling the front. We hardly ever see pros use this button since there are single marine scouts, multiple drops and runbys.

    Great post! Love it! ^__^ Bomber certainly came outta nowhere in Season 2 finals and played the tournament of his life!

    1. Thanks!

      I strongly doubt he uses the select all army key. This is because he reinforce by batch and not just rally point up front to reinforce.
      It makes me wonder if mixing in siege tanks beyond the early stage is viable for his style or not.

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