INnoVation did an interesting build against Happy on Whirlwind in Acer Team Story Cup. In contrast to a typical follow up, the build transits from a gas first Banshee opening to a double Medivac drop with Stim. Although INnoVation may not be the first one who used this, the focus is on the build.
Banshee opening is arguably the most common opening in TvT. The two typical Banshee builds are 12 gas 13 barracks or 12 barracks 13 gas. While the Banshee is doing damage at the other end, the player put down a command centre to move towards a standard game. Given that cloaked Banshee opening requires two geysers, the gas is subsequently spent on Tank and Starport units. For example, Raven and Viking to counter opponent’s Banshee. A standard way to play this out is to push across the map with two to three Tanks (with the air units and Marines). This is deadly if the Banshee has already dealt enough damage earlier. As this timing has become more common, it also loses its effectiveness since players know how to deal with it.
One of the key aspects of the standard follow up is the investment in Tanks. The unit is crucial in both executing and defending the push. The composition is quite restrictive as you can only either attack your enemy’s front or park your Tanks at your natural to defend. The push is very strong if the Tanks can siege up at key positions on certain maps. For example, if you can siege up three Tanks at the side of opponent’s main near the ramp that connects the natural on Yeonsu, it is extremely hard for opponent to break it effectively. However, the defender advantage at the same location is usually too strong for such play to happen in professional games (place a Tank at the top of the ramp). In the end, players will tend to siege up at key locations to defend while moving the Marines around to anticipate danger and control towers.
Delay Tank investment
INnoVation did not invest the gas from the two geysers on Tanks. The gas is invested on add-ons, stim and Medivacs. Instead of a Tank push follow up, INnoVation did a double Medivac drop with stim finished at 10:15. That is considered to be early stim timing in the current TvT metagame.
Happy certainly did not expect this as he positioned his units at the natural to anticipate a potential Tank push.
10 – Suppy Depot
12 – Refinery
13 – Barracks
@100% Barracks – Orbital Command, Marine and Factory
17 – Supply Depot
18 – Refinery
Constant Marine production until you have 4 or 5*
@100% Factory – Starport and add a Tech Lab on the Factory
23 – Supply Depot (Build Supply Depot accordingly from here)
@100% Starport – Swap the Starport onto the Tech Lab. Banshee and Cloak research. Get a Widow Mine from the Factory.
When the 4th or 5th Marine is done, build a Reactor. I state “4 or 5” because of what INnoVation actually did in the game. He cancelled the 5th Marine when he wanted the 50 mineral to start the cloak research without any delay. The 5th Marine started again when he had the mineral. Then, it was cancelled to build a Reactor. My understanding is that he saw more than one Reaper, and it is normal to constantly produce Marine as you do not know if opponent is investing much into early mass Reapers. You may lose the game right there if you stop Marine production to build a Reactor. Another way is to constantly build Marines and build the Reactor with the Factory. At the point of time when INnoVation started the 5th Marine the second time, he had enough resources to get the Reactor. Thus, I think he planned to stop at 4 Marines. Anyway, I think it does not really affect the build much.
For clarification, the observer of the match follows the action of the Banshee in Happy’s base, so I try to make sense of what INnoVation was doing based on the production tab.
@100% Banshee – A second Banshee, then a Command Centre (@100% – Orbital Command)
@100% Reactor – 2x Marine. And a Tech Lab on Factory
@100% Tech Lab – Swap the Barracks on the Tech Lab and research Stim. Resume Marine production.
A Reactor on Factory (maybe Starport*). 2x Barracks (I assume one of them on the first Reactor that was built earlier by the first Barracks). Then another Reactor on Starport (maybe Factory*)
From the VoD, I cannot tell whether the Reactor was built on Factory or Starport first. Both will build Reactors and the sequence should not matter as both are not producing anything. Given the sequence of Medivac production later, I think the Factory gets the Reactor before the Starport. Anyway, in short, Reactor on both Factory and Starport.
@100% Barracks – Engineering Bay (@100% – +1 Infantry Attack)
@100% Reactor on Factory – Swap the naked Barracks on the Reactor of the Factory.
@100% Reactor on Starport – 2x Medivac
@100% 2x Medivac – Load Marines and move across map
Show your drop only when stim is done. Shape up to a standard game with Marine, Tank and Medivac production.
Explanation and improvement
The drop does have its surprise factor, but it is not going to really do much. The strength of this build is the knowledge that Medivac and stim Marines are out there can make the opponent uncomfortable. It pins his or her Tank heavy force at base. This allows you to take the third with ease like how INnoVation did.
INnoVation made a second Banshee. He may have chosen a Raven instead if he did not see the two Reapers of Happy. INnoVation’s build (12 gas 13 barracks) gets you the quickest Banshee possible. It is impossible for Happy, who has invested in 100 gas on Reapers, to get Banshee of his own to match INnoVation’s Banshee timing. Thus, INnoVation could afford to make another Banshee to be aggressive instead of a Raven. I am not saying that Happy will not have the resource to make cloak Banshee after a Reaper opening. Just that the Banshee will not be as early as INnoVation’s, and hence, it is wise for Happy to get a Raven to counter INnoVation’s Banshee. Personally, I do not think INnoVation would have done the same timing (at least not as early) if Happy went for a Banshee opening since the Starport will be producing Viking and not Medivac. This is a good build order variation to add to your arsenal.
The build can be improved further. The Factory built a second Tech Lab, which was redundant. The Barracks can swap onto the Tech Lab of the Starport after the second Banshee is done. Thus, there will be less lifting and swapping of add-ons. This put less stress on multitasking with the Banshee micro at opponent’s base. Another improvement is the Widow Mine. It could be loaded into the Medivac as well. As you could see in the VoD, there was space for a Widow Mine on the Medivac. It could turn out to be critical when opponent move to defend against it.