Blizzard have finalised the changes in the next big balance patch, so I want to discuss what to expect in TvT after the patch.
Of course, I’m going to talk about the Cyclone. Just to be clear, “current Cyclone” refers to the one that is currently used on ladder before the patch, and “new Cyclone” refers to the one that is used after the patch. Over the past few weeks, I had many conversations about the Cyclone, and every time we get confused which Cyclone we are referring to.
Cyclone is the most discussed Terran unit in the new patch, and I had already shared my opinion in an earlier article. In short, the new Cyclone will not dominate the early game as much as the current one, and that allows other options to be more viable in the early game.
We are entering an era whereby there is no clear dominating unit in the TvT early game for the first time in Legacy of the Void. At the start of Legacy of the Void, Medivac can pick up a Siege Tank in siege mode, and it is called the Tankivac. It changed how the match up was played completely. Tankivac was so good that players tech straight to it, as it was not just the best thing in the early game but also the key component of the army in the mid game. I had written about it in-depth in this article. All in all, Tankivac and Cyclone had dominated TvT in Legacy of the Void.
So what now? The first thing comes to mind is that early harassment and attacking options are limited. In the current live patch, you obviously have mass Cyclone, and you can also drop them with Medivac. In the new patch, you have Banshee and maybe Liberator. These units are countered by the new Cyclone, so the incentive to be the attacker early on appears to be much lower. Thus, we may move away from the conventional attacker versus defender paradigm. We may see some similar trends from the early patch 3.8 days, and mass Hellion may even make a come back as the aggressive option.
We have seen some games from the pros already. The vod below is a series between TaeJa and Keen.
There are several notable things from this series.
Let’s start with the openings. As expected, the 15 gas Reaper expand and the double Refinery Reaper expand are still the core macro openings. Clearly, you can no longer just get the current Cyclone with the double Refinery expand opening and know that you are safe against almost anything. Even if you go for the quick tech path with the double Refinery opening, you can only go for the old school Hellion option and not the Cyclone one. Further, if you go for quick tech with double Refinery (which suggests you want to be aggressive), it is unclear whether Banshee is as effective as it once was. This is because, as mentioned earlier, the new Cyclone counters Banshee well, and this is evident in the games played in the vod above. Thus, since there is no clear good attacking option early on as of current understanding, it is likely that we will see more 15 gas Reaper expand due to its relative economical advantage over the double Refinery opening.
I’m sure some will ask whether proxy Reaper is going to make a comeback because of the Cyclone change. There are reasons to believe proxy Reaper should become more popular in the new patch, but it is not exactly because of the Cyclone change. The best immediate response to proxy Reaper is Hellion, and TY demonstrated this very well against Maru in the last GSL final (see vod below). Proxy Reaper may become more popular because of the increase in 15 gas Reaper expand as mentioned earlier. A single gas expand opening has a later Factory, which means later access to Hellion. I’m not saying proxy Reaper is going to have a build order win against a single gas expand opening, but there is more room for the proxy player to deal significant damage than against a double Refinery opening. We may see a rock-paper-scissors situation with these three openings for slight opening advantages.
I want to highlight Keen’s build in game 4.
10 – Supply Depot
15 – Refinery
16 – Barracks
@100% Barracks – Reaper and Orbital Command
@100 gas – Factory
21 – Refinery
@100% Reaper – Tech Lab
22 – Supply Depot
@100% Factory – Swap it onto Tech Lab for a Cyclone
This is basically a 15 gas Reaper expand into an early Cyclone, and it is an opening that Keen has also used in TvP (see vod below; he swapped the sequence of the Tech Lab and Supply Depot but the difference is negligible). This is effective against TaeJa’s double Refinery opening, as you can see that the early Cyclone pick away TaeJa’s Hellion when they meet. This is an opening unique to the new Cyclone.
Moving on to the transition to mid game. Raven is heavily used by Keen and TaeJa. Raven and Cyclone can shut down any harassment. I hasten to add that, Raven is already very popular now, so it is not a post-patch thing. To explain why Raven is popular, I have to talk about the two main transitions for bio after 1-1-1 in TvT. Unless you go for some unorthodox builds or mass Cyclone, you will have two bases with 1-1-1 as the basic set up in the early game. You then want to move to the next convergent point to have 3-1-1 on three bases, which requires you to put down two Barracks and a third Command Centre. When you go for two Barracks first, you have an earlier Stim and have a potential timing with Siege Tank and Medivac. Conversely, you can put down the third Command Centre earlier for a better economy. Intuition tells you that the latter has to be defensive against the former.
However, there is a window of weakness in the two Barracks transition when the player invests in add-ons and focuses on Marine production. The early third Command Centre player can make a push with Vikings, Tanks, one or two Raven, and other units. S/he can get a Raven as the first Starport unit, then swap the Starport onto the Reactor for Vikings. Because the two Barracks transition player cannot compete with the Viking count, the other player has the air dominance to leap frog the Siege Tank to set up a contain. The Raven can also use Interference Matrix to disable opponent’s Siege Tank, and this allows the attacking player to initiate an engagement. The three Command Centre with an early Viking and Tank push is in my opinion the most common metagame choice. You can see that both Keen and TaeJa prefer the early third Command Centre to two Barracks transition. In game 5, both use the same transition approach (see vod below – time stamped).
I do not expect the patch to make a notable change to the mid game and late game. The next article is about what to expect in TvP, with a twist. Stay tuned.
Lastly, I want to bring attention to Hupsaiya’s fundraiser. He is a Starcraft streamer who is in a bad place due to the Butte Wild Fire. Help him if you can.
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