TvP: What We Learn from Home Story Cup 18

Home Story Cup 18 was the first notable tournament played with patch 4.7.1, so it provides a good overview of how pro players approach the new patch. I will discuss some observations in the TvP match up.

Gemini and I had a discussion about what we expected in the match up before it went live, and it appears that we were pretty spot on regarding the opening and late game.

Early game

Proxy

Terran still do proxy builds, but they are limited to either fake a proxy or only proxy the Barracks (and have the Factory in base). See the two vods below.

This means, out of the three types of proxy builds, the standard proxy which is the most popular option in the last patch is rarest now. As mentioned in the discussion with Gemini, I expected proxy strategies to die out due to the Cyclone, so I am not surprised that the standard proxy to not be used. However, why did Terran use fake proxy and only proxy the Barracks? If Protoss do not have to worry about the wide range of possible threats stemmed from the standard proxy, there is little incentive to fake that you are doing a standard proxy build. One plausible explanation is that Terran build on the insecurity Protoss have about the possible new proxy builds. The other plausibility is that Terran have standard proxy builds which they have not shown.

INnoVation used a one base two Factory build against Zest in game 1 (see first vod below). It is basically a one base all-in with Cyclone and Widow Mine, and we have seen something comparable in the last patch. This build could be used as a form of proxy, because standard proxy builds are essentially quick tech builds. INnoVation did indeed mix it up and proxy the Barracks and second Factory in game 3 (see second vod below). Although this may look like another proxy variation that Protoss need to prepare for, it does not have the effectiveness of the proxy strategies we saw in the last patch due to the fact that there are no other threatening proxy variations to create information gap in Protoss’ planning.

Standard expand

One Gateway expand is the standard expand opening. Stargate is still the most popular tech choice, as it provides well rounded utility in the early and mid game. This is expected. Overall, there really isn’t anything that we haven’t seen before.

There are some interesting changes on the Terran’s side though. Reaper expand is still the best expansion opening, and players will tech up to a 1-1-0 for the Cyclone. Having a Cyclone (or two) is the standard now, and I think it will stay that way. Its defensive utility is unmatched. There are two main paths after the Cyclone. One is to get a Starport and the other is to put down additional Barracks. The former is 1-1-1 and you can have countless variation. Specifically, it appears that Cloak Banshee is the most popular choice in the new patch. The latter is kind of like a 2-1-1, as it aims to build up a bio force and move out with Stim and two Medivac early. I had previously discussed how Terran can add one to two Cyclone in the early game to circumvent the weakness of 2-1-1 in TvP. A very similar idea is adopted now with the new Cyclone. Terran can choose to put down two more Barracks instead of just one Barracks after the 1-1-0, and it basically moves to a 3-1-1 with the same move out with Stim and two Medivac. See below vods for some examples.

Mid game

Colossus is back into the mix, and Disruptor is warming the bench. This is the result of both the minor buff to Colossus and the redesign to Disruptor. Of course, High Templar is always an option.

It seems that Terran have three main tech choices in the mid game.

  • Range Liberator
  • Widow Mine with Drilling Claw
  • Siege Tank

Range Liberator is one of the most popular mid game tech options in TvP. The direct answer to Range Liberator is Tempest, which has received a big buff in the latest patch. After the new patch went live, there are quite a number of posts on reddit suggesting the new Tempest is too strong and lacks counter play. I have no opinion about it, and I think we should wait and see. Nevertheless, it seems to me that Range Liberator is not as popular as before in this patch thus far.

The buff to Drilling Claw makes a big difference. Before this latest patch, the sole purpose of upgrading Drilling Claw since Heart of the Swarm is to increase the burrowing speed, and it is considered not worthy of investing in another Factory for that utility in TvP. Range Liberator provides higher value than Drilling Claw Widow Mine against Protoss. However, since Drilling Claw now allows Widow Mine to maintain its invisibility when it is on cool down, the upgrade may in fact worth getting. This is particularly valuable when Protoss often mass Gateway units and delay their tech in mid game. Drilling Claw shines when Terran emphasize on a multi-pronged attack style, because Protoss may not have the Observer in place to clear the Widow Mines that are cool down.

In the vod below, INnoVation put down a second Factory for Drilling Claw upgrade, and then he put down the third Factory when he can afford for more Widow Mine production. This is effective against a Gateway heavy composition.

Siege Tank has an interesting place in TvP. It is most commonly used for early game defence, and then it is included in a push to Protoss’ third when Terran have Stim and Medivac. Occasionally, it is used for an early push with Banshee and Marine. Terran usually transition to Widow Mine production after the push as Siege Tank is just bad. However, at the end of the last patch, we have observed a tech switch in the late stage of the mid game by putting down multiple Factory for mass Siege Tank (see vod below).

A group of Siege Tank can be effective defensively when Protoss a-move their army into it. Siege Tank is also an answer to the old Disruptor. Siege Tank technically out range the Disruptor when you compare their stated range, but the edge of the Purification Nova can out range Siege Tank. I was not sure whether this mass Siege Tank tech switch in the mid game would stay in the new patch, because the new Disruptor is effective against Siege Tank. TaeJa applied this tech switch in the vod below.

Late game

It does not appear that there is any notable difference in the late game. Terran still mix in Ghost and Liberator into the composition, while Protoss rely on aoe. There are quite a number of all-ins from Terran, for example, Bunny went for a 5-1-1 two base Siege Tank and bio push against Showtime in multiple games, and he even pulled Scvs. This maybe a sign that Terran do not want to get to the late game against Protoss after all.

I will discuss about specific builds in the next few articles. Stay tuned.


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