State on StarCraft: Rain’s Championship PvZ
SECURING A THIRD
Once your Nexus is down, warp in two Pylons, a Photon Cannon and two additional Gateways to help against any aggression Zerg might throw your way. This will bring your Gateway count up to 7. There’s no guarantee that Zerg will try to deny your third, but—if your games are anything like mine—that’s gonna happen a lot. Here are the three most popular timings you have to look out for, and how best to stop them:
Mass Zergling: Defending heavy Zergling aggression is a lot easier with Rain’s build than others. By the time you’re taking your third, you should have 7 Zealots, 3 Sentries and a Mothership Core and—with good Force Field placement—that’s more than enough to deny almost any Zergling attack. Protect your Sentries, make sure you have a Zealot at your natural wall-in, and do your best to stay active with your Phoenixes. Zergling aggression usually has a high-tech follow-up, like Infestors or Mutalisks, and you want to know what that is as soon as you can.
Roach/Ling: The build doesn’t really call for it, but Chronoboosting out a Void Ray or two makes it so much easier to defend against any sort of Roach-based aggression. Use Force Fields to section off most of Zerg’s army while you clean up the rest and use your Phoenixes to take as many as 5 Roaches out of the fight at a time. Warp in Stalkers, keep your Colossus production up if you can, and get ready to scout for Zerg’s transition.
Hydra/Ling: Defending Hydralisk pushes can be tricky. It’s hard to take good trades before your first Colossus is out, and it can be even harder if you’re caught out of position. Warp in Zealots and Stalkers, take fights conservatively, and don’t get overconfident. Your Phoenixes can intercept some of the first few Hydralisks as they’re hatching, and any stragglers moving cross-map too. Once your first Colossus is out and Photon Overcharge is ready, this push should be easy to defend. Mutalisks are a really popular follow-up to Hydra pushes, but with a good number of Stalkers and Phoenix on the field, you’re in a perfect position to defend.
If you can keep your Phoenix alive, it’s unlikely you’ll see many Mutalisk transitions with this opening. Your Stalker count grows really quickly in the mid-game, and 5 Phoenix can shut down Mutalisks hard in small numbers—but still, anything is possible. We didn’t really get a chance to see how Rain transitions against Mutalisks in his series versus Soulkey, but it seems to me that there are two clear options:
Hit a 3-base Timing: In an even game with 5 Phoenix and a handful of Stalkers, you shouldn’t have a hard time dealing with the first few Mutalisks, and by the time you have Blink researched, Zerg probably can’t take you in a head-on fight. If you think you’ve got a good chance at ending the game early, use this advantage to hit a 3-base timing—just watch your back while you do it. Base-trade scenarios are tough, but warping in Photon Cannons at home and using Photon Overcharge can give you the staying power you need to win it out.
Go for the Late-Game: If you’re more comfortable going for the late-game and you’re sure your opponent’s committed to Mutalisk tech, throw down two more Stargates, a Fleet Beacon and start researching +1 Air Weapons. Your Phoenix, Blink-Stalkers and Photon Cannons should be more than enough to deflect Zerg’s first few attacks, and once your extra Stargates kick in you can start contending air superiority. Upgraded Phoenix absolutely destroy Mutalisks, and Void Rays are an excellent way of dealing with Corruptors. Spend your extra resources on Gateway units (Psionic Storm and Archons’ splash damage is amazing vs. Zerg air), secure a fourth base, and take the fight to the Zerg once you hit maxed.