State on StarCraft: Rain’s Championship PvZ
TIMINGS & TRANSITIONS
You’ve taken your third base safely, Colossus production is underway, and things are looking good. Rain’s transition of choice—Blink-Stalker/Colossus—is a safe, all-purpose way of dealing with pretty much any Zerg ground army. We just have to take a few small steps to get there:
Begin warping in Stalkers exclusively: Now’s the time to replace any lost Sentries—3 should be fine—and begin warping in Stalkers exclusively. Stalkers and Colossi have incredible synergy (as I’ve raved about before) and scale very well into the late-game. 3 Sentries will give you all the crowd control you need. Blink-Stalkers will give you the firepower.
Continue Colossus production: We first prioritized Probe and Phoenix production, but now it’s time to focus on Colossi. Each Colossus makes a huge difference in the mid-game, and it won’t be until we’ve started +2 Ground Weapons and Blink that we’ll start Chronoboosting anything else.
+2 Ground Weapons and Blink: These two upgrades are huge. It’s not until both are finished that our army becomes a very real threat, so starting them as soon as possible should be your top priority. Chronoboost these two upgrades along with your Colossus production, and remember—every second counts.
4 Additional Gateways: Once all three bases are saturated (that’s 16 Probes mining Minerals and 6 Probes mining Gas), cut Probe production and warp in 4 additional Gateways. This will bring our Gateway count up to 11 and give us all the production we need until it’s time to take a 4th.
In the meantime, use Hallucination and your Phoenixes to scout for any new bases, tech, and changes in army composition. By the time your 3rd Colossus is out, you should have a very good idea about where your opponent stands—and you’re probably in a great position to start pressuring them.
Make a judgement call. If you see an opportunity to do some damage, expand or even win the game outright: take it. Keep your Mothership Core on hand for Recall in case things get dicey. Keep Chronoboosting your upgrades, keep warping in Blink-Stalkers, and keep up on your scouting. Here are some compositions and tech to look out for, and how best to respond to them:
Roach/Hydra: Blink-Stalker/Colossus can be great against this composition in the mid-game, but be careful not to overextend. Until you reach critical mass, most battles come down to positioning—whoever has the better arc wins—and unless you’re trading well, you don’t really want to trade at all. Play cautiously, keep scouting, and be wary of Viper and Corruptor timings. We’ll get to those in a bit.
Swarm Hosts: Soulkey used this composition against Rain in Set 1, and Rain picked him apart. Multi-pronged attacks—such as with Warp Prisms and Charge-Zealots—are a great way of abusing the immobility of Swarm Host play. Force your opponent to posture defensively by pressuring, but don’t commit to an attack until you can break your opponent with one big push.
Ling/Infestor: It seems counter-intuitive, but Ling/Infestor is actually one of the strongest openings against Blink-Stalker/Colossus. There’s a razor-thin timing you can hit before Ultralisks are out, and often that’s negated by the risk of counter-attacks and sometimes overwhelming numbers of Zerglings. If you’re up against Ling/Infestor and you suspect an Ultralisk transition, it’s often best to go for the late-game. Add on an extra Robotics Facility or two more Stargates, pump out Immortals or Void Ray/Colossus, and take a 4th base. Psi Storm is great with these compositions, but be careful not to tech too much on 3 bases—you really need the extra Gas income a 4th base provides before you can really branch out.
Hive Timings and Corruptors: I always emphasize scouting, but the Hive timing might be the most important in all of PvZ. Unless you have Templar ready to Feedback your opponent’s Vipers, you can kiss your high-tech units goodbye—so make sure to keep scouting with Hallucinations and Phoenix to get a handle on where your opponent is. Corruptors are also centerpiece in most anti-Colossus timings, so make sure your Blink-Stalker count is healthy and start Chronoboosting out Void Rays when you can. In any case, you want to keep your Colossi alive, win the ground war, and push for the win.
I hope you guys enjoyed this week’s guide! Here’s this week’s replay pack, featuring some of the best games I’ve played here in Korea.
See you next week!
Check back every week for a new State on StarCraft post from Ryan “State” Visbeck!