A lot of people are having the misconception that I'm advocating the exact build order that Brown used in this game. I am not. Rather, I'm pointing out individual points/lessons that I find Protosses seem to overlook or forget or tactics that seem smart/underused.
Recently I watched a PvZ in the GSL that was so different from every single other PvZ. It didn’t involve some crazy strategy like mass carriers and it wasn’t a brand new undiscovered timing. What was so different about it is that it was purely macro game, possibly the most macro oriented PvZ I’ve ever witnessed on the GSL stage. In fact, it was the Protoss’s [g] oal to get into the late game. And no, it wasn’t a PvZ where where the Protoss turtled on 2 or 3 base for the entire game. There were very intelligent movements, amazing tech transitions, and lots of attempted harass from our Protoss hero.
The Protoss behind this PvZ was SlayersBrown. Previously unknown, his only significant result was defeating LiquidHero in a GSL qualifier. But this season he qualified for Code A and defeated Superstar, Ryung, and Losira all 2-0. And according to SlayersCella, Brown almost never loses to zergs on the korean ladder, so he must be doing something right. The particular game I’m refering to is game one between Brown and Losira on Daybreak. Yes, this is the Losira that is close to a ZvP sniper with a 72% win ratio vs protoss. Here is the vod and I believe game 1 is free to watch. I recommend everyone to watch the vod first before reading the rest of this post. I believe all Protoss can learn from the concepts employed by Brown and without further ado, here they are:
1. Not every PvZ build has to have some 2 base timing.
For some reason, most PvZs in the GSL have some 2 base timings incorporated. This has worked previously when zergs were unfamiliar with such timings and when the maps were smaller. But now as zergs become better at defense and we have large macro maps like daybreak, a macro game can be a very good choice.
Not only did Brown not do a 2 base timing in this game, he barely did any pressure off of 2 base. The extent of the pressure was one voidray and one pheonix(which threatens more phoenix) and a fake 4 zealot poke. And neither of these pressure were even committed pressures. The voidray serves a huge purpose as you’ll see in the next point and the phenoix is very useful for scouting. The 4 zealots were immeidately pulled back as soon as Brown realized he couldn’t do anay damage with them. The most important part of this point is that Brown is not afraid to play a completely macro game versus zerg and in fact he encourages it.
2. Just one voidray can allow you to take a fast 3rd on large maps.
Brown is not the first Protoss to use this tactic, as Huk has done this many a time recently. However, not enough people know about it. Just one voidray prevents roach based attacks from the zerg until he can get a mass of either hydras, mutas, corruptors, or infestors. At this time, you can easily take a third while massing zealot/sentry to deal with lings and teching to colossi to deal with either infestors or hydras.
3. Aggressively expanding as protoss is powerful.
I was amazed by how fast Brown took a 4th in this game. Although I first thought it was a reaction to the fast broodlord tech, I later realized that in both his games versus Superstar, he got a 4th base equally as fast. And with good sim city, army movement, observer placement, and cannon spam, Brown was able to defend his bases versus both harass and frontal attacks. By aggressively expanding, Brown was also able to pull slow broodlords to side expansions while counterattacking Losira’s expansions with his more mobile army.
19:00 5th to divert attention
22:45 2nd attempt at 5th
27:00 6th and 7th started at the same time
4. Mass those observers
Brown makes the most observers I’ve ever seen in a PvZ. Not only does he open 2 observers from the start, he eventually goes up to 3 and replaces them whenever they die. With these observers, Brown is able to quickly scout tech switches, observe army movement from the zerg, and find all burrowed units. Most importantly is the army movements. Many times throughout the game, Brown is able to spot ling runbys and intercept them before they do damage. In addition, Brown is able to see Losira’s army moving towards one of his expansions and thus counterattack one of Losira’s expansions. Observers are so cheap and useful that I believe the most important reason people don’t get more of them in PvZ is that they refuse to waste their precious time on their robo, which brings me to my next point.
5. Double robo all the way+ Show Spoiler +
Note: This is in reference to an internet meme. I'm not suggesting to always get double robo in every single PvZ.
Everyone knows that robo units are the strong units in PvZ midgame, but many people refuse to build more than 1 robo. I believe that especially with this heavy expanding style of Protoss, double robo is the way to go. First, the double robo makes up for the fact that with the expanding style, your robo is going to be later than if you had started colossi off of 2 base. Double pumping colossi also allows your final max army to be more colossi heavy, strengthening the final power of your army. The other obvious advantage is that you can surprise your opponent with a switch to double immortal very quickly. However, the final advantage that many people don’t think of is that you have extra robo time to build auxilary units like warp prisms and observers. In total this game, Brown makes about 6 observers and 3 warp prisms with speed. I’ll admit Brown’s warp prism harrass wasn’t that impressive, but that can be attributed a lot to Losira’s great defense. However, the lesson to learn from this is that with 2 robo, you can afford great luxuries that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Any zerg will tell you how annoying warp prisms are and we’ve already been through how useful mid-late game observers are.
6. Mothership tech should be the norm versus broodlord tech.
All too many times Protoss go into autopliot and go the same techroute no matter what they face. For example, a standard tech route would be 3 base colossi off 1 robo into templar for storm. This seems simple enough and it was great back in the early days of starcraft 2 when roach hydra corruptor was all the rage and broodlords were way less popular than they are now(This had mostly to do with the infestor buff). But now that hive tech zerg is very common as the zerg endgame, templar transitions make much less sense. As great as high templar are, the fact is that no matter how many high templar you have, you won’t beat 10+ broodlords with just high templar alone. In fact, I advise most people that templar are great to supplement an anti broodlord army, but you should never get them versus impending broods or in response to broods.
Brown’s tech route was double robo colossi straight into mothership and only after the mothership was started did he start his templar archives. Clearly, Brown was timing all his tech so that he would have the mothership and archon/templar at the same time. He was aiming for archon toliet+storm as his counter to mass broodlord, which I believe is the absolute safest and solid counter. Any ground based army just simply will not work. Voidrays are countered too easily by infestors + corruptors, and 1 or 2 carriers will not make enough of a difference in a fight as one single mothership.
Brown adds his templar archives after his mothership starts.
The reason this tech pattern isn’t seen much is that there’s not much of a precedent for it. In fact, I’ve never seen this exact transition in a pro game and the only similar situation I’ve seen is both Huk and Hero transitioning from storm/archon/immortal directly into mothership instead of colossi to deal with broodlords.
In conclusion: Colossi+templar is great versus any lair tech, but you don’t need both of them vs fast broodlords. Mothership is the way to go.
7. Carriers are part of the ultimate Protoss deathball
Near the end of the game, Brown begins adding 3 stargates for carriers to add to his huge deathball. In fact, he even sacs probes to do so. The fact is that while a maxed mothership/colossi/templar/archon/stalker deathball is near unbeatable, that deathball with carriers IS unbeatable. The only counter to carriers zerg has is corruptors, which are completely negated by vortex and storm. Yes, carriers are hard to get, but if you mothership/colossi/templar/archon tech, I’m sure you can afford carriers. Why not voidrays you might ask? The fact is that voidrays are much easier to deal with than carriers in that deathball, because while corruptors don’t do as well versus voidrays, fungal and neural do very well, and infestors are much scarier than corruptors.
8. Vortex is pretty sick
Ok, we all know this. Here’s a picture:
This game has to be the most well played late game PvZ I've ever witnessed. It is clear that Brown almost always plays and practices macro PvZ and he has a better understanding of it than any other protoss because of it. It's also amazing how much you can learn from just one game. If you only watch one PvZ for educational purposes, watch this one, and if you have to pick one up and comer protoss the rise up, it should be Brown. I, for one, will be playing close attention to SlayersBrown in the future.