How the hell did Maru win that game? That’s a question that everyone’s asking right now; even us. That game seemed like MyuNgSiK had everything going for him; near perfect drop defense, early third base, and a huge number of colossus. What went wrong for MyuNgSiK - Or rather, what went right for Maru? Drop after drop got deflected with ease, MyuNgSiK continued to macro while keeping up in supply with Maru, and Maru was unable to find any holes in MyuNgSiK’s defenses. How could such a perfectly executed build fall so callously to the bio forces and mules of Maru? After watching the game over and over, we’ve dug up every tiny detail that occurred in that game, and broke it down thoroughly to expose exactly how the Terran player rose as the victor, and the Protoss player as the loser. Here it is, how the Prince rose up to the throne.
Maru’s choice of build is similar to that of his previous game in proleague, in the ace match against Zest on Echo. The foundation of this build is similar to the current meta; open with a reaper scout, get a quick starport and start widow mine drops, like most Terrans have been experimenting with over the last months. In this case however, Maru takes it to the next level. Rather than just leaving mine production at one at a time, Maru switches his factory onto the reactor after two mines, and starts producing them two at a time. Not only does he continuously produce two mines at a time, but he also makes medivacs non-stop, sending out medivac after medivac full of widow mines. The drawback to this is a much lower marine count. Maru relies purely on early widow mines and turrets to prevent stargate harassment, while staying on an absurdly low marine count. This is a bit of a gamble; Maru is relying on MyuNgSiK to not be aggressive, and his gamble pays off.
- 10 supply
- 12 barracks
- 12 refinery
- 15 reaper
- 17 reactor (10x marines)
- 17 command center
- 19 factory (2x mines)
- 27 starport
- 2nd gas @ 100% starport
- @ 2x mines and 10 marines, swap factory onto reactor
- @100% medivac, tech lab on starport and swap barracks onto tech lab
- Continue constant 2x widow mine and 1x medivac production
This build was first seen when Maru pulled it against Zest in the previous week. Both games featured the same opening; reaper expand into factory and starport, followed by swapping the factory onto the reactor after two widow mines. Both games featured early aggression; the first had a widow mine drop in the main with a marine push in the natural, followed by continuous widow mine drops in the natural, and the second had endless four widow mine drops sent to the natural. In the first game however, due to the set being played on Echo, Maru follows up the build with more barracks and dedicates all resources to two base play. Versus MyuNgSiK on Deadwing, Maru immediately drops a third base upon sending out his first drop, and completely neglects any defensive options as he scarcely produces marines, as he continues to produce his drop units. The map definitely plays a role in the follow ups to this build, as does the opponent. Unfortunately for Maru, his last scout against MyuNgSiK before aggression was at 5:30, when he scouts the main of MyuNgSiK with a reaper and see’s the stargate. This isn’t a lot of information, hence the gamble.
The first mine drop
To counteract this weakness, Maru plays overtly aggressive. By following the adage of “the best defense is a good offense”, Maru plays to contain all possible avenues of aggression out of MyuNgSiK, allowing him to do what he wants to back home. Upon scouting the stargate, and MyuNgSiK committing to that tech, Maru forces MyuNgSiK to stay at home with his phoenix to defend the endless drops coming his way. Drop after drop are sent into the natural of MyuNgSiK, and not only does this keep his phoenix back at home, but it also burns all of their energy with widow mine pickups, and loosely loses his map control for short periods of time. These moves eliminate the potential for MyuNgSiK to cross the map to deal damage, lest he lose probes to a widow mine drop.
Follow up/transition into Maru play
The transition Maru chooses is again familiar, greed. After sending out his first medivac loaded with mines, he drops a third command center at 8:28. This is very unusual for a TvP; normally you want to have your second and third barracks down much earlier than your third base, as well as your ensuing techs. Once again the map plays a key role in this decision. Being the largest map in the pool, Deadwing gives you the flexibility of taking your third base much easier than any of the other maps. Maru yet again takes things to the next step. From 8:35 to 9:19, he goes without having a single barracks unit in production. Instead, he focuses all resources into furthering his tech and economy; he drops his gases and continues SCV production. All of these decisions were based off of a 5:30 reaper scout which only scouted a stargate and an expansion.
Following the extreme greed out of Maru, he finally starts his infrastructure. Rather than slowly progress his way up to five barracks, he explosively drops four of them while continuing to pile on drop pressure, pinning MyuNgSiK to his base. Not only does he add his barracks, but he also adds his second engineering bay and his armory, with the intent to continue his upgrade progression without downtime. Staying true to maru fashion, he takes things to the next level again and immediately makes four addons with his newly finished barracks, completely skipping out on any barracks unit. Again, he relies on his widow mine drops to keep the stargate units at home while he builds up his structures back home. Everything up until this point of the game was geared towards having a strong mid/late game, perfect for Maru’s style. His over the top greed has paid off; Maru is in prime position to execute his endless pressure against MyuNgSiK.
limited unit production, mass structure production
Now before we continue on into the mid game, let’s take a look at Maru’s widow mine drops, and what he’s been able to accomplish with them. A total of three medivacs were sent out, each containing four widow mines, and were all lost. This translates into a total cost of 1200 minerals and 600 gas. And what did Maru gain out of it? In damage done, almost nothing. He was able to trade off with a single probe, zealot, stalker and phoenix, pretty much negligible damage. Mining time? Approximately 50 seconds combined off of a single base. Not too much lost mining time relative to the investment for the drops. The real victory for Maru was his greedy play behind the drops. Skipping on early units, dropping an early third command center, starting early upgrades, building mass infrastructure geared towards macro play, and not being harassed puts Maru in a solid position, even without any damage done through the widow mine drops; he has successfully set himself up for the ensuing macro game.
units lost after the widow mine drops
After being allowed to macro unscathed, this is where Maru truly begins to shine. He’s ahead on upgrades, has a much better production facility count, has established map control, and even has his next three barracks on the way, earlier than a standard game. The supply counts are deceptive; typically, a Terran player should be ahead by anywhere between 20 and 40 supply at this time. At this point in the game Maru and MyuNgSiK are around the same supply, but contrary to a standard game, Maru is much further ahead in his upgrades, infrastructure, and even has his fourth base on the way before the fourteen minute mark, while MyuNgSiK is straggling behind on upgrades, and is struggling to invest his gas into the right paths. Trading off the supply in the drops allowed him to get ahead in these aspects, and gives him that much more power in his drops and multi-pronged attacks.
The next phase in Maru’s game plan is his endless aggression. Known for his multitasking skills across multiple battles, Maru abuses this to systematically pick apart and force mistakes out of his opponents. This game is no different, and is a prime example of his superior mechanics at work. First, Maru starts his aggression off with small drops. These came in the form of his four widow mine drops, scattered throughout the early game. Following this comes a combination of drops and frontal assaults, with each attack increasing in size and frequency. Maru roughly splits his army into two even portions, and from there begins his attacks. Notice however, in this game, he tapers off from drops, and relies purely on frontal attacks to get damage done. This is due to the combination of the phoenix in air, and the map architecture. Having control outside of the third/fourth of MyuNgSiK gives Maru the options to either push into the pocket base of MyuNgSiK, or to go through the adjacent base to the natural, giving Maru multiple options for aggression. While continuing to drop even with double digit phoenix in the air, eventually Maru decides against it and stays on the ground.
every single attack initiated by Maru
An unorthodox approach to the TvP matchup is to not make any vikings whatsoever, and this is Maru’s signature. Rather than invest in vikings to trade with the phoenix and colossus, Maru instead invests his resources into a larger ground army, relying more on his ability to split his army and take favorable fights. By not having upwards of 20 vikings, Maru will instead have an extra 40 supply in purely ground forces, using them to their full potential with constant drops and attacks. Maru also stayed on a single reactor’d starport the entire game, meaning he was only able to produce at most two medivacs at any given time. Maru was extremely limited in his air force; most of his supply was invested into marines and marauders. By skipping viking production, this also means that Maru didn’t have to invest anything into upgrades for air units, and had that much more resources to spend into bio.
An out of position MyuNgSiK is helpless against Marus bio
With such a large bio force, Maru opts to continuously trade them out for colossus and nexus. Playing true to his style, Maru is always on the aggressive stance and forces fights out of his opponent. He gives no opportunity for MyuNgSiK to establish a fourth base, and with his continuous harassment Maru eventually forces MyuNgSiK into making mistakes. The first mistake that MyuNgSiK makes is being out of position to defend his third; Maru successfully distracts MyuNgSiK with a drop and runs a bio force into the third base of MyuNgSiK and picks off the nexus. These mistakes continue to happen as Maru unrelentingly piles on the pressure left and right, continuously trading his bio to keep the colossus numbers low, and the nexus to less than four.
Maru trades bio for colossus
Behind all of this, Maru continues to expand, keep his upgrades rolling and his unit production going. The last piece of the puzzle that Maru needed to beat MyuNgSiK was his mechanics. Behind all of the aggression, all of the drops and attacks, Maru flawlessly continues to macro. Not only is Maru able to pick favorable engagements for his bio and display superior micro mechanics than MyuNgSiK, but he is also able to continue unit production back at home, establish five bases, and add more production facilities, all while maintaining map control, and keeping MyuNgSiK on the backfoot. Simply put, Maru was the superior player here, and even his early drops were unsuccessful in getting damage done, Maru was able to pull ahead through the mid game and ultimately cripple MyuNgSiK with brute force.
MyuNgSiK vs. Maru. David vs Goliath. Opening into this game, we can immediately see a discrepancy in the skill levels between the two players. Despite MyuNgSik and Maru both being pros in Korea, Maru’s famous multi prong attacks can potentially stretch MyuNgSiK’s defenses thin If MyungSik isn't careful. To nullify these attacks, MyuNgSiK either needs to have the advantage through build orders and quickly defeat Maru or pray that his play has zero areas for Maru to punish him. By doing this, MyuNgSiK effectively removes Maru’s ability to use his patented multitasking prowess. Understanding this, MyuNgSiK goes for a build that shows qualities from the 2012-2013 late game stargate style of PvT but changes things up by relying more heavily on his phoenixes to carry him through the early-mid game. The concept behind this build is very simple; utilise the mothership core’s defensive vision and photon overcharge to grab an early expansion while undertaking a stargate → robotics facility → colossus path. Hopefully for MyuNgSiK, this will defeat the Terran through phoenix harass in combination with a colossus/phoenix/sentry push.
- 9 - pylon
- 13 - gateway
- 15 - assimilator x2
- 17 - pylon
- 18 - cybernetics core
- 19 - zealot
- 20 - nexus
- 20 - mothership core
- 23 - stargate
However, a standard build against Maru is a bad idea considering Maru’s aggressive multi prong style of play and the immobile nature of Protoss deathball units. MyuNgSiK’s build shows qualities from the 2012-2013 style of PvT via the build order and initial defensive playstyle but doesn’t directly follow it. The 2012-2013 style of defensive phoenix colossus Why does he play this style? Think about it. What does Maru do best? Drops, and lots of them. Therefore, attaining map vision and building phoenixes are a must. If he used the current style of oracle MyuNgSiK does exactly this by forgoing any damage with his oracle after of which, uses it for vision on drops going to his main and delaying his colossus tech for additional observers all the while producing phoenixes. As previously stated, the end game of this build is to hit the terran at the right time by either defending drops with phoenixes until the Terran’s attack timing window runs out or to out macro the opponent and win through overwhelming the Terran. Being the defender this game, MyuNgSiK’s goal is to defend the drops and get his macro up to carry him to the victory. This way, Maru would be unable to get significant damage off while MyuNgSiK gets off his.
Considering the tech required to pull off this build, late game is where it shines. That information coupled with MyuNgSiK’s oracle scout at 6:42 allows MyuNgSiK to not only go for an early expansion, but the early third as well by skipping early defensive units. From here on, Maru consistently drops MyuNgSiK in an effort to weaken the 3 base economy but fails against MyuNgSiK’s spectacular phoenix micro. It’s all about the defense and whoever breaks first is the one to lose.
DEFENDING THE DROPS
Now, this is where things get interesting. In the mid to late game section of the game, it’s all about drops and who manages to crack first. Fortunately for MyuNgSiK, This is where his build order comes into play. From MyuNgSiK’s position, he has the potential to deflect every attack if his micro and map awareness is top notch. Getting the early phoenixes and focusing on economy first ensures that he has complete air superiority. This in turn allows MyuNgSiK to be rest assured that his colossus production will go untouched while still being able to defend any drops that may occur.
Once MyuNgSiK’s third base goes down, the drops start. Maru instantly goes for a 4 widow mine drop at MyuNgSiK’s natural but meets a photon overcharge and an observer used to detect the mines, forcing Maru to back away. However, MyuNgSiK isnt about to let him get away, and chases him with the phoenixes, destroying all 4 mines and the medivac. Unfortunately, there isn't much time to celebrate as another mine drop coming for his natural. Again, the drop is deflected as the probes are immediately pulled, the mines retreat and the phoenixes give chase, leading to a total of 8 dead mines. Unhindered, Maru tries for the natural one more time. Refusing to allow any damage to happen, MyuNgSiK yet again forces Maru to back away while retaining close to no casualties himself.
Any other Terran would lose hope at this point, but not Maru. He tries to attack once more with a drop at the natural containing 2 mines, 2 marauders and 4 marines. Unfortunately for him, 2 cannons were since placed there by MyuNgSiK which deflect the attack with ease.
Impeccable micro combined with the build order choice makes MyungSiK seem almost invincible. He’s taken close to no casualties, destroyed all of the incoming drops, his third base is already finished and he even has his colossus production behind all of this. Once he gets the proper timing to attack, he’s got this in the bag. Right?
FIRST FAULT: FAILURE TO TRANSITION
This brings us to the mid to late game where MyuNgSiK’s spectacular display of drop defense begins to show its weaknesses. Phoenixes fill the role of defensive guardians of the early/mid game for Protoss in PvT but once it gets to late game, a transition is recommended to continue on. Phoenix/colossus is a viable composition against Terran due to the phoenix's ability to pick off drops and retreating Terran armies. However, staying with this tech can lead to mistakes in certain cases. This is one of those cases as it becomes the first fault of MyungSiK’s play. Dont get the wrong idea, it’s entirely possible to stay with phoenix/colossus/zealot production and end the game once you amass a large enough number of those units. However, this entails a timing attack is going to end the game before those units get obsolete which he does not take advantage of. And while this composition may be viable against a heavy viking/marine force, any seasoned Terran can see this composition and know that a marauder heavy force with no vikings can potentially deal with this. Without colossus support units such as templars to storm/feedback the medivacs and sentries to forcefield the bio, the Protoss army is much too fragile and susceptible to being caught out of position. All of this could be salvageable if the phoenix production had stopped at this point as well. As of now in the game, there are simply way too many resources invested in this tech that this game lasting any longer could possibly be his death sentence. The proper decision here would be to attack now or get ready to transition to the later stage of the game where production of immortals/sentries, and research of charge/storm should happen.
MyuNgSiK had upwards of 23 phoenix at one point!
SECOND FAULT : MACRO
If failing to transition is the first fault, then the main culprit is his lack of macro. As stated before, MyuNgSiK has the advantage through build order and has attained map control through his drop defense. However, once you get past the initial image of his near perfect drop defense, things start to look a little worrying. You start to realize there's a lack of gateways, upgrades, important tech (charge, templars) and his composition needs a little work. As a rule of thumb, a protoss generally wants to have around 3 gateways per base especially once it gets to the late game. The reasoning behind this is to make sure that you can get quick defensive warp ins to protect against surprise drops, diversity in your army composition and potentially warp in harass via warp prism or proxy pylon. MyuNgSiK does has the drop defense through phoenixes in this case, but the diversity and lack of harass are two problems that go completely unanswered.
22 minutes into the game, MyuNgSiK is floating over 3k resources and only on 5 gateways
Of course, phoenixes can potentially take role of the harass, thus removing the need for zealot drops. While that is true in most cases, Maru’s constant aggression and unrelenting drops make sure that the phoenixes are forced to stay at home for defense. As for the lack of macro, there are two main factors that cause this. The first being that MyuNgSiK chose a build that requires quite a bit of micro and precision to keep up with. Phoenixes aren't necessarily the hardest unit to control but considering that widow mines are generally hard to defend against and that a single mistake on the end of MyuNgSiK can potentially end up with double digit phoenix deaths, MyuNgSiK doesn’t have much room for down time. The second factor is really, well, he’s facing Maru. Maru’s multitasking is legendary, and trying to keep up to him with just an army of phoenixes and colossi is a very hard feat to achieve. MyuNgSiK isn’t necessarily a bad player, but his current skill level and experience simply isn't enough to stop the Maru style of aggression and be able to macro behind it. Simply put, phoenix micro against widow mines + Maru = 0 macro time for MyuNgSiK.
THE END GAME?
Now that we’ve gotten what's wrong with his play out of the way, time for the final section of this game: how everything just fell apart. Starting from the 6th drop, things start to take a turn for the worse. Initially, MyuNgSiK looks prepared for this one as well. He has his main army in between his natural and his third while his phoenixes are in position to defend the bigger drop about to strike his main/third. However, the micro intensive unit choice strikes hard here as the bigger drop is quickly cleaned up by the phoenixes but the second drop goes completely undefended as it snipes the third nexus with ease. MyuNgSiK scrambles his army into position to defend, but by doing so is forced to lose a colossus.
Maru sniping the third while MyuNgSiKs out of position
However, even though he lost his third nexus and a colossus, MyuNgSiK still has a sizable army and even manages to get the supply lead. This is the optimal time to counterattack. MyuNgSiK chooses not to due to the uncertainty surrounding the location of Maru’s army and the potential threat of drops happening. This mistake is going to hit hard as Maru’s army is moving to attack the third from the left flank once more. Using the phoenixes to defend the potential drop, MyuNgSiK takes out the marines using his air force and moves his ground army to take out the rest. He manages to only lose one colossus in this engagement but the important factor here is that his army is out of position. MyuNgSiK moves his army back to the middle position outside the third using a move command and switches his attention back to his macro. Maru uses this opportunity to attack the front which is just about to be occupied by MyuNgSiK’s returning army. This results in all but one of MyuNgSiK’s colossus being sniped. This is quickly followed by the phoenixes being move commanded above two widow mines resulting in them losing a huge chunk of health.
Careless micro from MyuNgSiK result in all of his phoenix getting splashed by widow mines
This puts MyuNgSiK in the classic PvT situation I like to call “watching yourself die slowly”. Without a critical army mass, engaging the Terran army would be suicide. The low health phoenixes don't help either, as marines can snipe the phoenixes with ease. Furthermore, since MyuNgSiK heavily invested into the stargate/robotics facility tech path with little gateways, it's going to take too long to reinforce or even create a new army to defend with. Maru knows this and snipes MyuNgSiK’s fourth base with close to no resistance.
It looks like this is it for MyuNgSiK, as the manner mules and command centers beside his base start to stream in. Maru starts to set up camp to the left of MyuNgSiK’s fourth base with planetary fortresses, turrets and widow mines, cutting off MyuNgSiK’s access to his fourth base. This allows Maru to snipe the fourth base once more by forcing a cancel on the halfway built nexus. Maru now splits his army in half to attack the natural and pressure the third at the same time. The next attacks are pushes towards the natural of MyuNgSiK, and since the protoss army is forced to stay at the third to defend, the natural goes down, forcing the GG.