Hey guys, my name is Gemini and I'm a past three time Grandmaster Protoss player who has been making guides since 2011 on various sites. The Build of the Week is my most popular series of build order guides that I've been making for about three years now on /r/allthingsprotoss. With the help of TeamLiquid.net and Spawning Tool I'm now bringing my guides over to TL as well!
Each write-up includes build order notes, an explanation/analysis of how the build works, and a VOD section so you can check out the source game and how it should go. I'll also include the Spawning Tool link so that you can practice it in game yourself and download the replay of me doing it. I hope you enjoy and be sure to read the whole write-up before asking any questions as I'm sure some of them will be answered in here!
How to use Spawning Tool
Link to the Spawning Tool Build
Link to the Spawning Tool Build of my Safer Variant (Explained in the guide)
Link to /r/allthingsprotoss Guide.
[PvT] Stats' oracle into phoenix/adept
PvT has been a match up giving plenty of protoss trouble recently. We of course have a low point in the match up's winrate and a problem that isn't really well defined. One thing is for sure, there has been a good amount of aggression coming out of terrans just like always, which means stargate play is as good as ever. I haven't been able to do a BotW on this style yet since I had not been finding the games that represent it well since last BlizzCon. However Stats played this style again in the GSL a few weeks ago that I've been copying for a long time now. Phoenix/adept is one of the best ways to play PvT right now in my opinion due to its ability to snowball after defending aggressive terran openings and its versatile nature that gives some options back to you as a protoss to set the tempo of the game instead of always waiting on the terran with a defensive robo style.
|@100% cybercore -> adept (chrono)|
|50 Gas -> WG|
|@100% adept -> 2nd adept (chrono)|
|@100% stargate -> oracle (chrono) -> constant phoenix production (4-8x)|
|@100% 2nd adept -> 3rd adept|
|~3:50 3rd nexus|
|@100% 1st phoenix -> 2nd phoenix + MSCore|
|4:15 -> 2x gate + 2x gas|
|4:50 robo + twilight council + forge|
|5:30 5x gate|
|@100% twilight/forge/robo -> Glaives/ +1 Attack/ obs -> immortals|
|3rd gasses as you start to bank less|
|@100% +1 Attack + Glaives -> +1 Armor + Blink|
|~8:00 Splash tech transition|
*Note: The build displayed in Spawning Tool will show each step of the build without context. This is an elaborated version of the build to be used as a supplement.
This is a style that Stats has been using for a long time now. I first saw him do it at BlizzCon vs ByuN and that's when I picked it up. I never directly copied it from the VOD because it was difficult to do since there was a lot of early aggression that messed with it, but I took the style and made my own build around it. This example is ripped directly from his VOD vs Ryung from GSL the other week, but I'll be explaining it in relation to the way I like to play it throughout the guide. I'll link both a replay of the greedier 3rd base version like in the build notes, as well as the style that I like to do in my own games.
The main thing I took away from the way Stats plays stargate openings is the way he uses adepts and oracles in the early game to allow him to take a pretty greedy 3rd base. Most games I see Stats go for three adepts and a stargate after a 19 nexus opener. Two of those adepts are chrono'd and he shades across the map with them so that it times out with his oracle coming across the map as well. This type of early aggression isn't really something you can pull off in any other way in the current PvT meta, as it's usually very reactive. Pylon rushes are really the only thing short of proxies that you can do to try to pressure the terran, and even those can be a pretty big commitment to pull off. This type of early harass doesn't hinder you in any way if you can't get too much done with the adpets and also has the potential to do a ton of damage. You can either use both the adepts and the oracle at the front if you notice they split their forces up too much and can wipe them all out quickly, or you can pull them apart and focus SCVs with your adepts as you shade out while going in with the oracle in the main. Multitask intensive yes, but also very rewarding. Only do as much as you can while pushing yourself just a little bit.
Behind this pressure Stats usually goes for a very quick 3rd base. Pre-4 minutes is when he gets his while starting phoenix production to defend vs any potential drops or liberator harass. This is definitely a calculated risk out of Stats since he knows how much he can get away with. It is definitely safe to go for a 3rd base this quickly with the setup you give yourself since the terran will be forced to stay back, but of course if you're not used to taking 3rds this quickly you'll have some adjusting to do. I personally delay my 3rd a little bit and get my robo and 2x gates and gasses beforehand. I personally feel safer doing it that way and that is also a perfectly acceptable way to play the style if you don't feel like taking a 3rd that quickly.
One of the most important aspects about doing the build this way is the way that widow mine drops are defended. The Korean pros are good enough to be able to defend widow mine drops with phoenix and overcharge either sniping the widow mines before they burrow or lifting them before they burrow, thus alleviating the need for detection. Many people, myself included, can't trust themselves to be that good with their defense, so I get a robo right after my oracle so that by the time a widow mine drop comes I'll have an observer out to help deal with it so that way I can keep the oracle on their side of the map and not worry about missing the mine burrowing. I also get the 2 extra gates slightly after the robo as I have the money to help deal with any extra early aggression.
From this phase you start to bank some phoenix for potential drop harass defense and then for your own counter harass depending on how many you make. Some games Stats and other protoss will only go up to 4-5 phoenix for pure drop defense, whereas they'll also sometimes go up to 7-9 phoenix for continued harass and engagement snowballing vs medivacs. I'll explain the couple of different ways you can take phoenix/adept into the mid game.
Other than the early game drop defense that I already mentioned, phoenix/adept has a couple important benefits that make it an incredibly strong mid game composition.
There are many different ways that you can use phoenix/adept in the mid game. All of these styles are possible with slight alterations using the build order in this guide. There's some styles where you delay the robo as long as possible and get the twilight/forge earlier and a faster 4/5 gateways to go for a huge timing on 3 bases with +1 gladepts and ~7-8 phoenix that will outright kill an unsuspecting or over aggressive terran player. You can also go for a more defensive style like Stats does in this particular game vs Ryung where he only gets a few phoenix and then focuses more on the adept ground army with some immortals as well while transitioning into blink and storm. Another option is a middle ground style, which is what I usually like to do, that gets a higher phoenix count of around 7-8 and use that army to take skirmishes and snowball early leads. I then transition into blink and colossus since I feel it rounds the composition out a little bit better than storm.
2. Being able to snowball
For anyone unaware of what the term snowballing means: It's a term used to describe how quickly you gain advantages in a game off of one particular situation earlier in the game. So perfectly defending an early game double pronged drop by the terran while losing next to nothing is a great way to set up a game to snowball in your favor. This is something that phoenix/adept excels at since phoenix specifically are so mobile, they allow you to instantly go on the counter harass once you successfully defend something. The terran can't ignore the phoenix because they will continue to shut down medivacs and pick up key units like mines and tanks so the terran has to cater themselves towards them, either forcing them to be defensive or make a unit comp that isn't necessarily what they want. Adepts are also so easily massable that you can quickly overwhelm a terran that makes too many mistakes early on while not getting effective trades.
3. Dismantling the tank/lib/mine contain
Tank/lib/mine contains are one of the more difficult styles to hold off against in recent times for many protoss players and phoenix/adept is a great answer to those styles. Not only does it make tanks basically obsolete due to graviton beam, it forces them off that style from the start. If a terran openly opts into going tanks even after seeing a stargate opener then they are basically signing their death wish. Stargate play is just so good against tank based armies that I personally get excited when I see them trying to support bio with tanks. They need to make a more marine/mine focused army to deal with your comp which opens you up to more possibilities like baiting out bad mine shots or lifting the mines up as well or going for a more immortal/stalker based comp instead of only adepts. This is part of what I said earlier how going for stargate puts the tempo in your favor a bit since it forces the terran to react to you instead of you doing all of the reacting. The terran needs to cater their comp to your opening instead of simply going into auto pilot, otherwise they will get run over.
Transitioning Into the Late Game
If you don't do some sort of phoenix/adept timing to end the game relatively early, you will need to eventually transition out of it, since it is mostly an early/mid game composition. It will get out-scaled quickly without splash and when phoenix start to get out numbered. In his game vs Ryung, Stats goes for storm and charge and it leads to a bit of a scrappy game that was closer than I think it needed to be. I'm not the biggest fan of going into storm since I feel all the answers terran has to make vs phoenix are naturally good against HT as well. Mines, libs, and ghosts are all possibilities for terran to deal with phoenix/adept compositions and they're all good vs HT based armies. I personally like going into double robo colossus after phoenix/adept since I think it abuses the style that terrans need to use to deal with phoenix/adept more. Colossus are fine vs mines, blink and colossus zoning are great vs libs, and of course ghosts don't completely hard counter colossi if they get their EMPs off like they do vs HTs.
If the terran decides to respond to your phoenix style by massing vikings and playing very defensively, then of course storm would be a much better transition since you can make the vikings basically obsolete in that scenario. That isn't always the most common response by terran players however, so it doesn't come up very often until later. But other than that, you play the late game like any other PvT, eventually cycling out all your phoenix as they become less useful the bigger the terran army gets, and then getting more splash as you see fit and continuing upgrades and going into eventual tempest if they start to turtle with liberators too much.
sOs vs Billowy - GSL Code S Ro32 Group C Match 5 Game 2
Game that the build notes are copied directly from.
While he does lose this game, Stats still goes for basically the same opener with some small alterations. This is a good example of where it is sometimes better to play a little more defensive when your opponent goes for such a high marine count while still on 2 base instead of trying to so aggressively push for a fight.
Thank you all for reading and if you have any questions/comments please leave them below and I'll try to get to all of them!
Brought to you by the TL Strategy Team in collaboration with Overwolf and Spawning Tool.
Brought to you by the TL Strategy Team in collaboration with Overwolf and Spawning Tool.