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In yesterday’s show I spoke about GuMiho’s funky new style of mech that he used to defeat Dark in game 1 of their group-stage set at IEM. We saw GuMiho running circles around Dark with hellions and speed-banshees, harassing relentlessly from all angles before finishing the game with 2 very decisive and well-timed attacks.
Today we’re going to take a look at the second game of the series, from Dark’s perspective. A warning before we get into it: you’re about to see the best zerg in the world switch on god-mode and shut down GuMiho at every turn. It gets a little bit nasty.
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Dark Shuts Down Mech in ZvT
The first thing you must know is that this game is fully reactive from Dark's perspective, mostly because Mech isn't standard these days. He doesn't have a strict build, but it's good to take note of how he factored in the potential of Mech in his plans for game 2. We'll mostly be looking at his reactions and adjustments, but here's what Dark opened with on Abyssal Reef.
Dark Shuts Down Mech in ZvT
|~2:01 4 lings + 2 queens|
|@100 gas -> Pneumatized Carapace upgrade|
|52||2x extractors, 2x spore crawlers|
The Flow of the Game
The first change worth noting is the early Overlord Speed upgrade with the first 100 gas after Zergling Speed. Dark had stopped doing this quite as much, but against the unpredictable GuMiho, this was a wise investment. Knowing what your opponent is up to makes defending harassment and taking early leads so much easier. If you're confident in the macro game, this is a very important early investment.
At around 3:30, Dark spots that GuMiho is once again going mech with early hellions and banshees. In response, he plants his roach warren as soon as he can afford it, and follows up with the Lair. He even gets preemptive spore crawlers, which showed how seriously he took GuMiho's harassment. While it's possible to cut corners and get your spore crawler out in the last possible seconds, Dark takes no chances in order to tie up the series.
While the Lair is still in construction and an overlord a ways a way, it's imperative to develop drone and queen micro. Make sure queens are targeting the hellions as often as possible while pulling drones out of range to limit damage. Before you hit the 6:30 mark,expect maximum nuisance.
Overlord placement is especially important in this stage of the game. Unless your opponent is especially savvy, he will likely skip getting a viking to clear out overlords. As long as the skies are clear, keep an eye on as much of the map as possible. Preempting harassment is the most important step in defending it.
Once the Lair is complete, get that overseer as soon as possible. Dark discovers very early on that GuMiho is using Mech again, so he is able to transition to roach-hydra-viper smoothly.
While transitioning into vipers, you will be relying mostly on roaches and queens. Skipping the spire for now is a luxury that you can afford if you can defend the banshees as well as Dark. Each tick of gas spent on other things is a hit to your viper count—crucial for when your opponent makes his near-max mech march. In fact, you'll see around 7:30 that Dark delays his evo chambers in favor of more defenses. Staying safe is your focus at this stage of the game because banshees and hellions can cause catastrophic damage in small amounts of time. Luckily for Dark, GuMiho forgets banshee speed.
Use overseers to scout what your opponent is doing. If you've been able to manage the harassment correctly, you should be on full 5-base econ by the 10:30 mark—80 drones and 10 gasses. At this point you can mass hydra/viper and transition to brood lords to your heart's content. Make sure to build that spire as soon as you have the spare gas because the Greater Spire takes a long time to complete.
From here on, the terran will focus on hitting you before your brood lord timing. Make sure to occupy favorable chokes and ramps and use vipers whenever you can to pick off free units. Hold position micro is crucial in these situations so your units don't get drawn into tank fire.
Don't forget to spend excess minerals on static defense and evo energy banks.
The Brood Lord Push
At 13:00 minutes, your BL transition should be in full swing. Make sure not to use too much supply on brood lords, you only want enough to siege your opponent without becoming a completely immobile and vulnerable army. You want enough anti-air to protect your BLs, since they can do as much damage as they want once vikings are no longer in the picture.
Prioritize spending your energy on abducting and PBing vikings. Don't get too antsy though. Be patient with your brood lord siege, and don't sacrifice your anti air units just because an opportunity presents itself.
Another important thing to note is targeting on the brood lords. BL's will continue to target a planetary even if it's being repaired, so make sure to change targets if you can't take it down quickly. Terrans often use this time to move forward and target fire your BLs with their thors, so make sure to retarget and retaliate. Otherwise, you could face a situation like Dark at 16:00. Make sure to target fire!
Locking On the Chokehold
If you've been patient with your siege, you should have been spending the past few minutes on the terran's side of the map, slowly chipping away at his army and economy. The defense you invested in earlier will hopefully keep your own economy secure, but make sure to have a hotkey of roaches and hydras as a hit squad just in case your bases need reinforcements. In this game, GuMiho is barely able to touch Dark's economy, and the zerg makes easy work of the terran once he runs out of steam.
GuMiho does an impressive job surviving, but the huge remax at 18:30 seals the deal.
The Influence of Maps
While it is reductive to say that the maps were the reason for the results of the first two games of the series, it's obvious that they had an influence on how both games proceeded.
For a zerg, Newkirk is a much harder map against this type of Mech. Bases are more spread out so hellion and banshee mobility can be really hard to stop. On Abyssal Reef, your layout is much tighter. Dark's evo placement at his third is particularly brilliant because it limits the angles those hellions can come through.
Curiously, these more defensive maps with tightly packed bases seem to favor zergs playing this style rather than the meching player. In earlier metas, turtle Mech styles preferred these tight layouts because it meant easier defense against harassment. The tables have turned now, and zergs prefer the same kind of easy defense against terran's mobile harassment units. GuMi's hellions and banshees could not get nearly as much done as in game 1 on Newkirk, which meant his window to push with a maxed out army before brood lords was nonexistent. Even if he had had that window, creep spread was much better this game and vipers were already available to abduct units.
Game 3 occurred on Proxima, a map where players can't really do many ground counterattacks. Banshees can find great angles, but without the hellion threat pushing away those pesky banshees is much easier. With only one route right down the middle, harassment is really easy to block. So, he played bio and was crushed.
I really wish GuMiho had vetoed different maps, because we could have instead witnessed mech on Bel'shir Vestige or Cactus Valley. I think GuMi would have had a good chance of replicating his success on Newkirk on these other maps—especially with banshee speed. I would have also loved to see what Dark's answer would have been on more open maps.
This is how I would have favored the two players playing these styles on the map pool at the time:
Cactus Valley - GuMiho
Honorgrounds - Dark
Proxima Station (Game 3) - Dark
Newkirk Precinct (Game 1) - GuMiho
Bel'shir Vestige - GuMiho
Paladino Terminal - GuMiho
Abyssal Reef (Game 2) - Dark
Notes on Improvement
Personally, I prefer to play mass viper/roach/hydra and aim to win with this composition most of the time. I think this composition is great practice for viper usage, because you have to focus on abducting while staying within a safe distance of your roach hydra. Get around 5-8 vipers and mass roach hydra and don't worry about ravagers or tunneling claws. Just really practice your abduct micro until you've perfected when to abduct, what to abduct, and where to abduct. Nab every viking, tank or thor in sight, hold position your army so they kill them (instead of waddling into tank fire) and then pull back. Siphon off more energy from your evo banks, rinse and repeat. Every successful zerg should have good viper micro, and practice makes perfect.
You can see some of this hold position micro at around 13:00 of the replay.
Brought to you by the TL Strategy Team
Writer: PiG/TL Strategy
Writer: PiG/TL Strategy