I am only a mere low to mid masters player jumping between 4300 to 4500 mmr. Everyone has their own way of playing; I am simply writing out my views on this matchup which are based off of my hours of viewing of top level streams, such as those of Maru/Clem/Cure. The pros I watch and copy are Maru Future, Clem, Cure, and many other high grandmaster “small” streamers. Please do not think too harshly of my grammar. This is my first post on TL and I am not fully educated in the ways of English yet. This may require a good amount of background knowledge to understand the lingo and build references I am going to use. This is just my own opinion on the TvZ standard; No one is forced to adopt this opinion; in fact, I may be incorrect!
Please note the times like 4:20 are according to the in-game timer. Also remember, this is assuming the "perfect" standard game where the zerg did not do pool first nor any cheeses/all ins, but rather, fast 3 hatch queen standard.
I am not going to go in depth on openers; the general idea of the standard is some form of 3CC and 1-1-1 with hellions and 1-2 starport units.
RFE into 2 gas starport + hellions
3CC 1 gas into 1-1-1 hellions
For both openers go 4-8 hellions + a starport unit – viking, lib, two cloak banshees, or a cloakless banshee– and transition into 3-1-1 double engy bays.
First timing 6:30-7:00:
1st Case (4-6 hellions): 2 Tank Timing
Transition: lift the factory off the reactor and make a techlab, make a reactor with the starport.
Make a barrack on the reactor, another barrack next to the starport at 4:25-4:30.
Move out with 16 marines, 2 medivacs, and 2 tanks at 6:20, hit at 6:50
VOD of the transition:
1 tech 1 reactor transition
2nd Case (4-8 hellions): Double Drop
Transition: Lift off the factory, make another reactor, place a barrack on the reactor, another one next to the factory then swap the factory and 2nd barrack, make reactor with starport at 4:25-4:40.
Move out with double drop at 6:20-6:30ish with hellions. After this, you can make techlab or reactor with the factory depending if you want to go tanks or mines.
VOD of the transition:
double reactor transition
Note: Can do double drop with the 2 tank transition setup
Aggressive Optional Follow-up: 4 medivac push with 1-1 at 7:30-8:00
1st Case (2 Tank Timing):
F2/Pickup at 6:50-7:30 to bring extra marines, 2nd set of medivacs, and hellions to turn into hellbats) to, reinforce the 2 tank 16 marines and kill the 4th, and rotate around creep between 4ths, CAN keep reinforcing.
2nd Case (Double Drop + Hellions, going tanks):
F2/Pickup at 6:50-7:20 to bring 2 tanks, extra marines, 2nd set of medivacs across to kill 4th and rotate around creep between 4ths, CAN keep reinforcing.
3rd Case(double drop, going straight mines):
F2/Pickup at 6:50-7:20 4 mines and marines with the 2nd set of medivacs and reinforce the double drop and keep multi-pronging with follow-up medivacs (every 2-4 medivacs, send them out) or rotate around creep between 4ths.
Pushing at 7:30-8:00 with 1-1 no matter if you’re pushing with 2 tanks or dropping is a good follow-up if you have solid mechanics/early game macro and can hit the unit benchmark consistently. With this timing, you take advantage of the 1-1 upgrades popping around 7:10ish, and hit with a stronger army –Benchmark at 7:30: 24-40 marines, 1-1 upgrades, if hellions are still alive hellbats, 4 medivacs, and 3 tanks or 4-6 mines– than 16 marines and 2 medivacs with/without 2 tanks. The concept is that if you have good macro and mechanics, you can kill the zerg before doing the 2-2 push, or play more aggressive and keep reinforcing your units out on the map and keep trading and win through superior mechanics; you can still do the 2-2 push but if you’re constantly trading then your push may have less supply like 140 - 150ish at 9:30. However, you may have the full 8-2-1 setup already so the supply count may increase rapidly or decrease if you miscontrolled. You're essentially setting a fast tempo with the constant aggression/pressure. Your pushes are on timer hence, the faster tempo. Sometimes you will not be able to maintain the tempo and your macro/control may slip but still it's incredibly fun to play like this and feel like gosu terran. This is recommended for people who has decent mechanics and are comfortable macroing off screen. Maybe I'd say mid masters and higher?
VODs of this Concept:
Heromarine, in this VOD below, went for the bio-mine follow-up to the double drop vs Reynor:
At 7:30, he is pushing Reynor's 4th with 4 medivacs and 2+ mines.
Cure, in the Kung Fu Cup finals, does the similar timing.
Cure vs Solar G1
He picks up his tanks and marines to reinforce at 7:20. After cancelling 4th, Cure reverts back to rather more passive drops into push style.
Maru goes for the 1-1 bio-tank push as follow-up to 4 hellion viking into double medivacs:
Maru vs some random on ladder
At 7:30, one can see that he has two tanks and 24+ marines with 4 medivacs. After killing the 4th, he chose to keep playing aggressive and was able to succeed due to his better mechanics. This was repeated in his other ladder games vs Solar and Ragnarok, the difference was that he picked up his follow-up rather than F2/select and commanding them out on the map. However, the concept is the same. The mentioned games are down below. He still plays aggressive after the push to keep up the momentum and pressure.
Maru vs Ragnarok on ladder
Maru vs Solar on ladder
Clem sometimes varies between 1 or 2 tanks for the initial 2 medivac timing depending on if he went cloak banshees or not. He does the 2 tank timing:
Clem vs Denver
By 7:50, he had reinforced his main army with a 3rd tank and an extra set of medivacs.
Maru, on stream, goes for bio-mine follow-up in 2 games in a row.
Submarine and Eternal Games
By 7:30 he had 4 medivacs 2-4 mines and 24ish marines pushing/clearing creep. He was not able to gain ground with this army and was forced to play longer macro games.
Maru vs Rogue
Skip to Game 4
Possible additional VODs and analysis of pros:
Heromarine often does 3CC 2-1-1 into the 1-1 push on stream. I cannot link it since his VODs are only temporary. I believe Heromarine is a big fan of the 4 medivac bio-mine pushes with 1-1. Clem does something which could be considered a hybrid of 2 tank timing and the 1-1 push; he pushes with 2 medivacs, 2 tanks, hellions, and and 16 marines around 7:00ish. I believe this is just a delayed 2 tank timing and he went banshees in those games. I recommend Clem if you want to see 2 tank 6:45 - 7:00 timings. And of course, we have Maru. Old (2018-2019 as far as I can remember) Maru seems to LOVE the 2 tank follow ups to double drop whether it be 2-1-1 or standard. It is just a really nice "coincidence" that his 2 tank follow ups often line up with 1-1, cs, 4 medivacs, and 24+ marine count. Personally Maru’s double drop into 2 tank follow up with 2nd set of medivacs and 24+ marines is my favorite version of the aggressive concept. It just feels so gosu winning in less than 8-9 minutes with incredible early game macro (executing the builds and nailing timings requires exceptional mechanics) and micro. I am no means a good player, but it does feel good when I outplay my opponent hard in early game macro and micro, it was just because I am a "better" player. In 2020, Maru is more leaning towards bio-mine 4 medivac 1-1 pushes, similar to Heromarine.
Less Aggressive Follow-up (Tanks):
Send out the 2nd set of medivacs at 7 minutes at a different location and have 2 sets of medivacs out on the map controlling creep and clearing the path for the 2-2 push which you will be building up at home.
Less Aggressive Follow-up (Mines):
2 groups of 2 medivacs out on the map with bio-mine and keep the units alive, get some mine shots off and power up for 2-2 bio-mine thor push, usually with 5-2-1.
This is for people who do not feel comfortable pushing their mechanics to their limits. So they would set up the best possible 2-2 push by clearing creep and macroing well to make the train move faster, and moveout at 9:00 with 160+ supply and hit at 9:30 with 2-2 upgrades. They tend to rely on a big engagement or they can keep parading, usually with 8 Barracks before 4th base setup. You must always pre-spread. Do not split big chunks like over 1 screen and say this is enough! Think of pre-spreading across the multiple screens, wanna look like a concave on the mini-map. Still this concept can be mechanically challenging but you can control the tempo more easily than the aggressive follow-up since, you're not doing a push but rather drops, so you're not on a timer where you could lose 4 medivacs worth of army after not pressuring/macroing correctly. This is common with 8 Barracks and 5-2-1 tank styles. I definitely recommend this for low masters and below. It's a very cookie cutter follow-up often used by INnovation. I recommend playing 8 Barracks with this kind of style. Personal note: Playing 8 Barracks and simply dropping to clear creep for the 2-2 train is what carried me to masters after getting 5-7 TvZs in a row.
VODs of this concept:
Maru goes for 8 Barracks all in vs DRGLing:
Maru plays 8 Barracks
Maru has groups of 2 medivacs maximum out on the map and clearing creep; soon, he pushes at 9 mins with the 2-2 biotank army.
Possible additional VODs:
I recommend watching INnovation as he is a big fan of this kind of style; he often does the 3cc 1 gas into drops into 9 minute pushes. I recall him doing this a lot in 2018. Recently, he prefers a similar style but with bio-mine. The 2018 VODs of INno may be a little outdated but still solid to learn from/use as benchmarks.
Edit: I found some INno VODs
Second game, INnovation goes for standard 2 gas hellions and does drops into 9 minute push with 2-2. Solid way of playing TvZ. In the third game INno opens standard 2 gas starport hellions and again does drops into 9 minute push, looking for big engages with prespread.
skip to the final game on thunderbird
INnovation, vs Serral, goes for an incredibly greedy style, focusing on clearing creep then winning off a big engage mid map with his 2-2 9 minute push.
Skip to Game 2
I understand that the VODs, where I drew the concepts from, are little outdated, however, I still firmly believe that the concepts are 100% viable in the current map pool since they have been consistently used throughout previous seasons. Overall, this is what I believe, is the standard cookie cutter TvZ early-midgame concepts/follow-ups. The late game, I do not understand. Sorry for terrible English and grammar. Yes, I know this could be considered a guide, however, I do not believe that I am knowledgeable nor skilled enough that my "guides" will not mislead people. If you want, you can follow this as some sort of a gameplan guide. It's up to you! Please let me know about your thoughts on my perspective on this very specific part (7-9 mins, post double medivac drop) of this matchup; and feel free to share your own interpretations of playing vs zerg! Any constructive criticism is welcome! Thanks for reading! Remember, just play like Maru.