StarCraft

Discussion: Is Protoss harassment the reason they are doing so well at the moment?

starcraft 6 - Discussion: Is Protoss harassment the reason they are doing so well at the moment?
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I'm currently under the opinion that the reason we are seeing so much Protoss success in large tournaments such as GSL lately is due to the incredible strength of Protoss harassment options in the current metagame. Please note that the following is my take on the current metagame at the moment, I'm open to any constructive discussion on the topic.

Protoss has a variety of harassment options in every matchup, and all of them are viable and extremely difficult to prevent. This leads to a stronger timing push and an easily taken third base without a realistic chance of being punished from the opponent. In both PvZ and PvT, we've seen more utilization of extremely early thirds being taken behind either Warp Prism or Oracle/Phoenix harass.

In recent PvT matches, the Protoss has started a third base at or before 4:30 into the game. At this point, the Terran player has usually sent in a Reaper, scouted either a Robo or Phoenix, and then has to defend. No options for counter-harass, no options to punish the early third. If Terran doesn't defend, they have the potential to take game-ending damage and lose the game on the spot.

Terran has three different defensive units at this time that can stop or minimize harassment. The Cyclone is most popular, followed by the Tank and then Widow Mines. Sometimes with a Viking to support. However, these units aren't guaranteed to kill the extremely mobile and fast Warp Prism, Phoenix, or Oracle. These units almost always get in some damage and escape, re-gain shields, and come back in for another harass. These units almost always gain some advantage, and more importantly, keep the Terran at home on 2 bases while the Protoss economy explodes on 3 bases.

This economy explosion and heavy harass-style strategy has led to more and more Terran players resorting to 2 base all-in Tank pushes in an attempt to end the game before Protoss is able to tech to either Storm or Colossus. Once these units are out, however, the 2 base push can be held more easily, and unless the push has done crippling damage, the game is essentially over, with no way for the Terran player to transition.

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PvZ is a slightly different story. Most of the builds we're seeing in recent games are swinging back towards the Immortal/Sentry timing pushes. However, these builds don't always have to be an all-in build from the Protoss side. Some are quick, coming with only 2 Immortals on 2 bases, other times slower, with anywhere from 3-6 Immortals in the push. I think it's safe to say the most important unit in this strategy is the Warp Prism. It allows Protoss to instantly reinforce the push and keep their Immortals alive through pickups. If the Protoss realizes they are out of position, they have a fail-safe for this strategy and can utilize the Recall ability on a Nexus in order to save most if not all of their army.

So why is this strategy so strong? It can be done with harassment either from the Warp Prism, or with chrono boosting out a few quick Adepts. Recently, we've seen Protoss players able to trade 2 Adepts for 8 or more drones in these early harassment options. Adepts are similar to the other Protoss harass units. Fast-moving, hard to kill units with an easy escape if they get out of position.

If you didn't want to read through all of that, TL;DR:

Protoss has better harassment units than Terran or Zerg at the moment. When used correctly, these units present little to no ways to punish the Protoss player for their harassment. Because they are fast-moving and hard to kill in the early game, Protoss can almost always gain an early economy lead or advantage that is difficult for the opponent to recover from. The main harass units Protoss utilizes all share similar qualities. They kill workers quickly and all have mobility that the other races don't have at this point in the game. These units include Adepts, Oracles, Phoenix, or Stalkers, typically paired with a Warp Prism. With easy ways to evade or escape early-game units, paired with the ability to use Recall, I feel these options severely limit the other two races in build orders and counterplay to aggressive strategies.

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This is not designed to be a balance whine post, I'm hoping people can provide some constructive discussion.

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