Anit "Raja" Banerjee
Anatomy of a Miracle Defense: PvPMon 18th Jun 2012 - 9:19pm Category: Starcraft II
Some of the most dramatic moments in a Starcraft 2 match are when a great player is about to be crushed, but squeaks out a defense by the narrowest margin. Part of the drama stems from our own lack of experience - unable to even imagine how to execute such a miracle hold. Here, we’ll take a look at how Park "Squirtle" Hyun Woo pulls one off in the ever-volatile PvP matchup.
This comes from Squirtle v. Parting at the Red Bull Battlegrounds on Ohana. The critical battle starts at in-game 9:29 at Squirtle’s base.
Let’s start with a quick take on the state of the game when this battle begins, with Squirtle on the defensive.
Also note that, Squirtle has finished Blink research and the colossus lacks the Extended Thermal Lance research.
With that naked nexus, and Parting’s Colossus and Stalker-count advantage, Squirtle is clearly in a bad spot. His only advantage is Blink, whose value is limited by the firepower of the Colossus. This makes killing the Colossus a priority - in a Gateway v. Gateway army battle, the player with Blink has an enormous advantage. Given this, Squirtle has a 3-step plan.
1: Buy Time
2: Cut off Reinforcements
3: Isolate and Kill the Colossus
It seems simple conceptually, but the execution is where Squirtle works his magic.
1: Buy time
As Parting walked into the natural, Squirtle knew he couldn't yet take down that army, particularly with the dead-weight of that Nexus. Squirtle moved up-ramp to buy himself time. This forced Parting to decide whether or not to chase Squirtle up a narrow or to kill the nexus. The Nexus offered free, guaranteed damage, whereas Parting didn't completely know what Squirtle had waiting for him up-ramp. As Squirtle expected, Parting took the safe route and killed the Nexus. This bought Squirtle him the time to warp in 4 Stalkers in his main base.
2: Cut off Reinforcements
Squirtle took two concrete moves to keep Squirtle from reinforcing his main army. One, he snuck some Zealots into Parting's main base. Two, he blinked out a few Stalkers to take down the proxy-Pylon.
By sneaking 2 Zealots off a proxy-Pylon into Parting’s base, Parting was forced warp in at least 2 units at home. Moreover, because Squirtle targeted-down the defending zealots as they were warping in, he forced a third zealot to be warped in at home. From the standpoint of the main army, this is the equivalent of trading 2 zealots for 3, cutting the army-v.-army advantage by 2 food.
Parallel to this, Squirtle blinked out 5 Stalkers to take down the proxy-Pylon. Squirtle knew that Parting could have chosen to pursue a base-trade, warping in reinforcements at his own forward Pylon. Even though the Stalkers wound up not having the time to kill the Pylon, their presence there meant that Squirtle could target and kill Parting's reinforcements as they warped in.
Thus, all subsequent warp-ins for Squirtle reinforced his main army, while Parting’s army size stagnated. In the aftermath of these steps, compare the unit count before and after (note that the only relevant zealots are the 2 Zealots with Parting’s army in both cases).
We can see here how Squirtle’s decision making allowed him to eliminate the Stalker-count advantage that Parting had, narrowing the overall army size difference.
3: Isolate and kill the colossus.
Once he killed the Nexus, Parting strolled up the ramp and into Squirtle’s main base.
Seeing himself with an overall army advantage, Parting sought a killing blow. Squirtle was forced to pull Probes. Here's where the magic happened. What you'll see as we move forward is that by carefully picking attack vectors, Squirtle manipulated the colossus into isolation, allowing him to kill it. To start, notice in the panel above how the Stalkers protect the Colossus from all sides.
In the panel below, you can then see how Squirtle's Probes attack along the top flank. To stutter-step his Stalkers away from the the Probes and force the Probes to engage the Zealots, the Colossus is left naked.
This meant that the Blink-Stalkers initially tasked with killing the proxy-Pylon now had an opportunity to target down the Colossus. They did.
With the Colossus down, Squirtle’s Blink advantage became more valuable, letting him clean up the assault and move to the inevitable win.