Oz: Innovating in PvT

Oz, after getting to the finals of IEM Shanghai just 3 weeks ago, made it into the top 8 of WCS North America this past weekend. Although he lost to the eventual champion Polt, 0-3, and then fell to Alive 0-2 in the 5th place decider matches, he did so with really cool and smart play. As I watched, it reminded me of the Oz of old, the innovator, playing his own brand of Protoss at the top of the world. It was awesome to see again after the kind of long rut he hit.

PvT isn’t a matchup that is being innovated quite as much as some others at the moment. There’s some really strong builds out there, and Protosses normally don’t stray too far from them. Oz was different in WCS NA. In this blog, I want to talk about what I saw, and why it’s cool.

OZ vs POLT @ NEWKIRK PRECINCT

Over a year ago, Oz kind of created the 3  Nexus off 1 Gateway into StarGate style vs Zerg that we still see used every now and then today. It was extremely well thought out, but seemed entirely too greedy and punishable. This forced lots of Zergs to overextend into him, while he knew how to kill them for doing so.

He’s doing it again now, but in PvT.

Against Polt on Newkirk, Oz went for Gateway — Expand — Robo — Expand. Here is what he does that makes it really cool:

– All tech placed at natural. Drops will be an issue, as will frontal attacks. The only safe location for crucial structures is the natural expansion

– 2 or 3 Stalkers in front of Terran base. Needed to deny scouting (especially of his expansion), and kite against any incoming Marine pushes meant to force a Nexus Cannon (more on that in the next point)

– Mothership Core full base scout. Oz needed to know exactly what was going on in Polt’s base to make sure he would be ok. Sadly, his Mothership Core gets stuck at this point, but he does utilize it as best he can while stuck to keep Polt busy

– Lots of bravery with his units. Oz is looking for any early scuffles during which he can gain tiny victories, even if its a single Marine. Anything he can kill off will add up quickly for his build to work

– Using Pylons to try to spot drops, skimping slightly on Observer count. Robo build time, as well as Gas, are at a premium. Pylons are an easy replacement

– Blink//Colossus as a tech choice. The weakest time for Oz’s build is the mid-game, where Blink//Colossus is strong and sturdy. On the other hand, mid-game is where Charge/Storm builds have a little bit of weakness

Now, during this game, all of Oz’s plans work out almost perfectly. He’s in an amazing position. It was really well played. In fact, he knew the only thing that could hurt him at this point was a big drop in his main. For this reason, he put up another scout pylon, which Polt flew past right out of vision before it finished. Oz knew that this was a possibility, so he sent out a Hallucinated Phoenix to check. It did, for a moment, see the edge of the incoming Medivacs. Sadly for Oz, he didn’t notice it on his mini-map. A single mistake in an otherwise brilliant game.

The game can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdEXN0chIqg

OZ vs POLT @ AKILON WASTES

This game was, perhaps, not quite as beautiful as game 1 in my opinion, but still had some awesome and different things to think about in regards to how we see PvT at the moment.

Oz opens up once again with a fast expansion, and then has 2-3 Stalkers outside of Polt’s base to prevent scouting. He then proceeds to get a Twilight before even his Warpgate research is done, in order to get Blink. Now here’s one really cool part, for me:

Polt scans Oz’s natural at about 7:35, seeing 2 Gasses already being mined from.

– Seeing gasses already being mined from at this time normally indicates Colossus play. (yeah it can be other stuff, but this is the norm)

– Colossus play is the safest vs the first Terran push outs with Medivacs

– As soon as the scan goes away, Oz adds 2 Forges to the natural (again, like before, a safe spot). The build he’s doing, despite using Blink, isn’t 100% safe vs drops. If his natural gets a bunch of units in it, he’s already lost with this style, so its a good place for them

Now, here comes an awesome move from Oz. His Mothership Core scouted out Polt very early, and then he left it near the 3rd base. Now, remember that he kept Stalkers to deny scouting, and kite vs Marines, in front of Polt’s base all game long. This is why he could leave the Mothership Core down south. Now, as Blink finished and he had a decent amount of units, he moved them down while his Mothership Core watched for a 3rd Command Center. As he sees an SCV walk towards the 3rd, the Mothership Core gets pulled back a bit. He then walks the Stalkers over in front of the path that leads to his main base (has to see if Polt is moving out at this time), and then goes back and blinks over the rocks. Now, Polt is pretty godly, so he cancelled the CC in time, but many times I am sure Oz gets a kill there. With a full energy Mothership Core, there’s no possibility of losing his Stalkers. A simple time warp on the ramp can allow him time to regain his Blink and get out. A small advantage gained, and a tone set for the game:

Oz is on the map looking to hurt you with Blink Stalkers. *nerd chills*

Behind this fast tech and aggressive stance, Oz is teching into Colossus, getting Charge, and upgrading out of 2 Forges. He even takes a pretty fast 3rd, and then techs to Storm. This is a lot of stuff to be doing. For that reason, the Stalkers stay out on the map. He needs them to be slowing things down, picking things off, utilizing their Blink cooldowns to the fullest. To cover up his weakness against drops, he once again has Pylons all over the map on the edges.

With active units (Mutalisks, Medivac drops, in this case Blink Stalkers), you can be on the map, dealing little amounts of damage, keeping tabs on your opponent, and being a general threat for a very long time. He really uses this fact, forcing extra stims, picking off units, damaging Medivacs, etc.  A scouting Pylon gets attacked? No problem. Send the Stalkers over there to try and get some kills, and rebuild it.

At the end of the game, Oz was ahead in upgrades and tech, and even on bases. When Polt came out to attack, Oz had Lots of Colossus with Thermal Lance, had already picked off some Vikings, and had 5 High Templars with Psi Storm researched. The Problem was, they didn’t have 75 energy. Polt stimmed a small group of units in and killed them off. Very sharp play by Polt, once again defeating Oz’s really innovative style.

You can see the game here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bV37uQ1-o3Q

 

Well, there you have it. Oz is a pretty damn cool Protoss. Once again he is out there innovating with his own style, and just barely not being at the very top. I, for one, really hope he keeps it up.

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by Dan Stemkoski, on August 13, 2013