TvZ Build Order: Maru's $200,000 Proxy 2 Rax (Terran vs Zerg)
Table of Contents
- 1. Introduction
- 2. VODs/References
- 3. Build Order
- +4. Executing the Pressure
- 5. Conclusion
- 6. Changelog
It is the WESG 2017 Grand Finals and you are Maru, currently regarded as the best Terran player in the world, but you are down 2-3 in as BO7 series against Dark, a dangerous Zerg player who seems to have figured out your late-game Raven style which had been looking unbeatable until about an hour ago, what do you do? With the difference of $120,000 between a 1st and 2nd place do you go back to your style which you had been taking down everybody with? No, apparently you just throw down 2 Barracks on your opponent's side of the map two games in a row and cheese away Dark's hopes and dreams.
It was truly an incredible move, to put everything on the line not once but twice, two games back to back, to take home the title and $200,000. Now, the proxy 2-Rax is not something which Maru created, nor is it his signature build, but it was definitely the inspiration for this guide, following his usage of it in that grand final match. It is a build which can apply a lot of pressure early in the game while still having a possible follow-up providing you get enough damage done. It is also a bit of a gamble. You are hoping to not be scouted early and for your opponent to be as greedy as possible, but at the same time you can be rewarded with quick wins or heavy advantages to play from if the build is a success.
We are going to take a look at the quick build order for this as well as talking a little about your goals and how to achieve them with this build order.
Due to the aggressive nature of this build, please be aware that at some points, the SCV production is slowed/stopped to prioritize structures and units. Due to the early fights, supply counts may not be exact for every game due to unit losses, but the general order will still be correct. Rough in-game timer points have been added at points of the build.
The opening 2-Rax:
- 13 — As soon as the game starts, send your first SCV across the map to your proxy location (try to avoid common Overlord scouting patterns).
- 14 — Second SCV goes across the map to the proxy location.
- 14 — Build Supply Depot at your ramp to begin walling off.
- 15 — Build Barracks #1 with the first SCV.
- 16 — Build Barracks #2 with the second SCV.
- 17 — Build Refinery.
- 18 — Marine production begins from the Barracks and should be prioritized.
- 18 — Upgrade your Command Center to Orbital Command.
- 19 — Supply Depot continues the wall-off at your ramp.
- 20 — Build Bunker at the Zerg's natural, in range to hit the Hatchery with Marines.
- This is the point at which you are starting to move forward with your Marines to protect the building Bunker, and to start picking away at the Hatchery.
Behind the attack:
The following buildings will be built up at home in this order (supply count may be slightly off due to fights across the map). Generally build when your minerals allow while prioritizing Marines and repairing of the Bunker on the other side of the map.
- 24 — Factory built in a position to complete the wall-off;
- 26 — Refinery;
- 26 — Bunker #2 across map if possible;
- 29 — Supply Depot — further supply depots are omitted from the build order, build as required;
- 30 — Reactor on the now completed Factory;
- 30 — Starport;
- 34 — 2 x Cyclones;
- 38 — Tech Lab;
- 39 — Command Center bult in-base, not in position on the natural;
- 39 — Cloaking Field;
- 39 — Banshee;
- 42 — 2 x Hellions.
Now at ~4:30 game time you are in a position where your initial attack has ended and if all has gone well, you have slowed the Zerg heavily while setting up into a strong defensive follow-up with 2 Cyclones, 2 Hellions and a Banshee to help stop further attacks from the Zerg. From here you can continue as needed into a more regular game off of the 1-1-1, with the opportunity to be aggressive if you did enough damage.
Executing the Pressure
As with all proxy plays and more pressure oriented builds, it is hugely important to remember that a strong response / build from your opponent could immediately make your life difficult in terms of dealing enough damage to come out ahead. Builds such as a Spawning Pool first are not insta-losses, but they are a step in the right direction for a Zerg to be able to defend. Your own execution will always come into play in this scenario as well. There is a reason this build is used regularly in pro play — it is not simply a full on gamble, but it can provide a lead if you control your units well enough, even when at a disadvantage.
Against a drone-pull
There are a few different responses and scenarios you will generally have to learn to deal with in this build, and we are going to focus on some of the main ones. First of all we have the Drone pull response. The idea of this is that the Zerg is going to pull drones to try and fight your SCVs and Marines as early as possible. The idea behind this is that by pulling a lot of drones, they can fight against the very low marine count when you first start pushing forwards, which can then stop Bunkers from being completed. If bunkers do not complete, then the follow-up of Queens and Zerglings will generally be able to push back any attempts of the marines to deal damage.
This scenario very simply comes down to a battle of micro. It is often used in the case where the 2-Rax is scouted in the early stages, allowing the Zerg to bring the drones as soon as the units come toward the natural hatchery. If it was not scouted, the walk time of drones from the main to natural once seeing a bunker start is usually way too late. Try and always keep an SCV building the bunker in this case, while kiting back with marines. Do not forget your SCVs do damage too! A few hits from an SCV can actually make a difference as to how much you can kill. Every second the drones are off the mineral line is damage dealt through lost mining time to the Zerg player and can be capitalized on at a later point — remember that the idea of this build is to pressure and not to be completely all-in. If your opponent loses 4-5 drones, that is often enough damage to set them behind in the build.
Against Spine Crawlers & Zerglings
The next scenario is one where the Zerg will look to hold with Spine Crawlers until Metabolic Boost completes and they can flood the bunkers with everything possible. This scenario often leads to the Zerg losing the natural hatchery and pushing with the broodlings that spawn from it to tank some of the damage. You should be able to add an extra bunker in this case, because the Zerg will be sitting back and giving you time as they wait for their upgrade and units to be ready. The extra bunker will help you to trade well enough to allow you to continue in the game. The more Queens and Zerglings you kill, the less the Zerg has to defend a follow-up attack which means they will not only be weaker to your follow-up, but they will also straight up be afraid of what might come next, meaning they will have to re-build units for safety, which means less drones in production, keeping the worker count manageable until you have your own natural command center finished.
While the Spine Crawlers build you will want to try and get as much damage on them as possible while keeping your marines out of danger — poking forward out of the bunker can allow you to get a shot or two off before jumping back in. This sort of micro can be very complex and can take a lot of practice to get right. The general idea is that the more you kill before the Zerg tries to break out of the bunkers, the less they will have to break out with. If you can pick off enough before they make their burst, sometimes you will be able to hold on at the front and get to a game where you will just win from the snowballing effect of the zerg having lost too many units to recover.
Remember that just because you kill the hatchery, you do not win. It is a good step to being in a great position, but if the zerg can instantly expand once more, the game will still be playable for them, just with a slight advantage for yourself.
Roach Warren Counter
The final situation is when the Zerg will build a Roach Warren as soon as the attack starts, with the idea of giving up the natural hatchery and eventually breaking back out with Roaches and Ravagers. In this case, the Zerg will care a lot less about holding the natural hatchery because their goal is to have a stronger standing army once they have broken through the bunkers. With the help of Corrosive Biles, they can trade very efficiently while breaking out of the bunkers. I personally feel that in this scenario it is best to back away as quickly as possible once the hatchery has been killed. Leaving a single bunker with marines will still slow the Zerg slightly, but the last thing you want is to be without units at home when the counterattack arrives, something which a Zerg will have open to them as a choice with this response compared to the previously discussed strategies.
Prioritize your Banshee as soon as possible and consider making Cyclones from the Factory to help deal with the Roaches. In general, the choice of unit from your Factory is determined by the choice of response from the Zerg player: Hellions against Zerglings and Cyclones / Tank against Roaches and Ravagers. Another strong point of play for the Zerg after this response is that they already have a standing army, so they can focus on rebuilding their economy because they will already feel safe from not having given up units in the earlier defense.
My best advice for this build is to look at VODs, watch other players play and to practice it yourself time and time again. It is one of those pressure plays in which so much can change in an instant in the very early stages and the unit control from both yourself and your opponent will have a major influence on the outcome. This build really is more than just knowing the order in which you should build things — every time you execute it, you should learn something more about how it works and what you can do better in certain scenarios. Each Zerg will have their own small differences in how they execute their defense and the sooner you can identify these different responses the more you can do yourself to carve a strong position from the build.
We have covered the basic build order and a suggested follow-up as used by Maru, but there really are countless ways this one can turn out. Hopefully with some practice you will be able to find a consistency in your ability to deal early damage and to come out of the early game with an advantage. In general, this is a great build to mix into a longer series, but it is always a good one to play with because it will always be relevant in TvZ. (It has been for the last 6 years or more already!) It also gives you a good chance for practicing the multitasking of microing while macroing behind it, albeit on a smaller scale.
- 02 May 2018: A new TvZ build, this time focusing on early aggression with the infamous proxy 2 Rax!
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