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Protoss Early Timing Windows (vs. Zerg)

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Early timing windows within 3 Hatchery Spire to 5 Hatchery Hydralisk are the time spans where the Zerg player will not be capable of producing hydralisks if they are executing an optimum build. These early timing window builds differ from the 4 Gateway 2 Archon in that aim for the period during which Zerg will be unable to construct any offensive unit besides zerglings, rather than the period during which Zerg elect to not construct offensive units. As such, the viability of these builds versus 3 hatch spire to 5 hatchery hydra is greater, despite being less powerful.

This article consists of three parts, one details the exact moments of the timing windows, and the other two parts are different builds aiming to take advantage of them.

All times given are in in-game time, which differs considerably from actual time.

The Windows[edit]

The time at which this early timing window comes varies depending upon the Zerg player's opening and how greedy then tend to be. However, Zergs who play extremely greedily are generally best dealt with via the aforementioned 4 Gateway 2 Archon push, and the way the game is played has moved away from this style of play. This is all to say that these timings are not exact.

Greedy 12 Hatchery Opening[edit]

  • Hydra Production begins at 6:55
  • However, no scourge are created in this build and at 7:08 only 4 hydralisks will exist.
  • Taken from an example replay with no opponent.

Greedy 9 Pool[edit]

  • 2 Hydras at 7:13, however it is not until 7:31 that there are enough hydralisks to easily defend.
  • Taken from an example replay with no opponent.

Regular Overpool[edit]

  • 2 Hydralisks and 4 zerglings at 7:31

Protoss Builds[edit]

  • These builds are designed to either force construction of Zerglings and delay the construction of Hydralisks or severely damage the Zerg if they do not waste the larva.
  • In addition, the timings of both builds are based upon an Overpool opening on a two player map, meaning that the opening to acquire these specific timings begins with 13 forge, 13 nexus, 13 cannons.

Two Gateway Speedlot off Forge FE[edit]

Similar in concept to a traditional Plus1 Speedzeal (vs. Zerg) build, however the rush is weaker, significantly earlier and contains faster tech. The key difference is one fewer gateway and later natural gas.

Build Order[edit]

  • Any Protoss FE (vs. Zerg) opening
  • 15 Gateway (3:05)
  • 16 Assimilator(3:21)
  • 19 Cut probes
  • 19 Cybernetics Core (3:46)
  • 19 Zealot (3:57)
  • Resume probes
  • 23 Pylon (4:14)
  • 25 Stargate (~4:45)
  • 26 Dragoon (4:50)
  • +1 Attack (5:09)
  • 29 Citadel (5:19)
  • 29 Continuous Zealot production after the dragoon.
  • 5 : 30 - Add an additional Gateway at Natural.
  • Cut probe x2
  • 5 : 38 - Corsair to deny Overlord Scouting
  • 5 : 46 - Pylon
  • 6 : 05 - Zealot Leg speed, Natural Assimilator
  • 6 : 12 - Pump Zealots from the two Gateways in the natural expansion.
  • 6 : 17 - Pylon
  • 6 : 37 - Pylon
  • 6 : 44 - Move out with initial force (4 Zealots 1 Dragoon) to kill Zerglings, feint as if it's just to drive off.
  • 6 : 54 – 10 seconds later :Wait for 2 more Zealots, then proceed to move in for the attack. Harass with Corsair to block supply, rally gateways to opponent's main or third, whichever is more vulnerable.
  • 6 : 58 - Templar archives
  • 7 : 12 - Cannon main mineral line
  • 7 : 24 - Make 2 additional gateways
  • 7 : 37 - Pylon
  • 7 : 40 - Cease Zealots, make Dark Templar from initial 2 Gateways
  • 7 : 57 - Pylon
  • 8 : 01 - Additional Corsair
  • Make two High Templar as the other gateways finish
  • Notes - Timings are given from a PvZ forge FE opening against an overpool opening.


  • It is possible to delay the +1 attack and place the natural Assimilator earlier, as +1 will not be finished in time for the attack and the earlier gas may prove more useful.
  • Another variation is to push out with the initial 7 zealots while getting the early +1 and delaying the citadel, pushing out when leg speed is done. Then make an additional round of production of zealots from the newly completed third and fourth gateways, and to attack with this. The +1 timing should finish in time for this second round of zealots to attack. This is thought to be the variant Bisu used against Jaedong


Usually Dark Templar (vs. Zerg) is the immediate transition, with the Army composition being determined by the Zerg tech choices, but typically Dragoon/High Templar is the preferred mid game composition to deal with mutalisk sniping and lurkers.


This build is oriented around harassing the Zerg and exploiting any possible weaknesses that can be found within their build order. It is somewhat the inverse of 10 12 gate, as it sacrifices economy to achieve more rapid tech and a stronger timing attack. It will only outright kill extremely greedy Zergs, though, and is a softer rather than harder counter.

Notable Maps[edit]

Most effective on two or three player maps, as the earlier scouting is required to allow the timing of cutting probes. Poor upon maps with secure thirds such as Andromeda, Neo Medusa, or Outsider.


Likely Bisu, although it is impossible to pinpoint the exact game with which it originated. The build order shown is taken from a replay of Violet playing on Iccup against the foreign zerg Lzgamer. The extreme complexity within the build prevented it from being widely popularized, especially among Foreigners, until recently.

Notable Games[edit]

1 Gateway Slow Zealot into Corsair/Reaver off of Forge FE[edit]

  • Any PvZ Forge FE opening
  • 16 Gateway
  • 17 Assimilator
  • 19 transfer probes
  • 20 Cybernetics Core
  • 23 pylon
  • 24 Zealot (assumes scout died or will have to cut 1 probe)
  • 28 stargate (4:27)
  • 30-32 - Non stop Zealots from Gateway
  • 33-34 - Natural assimilator
  • 32 - Corsair (missed pylon and canceled probes, was being harassed by lings: 5:19)
  • 32ish - pylon x2
  • 34 - Robotics Facility at natural (5:35ish)

The initial Corsair harass[edit]

Continuous sairs - harass overlords with first 2, save at least one Corsair. The goal is to kill 2 overlords and supply block. This goes on from approx 6:20 - 6:50.

  • 42- Pylon
  • 50- Pylon
  • 50- Robotics Support Bay (6:30)
  • 6 : 45 : Move out and pressure with Zealots, forcing Zerglings back. The Zealots will attack in another 10 seconds, but it should seem like a feint intended to drive off the Zerglings outside the P's choke
  • 6 : 54 : Shuttle speed (yes, before shuttle)
  • 6 : 56 : Reaver (In case of surprise hydra bust or ling-all-in)
  • 7 : 00 ( 60 supply) - You should have 4 Zealots, attack the Zerg, 5th Zealot should be on its way with 1 more rallied. After this, continue making Zealots but keep them in your natural. Attack either the natural or main, whichever has less defense, or, if equal, whichever is closest.
  • 7 : 40 : Shuttle
  • 8 : 17 :+1 weapons
  • 8 : 20 : Should have 5 Corsairs and 1 reaver. Load 2 lots and 1 reaver into shuttle
  • 8 : 25 : Citadel of Adun
  • 8 : 30 : Move out with 6 Corsairs and shuttle, throw down 4 additional gates. Continue making Corsairs until you have 8, then stop production.

Notes on executions of Timing Attacks[edit]

Probe harassment is required, as the more the Zerg's economy is delayed the more effective this attack becomes.

To perform either of these builds effectively, it is advised to watch the replays linked in the reference threads. Note Violet's micro patterns. Notice how he does lots of his base building in bulk - 4 gates at once, archive pylon observatory at once, etc. He does these things during calculated breaks from harassment micro. It's important to remember those times as opportunities to go build stuff. For example, when sair/shuttle first move out to harass, you have numerous opportunities to jump to your main and build quickly while watching the minimap to see what is spotting your force.


Example Replays[edit]

-Alternate build order : [1]