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Protoss vs. Protoss Timings

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[e][h]ProtossProtoss vs. Protoss - Timings
Strategy Information
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PvP is considered the most fickle of the mirror-match-ups because of the lack of scouting before Observers start roaming around the map. The varied tech choices allow for different styles of play, which makes this match-up tough to manage. See the PvP guide for more information about what you should try to be thinking about and planning.

Gameflow Overview[edit]

The game flows in between a fast-paced ZvZ and a slow TvT with the ability to play with a focus on macro or more micro-oriented play.

The game usually starts out with very distinct options happening with players either 1 Gate Teching(Core) or going for a 2 Gate. The 2 Gate really dictates the way the rest of the game will go, usually dictating a more macro-oriented game if the 2 Gate does not kill the opponent. The 1 Gate Tech is how players often decide to play the match-up, usually resulting in many more options later in the game.

If you 2 Gated, you usually end up being even with the same expo timings, you expanding first and being ahead, or dying almost a minute or two after your opponent fights it off. The 1 Gate has many more options. You can add a second Gateway leaning towards making an early push or expanding. You can also decide to tech with a Robo or Citadel, heading towards DTs for more harass-oriented play, and adding a second Gateway later. The game usually ends around this point with the micro-intensive Reaver pushes or the macro-focused mass Gateway run over.

Of course, there are always all-ins such as 4 or 5 Gateway aiming to overwhelm your opponent with Dragoons, or a 3 Gateway Speed Zeal attack aiming to kill the opponent before DT or Reaver Tech. (These strategies are not seen in high-level play.)

Then the game turns into a macro fest with High Templar with Storm starting to play a huge role in battles along with upgrades and the like.

Timing is more important in PvP than it is in ZvZ or TvT. Dragoon Reaver pushes, expansion timings, and Zealot flooding are common examples. The tiniest mistake in your timings, especially in expansions and Dragoon Range, can result in losses and positional disadvantages.

Early Game[edit]


In Protoss vs. Protoss, you usually choose to scout after your first Pylon, after your first Gateway, or at the latest, after your second Gateway/Gas (depending on which build you choose - see guide). The reason for the different scout timings is that you may want that one Probe to mine a little longer before you send it out. The drawback to waiting too long is that your opponent may decide to block his ramp with Zealots, or, if you wait even longer, your opponent may have Dragoons which can kill your scout very quickly.

The optimal window to look for is to have your Probe reach your opponents base just before his or her first Zealot comes out.

Other factors to take into account when deciding when to scout:

  • Possibility of Cheese Play/Proxy Gateways. Scout earlier if you feel your opponent may do an all-in rush.
  • Map Size. The larger the map, the earlier you need to scout to find your opponent. Conversely, smaller maps allow for a later scout timing.
  • Number of starting positions. Some maps have three or four start locations, so allow yourself enough time to reach your opponents base if you scout the wrong location.
  • Your strategy plan Believe it or not, your scouting pattern should also depend on the kind of strategy you would want to go. If you are planning on going for a 1 gate tech into reavers, then your priority is to scout for a proxy double gate. Hence, it is always wise to send your scouting probe to the middle of the map or potential proxy spots if you are going for this tech path.

The reason is because for 1 gate core, you will have enough time to add in a second gateway to fight against a double gate in your opponent's base. The critical timing is when the third and subsequent zealots arrive. Your timing of the second gateway right when you scout a double gate suits matches his zealot count with a slower timing but is compensated by rush distance. Hence, proxy scouting is priority.


The scouting Probe is basically looking to make sure that nothing is out of the ordinary. Your reaction to what you see inside of their base depends on your choice of build. On the basic level you only need to match the number of Gateways, and keep your Zealot count close.

Things you could see in your opponents base:

  • Nothing - Don't panic. Two options:

1) You got there really early. Congrats. Sit there, and see if they build two Gates or one Gate.

2) It's a proxy. Relax, prepare to micro. If you didn't get there really early, prepare for a 2 Gate Zealot rush. Since your opponent doesn't have a Pylon inside of his base, he either proxied his second Pylon, which is very unlikely, or he only has a maximum of four Zealots.

If you're using a 2 Gateway build, don't worry about it, because your Zealots should be there in time to defend easily.

If you did a 1 Gateway build into Cybernetics Core, you should wait for your Dragoon. Build a Shield Battery as soon as possible, and follow it up with another Gateway. The battle will be very Micro-intensive, and your main goal is to keep your Probes alive.

  • Pylon only - again, two options, depending on your opponent's Gate-timing. Check your own Gate to see how far your opponent is. Your first Gate should have been planted at the same time as your opponent's first Gate, so if yours hasn't been planted, then your opponent's hasn't been planted either.

1) If your first Gate was just planted, then you managed to get there early. Stick around, see if they get a second Gate or a Cybernetics Core next.

2) If your first Gate is almost done or done, then you need to assume that they 2 Gate proxied and have more than four Zealots. You are more than likely going to be attacked in the next minute or so.

If you did a 2 Gateway build, sit at the top of your ramp and defend. Get Observers as soon as possible, because 2 Gate Zealot into Dark Templar is very common. If they expand instead of going Dark Templar, you can punish the expansion with a followup Reaver/Shuttle attack.

If you did a 1 Gate build into Cybernetics Core, you're in trouble. This is one of the hardest situations to defend, especially if you didn't build a first Zealot, because your Dragoon doesn't do as much damage as your opponents first four Zealots. Try to micro and pick off their Zealots as they come up your ramp, and do your best to keep your Dragoon-count high. The more Dragoons you have, the better your chances are of fighting off this two Gate rush.

  • One Gate - Again, check the timing. This is starting to trend into more standard play. You know that your opponent is not going to proxy, so you should stick around, and see if he or she goes one Gate or two Gate. If he or she goes two Gate, you can either choose to put down a second Gate to keep your Zeal count the same, or go 1 Gate Cybernetics Core.
  • Two Gate - Try to keep your Probe alive so you can see when your opponent moves out and what his or her tech level is. With good micro, you can see how many Zealots he or she makes, until he or she puts down a Cybernetics Core.

A very important concept for all of these scenarios is looking for the number of Pylons your opponent has in his or her base. It is most important to take note of the second Pylon. In fact, if your enemy has only one Pylon in his or her base while you have already two Pylons warped in, there are only two things that he could be doing:

1) If he went one Gate Core, he is likely making a tech proxy.

2) If he went two Gate, he is likely making a one or two Gate proxy. For example, if he sees that you went one Gate, he may decide to make the proxy at your natural expansion to try to gain an advantage.

Ideally, you want to see the next step of your opponent's tech while scouting. Examples include a second Gateway, a Citadel of Adun, Robotics Facility, or Nexus. However, being able to see this is very rare.


Mid-game starts after you build at least one Dragoon to kill the scouting Probe, and is usually considered to start when you start building your first building after your Cybernetics Core. This is the most difficult part of the game because it's really hard to get scouting information to see what your opponent is up to. This is what separates the C level players all the way up to the A level players.


It's very difficult to obtain scouting information at this point in a PvP, because Dragoons deny Probe scouting easily. The safest way is to play 2 Gate Cyber Robo Obs. In fact, this is the basic build that can be adapted to counter almost all mid-game strategies. Build a Robotics Facility after getting four Dragoons. This timing will allow your Observer to come out just in time to minimize or prevent damage from DTs. The best scouting technique in mid-game is checking out enemy expansions with a Probe. Try to keep the Probe alive; if it dies, send another to take its place as your scout. There are a few things you should also look for:

  • Number of dragoons and Zealots: A low Dragoon-count means your opponent is probably making DTs, while a high Dragoon count isn't consistent with a DT build. Be very careful when you scout low Dragoon count because that may only be a small portion of your opponent's force, so be prepared for anything.
  • When your opponent expands: There are many responses to their expansion, but, obviously you must know your opponent has expanded in order to respond to it.
  • Number of gateways or tech build: This is almost impossible to scout, but if you get this information it can go a long way.


Assuming that you can divine what they're doing, either with their unit count difference, or their timing:

  • Against 2 or more Gate Goon, get your own tech unit/path out as soon as possible. If you're going with Dark Templar, DT is obviously better than units without detection, and your Reaver with your current Dragoon count should be enough to fend off 2 or more Gate Goon. If you scout the extra Dragoons coming, build a Shield Battery, and skip whatever you need to get your tech out early (such as skipping the Shuttle to get the Reaver out earlier).
  • Against Reavers, try to snipe the Shuttle as it comes in, or as you engage the Dragoon/Reaver force, so that you can limit the ability of your opponent's army. Ideally, you would prevent Probe harass, and eventually(especially if you went Templar tech) you should try to get Psionic Storm and High Templar so that you can Psionic Storm the Reaver/Shuttle.


The PvP end-game is very rarely seen, as you usually need to be on three or four Gas to reach it, and both players need to take expansions and not be overrun for the whole length of the game up to the point. You usually see it when Minerals start to run out on the map, when Arbiters come out, or when Carriers start to build. There are only a few units left that can be used in the Protoss army, and massing units with good positioning can be much more effective than additional tech.


What you don't see will probably be much more important than what you do see. The only two units that you really see left are Carriers and Arbiters.

  • If your opponent has a low ground unit count, and they're having trouble defending their expansions with their current unit count, they're either running low on minerals, or possibly making a tech switch to Carriers. Sacrifice an Observer to check.


The adaptation depends on which tech they choose to switch to

  • If your opponent went Carriers, expand and attack to take advantage. If you can take out enough expansions, then your opponent will be so far behind that they can't replace the Interceptors, or build up a critical mass of Interceptors. If you can't push your advantage when your opponent has a low unit count, you can go either Dark Archons with Mind Control to take the Carriers away, or Arbiters with Stasis Field to cloak your own units and freeze a large amount of Supply.
  • If your opponent went Arbiters, you can counter it with your own Arbiters, Observers, Stasis Field, and High Templar. High Templar are usually the most effective, because you know units are underneath Arbiters, so Psionic Storm is effective and does a ton of damage. Before you get your own Arbiters, try to push where the Arbiters aren't, have units all over the map, and try your hardest not to get your own units caught in Stasis Field.