NonY's 2 Gate Sentry Expand (vs. Zerg)
|This strategy has been validated to work for patch 1.5.3.|
The aim of this build is to expand off 2 Gateways worth of units whilst pressuring the Zerg opponent at a much earlier timing than the standard Forge Fast Expansion. The requisite push is made with 5 Zealots and 2 Sentries at ~7:00 and is an attempt to force the Zerg player into making Spine Crawlers and Zerglings instead of making Drones, thus slowing down their economy.
This is essentially a more modern version of the classic 3 Gate Sentry Expand and so shares a lot of similarities with that particular style. The advantage of this opening is that your expansion is built a lot earlier, meaning it is a more economical opening. ZvP has shifted away from Speedling Expand openings, meaning that you need less Sentries and less units to hold onto your fast expansion.
Basic Build Order
When doing this build, NonY often will not scout until throwing down the second Pylon on 16 Supply. Scouting earlier can be beneficial on four-player maps as it will give you more warning of 6/7/8 Pool cheeses, but this will also slow down the build slightly. Keep in mind that if you scout earlier than the first Gateway (13 Supply) then you will not be able to afford to get the second Gateway early enough, thus meaning that the build will not work.
What we are aiming to do here is to deny any attempt by the Zerg player to take an incredibly early third-base (which you should've tried to scout with a Probe prior to moving out). If there is no third-base being built when you move out then walk up to the opponent's natural expansion and see if your opponent is building Spine Crawlers. They usually will be because they will have seen you chronoboosting the Cybernetics Core multiple times, meaning that this could easily be a Nexus cancel 5 Gate Zealot/Sentry All-In. If this is the case then hang around long enough for the Spine Crawler(s) to finish and then go home with your units; you have just cost the Zerg player 100+ Minerals for the Spine Crawler and denied them a Drone! Alternatively, if they haven't built a Spine Crawler and there are not enough units around to scare you, Forcefield the Zerg player's main ramp and try to snipe Queens and Drones. Sniping the Queen is especially useful as it denies the Zerg player additional Larvae for a significant amount of time, slowing down both their unit and worker production.
What is important about this poke is that you do not just run out of your base with all of your units. If the Zerg player is going for a Roach/Ling all-in or a Baneling bust then they will be able to catch your units out of position and kill them. Send a Zealot out ahead of the rest of your units to scout for anything like this happening and move back to your natural choke if you see a lot of units being made by the Zerg opponent.
Although Force Fields are good, you need to be careful with them as you only have 2 Sentries and so cannot afford to waste a single Force Field. Make sure you Forcefield micro is up to scratch before attempting to use this opening. In order to save on Force Fields, you should move your army against walls and through choke-points as much as possible; try to avoid moving through large, open spaces as that will leave you vulnerable to a Zergling surround.
Finally, err on the side of caution. Even though you have Sentries back at home to help defend, you will have trouble holding off a counter-attack if you lose all your units in an inefficient manner.
One possible follow-up is to add a Forge as you push out with your Zealot/Sentry force. This is a more passive style than the Stargate style as it does not involve any Phoenix harassment (obviously). A general build-order for this particular follow-up would look like this:
- Because of the fast Forge placement, you will get to +3 Ground Weapons very quickly, usually before the Zerg player is able to build a Brood Lord/Infestor army. As soon as you get to +3 Ground Weapons you should be attempting to pressure the Zerg player with a Blink Stalker/Colossus composition whilst taking your own fourth base and beginning to Tech towards a Mothership.
- One threat you need to react to is if the opponent goes for a Mutalisk build as Colossus will be useless in this situation. Halt Colossus production as soon as you scout that Mutalisks are going to be coming and instead Tech towards High Templar with Psionic Storm. Add additional Gateways as soon as possible and take a third base as soon as you have sufficient Cannons/High Templar/Blink Stalkers to defend your main and natural from Mutalisks.
- Another threat you need to be aware of are Baneling drops. It is not common for Zerg players to use Banelings in this match-up, so if you scout a Baneling Nest then you should be wary of this strategy. Place Blink Stalkers around the edges of your base to fend off any attempts to drop Banelings into your main mineral line and try not to clump your army up too much.
Another possible follow-up is to add a Stargate as you push out with your Zealot/Sentry force. Phoenixes will be used to harass and scout the opponent whilst you Tech towards Colossi and start getting your upgrades.
- The build order is generally quite similar to the Forge opening, except the upgrades are delayed so that you can get out Phoenixes.
- Your first Phoenix should start killing Overlords around your base immediately.
- Move out to the opponent's base with your Phoenixes once you have 4. This is the optimal number as it is the number required to lift and kill a Queen with a single lift.
- If you scout that the opponent is going for Mutalisks then continue producing Phoenix. A decent flock of Phoenix should be able to deny Mutalisk harassment whilst you continue with Colossus production.
- If you scout that the opponent is going for Infestors then retreat with your Phoenixes so that they do not get caught by a Fungal Growth.
- Short Rush Distances: Your Zealot/Sentry poke will get to the Zerg expansion quicker and will be able to stay longer before having to go home (e.g. Xel'Naga Caverns).
- 9-Tile Choke At Natural: A Pylon, a Gateway and a Forge will form a wall with a single hex gap, which can then be blocked by a Zealot. This will make it very hard for a Speedling counterattack to deny your fast expansion and is therefore incredibly beneficial (e.g. Cloud Kingdom, Ohana).
- Large rush distances: Your Zealot/Sentry poke will take longer to get to the Zerg expansion and will not be able to stay as long before having to go home (e.g. Tal'Darim Altar).
- Open Natural: Makes it harder to wall-off the natural expansion, thus making Speedling counterattacks harder to defend against (e.g. Metalopolis, Daybreak).
Replays & VODs
|NonY||An older replay where NonY goes for a late Zealot/Sentry push (~8:30).|
|NonY||Another older replay where NonY goes for a late Stalker/Sentry push (~8:30) vs 2 base Lair.|
- A guide posted on the TL.net forums by Surili. TL.net. May 3, 2012.
- A post in the above topic highlighting modifications made to the build by NonY since it was first used. TL.net. September 24, 2012.