In this long and thorough strategy corner, Chris "Cyniko" Messer brings out his magnifying glass and solves the mistery of ForGG's TvT mech and how in all hell is it possible to be so good in the mirror match-up.
This week in WCS EU Ro16, we saw ForGG put on a dominating performance in TvT, taking out Strelok and MMA, with a unique blue-flame hellion heavy mech style (Link to VODs). It took most viewers by surprise, but his opponents were likely not surprised. ForGG has been executing, refining, and destroying nerds on ladder and tournaments with this exact build for over a month. This build, unlike some of ForGG’s other builds, is not a gimmick or just a sharp timing attack, it’s a robust mech style. This monster is 47-3 in TvT in Heart of the Swarm, and there’s one concrete reason behind it. This build is unreal.
ForGG dominating Taeja in TeamStory Cup a few weeks ago with the exact same build used in WCS EU to make it out of his group
I want to be perfectly clear about why this build is so good because it’s not just the fact that he makes a ton blue-flame hellions, anybody can do that. It’s the precision, safety, and flexibility of this build’s opener that makes it truly great. Enough gushing*, let’s get into it.
*Just one last thing, as of less than a month ago, Flash and Innovation were doing different openers in TvT. In their most recent Proleague match against each other, they BOTH used this opener. Ok now enough gushing.
The build order
16 Orbital Command
Pump 2 Marines out of Rax -> Reactor
20 Command Center
Pump out 4 additional marines from reactor Barracks
Switch barracks with factory (6 marines will be out on the field)
Produce 2 hellions + one marine from barracks (no add-on on that yet)
ForGG sets himself apart from the rest of the pack right off the bat with a unique amount of marines out of his reactor timing. This allows him to be safe against a lot of different attacks that may come his way, but more typically it allows him to hit an 8 marine count slightly sooner to do his signature 7 minute pressure. That is, if he’s allowed to do it.
To go into holding every variation of an attack that comes your way before you’re allowed to do this would be tedious. The basic idea is that this build sets you up economically that if you stay at home and defend a stronger 1-base aggression, you’ll come out ahead. For example, against hell bat pressure, the response is typically to get a Viking first instead of a medivac and keep your units at home. If the opponent is going for a more macro-based play, the 7 minute move out can and usually does do a good amount of damage.
Drop of (ideally) 8 marines in the main base and hellions right into the natural – many variations have been done before but ForGG has his down to a science in Heart of the Swarm
So you recognize his macro-based play, do the pressure, and it seems you’ve come out even. Excuse me good sir, what is the time? Oh why it’s half past Blue Flame O’Clock.
The blue flame timing
Continuous hellion production + 3rd
CC Tech lab on Starport -> Raven -> (Cloaked Banshee follow-up)
~9:00 Two additional geysers + two factories
Blue flame research as additional factories finish
+1 Mech Attack
2 Additional Factories (3 tech lab 2 reactor factories total)
Ideal production – ~4 hellions + 3 tanks + Vikings/(1-2 Cloaked Banshees)
In one interesting bit of his post-win WCS interview, ForGG was talking about holding off some of Strelok’s great aggression at his natural. ForGG ended up fending off a tough attack, and was definitely a bit behind. But then, to the shock of the commentators and viewers, ForGG rolled up with almost entirely blue flame hellion, and roasted Strelok’s entire army. He won the game immediately.
When Redeye asks him how he felt on that game, ForGG admits “Yes I felt behind but I knew I still had a timing, so I hit it and it worked”. I mean the timing is almost entirely blue flame hellions (right around when the research finishes of course). A few tanks sprinkled in for good measure with raven/Viking/(banshee) support. It surrounded and evaporated Strelok’s Tank/Hellbat/Bio army. Granted some of the tanks of Strelok weren’t sieged, but even with that ForGG would’ve done severe damage.
Long story short, the Blue Flame transition is one that unlocks a timing that most terrans aren’t too familiar with. Even beyond that timing, we saw in games with MMA that ForGG was taking fights that MMA wasn’t fully comfortable in estimating and was getting punished as a result. The composition is fun, it’s fast, and its power in full-out engagements will definitely surprise you if you’re inexperienced with it.
In terms of analysis, I’ll leave you with that. It’s on you to go and test out the power of the build for yourself. The build is flexible, and ForGG has many variations worked into this build for optimal responses. As soon as he smells an over-commitment to tanks and not enough support – he will quickly make a banshee and exploit that. But there’s no doubt that regardless of variations, he loves his blue flame hellions, and you will too once you try them out.
Five tries with ForGG's mech
“Five Tries” is my simple show where I test out any concept or build in Starcraft 2 Five Times in a row on ladder. I’m currently at a masters level protoss and diamond terran on EU, so there’s some rough moments on it. In this episode, I usually start by showing the 7 minute move out and explaining any necessary context, and any important points after that. I squeezed it into less than 10 minutes, enjoy.