When will I start seeing improvements?

Zerg Discussion
So I've been trying to focus on improving for the last 4 months or so (I haven't played much this season though because I keep getting discouraged). I do the build that filtersc does in his bronze to masters series, 14 pool, 15 hatch, 4 gas at 6min, 2 evos and warren at 7min, lair at 730, pumping roaches until +1's and roach speed finish then you push out.

I feel like a have improved a bit, my apm has gone from about 80 average to around the low 100's and I am winning over 50% of my games but I still feel like soooo much is wrong with my play. My decision making is crap, I'll often GG out rather than deal with cheese like bunker rushes and cloaked banshees, I sometimes choose to engage in bad areas that end up losing me the game outright and I feel like my build itself is kind of gimmicky (gets countered by mech hard and also gets shut down if protoss blindly gets double robo facility). I know I've only played 422 games on this account but I still feel that I should at least be gold by now.

Last season I was top of my division in silver and was beating gold and even a few diamond players, I started this season and won my placement match confident that I was going to get gold or possibly platinum (slim chance but you never know)...nope, mid silver for the 3rd season straight.

I guess what I'm trying to say in so many words is besides winning over 50% of my games and consistently (for the most part) beating higher level players than me what can I really do to improve? Is there another "universal" build you guys can suggest that is slightly more flexible than the one I'm currently using?

Heres a replay of me vs a terran, I end up winning because he spams marines but it should give you a basic outline of what my build currently looks like.
http://drop.sc/276845
Im there with you iv played over 3000 games and I still haven't gotten masters. :(
If you're still getting owned by Cheese, you need to rethink the whole thing from the ground up, there is no Cheese that there is not a counter for - I don't know how to do the replay thing, but I suspect you simply aren't being aggressive enough, if you not doing something all the time - hell, Three things all the time, you're not doing it right.

I'm Bronze, and still learning, but I've learned that if you aren't mineral blocking and harassing like crazy while building up to a well planned base invasion, you're just waiting to die.
well its not really losing to cheese that's holding me back, I rarely get cheesed besides cannon rushes so I never get a chance to practice holding them. But even then cheese games make up a very small percentage of my losses. Once again I think it has a lot to do with the build, its built around a huge roach push that hits at around 11min, and if it doesn't at least do a bit of damage I just dumped my whole economy into nothing.

Also going pure roaches feels wrong, take for example a ZvT where I want a late game comp of bling/infestor/ultra, going pure roach just seems like a bad plan transition wise if that makes any sense. I could be spending all that gas used on roaches for infestation pit/pathogen glands
yea i hear ya. i was pushing my way into diamond 2 seasons ago. Moved to a different town and cam in late last season to place gold. Havent made it out since. I keep playing high plats and win some lose some but i cant get the promo. I feel like if i played actual golds i would get my promo into midlow plat and work my way up but the game only matches me with ppl way better then me and a lot of zvz. very very discouraging.
You are growing as a player because you are starting to understand the weaknesses of your current build.

Here's a few things you could have done better without changing your build:
- Start your 2nd queen earlier. You can build it from your main base if you pool then hatch, it will finish faster then waiting for your 2nd hatchery to finish.
- Scout!!!! You saw his wall, but that was it. After your initial scout you had no vision at all. They could have pushed out at any time before your roaches started and done some serious damage.
- Check your drone count at each base. 2 per mineral line is optimal, if you have more then that at a base spread them out. 2 1/2 per mineral line is the maximum amount of drones you want at a base.
- Position an overlord to scout their main base at the start of the game. This is part of scouting, if they open 2 port banshee and you don't see it coming it 's instant death. Try to get a read from the front of the base, but don't be afraid to sack an overlord if needed.

Tap your hatcheries Hot key your first 3 hatcheries separately and constantly tap those buttons. It will allow you to see inject timings without staring at your base. The better your opponent the less time you have to look at your base. Get into the habit of doing this now so you don't miss injects.

- Between 4-6 minutes your floating an excess off 300 minerals. This is after making 2 spines to defend an attack we don't know is coming. You could cut the 2 spines and make more queens or make a macro hatch. I felt your drone count was very low for a long time, mainly because your 2nd queen was late.

Now, if you want to change your builds (which I recommend)...
Go hatch first (15 supply) in every ZvT game. The only exception is when they e-bay block. Hatch first can stop a 2 rax, it takes practice but is something you should learn.

Go for the standard 6 queen route (allows for late gases), or 3 queens with a 16/17 gas timing against terran. If you go for the 16/17 gas timing you can pull guys off gas after starting ling speed. Keep them off until you saturate your main base or at least until your 3rd queen has started. You can even make a spine if you want.

Earlier gas will give you more aggressive options, while the 6 queen route is better defensively and allows for better creep spread. 6 queens synergies with roaches better while the earlier gas works better with mutalisks. Both openers can be used to transition to any build.

If you really want to improve...
- Create a new hotkey control group used ONLY for watching replays. Unbind select larva and all your group selections. Rebind observer controls to the numpad or other side of your keyboard.
- Download pro replays (the latest blizzcon has replays available http://us.battle.net/bwc/en/tournaments/sc2/videos
- Watch replays from the pro's perspective. Open your production tab so you can see what they are producing.
- Spam your hotkeys. Anytime the pro makes something, you make it. Anytime something is produced, you add it to your control hotkeys so you can quickly select it. Select control groups as the pro selects them. Practice tapping your hatcheries constantly, your left hand should be constantly pressing buttons.
- Don't forget to change your hotkey profile back before starting a game!

Why this works:
You'll be able to see the build orders the pros are doing and do it right along with them. You'll also be able to see what they are scouting and how they are reacting. On top of that you can focus on constantly tapping and improving your speed without fear of losing.

I used to play around 120-130~ apm. I could tell the good days I because my APM would be at 130. An off day would be 118. My overall play is much stronger when my APM is higher. After practicing as mentioned above I found my hand tiring a bit and cut back my playing time. After about 4 hours practicing I played my first muta ling baneling against a terran player ending 20 minutes in at 168 APM. I finally felt like I was starting to have the speed and multitasking to play at the top level. (Replay for those interested: http://drop.sc/276892). I'm not making it up, this really does help.

Unfortunately I have an injury and will probably sit on the sideline this season, but I'm confident if I keep practicing that way I would improve much faster then I have in previous years.
I’m such a slow typist. Kas has covered most of what I’ve got, but I’m posting it just to reinforce what he has said.

The way I understand it is it not winning 50% of your games but winning more than 50% of the games with players that are in the league above you. It does not matter what your rank is in your league. If you win against 51% of the players in Gold and above then you will be promoted.

From your replay I saw several things you can work on; Injects, saturation, larva and scouting.
You synced up your queens right away but it slipped. Fortunately you kept up with them and got them back on track.
The timings are a rule of thumb.
Try to just get16 drones in the main and rally the eggs to the natural.
I know this sounds nitpicky but the object of this build is to get max +1+1 roaches at his base as fast as possible.
If you over drone you lose time and money.
When it’s time to gas take two drones from each mineral line then build two at each hatch to replace them. It’s the same with the evos and warren.

As your larva pops spend them first then inject.
If you have extra larva then get ahead on overlords first and then start getting roaches.
Extra money? Get the +1+1 ups first then roach speed.
If you have 500 minerals extra, get one drone, a queen and a macro hatch. Could this build use a macro hatch to get more roaches out quicker?

Scouting; all you saw was the front of his natural.
He had seven more Barracks in his main, all with no add-ons and no Engineering Bay.
You only need one ling per watch tower.
You got a ling into his natural and it died. It should have gone to the main and got a full scout, checking for gas and tech.
The extra ling can sit at the front of the natural to see when and what comes giving you earlier warning.
Your starting ovie needs to stay at the natural watching for when he takes his gas.
Your 16 ovie needs to be to the left of his main, ready to suicide in at 7 minutes again checking for gas and tech.

Last but not least, watch your replays. Look for ways to do better and ways to improve. And don’t stop asking questions.

TL;DR
Keep your injects spot on. Keep your queen energy low.
Watch your saturation.
Spend your larva. Keep your money low.
Learn better scouting.
11/18/2012 11:58 PMPosted by ClifftheBiff
As your larva pops spend them first then inject.


Hey Cliff, not to discredit what your saying, but I'm wondering if there has been any research that shows spending larva is better then injecting right away. I've always done it the other way around. I figured my larva can sit around for a second but my queen inject time is lost forever.

I remember reading a post about losing larva, where the normal hatchery larva production is lost in certain circumstances, but I don't remember any suggestions to avoid it.
Proper Scouting + Not getting Ovie blocked when droning hard on 3 base should easily carry you into diamond.
I was able to make it to low-master/high-diamond with terrible injects and no creep spread. They aren't as important as other elements of the game, like learning how to get surrounds and learning how and when to engage.

In ZvZ I used to do this one-base 1/1 ling thing. It left me with a terrible economy, but because I had 1/1 lings it helps negate that disadvantage (but it was *nowhere* near enough). Combining the 1/1 lings with good micro, excellent decision making I was able to beat people with double the economy. They would have ling+bling from 2base, I would have just lings from 1base, but I would win. It taught me how to be cost-effective, how to engage well and built my decision making.

Economy is not a big deal. Injects aren't a big deal. Learning how to execute a build, get good engagements, micro well and having good decision making is far more important. Once you hit the high-diamond/low-master MMR than you can start worrying about your mechanics.

Nowadays I have a upraded-ling style based off of my 1base 1/1 ling build I used too do. It has a good economy, keeps constant pressure on the enemy, and if they manage to survive the early game (with 1/1 lings) and survive the mid-game (2/2 lings, counter attacks and TONS of infestors) then they almost always die to my 3/5 ultras at 14 minutes :). The only way this build is possible is by being head-and-shoulders above your opponent in decision making (ex: do you do a ling runby? At the third or the nat or the main? Nydus? Burrowed infestors? Do I base trade? Do I start hive? Etc, etc).

That is the thing that has made me masters--my decision making and cost-efficiency.
11/19/2012 12:51 AMPosted by Kaz
As your larva pops spend them first then inject.


Hey Cliff, not to discredit what your saying, but I'm wondering if there has been any research that shows spending larva is better then injecting right away. I've always done it the other way around. I figured my larva can sit around for a second but my queen inject time is lost forever.

I remember reading a post about losing larva, where the normal hatchery larva production is lost in certain circumstances, but I don't remember any suggestions to avoid it.


larva sitting around is minerals lost forever.

if you use the larva 5 seconds later, that drone starts mining 5 seconds later.

if every larva is a few seconds late, you are losing a lot of money.

if you're not making drones, then spending the larva immediately is less critical, but when droning it is basically what defines good macro as zerg.

Is there another "universal" build you guys can suggest that is slightly more flexible than the one I'm currently using?

Not really, no. But you can start making game-by-game adjustments as long as you retain what you are learning from filter's builds: decent macro.

The first adjustments that I'd recommend are working on expansion timings. Filter's expansion timings are very conservative and overly safe. When you are macroing 2x better than your opponent you will still be ahead, but you might be taking unnecessary disadvantages against evenly matched opponents.
11/19/2012 12:51 AMPosted by Kaz
As your larva pops spend them first then inject.


Hey Cliff, not to discredit what your saying, but I'm wondering if there has been any research that shows spending larva is better then injecting right away. I've always done it the other way around. I figured my larva can sit around for a second but my queen inject time is lost forever.

I remember reading a post about losing larva, where the normal hatchery larva production is lost in certain circumstances, but I don't remember any suggestions to avoid it.


I notice that when I'm spot on with injects you can spend the larvae when the Queen energy is still 23. If I have already built up some Queen energy then I inject first because, like you said, that's made up time.
@ Kaz; this is the way I was taught.
I thought as you that the queens inject was more important.
I guess as Oboeman points out, it depends at what point of the game you are at.
When you droning, then spending larva on drones is more important than injects.
As you proceed into banking larva, then injects become more important.
Hey guys thanks for the great responses! There's a lot of text here so let me just go through it in chronological order.
- Start your 2nd queen earlier. You can build it from your main base if you pool then hatch, it will finish faster then waiting for your 2nd hatchery to finish.

Didn't know that, see its knowing little stuff like that that I think will make all the difference!
11/18/2012 10:42 PMPosted by Kaz
- Scout!!!!

Yeah that seems to be what everyone is telling me, I make like 2-4 lings and I do get the towers and check for ninja bases but I'm usually just lazy I guess -_- i'm reading up on reading gas timing as well as overlord placement and positioning.
Nowadays I have a upraded-ling style based off of my 1base 1/1 ling build I used too do. It has a good economy, keeps constant pressure on the enemy, and if they manage to survive the early game (with 1/1 lings) and survive the mid-game (2/2 lings, counter attacks and TONS of infestors) then they almost always die to my 3/5 ultras at 14 minutes

Any chance I could get a food/time based outline of that style?
11/19/2012 12:49 PMPosted by ClifftheBiff
I thought as you that the queens inject was more important.

Yeah I remember reading either here or on TL that spending larva>injects because like Oboe said any time with idle larvae is compounded the longer it stays idle. And it take what maybe 2 seconds to spend your larvae at most, queen energy isn't going to skyrocket in that time. While we're on the subject of inject timing I'm going to start tapping my 4 and 5 keys (hatch and queen respectively) to check inject timings, what I've been doing up until now is kind of occasionally glancing at the left side of the screen to see if my larvae have popped

So I've been looking through your comments and sifting through posts on TL and I'm thinking that tonight I'm going to start learning 1-2 builds to perfect (well as close as a silver player can perfect) against each race. I'm thinking of actually using this same filtersc build just making a transition to stephano style roaches if I see a FFE (I want to do banerain vs a FFE but I don't think I could pull off the unit control just yet), ZvT I think I'll start using either that 2base 7roach pressure build that DRG used to use (which I used to use a lot but stopped for some reason) or I'll do a 15/15 6 queen build, ZvZ I have no idea what to do ever I'm looking at some 1 base ling/bane timing attacks and some 2 base roach/sling TA's but so far I feel that ZvZ is either a race to see who can get their macro hatch up faster for ling spam or a faux macro battle to see who can get the most mutas in the least amount of time. So that's where I am with my build woes, its just learning and relearning so many builds is making me nervous. I read a thread on TL by TangSC called a guide to macro aggression (http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=301616) I like the build that's presented there and I might use that as my new "go to" build if I just feel like working on my mechanics.

Thanks again for the replies everyone!
Almost forgot, I don't think I ever even asked what I originally set out to ask when I starting thinking about making this thread. Is there like a ballpark estimate of how many games I should be playing a day or season to see a reasonable gain in skill/league if I keep doing things like improving my mechanics and decision making?
Is there like a ballpark estimate of how many games I should be playing a day or season to see a reasonable gain in skill/league if I keep doing things like improving my mechanics and decision making?


Good question, unfortunately everyone is going to have a different answer. I'd suggest 5 games a day along with watching each replay in between games. I'd try to play 3 games a day if playing at all, any less and I don't feel like I'm learning from my games.

Personally I aim for 10 games a day, but there are days when I don't play. At 10 games a day I improve much faster but am prone to burnout.

There's a huge difference between playing games and watching the replay, vs only playing. When I don't watch replays I find myself frustrated and my decision making does not improve.
May sound silly but I was stuck in Diamond for the longest time until I started watching Husky... he gave me enough knowledge to improve my game sense. Before that I just played on my own.

I'd actually be top 8 Master but I've stopped playing WoL and started playing HoTS on my buddy's account.

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