Why 8 Gate Works - HOTS Tactics
The 8 Gate in Starcraft II is a very powerful opening that works for a number of reasons. This hub hopes to outline those reasons in brief so you start using it in your play!
1. Effective Harass + Scout for Minimal Cost
The main reason that the 8 gate is powerful is that by sacrificing probe count (for the first minute) you can get a Zealot into your opponent's base and either 1. pick off probes reducing the economic sacrifice you made or 2. destroy a pylon and prevent production.
The Zealot also lets you know exactly what your opponent is doing (gas etc.) as well as slows him from performing his build (disturbing your opponent's build order can be very effective against players who do the same build each game).
Meanwhile, you can tech to anything you want without the worry of being scouted because you're the one putting on the pressure.
2. Earlier production
In PvP it's important to remember that what counts most is the amount of units you have on the field and not the economy of each player. If you're 10 probes ahead but 5 units behind you are most likely going to lose.
Therefore, the 8 gate is powerful because you get your first gate, and so your first production facility, much faster than your opponent. In the space that your opponent has 1 zealot and 1 stalker you will have 2 zealots and 2 stalkers.
This gives you the advantage for the rest of the game and such a small advantage can mean winning all of the spoils.
3. Force a Reaction
As already mentioned, your opponent will need to stop doing his precise and efficient build order and react to your pressure.
The most common way of deterring early zealot pressure is to get a mothership core which can shoot away at its heart content.
This means investing 100 gas and 100 minerals into a unit which you may think is not a big deal. It is a big deal however if you decide to go double gas and rush a particular tech unit (particularly DT or oracle) and defeat your opponent with the tech advantage.
4. Game Mechanic
The way the game works for PvT and PvZ (and ZvT) is that you collect 16 probes on your mineral line and then expand, do the same, all the time fending off your opponent and trying to get some sort of advantage with your resources.
PvP, just like it was in WoL, is much more about getting out units, micro'ing them well, and crushing your opponent on one base. Expanding should not realistically be an option because you have the same faculties as your opponent. If he expands then you should be able to defeat him in one way or another.
That's why the 8 gate is so great, it sets you up for the way that PvP should be played - 1 base vs 1 base crush-tastic action!
5. Surprise Factor
Of course, one of the key aspects of good Starcraft ladder play is not being predictable. If you ask any Starcraft player worth his salt what the most common Protoss opening is, he'll tell you: 9 pylon 12 gate, 14 gas and 15 pylon.
This is what is expected, and by playing on this fact you can really surprise your opponents and get an edge - many times I can tell my opponent did not react well enough (and I'm in masters!) and this is simply because he hadn't ever practiced against such a build.
Furthermore, it's very difficult to scout, unless your Protoss player is paying full attention to how far your gateway has completed he won't even realise that it's an early 8 gate. Some players work off the minimap so all they see (and all they look for) when they send their scouting probe is a green blob on the minimap, as long as that's there then they know you haven't proxy rushed anything and they think they're safe.
Even if your opponent is a good one and realises that it's an early 8 gate, he doesn't necessarily know what you're going to follow up with - there's a good chance you might try the old 'Korean 8 Gate' build which involves getting very fast WarpGate research. In this event, your opponent might just elect to get a mothership, if he does so then your initial push with 2 zealots and a stalker will be far stronger than if he had gotten a stalker with his resources.
A Summary and Your Thoughts
All in all the 8 gate has much to offer in terms of power and reaction potential (quite rare) as it abuses the fact that having just one more unit at the beginning of the game can be devastating for your opponent (and his mineral line), so incorporating this underplayed build into your repertoire of builds and game styles will definitely help you with your game.
If you have any thoughts on the above information please feel free to comment in the section at the end of the hub. If you want to see more builds, tips and play style advice then see my other hubs!
Please note that I am a high masters player (sometimes playing grandmasters) and so I will need proof in the form of replays or a convincing explanation.
GG GL HF and Happy Gaming! :)