Raven pushes are when stim finishes, and both players are fully established on at least 2 bases, which I’d consider the start of the mid-game. Economy, critical tech, and production are online, which marks the end of the early game.
It’s just a difference in perspective, or them not really thinking about specifically defining phases and just throwing the “early” label on there, because it’s not about the late game or later stages of the mid-game, but the first major Terran attack of the game.
I’ve been consistent on the pre-stim vs post-stim as where I define the early vs mid-game in the match up. It’s a good point to define it, as it represents the first major shift in how both sides play, with Terran able to go on the offensive, and Protoss becoming reliant on its tech units to take fights.
Stalker pressure isn’t an all in. 4 gate blink on 2 base into colossus is currently one of the most meta openers vs Terran at the top level, and it’s all about pressuring the Terran pre-stim, and occasionally wins outright. I suggest you actually watch some high level games and think about what the players are doing and why.
Nor do actual all ins typically get held by a single bunker and some SCVs.
The point is that Shield regen comes at strength much earlier and comes for free. Think about what would happen to the game if marines/marauders had the reaper passive healing and were ~10-20% faster baseline, and you could produce them almost anywhere without them needing to walk. but medivacs didn’t heal and stim didn’t give attack speed, and how they’d have to adjust their costs/stats to make that balanced. That’s basically where Protoss is at with shields.
Nerf the regen, and there’s pretty significant room for adjustment.
*Note that reapers have the same regen rate/delay as shields, but their extremely high gas cost, short range, and low damage mean they scale incredibly poorly and fall out of viability much earlier than units like stalkers, and they can’t kite marines like stalkers can.
Queens have other uses for their energy and can’t transfuse off creep.
Terran needs to spend resources/mining time to repair, or tech up to medivacs. Terran, due to the lack of something mobile that can chase down stalkers effectively pre-stim, has no good way to stop Protoss from backing up and getting shields back in the early game. They can’t force the issue effectively without getting picked apart.
(Conc shell marauder rushing, which is one of the strongest Terran cheeses vs protoss precisely because it stops protoss from kiting for shield regen, is not a macro opener, and with blink, conc shells is no longer enough on its own anyway).
Basically: The very early game dynamics are P>T>=Z>P - this is, in large part, because of shield regen, the economy/production build-up/costs, and specific unit dynamics. (Assuming all races doing standard macro builds.*)
Terran has units that are very strong vs lings off creep, but nothing that can effectively chase down gateway units or trade efficiently into them when accounting for micro, so they can effectively be out on the map vs Zerg, but Protoss can get “free” damage by trading shields to kill/destroy or damage Terran units/buildings to force them to spend extra resources.
On the other hand, Protoss has nothing that can trade effectively with or escape from Zerglings, which sort of gives free reign to Zerg in the early game and forces Protoss to tech more aggressively.
Protoss also has the strongest economy until orbitals are online or Zerg macro kicks in. Usually the other two races catch up in income around the ~35-40-ish worker count, but that’s a few hundred extra minerals for Protoss in the early game. That’s an issue for Terran, which has to invest similar amounts into production, but is behind in the early economy.
For Zerg, those early resources are more than offset by Protoss needing to spend more to set up production and having more expensive/less efficient units (Zerg has no extra costs for producing units aside from tech- it’s just an opportunity cost of drones vs units).
So, the advantages Protoss has over Terran in the early game are meaningless vs Zerg. Removing one or both of those advantages vs Terran would make more room for buffing Protoss units for a more stable early game vs Zerg and mid-game vs Terran without risking breaking PvT in half, which buffs to gateway units that aren’t locked behind upgrades could very easily do. (Other than maybe the Sentry or Zealot.).
Specific unit adjustments could also help shift the dynamics, like damage/attack rate changes for gateway units to be better at fighting lings without significantly changing their effectiveness vs other units (primarily through lower damage per hit and faster attack rates.)
No, it just negates it for gateway units. Gateway units can be produced inside the enemy base, they do not need to walk across the map, and terrain is a non-factor. It negates the advantage created by the time it takes to reinforce from wherever the production is set up.
Protoss also effectively gets a 1 production cycle advantage when reinforcing after losing units on top of their units not needing to walk across the map to reach a location, since warpgates can produce immediately on losing supply then go on cooldown, rather than waiting to the end of the cycle for the unit to pop out.