Strat Talk Round-Up

Why a Honda pic? To honour Sydney's #2 player.

In my opinion, the Australian tournament scene is comprised of 3 types of players:

1) Top players who find themselves in the Grand Final of just about any tournament they enter;
2) Committed players who want to get better but don’t seem to be making as much progress as they could be; and
3) Casual players just in it for fun.

Thanks to the global popularity of SF4, there’s now a wealth of knowledge being shared online to help people improve their game. The Shoryuken front page has featured many such blog posts, all of which are useful.

Here I provide a brief look at recent strategy articles that could be helpful to players who fall into “category 2”.

The Footsies Handbook

As a rule, just about every struggling Australian player could leap ahead simply by getting their footsies down. Maj has written a very comprehensive guide on the subject, and there’s a lot to be learned from it. But if I were forced to pick just 2 highlights for people to think about, I’d go with these:

“One of the oldest textbook guidelines in Street Fighter is “Don’t jump.”” – Maj

“Playing footsies with [a] casual mindset is the mental equivalent of being backed into a permanent corner. If you’re hesitant and uncertain, then your wins will come from luck and your losses will be inexorably fitting.” – Maj

Reaction vs Prediction

I put this up in a previous post, but it’s worth repeating. As people learn about the game, they discover the concept of “mind games” and “yomi” and start to justify situations where they’re guessing what to do next when they should have known what to do.

Top players don’t win consistently because they’ve found some mystical way to break the law of averages. The simple fact is that they don’t guess wrong because they don’t guess unless there’s a genuine need to.

“Even when in a situation of life disadvantage, if the timer is still high, don’t rush in needlessly – let at least some time pass to see if your opponent will hit the lose button and mindlessly give you an opportunity with a careless prediction attack.” – Thelo

Learning how to Learn

“Playing to play” has its place, but the reality is that you could “just play” without any planning for hundreds of hours and never run into that one thing that brings you undone in your next tournament. You also need to think about what to look for while you’re playing, especially in a tournament environment.

“The trick is to play against your opponent just as hard as you play against their character. Don’t assume that every Sagat player will use the same general gameplan or react to difficult situations the same exact way. Take the time to learn your opponent’s individual habits, then don’t be afraid to capitalize on any weaknesses you manage to spot.” – omni

Learning from Losses

One common fact in fighting games is “you have to be willing to lose before you can hope to win”. However a lot of people will go through phases where they’ll tally up a score of losses without actively trying to do anything about it.

“Next time someone kicks your ass, you have to just kinda step back and be like “why did that happen? why did I fall for _____ again?” Sometimes the answers aren’t very satisfying because the right answer is “because I’m a dumbass” but you have to at least figure out what’s going wrong before you can fix it. Just realizing that is a really useful step to getting better.” -Viscant

Overcoming Plateaus

The phrases “this match-up is too hard”, “this player is too good”  or “this game is broken!” are commonplace in the tournament circuit, and they’re a sign that people have hit a wall. In fact, simply seeing the same names in Grand Final videos again and again is equally telling. Breaking through such barriers is hard work, but is critical if you’re serious about improving your game (and taking down the likes of Humanbomb, ToXY and akirahat).

It sounds impossible, and for some people it will be asking too much. But for others it’s just a matter of patience and persistence.

“A wise SF player told me there are two reasons for plateaus:

1. The player physically cannot execute to their character’s full potential.
Ex. Viper player losing purely for dropping commands/combos. Or a Ryu player unable to commit to simple fireballs/uppercuts, who ends up losing to basic jump-ins.

2. The player cannot or will not learn more about the game.
Ex. Whenever there are hurdles about a certain match up, [the Shoryuken forum] is bombarded with excuses which doesn’t help their situation at all. This is the true issue.” – Calipower

Practice with Purpose

Practicing is as much about the “what” as it is about the “why”. Once you can recognise what’s going wrong, and where your knowledge is lacking, it’s time to get serious about solving the problem at hand. You must be willing to put in some quality time to learn what needs to be done. You can always ask others for tips on what to do, and don’t forget the value of using Training Mode at home.

The reality is that unless you’re a super-genius, you are going to lose to people that have put in more time, practice and research than you have. Be prepared to invest energy in improving if you really want to move ahead with your game.

“My challenge then is this, whenever you play a match, try to have at least 3 different general things for your character you want to practice and 3 different things you want to try in that SPECIFIC matchup.” – Edma

Many of these ideas won’t be new to people in the tournament scene, but there’s always someone out there who’s being held back by a bad habit or lack of focus, despite wanting to get better. If you’re reading this and you fit that description, then I hope you find some of these linked articles helpful.