As someone who is very into fighting games, I am quite crap at them. While that is partially down to my lack of time to regularly practice as well as other things, something that will likely change once I’m graduated, there are still plenty of things I can work on the times I do get to practice and play. This is just a list for me personally, to remind myself of the things I can work on. This is both for FGs as a whole and for specific games.
I do not want to sound prideful or oversell myself, but I believe I think like a much higher level player than I actually am. My actual skills are still equivalent of the low-end. But my knowledge is at least at the intermediate level. This makes playing much more frustrating because I often know what I’m doing wrong, but for some reason just can’t execute the right thing when I’m in the moment. That said, much of my knowledge is fighting games in theory whereas I don’t really know stuff in-practice if that makes any sense.
1. Think Actively.
While this is something I can also apply to life as a whole, it’s definitely something I want to apply to FGs as well. I tend to get into a flowchart/braindead state when playing, in all things I do in FGs. Neutral, defense, even combos. There are times when I have thought actively, and those moments, I’m at my absolute best.
It basically all comes down to me just wanting to and reminding myself to do this, even in-between games. When it does happen, I will:
- utilize more options in neutral
- mixup my timings better (particularly in projectile wars, whether I’m the one throwing them or not)
- react and preemptively react better, especially with anti-airs and whiff punishes
- have much better mixups/offense, therefore opening up the opponent more
- utilize general game mechanics more (ex: I used to completely forget about Focus in SF4 sometimes)
- do more optimal combos/setups
- have better defense, whether it’s because I utilize more of the defensive options I have or because I react/think of what the opponent could do more
- have better execution; this isn’t really a direct result of thinking actively, but I seem to have my best execution when I do
This is, by far, the most important things I can do at the moment. As the list above implies, thinking actively enables me to just play so much better. It just makes my fundamentals better overall. These moments are also when I win the most and have the most fun.
2. Defense/Know When It’s My Turn
While defense sometimes just comes down to guessing, it’s still something I need to improve a lot. For example, in SF, I tend to either just sit there and block, throw tech at the same exact times in someone’s pressure, or wakeup DP. If I’m facing a character with a command grab, holding up becomes one of those options. I need to use universal, game mechanic defensive options more. Like in KOF, I shouldn’t just try to roll as one of those options, but also guard cancel blowback and guard cancel roll.
This also goes back to thinking actively. When I get opened up, I need to think about why I did and recognize a player’s patterns more often, especially considering I mostly play the same people. While I can do that in-between games, I also need to be able to do that quickly so I can adapt.
Some of this will also come down to MU knowledge. I have to make an effort to learn where a character is plus or not. A lot of character unfamiliarity plagues me. I don’t know when it’s my turn a lot of the time. When I can push a button, even generally; taking mind games and gimmicks out of the equation (though I should still be weary of those). For example, I want to be able to generally recognize what distance a character could cross me up from or where they can fully convert from.
3. Optimize Punishes
This includes the obvious. Doing the most damaging combo I have. But I also need to consider setups. Like maybe SFV Ibuki st.MK, st.MP, HK Kazekiri is the most damaging for no meter, but maybe I want a setup instead since they still have half-life. Maybe I should do st.MK, st.MP, EX Kunai, HK command dash, LP-MK air-target combo instead. Speaking of EX’s, I need to factor in meter more often when punishing. whether it’s for damage or for a setup. And, of course, when it comes to damage vs. setup, I need to factor in the opponent’s remaining health. Maybe they’d die if I just confirmed into super? Perhaps they’ll be in chip territory for one bar and I can save the rest for next round? Etc.
I also need to do more specific punishes. Particularly when only certain things are going to punish a certain move. Whether this is because of a move’s speed (ex: 6f move to punish something that’s -6) or the distance (5f, long-reaching/advancing poke/string to punish a -10 move with lots of pushback).
These types of things do, again, tie back into thinking actively and having MU knowledge, but this is definitely something I want to work on. I at least want to be able to do this with easy stuff. Higher-execution or super specific punishes can come later.
4. Be More Aggressive/Take More Risks
This may sound like it kind of contradicts on improving my defense. However, this applies more to my offense and neutral game than my defense. I can still play a more defensive play style, but I need to be willing to take more risks. I tend to like to play very safe. That doesn’t necessarily mean lame and defensive, but it does sometimes. This also goes back to me playing fairly flowchart at times. I need to take more risks. Like I need to disrespect my opponent’s wakeups more often (though I have to be careful since most of the people I play are very trigger-happy with their DPs, so be weary) so I can establish a better offense.
Some examples of this, I need to be willing to dash/run in more often, particularly when I’m at an advantage. This also includes things like mixing things up on offense. Overall, this also ties into thinking actively and being less flowchart. Being less predictable.
1. Learn KOF As A Game
Reminded of this by Juicebox. While you can get away without learning the rules of most fighting games and just play your character, learning the game itself is often more important, especially in KOF. That means I should stop just doing what’s good with a character and, instead, play KOF more.
Now, there are A LOT of things going on in KOF, so this will be a slow process, but if I want to be an even remotely competent player, this will be 100% necessary. Beat mashing with hops. Beat hops with st.A/jabs. Running up after blocked j.CD (generally). Punish rolls with throw or fast, long-reaching normals (cr.Bs).
This means I may have to put Nakoruru off to the side for now, though I do want to learn her in the long term. She’s a fairly non-traditional KOF character. Sticking with Ryo/King/Iori, my original team, should be good for now. That said, I don’t have to drop Nakoruru to learn KOF. I just have to make sure I learn it with the other characters and still play KOF with her as much as I can. Perhaps put her anchor so that way King and Iori get more guaranteed playtime. Though I want to run Nako/King/Iori, if I want to stick with Nako, I should probably change that order to King/Iori/Nako for now. Once I learn the basics of KOF better, I can start putting in Geese again. Until then, I’ll stick with Ryo, King, and Iori while mixing in Nako sometimes.
2. Mixup Options More
This is also a general thing I need to work on, but it’s extra important in KOF. For example, if I do cls.D, slide (df.D), Venom Strike with King as a blockstring (something I need to do less often, but regardless), what do I do afterwards? I have many options:
- slide (df.D)
- run up
- hop in
- neutral jump
- roll back (see what the opponent does)
- Tornado Kick
- block/do nothing (see what the opponent does)
Most of these are universal too. So I just mix in a lot of these things. Another situation is if I get the opponent to block a jump/hop CD or heavy normal. What should I do?
- run up (generally good/safe to do)
- block/do nothing (see what the opponent does)
- pressure normally, frame trap
- stagger pressure
- tick throw
- roll back (see what the opponent does)
- hop again
- neutral jump
- pressure normally, end it early, and run in
3. Hit Confirm Better/Don’t Leave Damage On The Table
While this is another thing I need to do better in FGs in general, more so in KOF. I need to be able to convert more off more things. I can’t leave damage on the table. Confirming lights into MAX Mode, even when staggered (giving me less time to confirm). Far reaching pokes into MAX mode. Confirming into super. Anti-airing with supers. Anti-airing with DPs (and possibly doing supers afterwards). Punishing fireballs with supers. If I wakeup DP, cancel it into super. Getting through gaps with DPs, supers, guard point/armored moves (ex: King st.B), or DPs into supers.
With Iori in particular, I need to be able to do rekkas into super. For whatever reason, I’ve found this difficult but I definitely know it’s possible, I’ve done it occasionally.
MKX/Injustice 2 Goals:
Though the life of MKX is coming to its end. I still want to get better at and some of those skills will still transfer to Injustice 2, even though the games are still radically different.
1. Go Through Gaps In Pressure
This is something I really should’ve gotten used to a long time ago, but lack of playing means I never really did. In MKX, this is just by doing whatever armored move I have (with Smoke, EX fade into a far reaching, advancing string to punish). In Injustice 2, meter burn b3s and f3s are the way to go, though armoring through gaps isn’t as important in Injustice as it is in MKX.
I don’t necessarily have to armor either. Utilizing invincible back dashes is a good option. Don’t need meter for it and it may cause an opponent’s move to whiff, at which point I can whiff punish it. Depending on how big the gap is, I may be able to stick a fast move like a low poke in there too.
2. Utilize Low Pokes Better
d1s. d3s. d4s. The lot. For one thing, recognizing when the opponent blocks my low poke and deciding what to do from there. Also recognizing when I block the opponent’s low poke, and counter poking or whatever afterwards. Low pokes into safe specials are also something I should get used to, especially for Injustice 2, where they actually combo.
For Injustice 2, using d1s to catch people dashing up on me will be super important, like it was in Injustice 1.
Again, another thing I need to do better in FGs in general, but I’m especially bad at it in NRS games. I do need to utilize d2s more, mostly for Injustice 2, since they appear to be great anti-airs that lead into full combo. Still important to learn for MKX too, because they are still good anti-airs and can lead into full combo depending on the height.
I also need to utilize characters more specific anti-airs. Like with Cassie, I know s1 is a great anti-air. I also need to consider using her flip kick to anti-air too. For Smoke, I know s4 is a great anti-air. Scorpion s3. D1s for anti-crossups more too (Smoke d3 can anti-crossup too, but Sektor’s is better at that).
For Injustice, it’ll really depend on the character, but d2s seem to be the go-to for now. Regardless, anti-airs are super important in the latest NRS games. Not just for the obvious reason of not getting jumped-in on, but because they lead to full combos more times than not.
GGXrdR (2) Goals:
To be quite frank, I have no specific Xrd goals as of right now. I just want to figure out what the heck I’m supposed to be doing in this game in general. Combos and setups aren’t really too big of a deal for me right now, those just come with looking them up and practice. I just want to know how this game works. What should I be doing in neutral? When is it my turn? What specific game mechanics are important? I know Blitz is important. How should I be moving around?
What’s weird is, I can generally understand what’s going on when I watch people play, but haven’t the slightest clue what to do when I’m actually playing. Generally, I know the things I’m doing wrong in a fighting game and what I can improve on. With GG, I have no idea what to do. I’m just lost.
Now, GG is a lower priority of FG for me, but I bought it and like it, so I still want to be somewhat competent at it. I’ll still stick with Sol for the time being, but I want to try Baiken when XrdR 2 comes out, even though I usually flock to easier characters (execution wise and gameplan wise). She’s just really cool, that’s all. I’ll want to see what Answer can do too. Maybe he’ll be the perfect character for me. If I were really going to choose the right character for me, I’d should probably pick Ky, but I don’t like Ky. And I never play a character if I don’t like them. Maybe Faust too, but I find him kind of boring. Sol is much more fun to me. Plus Faust is kind of weird still and not just aesthetically. RNG items and what not.
I know going through all the missions and tutorials will help a lot, so I should start there. Asking the local Dustloop people (whenever I see them again) will help too. They’re cool guys who can be really helpful. All I have to do is ask.
Being on James Chen’s beginner GG stream, watching Koogy’s stream, and getting help from the chat definitely helped. I’ve gotten a much better grasp and have even started to get basic, non-optimal dustloops down. Definitely some progress, but I still have a long ways to go. I definitely want to stay playing like a complete idiot in this game. This is really the only game I do that in and it’s a lot of fun, but I at least want to be a nut who knows what he’s doing.
Sleep Fighter 5 Goals:
I haven’t been silent on my massive dislike of SFV. I genuinely don’t think it’s a good game. Season 2 hasn’t really helped and arguably made things worse too, despite the more exciting characters being better/top tier for the most part. However, that’s what just about everyone I know plays, so I still play it occasionally. While I don’t really care about getting good at the game and just play other games when I can, I still want to be able to compete with my friends at times. Luckily, I’ve found Ibuki fun. The only character out of the 4 others or so I’ve tried that I find fun. I’m still waiting for Sakura to be in the game, but, until then, I’ll play the cute schoolgirl that’s already playable. She’s a ninja too, so there’s also that. Always wanted to play Ibuki in 3S and USF4 as well, but she never really made sense to me when it came to playing her. She’s way different in this game (for better or for worse) but she just makes more sense to me in SFV. I just wish Capcom would fix her face (among other things in the game). I swear it’s really just her nose. It’s like too big and oddly shapes or something. Just awkward looking enough for that win pose to be whack.
1. Be More Aggressive/Take More Risks
Exactly the same as one of my general ones. In SFV, dash ups are great to do and something I should utilize more. This also goes for Ibuki’s command dash. Not as much in neutral but during pressure or during a combo for a reset. It is unsafe, but sometimes you have to take that risk with Ibuki.
As much as it goes against just about all of my FG instincts, I need to wakeup buttons more. Particularly off setups where a meaty isn’t guaranteed, which will require some MU knowledge. Unfortunately, it’s really good in SFV and with Ibuki’s 3f jab and target combo from it, it’s easy to do.
2. Don’t Just Dash Up On Knockdown
While just dashing up is good in neutral, it’s not always great on knockdown for Ibuki. It’s really only good after light Raida. Any other knockdown, dash up even into her 3f st.LP isn’t guaranteed. On throw for example, I should go for charged V-Skill or f.HK instead as a meaty, if I want a safe meaty.
3. V-Trigger Bomb Setups
I have a very basic bomb setup with Ibuki, but I’m far from consistent with it. I should learn at least one more decent setup. Just some basic left-right, high-low nonsense. That’s I really need out of it.
Tekken 7? Marvel Infinite?:
Tekken 7 is finally coming out not too long after Injustice 2. The game certainly looks incredible, and I don’t just mean visuals. That said, I’m still not certain I’m going to even get it. The SD FGC isn’t really much outside of Capcom games and I fear that the game will mostly be dropped after a couple months or so like MKX and KOFXIV were. Plus, with the all the other games I’m more interested in, T7 is definitely not a priority.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite on the other hand, is something I’m very interested in, gameplay pending. I kind of gave up on Marvel 3 pretty early on because I was too late into it and just generally wasn’t that interested in getting better at it. But the Marvel community is probably my favorite sub-community in the FGC and most of my friends already play it, so that boosts my interest a lot too. Still need to see more information on it and there’s still that skeptic in the back of my brain that doesn’t trust Capcom (especially after SFV), but I’m hopeful.
We’ll see what I end up doing with these 2 games and any other possible fighting games coming out.