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SIMPLIFYING STREET FIGHTER A New Player’s Guide to Preparing for Street Fighter V BY GOOTECKS
Amazon Kindle Edition
SIMPLIFYING STREET FIGHTER Copyright © 2015 by Gootecks All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
FREE BONUS! Introduction About Me A Note about Notation Abbreviations Commas and “XX” The Importance Consistency
Xbox 360, PS3, PS4 and PC Big TVs vs. Gaming Monitors Wi-Fi vs. Ethernet
Fightsticks vs. Controllers A Quick Shopping List Preparing Effectively for Street Fighter 5 The Biggest Mistake New Players Make in Fighting Games Learning Efficiently Aimlessly
A Basic Game Plan with Ryu Corner Advantage Knockdowns
cr. MK xx Fireball for Corner Push cr. HK, the Sweep Basic Mix-Up Game Continuing the Block-String
Baiting Stand Crouch Techs
Jumping and Anti-Air Defense Punishing with a Basic Combo Keeping Them In the Corner Improving Your Execution Setting Expectations Developing a Routine
Set Aside At Least Five Minutes a Day in Training Mode What to Practice Building Muscle Memory for Combos and Other Situations j. HK, cr. MK/cr. HP xx MK Tatsu Jump-In Punish Combo
Level 3 Focus Attack, F+HP, HP Uppercut - Ground Punish Combo cr. LK, cr. LP, cr. HP xx MK Tatsu Hit-Confirm Ground Combo The Best Offense is a Good Defense What Does It Mean to Have Strong Defense? Teching Throws to Improve Your Defense You Weren’t Expecting The Throw You Reacted Too Late or Didn’t Realize You Were in Range You Made An Input Error The Importance of Blocking
Blocking Cross-Ups General rules of thumb for cross-ups: Considering Risk and Reward Scenario #1: Fireballs at halfscreen Scenario #2: Knockdown Pressure Attacking Blocking Throwing Back Dash Putting It All Together Resource Management The Life Bar
EX/Super Meter Ultra Meter Screen Position Where to go From Here Appendix A: Resources Tournament Streams Player Streams YouTube Channels Web Resources Tournaments & Events Appendix B: Glossary Blockstring Chain Combo Chip Damage
Command Grab Focus Attack (MP+MK) EX Meter Footsies Link Combo Meaty Mix-up Neutral game Normals or Normal Attacks Hard knockdown Option Select Quick Rise Supers aka Super Combos Ultras aka Ultra Combos
As a thank you for downloading this book, I’ve included a free bonus that you can find on the Cross Counter Training site. It’s an accompanying audio program that you can use when loading up Training Mode and performing some of the exercises that you’ll find described later in the book. I thought it would be better to use audio instead of video since not everyone has a computer next to their setup. You should listen to it and follow along as best you can. It’s kind of like getting a one-on-one session with me!
Click here to check it out.
This is a guide for players who are looking to prepare for Street Fighter 5. Maybe you are an experienced Street Fighter player, or maybe you’ve been casually observing the fighting game community (FGC) from afar and now you want to jump in. Better yet: maybe you’re somewhere in between. Wherever your interests lie, this guide will show you practical steps you can take to be on top of your game when Street Fighter 5 drops. My goal is to get you to a high enough level of fighting game proficiency prior to the release of Street
Fighter 5, using Street Fighter 4 (and other games in the franchise) as reference, so that you can quickly learn the nuances of the new game. Part of developing any new skill is learning the fundamentals, and solidifying the foundation upon which everything is based. Street Fighter is no different. Even with significant changes to the systems and combos coming to Street Fighter 5, the fundamentals from 4 will still strongly apply. Improving your Street Fighter fundamentals such as execution, space control, resource management and decision-making will ensure that you have a leg up on the competition when SF5 drops.
Before diving in any further, you’re probably wondering who I am, what I do and what makes me qualified to teach you Street Fighter fundamentals. I’m a player, just like you. I’ve been playing since I was a kid from the time I was 9 years old playing Street Fighter II: World Warrior in the arcade during the early 90s. Since then, I’ve played every iteration of the main franchise from SF2 to the Alpha series to the SF3 series until the release of SF4. I started playing competitively while attending college and focused
mainly on Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. Out of all the games in the series, 3rd Strike really inspired me to take my game to the next level as well as produce web content, including my blog, podcasts, videos, and ebooks. As for my competitive streak, I considered myself to be a strong player, although not the best by any means. I trained regularly at Family Fun Arcade (FFA, for short) in Granada Hills, California, which was the mecca of North American 3rd Strike at the time (may it now rest in peace). Guys like pyrolee, Victoly, 5 Star, Amir, and Ken I were the best of the best back then. And me? I was just a mid-tier nobody who was merely trying to move up in the
world. Through consistent playing at FFA, I began to place Top 8 at weekly tournaments and with great effort and dedication I was able to reach Top 4 consistently. Over time, through lots of playing and tournament experience, I gradually improved to the point where I got the opportunity to join Justin Wong’s team to compete for a spot at Super Battle Opera (SBO) in Japan, the then-most illustrious fighting game tournament in Japan. In 2008, we won the qualifying tournament in Chicago and got to represent America at SBO 2008 the same year. No, we didn’t win the whole thing, but it was an immense honor for me to be on the team. For me, this was the first
time that I’d traveled internationally and it was then that I realized then that playing Street Fighter competitively could literally take me places. While in Japan, Street Fighter 4 was already playable in the arcades. Although none of us really had much time to play it during our trip and understand the new game’s systems, it was clear to us that this was an important entry in the franchise. When I returned to Southern California, the competitive landscape had changed dramatically. 3rd Strike, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and the Capcom vs. SNK 2 tournament players had nearly all begun to play Street Fighter 4, which was the new hot
game to play. Nobody really understood how to play Street Fighter 4. The console release had not yet arrived, which meant we didn’t have access to training mode to learn. Instead, everyone learned on the fly in the arcades as a community. Further, capturing gaming footage in HD was much more expensive and quite the endeavor compared to now in 2015. Because of this, very little video content was widely available. If we weren’t playing in the arcades, we had to learn from one another in person or from forum discussions like those found on Shoryuken.com. At this time, I’d arrived at a junction in my life where I felt direction-
less, which only enabled me to pour all of my energy into playing and talking about SF4 in any way, shape, or form. I’d begun to take competing very seriously. I produced blog posts for my new blog--gootecks.com--and podcasts, on which I’d interviewed some of the best players at the time. On top of that I was creating videos and writing ebooks all in service to the franchise which had already provided me with tremendous opportunity. (Incidentally, that ebook helped players transition from 3rd Strike to SF4 and was well-received.) All of these ventures propelled me to produce more and more content. In early 2009, I was fortunate to be flown out to Virginia to compete at
Sinsation, which was the first Street Fighter 4 tournament in America. I ended up winning the tournament, and for a hot minute, the best.
major North entire I was
Not long after that I began working with my partner-in-crime and brother-inarms, Mike Ross. We collaborated on many projects that would eventually become Cross Counter, a YouTube show hosted on Machinima. Eventually, Cross Counter would expand to include several web shows in addition to the original Cross Counter show, including Excellent Adventures, Runnin’ Sets, Cross Counter Asia, and more. With the rapid expansion of Cross Counter, my focus switched from
competition to media and the business side of things. It’d made sense because there was no Capcom Cup, no Sony prize money sponsorship, and very little prize money. It seemed that to continue competing at a high level (which seemed unsustainable at the time) I would have to continue grinding hard at the local arcades. I was not sure this was what I wanted, so I switched focus and gradually stopped competing. I went through several periods alternating between being sick of the game and being sick of the scene. It may have been the announcement of Street Fighter 5 or it may have just been coincidence, but in early 2014 I decided that I wanted to compete again.
It was as if something inside me kept pulling me back into the game. Well, the “game” was now harder than ever because the scene continued to grow, compete, and learn about the game, whereas I had stagnated. It was difficult for me to return to form, and even now, I’m still not satisfied with my performance. Despite that, my return to competition was as refreshing as it was humbling. In deciding to compete again, I had to not only swallow my pride and admit that I had much to learn. But I also had to reacquaint myself with the game and adjust my approach to the current competition. In the 3rd Strike and early SF4
days, playing long hours at the arcade was the norm--and a requirement--to be considered one of the best. Nowadays the arcade scene is next to non-existent in most of the world. It’s since been replaced by extensive practice in training mode, which now plays a huge factor in your success. Another notable difference between the arcade days and now is a heavy emphasis on being a “character specialist.” You stuck to one main character and learned everything about him or her. It may be different in other games or other parts of the world, but as a player coming up in southern California, everyone aspired to be the best with his character in order to set
himself apart from the competition. I’d been ignorant then and thought that any time spent playing a character that wasn’t my main (Urien in 3rd Strike, Balrog in SF4) was time wasted. How wrong I was. As I got back into competition I began to accept that if I wanted to improve as a player, the best place to start would be to learn how to play characters that I didn’t already know how to play. It’s easy for your progress to stagnate when you only play one character. The game can also become very stale, which in turn, also hinders your progress. Learning new characters
and approaching the game differently to become a more knowledgeable and well-rounded player should have been my goal all along. In retrospect, I wish that I had someone to explain a lot of the details and nuances of 3rd Strike and SF4, but competition seemed more fierce and less friendly before. Now I see the value in helping other players improve, whereas before I may not have been so open about sharing tips had I been a top player at the time. Now as I’ve rekindled my love for Street Fighter (that sounds silly even saying it, but it’s true, ha), I’ve also developed a framework for improving as a player. I began lifting weights,
which has taught me a lot about the value of consistency and incremental progress over time. Instead of trying to make huge improvement leaps as a player, I would instead focus on trying to improve gradually and steadily over a long period of time: “patching the holes in my game” as Filipino Champ would put it. In late 2014, I launched a Street Fighter online personal training service with guys like K-Brad, Justin Wong, Alex Myers, and Chris G available to help players of all skill levels. I started training people consistently, finding that most of the guys I work with were new and relatively inexperienced. From my experience training new players, my own knowledge and skills
improved. Of course, I’m still nowhere near the best, nor have I reached my potential, but I’m always working on bettering myself, hoping to pass along some of what I’ve learned to you so that you might excel faster than I had ever dreamed back in 2008. My goal with this guide is to create the resource I wish I had when I first started learning how to play because it probably would have saved me a lot of time and frustration. I’ve learned a lot about the game (and life) in the past 7 years. My hope is that this, and future guides like it, will reflect that sentiment.
Thanks for reading! [email protected]
A NOTE ABOUT NOTATION
If you’re new to playing or reading about Street Fighter, some of the notation in this book may confuse you. Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it soon and most of it will seem self-explanatory after a few times. ABBREVIATIONS We use abbreviations frequently in fighting games because using the colloquial names is confusing for new players. In the 90s, when you looked at Street Fighter arcade cabinets, the buttons were named as follows.
Punches: jab (light), strong (medium), fierce (heavy). Kicks: short (light), forward (medium), roundhouse (heavy). These names are still used by lots of experienced players because they are usually faster to say than “light punch” or “medium kick.” For the sake of clarity, we’ll only refer to the buttons using the abbreviations or official(ly) long names. LP - Light Punch MP - Medium Punch HP - Heavy Punch
LK - Light Kick MK - Medium Kick HK - Heavy Kick Also, we use the following abbreviations to describe which position you must be in when performing a move. st. - Standing cr. - Crouching j. - Jumping We’ll also abbreviate Ultra Street Fighter 4 and Street Fighter 5 as USF4, SF4, and SF5.
COMMAS AND “XX” We’ll also use commas and the “XX” notation to denote when moves are part of a combo or sequence. A comma means that one move links into another. A link is a type of combo where one move finishes completely and the next move connects and continues the combo while the opponent is still in hitstun and cannot block. An example of a link is Ryu’s cr. MP, cr. MP combo. The cr. MP animation finishes completely, putting the opponent in hitstun, then the second cr. MP animation makes contact while the opponent is still in hitstun, making
them unable to block. When you see “XX” used to describe a combo or sequence, it means that the first move’s animation is cancelled by the next move. Some attacks’ animation can be cancelled into another attack if timed properly. This allows for some moves to combo that wouldn’t be able to otherwise, if the first attack was not cancellable. An example of a cancel is Ryu’s cr. MK xx Hadoken. The crouching Medium Kick contains a small number of frames that are cancellable into a special attack. By quickly performing the input for the Hadoken (D, DF, F+P) immediately after inputting cr. MK, Ryu will unleash his Hadoken and if the opponent didn’t
block the cr. MK, the Hadoken will combo. If the opponent does block the cr. MK, the Hadoken still comes out because the cr. MK made contact. Attacks that whiff, or don’t make contact with the opponent, cannot be cancelled.
THE IMPORTANCE OF HARDWARE CONSISTENCY
Before we can dig into the meat of becoming a stronger Street Fighter player, we have to make sure that you have reduced the number of variables that affect the way you play and see the game. Consistent hardware is one of the factors that oftentimes go unmentioned when trying to diagnose why you are having a hard time getting better. I’m not talking about which stick or pad you play on, but rather the rest of your hardware setup. Street Fighter oftentimes require very tight timing and consistency in your execution, with 1-
frame links being very common in combos and setups. Let’s take a moment to think about what a 1-frame link really means. Games like SF4 and SF5 run at 60 frames per second. That means that if you have 1 frame to hit a button or perform a command, you have literally 1/60th of a second. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a tough window to hit to me. With such a tight window of success, it’s not a stretch to say that you want to minimize your chances of error by having the right hardware for the job. Players who play under suboptimal conditions such as a laggy TV, laggy internet, and laggy console will likely come to rely on tactics and
strategies that appear to work well, but only do so against weaker players because stronger players can counter them easily. Let’s first start with the platform you play on. Currently SF4 is available on several different platforms and SF5 will be available on PS4 and PC. You may not be playing on the one that’s considered the standard. Who determines the standard? By and large, the community and major tournaments such as Evo and the Capcom Pro Tour do. XBOX 360, PS3, PS4 AND PC Recently Capcom announced that
USF4 would be played on PS4 for the remainder of the 2015 Capcom Cup tournament. Previous years were played on Xbox 360 and prior to that, PS3 was considered the standard because Evo used it. You may not be aware, but Xbox 360 and PS3 both have different timing when it comes to USF4. According to Display Lag, there is a 1.3 frame difference between the latency of the two consoles. To complicate matters, due to variables like the graphics card and V-Sync settings, PC SF4 can also vary in latency. This means that whether you are just playing offline with friends, playing online in Ranked, or are trying to
compete at offline tournaments, you should be aware that there are differences in the platform which will affect your timing and execution. If you’ve practiced your combos and links a thousand times on a platform different than the one you’re going to be playing on when it counts, it’s likely that you will need to adjust your timing for the tightest combos and setups when it comes to competing offline. This is one more factor that can hinder your progress as a player and it’s the one you have the most control of. Now I know what you’re saying. “But gootecks, Xbox 360 sucks, PS3 is better because blah blah blah.” I can sympathize with that and can appreciate
that there are certain pros and cons for each console. However, we’re not talking about which console is best, we’re talking about which platform is best to practice on if you are trying to compete at the highest level. So please stop thinking of your platform as a console when it comes to competing in Street Fighter and instead just think of the platform as your own personal Street Fighter arcade machine. It doesn’t matter what bells or whistles each platform has to offer when you only think of it as a means to compete. It remains to be seen whether or not the PC and PS4 versions of SF5 have noticeable differences in latency, however, based on the Display Lag tests
of SF4, it’s likely that there will be a slight difference so you should be aware of this when picking which platform you train on. If you don’t already own SF4 for Xbox or PS3, or don’t currently own either console, I’d suggest just biting the bullet and buying a PS4. You can use USF4 to practice on in the meantime and it’s likely that the biggest tournaments SF5 will be played on PS4. BIG TVS VS. GAMING MONITORS I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but unfortunately that nice big HDTV you spent several hundreds (thousands?) of dollars on is not going to help you win
more games. Usually big TVs that are great for watching TV and movies on are not optimal for playing fighting games on due to the tight timing windows required. Feel free to see if your TV is listed on a site like Display Lag and see how it stacks up against gaming monitors that are optimized for performance instead of size. I’m not a monitor scientist so I don’t know why big TVs have a slower response time, but they do and if you consistently play on a laggy TV AND play over wi-fi AND are new to the game, it’s going to skew the way you view and think of the game. The best thing to do is to invest in a monitor with as little lag as possible and
best case scenario, make sure it’s the same monitor that’s going to be used at your local and major tournaments. The previous standard for a long time was the Asus VH series, however, Evo recently announced that they are partnering with BenQ and that the RL2460HT is the new standard. I’ve recently picked one up so that I can practice effectively and to reduce the amount of variables and so that I can feel confident that I will not have to adjust my timing when I compete. As a new player, it may not be worth it to run out and buy a new monitor immediately, however, once you start playing online consistently, it probably won’t take long before you
take some losses that feel like they could have been wins had you not been playing on a laggy monitor/TV. Tight, 1-frame links are common in SF4, and although SF5 provides a bit more leniency with timing windows, execution practice is still very important. If you spend a lot of time working on your combos and execution on a laggy TV then either upgrade to a gaming monitor or start competing offline, you’re going to have to re-learn and adjust your timing. So depending on your budget situation, it may make sense to just bite the bullet as early as possible in your Street Fighter training journey.
WI-FI VS. ETHERNET As you probably have already experienced, you will experience a certain amount of lag while playing online. If you live outside of Asia, chances are this lag will be somewhere in between slightly noticeable to hard to ignore to unplayable. At the current state of online play, this is simply unavailable and unlikely to change in the near future. This means that the best thing we can do is to reduce it as much as possible. The best way to reduce online lag is through our internet connections and the monitor we play on. If you live in an area like I do with only one provider, the best thing you can do is at least upgrade
to the highest speeds. If you’ve already done that, the next step is to make sure that you’re using an ethernet cable to connect instead of wi-fi. Wi-fi is not optimal to play on because of the latency and the sheer amount of signals and noise that are likely crowding the spectrum at your place. Maybe you’re some sort of IT guru that has optimized their wireless for optimal performance and you’ve found a way to reduce extra latency to 0 and are using a different wi-fi channel and you experience no hiccups at all. Well that’s great, but unfortunately, most people are not going to be able to replicate the same results, thereby making ethernet a stronger and simpler choice to play on
because of the lack of variables that can impact the connection. Yeah ethernet can be a pain in the ass but sometimes all you need is a long ass cable and there are other ways of getting it done that work well such as ethernet over power. I recently invested in an Actiontec Powerline Ethernet adapter and wish I had upgraded sooner. I used to run a 100’ ethernet cable from the router in my living room to my office with a second router near my consoles and PC. This was obviously not an elegant solution, but now the Powerline Ethernet adapter works perfectly and I plug my PC and console into the wall which connects to the router in the living room.
FIGHTSTICKS VS. CONTROLLERS Lots of new players see pro players use fightsticks on stream at tournaments and think that they too must use a fightstick if they want to be strong players. This is not true, though there are some advantages to using one. Some of the advantages include: • easy access to all buttons • advanced execution methods like plinking and doubletapping are easier However, there are disadvantages as well. The biggest disadvantage is the
relatively steep learning curve if you’ve never played on one before. Most new players struggle for quite some time when learning how to play on a fightstick because it requires finesse and practice. Another disadvantage is that when you play in person, some players listen to their opponents’ button presses and will look at their fightstick out of the corner of their eye. My personal preference is to play on a fightstick, but that’s because I’ve been playing on them since I was a kid. I also don’t play a lot of other console games on a controller, so I don’t have a lot of experience with them. Ultimately, whatever you are most comfortable with will serve you best.
If you are interested in learning to play on a fightstick or are planning to get a new one for SF5, my recommendation is a Mad Catz TE 2. I’ve been playing on Mad Catz sticks since 2009 and they are my favorite. As of this writing (late 2015), they are currently in short supply but as the release date of SF5 gets closer, you can expect them to be widely available. I suggest getting a PS4 compatible stick because they work on both PS4 and PC so you can play SF5 on either platform. If you currently have a PS3 or Xbox 360 stick, these are likely to work on PC, but will probably not work on PS4 without an adapter which could possibly induce some latency and other
headaches. A QUICK SHOPPING LIST If you are able to take these simple (although possibly expensive) steps toward consistency, you can feel confident knowing that you are not relying on lag tactics or tricks that may work in an online environment and that you are learning the game the way it’s supposed to be played. In some ways, having to invest extra money in your setup can go a long way towards increasing your commitment to becoming a stronger player. Even if you have to save up and buy one piece at a time, when all is said
and done, you will feel more confident in your setup and thus your game. Here’s a quick shopping list in case you are looking for my recommendations: • Playstation 4 • Street Fighter V Collector’s Edition • Ultra Street Fighter 4 on PS4 (to practice on in the meantime if you don’t already have it) • Mad Catz TE 2 Fightstick (though not necessary if you feel completely comfortable on a PS4 controller)
• BenQ Gaming Monitor • Actiontec Ethernet adapter
PREPARING EFFECTIVELY FOR STREET FIGHTER 5
If you’re like most fighting game players, you are hype for SF5. Street Fighter 4 has been around since 2008 and if you’ve been playing for even a fraction of that time, you may feel like it’s time for something new. But as of this writing (late 2015), the release of SF5 is still an undetermined date in the distant future. What about now? What can you, the aspiring SF5 player, do in the meantime to prepare? A lot of people ask me if it’s too late to get into SF4 because SF5 is on
the horizon. The truth is, it is too late to get into SF4 if you’re trying to qualify for the Capcom Cup 2015 Finals and get your share of $500,000. The time for that has long since past and if you are reading this, there’s likely no point in trying to become a better SF4 player for the sake of winning tournaments. The reason for this is because there are so many other strong players out there that have effectively cornered the tournament market. Players like Momochi, Infiltration, Daigo, Justin Wong, Xian, and GamerBee (the list goes on and on and on) will ensure that you never make it “into the money” of a tournament. And those are just the
players that have a chance at actually winning the entire Capcom Cup series. It’s more likely that if you were try to learn the SF4 now and play competitively, you’d get your ass handed to you by a relatively unknown player. There are so many killers out there that have been grinding for years and leveling up and you probably don’t stand a chance. But just because these top players have SF4 on lock doesn’t mean that SF5 will be dominated by the same players. In fact, most of the players that I listed above were not well-known top players until well after Street Fighter 4 was released. This is because when a
new update to the franchise comes out, new players rise to the top and old players fall off. There are many reasons why this happens. It can range from players getting busy with real life (hey, it’s just a game, right?) such as a new job/career opportunity, a serious relationship or getting married, or just straight up not having the fire inside them to continue competing at a high level. Conversely, there are likely just as many, if not more, players that are ripe for ascending the competitive tournament ladder. Maybe they’re about to start college/university, or just watched the hypest SF4 match they’ve ever seen in their lives, or maybe they simply have
extra time on their hands due to having a cushy job. Whatever the case is, with every passing moment, a new Street Fighter player is born. It’s possible that you could be one of those players and if so, this guide is for you. Even if you don’t aspire to be one of the best in the world and simply want to be the best on your block, the best of your friends, or the best on the Internet -- you still want to know what you can do between now and the time SF5 comes out in order to be better prepared. Well, I have good news and bad news for ya! The good news is that there is a lot that you can do to prepare for SF5. The bad news is that some of it
may not be what you consider “fun” or be one of the reasons you like Street Fighter in the first place. However, if you are committed to improving, which is a sign of not just a strong Street Fighter player, but also a characteristic of a successful individual, there is a lot that I can show you that will help you get a leg up on the competition. In order to be as prepared as possible for SF5, your Street Fighter fundamentals must be honed in a deliberate and systematic manner. I’ve trained so many people in SF4 and almost all of them share the same weaknesses: poor execution, lack of ingame awareness, and no game plan.
In order for you to become a stronger player, you must improve your fundamentals to the point of proficiency and although SF5 is much different than SF4, the core competencies that you must have in order to become a strong player still apply. Execution, risk/reward decisionmaking, footsies, and a strong game plan are still required in SF5, even though there are lots of differences compared to SF4. My goal is to help you improve on these aspects of your game so that you will already be well-versed in these areas before SF5 is released. By taking the time now to improve your fundamentals now, the SF5 learning
curve will be reduced because you can focus on what makes SF5 unique and different, instead of getting your fundamentals up to par. Instead of trying to learn a new character and a new game simultaneously, you’re going to learn one character now (spoiler alert: it’s Ryu!) in SF4 and transfer those skills over to SF5 when the time comes. Sure there will be plenty of differences, however, the core fundamentals and game plan will carry over. Now let’s go into depth about why you’re likely trying to do too much in SF4 and how we can simplify the way we look at the game to improve our results.
THE BIGGEST MISTAKE NEW PLAYERS MAKE IN FIGHTING GAMES
I’ve watched thousands of fighting game players--from the best and worst in the world to everyone in-between--play over the years. By far, the biggest mistake that new players make when learning to play is that they simply try to do too much. Even the best of us were guilty of this at some point, and understandably so. The game has six buttons, the fightstick seems foreign, and you have no idea how anything works; so you simply try to mash as many buttons as possible
and just hope for the best. It’d be a miracle if you win. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but mashing buttons is not the way to succeed in fighting games obviously. Most new players seem to think that the key to victory is overwhelming the opponent with a flurry of attacks (shout outs to Adam Sessler). Unfortunately, this strategy (or lack thereof) tends to be hit or miss, especially if the opponent has any amount of skill and experience. Despite a whirlwind of seemingly fast and strong attacks happening on-screen, the reality is that--to a well-trained eye-those same attacks are not actually fast nor strong.
Think back to any kung-fu movie, in which the hero must journey to the top of the mountain to train with the master. The hero, despite his best efforts, cannot land a solid hit on the master because the master has seen it all before. Not only does the master know what the hero will do but also where to stand in order to not get hit. Think of fighting games in a similar fashion. You might think that because you can beat your brother, your neighbor, your cousin, or all of your friends by mashing buttons that you’re ready to take on the world; but you’re wrong (and arrogantly so). To an experienced player, you’re Beatrix in Kill Bill, climbing to the top
of the steps, wielding a sword against Pai Mei, and ultimately falling short of making an impact. It pains me and other experienced players when new players just mash buttons and try to do as much as possible because it’s exactly the opposite of what they should be doing. When you are new to fighting games, you need to focus on as little as possible because the human brain can only process a couple of things at once. You might think that there are dozens or hundreds of moves that you or your opponent could do at any moment during the match, but in reality, there are usually less than a handful of options that are practical, while only one or two that
could be considered “smart” or “safe.” How do you know what these options are? It’s simple. You must learn these fundamentals of fighting games: execution, spacing, normals, punishing, and resource management. By respecting the genre enough to spend a little bit of time on each of these, you will progress much faster than those who prefer to learn via trial and error. In this guide, I’m going to reduce the seemingly overwhelming amount of information for you to only focus on what’s necessary. By focusing on learning one thing at a time and how it relates to the overall goal of steady improvements, you will stop wasteful practice and actually practice what
LEARNING EFFICIENTLY VS. PLAYING AIMLESSLY
Many new players get excited about fighting games and Street Fighter because they’ve seen their favorite top players compete in high-level tournament matches with flashy combos and characters. They think that pure rushdown offense and overwhelming their opponents lead to long- and shortterm success, and thus can’t wait to take their turn on the big stage and finish off their opponent with a flashy combo. Rushdown - A style of relentless offense where the
defender has no chance to breathe, coined and made famous by one Southern California’s finest OGs, Alex Valle, in the 90s. Unfortunately, even most who think they have gathered a fair amount of experience will face the harsh reality of this strategy sooner or later. That’s not to say that rushdown offense doesn’t work quite well, however, you need strong fundamentals and new players don’t have the experience or knowhow yet. Without strong fundamentals-execution, footsies/space control, antiairing, and decision-making--your path towards winning this way is going to be
needlessly long. The old saying of “you have to learn how to walk before you can run” applies here. It can be a bit soulcrushing to learn that you are awful at something that gets you so excited, but everyone has to start somewhere. No one starts off immediately amazing, but the path towards effective learning and slow, steady improvements is clear; that path begins with the character Ryu. Ryu is essentially the posterboy of the entire Street Fighter franchise, and yes, he is in SF5. He is like the “Adam,” from which all other fighting game characters have been derived (or built specifically to fight against him). In fact, practically every other fighting game
franchise of note since Street Fighter has integrated a Ryu-like character with similar fundamentals in their game. Ryu also happens to be the most used character when fighting opponents online, and it’s not hard to see why. Ryu makes good use of all the Street Fighter engine’s tools, such as Focus Attack, Supers, Ultras and Option Selects. Plus, he has strong V-Gauge options in SF5. Since he’ll be in SF5, the skills and fundamentals you develop will easily carry over. The same cannot be said for most of the flashy SF4 characters (even Ken’s SF5 iteration is dramatically different from that in SF4). Clearly, Ryu is the best choice for beginners.
Focus Attack - (MP+MK) - A SF4-exclusive mechanic that allows the player to absorb one hit of an attack and swiftly retaliate. Supers aka Super Combos - A Special Move that requires four stocks of EX Meter to perform, usually resulting in high damage and a serious in-game threat. Ultras aka Ultra Combos - A Special Move that requires
either Level 1 or Level 2 Ultra Meter to perform. Similar to a Super Combo in damage output and execution, but different for each character. Many of the techniques that you will learn to get better in SF4 will also be important in SF5 such as anti-airing effectively with Shoryukens and normals, as well as how to do basic Ryu combos. Before, I had always prided myself on using “cool” characters or characters that I felt fit my style or strengths. In 3rd Strike, that was Urien, and in SF4, it
was Balrog and Rose. All of these characters were good in their own right, but I wish I had taken the time to truly learn Ryu in each game. Doing so would have forced me to strengthen my weaknesses (which at the time were my execution and decision-making). If I had not taken the time to learn both Ryu and Evil Ryu in SF4, I would not have had an early edge on the competition recently at E3 2015, where I took first place in a SF5 tournament (and won a new PS4 as the prize!). Even though you may not find Ryu to be the most exciting character, you should understand that there’s something even more exciting: winning. I’d rather win with a “boring” character than
constantly lose and struggle with a “cool” character. Don’t worry, you don’t need to stick with Ryu forever--just long enough to be competent and understand the situations and decisions you’ll frequently have to make whilst playing. With that out of the way, let’s get started!
A BASIC GAME PLAN WITH RYU
Part of the difficulty that I experienced as a new player came from a lack of strategy, no game plan. Most of my wins came from a reaction or a mistake that the opponent made, not through imposing my will and controlling the match. This worked well up to a point, but eventually I hit a wall that kept me from proceeding because I didn’t develop a better game plan. This game plan I’m about to share with you is based on screen positioning and properly using normals, specials, and combos, but it also gets you thinking about how to best make use of your
available in-game resources, such as EX Meter, Supers, and Ultras. EX Meter - the bar at the bottom of the screen that builds as you score hits, take damage, and/or perform improved versions of special moves. As you build more stocks of meter, you gain additional options such as EX Specials, Super Combos, and Focus Attack Dash Cancels. Here is a basic game plan that you can use with Ryu and adapt for other characters later:
1. Use a combination of your normals and Fireballs to control space and force the opponent to the corner (cr. MK xx Fireball and cr. HK [sweep] are your main tools to do so). 2. Once you’ve scored a knockdown, establish your basic mix-up game. 3. Continue to apply ground pressure after you score a throw, or it is teched. 4. Be ready to anti-air when the opponent jumps, which will be increasingly likely as
they get pushed closer to the corner and lose more life. 5. Be ready to punish with a basic combo if the opponent is reckless and Uppercuts on wake-up or throws an unsafe Fireball. 6. Once they’re in the corner, keep them there and apply pressure safely with a combination of cr. MK xx Fireball and throws, without letting them jump out of the corner or throw you into the corner. Now that we have a basic strategy,
let’s examine each of these elements a little closer and figure out how to execute and implement each of them. CORNER ADVANTAGE AND KNOCKDOWNS Generally, most Street Fighter characters share a similar game plan of wanting to gain screen position advantage by pushing the opponent to the corner and scoring a knockdown. The opponent is weakest in the corner because movement options are limited. Once you have cornered your opponent, most characters have difficulty escaping, even if they have a teleport. If you can keep them trapped in
the corner, you should be able to systematically dismantle their defense and end the round. Yes, it is possible for the opponent to jump out and over you, but with experience, you will learn to look out for this option and know how to counter it and keep them in the corner. Ryu, for example, can do a great job of keeping the opponent in the corner with a combination of his Fireballs, antiairs, and throws. Make your primary goal to push the opponent into the corner, then we can work backwards from there to determine the most effective ways of doing so. Your secondary goal is to score a
knockdown. Typically in the neutral game, this is done by landing a sweep (cr. HK) or throw. Knockdowns are important because they allow you to begin a mix-up series. A mix-up is an offensive scenario in which the opponent must guess what type of attack you will attempt next (i.e. low, mid, overhead, or throw). The neutral game refers to any part of the match where both players are on their feet and jockeying for position
through the use of their movement, normals, and specials. In addition to beginning your mixup game, you also get enough time to push the opponent a bit closer to the corner by dashing while they are still knocked down. This is slightly different in SF5 because there are almost no hard knockdowns, which means that the opponent will likely Quick Rise. However, it’s still an important part of SF5, albeit just a bit faster in pacing compared to SF4. A hard knockdown refers a
knockdown where the opponent cannot Quick Rise. In SF4, moves that cause a hard knockdown include sweeps (usually cr. HK), throws, Supers, and Ultras. Quick Rise - a technique in SF4 and SF5 where your character will get up faster after being knocked down, performed by pressing any two buttons as you hit the ground. The advantage of using Quick Rise is that your opponent has less time to set up his next move.
CR. MK XX FIREBALL FOR CORNER PUSH Now that we know we need to push the opponent to the corner and score knockdowns, let’s work backwards from there and find the best ways of accomplishing this. The number of available tools at Ryu’s--and every other character, for that matter--disposal can be easily overwhelming and make it difficult for you to determine what is or isn’t important. Let’s begin by identifying his best normal: it should have good range, be cancelable into a safe special move, and do decent damage on its own. His
crouching medium kick (cr. MK) easily fits these criteria. It has good range, cancels into his Fireball, and does a respectable 80 damage by itself. It can be used both offensively and defensively: to push the opponent to the corner and keep the opponent at bay, respectively. cr. MK xx Fireball Exercise Here is a simple exercise that can show the power of cr. MK xx Fireball. 1. Set the Dummy to No Block.
2. Walk Ryu to where you think the maximum range of cr. MK is. 3. Hit cr. MK. 4. If it makes contact, take a tiny step backwards and repeat. 5. If it doesn’t make contact, take a tiny step forward and repeat. 6. Repeat until you are comfortable with the maximum “sweet-spot” of cr. MK’s range that will make contact and not whiff. 7. Perform the simple combo
of cr. MK xx Fireball. If the game doesn’t register a 2-Hit combo, you’ve either messed up the timing or the input. We’ll talk about execution later, but this guide assumes that you at least somewhat understand the basics of doing combos like cancelling normals into special moves. Once you are confident with the maximum range of cr. MK xx Fireball, the next step is to see what happens if the
dummy blocks. Now this is crucial because the purpose of performing this combo is to gain screen position from the opponent’s blocking, not because it does a lot of damage. You’ll notice that it takes only three blocked cr. MK xx Fireballs in order for the opponent to be effectively pushed to the corner. At about this distance from the corner, most players will panic and start making mistakes. from the corner that.
Next we need to examine cr. MK more closely so that we can become proficient at using it at the proper range. Similar to the cr. MK xx Fireball exercise before it, we need to find the maximum range where cr. MK connects. To do this, first make your best guess as to cr. MK’s maximum range, using the dummy and the small Training Mode squares at the bottom of the screen to measure the distance, and press cr. MK. If it doesn’t connect, take a tiny step forward. If it does, take a tiny step backwards until you figure out where it both will and won’t make contact. Obviously, this will take some trial and error, but this nuance is very important to master: whiffing a normal in the heat
of battle can be the difference between life and death. cr. MK xx Fireball will be your goto technique for pushing the opponent into the corner. CR. HK, THE SWEEP Ryu’s sweep is an important component of his game because it scores a hard knockdown. A hard knockdown happens when the opponent cannot Quick Rise, giving you more time to set up your next move or to push the opponent
further toward the corner. Sweeps, throws, command grabs, Supers, and Ultras all count as hard knockdowns. This is a great move to use as a whiff-punish, or if your opponent walks carelessly forward. We must go through the same process of figuring out its max range as we did with cr. MK. Sweep Whiff Punish Exercise 1. Start Training Mode and pick Ryu for both characters. 2. Go to Training Options and set Dummy to Record.
3. Record the Ryu Dummy performing one cr. HK while holding down-back to block. 4. After the cr. HK animation finishes, Pause and return to Training Options. 5. Set Dummy to Playback. 6. The Dummy Ryu will now perform the sweep in an endless loop. 7. Walk in and out of Dummy Ryu’s sweep range and try to hit him with your own sweep as his leg retracts. 8. If you did it properly, the Dummy Ryu will still be in
recovery from the sweep and will not be able to block. 9. If you did it too late, Dummy Ryu will be able to block. 10. If you get hit, that means you walked too far forward. 11. If you score a Counterhit, that means you waited too long, and you hit him out of the startup animation of his next sweep; try doing it sooner. This will definitely take a few tries to pull off consistently,
but after a few minutes of practice, you should be able to whiff-punish Dummy Ryu’s sweep with your own sweep pretty easily. BASIC MIX-UP GAME The goal of your mix-up game is to condition your opponent to expect a certain attack and then counter their counter. Using the cr. LK, cr. LP blockstring is a good way to gather data on their tendencies. If they try to tech often, you can switch gears and use cr. MP xx Fireball. If they are good at blocking, you can go for a throw or overhead. If they mash
Uppercut, you can block immediately after your cr. LK, cr. LP and then punish them when they land. Either way, Ryu’s mix-up game is an important part of his game that you must become proficient at in order to improve. Because throws are easy to execute, used very frequently on offense and defense, and do a significant amount of damage, the threat of the throw should always be in the mind of both players which is part of what makes the mix-up game strong. However, just because it’s a strong option and looming threat, doesn’t mean that always going for a throw will be a longterm recipe for success.
Long term success requires a strong understanding of each option in your mix-up game and not relying too much on any one option. This means knowing what option(s) your opponent has to counter your mix-up and then adjusting your mix-up option based on what you predict your opponent’s next move will be. Ryu’s mixup game usually begins after a hard knockdown is scored such as from a sweep or a soft knockdown such as an anti-air Uppercut. After successfully scoring either type of knockdown, Ryu usually has enough time to dash forward, then time a meaty cr. LK to hit as the opponent stands up, followed quickly by cr. LP.
This is the foundation of his mix-up because we have several options we can follow this with, depending on what the opponent does. Also, cr. LK must be blocked low which means that the opponent must either get hit or do a wakeup Uppercut or other Reversal move in order to escape, which is very risky. If the opponent blocks this blockstring, Ryu can follow it quickly with a throw, referred to in this instance as a tick throw. The tick throw technique usually uses a light attack or two to put the opponent in blockstun, then is immediately followed by a throw, giving the opponent the illusion of being thrown while in blockstun.
A blockstring is a sequence of attacks that flow together, forcing the opponent to continue to block or get hit by one of the attacks. Most commonly they begin with light attacks, though mediums and special moves can be included as well. If the opponent does not block the meaty cr. LK, cr. LP blockstring due to either hitting a button or inputting a throw on wakeup, Ryu can hit confirm into cr. HP xx MK Tatsu. A hit confirm is a technique where the player has enough time to see whether or not an opponent got hit by an attack
and then decide whether to continue the attack sequence or stop. Usually hit confirming requires a lot of practice because you only have a moment to determine whether or not the hits were successful and there is typically substantial risk in continuing an attack sequence if the hits were blocked. If the opponent does a wakeup Uppercut, the cr. LK, cr. LP sequence will lose due to the startup invincibility of the uppercut. Using this blockstring is a good
way to gather data on the opponent because usually beginner players will get hit by a tick throw if they are experienced enough to block on wakeup and don’t just mindlessly mash Uppercuts every time. However, slightly more experienced players will begin to tech the tick throw because they’ve seen it so many times. This is still useful information to have about your opponent. Once players begin to tech throws and tick throws, you must adjust your mix-up game accordingly. This is usually done by continuing the the cr. LK, cr. LP blockstring with a cr. MP xx Fireball or by trying to bait their throw tech.
Continuing the Block-String Using Ryu’s cr. MP after the cr. LK, cr. LP block-string is effective because it has a fast startup and can be cancelable into Fireball. It’s very similar to cr. MK in this regard and also is aligned with our goal of pushing the opponent to the corner. It allows us to continue pressuring the opponent, while building meter at the same time. Forcing the opponent to block a Fireball at this distance can put us in a good range to counter their next move. An inexperienced player at this point might jump toward you, so be ready to anti-air with MP Uppercut or cr.
HP. They might also try to throw their own Fireball afterwards in fear, hoping that will get you off of them. This is easily punished by jumping forward over the Fireball and comboing into MK Tatsu. Or they might also stick out cr. MK or cr. HK, but you’ll be at a range where you can whiff punish relatively easily (after some practice and experience) with your sweep. Whatever the opponent chooses to do afterwards, the cr. MP xx Fireball block-string is a strong option in most situations due to it’s low risk. It can also be useful to do this
block-string even if the opponent tries to stand or crouch tech. Baiting Stand Techs and Crouch Techs By now, far into the game’s life cycle, most players have at least heard of crouch tech, one of the simplest option selects in the game. Crouch tech is a technique where a throw is inputted while crouching. If the opponent attempts a throw, the throw is teched even though you are crouching, assuming you teched within the allotted window. If the
opponent does not attempt a throw, crouching Light Kick will come out. Crouch techs are usually considered relatively safe options on wakeup and other pressure situations where you suspect the opponent will attempt a throw. This is because sticking out a cr. LK is usually far less dangerous than whiffing a throw. Attempting to tech a throw while standing, or stand teching, is extremely dangerous against strong players because if you get baited and the throw whiffs, you are likely to eat a combo, get knocked down, and likely face another mix-up situation on your wakeup.
However, crouch techs can still be dangerous against more experienced players, due to the potential for Counterhit combos. Counterhits are scored when a move’s startup frames are interrupted by another move’s active frames. Generally any move if timed properly can score a Counterhit if the opponent hits a button at the wrong time. Counterhits do 25% more damage and stun than their non-Counterhit counterparts (that’s a mouthful, ha). Additionally, Counterhits provide extra
frame advantage to the attacker, allowing some combos to be possible when starting from a Counterhit that wouldn’t otherwise work. Once the opponent knows that you are likely going to attempt a throw after the meaty cr. LK, cr. LP sequence, they will probably crouch tech or stand tech. If you think they will stand tech, you can make their throw whiff by taking a small step backwards immediately after cr. LP instead of taking a small step forwards to attempt the throw. Executed properly, you’ll be out of their throw range and in perfect position to punish with a basic combo like cr. MK xx MK
Tatsu or a throw of your own. If you think they will crouch tech, you can time an attack with fast startup such as cr. MP to hit their cr. LK and score a Counterhit, then hit confirm into a combo such as cr. MK xx EX Fireball or a simple sweep. In either case, the opponent is likely to be knocked down again and you can continue to apply pressure. It’s worth noting that Counterhits can be extremely difficult to time properly in your mix-up game because of the strict timing required. This is not something that you as a beginner need to spend much time practicing because there are more important elements to
work on first. Instead, think of Counterhits as a possible bonus for executing your blockstring correctly. Counterhits are a very advanced topic that take a lot of time to master, however, it is important to understand how they work so that you can have a better understanding of the risks of crouch teching when you’re on defense and the risk the opponent incurs while you’re on offense. Also, you should be aware that a Counterhit cannot be scored when punishing a whiffed throw. This means that stand teching is in fact safer than crouch teching in the sense that you are
never in any risk of being hit with a Counterhit only combo. Speaking of crouch teching and stand teching, there are differences in the tech window as well. Stand teching gives you a ten-frame window to input the throw command after the throw starts, while crouch teching only gives you a seven-frame window. Three frames or 1/20th of a second may not seem like a big difference, but when you’re a new player dealing with online lag and other hardware factors, it is. For now, I recommend that you only stand tech on defense instead of crouch tech because of the longer tech window
and because mashing crouch tech is a bad habit that will be useless in SF5. In SF5, crouch tech has been removed in favor of a throw being executed regardless of the direction the stick is pointing when the throw is inputted. That means that it doesn’t matter whether you’re holding down, down-back, down-forward, back, or forward: if you input a throw, that’s what will come out. So you might as well get used to not crouch teching in this game since you won’t be able to soon. In my opinion, crouch teching has allowed lots of SF4 players to get away with sub-par defense because most
players are not able to consistently punish crouch teching effectively due to the tight timing windows of trying to Counterhit a light attack. JUMPING AND ANTI-AIR DEFENSE Over the course of a match, opponents will eventually attack from the air. Defending against these and instilling fear of jumping into the opponent is a critical element of your game. To newer players, jumping often seems like the correct move because they are not experienced in the ground game. New players typically don’t
consider the fact that most experienced players can punish jump-ins quite easily and lose quite a bit of life in the process. That’s not to say that jumping is always a poor choice. Sometimes, the attacker can correctly read the opponent’s next move which might be punishable by a jump attack that was timed and executed properly. In these instances, a competent attacker will deal damage if the opponent was careless with their neutral game and didn’t antiair in time. Generally, however, you should aim to stay grounded for most of the match. Jumping in on your opponent frequently or jumping away to escape usually puts you in a risky position and
you are likely to be punished by a more experienced player. Jump-ins are strongest when the opponent does not expect them, so overusing this option will lead you to getting less mileage out of it. Ryu has several strong anti-air defensive options to deal with attacks from various angles. We’ll cover them in detail in the next chapter, but for now, just know that MP Shoryuken, cr. HP and st. HK are his most common anti-air defenses. PUNISHING WITH A BASIC COMBO Over the course of a match, you
will various opportunities to punish your opponent for making a mistake. Your ability to make the most of these opportunities by inflicting the maximum amount of damage is critical to winning. Sometimes these opportunities will come due to an error on their part such as a whiffed or blocked Shoryuken or other special move with lots of recovery. Other times, an opponent will make a mistake like throwing a Hadoken at the wrong time and you’ll be able to jump over and combo them. No matter the situation, you need to raise your execution to a level where you can perform the appropriate combo at the right time. How do you know what combo is best for the situation? It’s a
combination of experience and practice. Experience plays a factor when it comes to picking the right combo because you need to take into account the distance between you and your opponent, the screen position, as well as the resources you have at your disposal such as EX and Ultra meter. We’ll dig deeper into combos and execution in the next section. KEEPING THEM IN THE CORNER If you’ve executed your game plan properly, eventually you’ll find that you’ve cornered them. Congratulations! This is likely the first step in securing the victory, but it won’t be the last.
Now that they’re in the corner, this is where you need to be extra observant about their tendencies. Maybe they’ve jumped a few times before you’ve put them in the corner or you’ve gotten hit by a wake-up Uppercut or two. This is the time where you need to recall what you’ve learned thus far about your opponent and make sure that you adjust your game plan accordingly. Most players, when trapped in the corner, tend to try to jump out. All you need to do to counter this is take a step back and be prepared to anti-air with MP Shoryuken or cr. HP. If you knock them down in the corner, you must be wary of their wake-
up Reversal because it can be a good way for them to catch you off guard and escape. The best way to avoid getting hit by a wake-up Reversal is to take a step back so that you can block or be far enough away for it to whiff. There is a delicate balance here because if you walk too far back, they won’t feel any pressure to wake-up Reversal. If you are too close, you may get thrown on their wakeup and then you’re in the corner! Usually a player’s tendencies will become more prominent when they are in a high-pressure corner situation so I believe it’s usually a smarter option to err on the side of caution once you have them cornered because you can systematically dismantle their defenses
with a combination of safe blockstring pressure, throws, and overheads.
IMPROVING YOUR EXECUTION
Whether you want to be the best in the world, the best in your city, or just the best in your household, one of the most important parts of your game is execution. That means being able to perform the right move at the right time no matter what. If you choke under pressure, you won’t be able to win when it counts. Winning when it counts should be your aim regardless of whether you are going up against other new players or trying to win Evo. But if you can’t anti-air effectively, hit all your combos in a clutch moment,
or whiff-punish consistently, you’re constantly going to let yourself down. Not because you lack knowledge, but because you lack practice, focus, and discipline. The level of execution required in Street Fighter is what separates it from other game genres. No disrespect meant to other games, but since execution is so ingrained in this and other fighting games, a high ability to execute is a prerequisite for success and should be an important part of your game. Now, the next step is to figure out where you currently stand and how you can improve.
SETTING EXPECTATIONS AND DEVELOPING A ROUTINE Just like how other hobbies, interests, and passions in life require plenty of practice to develop muscle memory, fighting games also require your full-on dedication towards mastery. Any talented guitar player, quarterback, weightlifter, or artist will tell you that you must practice your craft (playing fighting games, in this case) frequently and with purpose in order to improve. Think of your execution as training to be in peak condition, similar to how wrestlers, martial artists, or boxers train themselves to be in excellent physical condition. In fact, training your execution
skills is similar to a structured exercise program with set and repetition schemes. Even if you don’t physically exert yourself as, say, a boxer or wrestler would, you can still imagine yourself getting “in-game exercise” via regular execution practice. Accept that progress will be slow in the beginning. Learning any new skill takes dedicated time and effort, but you’ll get it--slowly but surely-- over time. If it were fast or easy, everyone would do it! So, how much time does it take and what is the best way to practice? The good news is that it doesn’t take that long during the day. The bad
news is that it takes a relatively high number of days. However,everyone will progress at different rates, and that’s okay. As long as you follow this method (and do it consistently), you will see progress, which in turn, will motivate you to continue your training. SET ASIDE AT LEAST FIVE MINUTES A DAY IN TRAINING MODE If this is something that you’re serious about, you need to dedicate time to do it almost every day. Initially, five minutes a day is all it’ll really take in order to build the habit to practice. No need to cancel your plans or quit your
job, but you do have to practice enough to make progress (even a little) every time. Every time you’re in Training Mode, remember to go to Training Options and set Attack Data and Input Display to on. This is so when you make an execution error or have trouble learning a combo or sequence, you can diagnose where you went wrong. Attack Data is also important because you want to learn how much damage and stun each of your moves do. What to Practice Knowing what to practice is just as important as how to practice. When
you’re new to fighting games, you should learn to react to situations immediately with the correct response. This means you must learn the ins and outs of your character. After all, how can you expect to be good or improve if you cannot use your character effectively in a do or die situation? Since you are learning the game with Ryu, let’s start with his essentials: • movement • dashing backward • Hadoken • Shoryuken • Tatsumaki
• cr. MK xx Hadoken • throwing • performing combos require EX Meter
• being able to perform either Ultra Combos • being able to anti-air with the appropriate move • using Focus Attack and Focus Attack Dash Cancels • controlling normals
Learn to execute everything on that list above until you can execute each with minimal effort and at least 90%
accuracy. Movement Movement is by far the most important part of execution when you’re first starting out. This is because if you aren’t able to control your character well enough to quickly move into close range when an opportunity presents itself or move away when you’re in danger, you will always be at the mercy of your opponent. When talking about movement as a whole, I’m referring to walking, dashing, and jumping. Generally, Street Fighter is a ground-based game, meaning that most of your time will be spent on the ground.
Yes there are character that excel in the air, however, most characters do not and it’s important to have a strong ground game because that is a characteristic of a strong player. The reason why jumping is generally not as good as walking or dashing is because you cannot block in the air and jumps are slow enough to be punished by an observant opponent who is waiting for you to take to the air. Although it is difficult for new players to resist jumping as well as to anti-air effectively, this is a stage that you must get past when it comes to becoming a stronger player. A good way to do this is to try to resist jumping as much as possible so that you will
develop a stronger ground game. In order to develop a strong ground game, we must become an expert at the tiny nuances of ranges as well as walking in and out of dangerous and safe ranges. This is a skill that must be developed over time because first you have to develop a keen eye for these nuances. Usually new players have very jerky walking speeds because they are unfamiliar with the process of simply holding the fightstick or controller for the amount of time necessary for smooth movement. The reason why you need to learn how to control your character well enough to walk back and forth smoothly is because strong opponents typically
have smooth movement which allows them to walk in and out of range of being hit by you. A good exercise to work on this is as follows: 1. Start Training Mode and pick Ryu for both characters. 2. Observe the Training Mode boxes on the ground and wall of the Training Mode stage. 3. Pick the one to the left of the mid-screen line and try to walk in and out of the box, with Ryu’s right foot starting on the mid-screen line. 4. Practice walking left and
right within the box, with Ryu’s left foot as your guide. The purpose of this exercise is getting your eye and hands used to the process of walking in and out of this box. Make an effort to try and make Ryu walk back and forth as smoothly as possible. You want relatively long fluid movements back and forth, not short, jerky movement because that won’t help you in a real match. Practicing Dashing Depending on the controller you use, dashing can either be easy or frustrating. (For the new player, it’s
probably the latter.) . With a stick, it can be especially awkward at first depending on whether you are lefthanded or right-handed, and which side of the screen you are on. Some players have a “stronger side” that they prefer to fight on, typically because it’s easier for them to dash or perform special attack motions. If you find it easy to dash on one side but difficult on the other, you must then focus on improving the weaker side in order to balance your strength as much as possible. Let’s look at your own physical body to make a point: The more you use the dominant side and neglect the nondominant side, the more imbalance
you’ll experience in physical strength. You can confirm this by lifting a pair of dumbbells in both hands, and notice that it’s more difficult on one side. This is the same thing. Don’t be the player that obviously plays effectively only on one side of the screen and ends up losing because of it. A good way to get better at this is to do the fighting game equivalent of running laps on a track: dash from the left corner of the screen to the right corner, and then back again. If you can’t do this 10 times consistently with minimal effort, this should be the first thing to practice when you begin your execution training for the day. Flawless
because it can be a highly versatile and effective tool for both offense and defense. On offense, it helps close the gap between your opponent after a knockdown and pushes them toward the corner. On defense, it creates space between you and your opponent, and helps you get out of tight situations. Practicing Hadoken A Fireball is important because it is useful in combos and to control space. Practice the down, down-forward, forward motion because a majority of Ryu’s game depends on using it effectively. Plus, the motion is very commonplace in Street Fighter (and
many other fighting games) so it’s a good investment your time anyway. The best way to practice throwing Fireballs or anything else in fighting games it is to turn on Input Display (or Key Display in SF5) so you can see what buttons and directions you’re hitting on your controller. At this point, it doesn’t matter whether you are playing on a pad, stick, or keyboard--whatever you are most comfortable with will work. (Note that I’ll be referring to the controller as a stick because that’s what I use and am most comfortable with.) All that matters is whether or not you can hit all 8 directions and all 6-8 buttons. If using a stick, here’s a simple exercise. Most people use their left hand
to control the stick and hold it between their middle and ring fingers. You should practice just doing the down, downforward, forward motion on the stick repeatedly on the left side and then again on the right side of the screen. The goal of the exercise is accuracy, not speed. You’re just getting a feel for how much pressure you need on the stick. Practice this motion for ten seconds, then practice going down, down-back, back on the stick. Repeat for another ten seconds. After working on just the motion, begin to integrate hitting LP after doing the motion. You don’t need to press LP at
the same time because that may be too much for your muscle memory at this point. Just press LP after rolling the stick from down to forward and once you get used to pressing the button after the motion, then begin to do the motion a little faster. After you’ve done the motion a little faster, focus on pressing the button a little sooner. Finally after a few minutes of practice, it should begin to feel natural. Now try to throw ten Fireballs in a row. If you screw up, that’s okay; look at your inputs and see where you went wrong. Maybe you hit the punch button
when the stick was at down-forward or up-forward instead of forward. That’s very common, but with practice it’ll happen less and less. Eventually, it’ll become secondnature and you will be able to throw ten Fireballs in a row on each side of the screen. That’s great because it’s the Street Fighter equivalent of adding more weight to a lifting movement. In the same way that a muscle grows stronger when you consistently stimulate it with heavier and heavier loads, your muscle memory for execution also grows stronger over time from repetition.
Practicing Shoryuken Ryu’s iconic uppercut is his strongest anti-air option, does a lot of damage, and is used in common combos. When you can Uppercut at will, you make it harder for opponents to jump in on and can maximize damage in combos. Many games are won and lost because a player missed an opportunity to Uppercut. So to get better, practice the forward, down, down-forward motion by itself (similarly to how you practiced the Fireball motion). Aim to be accurate; you don’t have to perform the motion quickly when starting out. Practice this for five minutes a day
once you can throw a Fireball consistently on each side. Slowly, you will build upon your Ryu arsenal. Practicing Tatsumaki The Tatsumaki motion is the opposite of a Fireball: down, downback, back. It can be useful in combos and going through projectiles. It’s not as commonly used as his Fireball or Shoryuken, but it’s important to learn next. If you learned how to Fireball properly on each side, a Tatsu is no harder because the motion is exactly the same, except with a kick button instead of punch.
Practicing cr. MK xx Fireball This is your most useful ground tool because it does decent damage (if it connects), does chip damage (if it’s blocked), is difficult to punish, and is relatively low-risk. The crouching Medium Kick’s animation can be cancelled into the Fireball by doing the input immediately after pressing cr. MK. If the game doesn’t say 2-Hit Combo, you did it wrong. Either your motion was inaccurate (highly likely), you pressed the punch button too soon (also likely), or you did the motion too slowly (possible, but usually not that likely).
Practice hitting this when right next to the opponent and from maximum crouching Medium Kick range. This will help you develop an eye for that specific range, in which you can make contact, yet avoid being so far that your cr. MK whiffs which will cause no Fireball come out. Practicing Throws Throws are important because they beat blocking. Typically, if someone is blocking and not taking damage, he can easily be thrown. This threat keeps players from just blocking the entire match. Learn how to utilize throws well
because they a useful offensive and defensive tool. Plus, they’re easy to perform (LP+LK), do a non-insignificant amount of damage, and are an important part of any competent player’s game. If you don’t throw in Street Fighter, it’s like playing rock, paper, scissors without knowing scissors exist. Here’s how to get started: see how far you can stand from the Dummy while performing a throw and still have it connect. If it misses, this is called whiffing a throw, which puts you in a disadvantageous state called recovery frames. While in recovery, you cannot block and are vulnerable to being hit. Throws are best used when you think your opponent will be blocking,
getting up from a knockdown, or after blocking another attack. However, if the other player expects it, be aware that they can input the same throw command (LP+LK) to tech the throw, which means they will escape with no damage. This requires a combination of good reactions and anticipation, but becomes easier with time and experience. Tick Throw Exercise A tick throw is a throw technique designed to catch the opponent off guard, by forcing them to block a fast attack and then throwing immediately after block stun ends. This is a common and effective tactic in all Street Fighter
games. 1. Set the Dummy to Crouch and All Block. 2. Get as close to the opponent as possible and press cr. LP 3. Immediately after your cr. LP finishes, stand up by returning the stick to neutral and throw with LP+LK 4. Once you are comfortable with tick throwing with cr. LP, add a cr. LK before it If the throw whiffs, you were either too far or did the throw too soon. If you are too far, take a small step forward
and try again. Remember this is why we took the time to find our max throw range. If you were definitely within throw range and it still whiffed, that means that the Dummy was still in blockstun from your light attack. Without getting too technical, blockstun means you need to wait a split-second longer for it to work. Blockstun is a state a character is in after blocking an attack. During blockstun, you cannot be thrown. The amount of frames that you are put into blockstun for depends on the attack you blocked. Generally light attacks have short blockstun and heavy attacks and Special Moves have longer blockstun.
Practice your new tick throw technique until you can do it comfortably ten times in a row on each side without the throw whiffing. Throw Teching Exercise Once you are comfortable performing throws and tick throws of your own, it’s time to practice teching throws. It takes practice to tech throws because of the limited amount of time you have once the throw begins to input your own throw command. Teching throws successfully and consistently requires a combination of correctly anticipating a throw, having fast reactions, and inputting the throw
tech correctly. 1. Set the Dummy to Record 2. Record Dummy Ryu doing a cr. LK, cr. LP, followed by a throw. This is the same sequence that you just practiced. 3. Set the Dummy to Playback 4. The Dummy Ryu will perform the tick throw on an endless loop 5. Block the first two attacks low, then roll the stick from down-back to back and input the throw immediately after
blocking the cr. LP The timing is crucial. If you did it right, you’ll see Technical appear onscreen, and you will be pushed away from the Dummy. If you either recorded the tick throw incorrectly on the Dummy or mistimed your own throw tech, you yourself will instead be thrown. It may take several tries to get it right. This may seem like a tedious process at first, but as your execution improves so will your ability to recreate real match situations such as this one so you’ll be able to quickly find solutions to them, and hopefully to avoid falling for the same tactic again.
With practice, you will become accustomed to the timing required to tech throws, as well as when to look out for them at various ranges and times during your matches. Practice Whiff-Punishing Whiff-punishing is the art and science of exploiting your opponent’s missed normals and special moves with your own normal or special counterattack. It’s important because when you establish that you are skilled in whiff punishing, your opponent will likely be hesitant to recklessly stick out normals which will make them more defensive. If
your opponent is reluctant to attack due to fear of being whiff punished, you can easily push them to the corner, then systematically dismantle their defense. The simplest example is a whiffed sweep. 1. Set the Ryu Dummy to Record and record him doing one crouching HK while holding down-back to block. 2. Stand outside of its range and see how close you can get without getting hit. Once you have a good idea of its max contact range, you can walk inside and outside of it
carefully and not get knocked down. 3. Next, practice walking near the Dummy’s sweep and hitting it with your own sweep at max range. The goal is to hit the Dummy’s leg as it retracts while avoiding getting hit yourself. You’ll know that you executed correctly when the Dummy gets hit but the game doesn’t say Counterhit onscreen. If the Dummy blocks (you were holding down-back when you recorded the sweep, right?), you did your own sweep too late. If the game says Counterhit, you did your sweep too soon
because you’re hitting the startup frames, not the recovery frames. After a few minutes of practice, you should be able to do this pretty consistently, or at least be better at it than you were when you started. Once you are able to whiff punish sweeps with your own, try cr. MK next because that is your most practical ground tool. This is harder because the recovery is faster, but still important to practice. Practice Anti-Airing Once you have learned to control the ground through cr. MK, sweeps, and
Fireballs, your opponent has no choice but to take to the air. Your ability to antiair consistently and effectively usually means the difference between life and death in the game. Many newer players tend to jump frequently. You want to avoid doing this yourself yet be prepared to unleash antiairs effectively. Ryu has several anti-air tools for different angles and situations. Anti-Airing with Shoryuken His most damaging anti-air is his Shoryuken (good thing you practiced the motion until you could do it ten times in a row consistently and easily on each side, right? Right??), commonly referred
to as Uppercut. If you neglected your Uppercut training, here’s another opportunity to practice. Shoryuken Anti-Air Exercise 1. Set the Ryu Dummy to Record 2. Time a j. HK to connect on your Ryu’s shoulder area. If you hit the button too early, he’ll connect on your Ryu’s head, which is higher than what we want. If you wait too long, the kick won’t come out in time before the Dummy lands. 3. Set the Dummy to Playback
and practice anti-airing with MP Shoryuken. The reason you use MP Shoryuken is that it has the most invincibility and is cancelable into FADC Ultra. Although FADC Ultra will not be in SF5, antiairing with MP Shoryuken is still an important skill that will carry over to SF5. Time the Uppercut to hit as “deep” as possible, meaning that you Uppercut at the last possible moment before Dummy Ryu makes contact with your Ryu. This is to ensure maximum damage and invincibility. Notice the damage difference when you Uppercut too early and you only get the first hit compared to
when you do it late and score both hits. It’ll take practice, and again, just a few minutes of practice a day will go a long way!. One interesting way to practice anti-airing is to use the Barrel Crusher bonus stage in the game. This is something that I hadn’t thought of as a technique before until I saw it in a video recently, but it makes perfect sense. Even as an experienced Ryu player, it still took me a few tries to nail all 20 barrels with a MP Shoryuken, so give it a shot. This exercise will teach you to time your Uppercut as late as possible because if you only get the first hit of the Uppercut, it won’t do enough damage to
break the barrel. Anti-Airing with Normals Sometimes you either won’t be in range or won’t have enough time to react to a jump-in with an Uppercut. Luckily, Ryu has a few other tools that can be used as anti-airs such as st. HK and cr. HP. Standing Heavy Kick is good for when the opponent jumps in from long range. This is a strong tendency of new players because they haven’t learned that walking across the screen is safer and more effective than jumping. Here’s how to practice:
1. Set the Dummy to Record 2. Record j. HK to connect near your shoulders 3. Set the Dummy to Playback 4. Dummy Ryu will jump and attack in an endless loop 5. Position yourself relatively far away and hit st. HK as Dummy Ryu begins his descent This may take a few tries and you will probably need to hit the button earlier if you are getting hit or if the attacks trade. Crouching Heavy Punch (cr. HP) is good at a closer range. This can be used
to stop nearly any air attack if executed early enough. This can be a strong alternative to relying on MP Uppercut early on in your training which takes lots of practice to perform in a clutch moment. You can practice anti-airing by using the same Dummy Playback recording and simply standing closer to him before he jumps. Once your execution reaches proficiency in these areas, you can move onto the next stage of execution practice which is learning how to practice combos.
BUILDING MUSCLE MEMORY FOR COMBOS AND OTHER SITUATIONS
Now that you have built the muscle memory for executing Ryu’s basic moves, the next step is to extend that muscle memory to combos and other situations such as combos. Learning Ryu’s basic combos will help you understand how to build muscle memory for any character, as well as help get you ready for SF5 since most of the muscle memory will be similar, albeit not completely the same. Before going any further, you must first understand the way the combo engine works both in SF4 and SF5, so
that you can diagnose your execution when something doesn’t seem to be working. Familiarize yourself with the different types of combos below: . Links A link refers to a combo sequence in which one move’s animation finishes completely and puts the opponent in enough hitstun to allow the next move to connect before the opponent can block again. An example of a link combo is Ryu’s cr. MP, cr. MP. The
crouching medium punch animation finishes completely and the second one connects while the opponent is still in hit stun. Even though cr. MP can be cancelled into a special move like a Fireball, normal attacks generally cannot be cancelled into another normal, they can only be linked. Chains A chain is a sequence of normal attacks that can be cancelled into another normal attack--typically
itself or another light attack. An example of a chain combo is Ryu’s cr. LP xx cr. LP. You can chain multiple crouching light punches together in a combo. Note, however, that you cannot cancel into a special move from a chain. For example, cr. LP, cr. LP xx MP Shoryuken works, but only if you pause long enough to have the second cr. LP link after the first one. If you do the crouching Light Punches too close together, they will chain, not link, causing the
Shoryuken not to come out. Cancels A cancel occurs when a normal attack’s animation is cancelled into a special move. Usually the cancel window is only a few frames, meaning that if you tried to cancel towards the end of the animation, it won’t work. An example of a cancel is Ryu’s cr. MK xx Fireball. You need to perform the motion for the Fireball immediately after you press cr. MK. If you
do it too late in the animation, the Fireball won’t come out. Here are Ryu’s most important combos: • j. HK, cr. MK/cr. HP xx MK Tatsu • Level 3 Focus Attack, F+HP, HP Uppercut • cr. LK, cr. LP, cr. HP xx MK Tatsu • cr. LK, cr. LP, cr. MP xx EX Fireball • cr. LK, cr. LP, cr. LP, cr. HK
J. HK, CR. MK/CR. HP XX MK TATSU - JUMP-IN PUNISH COMBO Learning to perform this jump-in combo is important because as fight other characters with projectiles, sometimes you will get the opportunity to jump over one and punish using this combo. It is especially effective against newer players because they will likely find it difficult to anti-air you (unless they also read this book ;)). The reason for using MK Tatsu is that it pushes your opponent toward the corner--right where we want them--and won’t accidentally put you on the other side like HK Tatsu sometimes could. Further, cr. MK can be used in
place of cr. HP if you jumped from a bit further away. Understanding the distance from which you jumped in is an important detail because if you’re too far away, cr. HP will whiff, causing you to drop your combo. Breaking it into Segments You can practice combos more effectively by breaking up the combo into as many segments as necessary to build your muscle memory for that segment. The combo can be broken down into two or three main segments: 1. j. HK -> cr. HP 2. cr. HP xx MK Tatsu*
* Depending on your execution level, MK Tatsu may be a segment of its own First, practice jumping in with Heavy Kick and linking cr. HP when you land, aiming to hit the opponent between the waist and the shoulders. This is what’s called a deep jump-in. If you try to hit too low, the attack will whiff, and if you hit too high, the opponent may be able to block before cr. HP comes out. Practice this until you can do it ten times in a row easily on both sides and at varying distances. Next, practice cancelling cr. HP into MK Tatsu. If you haven’t yet
reached the point where you can do MK Tatsu every time effortlessly, I suggest you work on that first. I find it easier to hold DownForward on the stick while I hit HP, because it’s easier for me to roll from Down-Forward to Back than it is to try to do it from Down. This is because you may accidentally start the motion from Down-Back instead, which will not give you the input required for the Tatsu. Only once you’re able to do this segment ten times in a row should you put the two segments together. You’ve already been practicing linking cr. HP after the j. HK and cancelling cr. HP into MK Tatsu, so learning these two separately should feel
much more manageable than it would have been learning the whole thing at once. For any determined beginner, it ideally should take no longer than five to ten minutes to successfully and effortlessly perform this combo at least 50% of the time. Of course, it will take more time to reach 90% accuracy, but this is a good start. LEVEL 3 FOCUS ATTACK, F+HP, HP UPPERCUT - GROUND PUNISH COMBO The ground punish combo is important for its ease of execution and solid damage. In SF4, you can start it
with a Level 3 Focus Attack if you are punishing something that leaves the opponent in the air for a long time, such as after a blocked Gouken’s EX Tatsu or Ken’s Ultra 1. The other benefit is that it teaches you how to dash after a Level 2 or 3 Focus Attack, since the cancel window is earlier than you might think and this timing is usually tricky for new players. Breaking It Into Segments 1. Hold Focus (MP+MK) until the character flashes, release, and as soon as his fist makes contact, dash forward by tapping Forward twice. After
you can do this ten times in a row easily, you can move on. 2. Input a dash, then hold Forward and press HP immediately after the dash ends. This teaches you the timing needed to connect after the Focus Attack crumples the opponent. If you hit the button too early, he’ll just dash and nothing will come out. If you do it too late, the opponent will have recovered from the Focus Attack and will either be able to block or will pop up and be reset. 3. Continue to hold Forward until you see the second hit of
the Solar Plexus, then immediately perform the rest of the motion for the Uppercut. Remember to do each segment separately until you can do it easily ten times in a row before moving onto the next segment. Note that in situations where the opponent is not dizzied or in the air long enough for a Level 2 Focus Attack, you should still use F+HP, HP Uppercut to punish an attack like a blocked HP Uppercut or Guile’s Flash Kick. CR. LK, CR. LP, CR. HP XX MK TATSU - HIT-CONFIRM GROUND
COMBO The hit-confirm ground combo has a few variations that can be done based on what the opponent does, making this sequence the foundation upon which we’ll build most of our offense. Breaking it into Segments 1. cr. LK, cr. LP, cr. HP - this segment has a chain and a link. The chain is the two crouching light punches and the second one links into cr. HP. 2. cr. HP xx MK Tatsu - if you practiced the first jump-in
combo, this one should theoretically be easy for you since you’ve already built it into muscle memory. How to Practice It to Simulate a Real Match Let’s consider the following two scenarios. If the opponent blocks cr. LK and cr. LP, our next move is to attempt a throw--specifically a tick throw, which was introduced in an earlier section. (Don’t worry, I’ll go over it in more detail still.) If the opponent gets hit by cr. LK
and cr. LP, follow up with cr. HP xx MK Tatsu because cr. HP forces the opponent to stand up on hit. If you use a different button, such as cr. MP, and the opponent is crouching, the MK Tatsu will whiff. If the opponent is standing, either button would work, but HP still does more damage and is therefore the wiser choice. In order to practice this effectively, set the Training Mode Dummy to Crouch and set Guard to Random. This is for practicing hit-confirming to determine whether or not the cr. LK, cr. LP sequence was blocked and then making the choice to immediately throw or continue into HP xx MK Tatsu. If the Dummy doesn’t block, you
should have enough time to confirm into cr. HP xx MK Tatsu. This may seem daunting at first, but if you practice this consistently for five minutes a day, it will become much easier.
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE
Usually once players learn the basics of footsies and can hit a standard punish combo relatively consistently, the next learning plateau they hit is a weak defensive game. Footsies refers to the process of jockeying for position on the screen usually using longer range normals. Usually a mix of light and medium attacks are used to throw off the opponent’s ability to judge the distance
effectively and then whiff punish with a medium or heavy attack. If you’re like most new players, panic quickly sets in when you’re knocked down while the opponent is near you. You might cycle through some common options like a wake-up Uppercut or throw, or maybe you hit random buttons and pray for a miracle. Do these situations sound familiar? Don’t worry, with some focus and discipline, you’ll make it through. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE STRONG DEFENSE?
Typically, players with strong defense are very difficult to beat. Imagine that you can’t open someone up because he techs your throws, blocks your overheads, and seemingly can withstand an endless amount of corner pressure. That’s a difficult-to-beat defense that separates good players from the greats, so let’s step your defense game up. Teching Throws to Improve Your Defense Teching throws is commonly the weakest area on defense among beginners.
A throw tech is when your throw gets neutralized due to the opponent also pressing the throw command (LP+LK) at nearly the same time. In theory, it sounds easy, but in practice, especially when playing online, it ends up being difficult and frustrating. Players usually fail to tech throws due to one or more of the following circumstances: 1. You didn’t anticipate the opponent’s incoming throw, plain and simple. 2. You did anticipate a throw was coming but reacted too
late due to poor execution, online latency, etc. 3. You didn’t realize he was within throw range due to your unfamiliarity with a grappler’s command grab range. 4. You made an input error due to lack of practice and precision. The above are all very common in new players because throws can be a deceptively complex part of Street Fighter. Now let’s examine what you can do to reduce the chances of any of these situations happening to you in real matches.
YOU WEREN’T EXPECTING THE THROW Not expecting a throw is probably the most common reason that new players get thrown. You probably were not aware that a throw is so commonplace and important to your game. That’s okay, we’re going to fix that now. The best way to learn how to integrate throws into your game is to commit to throwing the opponent every single time you get near them or knock them down. Obviously, this is not a high-level strategy and won’t work against more
experienced players, but that’s not the point. The goal is to get used to constantly looking for throw opportunities so that you gain a better understanding of how they can impact the flow of the match. Action Step: Play five matches and attempt at least one throw per round. You Reacted Too Late or Didn’t Realize You Were in Range This is also very common, especially online where various factors like internet traffic, latency, monitor lag, and flat out not having practiced enough
can heavily influence your game. Basically, the window to tech a throw in SF4 once it’s begun is between seven and ten frames. For a game that runs at 60 frames per second, you have approximately a sixth to a tenth of a second to input your own throw. That’s not a lot of time, which means that your ability to successfully tech a throw depends partly on your reaction time and partly on anticipating the opponent’s throw attempt. Oftentimes, throws are teched not because the opponent has amazing reflexes but because they also attempted a throw at nearly the same time. When considering the already small window you have to tech a throw, combined with
online latency of anywhere between 50150ms for most connections, you can see why it’s easy to get thrown. There’s no perfect solution to solving a latency issue since even the latency between every online match will be different. However, familiarizing yourself with the range of your opponent’s throws is a good step. Since each character has a different throw range (Zangief’s Spinning Piledriver has a longer range than regular throws, for example), you should take the time to carefully measure the opponent’s max throw range from standing and crouching positions.
You Made An Input Error The throw command (LP+LK) appears to be simple on the surface, but during an actual match, it can definitely be easy to mess up the input. This can happen if you’re unfamiliar with how to position your fingers on the fight stick (if you’re using one), or it could also be from a lack of teching practice. To the latter point, much of fighting games rely significantly on muscle memory, so newer players will benefit greatly from spending the time to hone teching throws. Refer to the previous chapter for how to practice throws in training mode. As for input error, there are a
number of different variables: you could be missing the button slightly or your timing may be off and you didn’t hit the buttons simultaneously. One trick I’ve found useful to make this easier is to go to Button Config and set one button to Throw. Either the PPP or KKK button can be set to throw, which you can access more easily with practice. The advantage of a one-button throw tech is that fewer input or timing errors can occur. Plus, if you become proficient in double-tapping buttons, you can effectively double your chances of teching a throw that would otherwise require two fingers pressing two buttons two times (that’s a mouthful). If you’re playing on a controller,
setting one button to Throw is fairly common as well, so don’t feel embarrassed to try it since it could quickly fortify your defense. THE IMPORTANCE OF BLOCKING In addition to the ability to tech throws, another component of strong defense is knowing how and when to block. Blocking is performed by either holding back or down-back on the controller when the opponent attacks. It seems deceptively simple, however, new players frequently struggle with blocking because they are oftentimes overwhelmed by the apparent speed of the fight. A good rule of thumb
to remember is that if you’re not sure what to do in any given moment, your default action should be to block low. This is because blocking low beats nearly every single offensive option the opponent has. The two notable options that beat blocking low are throws (both regular and command throws) and overheads (which must be blocked high). Remember that normals in SF4 do not do chip damage, so one can conceivably block low the entire round, tech every throw, and react and block high if the opponent goes for an overhead. In SF5, blocking normal attacks incurs a small amount of grey life damage, making blocking slightly riskier
due to the possibility of the opponent scoring a clean hit. However, this is just something you’ll have to get used to. The most important situation where you’ll need to learn to get used to blocking is after a knockdown. This is typically where new players struggle the most because they are not familiar enough with their defensive options as well as their opponent’s offensive options. The most common instinct for a new player when they get knocked down is to Uppercut on wakeup. This is grossly unsafe and should almost always be avoided due to the high risk and relatively low reward. This is because a more experienced player, after getting hit
by one wakeup Uppercut, will expect another one to follow in the next knockdown situation. If a more experienced player correctly predicts your wakeup Uppercut, you will likely lose at least 25% of your health bar due to the long recovery of your Uppercut as you fall back down to the ground. This can be game-changing damage in the mid-game and round-ending damage in the late game as the opponent is likely to use resources like EX moves, Supers, or Ultras. By making an effort to block on wakeup instead of trying to recklessly Uppercut your problems away, your defense and mental fortitude will
improve and you will make fewer risky decisions. Blocking low and reacting to throws and overheads is generally the safest option after getting knocked down. After blocking a few attacks, you should be able to back dash to safety and reset the situation by returning to your footsies/neutral game. The reason you want to block low instead of high is because generally overheads are slow and easy to react to and most characters cannot do massive amounts of damage after connecting with one (with Dudley being a notable exception). Also, most damaging combos start from low attacks and mid attacks can be blocked high or low,
generally making blocking low a better option than blocking high. Remember that blocking beats all attacks except for throws, so in addition to needing to react high to block overheads, you’ll also need to react to throws by teching. It’s worth noting again that if you think the opponent will throw you, you can also back dash on wakeup or Uppercut (or jump back, but this is not advisable due to how long it takes to land and recover). Against a grappler like Zangief who relies heavily on throws and command grabs like Spinning Pile Driver, you may need to more frequently risk a wakeup Uppercut or back dash on wakeup to escape to
safety. However, this is not a failsafe solution as eventually a competent grappler will catch on, read your back dash, and punish you accordingly. In addition to blocking low on wakeup, you must also remember to block low after nearly every single move. This is an important habit to get into because if you whiff a normal and your opponent did not punish fast enough, you’ll have the opportunity to block their attack. However, if you forget to block low every time by default, you’ll get hit due to being careless. This is extremely important in the neutral game, especially when you are trying to advance forward and push the
opponent to the corner with cr. MK xx Fireball and sweeps. BLOCKING CROSS-UPS In addition to blocking on wake-up, there will also be situations where you are forced to block a cross-up either while standing or on wake-up. These situations can be tricky, especially in SF4 which is riddled with ambiguous cross-ups and unblockables. While there is no guaranteed way to block every cross-up, it’s worth spending a moment to talk about the mindset that goes with them. Cross-ups are blocked by holding the other direction on the controller,
meaning if you are on the left and the opponent is on the right and performs a cross-up jump-in, you must hold right on the controller in order to block. If you continue to hold left as though the jumpin were aimed to hit in front, you will get hit and likely eat a large combo. The best way to defend against cross-ups is to consider when they are useful and when they may put you in a bad situation. Oftentimes I see newer players go for cross-ups when the opponent is cornered, inexplicably putting themselves in the corner. Yes, it is true that most experienced players would not expect you to put yourself in the corner with a cross-up, therefore there is a possibility that your
cross-up will work. However, this same caliber of experienced player will likely be able to keep you in the corner for the duration of the round, thus defeating your master plan of confusing your opponent with an unexpected cross-up. Using cross-ups like this should be avoided almost 100% of the time. A stronger use for a cross-up is when you are in the corner and a crossup jump-in will get you out of the corner while still keeping your opponent in blockstun. I would argue that even while mid-screen a cross-up is not as effective as making your opponent think you will go for the cross-up.
General rules of thumb for cross-ups: • Do not put yourself in the corner for the sake of going for a cross-up. The screen position advantage is more important. • If you can condition your opponent to block in front a few times after a knockdown, a cross-up the next time you are in that situation is more likely to hit. • Cross-ups are usually not safe against characters with a 3-frame Reversal like a Shoryuken.
• Most cross-up jump-ins do not put the opponent in a lot of blockstun, meaning that it is possible to mash out a Reversal such as a Shoryuken which you will not be able to block if you attack immediately after landing, expecting them to just sit there and block. • An ambiguous cross-up can be a great way to end the round if the opponent is near death. Ryu’s jump in MK Tatsu is a good example of a move that usually hits unsuspecting opponents and can even be linked into Super afterwards.
CONSIDERING RISK AND REWARD
Your ability to make smart decisions quickly contributes largely to Street Fighter success. There are many situations in the game that are not dependent on execution, but rather rely on your ability to predict the opponent’s next actions. In fact, every move in the game carries with it an element of risk that must be weighed heavily in your decisions. When you compete against a stronger player, you can bet they will certainly be trying to figure out the best approach to deal with each move in your arsenal. Consider the following scenarios.
SCENARIO #1: FIREBALLS AT HALF-SCREEN you and your opponent are standing about half a screen away from each other. Your opponent throws a Fireball, which you block, and you respond with a Fireball of your own. The opponent correctly predicts you’ll throw a Fireball, then jumps in and combos you with a jump-in Tatsu combo while you are still in recovery from your Fireball. In addition, you are pushed significantly farther to the corner so you’ve lost a large amount of life and screen position. In SF4, Ryu’s Fireball does 70 damage, which is about 7% of the average character’s health bar. Ryu can
punish a projectile with a simple combo ending in a Tatsu (j. HK, cr. HP xx HK Tatsu) for about 238 damage. I mention damage points because when you take the risk/reward of a Fireball counterattack into account, the reward (counterattacking with Fireball) is not worth the risk (getting punished by the jump-in). By throwing a Fireball at an unsafe range, you are risking losing more than three times the amount of health as you would deal if the Fireball connects with the opponent. That’s not to say the Fireball is never a good option; only that the risk of throwing it is high in that situation. In Street Fighter, there is almost never one universally correct answer. Instead,
there are only possibilities and shades of grey. After blocking a Fireball from halfscreen, instead of immediately responding with a Fireball of your own, let’s instead consider these alternatives if we expect a second Fireball from the opponent: • Neutral jump • Jump forward • Block • Focus Back Dash • Focus Forward Dash • HK Tatsu
Each of these carries its own risk as well, of course. If you jump forward and the opponent doesn’t throw a Fireball, you are likely in range to eat an Uppercut for 130 damage. If you neutral jump and the opponent doesn’t throw another Fireball, the opponent will likely close the gap between you and you may lose any screen position advantage you may have had. If you Focus Forward Dash or Focus Back Dash, you will take grey life damage of the Fireball, which you will then lose completely if you get hit again before it recovers. You also either lose
screen position because of the back dash, or put yourself in a potentially more dangerous situation by dashing forward. If you try and Tatsu, it’s possible that you will pass through the Fireball if timed properly, but you also risk mistiming it, eating the 70 damage, losing screen position, and being knocked down. If you simply block, you lose a measly 15 damage and an insignificant amount of screen position. This is usually the safest option, yet the ones that most newer players use the least. Why? Likely because of their fear of death by chip damage.
Chip damage is damage incurred from blocking Special Moves, Super Combos, or Ultras. In SF4, normal attacks do not do chip damage. In SF5, normal attacks do grey life damage that is similar to the chip damage amount from specials, however because it is grey life, it can be recovered quickly once you are away from the opponent. Most players avoid walking forward and blocking Fireballs because they fear that the opponent will simply Fireball them again and again until they die. This is an extremely unlikely and somewhat illogical scenario, as most players would get bored of throwing endless Fireballs at some point, whereas a more experienced player will simply
stop throwing Fireballs and instead continue pushing you into the corner. If you do the math, you’ll see that 15 damage on a lifebar of 1000 health is no big deal. Hence, it’s merely a test of will and mental strength to walk forward and block a large number of Fireballs. SCENARIO #2: KNOCKDOWN PRESSURE Knockdown pressure is also referred to as the Japanese word okizeme. This refers to the guessing game that must be played by the attacker and the defender after a knockdown is scored. The attacker must make an educated
guess as to whether the defender will block, throw, or attack on wakeup. The defender must make an educated guess as to whether the attacker will attack, throw, or block. These are simplified options of course, but you get the idea. Generally, attacking beats throwing, throwing beats blocking, and blocking beats attacking. This is the rock, paper, scissors nature of fighting games and breaking the game down to these options can help simplify our decision-making process. To illustrate this, consider the following Ryu vs. Ryu scenario: Both players are jockeying for position in the middle of the screen by
walking back and forth, using cr. MK and Fireballs. Ryu A catches Ryu B offguard with a sweep (cr. HK), then dashes forward to close the gap. Now both players are forced to make a decision: what each will do on Ryu B’s wake-up. Let’s consider each of Ryu’s basic options through a risk/reward mindset. On wake-up, Ryu’s options are generally: attack, block, throw or back dash. (Yes, technically he could also jump, but we’re going to lump jumping in with back-dashing for now for simplicity’s sake.) Attacking
Ryu can wake up with any attack, ranging from a normal to a special move with invincibility like an Uppercut. However to things simple, let’s just say that his only attack is an Uppercut because it is Ryu’s most high-damaging non-throw move that doesn’t require EX or Ultra meter. Going with a rock, paper, scissors game as an analogy for in-game decisions, let’s assign attacking to rock, blocking to paper, and scissors to throwing. Observe: In the aforementioned instance, attacking on wake-up with Uppercut (rock) will beat throwing (scissors), but will “lose” to blocking (paper).
Why does the Uppercut lose to blocking? Because it’s assumed that if a competent Ryu player blocks another Ryu’s Uppercut on wake-up, he will be able to punish effectively with a damaging combo. If the opponent attacks on Ryu’s wake-up, it’s likely that due to the startup invincibility, the Uppercut will beat any of Ryu’s normal attacks. Yes, it is possible to beat one Uppercut with another, but that’s too complex for our example here. Blocking Blocking low is the safest option when getting up from a knockdown
because normal moves don’t do chip damage, and you generally only have to worry about being thrown or hit by an overhead, which you can immediately react to if you anticipate it anyway. With the rock, paper, scissors analogy, blocking beats attacking because normal attacks don’t do chip damage, but it loses to throwing. In Street Fighter 5, normals do grey life damage so you can’t sit and block forever. This amount is so insignificant that it’s not worth considering in this example. Most newer players don’t feel comfortable blocking on wake-up because they either fear getting thrown (due to low competency with teching
throws) or fear overheads, which typically don’t do very much damage and almost never lead to large combos (though Dudley is an exception). They also probably don’t yet understand the risk/reward factors if they haven’t been properly punished for Uppercutting on wake-up enough times when they’re not supposed to. Just play against an experienced player: you’ll learn not to Uppercut on wake-up very quickly, whereas the high consequences are less obvious against other new players who may make the same choice. Throwing Once players have gotten killed
enough for Uppercutting on wake-up and learn the power of throwing, they usually move on to the wake-up throw because of their inability to block. This is seemingly a good option because it does solid damage, and if the opponent throws, they’ll tech their throw. If the opponent walks up and blocks after expecting a wake-up Uppercut, or mis-times their meaty attack, the throw will land successfully for 130 damage. As mentioned, it seems like a good option, but it’s risky. If the opponent does a meaty attack, the throw will lose to it because throws have startup frames. Even though they seemingly come out instantly, they actually do not and will be beat every
time by a meaty attack. A practical move in this instance would be Ryu’s cr. MP or cr. MK because they are both cancellable into Fireball. Meaty attacks can be any attack that has been timed to make contact as the opponent stands up from a knockdown. Meaties could vary anywhere from a light attack sequence like cr. LK, cr. LP to a cr. MP or even a Fireball, depending on the range and situation. The goal of the meaty attack is to force the opponent to block on wake-up or get hit. Generally, meaties will beat
(non-EX command grab) throws and attacks without start-up invincibility but are inferior to attacks with startup invincibility, such as Uppercuts, Supers, and Ultras. Throws are also risky because if your opponent takes a step back as you go in for a wake-up throw, it will whiff and put you in recovery frames, allowing your opponent to punish you heavily. This was a huge element of prior Street Fighter games such as 3rd Strike, in which whiffing one throw in the corner could easily result in death. Therefore,
generally only a good option if you think that your opponent is going to throw you (which does happen frequently) or do nothing and block (which is unlikely to happen). Back Dash Back dashing is a wake-up option that is new and unique to Street Fighter 4 because they have start-up invincibility. In previous Street Fighter games, as well as SF5, back dashes do not have invincibility, meaning that you cannot escape wake-up pressure as easily. Back dash messes with the rock, paper, scissors’ analogous structure of the game because it adds an additional
possibility of “escape.” To describe this “escape” in rock, paper, scissors terms: if your opponent did not throw rock, paper, or scissors and instead forced you both to “shoot” again. This is why veteran players often complain that Street Fighter 4 is “noobfriendly.” Yes, there are certainly ways to punish back dashes such as a hard read or advanced tactics like Option Selects--but they can be very frustrating to deal with. Some characters such as Rose and Chun Li have significantly better back dashes than others, exacerbating their annoyance. Although it might seem like back dashing is always a good option because it gets you out of trouble, back dashing
too much will make you predictable and keep you from developing a strong defense. If you’ve been relying on back dashing in SF4, you are setting yourself up for a quick and certain death in SF5, when it becomes painfully obvious how bad your defense is. In most instances, back dashing is riskier than blocking but far less risky than attacking with a wake-up Uppercut or throwing. PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER Let’s look at each of the options together and the damage that might be incurred from a combination of different possible scenarios. Consider this table
where Ryu A is the attacker and Ryu B is the defender on wake-up. Note: In this table, Attack is a Shoryuken dealing 140 damage.
As the attacker, Ryu A can do the most amount of damage in one move by landing the Throw, which does 140. However, if Ryu B chooses to Attack on wake-up with Uppercut, he’ll do 130. This is a pretty even risk/reward scenario. As the defender, Ryu B the most risky scenario is to Attack with Uppercut while Ryu A blocks, resulting in a combo that would likely do over 250 damage (approximately). This is nearly twice as risky to Uppercut because even if it lands, you’d only score 130 damage,
whereas if it’s blocked, you’ll eat nearly twice that amount. A low-risk option for Ryu B, the defender, would be to Block. This is because if Ryu A does something extremely risky such as Attack with an Uppercut, you’d be able to retaliate with a 250+ damage combo of your own. If Ryu A went for the Throw, the defending Ryu B would have time to react and attempt to tech, even though that window is admittedly small. However, eating a throw for 140 damage is still better than Attacking and being punished with a 250+ damage combo, and losing screen position. A medium-risk option for Ryu B
would be to back dash or tech. Back dash would be medium risk because you have no option to deal damage to the attacker, yet you still have the possibility of taking a small amount of damage. Throwing on wake-up is moderately risky because you have the potential to do 140 damage, but an experienced player will likely punish with a throw or a combo of their own that likely would do more than 140 damage. Generally, if the opponent attacks and Ryu Uppercuts, it’ll do 130 damage. If Ryu’s Uppercut is blocked, it’s likely he’ll lose over 240 health.
The next step in becoming a stronger player is learning to notice and effectively manage your resources. Your resources in Street Fighter 4 include: • EX/Super meter of you and your opponent • Ultra/Revenge meter of you and your opponent • Life bars of you and your opponent • Screen position, relative to how far away you are from your own corner • The timer
It’ll take time and a strategy to effectively use each of these. Disregarding or not planning for different scenarios means the difference between life and death. Let’s start with what is simultaneously the most and least obvious resource of them all, depending on the situation: the life bar. THE LIFE BAR Both your and your opponent’s life bars are simultaneously the most and least important resource of them all. Allow me to explain. For many situations, the life bar is important because it seemingly dictates
who is in control of the match, or more simply, who will win or lose. Yet in many situations, the life bar is not as important as screen position or the EX/Ultra meter. That is because the life bar only matters if it reaches zero. You could have 1% life left and your opponent could have 100%, but it doesn’t matter until one of you reaches 0%. That means a comeback is always a possibility, regardless of how unlikely it may seem at the time. Essentially, you can use your life bar as a resource to gain information on your opponent and place bets on how they will react. John Choi, OG Street Fighter legend from NorCal and Evo
2008 Capcom vs. SNK 2 Champion, has often stated that the first round’s purpose in a match is to gather data on the opponent’s capabilities and tendencies. After you’ve taken note of your opponent’s tendencies in the first round, you can apply that knowledge to rounds two and three. When fighting in a best-of-three scenario (such as a tournament where you must win two out of three games in order to advance), the entire first game can be thought of as an opportunity to gather information on the opponent. For instance, can wager some of your life bar to find out what the opponent tends to do in wake-up situations and what they like to spend their resources on.
Oftentimes players get too concerned with the life bars and make costly mistakes when they fall behind in health. This usually results in a loss due to errors such as jumping in at the wrong time, pressing an imaginary advantage, or doing an unsafe Reversal on wakeup. Learning to utilize your life bar as a way to gather information on your opponent as well as not panicking when you’ve lost the life lead, no matter how significant is a skill that you can improve on with time. Here are some general rules of thumb about the health bars as a resource: • In a best of three scenario,
you have as few as four rounds and as many as nine rounds to gather enough information about your opponent to counter their strategy and tendencies. • If you’ve fallen far behind in life, remember that your other resources like EX Meter and Ultra are there to help you mount a comeback. • If you have gained the life lead, be careful not to overextend against the opponent. Usually playing it slow and safe will be a surer path to victory.
• If you don’t have the life lead but you have them trapped in the corner, the screen position advantage is more important than the life scenario because most players crack under corner pressure. • Blocking projectiles and other special moves is only a significant amount of life if you have about 10-15% life left. In the early- to mid-game, you shouldn’t worry about taking chip damage and should focus your efforts on screen position. • Try to keep your life bar at par or slightly ahead of your
opponent’s. If your opponent is 5-10% ahead in life, there’s no reason to try something really risky that will cost you a larger chunk of health if it doesn’t pan out. EX/SUPER METER EX/Super Meter is important because, as it builds up, you gain access to new abilities and options, such as EX versions of special moves, Super Combos, and Focus Attack Dash Cancels (FADCs). EX version of special moves are simply powered-up versions of the character’s moves with additional
properties, such as invincibility, ability to score a knockdown on hit, dealing additional damage, or the ability to pass through projectiles. These all cost one EX stock. Conversely, Super Combos cost your entire EX Meter (all four stocks). These are useful for ending a round, finishing a combo, or punishing an opponent’s mistake. Each character’s Super Combo varies in its utility; some characters make good use of their Super, while others are usually better served by spending their EX Meter on EX Special Moves or FADCs. The key with an EX Meter is knowing when to use it to gain the advantage in a match. Usually,
inexperienced players either carelessly waste their EX Meter on inopportune moments or they forget they have EX Meter at all and miss many opportunities to deal lots of damage or gain a positional advantage. Here are some general rules of thumb about EX Meter: • Try to keep your EX Meter at par or ahead of your opponent’s. • Dying with full Super Meter still means you lost, so you might as well create a plan to use it before you die. • Using your entire Super Meter to end a close round is
still better than losing the round because you were being too frugal with your meter. • If you’re ahead in life and meter, it’s okay to spend some on an EX Special Move if you’re sure it’ll combo. • Using EX Meter on EX projectiles is an important part of playing the “Fireball game.” • If there is a situation in which you have a lot more meter than your opponent at the start of a round, it’s likely that you missed some opportunities to spend some in
the previous round. • If you get an early opening to land a Super Combo in the third round, it’s likely not a good use of meter because the damage is not game-changing so early on. Worse, you then have fewer options, such as no EX Special moves or FADCs. • If the opponent has at least two bars and can FADC into their Ultra, you need to consider that it’s a high possibility he will attempt to use it, especially on his wakeup. • Generally, a combo with
multiple EX Special Moves doesn’t do enough damage to warrant the extra use of meter and is inefficient compared to the resource cost. • Make an effort to approximate how much meter is gained or lost from your goto block-strings and combos, as some characters build meter much more quickly than others. • You build the most meter when your attacks are not blocked. You still also gain a small amount when they’re blocked and when you take damage.
• You don’t build any meter from whiffing normals, but you do build a little bit if a special move whiffs. In SF5, the EX Meter has been changed to max out at three bars instead of four. This means that you must be even more consciously resourceful with your EX Meter in SF5 because it costs only three bars to use your Critical Art, the SF5 version of a Super Combo, and because using on EX Special Move will cost ⅓ of your bar instead of ¼. ULTRA METER
Your Ultra Meter resets every round and builds as you take damage either from a clean hit or absorbing a hit from an FADC. Once your Ultra Meter starts flashing, you can perform a Level 1 Ultra Combo. When it fills completely, you can perform a Level 2 Ultra Combo, which has the same animation but does more damage. Generally, your goal should be to finish off the opponent with an Ultra because there’s no point in trying to save it for next round since it resets. It is SF4’s comeback mechanics and is a very real threat that you must respect each and every round. Countless rounds, games, and matches have been lost by players who did not anticipate something as
threatening as a wake-up Ultra. Wake-up Ultras are generally considered “scrubby” because in most situations, they are a Hail Mary decision: if the opponent blocks the wake-up Ultra, he should be easily able to punish with his own Ultra. With that said, the frequency of wake-up Ultras varies at every level of competition. At the low levels, it becomes likely very common. At the highest levels, it’s extremely rare to see because of the level of respect most players have for one another. This means that you must make an effort to assess the skill level of your opponent constantly so that you can determine that likeliness of whether or
not he will do a wake-up Ultra if given the chance. Here are some general rules of thumb about Ultra Meter: • If you hit a Level 1 Ultra in the mid-game, it probably won’t do game-changing damage, so you probably should have waited until either you had a Level 2 stocked, or until they had lost enough life for the Level 1 to end the round or bring them down to below 15-20%. • Characters with projectiles need to be conscious of recklessly throwing them if the
opponent starts to Focus Absorb them. Otherwise, they’d be giving away free Ultra Meter. • Abstaining from using your Ultra for as long as possible not only gives you a higher chance of building up Level 2 Ultra, but the looming threat of the Ultra will continue to apply mental pressure to a smart opponent. • If you block an opponent’s Ultra, you should punish with the most damaging combo possible, using as many resources as necessary, including your own Ultra and
Super. • Although dying with full Super means you likely missed some opportunities to use EX or FADC, sometimes you die with full Ultra but didn’t really get a chance to use it (other than wake-up Ultra). The latter is still not recommended in most situations. In SF5, the Ultra Meter has been replaced by the V-Gauge. Thankfully, it shares similarities with the Ultra Meter in that it resets every round and also builds from taking damage or
successfully using V-Skill. Therefore, your efforts in learning to manage and utilize your Ultra Meter here will put you ahead of the curve with managing your V-Gauge in SF5. SCREEN POSITION Screen position, or positional advantage, is more like a “hidden” resource in the game, as there is no meter for it. Most newer players don’t even consider positional advantage to be something worth paying much attention to. But think about it: if you push your opponent to his far side of the screen and corner him, you will make your opponent panic.
The advantage of having extra room behind you when your opponent is cornered is that you don’t need to press your advantage too hard or take very big risks. They’ll hang themselves for you. Most cornered players will do whatever they can to escape, such as an obvious (read: easy-to-punish) jump or a reckless Reversal that you can also punish heavily. Even if the opponent were really strong, you would still have lots of extra room to maneuver before you got pushed back into your own corner. Most characters in the Street Fighter franchise do not have an easy way to get out of the corner. Even those that do, such as characters with
teleports, incur a fair amount of risk because of the recovery and predictability of these moves.
WHERE TO GO FROM HERE
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! Your dedication to improving is likely already starting to pay dividends! I know this was probably more than a lot of you ever wanted to know about Street Fighter, but I wanted to make sure that I covered as much detail as possible for those that wanted it because I wish I’d had something like this when I was getting started. I appreciate your taking the time to read any part of this eBook and hope that it was useful in some way to you. Hopefully some new concepts were
introduced and some things that you may have been unsure about have been cleared up. The next step for you is likely to continue practicing the exercises that I’ve shared with you in this guide as well as to begin playing online and inperson. As long as this guide is not a total flop, you can look forward to another guide soon, probably on how to take your training to the next level. If you have comments or questions, feel free to hit me up on Twitter. If you’re looking for one-on-one coaching, I may still be offering it at the time of this writing, but if not, there are plenty of trainers that can help at Cross Counter Training.
If you didn’t get a chance to check out the free bonus accompanying audio for this guide, you can do so by clicking here. If you are so inclined, you can also tip me via PayPal. Thanks for reading and good luck! -gootecks (Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Web)
APPENDIX A: RESOURCES
Your journey to becoming a stronger player does not end with this book! Becoming a part of the fighting game community (FGC) by competing in tournaments, watching streams, contributing information, and more is what will also help get you to the next level. Here are some resources that you can check out that will help you keep up with what’s going on in the scene and connect with other players. TOURNAMENT STREAMS • Team Sp00ky - Team Sp00ky
streams tons of major and local fighting game tournaments throughout the year. Based in New York but frequently broadcasting from different national and international locations. • Level Up Live - The home of SoCal Regionals as well as weekly tournament series Wednesday Night Fights. • Capcom Fighters - The home of the Capcom Pro Tour and Capcom Pro Talk with Mike Ross every Tuesday. • Showdown - Showdown runs weekly fighting game
tournaments on Tuesdays and Thursdays from The Foundry in San Francisco, CA. • KhaosGaming - Covers the Pacific Northwest FGC including Northwest Majors and will be putting out more SF5 content as the game releases. PLAYER STREAMS • Alex Myers • Aris • brenttiscool • BrolyLegs • Chris G
• EG.Justin Wong • EG.PR Balrog • FGTV Live • fLoE • IFCYipeS • Infiltration • LI Joe • Maximilian • NuckleDu • nycfurby • Pandora House • Poongko • ReNiC • RicoSuave
• RZR.Xian • Team PIE • Tuboware • UltraChenTV • Yomi Gaming YOUTUBE CHANNELS • Cross Counter TV Shameless self-promotion! The entertainment network for fighting game fans, featuring Excellent Adventures every Sunday with myself and Mike Ross as well as find other tutorial content. • Cross Counter Training -
More shameless selfpromotion! We upload tutorial videos to help players like you get better! • Vesper Arcade - The home of the best SF4 tutorial series you can find on the internet. Vesper Arcade will be producing tons of SF5 content so make sure to subscribe. • Maximilian - One of the hardest workers in the FGC, Maximilian’s passion for fighting games is unmatched. He’s produced some of the best fighting game tutorial videos ever such as the Assist Me! series.
• AirBehr Dojo - Canada Cup Gaming’s Air and Vancouver’s Behrudy team up to produce high-level tutorial videos that will help you step up your game. • Air - Canada Cup Gaming’s Air also puts out solo videos and tutorials. • Bafael - Tons of fighting game tutorials for all player levels for an array of different games. • Jay Rego - Extremely wellproduced videos that teach you beginner, intermediate, and advanced topics.
• Supermansajam - Basic character guides and combos for SF5 and other fighting games. • Geoff the Hero - The guy’s kind of a dick, but his tutorial videos are pretty good. ;) WEB RESOURCES • Shoryuken - The granddaddy of fighting game web sites, SRK has a large forum archive of SF4 and pre-SF4 posts as well as a frequently updated news section and schedule of upcoming tournaments. • EventHubs - The best place
for fighting game news, tournament results, popular streams and more. You can also find frame data, moves lists, combos and more for almost any fighting game. • r/StreetFighter - The Street Fighter subreddit on Reddit which is a great place to find the latest news, useful videos, memes, and streams. • Cross Counter Training - We offer personal one-on-one training for aspiring players just like you that are trying to get better. • FGC Community Locations
Database - Not sure if there’s a local FGC nearby? There probably is and this Google spreadsheet has a directory with a ton of them worldwide. • Simplifying Street Fighter Facebook Group - The Facebook group for this book! Join it and connect with other new players and level up together. • Excellent Adventures of gootecks & Mike Ross - Not exactly a resource for getting better, but watching us lose should certainly help you figure out what NOT to do.
• Capcom Fighters Live Viewing Site - This is THE best way to view all of the Capcom Pro Tour events. I worked closely in the creation of this site and am extremely proud of what it can do to improve the streaming viewing experience. TOURNAMENTS & EVENTS • Evolution - Las Vegas, NV • Capcom Cup Francisco, CA
• Southeast Asia Majors Bangkok, Thailand
• SoCal Regionals - Ontario, CA • NorCal Regionals Sacramento, CA
• Northwest Majors - Seattle, WA • Community Effort Orlando Orlando, FL • Final Round - Atlanta, GA • Big E Gaming Philadelphia, PA
• First Attack - Puerto Rico • Defend the North - New York, NY • Combo Breaker - Chicago,
IL • The Fall Classic - Raleigh, NC • Kumite In Tennessee Memphis, TN
• Canada Cup - Toronto, ON • Red Fight District Amsterdam, Netherlands
• Stunfest - Rennes, France • Dreamhack Winter Jönköping, Sweden
• Rewired AZ - Tucson, AZ • Absolute Battle - Dallas, TX
APPENDIX B: GLOSSARY
BLOCKSTRING A sequence of attacks that flow together, forcing the opponent to continue to block or get hit by one of the attacks. Most commonly, they begin with light attacks, though mediums and Special Moves can be included as well. CHAIN COMBO Chain combos are usually made up of light attacks, whose animations are cancelled when another light attack is pressed. Chains cannot be canceled into special attacks and are typically
used in blockstrings. For example, Ryu can press two cr. LPs quickly and they will chain, which would then remove the ability to cancel with a special move. However, if he waits a split second and the two cr. LPs link instead, a special move can be performed immediately afterwards. This is admittedly a minor nuance and seemingly unimportant, however, when you run into combos that you can’t perform even though you’re positive you’re doing the inputs properly, this is likely the reason why. CHIP DAMAGE Damage incurred from blocking
Special Moves, Super Combos, or Ultras. In SF4, normal attacks do not do chip damage. In SF5, normal attacks do grey life damage that is similar to the chip damage amount from specials. Because it is grey life, it can be recovered quickly once you are away from the opponent. If you die from chip damage in a round, the game denotes this with a C icon in the round bubble marker instead of a V, S, or U. COMMAND GRAB A type of special move that has similar properties to a regular throw but typically does more damage or has more range. Examples of command
grabs are Zangief ’s Spinning Piledriver and Abel’s Tornado Throw. FOCUS ATTACK (MP+MK) An SF4-exclusive mechanic that allows the player to absorb one hit of an attack and swiftly retaliate. Focus Attacks incur gray life if you absorb and also help to build your Ultra meter. EX METER The bar at the bottom of the screen that builds as you score hits, take damage, and perform special moves. As you build more stocks of meter, you gain additional options such as EX Specials, Super Combos, and Focus
Attack Dash Cancels (FADCs). FOOTSIES The process of jockeying for position on the screen, usually using normals. Usually, a mix of light and medium attacks are used to throw off the opponent’s ability to judge the distance effectively, and then whiffpunish with a medium or heavy attack. Developing strong footsies is a must for becoming a strong player. LINK COMBO This is a type of combo where one move’s animation finishes completely and the opponent is kept in hitstun long
enough for the next attack to connect before they can block. This is different from a “cancel” where the animation is canceled instead of allowed to finish. MEATY Meaty attacks are performed as the opponent stands up from a knockdown. Meaties could vary anywhere between a light attack sequence like cr. LK, cr. LP to a cr. MP or even a Fireball, depending on the range or situation. The goal of the meaty attack is to force the opponent to block on wake-up or get hit. Generally, meaties will beat (non-EX command grab) throws and attacks without
startup invincibility but are inferior to attacks with startup invincibility, such as Uppercuts, Supers, and Ultras. MIX-UP An offensive scenario in which the opponent must guess what type of attack you will attempt next (i.e. low, mid, overhead, or throw). NEUTRAL GAME Any part of the match in which both players are on their feet and jockeying for position through the use of their movement, normals, and specials.
NORMALS OR NORMAL ATTACKS Any single button press, usually used when talking about a character’s standing attacks. A character with “good normals” is typically strong in the neutral game. HARD KNOCKDOWN A knockdown where the opponent cannot Quick Rise. In SF4, moves that cause a hard knockdown include sweeps (usually cr. HK), throws, Supers, and Ultras. In SF5, only Critical Arts cause a hard knockdown. OPTION SELECT
An input or series of inputs that functions as multiple attacks where the outcome is determined by the game engine and the opponent’s action. They are used offensively and defensively to challenge one or more options of your opponent. There are literally hundreds or thousands of option selects in the game and you can create your own. The simplest example of an option select is a crouch tech, which is performed by hitting cr. LP + cr. LK while crouching. If the opponent attempts a throw, you will tech it if timed correctly. If the opponent does anything aside from throw, cr. LK will come out. This simple option select is useful because the alternative of standing to tech a throw
might result in a whiffed throw which is far riskier and easier to punish than cr. LK. QUICK RISE A technique in SF4 and SF5 that allows your character to get up faster after being knocked down, and is performed by pressing any two buttons as you hit the ground. The advantage of using Quick Rise is that your opponent has less time to set up his next move. SUPERS AKA SUPER COMBOS A Special Move that requires four stocks of EX Meter to perform, usually resulting in high damage, and is
considered a serious in-game threat. ULTRAS AKA ULTRA COMBOS A Special Move that requires either Level 1 or Level 2 Ultra Meter to perform. Similar to a Super Combo in damage output and execution but different for each character.
Table of Contents FREE BONUS! Introduction About Me A Note about Notation Abbreviations Commas and “XX” The Importance of Hardware Consistency Xbox 360, PS3, PS4 and PC Big TVs vs. Gaming Monitors Wi-Fi vs. Ethernet Fightsticks vs. Controllers A Quick Shopping List Preparing Effectively for Street Fighter 5
The Biggest Mistake New Players Make in Fighting Games Learning Efficiently vs. Playing Aimlessly A Basic Game Plan with Ryu Corner Advantage and Knockdowns cr. MK xx Fireball for Corner Push cr. HK, the Sweep Basic Mix-Up Game Continuing the BlockString Baiting Stand Techs and Crouch
Techs Jumping and Anti-Air Defense Punishing with a Basic Combo Keeping Them In the Corner Improving Your Execution Setting Expectations and Developing a Routine Set Aside At Least Five Minutes a Day in Training Mode What to Practice Building Muscle Memory for Combos and Other Situations j. HK, cr. MK/cr. HP xx MK Tatsu - Jump-In Punish Combo Level 3 Focus Attack, F+HP, HP Uppercut - Ground Punish
Combo cr. LK, cr. LP, cr. HP xx MK Tatsu - Hit-Confirm Ground Combo The Best Offense is a Good Defense What Does It Mean to Have Strong Defense? Teching Throws to Improve Your Defense You Weren’t Expecting The Throw You Reacted Too Late or Didn’t
Realize You Were in Range You Made An Input Error The Importance of Blocking Blocking Cross-Ups General rules of thumb for cross-ups: Considering Risk and Reward Scenario #1: Fireballs at halfscreen Scenario #2: Knockdown Pressure Attacking
Blocking Throwing Back Dash Putting It All Together Resource Management The Life Bar EX/Super Meter Ultra Meter Screen Position Where to go From Here Appendix A: Resources Tournament Streams Player Streams YouTube Channels Web Resources Tournaments & Events Appendix B: Glossary
Blockstring Chain Combo Chip Damage Command Grab Focus Attack (MP+MK) EX Meter Footsies Link Combo Meaty Mix-up Neutral game Normals or Normal Attacks Hard knockdown Option Select Quick Rise Supers aka Super Combos Ultras aka Ultra Combos