Street Fighter Footsies Handbook, Chapter 10
It takes more than a technically sound gameplan to stay ahead of the field and win consistently. No matter how dominant or reliable your tactics may be, they can still be neutralized by an opponent who sees them coming. Therefore the last missing piece of the strategic puzzle is misdirection – or as some players call it, randomness.
Element 31: A few times per round, do something completely meaningless yet relatively safe for no reason other than to distract your opponent. For instance if your character has a poke which dominates a certain matchup, skilled players will try to make it whiff as they advance to close the gap. Avoid falling into the trap of abusing your best move at every opportunity. Pick out a few key moments and randomly whiff a jab instead of pressing the obvious button. You won’t believe how often this tricks opponents into walking right into your low fierces.
Element 32: Another way to escape predictable scripts and flowcharts is by mixing up your timing; by skipping beats rather than pressing different buttons. Walk into c.MK range but don’t press it right away. Hang around that distance for a second to lure your opponent into a false sense of security, then tag them once they get restless. The next time you claim that spot, they won’t expect you to attack right away.
Element 33: Every now and then – especially when an opponent presumes you’ll become ultra defensive – simply throw caution to the wind and go on an offensive tear. In addition to some seriously nasty mixups, you’ll need the element of surprise to pull this off, which means grasping a good sense of match flow before you flip the switch.
Element 34: Is anything less effective on paper than wakeup c.LP? That’s why it wreaks havoc on cautious players’ plans; used sparingly, of course.
Element 35: Just do lots of weird, confusing things! When the tide of battle has turned against you and nothing seems to be going your way, try repeatedly stomping the ground at mid-range. If it breaks your opponent’s rhythm and makes them question themselves even for a split second, it could buy you the opening you need.
It’s virtually impossible to hide all of your patterns from observant players. No matter how clever and unpredictable you think you are, someone out there will succeed in identifying and exploiting your habits. You must find ways to mask your thoughts, in order to protect your most potent tactics from being turned against you.
Whatever strategy you adopt in any given matchup, mix it up with a little freestyle creativity to throw your opponent off the trail. Resist the urge to coast on autopilot. Force yourself to try something new every round. It doesn’t need to be unsafe, it doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does have to be unexpected.