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Street Fighter Footsies Handbook, Chapter 10

February 6th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

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.

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  1. jamheald
    February 7th, 2010 at 14:38 | #1

    Randomness, love it.

  2. Kareeem
    February 7th, 2010 at 18:31 | #2

    wake up cr.lp, or rather wake up normals in general have actually started to bug me when people do it to me, thinking it shouldn’t work. but you’re right, when I’m standing there being patient on someones wakeup why shouldn’t they stick out something to put me in block/hitstun and turn the table. not something you do on the regular but if it works it works.

    I like how you take these minor instances and show why they are significant.

  3. Skye
    February 7th, 2010 at 23:09 | #3

    Well I certainly wasn’t expecting what was posted in the “unexpected” link! Well played.

  4. February 8th, 2010 at 04:32 | #4

    Kareeem: Yeah, see, that’s exactly what i’m talking about. That’s why i wrote this article. At a certain level, you get to this notion of “the proper way to play the game” and then you always try to adhere by the rules. Feint sequence A is supposed to bait move B. Threat X is supposed to trigger response Y.

    Well, it doesn’t always work that way. The reason being, you can’t predict everything and you can’t orchestrate everything exactly as you’d like it to be.

    Waiting around until your opponent does what you want is a really bad idea, because you totally surrender initiative in the process. Keep your gameplan moving forward by introducing a little randomness into those dead spots.

    If your opponent whiffs a fierce uppercut right in front of you, they’ll probably tell themselves not to do it again. If you want them to fall back into that bad habit again, you’ll have to make them forget their mistake and their resolution not to repeat it. You’re not gonna do that by looking like you’re trying to bait an uppercut. Chaos is the answer.

  5. zal
    February 9th, 2010 at 21:29 | #5

    i’m only now being able to apply the first few chapters, but i’m left with something new to think about after every installment, great work maj! (i love old SH articles too, but most go right over my head) Seth Killian wrote the domination 101 series as a kind of ‘why’ things were the way they are in the community. Sirlin continued this effort with playing to win. both document the mentality of tournament winners. But this is something much greater, while seth and sirlin got us to understand playing to win, they barely touch on telling us how. You’re the first to break down the actual gameplay elements that make the pros the pros. You document the ‘how’, which is what many of us needed to get to the next level. Thank you maj, you’ve done nothing but help make me a better player!

  6. Tarnish
    February 9th, 2010 at 21:40 | #6

    A friend of mine made it habit to do the gayest mix up ever as a shoto that I kind of miss since it doesn’t really exist in IV other than FADC. He plays O Ken and would do standing short with the hard as hell “built in DP” option select that was on Nohoho’s blog… or he would throw me.

    Both options very safe, the DP beats my reversal flash kick as Guile. It made me scared as shit when he’d start walking toward me, because I literally didn’t know if it was a poke, a DP, or a throw that was coming. Very powerful mind game that just completely messed me up even if I was playing super solid.

  7. todzilla26
    February 12th, 2010 at 08:15 | #7

    these articles are awesome. I’ve played forever but shied away from competitive play till now. These are some great strats. Thanks.

  8. February 23rd, 2010 at 20:07 | #8

    I wrote this on SRK but it seems like a good idea to cross-post it here too.

    Shoto Whiff s.LK Secrets Revealed!

    Ever wonder why Ryu, Ken, and Akuma players throw out random light kicks during tense matches? I’ve seen this question come up on several forums and thought i’d provide a quick explanation. In fact, the underlying concept of misdirection is what my last footsies article was all about.

    Whiffing s.LK is a fake, but it’s not meant to bait jumps. Nobody’s going to jump at you because you’re whiffing s.LK; that would be ridiculous. What causes opponents to jump are the fireball patterns you set to manipulate them. They jump because they think a fireball is coming.

    Now here’s the key. They’re only going to jump if they feel pressured on the ground. You’ll never make this happen by standing around. You have to throw those fireballs – enough of them to get in their head. It’s risky but you won’t get anywhere without following through on your gameplan.

    But even on your best day, you’re going to guess wrong sometimes. You’re going to stop throwing fireballs expecting them to jump, and they won’t jump, and you’ll end up standing around looking indecisive. That lets them off the hook mentally. It gives them a chance to take a breath and regain composure. Obviously you don’t want that.

    That’s where whiffing s.LK comes in. It makes you look like you’re doing something even when you’re doing nothing. It doesn’t maintain real momentum the way throwing a fireball would, but it does sustain psychological momentum in those spots where you think throwing a fireball might get you killed.

    Why s.LK and not s.LP? Because it looks like you’re doing more, which makes it look more threatening. Of course this is a relatively minor thing in the grand scheme. You don’t have to do it. I mean, it never makes a huge difference. Sometimes it makes no difference at all. But a lot of players do it anyway – partly because they buy into “every little bit counts” and partly because they’re mimicking players they learned from.

    Make sense?

  9. darkscythe
    March 7th, 2010 at 18:34 | #9

    this article makes so much sense i remeber a couple weeks back i was playing a top ryu player ft10. we were both playing ryu mirror match and we were both playing reactive to each other like walking back and forth throwing a fireball at the most odd occasions to try and bait each other in doing something wrong. because we were both playing reactive to each other any move stuck out we were looking for, after a while in the matches at mid range he started to whiff st lk this was tripping me out and was messing with my head. it was so bizzare that every time he did it seemed like a fireball which forced a reaction and every single time he did it i did something stupid. like he did it once and i remeber throwing a fireball which he then saw and got a free jumpin combo. another time i dashed in he saw it and swept me with roundhouse. whiffing the st lk provokes a reaction and i only think it can work well when both players are playing reactive to each other.

  10. Doctorcow
    September 26th, 2010 at 02:30 | #10

    @Maj
    I always thought another reason for whiffing s.lk was that it makes your character’s lower hitbox a little narrower. You can see this countless times in Daigo matches, when the opponent moves forward to poke, it will occasionally miss due to the random (or maybe not-so-random) s.lk raising Ryu’s front leg off the ground. What follows is usually a sweep, or a counterpoke c.mk xx hadouken.

  11. Doctorcow
    September 26th, 2010 at 02:36 | #11

    The Daigo vs Tokido match at Godsgarden2, just a couple of hours ago has just an example of this. I’ll post a link once some match vids are up.

    I really think there’s a lot more to whiffed s.lk than just creating the illusion of movement.

  12. September 26th, 2010 at 10:32 | #12

    There’s that too, but s.LK is actually quite slow (18 frames vs 12 for s.LP) so it’s not exactly safe to whiff at sweep range. Plus i think the original question was more about whiffing s.LK about half screen away during fireball zoning.

    But yeah, picking up your front leg is another use for s.LK if you know they’re gonna go for a low poke and you don’t have a better way of dealing with it.

  1. October 24th, 2010 at 04:28 | #1
  2. August 18th, 2012 at 02:34 | #2
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