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Street Fighter Footsies Handbook, Supplement A

February 13th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Make no mistake about it, mid-range projectiles are absolutely a major facet of footsies. In fact, their uses are so diverse and their impact so significant that it’s impossible to cover everything in one article. I’ll attempt to provide a conceptual introduction instead.

Tactically speaking, a fireball is a relatively slow poke with good range. Ideally you want to rely on attacks with roughly 4-5 frames of startup, which recover quickly. By contrast, projectile specials typically have over 10 frames of startup followed by lengthy recovery periods.

To compensate, projectiles possess one exceptional property: their active hit box is invincible.

With physical attacks, effective range and vulnerable range are approximately equal. Even if you have a full-screen normal move like Dhalsim’s s.HP, whiffing it in front of Dan still gives him an opportunity to retaliate. Furthermore, Dan’s invincible Koryuken will counter Dhalsim’s s.HP from any spot inside its range. These basic principles form the foundation of footsies.

The rules of engagement change when dealing with fireballs. Counteracting the opponent’s attack is no longer enough to hurt them because projectiles are independent entities. Thus, your table of counters shifts dramatically.

Most importantly, you lose the option to retaliate after standing back, because projectiles will continue advancing until they make contact, at which point you’ll be pushed out of range. In fact, the longer a projectile travels before connecting, the more frame advantage it creates for its owner.

Projectiles can be utilized as pokes just as easily as normals can. Fireballs can apply pressure, beat out mistimed normal attacks, repel aggressive opponents, and punish mistakes. There’s no unwritten law restricting pokes to normal moves. Some fireballs even knock down, which makes them viable as midscreen counterpokes. Even if they carry frame disadvantage when blocked, most opponents are rendered incapable of retaliation after getting pushed so far backward.

Two direct universal methods of dealing with projectiles are jumping over them and stuffing them during startup. Jumping is always risky, but the reward is high provided you land a damaging combo. Using a quick poke to prevent the fireball from coming out involves less committment. However, it does require you to stay within close promixity, which is a challenge against fireball characters. It’s always wise to build meter as you work to close the gap, because even the threat of a super move can be enough to discourage opponents from throwing fireballs – tipping the matchup advantage in your favor.

The entire strategic landscape of Street Fighter changes dramatically once you begin thinking of projectiles as components of footsies. Fireballs are what transform Shotos from mediocre poking characters into mid-range powerhouses. The difference between a beginner and an expert player is immediately apparent from how well they apply fireballs in footsies.

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  1. February 14th, 2010 at 04:09 | #1

    This article turned out way different than i thought it would. Originally i was going to pick one match from that B3 Grand Finals set and narrate it move by move, explaining why each fireball was thrown.

    But the more i thought about it, the more i realized that concept deserves its own article series. Because there’s simply waaay too much info to cover. But this footsies series still needed some discussion of projectiles so i figured this intro would be the best solution.

    Sorry, i know it’s a little too abstract. I’ll try to write more about projectiles after i wrap up this series. Only two more footsies articles to go!

  2. N00b_Saib0t
    February 14th, 2010 at 10:35 | #2

    these articles have been great, and offer a lot of insight to things that i’ve known work for years, but never understood why (basically things i saw in match videos and stared using myself because it worked for that guy).

    if you can, could you write up an article to complement this one? this one is about adding projectiles to your footsies, but what about fighting projectile footsies as characters that dont have them? you have one paragraph in here which basically sums up as “have a super handy”, but if i dont have meter to just EX i always feel screwed, even as the mighty balrog in SF4.

  3. February 14th, 2010 at 12:08 | #3

    Well, both of the main methods are there. The easiest answer is jumping, but i’ve already explained why it’s bad to rely on that. Still, if you’re better at reading your opponent’s patterns than he is at planting them, all it takes is one good guess score a ton of damage and make him hesitant about throwing more.

    The more difficult answer is staying close enough to outpoke him when you think he’s going to throw a fireball. Executing it is easy because most MK pokes have 4-5 frames of startup while most fireballs take over 10 frames to come out. Staying in range is the difficult part, but that’s all character-specific.

    For example in ST, every single character has a different method of getting through O.Sagat’s fireball wall. It takes most characters two or three waves to safely get from full screen distance into mid-range. There’s a lot of places you can find this info if you know to look for it.

    And unfortunately, “have a super handy” is simply the best answer for some. Watson always says, “Sagat wins that match until Balrog gets super.”

    There’s a third option for dealing with mid-range fireballs and that’s trading. You have some normal moves where the fighter’s fists go from near their body to fully extended in one frame without any gradual inbetween frames. For example ST Balrog’s far s.HP kind of teleports across a giant range in one frame.

    With these types of moves, you don’t need to beat the fireball’s startup. All you have to do is position yourself so that your last startup frame is out of range, so the fireball doesn’t touch you until your first active frame. That way you can actually trade with a projectile after it has fully materialized. Of course you need to find an attack that does more damage, so at least you come out ahead in the exchange.

    Frame data alone doesn’t give you enough information in this case. For example Dhalsim’s limbs become fully extended before they become active. You need a combination of hit boxes and frame data to figure this out. Since that doesn’t exist, you’ve got to test this stuff manually in Training Mode, like the way people used to do in olden days.

  4. Tarnish
    February 14th, 2010 at 17:19 | #4


    Makes sense that it would be its own article series, I thought it was crazy the first time you told me it was going to be something of a supplement. There’s such a huge psychology to throwing fireballs. It’s hard to explain to someone why standing at a certain range and throwing a MP Hadouken is better than throwing an FP Hadouken.

    “Because it LOOKS like a HP Hadouken.”


    “Your options increase from possibly one to two or three options.”

    Questions leading to answers to questions. But all being relatively simple to answer, it’s faster than an LP projectile, not as fast as HP but LOOKS like it enough to mask someone already trying to navigate projectiles so that you check them and keep them honest.

    That kind of thing always intrigued me, and it’s always surprising how much you take your own projectile for granted until you have to start thinking about where/when/why you’re throwing it and how your opponent responds. Throwing someone out of their comfort zone when it comes to dealing with projectiles can make the difference between a win and a loss, and I always found it surprising just how jarring for my opponent it can be as, say, Guile in ST to keep up and navigate Tiger Shots/Hadoukens at the proper ranges to land backfists/knee bazookas/sweeps/sobat kicks.

    The first thing I learned as Cammy is that a projectile means hell, but it also means you have to know more about projectiles than your opponent does. The best Cammy player I know is an O Sagat player in Baltimore, MD. Most folks are quick to complain about the upper echelon of characters, but I think it says something to know both sides of the argument. Especially when the person you hate so much knows something you think you’re so intimate with.

  5. February 14th, 2010 at 19:18 | #5

    Yup, everyone thinks it’s easy until they pick Shotos and end up dizzy less than three fireballs into the first round. Or pick Guile, shoot two careless Sonic Booms, and get trapped in a throw loop with no sight of daylight.

    Players have been reading through fireball patterns for two decades now. If you walk in there without a hundred different ways to psych ’em out, you’re a goner. You need backup plans for backup plans for backup plans.

  6. kaneka
    February 14th, 2010 at 21:49 | #6

    I believe that’s also the reason that every time I try to play Sagat, thinking “You know I can probably do this…” well, I can’t.

    Great article!

  7. Kareeem
    February 15th, 2010 at 06:55 | #7

    Maj remember when I said I can’t play shotos, this is why. Everyone can throw fireballs but damn if it I don’t get combo’d for every other one I throw lol.

    I’ve been getting the hang of it though, ST ken is too much fun.

  8. Rufus
    February 17th, 2010 at 13:36 | #8

    It’s a work in progress, and a temporary home, but I’m trying to combine frame data and hitbox info…

  9. February 19th, 2010 at 02:20 | #9

    kaneka: It’s nothing you can’t learn. You just gotta force yourself to remember what exactly you did over the course of an entire round. Then you need to figure out what exactly gave away whatever got you beat up. Once you have that sorted out, you can find ways to make it less obvious or cut it out of you gameplan entirely. It’s a slow process but i think it’s a lot of fun.

    Kareeem: I’m with you on ST Ken. He’s a total grappler bully as N.Ken with a massive arsenal of dirty shenanigans, and O.Ken makes you feel like you’re playing Hyper Fighting (except for the part where everyone else has supers).

    Rufus: Dude! That’s insane. I can’t believe you compiled all that. The projectile movement charts alone are unbelievably awesome. When it’s finished i’m sure it’ll be a great resource for helping people visualize what’s going on during a variety of confusing interactions – in any fighting game, not just HDR.

  10. February 23rd, 2012 at 02:58 | #10

    I reuploaded the B3 SFA2 matchvid between ChoiBoy and CaliPower because the original copy went down:

    The new mirror is hosted on the ComboVid Archives channel:

    Here’s more information about that tournament:

  11. luckyjim
    August 1st, 2015 at 00:38 | #11

    Hey there, were you still planning to do a separate guide on projectiles and/or the breakdown of match vids encompassing projectile wars? I’m still trying to get a handle on the intricacies of it and would love either! Your footsies guide is awesome, btw.

  12. August 3rd, 2015 at 01:23 | #12

    I’d love to, but i really don’t know when i’ll have time. These things always took forever to research and write, you know? Unfortunately at this point i have to say it’s not worth waiting. I’ll probably get to it eventually, but man, i really have no idea whatsoever when that might be. Sorry!

  1. December 29th, 2010 at 19:29 | #1
  2. August 25th, 2013 at 01:32 | #2
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