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Street Fighter Footsies Handbook, Epilogue

February 27th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

What should you do when a veteran player is outguessing you at every turn? It’s happened to everyone, where every last thing you do gets hit. Your every medium-range poke gets swept, your every long-range move gets stuffed, and doing nothing opens you up to pressure.

The answer is obvious: block. Sometimes when they’ve got your number, just block. They’re totally playing by your rhythm, so don’t make any moves for a second until they don’t know how to read you anymore.

When you block, don’t do it out of fear. Do it to wait them out. Do it to take away their momentum. Do it to figure out their methods. Do it to plan your next move.

The key here is that there are only two ways to beat someone who’s good at footsies:
1) Outthink them and do everything they’re doing, except better.
2) Work out some alternative strategies to avoid that dangerous zone entirely.

Otherwise you have no chance of winning. Playing footsies to survive is simply delaying an inevitable loss. Skilled opponents can sense indecisive reluctance and press the advantage. Give 100% effort to footsies or don’t play footsies at all.

The easiest person to play footsies against is that intermediate player who hasn’t quite given up on footsies, but doesn’t play footsies to win. He doesn’t move around much, he doesn’t keep track of long-term patterns, and he plays almost exclusively on a reactionary level. He’s not trying to get you to do anything specific; he’s simply reacting to where you’re standing. He doesn’t think his footsies are good enough to help him win whole matches. He’s being lazy.

Playing footsies with that casual mindset is the mental equivalent of being backed into a permanent corner. If you’re hesitant and uncertain, then your wins will come from luck and your losses will be inexorably fitting.

Do not, under any circumstances, allow your opponent to get inside your head and dictate your gameplan. If your best poke gets beaten by a fluke counter, get over it. Don’t let it startle you. Sure, losing 10% life sucks, but you’ll survive it. What you won’t survive is allowing one exchange to convince you to stop using your best button for the rest of the round. Giving up on moves only does one thing – it reduces your options.

If you get swept, that means you were outsmarted. It doesn’t necessarily mean your opponent is smarter than you and it doesn’t have to mean that you’ll get outsmarted again. Remember: Sweep is 10% damage. You will get back up.

Rule #5: Forget about winning or losing. Go all out or don’t even bother.

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  1. February 27th, 2010 at 23:57 | #1

    Most of this article is comprised of (vaguely remembered) paraphrased excerpts from conversations i had with my friends jchensor and omni some seven years ago. It’s only fair to thank Valle as well, because trying to beat him is the reason we had these conversations.

  2. harejordan
    February 28th, 2010 at 00:42 | #2

    Rule #5: Forget about winning or losing. Go all out or don’t even bother.

    What I like to do that’s fun is with a blocked Rog super, just immediately ultra after when they try to poke, desperate but works sometimes!
    Also technical question, after an ex rushupper, can you do anything besides lp, or lk?

  3. February 28th, 2010 at 01:03 | #3

    Um, i think you may have mixed up what i was trying to say. Maybe it’s my fault for speaking in vague terms and not being clear enough.

    In this context, going all out doesn’t mean blowing all your meter on an unsafe gamble. Going all out means not gambling. It means doing all the work all the time. No half-assed footsies, no free wins, no acceptable losses.

    For example, sometimes you want to whiff c.LK in order to bait someone’s c.MK so that you can punish with a sweep. Sometimes when people whiff c.LK, they don’t bother confirming that the opponent reacted. They just press c.LK, wait a short while, then sweep regardless. That’s lazy.

    If you want to play footsies right, stay focused. Test your reactions. Push yourself all the way. Define a clear purpose for your every action.

    If you’re going to guess with a blind ultra, force yourself to have a very good reason for doing it, so that it only lands because you’ve earned it and it only misses because you were outsmarted. If the only thing you can do afterwards is shrug and say, “I guess i got unlucky this time” then you weren’t keeping track of their patterns and you had no business doing that ultra.

  4. February 28th, 2010 at 01:26 | #4

    @harejordan yes if it’s counter hit or meaty

  5. afilia
    February 28th, 2010 at 02:07 | #5

    Maj, thanks for everything, all your footsies handbook really helped my game a lot :D Really, thanks. :)

  6. Tarnish
    February 28th, 2010 at 07:23 | #6

    Maj :
    If you’re going to guess with a blind ultra, force yourself to have a very good reason for doing it

    This is clearly the best reason to have courtesy of Steve Harrison:


  7. DuXtin
    February 28th, 2010 at 12:35 | #7

    @Maj Thank you for all the pro tips. One of my roomies is a regional champ of SF3TS, and he wins almost everytime. I’m gonna put all of this advises on practice!

  8. February 28th, 2010 at 13:04 | #8

    Tarnish: That is awesome! Ending shot made me lol irl. Can’t remember the last time the internet made me do that.

    DuXtin: Take advantage of that situation as much as you can. Don’t get discouraged but set goals for yourself like improving your win percentage by a little bit every day, and getting closer to winning every time. You’ll probably need that to stay focused and not fall into the trap of subconsciously giving up. But yeah, having good competition is more than half the puzzle. If he’s smart, he’ll encourage you to get better too. The more you improve, the more valuable his practice sessions will become.

  9. jamheald
    February 28th, 2010 at 13:13 | #9

    So basically play solid?

  10. DuXtin
    February 28th, 2010 at 13:49 | #10

    @jamheald I’d say “play unpredictable”, isn’t it?

  11. jamheald
    February 28th, 2010 at 14:25 | #11

    that’s why I’m asking.

  12. cuttyb87
    February 28th, 2010 at 15:25 | #12

    I playing Abel and how do I use his footsie’s cuz normally I can get in close and people either smash srk’s or jump away and alot of my loses are from being outpoked can we get another chapter for the players who play the grapplers this footsie manual seems geared towards projectile users

  13. February 28th, 2010 at 15:28 | #13

    jamheald: Just play the best you can. Follow through on your gameplan. Don’t get lazy and don’t take shortcuts. I can’t explain it any better than that. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know when you’re earning your wins and when you’re resorting to gimmicks that leave the outcome to chance/luck. You won’t improve much by resorting to the latter and you’re certainly not gonna beat anyone who’s good at footsies by surrendering control of the match.

    If this doesn’t make sense, don’t worry about it. Just focus on the practical applications covered in the first ten chapters. At some point you’ll run into a specific wall and then this article will be more useful.

  14. February 28th, 2010 at 15:41 | #14

    cuttyb87: Hm, what makes you think the whole manual is geared towards projectile users? There’s only been one installment discussing fireball usage and that was an addendum.

    All the main concepts of footsies work for any character. Grapplers just have another dimension on top of that because their close range game is better. Instead of trying to punish every whiffed move, sometimes it’s better to simply take the opportunity to walk forward to get into close range. Even though you’ll be even on frame advantage if you do that, you have superior options at close range so you have a better chance of winning the attack/block/throw mixup.

    Otherwise play footsies like i explained in the first ten chapters. If they’re mashing SRKs, block and punish. There’s no excuse for losing to that dumb tactic. Don’t think of it like “SRKs beat everything i have.” Think of it like “Every SRK is a potential opening for free damage.”

    Abel’s F+MK is a pretty decent poke right? Make them whiff something then punish with F+MK and dash forward to start those mixups.

  15. cuttyb87
    February 28th, 2010 at 20:43 | #15

    @Maj I mean the majority of the chapters dealt wit spacing and how to space and I was using abel as an example and I use his Smk alot but I think grapplers have an up hill battle for the simple fact that a cr.mk can lead to a big combo and I would like to see a more defensive footsie chapter for the “hands-on” type after using Abel today I notice that he can get outpoked but his ex change of direction can help cus he builds meter up so quickly. But the videos has had people using projectile based characters and I would like to see more Giefs, Abels and Honda more thats all
    Great work keep it up.

  16. Tarnish
    February 28th, 2010 at 23:14 | #16


    Rolling on your territory!

    Also, yeah, that was where I used to play games. Was a great scene, always had fun.


    Ah, the “Psychic DP”/Mash SRK… I think once you learn to spot just how and why your pokes get DP’d in the first place, you either realize how good your opponent is because DPing a poke means that they’ve caught your internal rhythm and knew (guessed) the button you were going to end up pressing in that rhythm… or you realize how bad you are because you gave someone on auto-pilot hurricane kick xx SHORYUKEN free damage because you played auto pilot right along with them.

    Shotos get a bad rep in Street Fighter IV, simply because what used to look “easy” now looks even “easier” due to what something like that can lead to. It’s all the same concept of a person making a great read or you handing someone your life bar of your own volition. I still think SFIV is fucking stupid, but I definitely understand that concept well enough. I wouldn’t really defend that in any other context though. However nice you are, anything that leads into Ultra is definitely something I find poor in design just due to what Ultras are.

    Don’t lose to it though, it’s just a perverse form of something that’s been in Street Fighter forever.

    Funny thing about footsies, it’s a neutral thing. It’s both Offense and Defense. You’re committing to it whether your making a move or waiting for an opening. It’s about being in the right spot and pressing the right button at the right time, simple as that. Nakamura’s ST Cammy probably has some of the best footsies I’ve seen, extremely good use of her standing jab, crouching forward, and crouching roundhouse, you’ll see each poke used in a defensive or offensive context… I think for one to ask for a defensive based footsies article might mean that the person should re-read the Footsies Handbook again and then try to spot more examples. Not hating mind you, just something to think about.

  17. cuttyb87
    March 1st, 2010 at 15:07 | #17

    @ Maj your right I re-read the spacing chapter and the defensive chapter. Your a genius in the world of STF lol even tho I think 4 breaks some of the rules I think your handbook is on point specially on the idea of the mid-range game.
    I was saying that street fighter 4 breaks some of the laws and people who can smash out of srk’s put people like a grappler in bad spots thats was my point but I see how a person who mains a grappler can survive in this new kind of game being different and catching on is the name of the game.
    How soon can we get another edition to the footsie series? lets do a tournament ready edition or something =)

  18. March 1st, 2010 at 15:30 | #18

    Tarnish: Thanks dude.

    cuttyb87: Actually i was planning on writing an article about grapplers, but more about the mental metagame than the nuances of footsies. After that i want to write a series on using projectiles, which i think everyone will find useful just because those characters are so commonly used. Knowing what they’re doing is a big step towards being able to beat them.

    (But please don’t give me credit. The whole community came up with these concepts. I’m only putting them into words.)

  19. cuttyb87
    March 1st, 2010 at 21:38 | #19

    A grappler handbook wow zangief players everywhere will love it the og grappler. Then there the hybrid grappler like Alex and Abel then charge grapplers like Honda take your time with it and cover the basics look forward to reading it good luck

  20. Kareeem
    March 2nd, 2010 at 07:11 | #20

    how about the credit for putting it into words then? this was an great series.

  21. ToungeBuckler
    March 3rd, 2010 at 09:10 | #21

    Maj, I’m a new player and this series helped me out immensely. So much info there is no way I can remember all this info with one read. How about a paper copy to buy? Maybe that will help make your efforts here at SonicHurricane profitable? You did a lot of work with this, only seems fair you get some reward.

  22. Bob Sagat
    March 3rd, 2010 at 10:03 | #22

    Thanks for taking the time to write all of this Maj. It helped me and others out a lot.

  23. March 4th, 2010 at 00:59 | #23

    Outstanding ending to a well-written series.

    Dee Jay’s arc is so clunky when you’re trying to jump in over a hadouken, only to eat a sweep for your troubles. But when you get the knockdown and go for that crossup, it’s the greatest thing in the world.

  24. Tarnish
    March 5th, 2010 at 16:23 | #24

    Maj :
    Tarnish: That is awesome! Ending shot made me lol irl. Can’t remember the last time the internet made me do that.

    I kind of wish we had more vids of just people interacting in the community. Again, the thing I miss most about “the scene” isn’t even the games, (though they come pretty damn close), it’s the people. That’s the draw. I really want to possibly write about the effects of “online play” and how players are quick to name favorites and go “OH I BEAT THAT GUY.” The attitudes are just mentally exhausting, and I miss just having everyone together to experience “good times.”


  25. March 5th, 2010 at 22:36 | #25

    Yeah but the whole scene is different nowadays. I mean, you just linked me to u2b footage of a bunch of people in Maryland watching a live stream of a Street Fighter match that took place in my city. The real question is, why am i not weirded out by a camcorder video starring a box of cheese pretzels containing a third-generation(!) recording of my friend jchensor’s voice?

    … But you should write that article.

  26. darkscythe
    March 7th, 2010 at 18:49 | #26

    hey great write ups man much appreciated, ive learned too much too even thank you for.

  27. squidfist
    August 7th, 2010 at 17:22 | #27

    Thank you for writing this wonderful series on footsies. I especially took to heart the part about being on auto pilot and being a completely reaction based player, because that’s what I am right now. But after reading these articles I’m thinking of completely starting over from scratch and learning about various traps I’ve found myself in the past against good players(I’m a Blanka player). I’ve never been to a tournament so I don’t know about tournament level play or anything, but I have been playing at a casual level for about 15 years). I think reading this really made me think about how to get into the psychological side of the series which is something I’ve always wanted to do.

  28. squidfist
    August 7th, 2010 at 17:23 | #28

    Oh yeah, thank you thank you thank you man!

  29. August 8th, 2010 at 03:13 | #29

    People’s tendencies change drastically in tournament play, but it’s still the same game. You know that feeling at the end of a match where both characters have 3% life and both players suddenly get intensely cautious? That’s what tournaments are like all the time. But if you get accustomed to that atmosphere, you can take advantage of that overprotective psychological mindset too.

    Anyway you don’t have to start from scratch, but try to get out of your comfort zones and experiment with new approaches. Then see if you can incorporate what you find into your gameplan. The real goal of footsies is to make yourself a more well-rounded player so that you’re never stuck with only one option at any critical point.

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