Home > Combos, Transcripts > SF4 Biweekly TACV 15: Balrog

SF4 Biweekly TACV 15: Balrog

August 17th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Wanting to explore the full combo potential of charge characters was my initial reason for making the switch from manual execution to tool-assistance. SF4 Balrog is a great example of a character whose primary limitation is an execution barrier. Combining difficult links with optimized charge timing opens up a whole new layer of combo opportunities for the champ.

0:11 There’s nothing notable about this combo from a technical standpoint. It was the first clip i recorded, simply because i thought it looked cool. Balrog’s Violent Buffalo ultra appears in almost every combo, so i tried to mix it up by using a different pattern every time. It always juggles for exactly seven hits, which seems to be its maximum.

0:24 Although the charge timing is tight, Balrog has just enough time to connect an LP Dash Swing Blow before Rose crumples into airborne state after each lvl2 Focus Attack. The sixth one is a lvl1 Focus Attack to set up the ultra. However, the Violent Buffalo must be initiated with KKK buttons after the backdash, because evidently the PPP version is 1 frame slower.

0:43 These four mini-combos are strung together to save time on transitions. In older games, chain canceling rapid-fire weak attacks would eliminate their entire recovery period, making startup time the only relevant factor. Somehow that’s not the case in SF4, because Balrog can naturally combo far s.LP -> whiff far s.LP -> c.LP whereas c.LP -> whiff far s.LP -> c.LP requires a meaty setup. Balrog’s EX Dash Straight has 6 active frames and provides +2 frame advantage, which becomes +7 on the last active frame, and +9 on counterhit. Far s.MK connects on the 9th frame. Sagat’s HP Tiger Uppercut is invincible for 5 frames and connects on the 5th frame, which makes it impossible to beat or even to trade with a non-invincible attack. Luckily it doesn’t break armor, so Balrog absorbs the impact on the 5th frame, then Sagat cancels into EX Focus Attack on the 6th frame, so EX Dash Straight connects as a perfect meaty counterhit. HP Dash Swing Blow simply links into backward j.LP, and the numbers work out quite nicely to dizzy Sagat at the ideal time. HP Dash Straight, s.LP only works against Sagat and Honda, but HP Dash Straight, c.LK works against Bison and Cammy.

1:01 HK Dash Upper provides +3 frame advantage on counterhit. It’s performed as a reversal after blocking Seth’s s.HP, breaking Focus Attack armor and creating an automatic counterhit setup while Seth is still considered to be in attack startup. The goal of this combo is to land as many Dash Uppers as possible, without repeating any sequence inbetween, while sporting vintage Champion Edition colors. As LP Buffalo Head whiffs through Seth’s fallen body, Balrog must switch charge directions from right to left. Although meaty HK Dash Upper should provide up to +4 frame advantage, it doesn’t seem to connect on its meatiest frame from behind dizzy Seth, so Balrog has to settle for 3-frame c.LP instead of 4-frame s.LP as a follow-up. Dash Upper would create a free juggle state on KO, but the control window expires before Balrog can recover to perform any moves. This combo causes 490 damage and exactly 750 stun.

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1:17 All five of Balrog’s “Dash” specials connect during this combo, and both of his remaining specials are whiffed to build meter. HP Dash Swing Blow gains a 50-point counterhit dizzy bonus against Akuma’s HP Shakunetsu Hadoken. Delaying the FADC after HK Dash Upper brings Balrog slightly closer to Akuma, helping the c.LP, s.HK, c.MP link sequence work midscreen. The corner is necessary for close s.MK to come out instead of far s.MK, which is the only way to dizzy Akuma with HP Dash Low Straight. LP Buffalo Head misses Akuma’s dizzy animation, which proves useful for building meter. There’s no trick to charging the ultra after HK Dash Low Smash, apart from performing the motions very quickly and using the c.LK’s impact freeze to buy more time. This combo inflicts 574 damage and exactly 850 stun.

1:39 Holding all punches and/or kicks for nearly a minute unleashes Balrog’s Final Turn Punch, worth 560 damage and 290 stun. After KKK Turn Punch (Final) trades with Gen’s KKK:s.LK, Balrog stuns Gen with a series of s.LK xx EX Dash Upper loops – using only kick buttons throughout the entire sequence. Of course, the charge timing during this whole period is almost airtight. Gen falls dizzy at 899 damage and 915 stun, then PPP Turn Punch (Final) finishes him off – bringing the total to 955 damage.

1:58 Guile cancels LP Sonic Boom into EX Focus Attack, providing a counterhit setup for Rog’s PPP Final Turn Punch, which raises its damage to 700 points. The final hit of HP Crazy Buffalo trades with the Sonic Boom, freeing Balrog to follow up with reversal PPP Violent Buffalo. The trick to drawing maximum damage out of the ultra is to find a pattern which holds the first four swings to exactly four hits, saving three juggles for the last uppercut. Each of those hits is slightly more powerful than the rest. This combo deals 1220 damage and 363 stun.

2:20 PPP Final Turn Punch trades with Blanka’s s.LK, allowing Balrog to follow up with PPP Violent Buffalo. For some strange reason, the super only juggles if you hold K during the ultra. Even though they look identical, the kick version of the ultra finisher has different properties compared to the punch version. The fourth swing determines the finisher, so you can’t access the kick version unless you hold K to perform an uppercut on the fourth swing. The ultra needs to launch from the ground because Balrog’s Crazy Buffalo super doesn’t possess infinite juggle potential. Then you must juggle with the second uppercut of the super, because the first hit always whiffs. Spacing is important too, because Balrog will slide right under if he’s too close to the corner. This combo yields 1065 damage and 290 stun.

This is a tool-assisted combo video recorded with two ASCII PAD V Pro programmable controllers. Absolutely no cheats, hacks, or game-altering devices were used in the making of.

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  1. August 17th, 2010 at 14:39 | #1

    Alright, here’s how the remaining episodes will play out. Episode 14 is still going to be Chun Li and Balrog of course. Episode 15 will be Dan and Sagat, as the title says. That leaves Seth and Guile – who will either be paired up for episode 16, or split into separate episodes.

    The whole schedule is kind of a mess right now because i’ve been working on all six characters at once, but hopefully i can get everything sorted out soon.

    Sorry sirs, i wish i could lay out a more definitive outline, but right now it’s hard to predict. Believe it or not, i’m still hoping to get 13-14-15 all done by Tuesday the 31st. We’ll see how that works out. You know the drill; they’ll be uploaded to my u2b channel the minute they’re ready.

  2. N00b_Saib0t
    August 17th, 2010 at 15:20 | #2

    you know the drill, maj. you post this, you get 30 replies telling you you’re awesome and should just take your time, thanks for the hard work you put into it. no apology needed man, not for a free service that never fails to blow our minds when we see the end result.

    also, if we’re getting to vote on guile and seth being one or separate videos, i vote separate. they both have stupid amounts of combo potential and it would be cool to see them get their own videos.

  3. Rufus
    August 18th, 2010 at 09:23 | #3

    N00b_Saib0t :
    you know the drill, maj. you post this, you get 30 replies telling you you’re awesome and should just take your time, thanks for the hard work you put into it. no apology needed man, not for a free service that never fails to blow our minds when we see the end result.

    Just leave some of the combos for other people.

  4. fenris
    August 24th, 2010 at 12:06 | #4


    Since some of dan’s taunts juggle have you found anyways to combo them?

  5. supersonic1453
    August 24th, 2010 at 16:16 | #5


    Dan’s taunts don’t hit in SF4.

  6. fenris
    August 24th, 2010 at 19:56 | #6


    Ah my bad, I totally spaced on what game haha

  7. Hope
    November 1st, 2010 at 02:15 | #7

    Hey Maj, a status update would be nice!

  8. November 2nd, 2010 at 03:10 | #8

    There’s nothing to report, honestly. I’ve just been insanely busy with maintaining regular website updates (and life in general).

    All my free time on Tuesdays is spent writing technical articles. It takes about 3-4 hours to prep each ComboVid interview on Wednesdays, not to mention all the correspondence throughout the week. It usually takes that long to capture decent screenshots in unfamiliar games on Thursdays. Saturdays are spent writing strategy articles of course. That leaves me barely three days a week, which tend to disappear much faster than i would like. There’s always something that demands my attention, which is fine because i like being helpful, but it feels like i’m always busy every day of every week.

    Believe me, these SF4 videos are constantly on my mind, but i just haven’t had time to work on them. And unfortunately the next character is Chun Li, who happens to be an absolute time sink. I hate to put it like this, but it’ll be done when it’s done. Sorry sir.

  9. January 1st, 2011 at 04:13 | #9

    Slight change of plans: Episode 14 will now feature Chun Li alone, but Balrog is still next in line. In fact i’m strongly considering solo episodes from here on out, unless i can’t find anything interesting whatsoever for Balrog/Dan/Sagat.

    Tentatively speaking, Episode 15 will be Balrog, then Dan/16, then Sagat/17, then Seth/18, and finally Guile will close out Episode 19. I’m strictly following the character order decided by screenshot caption winners.

  10. January 25th, 2011 at 02:13 | #10

    SF4 Balrog’s LP headbutt whiffs against dizzy Akuma. Useful!

    Evidently the counterhit bonus on HK Dash Upper is only +2. The frame data has it listed as +1 on hit, and you can link c.LP (active on 3rd frame) but not s.LP (active on 4th frame) after counterhit HK Dash Upper.

    Also opponents seem to take slightly longer (~4F) getting up after counterhit sweep knockdown compared to non-counterhit. Was this known?

  11. January 25th, 2011 at 03:18 | #11

    It’s crazy how much weird shit this character has. For instance, Balrog’s super only has juggle potential when you hold kick to make him do uppercuts. The last hit has the same straight punch animation regardless, yet it has no juggle potential unless you hold kick. Why?? For what possible reason would you not hold kick?

    His dash punch to super cancel – you just kind of mash it out, and the game stores the super input for a certain period of time. If it connects from inside half screen distance, it automatically cancels into super. But if you do it from full screen away, no super. All of his dash punch variants work this way.

    Then you’ve got that Dash Swing Blow overhead, which seems to cause no impact freeze. If you cancel that into super, the hit spark doesn’t even have time to animate before the screen freezes. If you FADC, you can’t even see the punch connect. (Well, it must have some impact freeze because he can’t avoid fireballs by supercanceling, but it’s probably ~2 frames.)

    But this was probably done to avoid giving him massive frame advantage on trades. His frame data lists 35 frames of hit stun, which is an absurd number. If you trade with someone’s c.LK, you would expect to end up with like 22 frames of advantage (35 – 13) plus the difference in impact freeze between a special move and a light attack.

    Except since it causes no impact freeze of its own, Balrog gets frozen by the opponent’s attack while that 35 stays fixed, so what you actually end up with is 35 – 13 – 8 = 14. Well played, Capcom.

    On the plus side, it looks kind of cool if it kills the opponent as you cancel into super. The screen goes dark even before the KO sign appears, similar to a projectile kill canceled into super, instead of a physical attack.

  12. January 28th, 2011 at 16:00 | #12

    Alright, i got this SF4 Balrog vs Seth combo working ~25% of the time in the corner. It would randomly break in one of 4-5 ways. Not too bad.

    All i did was move it midscreen and add a proper counterhit setup. Now it’s down to 1/50 and breaks in 9 different places. Wtf?

    When working frame by frame, sometimes the game’s input leniency absorbs flaws in deceptive ways. Things seem the same when they’re not. And it’s a nightmare trying to figure out where it’s malfunctioning.

  13. January 29th, 2011 at 11:48 | #13

    Finally got the last Balrog combo (vs Sagat) recorded, so we’re all set. Well, not really a combo, but … you’ll see. I got some stuff to take care of today, then i should have this episode edited and uploaded by tonight.

  14. January 29th, 2011 at 21:15 | #14

    And it’s finally uploaded and fully processed. Enjoy!

    It’ll take me a little while to write up the transcript, but hopefully i can have it finished within the next few days. Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions in the meantime.

    By the way, the reason i still call it “Biweekly” is because i still make an effort to adhere to that schedule. I simply have less free time now, so it doesn’t work out sometimes – especially when the characters are complex, whether obviously (Chun Li) or surprisingly (Balrog).

  15. January 29th, 2011 at 23:40 | #15

    ..that was exciting. :)

  16. January 30th, 2011 at 02:38 | #16

    I see you topped your top focus attack count. Great vid.

  17. January 30th, 2011 at 02:58 | #17

    What are the charge tricks for diagonal specials?

  18. January 30th, 2011 at 03:35 | #18

    After Balrog dizzies Seth, he whiffs LK dashsmash followed by LP headbutt and then HK dashupper. The reason he can do them so quickly is that when you go from DB to DF+LK, you don’t lose D-charge. Then when you go from DB to UB, you don’t lose B-charge.

    Using Guile as a counter-example, he has to press F+P for Sonic Boom. If he could execute it with DF+P, he wouldn’t have to sacrifice Flash Kick charge to throw a Sonic Boom – and he’d be a different character entirely.

    Anyway during that Balrog sequence, he also has to switch charge directions from right to left as he’s crossing over Seth, but the basic idea is the same. This has been Balrog’s gimmick since ST, although he’s lost it in some games.

  19. January 30th, 2011 at 03:43 | #19

    By the way, that combo against Gen will probably be revised for the DVD. Right after i spent all day capturing it, i realized i could’ve done a slightly less damaging c.LK xx EX Dash Upper loop – which looks more impressive since they’re all 1-frame links (but not really because the charge timing forces me to wait the extra frame anyway).

    And then end the combo with something like j.HK, s.LK, s.MK (KO) xx Final TAP for more theoretical damage! If i can manage to reach exactly 900 damage before the s.MK, that should be the maximum for that particular concept.

  20. January 30th, 2011 at 07:32 | #20

    Oh right, that trick, I thought there was some magic, mythical secret passed between the gods of combo videos.

  21. harejordan
    January 31st, 2011 at 00:58 | #21

    For Balrog’s Ultra -> Super, does it only work when starting from midscreen? And why wouldn’t a headbutt -> Ultra -> super work?

  22. January 31st, 2011 at 01:40 | #22

    For some strange reason, it only works if you hold Kick during ultra. Then you have to get the second hit of the super to connect, because the first hit whiffs. Spacing is important because he’ll slide right under if you’re too close.

    The ultra needs to launch from the ground because Balrog’s super doesn’t have infinite juggle potential. The uppercut version has juggle potentials of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 for each of its hits.

    It’s tough to explain why the second hit connects after the last swing of the ultra juggles twice, but according to Pokey86 it’s because one of those hits doesn’t increase the juggle counter, so they only count as one.

  23. February 1st, 2011 at 05:53 | #23

    The transcript is up. I think i covered all the essential questions, but let me know if anything’s missing or unclear.

  24. Rufus
    February 7th, 2011 at 13:36 | #24

    I did a little searching, and maybe you covered it elsewhere, but how do you get the counter hit and trade with Gen’s Crane Style light kick?

  25. February 7th, 2011 at 17:12 | #25

    There’s no counterhit there. Gen would’ve died by the second EX Dash Upper if that Final TAP had received a counterhit bonus. The only counterhit Turn Punch in this video is the one against Guile’s EX Focus Attack.

  1. January 29th, 2011 at 21:25 | #1
  2. January 29th, 2011 at 23:17 | #2
  3. January 29th, 2011 at 23:36 | #3
  4. September 11th, 2011 at 04:07 | #4
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