SF4 Biweekly TACV 15: Balrog
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.
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.