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Using Combos and Block Strings as Bait

September 18th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

A question recently arose regarding Footsies Handbook Element 02 which made me realize that it could use some clarification. The whole concept is to perform an attack sequence which leaves you looking vulnerable, thus fooling your opponent into reacting brashly

The example provided was Alex Valle‘s SFA2 Sagat landing crossup j.LK, c.MP xx Tiger Shot, which positions Ken just outside of sweep range without knocking him down. Sagat could’ve done a slightly more damaging knockdown combo, but Ken still would’ve survived.

Valle’s gamble tricked John Choi into activating Custom Combo, which would’ve given Choi a great chance to win if Valle wasn’t prepared for it. But of course it was a trap all along, and Valle responded with that historic fierce Tiger Uppercut to win the B3 Alpha 2 tournament.

Now this isn’t something you can do on a regular basis. It requires a certain kind of combo, and even then it requires a certain lifebar/meter situation to make the gamble worthwhile.

Valle somehow assembled the perfect storm. He built up an insane amount of comeback momentum. He used a combo that didn’t knock down, so it looked like he screwed up. It was only three hits, so it was tough for Choi to judge the distance in such a short period of time. It ended in a fireball which caused funky slowdown and messed with Choi’s timing. And it ended with Sagat standing up, which made him seem like a very tempting target for a Valle CC.

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This all sounds great in theory, but in practice it’s usually not a great idea to sacrifice potential damage. That’s why using block strings this way is generally more practical than relying on combos in this fashion.

Here’s the main advantage of this entire technique: If you start from a jump attack or a crossup, you’re basically starting from a controlled point. You can then use a specific block string to give yourself the exact position and frame advantage that you desire, down to the pixel. It’s much easier than establishing that position from neutral states, where both you and your opponent are mobile. If you’ve figured out all your options from this position and know them better than your opponent, you’re effectively in control of the situation.

So you see, it’s just a little trick to establish spacing under your terms. When you’ve got them in hit stun or block stun, you get to determine where they end up. If you do a little research in Training Mode, you can find button sequences to put them precisely where you want them. It’s much easier than claiming that spot when your opponent is free to move around.

That’s the thing with footsies. A lot of is mental, but a lot of it is technical too. If you learn a new trick every day, suddenly you’ll wind up with a sophisticated offense.

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  1. September 18th, 2010 at 20:08 | #1

    Credit goes to Hotdogmarchant for the question that led to this article.

  2. Wilken
    September 19th, 2010 at 04:53 | #2

    That was a very good read, i understand a lot more now.

    So…What about blockstrings with characters that aways want to be in your face, specially the ones that don’t have a jaguar tooth or demon flip or whatever to get closer and build momentum quickly?

  3. N00b_Saib0t
    September 19th, 2010 at 07:33 | #3

    Another great example, I think the match was sabre vs valle at evo 2k9, is intentionally dropping your combo to bait a reversal. Sabre (sakura) had valle (ryu) cornered and got a short tatsu loop going, but mixed in a forward tatsu which didn’t combo baiting a reversal super. He got his opponent flustered from said mix up and proceded to win the round.

    I might be wrong about the event the match happened at, but I’m positive it was valle vs sabre.

  4. September 19th, 2010 at 11:06 | #4

    Wilken: The main trick with rushdown characters is using block strings that leave you just outside their throw range. Hopefully your character has longer throw range than they do, but even if you don’t, it’s still nice to have control over whether you’re in throw range or not. But sweep range is still a threatening position. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you always have to be right in their face to hold momentum.

    N00b_Saib0t: Yeah actually i had that as the main example of one of those footsies articles. But let’s not get these mixed up, because that’s a different concept entirely. I mean, Sakura used a unique property of a special move to trump a specific super. That had nothing to do with using block strings for positioning. I know the title of this article sounds a little misleading but this stuff is way more universal.

  5. Carnoustie
    September 19th, 2010 at 14:59 | #5

    This is obscenely important in Third Strike, because of the parry system. A lot of people think parries are for negating chip damage, ever since the daigo parry anyway, but that’s really far from the truth. It’s for creating an opening from something safe. But you can’t just walk up and tap forward or down hoping for a lucky parry you can MAYBE react to. A lot of people do frame-neutral moves and then pick a direction to parry afterwards, which is safe outside of grab range unless you guess wrong, and even safer if no low attack will reach. Besides wakeup parries this is the most common time to attempt them.

  6. N00b_Saib0t
    September 19th, 2010 at 15:56 | #6

    Okay, I think I get the difference. You’re talking specifically about combos that end with specific spacing, not just how combos can get your opponent to react.

  7. September 19th, 2010 at 22:44 | #7

    Man! Well, I was planning to tackle this on my next video. I did some on my newest one, and this is actually very helpful for my next one! Maj, you’re the best!

  1. September 18th, 2010 at 20:22 | #1
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