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Enthusiasm vs Experience

October 23rd, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

If you’ve been playing Super Street Fighter IV since spring or summer, you’ve probably run into a few oldschool players with rock-solid fundamentals, who seem to adapt very quickly. These guys are seriously tough to beat, and it may seem like an uphill battle which only gets steeper the longer you play against them.

There’s a number of obvious reasons behind their immediate and continued success. They’ve gone up against just about every play style in existence. They’ve learned to use more characters than you’ve fought against. They’ve entered more tournaments than you’ve seen. Suffice it to say, experience is a major advantage.

However, if you’re a relative newcomer to the fighting game tournament scene, you shouldn’t worry about that gap too much. That’ll be there no matter what competitive arena you walk into. The people who have been around for a long time will always have the benefit of experience, but your motivation and your enthusiasm for the game can trump that.

When you hear old-timers talk about SF4, oftentimes they can seem grumpy – like they don’t enjoy it as much as their favorite game which nobody plays anymore. But that’s natural, right?

Everyone has the game that made them fall in love with fighting games, and that’s the one they played to death. Three or four releases later, they’ll certainly have experience, but they won’t have that same desire to explore every little detail. They won’t commit the slightest surprises to memory or cherish tiny innovations they see in combo videos.

Let’s say you play Dhalsim and you can beat all your friends soundly. Well, you probably won’t be as successful if you run into someone who was around for Alpha 3. As it happens, Dhalsim was ridiculously strong in SFA3, so everyone had to learn how to deal with him.

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That means your veteran opponent won’t be fazed by 80% of the stuff your friends are scared of. SFA3 graduates simply know how to play against Dhalsim on a fundamental level. They understand where Dhalsim’s strengths and weaknesses lie, and more importantly they know how to take Dhalsim players out of their comfort zone.

However, most of these guys don’t see SSF4 for what it really is, because they aren’t motivated enough to learn all the nuances. The truth is they’re still playing against A3 Dhalsim in their minds, because it’s usually enough to secure the win.

Your job is to steer away from their familiar territory and beat them with stuff they haven’t seen before. In other words, you have to make the match look dramatically different from an Alpha 3 match. How can you do that if you don’t know anything about A3 Dhalsim? For that matter, how do you even know that their anti-Dhalsim experience comes from SFA3 and not SF2WW?

You can’t and you don’t. The answer is to learn SSF4 inside-out and keep trying stuff – the newer, the better. And keep track of what works against your opponent to expand on those ideas later. Anything that confuses your opponent and makes them question their knowledge of the game will ultimately work in your favor.

The most important advantage you have is the ability to remain unpredictable. Always remember that the best Street Fighter players are experts at gradually reducing their opponents’ options until they essentially beat themselves. To avoid that fate, you must constantly look for ways to keep your gameplan dynamic and multifaceted, no matter how much pressure you’re under. It’s easier to achieve that creativity when you love the game more than your opponent does.

(On the other hand, don’t be afraid to face these guys “fair and square” either. Roll up your sleeves and play footsies with them straight up. With the right mindset, you can learn a lot very quickly even if you lose. Just don’t get frustrated and never lose your enthusiasm.)

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  1. Pokey86
    October 25th, 2010 at 08:15 | #1

    I feel in this position sometimes, i’ve played the old ones but not on a competetive level. I don’t stop trying though :P

    thankfully i’m not one of those who despises losing, so if i play someone who destroys me then i’ll just keep playing them until i at least pose some kind of opposition.

  2. October 25th, 2010 at 16:24 | #2

    That’s a healthy attitude to have, at least when you go up against someone who is clearly better. But you can always find stuff that they don’t know.

    And enthusiasm doesn’t always go downhilll in a straight line either. Sometimes people find a new game that inspires them again, like Ed Ma with SF4. But generally speaking, if you ask someone who’s been attending tournaments for ten years, chances are they’ll say their favorite game is still the first one they seriously got into.

    I mean i happen to like SF4 overall, but i’m not the same way i liked CvS2. Back then i used to memorize every little detail without even trying. Nowadays i’ll see some SF4 combo in a video and can’t quite remember if i’ve seen it before. I mean the major technical stuff stands out obviously, but if i see five minutes of Dudley link/chain combos, it all starts to blend together.

  3. darcontek
    October 25th, 2010 at 20:36 | #3

    I find that happening to myself too. I think its just what happens when you get older.

  4. Pokey86
    October 26th, 2010 at 08:45 | #4

    I know in RPG’s people tend to love the first one they played the most, could well be the same thing as both tend to require a large amount of your time.

  1. October 24th, 2010 at 04:52 | #1
  2. October 24th, 2010 at 04:54 | #2
  3. October 25th, 2010 at 16:14 | #3
  4. October 25th, 2010 at 20:45 | #4
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