Street Fighter Footsies Handbook, Chapter 1
A lot of people make the mistake of assuming that footsies is something you whip up on the fly. While you certainly can do it that way, and while freestyling footsies is certainly a valuable skill, the fact of the matter is that Alex Valle knows more about footsies than you’ll ever know. The real problem is you don’t even know that you’re supposed to know these things.
Footsies as a whole is such a dynamic, complex subject that it’s impossible to convey or grasp at once. So we’re going to try something different. Let’s approach footsies like a collection of situations and try to come up with elemental solutions to each scenario. Practice these one by one until you’re comfortable enough with them to incorporate them fluidly into your gameplan.
Element 01: Momentarily step into your opponent’s poke range and quickly back out instead of attacking. This is Footsies 101. To see it in action, check out Mike Watson’s HF Guile demolishing some poor bastard – two consecutive full rounds of toying with his opponent’s natural reactions. This bait works well in tense matches, after extended periods of cautious zoning, or with charge characters who rarely walk forward.
Element 02: Determine which of your combos and attack strings position your opponents barely outside their effective reversal range, especially when facing characters with greater mobility. One of the best ways to trick someone into wasting meter and handing you the match is by making yourself appear falsely vulnerable. There’s no better example of this concept than the famous final exchange of the B3 SFA2 tournament.
Element 03: Once you’ve established a pattern of poking consistently at a certain range, use your opponent’s hesitation to walk up and throw them. It’s always dangerous to wander into enemy attack space, so wait until you’re certain you’ve trained them to think twice about pushing buttons. John Choi’s CvS2 Sakura does an excellent job of demonstrating this principle for the entire first round of that Evo2k7 match. There’s no way he would’ve gotten away with such gutsy throw attempts at the beginning of the round.
All of these plays are universally applicable to any fighting game. That’s why footsies and zoning are considered fundamentals. If you run into any questions, bring them here anytime.
Element 99: And every once in a while, try hiding behind a table.