Wednesday, 29 December 2010

My Thought Processes When Picking A New Character, And The Decision I've Arrived At.



 I've said it so much in the past but now I actually mean it. I'm dropping Vega and picking up a new main. This is going to be a long article, so be ready to read it. A couple of days ago I saw this video:




15 seconds in my worst fear for Arcade edition was realised, Vega couldn't use Cosmic Heel as he could before. Cosmic heel was very important for closing space (relatively) safely and beating cr.tech or throw attempts, if it hit, you could combo, if it was blocked you could mix up with a throw , neutral jump or other options. Seeing that you could punish it with Lariat, meant that it was upto -4 outside of tip range which means you could eat a fat punish for trying to close space.

With that option gone from Vega's game I don't think I'll enjoy / be able to get anywhere playing him, so I've decided to pick up a new character, which brings me to the main point of this article.

In SF4 and all of its iterations, all the characters are "good" but some characters are more "good" than others.

Being "good" means different things to different people but to me it means whether a character can get top 8 at a major offline tournament, so now that I'm picking a character , if I want to do well at tournaments in future, I need to pick a character who is common in top 8's at tournaments and hasn't been nerfed too badly in Arcade Edition, so I'm going to analyse the top 8's from the last few major North American tournaments to help me whittle down the list before I start saying who I like and don't like.

First, I'll start with Hadocon, SoCal tournament earlier this month, the top 8 looked like this:

1st: EG Ricky Ortiz [Rufus]
2nd: BLG Filipino Champ [Dhalsim/Seth]
3rd: BLG Vangief [Zangief]
4th: Tatsu [Vega]
5th: LPN [Adon, Akuma, Abel]
5th: Warahk [Guile]
7th: Combofiend [Guy]
7th: Grimmmz [Ryu]

Already looking at that list I'm discounting Adon , Abel and Akuma because LPN did a lot of counter picking throughout the tournament (from what I watched at least) and really , Adon and Akuma take far too much thought and skill for someone like me to play effectively. I wouldn't play Rufus , and I doubt Combofiend's Guy placing this high was anything more than a one-off. Vega, I couldn't play in Arcade Edition when it eventually lands over here , and I don't like Seth. So from Hadocon, I'm left with Gief, Guile , Dhalsim, Zangief and Ryu.

Now, NEC XI. This was an East Coast Tournament where I think the level of play was higher, so the results mean more to me. Here's what the top 8 looked like:

1. EG.Justin Wong (Rufus, Cammy)
2. TFA.Wolfkrone (C. Viper)
3. DMG.PR Rog (Balrog)
4. EG.Marn (Dudley)
5. DMG.WeakSauce (Sagat)
5. EMP.Sanford Kelly (Sagat, C. Viper, Ryu)
7. FYC.MarlinPie (Cammy)
7. DMG.Lud (Chun-Li)

I can automatically cross off Cammy and Dudley, since Cammy got nerfed badly and I don't think I'd be able to do what Marn does with Dudley. That leaves me with everyone else on the list : Viper, Rog , Sagat and Chun, in addition to Gief , Sim and Ryu from the previous list.

Finally , I had a look at the top 8 from NCR , a NorCal tournament:

1. EG.Ricky Ortiz (Chun-Li)
2. BLG.Vangief (Zangief)
3. BLG.Filipino Champ (Dhalsim)
4. Daigo Umehara (Ryu)
5. Alex Valle (Ryu)
5. Crizzle (C. Viper)
7. Warahk (Guile)
7. Mike Ross (E. Honda)

7 of the characters who got top 8 were ones that I'd picked which strengthened my theory that in high-level SF4 , only a handful of characters are tournament viable, with the odd exception here and there. I added Honda to my list , which left me with:

Viper, Balrog , Guile , Honda , Ryu , Dhalsim , Sagat , Chun Li and Zangief.

So now I'm going to write a little bit on each character's strengths and weaknesses and my own personal view on them in the hope that after I've written it I can arrive at a sensible and rock solid decision.

1) Viper.

In my opinion, behind Rufus and Cammy she is probably the most broken character in the game. I don't think theres another character thats more exciting to watch , and she can mindfuck you easily and effectively If the execution's there. She does a lot of damage in short bursts but has very very weak footsies and she needs good  execution to play at a high level. Plus she has a few unwinnable (pretty much) matchups , so I'll probably need a second of some sort to cover her bad matchups (I still cant believe I don't have one) and I won't be able to play her on PSN. I started learning her , but in truth it was too much. I play about with her alot in training mode and I've tried to start learning some of her more advanced stuff so she's definitely a good choice , plus I know 3 decent Viper players who are all willing to help me out. All in all it's likely I'll play her in some shape or form down the line.

2) Balrog.

Balrog is easily my favourite character to play in the game. He doesn't appear to have any glaring weakness, and has cheap stuff like Headbutt > Ultra and his jabs. I could definitely see myself playing him , however I've never actually been able to work out for myself why he actually does what he does on offense/defense. I'd need to play with him quite a lot to get anywhere close to the level I'd like to be at. He'd definitely be a strong choice.


3) Guile.

Guile is just a fantastic character. Even in SF4 when he was supposedly a bad character I thought he was good, just through his character design. It does look like I'd see fast results with him if I put in a bit of time and effort and learnt my matchups with him. PLUS, he has good matchups with most of the people Viper has bad matchups with, except Abel (in which I'd probably play Vega since I don't really use Cosmic Heel at all in that matchup).


4) Honda.

Honda got nerfed quite badly, plus dies to fireball characters. To be frank , I don't think I could see myself playing him, he doesn't appeal to me and I don't really think I'd be bothered to play the game if I played him. That said , he would be extremely easy to learn should you pick him up , and you'd probably experience instant results


5) Ryu.

Ryu is like Rog to me. I'd love to play him, but I can't figure out exactly what he does. He has so many links/options/setups for every situation it would require a lot of practice/experience to get anywhere close to a decent level. To be honest aswell, I don't really like his game plan , I used to think that all he really had was cr.mk and fireball but I read an interview earlier with Mago and he said the same thing. I doubt very much I'd play Ryu against anyone semi-decent.

6) Dhalsim. 

Dhalsim, from what I've read actually got nerfed pretty badly. I wouldn't mind playing Dhalsim , he seems like a character that rewards thought and careful play (which I'd really like to improve on) so he would be a learning experience. To be truthful though I wouldn't really want to play him, but he's not discounted.


7) Sagat.

Sagat is sick. He probably has one of the best fireball games and a great DP. His damage got buffed again , and so did st.lk. Plus he beats Viper's bad matchups quite well. However, his slow walk speed is a bit much for me, and he doesn't have that good poke like Ryu's cr.mk. Definitely a strong choice should I choose to pick him up.


8) Chun Li.

Chun Li is like, a female Vega. They play the same , poke and punish , and Chun Li has a poor fireball aswell. I very much doubt I would play her, she's boring.


9) Zangief.

I do respect Zangief. And there's only like one good one I know of who plays offline in London. However he just seems a bit overwhelming. I've never played a grappler in any other game , and from the ones I've played he loses to straight turtling (which is prevalent in this game). I doubt I would be able to make any moves with him.

From writing this, I've realised that A) I want to main Viper and B) I want someone who deals with her bad matchups in Abel, Rufus (U2 nerf may make it easier) , Cammy (although I doubt this matchup will be as bad) ,Bison , Boxer , Honda (Nerfed).

So I'll main Viper and second either Guile or Sagat. Probably Guile.  Thanks for reading, this was a nice article to write as it made me think about who I'm going to pick up and why. PLEASE comment and feedback on this one, because it will help a lot in picking a character.

Safe.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Learning a New Character

I feel there comes a time in every fighting game player's lifespan where they want to change character for some reason.

They may want to change for tournament results, because they want to handle bad matchups or even just for fun. Undoubtedly their will be a learning curve to get your character to a semi - decent level, from easy (Cody) to difficult (C.Viper). Keep in mind when I say this I am not dismissing any characters as easy to play or hard to play, I'm just saying its easier to get certain characters to a level where you can be successful with them against average players. Here's what I think of the difficulty of a few characters

Easiest characters to pick up:                                      Hardest to pick up:
Cody                                                                          C.Viper
Rose                                                                           El Fuerte
Balrog                                                                         Zangief
Ryu                                                                             Ibuki
Vega

So, the meat and potatoes of this article is just what you should learn when learning/picking up a character. Don't take this as being a guide to learn the game , If you don't have footsies/execution/knowledge of the game engine/meter management etc etc, you need to fuck off and learn the game properly with Ryu/Guile/Cody before trying to learn someone advanced. It's all options man.

1) The character's "feel". That is a fucking shit term but I can't think of anything else to describe what I'm about to say. Walk speed , Jump Arc , Throw range and a characters dash are all integral. I would love to play Sagat for example, but his walk speed and Jump arc can fuck right off.

2) Playing footsies with a character. I couldnt play Rog if i tried. I have no idea of what to do with him except throw out a jab every once in a while and stick out a sweep and hope it hits.

(If anyone can give me a concise high-level explanation of how to play Rog's footsies and wakeup game btw , I'll pay you a brown note next time I see you, no joke)

You need to know your ranges and what you can do if one of your pokes connects on block or hit. For example , playing Vega (Vega will be the example I use in every article I'll ever post in this blog , I main him.) If I connect with a st.LK, my immediate thought is to cr.LP so I can hit-confirm, kara throw or try and bait something , either a crouch tech/throw attempt/mashed move of some sort.

3)Your combos. SSF4 is not a flashy game. You do not need to know more than 5-8 combos in the games. That's all it is. Anything else is unnecessary, you can know the combos but no point practicing them because you'll be wasting your time. I notice a lot of people doing flashy shit when they could do something else and take 30 or more points of damage from their opponent wtf or the other thing that pisses me off, doing shit punishes/versions of combos because they're "too hard" or you're "not used to doing them".I play a Cammy a lot who will land a focus crumple and do cr.MK xx HK Spiral Arrow , wtf is that?

IF YOU'RE MAINING SOMEONE - YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO DO ALL OF THEIR COMBOS IN ANY SITUATION THAT PRESENTS ITSELF TO STAND ANY CHANCE OF DOING WELL

NO EXCUSES.

IMAGINE ABEL NOT BEING ABLE (FUCK THE PUN) TO DO STEP KICK > ST.HP - HE WOULDNT BE SO BROKEN THEN WOULD HE?!

Anyway. Learn your combos. Where they're applicable. When to use them, and practice them a lot.

4) Options. I'm not saying that you go drown yourself in frames , but at least know what you can do in common situations. I remember when I first played Natty (Best Abel in the UK?). I got fucked in the arse, (no homo) any stepkick = 50% gone, I had no idea what to do, learning your options (and maybe a few punishes for your trouble) will help you massively. http://www.fgapr.com/WAMO/SSF4/onblock.html is a godsend if you're lazy, but there's nothing better than working it out in Training mode yourself , or looking on SRK (which will be the topic of my next article).

5) General Gameplan. Does your character rushdown? (Rufus/Cammy/Viper) or do they turtle and wait for an opening (Guile/Honda) Or are they a mix of both? Go into a game knowing what situations are beneficial for you, and know how to get there.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

5 Quick Things To Know When Playing Against Vega.

First up , Shoutouts to THE A G MAN for the banner. Did a sick job.

Well, I wanted to write a quick article of some sort whilst watching The Family on Channel 4 (fucking gdlk show by the way I suggest you watch it on 4OD if you're in the UK), and as a direct result of reading Air's blog, I thought of this: a series of simple articles that would serve as quick primers for each matchup for each character currently in SSF4. It won't go into mad detail, but it should be extremely useful for those who know nothing about matchups. I plan to do one once every few days (In addition to my regular stuff, don't worry) , In the hope that it will help my readers , reinforce my knowledge on match ups I'm comfortable with and also refresh my knowledge on a few obscure matchups.

So, first up. Vega, my main. He's been in the game since Vanilla Arcade, and right now in SSF4 , I would consider him to be high-mid tier. So as such, I'm a bit shocked at the lack of matchup knowledge people have regarding him.

1) Walldives = Free damage for you.

What I think I've noticed with Walldives is that:

A lot of players tend to focus absorb the walldive and backdash. However, unless you're Chun, Sakura or Bison I can just grab you , or even double slash if its from a blocked EX walldive to break your armor. Other players either use a jumping normal of some sort that usually makes you regret doing the walldive in the first place: Balrog/Ryu's jump back MP for example.

However, the best option I've noticed is backdashing, or doing something to escape (Abel's roll?) early to make me miss completely, and then just punishing it. Walldive is something like -36 on block/miss or some  stupid shit like that, so any character with a far reaching move of some sort can punish it nicely , Like Abel's U1 or something. If you don't have a good long reaching special/normal/ultra/super , unlucky, just find the jumping normal that can beat my walldive.

2) After a properly spaced Light Punch roll, don't do any LOW crouching normals.

Usually, after a blocked cr.LP > cr.MP xx LP RCF , a lot of people I play just do a cr.LP or something. Cosmic Heel is designed to beat this stuff, and gives me a nice 25% combo out of it, so just block, or try and guess and hit me with a move with I-frames. It's a typical guessing game.

3) After a well spaced Cosmic Heel I'm +3 on block for christ's sake.

If you attempt a throw, My throw beats yours , OR my neutral jump comes out and I hit you on the way down , OR my jab just frame traps you and I can hitconfirm into EX walldive. Best option, I don't know block or backdash or something.

4) Unless you play Tatsu, Jozhear or a Japanese Vega, you're not going to find much variance in Kara throw setups.

I am very sad to admit that I (and most Vegas) do the same few Kara throw setups. It's a hard habit to break , and it's making me worse, but I've watched a few videos and I can't seem to find any ones that are generally better, so without further ado:

A stray cr.LP > Kara throw
Jump in - cr.LP > Kara throw
Jump in - cr.LP > cr.MP > Kara throw
Jump in - cr.LP > cr.lk > Kara throw
Neutral jump > Slightly delayed Kara throw
st.LK > Kara throw
st.LK > cr.LP > Kara throw
Meaty cr.MK > Kara throw

Obviously I mix these up and try to interrupt them with crouches/Cosmic Heels and cl.HP to bait and punish throw/crouch techs but, yeah, once you see some of these from an average to good Vega , get ready to tech tbh. Writing this is very depressing, it makes me think I'm shit but, yeah what I've said is true for the most part.

5) Don't Underestimate Ultra 2.

Capcom took the piss and nerfed it in Arcade Edition (cunts) but right now, It's a  good ultra. Honda can't try to chip you out with Sumo splashes on wakeup and people cant do unsafe jump ins on you. So show Vega a bit of respect once they've got Ultra stocked. Don't throw stupid fireballs and don't do retarded jump ins, also anything more than like -8 on block is Ultra if my reactions are on point.

Yeah I'm done. This was a cool article to write, made me analyse my play and think of what I can do to better it in future. Hope it helped. Any further questions for stuff I didn't cover, comment here, PM me Facebook etc etc. You know the deal.

Safe.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

What Arcade Edition Is going to do for the Scene.



Well, if you believe what is being thrown around by people, Arcade Edition is dropping anytime from later this week to February. I'm of the view that we won't get if for a while but I'm not really bothered to be honest. I wanted to do a quick piece on  and how I think the scene's going to benefit and how it's going to cause problems.


The Good


1) People will actually play the game seriously now at Casino when it eventually drops. I know a LOT of people were either in hiding/not playing the game seriously during the console SSF4 phase where the only real time you could get offline competition was at Gamerbase and Logan Sama's WinnerStaysOn tournaments/ranbats (unless you did secret sessions).

2) A lot of people will step up their shit while playing there. Grim and Natty , the guys who won Ultimate Clash 3 at the weekend (sorry to namedrop I'll try to do that as little as possible when writing articles for this blog) have both told me that the way they did a lot of their levelling up was by consistently playing in Casino with their respective characters, so thats a good look.

3) Matchup knowledge and tips  for a large range of characters will be easier to come by. There is a lot of diversity in characters in London from what I've noticed so that's good, and regardless of what people say about people not sharing info and what not, I know there are a lot of people in this scene who are safe, and if you lose (I refuse to say BUSS UP , fuck that phrase) and come off, I am sure that there will be at least one or two people who will tell you what you did wrong, and how you can improve it.

4) Other games will see an increase in play: I'm looking at Marvel, ST , BB , and 3s. Maybe even Guilty Gear. I know for a fact people are not patient enough to wait for 20 minutes just watching SSF4. People will put their pound down, and then look for another game to play/watch/get into to pass time until their turn. I know for a fact I'm looking at ST or Marvel to pick up when AE drops.

The Bad

1) In London SSF4 there is already a marked difference in skill levels, this gulf will become even larger with this game's release. Right now, you've got about 6/7 "top players" around in , and I think only about 4/5 players can even talk to them about the game at the moment. People are trying to get their game up (myself included), but they are failing. Once you walk into casino and see man at the machine with a 30 something winstreak with a queue of 10 or so people, people will think fuck this and go KFC or some shit.

2) Shit Players/Good Players trolling. There will be an inevitable deluge of players that you learn nothing from sadly, and there will be players who are good, being stupid fucking pricks ttkk.

3) Fei/Yun/Yang. Balrog/Rufus/Vega/Chun/Zangief players, we're alright maybe. Everyone else, if what is being said right now has a grain of truth, you'll have a hard time. Makoto and Guy may also be based in this game. I hope though, that the Yun/Yang players we encounter are good ones though, I don't want to play shit ones I don't learn the matchup from.

4) WinnerStaysOn might not be about anymore. This will be TERRIBLE for London SSF4. I guarantee it. I hope Logan keeps running it, and I hope that people still turn up in force for it, because people have improved leaps and bounds since it came around, and a lot of good players that otherwise wouldnt be playing have come out of the woodwork.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts, if you have a problem , comment or write on my wall on facebook or something , get at me.

Safe.

Friday, 17 December 2010

First.

Alright. Most of the people reading this for now know me , and know what I'm about. If not, I'm a young guy trying to juggle this SSF4 (and 3s/KOF/ST, one of the three so I have another game to play so that when Arcade Edition drops over here I can avoid the ridiculous queues at the arcade) with living a normal life and doing well at school.

I started this blog after a friend put the idea into my head whilst trolling me and I dismissed it. But then I had a think about it and thought it would probably help me with the task of trying to get better at the games I play, because when I write about things concerning fighting games, I'll have to think about the game, which will improve me and others who read it (hopefully) and also, it will probably give me a bit more reason to try and improve. You've got people like Juicebox and Tokido posting some good stuff on theirs so I thought I might aswell jump on the wave.

Well, thats all I've got to say for now. I'll try to update this shit semi regularly and I'm going to buy a camera so I can start videoing stuff. I might also try and get interviews with "top players" (such a gay term but it's what I want to be so yeah) if I get good feedback. Might also try and do a podcast with some funny goons who play the game as well.

Safe.