A letter to the fighting game community

For those who are fighting game tournament players (like me), this is dedicated towards you for today’s posting.

If there’s one thing us fighting game players irritate us; it’s people who wait until you pick your character, for them to pick their own counter-character to win. I’m not referring to someone picking slower (due to platform differences), or controller settings, or input lag, but the other person intentionally waits so they know how to win.

While some would probably claim this to be some sort of rant, whining, or some sort of “scrub” mentality; it’s none of the above. This is a way to educate those who don’t know how the fighting game community works between those who are good, and those who play casually or for YouTube views.

The first step in the fighting game community is to act like you don’t know what you’re doing, and listen to how the community responds to your questions. Examples:

Who’s good?

How long have you played X game?

Why are these characters good?

What’s a good button setup?

Arcade stick or controller?

Wired or wireless controller?

How long should I play per day?

Who should I watch online for tips?

Reason I bring these up – you would be surprised of the responses based off those who think they know what they’re doing. There’s a big, big difference between what you know, and what you think you know. Actual players will take the time to explain their choices, why they fit, and even provide guidance to help you along the way. If you know someone is full of it, instead of debating against their ideas, encourage them so every time you play against them, they lose; or when you watch their matches, they will lose all the time.

In short – if you know someone is blowing smoke, encourage their arrogance and pretend like you agree with their choices.

One of the best ways to fake an opponent is to follow the previous rule; act like you don’t know. This way the person things in their mind, “what a sucker! I will win!” to only find out the entire time you were playing on their arrogance. Let their arrogance be your winning modifier.

For this to win though, you have to really play off on matches that don’t matter (like casuals for those who know what I’m talking about), whether it’s online or at a tournament. Don’t let those who matter see how you play, because you won’t win otherwise. In 2017 Evo, I made quarterfinals with this tactic which upsetted a lot of people who were banking on the fact I didn’t know what I was doing.

This goes with the previous comment; play off when people are watching and the match isn’t important.

When to fight is when the match counts; like to the next round, or for rank up.

When not to fight is to show the enemy you’re an easy win which will throw them off.

This is one even I debate with others with. You have to play random; meaning don’t be predictable. If the player can read you; you’re gone/eliminated. If they can’t get a read, you will win. Remember this while watching your opponent play other people and everyone can recall their combos.

What irritates me is when people complain because they couldn’t read their opponent and lost. Isn’t the whole point to win without being read?

The short answer – practice/train till you get sick and tired of the game; then train some more after. This is what separates the winners from the scrubs (not losers, but scrubs).

Winners will review losses to take notes; ask for help/advice; train as needed; make micro goals to achieve the main goal; help the fighting game community to the best of their ability so everyone comes out ahead; and also has a valid reason when competing.

Why am I entering this tournament?

What can I do to improve?

Who can I go to for advice?

Where can I train to have full concentration?

When can I practice/train?

How can I do better?

If you can answer each question; you’re already farther ahead than those who leave one or more blank. Whether you win or lose, just attending, trying, and actually participating is farther ahead of the person who does nothing but have a negative attitude and loses every match.

In fighting games, one way to master this technique (within reason) is to do something that irritates the person to break concentration. If you’re chewing gum and the other person can’t stand the noise, do this as much, loud, and often as you can. If you have body odor, the other person will instead try every possible way to not be around you. If you smell good, the other person will instead concentrate on what you’re using to stay clean. If you know your opponent is of opposite gender, and they’re staring at a specific part of you, flaunt it during the match so they’re instead looking at you and not the screen. Keep in mind you’re only teasing to distract them, not because you actually find said person attractive. I’ve seen women all the time notice men staring at certain parts of their body, and will at times flex certain areas within reason to throw the men off. The best part – the men watching thing it’s nothing more than random reflexes, and/or normal body behavior when in reality it’s the women who knew the entire time the other person was staring at them.

Silly/stupid as some of these sound, they are actual tactics that work against other players. Sonicfox is a prime example of this – he will wear an outfit where some of his opponents will instead wonder why he’s wearing said outfit, and they lose concentration on the match. Granted this is all within reason (nothing revealing, or offensive), he still uses a tactic not many people would dare try because “it’s not something normal people do.” Sorry to say, but the more normal you are, the less chance you have of winning.

This one I will try the best I can to explain where it’s not contradicting, and will make sense. If you’re training someone to improve, and mistakes are made, that’s helping the other person; therefore not your enemy.

This quote goes with those who you know are making obvious mistakes, and instead you correct them mid match – not after. After the match, if you provide advice and/or tips, that’s helping the community – not the enemy. During the match, that’s your enemy; not your friend, family member boy/girlfriend, etc. After the match, help what you can – not during.

This one will hurt some and gain respect from others. When playing a fighting game; learn the basic moves first, special moves second. From both you will develop your own combos, move sets, etc. I (as well as others) get so tired of hearing the same, lame excuses of why certain characters aren’t suppose to use certain combination of moves. My other favorite are people who complain because the opponent use the same 2-3 moves to win a match every time. It’s your fault for not learning how to dodge/bypass their simple patterns. It’s your fault for not simplifying your own combos and you keep messing up to where you’re losing. It’s your fault for not planning ahead to understand the entire roster.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Of course important matters come first – family/friends, employment, etc. no one is saying to bypass real life; what we’re saying is those moments where you’re bored, or you have spare time, use that time to practice some. Even if it’s an hour, that’s still an hour of time to get something in rather than just not doing anything at all. Sometimes those few minutes at a time adds up.

This is one of the most critical moments in a fighting game. Learn the ENTIRE roster to know and prepare ahead of time. This also goes with “If you know the enemy, as well as yourself, you needn’t fear the result of 100 battles.” I can’t stress this enough to play as everyone first. Playing the entire roster does two things:

Gives you an idea of who you like

and

Gives you an idea of how the opponent is, and what their moves are

On top of learning about the roster, know their strengths, weaknesses, blocking, etc so you have an idea of what to expect. If needed; those moments where you have more time to train/learn, use those moments to learn the roster. Those moments where you’re limited on time, use those moments to use who you like. You would be surprised on how much headache you can bypass by knowing the roster, as well as having an idea of who you like.

Calculations also include knowing how to dodge certain moves, using various input devices so you can plan accordingly, managing your time, and knowing what/how to counter in critical moments.

All this sounds easy, right? Then why are there players who don’t adapt to simple, basic strategies (and tactics) so the fighting game community as a whole can benefit, and be a more positive experience?

In conclusion, picking a character after the other person just means you lack confidence in your own abilities to learn your (favorite) character(s); and instead going for the win rather than learn what you’re capable of doing. So the next time you pick a character after an opponent, just remember you’re basically saying “I suck so here’s my match handicap to win.” Games like Tekken made the option to know who your opponent is using non existent because it does teach you to be a better player instead of counter-picking. At tournaments, since everyone involved can see who you’re using, this can be a hinderance since there’s no actual fail-safe. If there is a counter-pick, all you can do is apply what Sun Tzu suggests and play 110%.

And for those who will argue “it’s a tactic to win,” sorry to say but no it isn’t. Here’s why – in Japan and other countries, you’re allowed 1 character, team setup, etc and that’s it. No “well you lost so pick another character” but just what you start with initially, and some tournaments even force you to document who you’re using to verify validity. Japan and other places know of counter-picking; so this is their fail-safe of knowing you’re actually playing a character you trained with, and not something you seen/read off the internet.

With the US and other countries, the idea of picking characters after a loss is kind of like a second chance in case you had a severe loss against an opponent who knew your character in and out. While they have to keep their selection, you can counter-pick and win the second round. Then they can either stay or counter-pick your character and obtain another victory.

So in Japan (and some other places), you pick once and that’s it. The good is it prevents counter-picking, and it instils confidence in your abilities. Bad is if you play against someone who knows your every move, you’re gone as fast as you started.

The US (and some other places), you can pick until you lose. The good is it gives you a fighting chance if you desire. The bad is your opponent can also have the same idea and win just as easily.

As I mentioned earlier, this is not a whine, screaming session, a reason to point fingers, but a way of helping the community as a whole to be better. There’s a big, big reason why places like Japan and Oceania are better than US players when it comes to fighting games – because they adapt to these rules, and then some.

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