First off, thanks to the people who want to step up their game by reading my blog. It should be a lot of fun, well, mostly fun. It will also take a lot of playing and patience. I have been out of the loop a lot recently, so I apologize. Holidays happened, things slowed down a bit with AE, and then Torchlight 2 happened. I know, I know. I should get to posting online gameplay videos here pretty soon. I will keep you all posted with that.
Something I should have addressed in my first post
I read a few comments and questions in regards to what “cheese” is on Ranked SF4. A redditor pointed out as it being (and I am trying to paraphrase here): Using a move, either normal, special, super, or ultra, that is easily punishable OFFLINE and then following it up with another move that is invincible on its start-up frames as to avoid being punished. The goal of the, let us call him/her a cheeser, is to cover their tracks of being very negative on block or completely whiffing their previous move.
A perfect example of this is Ken’s LP Shoryuken, starting up in only 3 frames and being invincible throughout its entire start up, it can be a nightmare online. After being active for 11 frames, it recovers in 18+8, and -20 for Ken IF you block it overall. So flowchart Ken players will use this to try and assert their dominance online by whiffing this in front of you or trying to punish one of your moves, and then using MP or HP Shoryuken right after. Usually if they use HP or EX Shoryuken they mean REAL SERIOUS BUSINESS.
Normally, the LP Shoryuken is easily punished offline. As Ryu or Akuma, I would walk up and use cr. LP to start a big punish. Such as Ryu’s cr. LP, cr./st. HP xx HP Shoryuken or cr. LP, cr./st. HP xx HK Tatsumaki if I want the ground advantage while zoning. When online, this might not fly, as lag tends to get the best of us. A move such as cr. LP might not come out soon enough, or the cr. LP link to the hard hitting normal might drop, and WHAM, we have a flaming Shoryuken for lunch.
I realize that I may have thrown some weird lingo at newer players and that might cause some confusion. I recently started to enjoy SF4.reddit.com and linked on the subreddit sidebar (right of the page) is a handy list for users! If my explanation is not thorough enough, or want further explanations, check out this link over at Shoryuken (linked from SF4.reddit.com): here.
So. Much. Queso.
Like real cheese, online queso (cheese in Spanish) comes in many varieties. We have the Shoryuken Cheese full of mashing and fiery taste. It leaves a bit of a burning sensation after losing to it, typically ranging from mild to severe. We have the Kara-Throw Cheese (Ken/Vega), Shenanigan Cheese (I am looking at you, Oni), Shakunetsu Cheese, and I can keep making these up forever. Point being, there are many, many tactics online that can beat new players. It is not just limited to spamming special moves with invincibility like Ken’s LP Shoryuken, although that is largely the case. So what I will most likely do is compile a list of what characters like to do, how to bait it, and how to properly punish. A small note: In all honesty, if you are losing to really, really bad play over and over again--it ends up being your fault. Although hard to admit, that really is it. Luckily, it can be beat with patience and smarts, coupled with the know-how. So, what I should do is STOP (edit: read 'start' before) calling people 'bad' or 'cheesy' and just leave it at that. If you are better than they are, awesome--no need for strutting, right? Mrm. Idk. Just something I thought of post-almost publishing this post. Really, they do not know any better or are choosing to not improve--so who is winning here? You are, because you ARE choosing to be a better player and not denying yourself improvement.
As I am typing this I am watching my bro play on PSN and I just finished playing 3 games back to back (what a long session, eh?). The reason I stopped after my third game was because of the first Akuma player I fought. He pulled some stuff on me that of course, you guessed it, would only work online.
DirtyLittleBird Ryu vs Akuma
Round 1 - The Runaway Game
So, this was my first fight of the day. Not so bad, probably a mid ranged skill player. He plays the air fireball game while I do the ol’ walk-’n’-block and focus through. Focusing through Akuma’s fireballs can be a little risky as the opponent may try to Demon Flip Palm you or Demon Flip anything, really. Think of it as Ryu trying to get in on a Dhalsim, sometimes you have to give a little bit of stamina up just to reach them. When you get there, go to pound town.
Akuma’s beloved f.st. HK (far standing roundhouse) whiffs on a crouching Ryu on the second blocked hit. I believe Akuma must be at a certain distance in order for the second to hit you, but it is likely that the first kick of his roundhouse would whiff you first, so there is not much to worry about here. This is your cue. Punish liberally starting with cr. LP or cr. MP into a big, big combo. This will depend on your ability to react fast enough and how comfortable you feel with punishing. If you want to keep it short and sweet, give him some crouching jabs into sweep. I should have given him a crouching jab into crouching fierce and cancel into HP Shoryuken. Show him you mean business and beatdowns just so happen to be free today.
Once you take one of Akuma’s best normals away from him, he is either forced to footsie with you using cr. LP, cr. MP (his is very nice), and cr. MK along with cr. HK or play a runaway game. Both characters have good anti-air, so you should ONLY be jumping in to punish a badly spaced fireball.
This went on for the better part of the round, until I broke him. If you take away your opponent’s cheese tactic, you will win. I denied this Akuma’s ability to run away, and I showed him that I could out footsie him (read up on the terminology link posted earlier if some of these words are still fresh). We are both fullscreen from each other at the last moments of the fight. We exchange fireballs a few times. Reminder, I main Akuma, at this point, I know his every option. What does an Akuma that is scared, has a few bars of meter, and is fighting a Ryu do?
LET’S EX DEMON FLIP OUR WAY TO VICTORY.
When trying to be baited into using a special move like hadoken by Akuma, it is best to feint (fake out) your special moves. I like to use st. LP and st. LK. You can also try doing the motion of a fireball but hitting st. LK instead of the punch. This will keep your opponent guessing. So, back to the match, this Akuma player stutters a few times, as if waiting for a fireball, and (S)HE JUST DOES IT. As expected, I am already crouching and waiting to see if it is a Demon Flip Palm, Throw, or Kick. Surely no one does the Slide online, right? I figure if I anti-air it, it will not have the opportunity to become the Slide. It turns out being the kick to try to stuff my cr. HP, but alas, I give the winning blow to this Akuma’s ankle. Shattering the nimble bones of his foot into dozens of pieces. I was pretty proud of myself for that one.
TL;DR for this round
- Push Akuma into a corner and bully him once you are close/in
- Be wary of his Shoryuken and always consider his teleport as an option for escape
- Punish Akuma’s far standing HK--the second hit will whiff on a crouched Ryu
- Desperate times call for desperate measures. Is that how it goes? Punish his Demon Flip whenever possible. Either go air-to-air (Ryu’s j.HK is SO good) or be ready to counter with cr. HP or Shoryuken.
Round 2 - Shakunetsu Shenanigans
This guy/gal did not seem to learn much or try to adapt for the second round. I notice my opponent buffering (openly, tsk tsk) Ultra 1 throughout the fight. Just a note for Akuma players, do not buffer your Ultra 1 openly. It shows your opponent exactly what you are thinking, trying to infer some sort of tactic, or something along those lines. Just keep it in your back pocket, okay? Cool. It will come in handy later, trust me.
I gain ground on him quickly and do some good damage. Again, we are at the end of the match. About the time when bad players start to crack and rely on their one last hope. Surely they must be thinking, “I cannot die with this ultra meter that is ON FIRE. I must use it. I must use it. I must use it. If I lose because I used it, that is fine--I was going to lose any other way. If I win, well, that would be cool, too. It would totally tick off that Ryu.”
My opponent knows better than to Demon Flip at me now, as I demonstrated in the first round. After exchanging fireballs, he uses a Shakunetsu hadoken. You know, the red one that either has 1, 2, or 3 durability if you use LP, MP, or HP, respectively? Yep. I do not want to guess what strength he used, so instead of BLOCKING it like I should have, I neutral jump.
Bad choice, man. Bad choice.
I was not even in danger of being chipped out, so I do not know why I chose to jump over it. My opponent reacted at my neutral jump with a FULL SCREEN ULTRA 1. Who. Does. That? A little bit of me died when I landed only to be greeted by the ever so awesome, “DIE ONE THOUSAND DEATHS!” that Akuma loves to shout out. Listen to it again and it sounds like he says, “I like sau-sa-ges!” I kid you not. I hope I did not ruin that for you. That is why I play mostly with the Japanese voice overs.
TL;DR and “what if” standpoint
Almost always block Akuma’s Shakunetsu Hadoken unless you can jump over it safely to punish him. What I could have done is maybe, just maybe, have used EX Tatsumaki in the air to prevent me from landing right into his Ultra 1, but I did not think of it then. EX Tatsumaki keeps you airborne longer, thus potentially avoiding being grabbed.
My other matches of the day
I played against an A rank E. Honda and a C rank Sagat, both over the 3000PP line. They played fair, and although I beat them without much trouble, they were not the cheesing type. I did get an awesome anti-air Ultra 1 as Akuma on the Honda. At some point I will try to make a compilation video of just how useful Akuma’s Ultra 1 is.
I chose to not write about these fights because they played very straightforward, and would not offer much help here. Really it was they got out-footsied, made poor jumping attempts, and did not block my mix-ups properly.
Ranked PSN observations
I spent more time watching my brother play and trying to coach him without trying to sound so abrasive. Most of the bad play from players I see is from the folks he plays on PSN. I know there are bad players on XBL and PSN, it is just that I see less of those players on my account because of our difference in skill. Something I saw today and will blog more about in the near future is just how effective Focus Attacks are at the lower levels. They really are good, but you can beat them easily by grabbing your opponent out of the charge, using a special move that has armor breaking properties, or even using your ultra! This goes back to something I mentioned earlier, if you can break your opponent and take away their method of winning--you may as well call it a done deal, because usually 2 or 3 rounds is not enough time for them to adjust.
Other things I see a lot are constantly jumping over your opponent and landing cross-up and going into low normals. Over and over again. Using a Shoryuken or cr. HP is kind of iffy in this case, though it could work if timed properly. My advice to that sort of tactic is just to Focus Attack and dash in the opposite direction of your opponent’s jump. This will put some space between you and your opponent and will give you time to even the situation. If your opponent jumps again, it will not be a cross-up, so punish accordingly.
Do not let your opponent find a weakness in your gameplay. If they grab you once, they will keep trying it until you prove to them that you can tech their grabs or find another way out of them. The more something becomes apparent, the more and more online warriors will try to abuse you for a win. Tick throws are a big one online, but again, I hope to spend more time on this topic a little later.
Update days and days later
I had this typed up a long time ago. Probably over a week ago. I am not so sure why I did not upload it. Maybe because I felt I did not have enough material or advice to post something worthy. Either way, it is long overdue, so here it is.
I will have to opt for posting things when I feel I hit a new level, concepts, match-ups, all while still sticking to the main purpose of the blog.
I am almost always around on SF4.reddit, so feel free to ask away here or there. Thanks fellas.