Think before you decide!
There are many options in GG and you need to know how they interact with each other. To be able to win more consistently, Japanese fighting game fundamentals emphasize that you have to make decisions based on a ‘risk-reward‘ perspective, hereafter simply referred to as ‘risk-reward‘.
Risk-reward refers to decision-making process where your decisions are based on the expected reward of a decision compared with what you risk to lose making that decision. To concretize, in GG this can refer factors such as your current life bar, damage given/taken, tension meter gained/lossed and positioning gained/lossed.
How can we concretize this decision-making process?
Let us review two case-studies that shows how the knowledge base is key to approaching GG from a risk-reward perspective.
Case study (1):
Sol jumps. On the way down a low air dash jS jH will win against a reactive 6P of Ky
(= damage for Sol).
But Ky can commit to an pre-emptive 2H to win versus a low air dash jS jH
(= damage for Ky).
But Sol can decide to land and do a whiff punish Grand Viper or dash 2D to whiff punish a pre-emptive 2HS
(= damage for Sol).
But if Ky has burst and Sol doesn’t have 50% meter, it means that doing Grand Viper will give Ky a guaranteed punish on Grand Viper on hit
(= damage for Ky if he uses burst, likely getting cornered as well).
Now, since the Ky-player has a fuller understanding of the situation, the Ky player can now make an active risk-reward based decision.
Risk-reward is not about avoiding all risks, instead it’s about making active decisions that take different factors into account (in terms of life, damage, tension meter and positioning).
By playing games you often through experience find new situations that you need to know more about. New problems to solve. Studying your own matches and analysing these new situations is important. The reason being that it gives you both short-term results (i.e. you know how to deal with that situation next time) and long-term results (i.e. you learn how to think about GG). It can also be fun as a form of concrete problem solving, rather than engaging in abstract thinking.
Case study (2):
Sol gets a knockdown after combo that ends with bandit revolver. What are Sol’s options if he wants to break your defense from a jump-in as you are knocked down? Think about this before proceeding!
(1) Low air dash jS = must be blocked high
(2) Empty jump-in 2K or 2D = must be blocked low
(3) Wild Throw = cannot be blocked
If you are playing Ky, what beats what?
– Ky’s Vapor Thrust wins versus low air dash jS, 2K and Wild Throw.
– But Sol’s 2D wins over Ky’s Vapor Thrust by having it whiff and proceeding to punishing it with a massive unprorated combo.
– Conclusion: Vapor Thrust beats everything this Sol-player’s mixup game, except empty jump-in 2D or if Sol decides to block.
What to do versus empty jump-in 2D?
– IB:ing 2D is very good, as 2D is punishable on block as long as the So-player does not do Volcanic Viper, Bandit Revolver or Grand Viper directly afterwards (i.e. likely not confirming on reaction). However, if the Sol-player actually does those options, the situation becomes terrible for him if the Ky-player just blocked (i.e. there’s a risk for Sol).
What to do versus a Sol that decides to block?
– Throw or abare, as Sol is not attacking nor throwing.
The Ky-player can now make an active decision based on the risk-reward of this situation.
– Vapor Thrust wins versus air dash jS, 2K
and command throw, but loses against 2D.
– IB:ing 2D gives Ky a very advantageous situation.
– Throw or abare beats a Sol that decides to block.
Risk-reward is not about finding an absolute answer. It is about understanding each situation and making an active decision based on the potential rewards and the potential risks that are present. This can later be adopted to fit specific players and thereafter be subject to change as you continue to play against each other – often referred to as adaptation.
Risk-reward is absolutely not about avoiding all risks, instead it is about making active decisions based on several factors. These factors incude the life bar, damage given/taken, tension meter gained/lossed and positioning gained/lossed of you and your opponent.
For you to be able to operationalize this decision-making process, you also need to learn the execution involved so that you can focus on thinking rather than executing.
For more detailed explanations we have to go into specific matchups. My idea has been to only go through some simplified examples to illustrate how a decision-making process based on risk-reward could proceed.
Think before you use your tension meter!
Tension meter is very important in GG because meter enables many useful options such as:
– Roman Cancels (25% or 50%)
– Overdrives (50%)
– Faultless Defense
– Blitz Shield (25%)
– Dead Angle Attack (50%)
RCs are very strong but RC also lowers your tension gain after you use them. This means that you will receive 80% less tension for 6 seconds after using a RC. Therefore you should think carefully before using meter for RC.
There are many examples:
– Ky’s stun edge YRC is a very strong counter-poke at certain ranges.
– May’s AD YRC jS is an air-based approach that is very difficult to contest.
However, if these attacks did not hit you are receiving next to no tension for 6 seconds! These are therefore associated the risk of losing meter and thus losing options for several seconds onward, especially if you only have a small amount of tension. It is therefore a large difference between the value of using YRC if you have 25% meter compared to when you have 75% meter.
FD is also very strong due to it increasing the pushback distance of blocking. But even FD lowers your tension gain by 80%. Importantly, however, is that it only does so for 1 second.
Overdrives do not affect your tension meter gain negatively since they do not lower your pulse. If possible it is therefore better to use overedrives in combos rather than RCs. Worth noting also is that not all characters have the option to use overdrives over RCs because the overdrives of each character having different properties.
Think before you use your burst!
A whiffed blue burst means you lost your entire burst meter, as opposed to if you hit it where you regain 20% burst meter. It can also result in you getting hit by another combo, with an included damage proration reset.
“That someone is bad at bursting is not something to laugh about, I
think it is a sign of serious flaws.“
The reason why a top-level veteran like Machaboo says this lies in his interpretation of the reasons behind a bad burst:
– The player has no knowledge about when they should burst
(= they need to do their homework)
– The player is too emotional and has no actual control over when and why he/she bursts.
(= they need to control their emotions)
Burst points are matchup specific, so for addressing the first point you need to find out when and where you can burst the combos of specific characters. Another approach is to focus on gold bursts in certain matchups or against certain players.
While the former point is linked to knowledge the latter is linked to a point we have not touched yet: namely that it is always better to keep calm and focus on your decision-making in fighting games. Remember, the important point made in this primer is that you need to know when and why you make specific decisions!
Think to evolve!
There are many different ways to have fun with fighting games. You are allowed to mash like a fool and just do crazy specials all the time. However, such an approach is not the road to become good at fighting games. It can also be boring for players that are trying to learn to play against someone that is not even trying to get better.
It can be fun for players to play against an opponent that is trying their best to learn, even if they are not very good at the game yet. As you become better and more experience, it will become more noticeable on the playstyle of your opponent what type of gameplay experience they seek. I believe that it will become a more fun experience for you and for your opponent if you really try to get good.
It is important to accept that it takes to get good, and that tangible results do not only appear in the form of number of games won. It shines through in the actual content of matches. Therefore, it can be a large difference between a 1-10 set and a 1-10 set. Remember this.
From my experience, many people that pick up GG have a tough time keeping up with the fast tempo. It feels like everything happens so fast and that they cannot keep up. My view is that much of this can be mitigated through knowledge. Newer players do not recognise moves and movement, and therefore cannot register them in time. Give it some time and you will adjust!
But then again, remember that frames do not lie, and trying to react to something so quick that it is unreactable for humans is doomed to fail 🙂 This point actually brings us to defense!
– Written by Shinjin