Towards an advanced defensive decision-making process
Having gone through both basic and advanced defensive options, let us now consider what a calculated and active defense-making process based on a risk-reward perspective would entail in GG.
To summarize the previous parts on defense:
- The Ideal: a defensive decision-making process that incorporates knowledge of the options of your character in relation to the options of your opponent’s character based on risk-reward of each situation within the game system.
- The Basis: (1) knowledge of your opponent’s offensive options, especially which lead to the highest reward in terms of damage/positioning/meter, and (2) knowledge of which of your defensive options can deal with the options of your opponent that you identified.
Thus, as emphasized repeatedly, defensive decision-making process requires knowledge – especially of which of your opponents option give them the biggest reward as you do not want to get hit by these (or at least want to make those associated with some risk).
For example, getting hit (A) by a low air dash jSPK from Baiken semi-close to the corner gives her much more damage and meter and gives her better positioning when compared to (B) anything that could come from getting hit by 2K5S at the same range. Similarly, getting (A) abare-baited by Sol (e.g. 6H CH) gives him more reward than (B) getting caught by his non-CH anti-jump options (e.g. dash 5K).
These are concrete examples of relevant information to your defensive decision-making process! You lose less by getting hit by B compared to A. Thus, your opponent would much rather hit you with A than B!
Below I suggest five guiding questions for developing this knowledge basis:
- How good are the different offensive options available to your opponent in terms of risk-reward?
- What conditions in terms positioning and meter are necessary for the most rewarding offensive options to be available to your opponent?
- How can you avoid those conditions from emerging?
(If not possible, Q4)
- How can you negate your opponent’s most rewarding offensive options? Is there an option-select that covers multiple options?
(If not possible, Q5)
- When forced to guess, what is the risk-reward for your options?
(See section on mind games, and comment on reverse mindgame below.)
A comment on quick situational decisions
GG can be very fast sometimes, and sometimes your opponents have to adlib combos which do not score them the best possible okizeme situation (e.g. perfect meaty). Being able to separate “good meaties” from “bad meaties” is important because you can exploit this in different ways.
For example, Ky has to jump immediately after recovery from stun dipper to achieve the safejump meaty. If he is too late and you notice it you could:
(1) airthrow, or (2) do a fast abare, before his planned deep air-attack comes out.
Here is where the situational awareness of experienced players usually stick out – a small and uncommon gap can be enough for them to smell blood in the water and retaliate.
A comment about the reverse mind game
Up until this point, defense has been framed as negating the offensive options of your opponent. But how you can gain rewards from within your opponents offensive decision making is also important within competitive fighting games.
The “reverse mind game”, or gyaku-taku, refers to the action of forcing risk into your opponents offensive decision making by introducing certain defensive options that are risky but also rewarding in nature.
For example, Baiken has a parry move that she can perform during block stun called “Red Azami”. It has a 7 frame window and is only useful in very specific situations, but can score you massive rewards in terms of damage, meter gain and positioning. Demonstrating to your opponent that you are able to use this option, for example versus a low AD jSH mixup, will force them to rely on worse options (such as low AD jSPP). Other examples include IB into some option that beats your opponent’s option.
If you do not demonstrate knowledge of possible reverse mind games in matches, a skilled opponent will quickly realize that they can keep on forcing certain mixup options on you without the threats associated with those options. But if you do demonstrate those options, the risk-reward dynamic will likely change (i.e. they may do that option less because it is now associated with higher risk).
One suggestion when going for this approach is to identify reverse mind games that target your opponents most rewarding options, rather than weaker ones. You would rather increase your risk to deal with their most rewarding options, rather than increase your risk to deal with their less rewarding options.