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Street Fighter: Get Seriaas! ("play to win" against forumites and get/give feedback to improve your game)

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Executive Summary

This is a thread for arranging and discussing "serious" matches with other players, in any game (but probably most often SSF4:AE), and seeking feedback afterwards on how to improve. Read the rules and post up your challenges!

Preamble

There are two big problems with online play as a way to learn a fighting game, and neither of them is lag-related. First, it's too easy to brush off a loss, and if losing doesn't matter then you never really know how much your opponent is focusing on actually winning. Second, it's too difficult to get good feedback from your opponent about how they beat you.

Playing regularly with the same group of people helps with getting feedback, and the main thread here has been host to some excellent feedback and advice, but that still leaves the first problem of not knowing how seriously your opponent is taking things. Because in casual play winning is often a secondary goal for the better player, it can be great for learning character matchups but less useful as practice in reading or adapting to a skilled opponent in a high stakes situation.

This thread aims to address that, as much as is possible without the pressure of a tournament/money match situation, by setting up matches where both players undertake to "play to win" for the duration of the set, and then give each other feedback afterwards on how they won/lost. You can play FT3, FT5, FT837, request specific characters or opponents, or just welcome all comers, whatever you want. But the following rules will always apply during these sets:

Rules

1. Play to win. Approach the match as if you're in the losers bracket of the Heggfest Invitational and you can't afford to lose another game. Even if you're outclassing your opponent, stick to your game plan until you've sealed the deal. If you're the one getting outclassed, don't crack!

2. Post the result in the thread. This is just so that there is at least something at stake, to encourage people to stick to rule number one. If I get around to it, I'll add a results log in the second post here for, ahem, posterity.

3. Give useful feedback after the match. Help your opponent understand how they won/lost, from your perspective. It can be brief, it can be lengthy, it can include video if you want. Focus on whatever it is that you think will most help your opponent improve and better understand their game. Feel free to question or challenge the feedback you get if you disagree with it, or put it up for debate with others. We all love talking about Street Fighter all day, so someone might well want to offer an opinion.

Final thoughts

I'm not trying to do away with casual lobbies or anything like that: there are few things in the world that I like more than kicking back in the evening with a bag of chilli heatwave Doritos, some strawberry Ribena and a few dozen games of street fighter on random select. But I think that there's space alongside that for more structured matches too, and that those structured matches could be great practice for people looking to improve.

I'm in, JLM is almost certainly in too, and I think there are at least a couple of other people who might fancy taking the opportunity to learn something about their play. If not, I guess I'll just fight JLM until he gets bored of winning!

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(Post below if you're interested in getting some matches in, either with a specific person/character in mind, or just against anyone who fancies it. Maybe call some people out who you think are better than you!)

Match log

14/11/2013:

Camel (Dhalsim) 10 - 1 IgTerminals (Guile)

08/11/2013:

alistarr (Ryu) 10 - 9 Camel (Dhalsim)

28/10/2013:

joffocakes (Dan) W - L IgTerminals (Guile)


27/10/2013:

alistarr (Rufus) 10 - 0 Camel (Honda)
alistarr (Ryu) 10 - 3 Camel (Honda)
alistair (Rufus) 10 - 0 Camel (Dhalsim)

16/10/2013:

alistarr (Rufus) 5 - 2 nuskool (Ryu)

15/10/2013:

Choo (Yang) 3 - 2 alistarr (Rufus)

10/10/2013:

JLM (Dudley) 5 - 2 nuskool (Ryu)

08/10/2013:

Sith (T. Hawk) 3 - 0 alistarr ( Rufus)
IgTerminals (Guile) 5 - 2 joeplus (Chun Li)

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I think this is a good idea, especially if we get varied matches and good feedback. Most of the regulars have at least one main and/or a few "pocket" characters on the side and it'd be nice to get more perspectives on different matchups. Besides, we had a bit of good post-match discussion on the tournaments and leagues since the FT5s give players a bit of time to adapt and try different stuff, so yeah, I'm in.

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Great idea! I hope everyone sees this thread, so we can just send messages like "srs ft5 vs yr ryu?" over XBL and be on the same page.

I'll probably be after some games against the more experienced mans with my Romani lady.

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Yes, I am entirely on board with this here idea. I will take character requests too, Viper and Fuerte excluded but I at least dabble with everyone else.

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Aside from getting over the fear of losing, I really want to work on learning to adapt faster - I'm fed up of taking two and a half games to work out what's going on! So is anyone free for a FT3 at about 8.30 tonight?

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I saw Iggy online, and we had some good serious fighting last week so thought I'd take the opportunity for an FT5 in honour of this thread.

Igterminals (Guile) 5 - 2 joeplus (Chun-Li)

Chun had been marginally more successful than Rose last time we played, but like last time Ig dominated. Dude, you were really on point with flash kicks, I should not Hasanshu when you're just waiting for me to do it (or remember to use the lk version as a bait). Also changing up the speed of the booms made things difficult. I can't offer much feedback as you kept me out really well, but you perhaps could have made better use of the EX booms when we were fireball warring? You let me EX fireball > walk in really far a few times.

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I got schooled :-(

Sith (T. Hawk) 3 - 0 alistarr (Rufus)

I actually did learn something here. First I got practice of not cracking, which was good even if I didn't turn it into a comeback. And I learned pretty quickly that you'd got a much better handle on Rufus' cr.HP range since the last time we fought, which sucks for me but I think I managed to actually adapt a bit and adjust my timing so that I was just about doing just enough more damage than you to stay in the lead, at least in several of the rounds. But then eventually I made a bad decision or you made a good one and you were in, and you killed me. I fell for empty jump ultra three times (and then again in the casuals afterwards!) and didn't jump out of it once.

What I'm doing in the neutral game is basically waiting for you to jump so I can block a dive and punish with cr.HP (though I lost the timing for this halfway through the match). And I'm looking for you to whiff a sweep so I can poke with impunity. I was also looking for the horizontal forward dives, whatever they're called that you do from the ground, because I can stuff them with st.MP, but you didn't really do any of those this time.

I think I need to not press st.MK, though, and only press st.MP if I see that horizontal forward dive, because I lost a bunch of damage to either your sweep going under them or your st.HK trading in your favour. I also think I need to be more aware of what your best comeback options are when you're nearly dead - at least one of those empty jump ultras was obviously your best option at that point and I wasn't even considering whether or not you'd try it.

Random note: You can punish a high divekick with SPD or super or ultra, and you did do so, but you should also know that if I jump in on your wake up and you block my attack but I continue to do a target combo anyway, well, Rufus' target combo is -5 on block. Do with this information what you will.

Thanks for the games! And good games were had afterwards too, particularly the Ryu mirrors. The best kind of mirrors.

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Excellent stuff guys, loving this thread already. It'd be lovely if some of these sets were recorded and uploaded too so I can enthrall you all with excruciatingly detailed notes on them. Next pay day I'm going to get one of those Avermedia capture box dealies, so I will be able to provide such a service eventually.

Chun vs Guile is a match up I have tonnes of experience with in slightly higher pressure sets because I keep running into Domihy's Guile in tournament. I tend to agree with the match up charts that it's 6-4 Guile. Hazanshu is tricky to use well in this fight because it won't hit Guile if you do it on reaction to Sonic Booms but it's always a very bad idea to just do a random Hazanshu at mid range. Not only can you be hit out of it but it can also be focus absorbed for a full crumple. If you get a good read on the opponent's Sonic Boom rhythm you can do it pre-emptively but it's something you have to earn by not going for it until some kind of pattern has been established. Even then, your best hope is usually that you'll make him block it and then you're in close and can get some offense going.

Ultra one is still the correct choice despite Sonic Booms being much much harder to punish with it than other projectiles. Again, if you want to land it you have to pay close attention to the Guile player's habits and pinpoint all the times he wants to Sonic Boom. I've had good success doing this against Domihy and it's a case of reading rather than reacting. EX Boom is the exception as you can do U1 a tiny bit later and still hit him. You can also punish Guile's Sweep with U1. Block the first hit and then ultra. I say this but I never ever do it in matches because I react too slowly every time. I am the worst at punishing sweeps but it's certainly do-able.

You can't win the fireball war against Guile, and the best you can do is try to break even against him and make him use his meter. It's not really worth you using EX fireballs to try and complete because your meter would be better spent on burst damage if you can get an opening. The way Chun gains ground in this match is by neutralising as many Booms as she can and then just walking in. She has much faster walk speed than Guile and some tremendous pokes. If you get inside Chun's sweep range then Guile has nothing that can compete with it and will either get swept, be forced to back up or be forced to spend meter/risk a flash kick.

Don't jump in. Chun's awful jump arc isn't good for jumping over fireballs and punishing at the best of times. Against Guile she's near useless at it. Empty jump over booms at max distance, but don't try to jump in and hit Guile as it shouldn't work unless he makes a big mistake. Kikokens, hazanshus, focus dashing and U1 are all better options than jumping in over booms. Blocking, inching forwards and getting inside your poking range is better than all of them.

If you do get in close, Chun's tick grab/frame trap game is perfectly good for opening up Guile. Try to figure out the opponent's tech timing by using cr. short and cr. jab at different timings.. Crouching shorts into more crouching shorts, crouching short into grab, crouching jab , step forward, grab, crouching jab, step forward, crouching short again. When you get a feel for it,

Chun's best frame trap is the Nemo string, which is cr. jab (blocked) - > brief pause - > close standing roundhouse xx lk hazanshu. If the close standing roundhouse is a counter hit (as it should be if the frame trap has worked) then the LK hazanshu combos off it, so it's guaranteed damage instead of the usual normal xx hazanshu high/low mix up. The beauty of being able to combo into hazanshu like this is that it's much easier to link cr. short cr. short EX legs off the hazanshu if you know the hazanshu is going to hit and you don't have to react. Guile's close range normals aren't as good as Chun's, so you can harass the hell out of him if you get the corner. He might flash kick but it's always a big risk and it doesn't do massive damage. Go in without fear unless your opponent is particularly flash kick happy, in which case obviously try to bait a few and punish. Make him block focus attacks in the corner and continue to apply pressure. Chun's focus attack is a great pressure tool as she's one of the lucky characters who is at advantage if you dash out of a blocked level 1 focus attack.

Above all else, be patient. There is no quick and easy way for Chun to win this and you can expect a winning set to be a very long one.

Allystah, it's funny you should mention the "what's the one thing he can do that would pull this back?" mindset as it's something Sith explicitly mentioned when we were watching another T. Hawk player losing at the MBA tournament. He said something along the lines of "at this point I'd be going for nothing but landing the ultra as it's the only way I can win". For a character with T. Hawk's very limited options it really is that simple a lot of the time. He doesn't even have Gief's vortex options, so there are points in the set where landing a jab SPD and trying to start a comeback is still really unlikely when for Gief he could do it in a couple of good guesses. I think T. Hawk has to be the character where noticing that shift in the opponent's mentality is the most vital. A lot of the cast at least have a handful of ways they can get a comeback started, but for Ted Hawk it often is just that one.

There are my thoughts on two sets I haven't even seen. Enjoy!

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Well, Joe, I know I said I'd do a write up, but how can I possibly follow the awesome JLM?!

Well, just a couple of thoughts I had whilst playing the match: I was indeed waiting for Hazanshu. Even so, online it can still be a bitch to FK sometimes, which was why I wasn't risking trying a Focus Attack, but Hazanshu can be taken out with a Sonic Boom too, and I think I did it with a St. MK at one point.

I was gonna advise using U1 against Guile instead of U2. Guile can actually U1 Chuns U2 on reaction, just wait until she swings her arms in the animation and Guiles U1 will beat it totally clean. I know you were using it because U1 didn't work out against Guiles SB recovery, but don't forget about the threat of an Ultra. I was only throwing Booms at quite some distance when you had U1, and trying to be very careful, even a little hesitant. The threat of having a U1 stocked broke up my fireball game, and there may well be ways to take advantage of that with Chun.

I did indeed let you walk too far forward, and was actually aware of this at the time, but I was so antsy about Hazanshu I didn't wanna move and lose my charge to deal with that.

You were good on punishing whiffed moves dude. Some serious damage resulted from missing a Backfist etc. on more than one occassion. Throw techs aplenty, nice AA's, some good spacing, your defense is pretty good. It's just getting in on Guile, to which JLM has excellent advice above.

I look forward to our next matches.

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Here is another post, in which Jellum makes the case for using Chun Ultra 1 the vast majority of the time.

Iggy makes a good point about it being a deterrent and justifying its choice even if you don't land it. You don't want Guile to be too comfortable throwing booms whenever he wants and bullying you with plasma, so at least making him think about it is reason enough to pick it. In the recent Sanford vs Smug Dudley vs Sagat set, Smug only landed rolling Thunder through a tiger shot once in 13 games, but throughout the whole set it meant that Sanford had to stutter his tiger shot rhythms and try to throw them at closer ranges where it's harder to react. Fei picking Ultra 2 against Viper is another one. It's rare for Fei to actually land it, but if it grants you one or two light mix ups from Viper due to the threat then it is more than worth picking.

It's also worth having because whenever you have it stocked it forces you to keep your eyes open and coach yourself to see opportunities. The reason I've developed good U1 reactions and taught myself how to land it against Guile and other tricky characters is that I pick it in almost every match up. I used to pick U2 against Guile because it seemed impossible, but forcing yourself to use it is how you get better. You will get better at landing it just by having it there, even if you'll initially spend quite a bit of time having it blocked or kicking yourself for missing an opportunity. The more you play the match up with it stocked the more you'll start to notice little patterns, tells and habits in your opponent and how you can condition them into mistakes. You start to count beats in your head and find that there'll be times when your ultra will be coming out before the fireball has even left their hand because you knew exactly when they were going to do it.

You'll also get baited less frequently over time as you'll notice that a lot of people don't notice their own patterns and rhythms. If they did then they wouldn't fall into them. What's great about this is that you'll spot that people's feint timings often aren't the same as their real fireball timings. So Ryu will walk backwards and forwards, do loads of standing shorts, fake buffer fireballs, shimmy about a bit and then you'll still ultra the EX fireball that was meant to surprise you when it comes. You'll also get better at disguising your charge and maintaining charge to land it in combos etc.

Lastly, the next stage in mastering U1 is not getting completely fixated on it being the anti-fireball ultra. It punishes Ryu's sweep, all non-EX Honda headbutts, Adon's LK Jaguar tooth, all Blanka balls, Hawk's Condor Dive and plenty of other stuff besides. It is a lot more versatile than you'd think and is still the better choice in plenty of match ups where you might normally go to U2 instead.

There are definitely some matches where U2 is the correct choice, hopefully moreso in Ultra when it gets a damage buff, but I'd strongly recommend going to U1 as your default option.

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Great write-up Alistarrr!

I really enjoyed those games and the scoreline is not a real reprensentation of just how close some of the rounds were. I have such a set-in stone playstyle though. Early round I'll take some risks with errant dives and whatnot and try and build a life-lead and if I get one I just shut down and let my opponent lose for me by not pressing any buttons at all and just wait for them to get impatient. When I'm losing it becomes a game of "how I can hit my ultra today" I will try and keep trying until one of us is dead.

Loved the Ryu mirrors too :)

Who's next for the Hawkster?

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Man, got destroyed by JLM in a FT5. I made so many awful mistakes... full focus crumple and then ultra'd and missed lol.

Cheers for the games mate... apart from the obvious stupid errors I did notice a lot of things which went wrong for me. One thing I need to figure is if anything Ryu has beats Dudley in the air... I tried various things but nothing worked.

I found I was doing a lot of miss-inputs... need to really practice more.

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Hard to comment on the specifics of the Dudley/Ryu set as it was quite laggy for much of it. Most likely at my end as per usual.

Score was JLM 5-2 Nuskool I believe. GGs anyway, and it was generally a little bit smoother for the few Ryu mirrors afterwards.

I have Dudley/Ryu match up stuff, tips for Ryu generally and tips for you personally to come, but I will type them up during my down time at work tomorrow as it will give me something fun to do during the slow Friday afternoon.

Notes to follow!

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I have a free evening on Saturday night so I'd definitely be up for a few cheeky FT5s, 10s, 20s with Dan. I need to practice safe jumps, option selects and frame traps but mostly patience and awareness of habits so longer sets with determined souls would be appreciated.

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Ryu vs Dudley stuffs:

1) Stand your ground and use your pokes.

The reason Dudley is a low tier character is that characters with decent low pokes can keep him out all day. You were using this effectively at times during our set, but I still didn't feel you were quite going to it enough. Treat Dudley like Zangief. Harass him with a safe poke, only use fireballs at max range and throw in the occasional EX fireball to blow up focus attacks because that's his best hope of getting in.


2) Work on anti-air DP-ing.


I was getting way too many free jump-ins. Against Dudley in particular, when the ground/focus game isn't working he'll often go to jump roundhouse as it's good at beating normal anti-airs. You need to be ready for this. Use medium punch DP because you can do it much later and the invincibility will still make it win in situations where the fierce one would trade. Also you can FADC ultra it. Obviously if I jump from further away and you have more time go with fierce DP for the damage, but with Dudley's jump arc and the spaces he's most likely to jump in this match you want to do medium.

3) Control space

Ryu's basic gameplan against Dudders is to stand your ground, use cr. MK, the occasional EX fireball and be ready for the jump. That's it. You can also do cr. mk xx LK tatsu. You don't need to run away as it's easy to put a wall in front of him using just those basics.

Fireballing inside Dudley's ducking range lets him gain ground for free. If you do want to use a regular fireball, use it a tiny bit further out and make sure you stick out a cr. mk straight after it and you'll hit Dudley out of his duck. Don't jump back to get to optimal fireball range though, as holding a spot near the middle of the screen with your pokes and anti-airs is much more valuable than trying to zone Dudley with plasma as he has effective ways around the latter.

4) Punish machine gun blow. The jab machine gun blow is safe, every other version is punishable. If you're not sure how much time you have to punish, use dragon punch to at least get some guaranteed damage.

5) Try not to jump in. You don't need to make the offense happen in this match. That's Dudley's job. Again, treat him like Gief. Your job is to whittle his life away as he tries to get in. Jumping in plays right into his hands.

6) Don't do full screen tatsus. Although this will hit Dudley from time to time because he's a focus-happy character, once again it's a move that will play into his hands because it will put you inside his optimal range. Positioning is more important than scoring that negligible bit of damage. Damage will come over time because the onus is always on Dudley to try and force his way in.

7) Hit and run. What I mean by that is, if you score a hard knockdown mid screen and get a mix up opportunity, try a little mix up if you like, but whether it hits or not, you need to recognise when your turn is over and try to reset the positioning. I don't meant jump away to full screen, but stand at the cr. mk range and go back to annoying him. Dudley's up close game is better than yours, so if you go in too hard and your pressure isn't air tight he can easily take control and start doing big damage. Yet agian, treat him like Gief; take damage if it's there for free but mostly focus on minimising risk and slowly chipping away at him.


General stuff about your Ryu:

1) I'd recommend that you [Paul Walker]Do less[/Paul Walker].

A bit less jumping in, less reversal DP and less fishing with roundhouse tatsu to go through a fireball. I tried to illustrate the "less is more" Ryu approach in one of the Ryu mirror matches where I stopped fireballing almost entirely and just did cr. MK and medium punch DP when you jumped. I took the round pretty cleanly but I didn't do anything fancy or impressive at all. Just kept it solid. That's all you need to do sometimes.

2) Practise the cr. lk - > cr. jab - > cr. fierce xx tatsu b'n'b combo.

Mid screen end it with roundhouse or MK tatsu to push towards the corner. In the corner end with lk tatsu and juggle with DP, or end with EX tatsu and go for Ultra. You can juggle the LK tatsu ender with super anywhere on screen as well.

I got a lot of free damage against you because you were going for cr. jab - > cr. jab xx Dragon punch and having it miss and giving me a big punish opportunity. It's a needlessly risky combo to go for and it was doing you more harm than good.

The good thing about that b'n'b is that it starts with a low. There were a few occasions where you got me with cr.MK xx EX tatsu. This is fine, but the problem with it is that there's no hit confirm to it as a mix up. Whether it hits or not you're still spending the bar. Starting your low mix up with cr. lk - > cr. jab before going into fierce xx special move gives you time to see if your low hit. If it isn't hitting you can chain a couple of jabs, chain some crouching shorts, go for a tick grab, go for a tick DP etc. If it does hit you can go into the combo and choose whether or not you want to spend the meter.

There were also a couple of occasions where you hit me with empty jump cr. lk after a sweep, and that b'n'b combo is a fine way to capitalise on that hit too.

3) Frame trap.

You were mixing up your tick throw timings well. Sometimes one jab, sometimes a couple, sometimes a little pause first etc. This is good, but to capitalise on that, at the same moment where you'd normally throw, sometimes do a crouching medium punch instead. If you've tick thrown somebody a couple of times then you may well catch them crouch teching. Particuarly in a longer set like a FT 5, tick throws are just one half of the throw tech/counter hit mix up. You can also use this to go for counter hit DP - > FADC - > ultra. So something like Jump roundhouse (Blocked) - > cr. jab - > cr. jab - > split second pause - > medium DP to beat their throw tech. If you've landed a bunch of throws then keep in mind that the opponent may get tech-happy. Be ready to exploit this.

4) Practise different jump-in combos for different ranges.

There were quite a few times you'd jump in, I'd focus absorb and then you'd DP immediately to break the focus. That's a good reaction to have for sure, but when you got clean jump ins outside of that there were occasions where you could have had more damage. At max range the classic Jump roundhouse - > sweep is fine, but if you jump in from closer than that it can be worth going for cr. MK xx special move or cr. fierce xx special move. I wouldn't go for combos ending in DP off a jump-in every time because, again, if you mess it up you give the opponent a free punish.

I'll watch some of the replays later and let you know if anything else springs to mind, but I hope some of that is helpful anyway. GGs!

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I just got home and would love to get another FT3 in with someone, followed by casuals if you fancy. I'll be around much of the evening as well, probably, unless I get cajoled into starting a Whedon movie marathon and/or get fixated on Volgarr.

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Ryu vs Dudley stuffs:

1) Stand your ground and use your pokes.

The reason Dudley is a low tier character is that characters with decent low pokes can keep him out all day. You were using this effectively at times during our set, but I still didn't feel you were quite going to it enough. Treat Dudley like Zangief. Harass him with a safe poke, only use fireballs at max range and throw in the occasional EX fireball to blow up focus attacks because that's his best hope of getting in.

Excellent, thanks for the information mate... some really useful stuff there!

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Choo (Yang) 3 - 2 alistarr (Rufus)

I'm blaming the PC lag on a couple of dropped confirms after divekicks (which I'll doubtless regret tomorrow when I drop plenty of combos in person), but this was a really good match with lots of back and forth. Intermittent chat throughout which kept stopping for a moment when things got tense :-) I think in the last round Choo just waited for me to crack and I eventually obliged.

Choo: the thing about which I was berating myself is something you should do too - punish with raw ultra when possible! There were several rounds where you didn't use your ultra at all and you could've swapped in an ultra after an FADC instead of jab jab whatever. Also, when you're really low on life then it's worth spending EX on an invincible dash to escape my dive kick mixup.

I think you basically spent a fair amount of the match waiting for me to kill myself though, and you did well punishing my silly jump ins with uppercut, etc. and whittling away my life. Poor Rufus.

And yes, I will have to try and track you down on PC more often.

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alistarr (Rufus) 5 - 2 nuskool (Ryu)

I won the first three, though plenty of the rounds were pretty close, and then I started getting speculative and you took games from me as a result. Too much jumping because it had worked earlier, too many random tornadoes into EX fireballs. You adapted during the match and I didn't notice in time, basically. I settled down again through force of will to close it out but it wasn't easy! Thinking back, I really stopped playing like I should be playing against Ryu, I guess because I had won those first couple of games. Then I kind of conceded the last round of the fourth game and got bewildered in the fifth, and you capitalised with solid punishes and anti-airs. The only way I pulled myself together was to basically sit and do nothing for a little while, let you chip me with fireballs and rethink what I was going to do. Then I think you got a bit flustered and I got away with something I shouldn't have for the win. So I guess I got good practice at thinking about those moments when stuff suddenly stops going to plan and you have to recognise that, but it still took way longer than one would want it to take - if those two games had been the first two in a tournament then I'd have been in losers bracket before I figured out that I needed to settle down.

Anyway, less ruminating on my play and more advice about your play, as is the victor's duty:

I got good mileage out of deep dive kicks on your wakeup which made your wakeup uppercut whiff. Also I was whiff punishing your cr.mk because you were putting it out there quite often at its max range, which works well against a lot of characters and is indeed a crucial tool for Ryu (see JLM above advising that it kills Dudley) but Rufus' instant dive kick (and of course then target combo into ultra afterwards!) will hurt Ryu badly if the cr.mk gets predictable.

By contrast your fireballs were satisfyingly unpredictable and you punished me well for trying to jump over fireballs you hadn't thrown. The only thing I'd say there is that you don't need to be spending EX on your anti air uppercuts. Some rounds you were doing it and others you weren't.

Don't cross-up tatsu yourself into the corner! Especially against a Rufus or similar it's just not worth the damage/soft knockdown if it doesn't leave you with time to escape the corner afterwards, or get you very close to killing. I try not to be too worried about being in the corner if I find myself there because trying too hard to escape can get you killed, but you don't want to put yourself there if you can avoid it. Similarly, and IgTerminals will tell you how often I say this, stand your ground! If you consistently walk backwards at the start of the round, I will just follow you while you're walking and we'll be at the same spacing, just closer to your corner.

After the last game I instantly switched to Oni to relax and then panicked as I realised I hadn't actually checked the score in the lobby so I might have been trolling you with one game remaining. That's how flustered I got in those last three games!

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I remembered something else! Hit confirms! You landed a string of jabs a few times, and there are a couple of relatively manageable combos you could confirm from these. The classiest combo in the game is jab jab jab sweep, and it lands you a hard knockdown which allows you to set up your spacing and/or approach depending on who you're fighting. If you're worried about hitting it, you could go for the easier and safer (because good players can punish Ryu's sweep, though you might well play a hundred matches and not meet someone who actually does it consistently) jab jab cr.MK xx fireball (or EX fireball). Either one against Rufus will give you solid damage and advantageous spacing compared to jabbing until I'm out of jab range.

Easier to say than to keep in mind when your back's against the wall in a serious match, of course, but it comes with time and practice.

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Camel and I arranged to play two FT10s, Rufus vs Dhalsim and Ryu vs Honda, but we didn't agree which one to do first, so we ended up playing Rufus vs Honda by mistake first. It's all good experience anyway!

Alistarr (Rufus) 10 - 0 Camel (Honda)

The reason I didn't want to play Rufus vs Honda is because I know you're in the process of learning Honda and Rufus is a weird character so it's not necessarily great practice for learning a character's basics. There is a bunch of stuff that's specific to Honda vs Rufus which doesn't really apply to much of the rest of the cast. With that said...

Being a Dhalsim player it's no surprise that you're already playing pretty patiently, but I think there's still room to get even more patient with a character like Honda. Once or twice you threw out full screen normal headbutts, which is quite risky for little reward if it hits.You also went to wakeup headbutt slightly more often than I'd recommend. You have to do it sometimes, especially against rushdown like Rufus', but there are situations where it's unlikely it'll hit because you're getting crossed up. If you're godlike you can autocorrect it to hit some crossups, but sometimes it's less risk to just take the pressure and wait for a moment you think I'll be pushing buttons to spend your headbutt meter, rather than guessing on whether my jump-in will get hit. You also weren't sitting on your life leads enough! Honda is built to sit on a life lead and capitalise with big pokes/anti airs when the opponent starts to take risks.

Other than that, the only other thing was that I got a couple of dizzies by frame trapping you because I knew that you were nearly dizzy. It only comes with practice, but getting an idea for when your stun is high will help avoid such things happening. Like with the anti-airs,

For my part, I kept jumping forward even when you'd demonstrated your air-to-air was beating me, but other than that I was happy right until the very last match, during which the pressure inexplicably descended and I almost threw the game away. I got very lucky in the scramble at the end. Oh, and I did one random tornado and you reacted with ultra. Nice!

Alistarr (Ryu) 10 - 3 Camel (Honda)

I think it was 3 but I didn't note it so apologies if that's wrong.

One place I like Ryu over Rufus in this match is the place where Ryu stands under a jumping in Honda, because of his uppercut. For the first few games I got really good mileage from keeping you out with HP fireballs, then at the right range throwing a LP fireball and uppercutting when you tried to jump in over it. You wised up to this at some point though, so that's good.

Honda ultra 2 is not legit, which you quickly realised and switched to ultra 1 which is the correct decision. When you did ultra through my fireball I did a little cheer.

Don't get too hungry for chip damage. I was picking up on a tendency to get slightly antsy towards the end of a round, which gave me confidence to take a few liberties where otherwise I would have felt forced to play safe. This is one of my weaknesses too and I'm consciously working on it. Like how when we were playing the team battle at Heggwest most of my backseat contribution was to say "relax, you're winning" when I thought someone was getting a bit jittery about sitting on their life lead, I'm trying to train myself to recognise when I'm about to make a bad decision and control that instinct. It really makes sense that you'd want to do your big damage option when your back's against the wall, but obviously your opponent knows that too. Of course, as evidenced at the end of the last game of the Rufus Honda match I am still susceptible to this too at the crunch moment, to the point that I'm not only mashing out EX messiahs when I really should be sitting still, but my hands are actually struggling to get them out and so I'm doing df.MK or whatever instead!

About halfway through this set you started mixing up your ochio tick setups more, and that's a really good thing to be thinking about. In the first set I kind of got used to just jumping out after I'd blocked a jump-in and one attack, but you capitalised on that in this set and started being more unpredictable.

Honda combos are really difficult (I certainly can't do them) but if you're struggling with the proper hands combos you could try cr.MK xx headbutt off your jump-ins, for a bit more damage than you were getting. Of course if you want everyone to know that you are amazing then hands combos are definitely one of the ways to demonstrate that!

Oh, there was a round in about game four where I'm sure it must have looked like I was trolling a bit, but what was actually happening was I tried to punish headbutt with super, got ultra instead which obviously didn't work, and then everything you did looked like a headbutt to me and I couldn't think about playing other than waiting to punish a headbutt with super until about halfway into the next game. Bad times. Also, because it was siris bins, when it looked like I was losing a round I just started doing jump back tatsu to build meter. I hate when Ryu does this to me but hey, play to win :-s

Alistarr (Rufus) 10 - 0 Camel (Dhalsim)

Rufus eats Dhalsim for breakfast and spills crumbs all over his shirt. In Dieminion's words, "it's expected". With that said...

Your anti airs are good on the times I approach normally, but on my approach I'm not always actually trying to hit you and you could look to do some longer anti-airs sometimes. It's a guessing game, still, but if my jump attempt ends with me standing next to you then I count that as a win even if I didn't net any damage. It's kind of like how Zangief approaches his matches - I'm trying to just get next to you and walk you into a bad position and then that will give me so much more advantage when I do start trying to hit you. It's hard to explain but it's a question of frustrating me and outguessing where I'm trying to land, knowing that I won't always be looking to divekick your toes.

If I see a teleport, I'm just pressing st.HP. Granted, I kept messing it up and getting fragrance palm, but if it's just a raw teleport then I have a good way to deal with that. If you set it up by getting a fireball on screen beforehand then the teleport gets a lot more difficult to deal with. (Incidentally I realised today for the first time why I so often get fragrance palm when I'm doing this - it's f+HP, and I want normal st.HP, but I'm normally holding back to block when I do it and your crossup teleport turns that back into a forward input. So I need to make sure the stick is neutral when that happens).

Your blocks were good on wakeup. I don't really know how to block against Rufus so I don't know what you were doing right, but it was working!

When I did blocked EX messiah FADC and let the focus hit, but you focused the hit and killed me, that was exciting.

Once again I totally freaked out in the last game and somehow came away with the win. Outside of that I was hitting my links and abusing all those ultra setups and basically just playing the matchup - get next to Dhalsim, press buttons, win. Poor Dhalsim.

Final thoughts

All three sets were closer than the scorelines suggest, and I think one thing that was common across them was that, even when I was making bad decision, I was getting bigger damage off my openings. When you're playing Dhalsim that's a given, but with Honda a solid jump-in combo would make a lot more difference than you might think. Your basic game is solid, there's the thing we both have with panicking in the last ten seconds, sure, but really other than that I think a bit more damage in your combo and a bit more practice/familiarity with your buttons will have a big positive effect.

If there's anything specific about any of the matches that I could expand on, just let me know. So far I've got that I need to not panic as much at the end of rounds, practice my Ryu combos and don't get fixated on doing one thing!

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