1/3 frame link

Ok, lets say I played different fighting games in my life and know what they a re about. I know how to combo and so on. But there are terminologies , concepts and game mechanics references that make me curious. Some I know, some I want to understand.

When I miss a combo or didn’t connect I would say (either there wasn’t enough frames to connect those hits (which I’ll figure out in training or using frame data; or the most common one I say when I know the combo is possible: I simple messed up my timing.

Just now I was watching two videos about “why fighting games are hard” (one is from Core-A gaming and the other is a recent video from a spanish player called Potemkill).
Both videos mention the 60 fps and the 1 frame link. TBH I never payed attention to that term and now I’m curious about what it really means.
I understand that SFV now extended the combo window with that? How about KI or other games, how does it works?

I find this concept very interesting. Who says I’m not interesting in working on a fighting game some time some day? that’s what I would love to know more about this :slight_smile:
I also heard Skull Girls has a lot of cool stuff to learn about FG, my main problem is I’m not attracted to that game.

PS: I also feel KI is very friendly in it’s combo system and I love that. Doing combos the first time you took KI was always easy. Thanks to this and other games I could keep on chaining hits and understanding other games as well which also gave me things to use in KI itself. Of course KI will always be my beloved game over any other (same with Primal Rage 1)

Well one frame links mean you only have a one frame window to press a move. To early and it won’t work. Too late and the combo won’t work. In 60fps games, that means you have to input a move in that exact 1/60th of a second. SFV decided to add a buffer so one frame links now have a 3 frame window. It 's based on frame data. Let’s say a move on hit leaves you with 10 frames on advantage. You want to do a move with 9 frames of start up. For the move to combo, you need to input it in the exact frame to combo.


You can try a 1-frame link yourself by trying to combo one of your heavy autodoubles into a 5-frame normal (for most characters, all light normals are active on the 5th frame. For some characters, only standing LK will work). It’s tough.

The heavy autodouble will only keep your opponent in hitstun for 5 frames after you’re able to perform new actions - if you do a light normal on the very first frame where you can act, it’ll combo. A frame too early and your input will be ignored and no attack will come out, and a frame too late and your opponent will be able to block your light normal.

This is particularly important if you’re trying to cancel that light normal into say, a dp ender - if you’re successful, your combo will go as planned. If you’re too late with your link, they block your normal and your dp and punish. Too early and you don’t even get out your normal; instead, you get a delayed regular dp which can be blocked and punished.
Kilgore’s standing MK is also +5 on hit - people can theoretically link a 5-frame normal after it as a 1-frame link, special cancel, and get a combo. But few would try this, because if they mess up and their special is blocked, they will get punished. Instead, they might try to link off of a counterhit stMK, or a meaty stMK on an opponent on their getup - because now the stMK is more than +5 on hit, and it becomes, say, a 3-frame link. Much more reliable.

You might see similar situations in old tournament play of Evil Ryu in Street Fighter 4 - his go-to BIG DAMAGE combo involves an axe kick special which leaves him 4 frames of advantage in which he can connect one of his 3-frame or 4-frame normals (so, a 2-frame or a 1-frame link).
Many players would cancel this normal into a special move (his tatsu) which allows them to continue the combo and get that BIG DAMAGE if the link is successful - but if they fail and the tatsu gets blocked, they can be punished. There have been tournament upsets where even top players like Daigo dropped this combo at critical moments and lost matches because of it.

Since then, players have practiced a form of buffering in SF4 called plinking (which allows a button to be treated by the game as being pressed on 2 consecutive frames rather than a single frame) to make it more consistent (as now it can be as much as a 3-frame link rather than a 2-frame link).
In addition, they now all use a 3-frame normal and then link it into another normal before special cancelling - so rather than betting that they performed the hard part correctly, they give themselves time to identify that they did so, as well as more overall damage. Even the button layout meta changed for some players to accommodate for easier plinking methods.

Essentially, the playerbase worked hard to make the 2-frame/1-frame gap wider, and changed the combo to make dropping the link much less dangerous. This is because 1-frame links are so risky even to the most practiced players - as you have to play so consistently in tournaments, it’s better to work around them than rely on precise timing skills.

Many casual players at the time were also very against the mentality of 1-frame links becoming prevalent in fighting games - if even sponsored top players can lose matches because of them, how much practice would a normal player have to do to consistently perform even bread-and-butter combos, online no less? It could be seen as deliberately kneecapping players who don’t have a lot of time to invest in the meta and in practice.

This is probably a large part of why SF5 introduced a natural buffer to avoid 1-frame links being in the game (if you’re 1 frame early or late on a link, the game fixes it for you, I believe) - to encourage casual players that nothing is being held out of their reach.
Funnily enough, desk’s combo vids still found a way to bring back 1-frame timings - by using attacks in combos which hit opponents at the same precise frame where they are hit by a projectile which would launch them, and the game causing them to stay grounded. But he’s just crazy like that, and do they even count as 1-frame links any more?

1 Like

Wow, thanks for taking the time to answer me with all this details =D!

You can try a 1-frame link yourself by trying to combo one of your heavy autodoubles into a 5-frame normal (for most characters, all light normals are active on the 5th frame. For some characters, only standing LK will work). It’s tough

Done this, but since autoheavies tend to be easily broken by most people I would rather go for a linker (of my choosing) or ender after them (depending on the situation) rather than the light manual. Nice example though!
After the heavy ad there’s a “pause” when the other player that’s trying to react to what I’m doing may me expect either to drop the combo and try to throw so they may get a break on the light manual, even by chance. It looks cool tho.

I’ve seen a video where ther person chained heavy autodoubles, light manual, heavy autodoubles, light manual again. But couldn’t achieve this. I think they changed something so this is no longer possible. Only heavy ad and the ligth manual. I can also chain a standing MK and crouching MK with my character. Which is cool but really takes some practice to get it when you want, specially online.

This is an old S2 video I made, and granted half of this stuff doesn’t work anymore, but it has some 1 frame links in it. I forgot a lot of the frame data but I do remember the combo at 2:08 has a 1 frame link with the heavy air crescendo into manual shotgun knee. That one was especially goofy because it only works on crouching opponents which gave Aria a few extra frames of advantage when landing.