I’ve been wanting to comment on this for so long cause this has happened to me multiple times, with several fighting games, and the experience is always the same, but how I answer is different.
Like @WebNRagnarok said, we all hit moments where our current abilities feel like they aren’t growing and are just stagnating. Different modes will provide various avenues of growth, though they don’t always show that growth at the same pace, and even that can change too. Sometimes practice provides the most growth for your time, sometimes online matches and sets will grant you better improvement. The situation will vary constantly.
Sometimes the reason for plateaus is because a character isn’t meshing with you, sometimes it’s because one bad matchup makes your character feel underpowered and hopeless (been there A LOT) especially when other players who use the same character seem to have far less trouble with the same character than you do. The “grass is greener on the other side” mentality (sound familiar @WebNRagnarok ?) can keep us from realizing what were capable with using our current character and instead makes us focus on the flaws, and with that mindset, you will not get better.
Sometimes, the reason for stagnation is because our approach to solving the problem requires a change itself. You can’t always brute force it by playing large numbers of online matches or spend forever in training, and this is where fighting players are usually filtered out. Those with imagination will create new solutions to a problem, or look at the assumptions they make in solving the problem, only to find that some of those basic assumptions may need to be discarded.
I used to think to fighting gargos was a huge chore, and definitely one of my worst matchups with cinder, so I have experimented with new approaches to the problem. One of the worst tendencies I have is I like to engage, but Cinder doesn’t always have a safe way to engage opponents, so in those instances, a little patience and creativity pays off, and I gotta say, I’m using some tactics now that have changed how I approach Gargos to a good deal of success, so now I just gotta practice that and perfect it.
Sometimes, a bad MU is gonna be simply too hard to overcome sometimes, so many of us do have “pocket mains” or “sides” we pull out to compliment our characters to taken on all MUs. You do need to make sure though your pocket main/side meshes with you the same way your main does. It’s a difficult task, but usually there’s one or two characters you can work with. For me, there are LOTS of characters I do like playing (and equally as many I hate using), so sometimes, I use Rash or Thunder to take on Gargos, and that’s a MUCH better time for me.
Sometimes, you’re right, it’s easy to get fatigued. You’re too focused in on the problem trying to solve it, but you have to zoom out and step back before a solution can present itself. The tired mind can’t think clearly, so breaks help us to step back and re-examine.
In the end, when you feel like you hit a plateau, you have to ask yourself a series of questions (read this in an article on shoryuken a long time ago btw). First, admit you’ve hit a plateau, because if you can’t admit you have a problem, you’ll never have the humility to face it and overcome it. Second ask yourself, is it worth it to try and get better? If it is worth the effort to you to get better, then you’ve committed yourself.
Example: I like Halo a lot, but I’ll never be a tournament level player who wins money off the game, so I’m gonna have to accept I can’t win them all. I can’t dedicate lots of time to learning the game on the same level as tourney players, and I’m not interesting in recruiting a team of randos online to beat the odds. So I’m gonna just have to deal with I can “git gud” but I’ll never be some Halo god because to me, the level of commitment I need to get there isn’t worth it. Same with fighting games, I like playing Netherrealm studios games sometimes, but I don’t like them enough to really get that great, but street fighter, KI, Guilty Gear, and some others meant a lot to me to wanna up my game to compete on the level. Be sure it’s what you want. Each new level of skill requires a new dedication to becoming better.
To answer your last question, I love using Cinder’s mobility to control the pacing of the match, but there are times where patience will pay off more than relentless engagement, to I’ve used mismatched strategies with him many times. A patient Cinder? Probably a ridiculous thought to many people, but you’d be surprised at the results it gets sometimes…
I don’t know if I really provided anything of value here with my text wall, but hopefully there’s something of value for you in it. I guess if you have a follow up you can ask. Lately my new situation has stabilized somewhat so I’m getting back into a good flow of things and can hopefully engage on here a bit more now and then.
I feel like I should quote that Cleveland meme “Oh that’s just nasty…”