Has anyone felt "stuck" in KI?

I’ve been playing KI for a while now, since the start of Season 2 or so. I never truly invested myself in any fighting game like I did with KI. Sure, I played MK9 and a little bit of Street Fighter, but never online or serious; just a few games and I moved on to Gears of War or Fallout.

This changed, drastically I might add. Fighting games came from my second least favorite to one of my most followed now. All thanks to Killer Instinct and its community. Thanks for that.

As said by our very own The Samurai Ostrish, I went from a Cub to a Tiger. Heck, I didn’t even know what DP meant until I actually decided to learn the mechanics of the game as best I could. I suppose I fared up well also, I learned: timing, footsies, neutral game, reads, combos, manuals, etc. Something I would of brushed off back then simply because I felt out of place in fighting games, as I still do at times. Nonetheless, I learned beyond my imagination of what I would understand and do with each character. I have enjoyed every moment of doing-so and am glad I took that step beyond my video-game comfort zone.

Alas, I have reached a stop that I have been desperately trying to move past from. I kept from this post because I thought it was merely a hump since the new season would require re-learning and a different approach of certain characters, but it has seemed as if I have lost my way. I spent a fair amount of time in the lab trying new tech as well as learning what each characters best tools were. Not only that but I also watched every 8BBD since its comeback and the few tournaments that have occurred since the launch of Season 3. Still, I cannot seem to find a balance.

What I mean is that I feel as if I am either incredibly bad or lucky. As it stand my Ranked record is 91 - 30 (I think, will update the actual number once I log back on) which is pretty good all things considered. Yet, anytime I play I win because I face Killers who make mistakes or lower skilled players then I face Pro Stared players or just someone who knows the game/matchup very well and get dominated 0-2. My point is, I feel lucky and not like I earned these victories and I also feel crushed when these guys pick up on every mistake and make hard reads. I doubted Jago considering he hardly has any gimmicks, is awfully predictable and can be broken easily. But as I said, I watch tournament and saw Thompxson defeat his opponents with precise timing and solid reads. Obviously, I am no Thompxson - I model my tech from him to give me a better idea of what to do. But, it hardly works when in the moment of battle. So I either feel lucky when I win or get dominated but hardly do I feel as if I make solid choices on critical moments. Moreover, I have been called out on relying solely on Jago’s frametraps but succumbing to very basic tech. I even fought against GutterMagic to get some deeper insight as he suggested I break way too early and my anti-air needs to be more refined. I worked on my weaknesses but I still feel unaccomplished or rather like I simply cannot transition from the fundamentals to the advanced techniques. At the worst, I feel like I am moving backwards.

Is there a reason I am stuck? Have I found my limit of what I can aspire to in fighting games? I suppose my brain’s immediate instinct to panic on critical moments also makes my learning experience worse. Afterall, at this point I trademarked Jago’s Full Screen Windkick… prior to that I used the Shadow version.

Am I the only one feeling this, anyone else felt like they were stuck in a similar situation? It’s frustrating no doubt, but more than anything I supposed I feel ashamed to ever consider myself a Veteran or Killer of KI solely on my tenure or luck with the game.

Edit: Ranked record is actually 95 - 29 as of this post, regardless my point still stands.


I had similar feelings with Thunder back in S2. Keeping it brief; Since I only played Thunder, I was experienced with the game, but I was not taking steps to fully improve my understanding of KI as a whole. I fell into specific patterns, specific routines. I was mostly guess-breaking, and struggled against many characters because I didn’t understand how to deal with certain tools they had, or sometimes even when an attack was an overhead vs a mid. I believe that taking this route dulled both my play as Thunder, and my overall fun and experience with the game.

In S3, I have been running a monthly Challenge in which I allow the community to choose which character I will play for the next month, while posting clips and my own analysis, and requesting feedback. I don’t use Practice mode at all, (though I should) so all of my experimentation and progression happens in Ranked. Through branching out and trying out characters I never would have chosen completely on my own, I am having more fun with KI than I ever have, and part of that is because I have to force myself to adapt to a new character/moveset/matchup.

I have had to learn how to play characters who don’t have a DP. Characters who don’t have a command throw. I am getting a chance to play characters with access to recaptures and staggers. While playing Mira, I had to be extremely thoughtful about what I was doing, and careful of being hit or locking out due to her “glass cannon” mechanics.

I’m slowly learning to slow down my button presses and be more thoughtful about my combo patterns, blocking, and even breaking via reads and strength recognition instead of “PUSH SOMETHING AND PANIC!!!1!” This experience has given me a greater confidence in myself when it comes to KI, and I feel much better about calling myself a Killer Instinct player instead of simply a Thunder player.

Now, I don’t know how many characters you play (we still need to get in that FT5 you requested!) but I would recommend trying to push yourself in a similar way, even if you do it privately. Maybe by pushing yourself further away from your comfort zone you will find that you go through a similar transformation or maturation, and come to understand the game better and enjoy it more.

Hopefully this doesn’t come off as grandstanding or talking down, because that’s not how it’s intended to be. It just sounds like some of what you’re going through is similar to feelings I have experienced, and if you hit a wall, sometimes it’s easier to find a path around it, rather than over or through it.

You also have a far better ranked record than I do, so maybe none of this is very useful to you, since you might be far above my play level anyway.


I wouldn’t say you are “stuck” so much as you have reached a point where if you want to “get on that level” you are going to have to train against higher level comp. You are far beyond my skill level at this game, but once you get to the point where you are dominating just about everybody online in any FG OTHER than the best of the best players (the tourney guys), that just means the only way to get better is just by playing those people.

The people who place high in tourney play the other guys who place high in tourney A LOT. They improve their skill by leap frogging each other through adapting in long sets, and digging a deeper well of tricks against other elite players. You will NEVER get that playing ranked exclusively.

Just my 2 cents.


First off, I’d say that if your ranked record is 91-30, then yeah, you’re probably pretty good and have earned your stripes. That’s a 75% win rate, and that’s nothing to sneeze at - it’s actually better than a lot of the players you’ll find running around with a Pro star. Don’t be ashamed that you’re “just capitalizing on the other guys’ mistakes” - a HUGE part of fighting games is really just capitalizing on the other guy’s mistakes.

Sounds more like you’ve just kind of hit a wall, to which the best solution is simply to play better guys in longer sets. This will give you some much-needed exposure to advanced-level tactics and tendencies, and will give you new things to think about both offensively and defensively.

I’d like to play you if you don’t mind. Say a FT5 with my Jago, and then a FT5 with my Hisako? That’ll probably help me give more specific advice about what I see in your playstyle - even if you stomp me into the ground I can at least provide some form of commentary on what I’ve noticed. :slight_smile:


I’m getting the feeling I read the OP and took something entirely different away from it.

Maybe my post isn’t necessary lol

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Sometimes taking a break helps…I’ve hit a bit of a wall since last week…Lost a little motivation, and not focused at all when I’m playing. So, I’ll just mess around in the dojo for the next week and play other games. Worked the last time.

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I can’t speak for KI specifically, but I know what you mean from SFIV.

The solution is multi-fold, but first and foremost you need to start rubbing elbows with the upper echelon of KI skill. Make friends with them and play long sets. You only get better by playing people better than yourself.

Secondly, stop playing to win. As you find things you want/need to work on - you mentioned that panicked/rushed mindset you get as one - just play and work on specific aspects of your game. You’d be amazed how fast you’ll learn and become comfortable with new shiznit when you spend 50-60 matches at a stretch not concentrating on adding it to everything you already know, but rather making it second nature so it just ends up as part of everything you already know.

Third… play different characters. Skeletal mentioned this. Playing other characters that have a different toolset can help a ton . You aren’t trying to win constantly with them or trying to perfect them, you’re just trying to experience different characters. I’d start with characters you traditionally struggle against.

Fourth and finally? Stop playing. There have been some interesting studies done on how much we get better at things by NOT doing them. Take a break for a few days and play something else or nothing at all. Your call. Come back refreshed and with less burnout and auto-response programmed in.


I suppose that’s the transition phase, makes sense. That’s the balance where I am lost though. I play high leveled people and I instantly get bodied, I know what I do wrong, just can’t react to it or beat it. In a sense I am not that level, just under said level.

As you already know I main Jago, Hisako is tough for me also but I will try also with my secondary character to get a sense of what to do in different situations. Also, I HIGHLY stomp you, I believe we played a while back in a lobby with Ninja also and I didn’t pose much of a threat. I sent you a FR, I would greatly appreciate the feedback. Please don’t hold back on the criticism, anything helps.

Don’t know why I liked your comment or rather didn’t mean to make it seem like I agree that your post wasn’t necessary. It was insightful and your thoughts resonated well so thanks for your post.

That’s the thing… I just came back from my break. I played Fallout 4, Doom and Overwatch for the better part of said break and it doesn’t seem like much has changed. I suppose my breaks are less guessing then before but I still have a bad habit of falling for counterbreakers and just breaking too early.

Great post, few things to address.

Long sets are vital and something I will work on enduring so that I can learn a single-matchup which will in-turn enhance my overall experience of how to approach situations with my character.

Don’t let my record be an indication of my overall playstyle, I like to win - heck we all do. Still, As I said, I have come to terms with most of my wins being luck; whether they are regarded as picking up on players mistakes or legitimately getting lucky. Hmm, sound interesting. I do tend to add everything to my playstyle instead of making it second nature as you say.

Yeah, I suppose finding an alternate character would be ideal by now. I used to play Omen a lot but lost interest, I gave up on Shago because of how annoying he is to fight against. So far in Season 3, I never became attached to anyone like I would’ve expected so I mainly play Jago exclusively. I have tried a little Cinder on the side but never committed.

Last suggestion I have done, just came back from a break actually so it’s a bit different in this case.

Thanks for your post, it pointed out somethings that I should definitely refer to in the future.

@xSkeletalx - I think your response was pretty on-point actually. It’s one way to approach his “issue”, while others are putting up their own thoughts. You’re good :slight_smile:

You don’t have to pull out a secondary unless you want to @oTigerSpirit. The two different sets actually serve different purposes - the Jago set is so I can get a sense of how you respond to things in a fairly neutral-heavy MU, and the Hisako set is so I can get a sense of how you respond to pressure and things you’re not used to dealing with. Hisako’s also my main, so I can auto-pilot a bit more with her and focus more on you and your playstyle so that I can give (hopefully) helpful critiques.

Are you free to play sometime this evening?

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Ah okay, that makes sense. Okay, I like that - I’ll stick as Jago then so you can see my strengths and weaknesses under two different scenarios. I’m free until I fall asleep, so yes. Just send me a message on Xbox and I’ll see it on Smartglass even if I’m not on.

Ok. Good to hop on right now then? :slight_smile:

I’m not stuck, but I have hit my wall i.e. I can’t get any better anymore.

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Great games to @oTigerSpirit. As I said in my XBL message, you definitely shouldn’t feel like you’re randoming people out - your Jago is actually really good.

First off, you really do have great spacing with your Jago. You control neutral very well with him, managing outside ranges with fireballs and closer spaces with buttons really well. You also punish well, and generally maximize damage from your opponent’s mistakes. Your adaptations are also generally solid - you mix up your combo flow well after seeing how an opponent likes to break. You’ve also got great break reactions within the combo game, particularly with a character you’re familiar with like Jago.

As I said in my message, I think probably your biggest issue against higher level competition is that you play on an absolute hair trigger. I think that is basically the root of your wall, because that jumpiness manifests itself in almost every facet of your playstyle. You are always doing something - on wakeup you’re backdashing or pressing a button, on shadows you’re going for counter breakers, after a wall splat you’re jumping or throw teching, and when you’re getting hit you’re breaking. All of those actions can be good, but doing them all the time is definitely limiting you.

I don’t think you let a single combo I hit you with go through without either a break or a lockout occurring. I myself am certainly guilty of breaking too often, so I definitely get it, but this is something you will need to work on. With Jago I couldn’t punish the tendency (because my Jago is terrible and I have no muscle memory for his combo flow), but more importantly, with Hisako I didn’t need to punish it. Your Jago breaks were immaculate, but once I switched to a character you weren’t familiar with, you kept up the same breaking tempo without really being able to recognize her doubles. I didn’t have to counter break you, because for every two times you broke me, an early lockout would have you eating 50%. I don’t even have to put myself out there with counter breakers if you’re going to gift me with an early lockout 33% of the time. So here’s how I want you to work on this: Next time you go into Exhibition, play a FT10 with someone, and play at least 7 games where you do not allow yourself to break. If you get hit, eat the damage, and only think about how you’re going to win in neutral next time. Winning or losing the set isn’t important - what’s important is getting yourself used to the idea that you can be hit and not have to break.

Next, I think you’ll need to work on blocking a bit more on wakeup. You’ve got really good patience in neutral, but once you’ve been knocked down you get kind of panicky from what I saw. You were generally doing something on wakeup (although ironically less against Hisako, which I found interesting) every time you got put on your back. So here’s how you can work on that: In a different Exhibition set than the last one, play at least 7 games where the only thing you do when you get knocked down is block. No matter who you’re up against or how insane their pressure is or however many times they throw you on your wakeup, only block. I think you’ll find that it’s actually a pretty good option most of the time.

Every time I wall splatted you, I hit you with a reset shadow air-ORZ. And every time, you either tried to jump out or tech a throw (for the record, throw tech is always a bad option here against Hisako - she gets counter hit recaps and free reset command grabs on someone trying to tech throw after wall splat). Recommendation here: in both of the aforementioned Exhibition sets for you to run, do nothing any time you get hit with a wall splat ender. You are allowed to do nothing but block after getting hit off a wall. Hisako gets great resets off wall splats, but every single member of the cast can punish you, hard, for trying to throw tech in this situation. The goal here is, again, to acclimate you a bit more to just taking some upfront damage sometimes.

So those are some of the most blatant manifestations of your hyper-active playstyle, and some good things I think you can do to try and tamp down on them. I think getting yourself to settle down a bit on offense and defense (but especially defense) will serve you well when you run into your higher-level competition.

Some other loose ends for you to think about/work on:

  • Improve those anti-airs. You let me jump in entirely too much. Jago has an amazing DP - people should literally be afraid to jump at you.

  • Learn/work on your manuals. I’m mediocre at breaking, but even I can consistently break most AD’s if those are all you’re doing. I’m not a proponent of “all manuals all the time”, but you should definitely trot them out a bit more than you did against me. There are players out there who reaction break all mediums from just about any character, and you play Jago, the most common character in the game. You will need manuals with him as you fight better and better people.

  • Chill out just a bit on the counterbreaks for shadows. They work on me because I’m terrible and can’t help pushing buttons, but plenty of players are more patient than I. As a general rule, I think it’s good to get people to prove that they can break a shadow before you start dropping combos trying to bait them. Might be a bit different with Jago, but still, counter breaker on all shadows (which is what you did against me) is probably not a good idea.

  • Start thinking about resets a bit. Jago has some pretty good ones, and the more you can force your opponent to think about while you’re hitting them, the better off you’ll be.

Please don’t take all this feedback as an “I’m terrible” moment or anything. Like I said, you’ve actually got a really good Jago, and it seems to me that it’s really just a general “restlessness” about your playstyle that’s holding you back against that highest level of competition. Thanks again for playing me - they were really fun games, and I’d be happy to do it again anytime. :smile:


I’d be happy to let you body me in a limitless set if I can get analysis like that, good stuff dude!

Believe me, I was more than bodied lol

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Not true. You beat my Jago in those sets. Think it was 10-7 total your way. :thumbsup:

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In season 2 I felt stuck because of my lack of training and recognizing ADs or linker strength for “the other” half of the cast.
In season 3 I feel stuck because I am overwhelmed by the new amount of things to relearn, added options to characters coming from new game mechanics and balance changes, and a fresh batch of ADs and linkers to remember.

I would prefer stages over characters at some point just to keep the amount of things to memorize manageable. Just my opinion.

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I love this thread. It just highlights why I hang out in these forums. Thoughtful, helpful people giving encouraging and sound advice.

@oTigerSpirit modesty is great, but you don’t earn a 75% win rate over 100+ games through luck. I’m barely over 50% and I think I’m pretty good! It’s all relative. Your experience is that when you play people worse than you, you can see their mistakes and take avantage of them, and it seems too easy. So you call it luck. But it’s a measure of skill. This is like the parable about the kid who is doing poorly in math, so he spends night and day studying for his next test. After the test he comes home furious and his mother asks him what’s wrong. He says “I wasted my time! I spent all week studying but that test was the easiest test I’ve ever taken!”

I really don’t have any new or better advice than you have already received. I’m not the best player in here by a long shot. I’m old, slow, and I don’t even play as much as I want to. I’m a bottom rung Killer at best. But I will echo something that @xSkeletalx was getting at in his post. You are relatively new to fighting games, at least seriously, by your own admission. I’ve been playing them for almost 25 years, and I often run into guys that are smarter and faster than me and have great reflexes and play more KI. But sometimes (not always, or even often) I beat them because I have seen a lot of things happen in fighting games and I can just see without thinking about it what they are trying to do and what works against it. So I make an adjustment and they don’t. Besides me rambling because it’s been a long hard week, my point is this: if you want to get better play more. Play as much as you can. Play different characters in different situations. Heck, play some other fighting games and think about how they are similar or different than KI. One of the most obvious things in the world to me is when I play someone who is really good at SF and just picked up KI. Not only can I see it immediately, I know how to beat them. I can also always tell the old school KI players (always jumping) and the old school SF players who have gotten good at KI (great spacing and spot on blocking). @STORM179 gave you terrific advice for improving your specific game. But don’t forget that accumulated experience always helps. You will have “aha” moments in the strangest circumstances. And when you are in a high pressure fight against someone who is better than you, sometimes you can still take advantage of the fact that you have seen his play style before and maybe he hasn’t seen yours.

TL:DR No matter what the activity, the difference between a professional and an amateur is not talent or skill. It’s time spent on task. If you do it for a living it’s a lot of hours. As long as you are paying attention, just putting in time WILL make you better even if it isn’t obvious how or why.

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16 days later…

I’ve practiced the feedback I got from fellow members of the forum along with general improvements I needed to make as a player. Such things have warranted me calling myself actually good, at least I’d like to think.

I have a better grasp for anti-airs, I may not be the best at DP’s on command yet, but crouching HP or standing HK generally work. I hold longer at breaking and can see how much it benefits me, I take less damage in the long run and can break where it is least expected. Though, when I panic, I notice I resort to my old habits. Manuals have improved greatly, but I often get too comfortable with one strength rather than mixing it up more. Reads have allowed me to make critical moments that can cost the player a game, patience is to thank.

I may just be over-thinking my status or reading to heavily on my errors, but I can’t help the feeling of just not breaking the barrier I listed above. Maybe it’s just me not being accustomed of being a competitive gamer? I mean, I should note that when I played KI, I only played single-player. Hell, my hours in single-player are still miles ahead of the time I spent online. Who knows though, maybe it was just a bad day, week, or month maybe. I have seen myself play at my absolute best against only one person, @TheNinjaOstrich. Yet, when I play against others something never clicks or I can’t help be feel like I just can’t be at my best.

Just yesterday, I had an amazing set with @KevBones10, I guess it was ft10, or rather ftdinnertime, hah. played a total of 19 games, Kev getting the better of them by going 10-9. As close as it was, I know deep down I was utterly dominated. I guess I got flustered even. I knew what to do, how to do it, yet… didn’t. He teleported after a blockstring, but neutral jump easily avoided the move, I wouldn’t move. He broke light manuals every time, yet, I barely countered. He parried every instinct cancel, but I wasn’t patient. Following this game, I went on a massive losing streak to players who resorted on a relatively easy pattern. Failing to block crossups, overheads, lows, or even punish unsafe moves. Sure I was flustered, but even after taking time to collect myself, I found myself making the same errors. I decided to take a break from Jago and use other characters, but I felt as if I had never played the game before.

I guess, like some suggested, I should take a break from online play for a while. I think I have been actively playing online for a few weeks now without actually enjoying single-player or even other games on console. Apologies for this very long and self-indulgent post. For now, this tiger’s spirit is distraught. I must mend my broken spirit though meditation. I return to my temple…

Side note: I found my first ever online match! This is after me finishing the dojo to its entirety and investing several hours on single-player. Crazy how much improvement I’ve made, but also how my basic errors cemented themselves with me in time.

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Lol, I need to go through training with you. Like how I perceive the match, and the steps I take. Looking for patterns, seeing opportunities, and such. You are good, but I feel like you are mimicking things you see, rather than playing off a solid read and using it to your fullest potential, if that makes sense. Now, don’t get me wrong, you do amazing reads, but I feel like in certain situations is when you make your move, and not when you are trapped or in a combo, or even in a situation that you feel uncomfortable in.

I must show you the true path of the Tiger Spirit.

It is time.