I need your help in getting better!

Background

One of my resolutions in 2016 is to apply myself more to improving my fighting game skills. Killer Instinct is one of the two main games I intend to play, the second being Street Fighter V. I also play Rising Thunder from time to time and am eagerly awaiting a full release, but it’ll be a long while before that happens, so I’m not focusing on it too heavily.

I have recently started playing some extended sets with some forum members, and I’ve had an absolute blast. So much so that I found going back to Ranked very time-inefficienta and annoying (occasional lag, double and triple ultras, etc.), even more so since I am usually able to catch on to my opponent’s tendencies, but not until I’m close to dead (and usually fully dead shortly thereafter). Yesterday, I raged and banged up my fightstick, frustrated that I lost to elementary ■■■■ that I saw coming, but was still unable to prevent.

The problem with playing extended sets is I feel I’m holding people back. Both @Goldbaum and @TimelessVisions are Killers and clearly better than I am, and when I’m getting mauled several games in a row and learning a lot (I think), I feel like I’m taking away their time, time they could be spending learning something for themselves instead of coddling a Gold “newb”.

Conversely, I wouldn’t mind playing even Bronze-level players, as long as they showed willingness to improve instead of doing some dumb ■■■■ over and over and over, so I don’t know if I’m just reading too much into the Killer thing or not.

In any case, I am from Poland and am looking for more European sparring partners (of any level) to play extended sets without switching characters (one matchup per session, two tops). I main Jago, but can also play Thunder and Shadow Jago, and have recently started messing around with Glacius and Cinder. I’ve had a little more time the last few weeks due to injury, but mostly only play on the weekends. I mention European partners specifically partly due to latency issues with overseas play, but mostly due to potential playing times (I don’t usually stay up late).

What I need your help with

Firstly, I need sparring partners willing to play longer sets, as I’ve already mentioned. My tag is the same as this forum (ShabuWL), please add me if you want to play and drop me a line anytime you see me online, I will accept and play most of the time since I don’t really use my Xbox for many things other than playing KI (so when I’m online, I’m there to play).

Secondly, I would like to know how I should practice to be effective. Practicing combo breakers is easy with the CB training mode, but how do I practice actual combo execution, taking into consideration breakers and the mind games involved? I mean I can just freestyle on a dummy, but what conditions do I set for my training? How do I check myself? For example, it has been pointed out to me that I overuse medium doubles; how do I measure that in an organic and productive way so that I can know I’m improving over time?

Additionally, let’s say I want to learn how to punish Sadira’s heavy Widow’s Bite. I record the dummy throwing it out and practice the punish in “sterile” conditions. But how do I set the dummy up to mix up its attacks, so I can learn to block all other attack attempts but learn to throw out the punish when the actual move I’m trying to punish comes? Or should I just play the AI and, say, also practice a particular strength of breaker at the same time? Or maybe I should just play more people (but then that tends to throw so many variables into the mix at once that I’m not really practicing that one or two things that I need to be working on)?

Finally, how much time do you recommend or personally devote to training over your actual online playtime? Being a training mode monster is just as bad in this game as not using the mode at all, due to its dynamic player interactions.

Any and all input is welcome.

1 Like

I’m of the mindset that trying to “focus” your training is generally only going to take you so far. Combo breakers, manuals, and hit confirms are probably the only things you can really lab out to any great success, and even then, you’re losing something from the removal of that human element. You have to do all these things at once anyway, so might as well learn how to do them that way as well I feel.

It can be frustrating, but I actually highly recommend Ranked to people looking to improve their game, as in my opinion adaptability is far and away the most important skill you can have in KI. Long sets are fantastic, but also become far more about beating a player as opposed to a character as the game goes on. Both are important, but learning how to beat a character is probably the better foundation for all-around play. Ranked is where you’ll see a dozen different styles for how to play the same character, and you’re forced to adapt quickly because you only get the game or two to pick up on habits and tendencies. Adaptation over a long set will teach you how to thoroughly dissect a particular playstyle, while Ranked will help give you the ability to quickly identify and react to a multitude of different styles.

In terms of training yourself with combo execution and adaptation in the context of human play, I don’t think you really can unless you’re actually playing a human (or a shadow, which is a more “human” AI). To get that experience of making reads and trying to get the opponent to lock out, you kind of need to play a variety of people and see how different people react to certain strings and patterns. You can go into practice to train the basic flow and muscle memory for combo execution, but that on-the-fly adaptation that you make because your opponent might break this here or break that there is something that comes from playing other humans and experiencing those situations. Again, Ranked is actually good for developing a solid foundation of this skill, as you will encounter all kinds of breakers across your various matches. Some people mash break all the time, others only break linkers, others can react to anything that’s not a light, etc.

Training follow-on items (like Sadira’s heavy widow’s bite) are kind of tough to set up in practice mode. You could simply record the follow up at timing similar to a block - you’ll get a combo on your side, but the dummy would get the follow on, say a widow’s drop, once you block the widow’s bite. Playing against someone who plays Sadira would probably be the very easiest way to check this out though.

How much time you put into practice can be very person dependent. I go into practice only when there’s a particular combo or setup that I want to build proficiency in (i.e. learning manuals, Sadira’s JC’s, breaking shadow’s, command grab resets, etc). I personally prefer to learn “on the job” so to speak, and as ideas come to me I simply try them out within the context of a match. You may benefit more from spending more time in practice, but for me at least, most of what I learn and practice is within a fight. Also, don’t discount the utility of watching tournaments or high level players of your character - you can learn a lot about different setups and options for dealing with things.

This probably won’t sound that appealing to you but I’ll somewhat echo what storms suggested in that playing those players who make you want to break your fight stick is probably a really good way to improve your game. I think we’ve all been there where some guy is using one tactic and it’s super effective and it’s really frustrating because you are failing to counter the tactic. But not knowing how to overcome these tactics is a huge hamstring to your progress and I’m sure you’ve seen this, you have a guy who is a one trick pony you counter him and he can’t adapt because you’ve countered the only tactic he knows, it becomes an easy match in your favor. Being adaptable is huge.

Don’t break your fightstick! Take a break when you get frustrated.

I usually don’t, I’m pretty mellow most of the time, but the last two bouts of ranked were extremely frustrating for some reason. Happened today again with a silver Sabrewulf who would just press buttons on my wake up all day long, but my DPs wouldn’t come out in time and I got stuffed (and if I tried to block, he’d go into his command double slash and my light into something counter was always late). This is real basic ■■■■ that I should be able to do in my sleep by now and that’s what really frustrates me. Even if it was latency (but I don’t think so). The only way I got him was via shadow counters, but you don’t get enough of those obviously. Maybe I should’ve tried light wind kicks… dunno. Got upset anyway.

Anyway, thanks for both your comments, I do agree that getting more games in probably the best I can do, but at the same time it’s hard to measure anything unless I review my replays repeatedly and take count, etc. I’ll review those sabrewulf replays tomorrow and try to replicate the situation, because it’s really eating me.

Well, getting stuffed in your DP’s means your execution for them isn’t where it should be. That actually IS one of the kinds of things that practice mode can help fix. I recommend just going into practice for 10 minutes and doing nothing but DP->DP->DP. Spend 5 minutes doing it on one side, and then 5 minutes doing it on the other. Once you’re done go back into exhibition or ranked or whatever. Before you get off go back into practice and do another 5-10 minutes of nothing but DP’s. Do that for 3 or 4 days and you should pretty much have the motion down. It doesn’t take huge amounts of time to get your muscle memory for them down, so I don’t recommend spending more than 10 minutes or so per session.

If you want to specifically work on your wakeup (reversal) DP timing, then you could simply set a dummy to sweep and meaty you repeatedly, and see if you can beat out the meaty.

I recommend playing shadow mode. Specifically shadow survival mode. You get varying styles of play and all characters there to practice against without the pressure and frustration of ranked.

Also I would suggest creating your own shadow and fighting against it, and or watching it’s fights against others. It’s a great way to see your own play style and bad habits, thus showing you what you need to work on.

First of all I want to say that you don’t need to feel like you are holding back other players when fighting them. I have played many long sets against people who were a lot more experienced than me and it helped me improve a lot and I really don’t mind playing lesser experienced players myself. As long as, like you say, actually play the game and not start trolling and messing around.

I have not spent that much time in training room myself, I think over the last two years, maybe 10 to 15 hours average per character. In the beginning I was just trying to see what my characters could do, the rest is mostly from exhibition matches, watching tournament streams and watching my own replays and simulating hard-to-escape setups in training. Exhibition is well suited for training because you get to play the longer sets. Ranked is also suited but more to train adaptability, as Storm says. You’ll get the hang of your combo execution and you’ll figure out strategies for locking people out or counter breaking them and optimizing your damage when you play often enough. Yeah, you should go to the lab to see what your best options are.

KI’s training room is good but it’s not perfect. The isn’t really a way to practice the punishing of certain moves like Sadira’s Heavy widows bite other than re-recording the dummy to do different follow ups every time. (But Heavy DP always works as Jago and you can also shadow counter it)

What I do when training combo’s is set the opponent to jump. I’ve told you that is a good way to practice wake-up pressure and meaties but it’s also good for training combo execution because it forces you to do the initial timing as well. You kind of simulate the pressure that can throw off your execution in a real match. Works well in other fighting games, too.

@Rolly2891 - I’ve been doing Shadow Survival when learning new characters, but sadly, while better than playing the AI, it still doesn’t really do the breaker-counterbreaker mind game as well. Plus there is a ton of simply dumb behavior; a guy jumps, I AA him, he lands, he jumps again, and does that ten times in a row. I’ve won matches doing nothing but cr.H. This is, of course, at the lowest 50SP level, at the beginning of the ladder, but still seems like a waste of time. Good idea with challenging my own shadow, though.

@TimelessVisions - You know that you’ve now agreed for me to pester you without regret? :wink: Yes, the heavy DP and shadow counter work, although the DP timing has to be pretty immediate or she jumps away too far. I was trying to look for something more substantial that opened up a combo, but didn’t find anything.

Haha, no problem!

Yeah, you can’t really full-combo punish a blocked widows bite without the risk of getting hit with her Widows Drop. But some Sadira’s have a tendency to do the drop anyway after the bite and that is full combo punishable if you just wait for it.

I can’t speak to well to this because I obviously don’t have all of the details of the match but it sounds like an alternative option to dp would be to neutral jump kick and combo. Wulf has a eclips, D+Fierce and running upper cut it doesn’t sound like in his mashing he was using any of those options which makes a jump kick pretty strong for opening him up and reversing the momentum.

He’d hit me out of my pre-jump frames then, he was doing them really meaty. But I’ll figure it out, just needed to cool off a little.

If he was meatying you low, then wakeup windkick will sail over that every time. Against Sadira’s heavy widow’s bite, I’d recommend that you simply heavy DP it every time. The counter hit damage on that thing is insane, and it only takes one or two to make a better Sadira rethink her life choices. Jago doesn’t really have any guaranteed combo punishes on it aside from shadow counter - simply bouncing off the widow’s bite with a HK is proof against any attempt to windkick or double roundhouse at her. If you’re having trouble with the punish window, use an input shortcut DP instead of a true SRK motion.

I actually think playing against shadows is a bad way to practice, as it removes the mind game aspect of KI.

I honestly think the best way to train is to literally write out a list of things that you need to do (be specific!) to get better, as well as general and match up notes.

If you need to practice your AA for example, jump into ranked and bring up your notes of how to Anti-Air and at what ranges to use what attacks.

Once you get connected to an opponent and you see what character he picks, bring up your match up notes on how to fight that character and put a focus on AA’s. If you think you reacted too late to get a successful AA, don’t worry and try to do it anyway, even though you’ll probably get hit.

This will force you to react faster if you want to start winning.

After each match look at your notes and see what you missed. If you start doing something consistently you can take it off your list!

As a side note though you should always have things on your list (aka you should always have something to improve on).

It’s also important not to get frustrated from losing and break this training method because if you do then you won’t get better.

You should also make a point every few days to take 1 day and play normally in ranked to make sure you don’t lose good habits.

For example if you want to get better at defence you may want to never go on offence or AA, but you also don’t want to lose your ability to AA or get worse at offence.

Hope that helps!