Machabo (Japanese Guilty Gear god, and Evo 2016 champion) wrote an article which I’d consider a must-read for anyone who plays fighting games. It is a Guilty Gear-focused article, so sometimes he will give specific examples of interactions in GG that you might not understand fully, but there are still tons of really awesome points made throughout the article. Don’t let the GG-specific examples let you ignore the bigger points he is trying to make.
To those who don’t know, Guilty Gear is an “anime” fighter, which tends to mean it prioritizes highly creative movement (including air dashing and air blocking) and strong close range pressure with lots of varied defensive options. That is, it is not a SF-style traditional “grounded footsies” game, although ground/air footsies do come into play. Note that the GG community does not lament the fact that SF-style grounded footsies are not the focus of the game. Instead, they embrace the uniqueness of their own game and play to its strengths.
In case you decide to not read the article (you really should, though!), here are some choice quotes and how I feel they apply to KI.
Anti-airing in GG is actually quite difficult (kind of like KI) due to its high game pace and multitude of air approaches. However, Machabo labels it his #1 most important aspect of fighting games because it’s what allows the rest of the game to take place. If your opponent cannot reliably anti-air you, then you are free to bully them. Also of note is that even though anti-airing is difficult, it is still extremely important. Complaining that anti-airs are too hard isn’t a recipe for winning; rather, you should think of it as an opportunity to show your skill. If you can anti-air in a game where anti-airing is hard, think of the extra advantage you have over your opponent.
Note that he doesn’t say “playing online matches and complaining when your anti-air doesn’t work is the first and most important step.” Knowledge is the full responsibility of the player.
Machabo breaks down neutral in GG (and in all fighting games, really) to a three-step decision making process:
- Doing pre-emptive moves that cover space, because they have good hitboxes and cover many (but not all) safe options.
- Doing a fast attack that hits a waiting opponent (ie, dash in and low, or do a long-range overhead)
- Waiting for the opponent to do a move and then reacting to it.
This creates a cycle:
- 1 beats 2 (your pre-emptive move hits people trying to dash in or be reckless)
- 2 beats 3 (doing a surprise attack beats someone looking to stand outside the range of your space control)
- 3 beats 1 (you can wait for your opponent to whiff pre-emptive moves and capitalize with a whiff punish or with pressure).
Knowing when and how to switch is matchup and player driven. Complaining only that your opponent rushes you down, or playing reactively is the only smart way to play fighting games, is missing the entire point of the cycle of fighting game interaction.
If you are looking to improve, don’t just do Orchid slide over and over because your opponent gets hit by it. It impacts your long-term decision making and will make it so that overcoming your bad habits is much harder later when you lose to good players.
Every KI player should read that paragraph 10 times. Making good decisions based on risk/reward is not minimizing all risk. It is taking smart risks that pay off based on your opponent’s tendencies and the game state.
You can replace the discussion on bursts with a discussion on combo breakers for the purposes of KI.
[quote]Only from understanding [about defensive options on] what beats what will facilitate mindgames.
“What beats what” is not only about which moves you have that beat the opponents, it is broader than that. It’s about how you can make the best out of a riskfilled situation.[/quote]
Defense is not just knowing that “my DP beats this”, it’s about knowing that AND then applying it vs a specific opponent in a specific risk/reward evaluation (based on your life, your meter, how much instinct he has, etc).
“Abare” is a term for trying to interrupt your opponent’s offense with fast jabs (aka, mash jab or “take your turn back”). Note that Machabo doesn’t say “I’m sick of my opponents for constantly hitting buttons”. Instead, he calls it a legitimate and necessary defensive option that needs to be respected, and classifies different types of offense that aren’t just slow high/low/throw mixups that need to be used in your game to beat it.
Something we all know, but then when we fight an opponent who doesn’t have a firm grasp on the mind game, some KI players will insist it’s their opponent’s fault or the game’s fault.
Just some good readin’.
“Take no shortcuts by relying on a playstyle that emanates from options
that work just because the opponent doesn’t know how to handle them.“
Some advice I feel GalacticGeek can apply to his game.
Anyway, I didn’t even touch on half the good stuff in this article with my quotes. I really recommend you read it!
The main takeaway is that “fundamentals” is not synonymous with grounded footsies and whiff punishing. True fighting game fundamentals is proper analysis of risk reward, ability to mix up between different offensive and defensive options, and how you can take and apply knowledge quickly and easily to a new game or a new character. Grounded footsies and whiff punishing is absorbed somewhere in the offensive/defensive options, but it is not the complete package like some KI players would like to espouse when they are losing to things that beat their linear strategies.