New player having trouble dealing with combo assist

Yeah, so like the title says, I’m very new to KI as in around a month of playing. After over three days play time so far, and after giving up combo assist within the first few days I feel like, at least with single player, I’m finally breaking into intermediate play.

I’m a feedback guy, I put in the work I’d like to see some results here and there which motivates me to continue the hard work.

Well in online multi-player which is the entire reason I want to play the game I constantly get destroyed by Killers and Gold, okay, that’s a given I’m cool with that. Chalk it up to a learning experience. But when complete newbies come on like lv5 or less as a qualifier and stomp me consistently by rushing and spamming random buttons with combo assist turned on that’s frustrating.

I’ll look up threads about how to deal with button mashers, and I’ve gotten enough experience to have a decent intuition on it but it doesn’t seem to matter. A favorite right now seems to be a teleporting Hisako, teleport and button mash, teleport and button mash.

The issue is that I ought to have an idea of how far I’ve climbed up the totem from all the work I’ve put in, after approaching a soon to be 100 hours of play I’d like to think I could win the majority of fights against bronze tier. Nah. I lose most battles, I only win the ones that are like me… mediocre but not button mashing, but since 90% of my battles are against Killers or button mashers with combo assist on… I’m not feeling the fruits of my labor here.

So I guess tl;dr combo assist feels toxic to intermediate players like myself because I’m trapped in mediocre hell.

The easiest way to deal with a person that is clearly mashing is to do nothing.They’ll eventually do something that is very punishable and thats your time to put in your damage.In regards to ranked I’d say go into exhibiton or lobbies instead because at least you get to pick who you fight, however getting pubstomped in ranked is another way to learn😂Hope you stick with it, once you get to that high level this game gets really fun.

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Rule number one of fighting games: you have to be willing to give your opponent credit. There is no way for you to tell whether or not they have CA on w/o asking them, so don’t assume they are. It’s pretty simple to just option-select an autodouble or linker, no CA necessary, no mashing.

Next, let go of rank and level. You don’t know who that person is (unless you recognize them), or what their story is, so don’t assume anything about their skill until you’ve witnessed it yourself. Tons of incredibly skilled players don’t even mess with ranked, and are thus qualifiers (as an example).

Instead watch your replays (or better, post them and ask for advice in the Replay Analysis thread), find your flaws, improve your defense. Hisako’s teleport is virtually NEVER safe, much less mash-friendly, so if you’re getting clowned on by Sako-ports, that tells me that you have barely begun your journey up the totem pole. Perhaps you are the very button masher that is giving you so much trouble.

It’s not your opponents, not these imagined CA-mashers, but your attitude that is toxic, and will keep you trapped in scrub hell. Based on what I can glean from your post and your specific complaints, you are likely giving yourself too much credit calling yourself “intermediate” - and that’s okay! FG’s are hands-down the most difficult and complex genre of competitive game, 100 hours is nothing, a drop in the bucket, but you must also realize that time will not magically correlate to improvement in this genre. There is A TON of information to take in and a lot of execution to work through just to break past that “beginner” threshold, especially if you don’t know where to start or how you are failing.

The only common denominator in all of your losses is you - you have to own that, or you’ll never improve.


Morning is correct. While CAM is a system can certainly be an aid to lower level players, end of the day your losses are on you and only you. Owning that (in all its dimensions) is definitely better for you long term.

Against true button mashers (even with and perhaps especially those with CAM turned on), you can often get very far simply by blocking and letting them do something unsafe, and then taking back your turn. MU knowledge is another big thing; knowing that you can just punch Hisako in the face whenever she teleports, for instance.

I second the posting of some of your matches in the replay and analysis thread - a lot of times it can be good letting people dissect your play and giving you pointers that way.

Hope that helps :slight_smile:

Like Mdmmorning, I also don’t mean any disrespect when I say this.

Have you done the “Shadow Counter” lesson in the dojo? It teaches you how to do a shadow move during a block if you have shadow meter. Button mashers will build up your shadow meter quickly, because they don’t want to stop hitting you, even when you are blocking. If you do a couple good combos off a shadow counter, then that will stop the mashing real quick. If they don’t stop mashing, it will not take long for you to win.


To be blunt, I think relying too heavily on the term “button-mashers” as some kind of perjorative indicates to me that you’re not taking responsibility for your own play and making excuses. You don’t deserve to get a win over button mashers simply because they are “button-mashing”. It’s your job to beat them. If they are a lesser player, button-mashing and winning, that’s on you, even if it can be frustrating.

Button mashing implies randomness, so if they really are, there will be holes you can exploit. Block, look for them to recover, and punish. Bait them out, practice recognizing enemy attack animations for breaking. That takes a ton of time in this game. Practice punishing the Hisako teleport or other setups and tricks you fall for consistently. Figure out why you’re letting yourself get in a position where that setup works.

For example, when you say Hisako teleports and button-mashes, what position are you in when they teleport? Did you just do a move that left yourself open? If they teleport and you’re vulnerable to “button-mashing” doesn’t that imply you left yourself exposed to any attack? Perhaps you just need to practice recognizing the move animation start, or keep yourself in a better position in neutral.

Sure, you might get randomed out by people using combo assist sometimes, but you may probably out-random others just as much. The biggest thing that helped me recently was getting used to the concept of startup and recovery times for moves, and knowing when I’m making myself unsafe with the moves I’m using.

I appreciate the advice.

I’ll give it more time and eventually I’ll start posting some replays when I’ve hit a true plateau.

I said intermediate because, well, 100 hours is usually a decent amount in other genres and also because I’m getting to the point that I can very consistently destroy the AI on killer difficulty using my new favorite Fulgore. This is important to me because he seems less button mashing friendly, and I strive to be deliberate in everything I’m doing for long term growth.

I’m not used to the FGC, I’m from FPS and I have something like 92 days in Destiny and 20 in Halo 5, which I thought was absurd, but then I started looking up top 32 player gamertags and like clockwork they all have around 100+ days in Killer Instinct alone. So, yeah, 100 hours is a drop in the bucket.

I think, really, I’ve developed my offensive abilities far higher than my defensive ones, so I perceive myself as being better. A button masher can exploit my poor defense and then I’m doomed.

I wish practice mode had a button mashing hyper offensive AI mode.


It does take tons of time. I have played fighting games since SF2, but only mostly single player as I could never get friends into them. Only after SFIV when online play became readily available for fighters did I start playing real people, and it was quite the rude awakening. I still feel like a rookie when playing fighters. If you get frustrated by what seems like randomness, it just means you need some more experience with the game/systems involved to recognize openings, mistakes, and exploit them. Don’t get too overwhelmed. After a while, you’ll hope to meet people mashing randomly rather than people that know what they’re doing :stuck_out_tongue:

Forgot to mention it, but also remember to add people with whom you’ve had what you feel were good games as friends, and ask to play sets with them. You learn a lot more in fighters by playing people around your level in general, and you’ll also be able to make some good friends that way :thumbsup:


Speaking more specifically to the issue you listed here I like the others in this thread would highly recommend you start practicing using shadow counter on normals. It’s one of the easiest things to exploit out of new players.

In particular new players like to jump in and attack a lot this is one of the easiest setups to shadow counter if your recognize their tactic is jump attack into mash a button. Be careful with this because it fails against better players who will delay their attacks or tick throw but it’s a great tool to have in your pocket.

With fulgore get used to punishing wiffed specials with blade charge. Just be weary with sakos in particular that depending on their recovery they can often counter blade charge on reaction so don’t just throw it out without a projectile on the screen. New sakos in general will over use reckas and teleport which both can be punished easily with some practice.

Oh I’m so glad this forum is thriving!

ha ha ha!
Ive seen these before…there are a ton of them online an dyes they have CA on… you can tell when they do becasue thats all that comes out and they never use the other linker because CA only uses 1 linker.
They can really get you salty because of the easy low/over head mix up.

When you know they are going to teleport just hit crouching light punch 2-3 times and it will catch her as she comes out the ground.
Just wait, maybe throw a fireball or push a button to bait her out…she teleports… you hit light attack and cancel it into a special and just beat the mess out of her until she stops trying that set up. then when she decides that wont work any more and jumps forward (because they are going to jump a lot now) just Anti air her.

If she start throwing a lot of the counters on you… just jump without hitting any buttons, land and throw.

As far as being matched against Killers and Gold… why not change the Search Parameters??? I dont understand why lower level players wont do this? Yet they complain they keep getting matched against Killers. If you are in ranked, well, maybe you arent ready for Ranked yet?

Thing is, combo assist only removes the quarter-circles from combos. If a “button-masher” is murdering you with combo assist switched on, they could switch it off and just mash quarter-circle back at the same time as mashing buttons and they’d get basically the same result. KI has had pretty masher-friendly basic combos since day one, but they’ve always been very breakable and ill-advised at even moderate levels of play.

If you’re getting rushed or walking into special moves in neutral, those specials are being executed using good ol’ fashioned quarter-circles even if your opponent is using combo assist. If your opponent is literally button-mashing (i.e. standing there and spamming normals) then they’re not blocking, so you should probably just blade dash them in the face and start a combo. If they’re constantly mashing out blade dash or wind kick or something that allows them to go in on you from mid-screen then you should be blocking and starting your pressure immediately after you leave blockstun, because moves that let you come in with an attack from midscreen or further tend to be negative (or even unsafe) on block.

This might have to wait for the replay footage, but I suspect that the reason you’re losing isn’t because your opponent is “mashing on combo assist.” I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve watched some Street Fighter coverage or tutorials at some point and gotten some ideas about patient grounded footsies into your head, and it’s getting you murdered because you’re trying to stand at a range where you can exchange normal pokes and you’re not blocking nearly enough in that range to respect the potent specials that KI characters tend to have.

If you can’t get some replay footage online, it’d be a good idea to find out what kinds of moves you are typically getting opened up by, and list them here so that people familiar with those moves can advise you on the strategic pitfalls that might be falling into.

Oh, stop playing against the AI. The AI doesn’t play the same game as you, it doesn’t press the same offensive lines of play that a real opponent would and its behaviour isn’t conditioned by things that a human player must take into account. It can just walk you down and block everything where a human player would risk eating an unreactable wind kick or something for their trouble, hence you can’t use your moveset to control space against it.

A lot has been written on these forums about how none of the lessons you learn by practicing against AI are real.

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here’s a tip for you OP: Don’t let the rank of the person playing against you fool you.

Sometimes people reset their ranks so they can work their way back up to Killer and Gold. Instead p[ay attention to the level of the character; if it says lvl 50 there’s a good chance that player has alot of expeirence and you’re going to be in for a fight. Look at the player level to, cause that also indicates expeirence and how much they play.

Like I said, don’t let the rank placement (bronze, gold, killer, etc.) change your mindset.

also fighting against the A,I is a decent way to learn how to play your character but the real test starts against opponent players.

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Yeah, @Fnrslvr is correct about the AI - it will teach you precious little about fighting real people. If you want to do single player content that will better prepare you, I’d recommend fighting against shadows instead through the Shadow Lab. They much better approximate how real people play.


I don’t pay much attention to rank unless I see Killer in which case I simply think to myself, “lol, this is gonna be interesting”. I do, however, consider level, and some level 5 using the free rotating fighter giving me the beatdown after I’ve spent a fair amount of time practicing (I’m ~ player level 28 at this time of writing) that and that alone is what frustrates me. The Killers I enjoy as I witness and participate in hands on skilled practice (although I don’t want to stack up too many losses in my stats early on, that’s my only grievance).

I think I ought to stick to exhibitions for now. Also this week’s freebie is Arbiter, not Riptor any longer who had been giving me serous mashing troubles.

Some serious thanks to all the replies much appreciated!

Keep in mind that KI may be past its heydays of casual hype, so newer players coming to the game may be engaged in the FGC and coming in with experience from a variety of other games. Conversely, plenty of die-hard casuals who have no interest in developing a competitive skillset still put in enough raw time to get to player level 50 and unlock all the colours/accessories for much/all of the cast. Level isn’t very useful information at all.

What you need to consider here, IMO, is that it’s absolutely normal and to be expected that you develop your offense much more easily and a lot earlier than your defense.

Practicing combos and setups and spacing and general aggressive strategies is something you can do on your own, be it in the lab or against the AI. You’ll get a hang of it with some work put in as your muscle memory adapts.

As for defense, that’s a whole other beast to dominate. You don’t just need the will and method put to it, you need to grind the game, and play play play, insist insist insist, until you’ve learned how to react and read your opponents.

I find this to be especially true if you’re a player who wants to be methodical, to properly learn the game and its mechanics and try to know what you’re doing instead of just going with what seems to work in beating your opponents. You’ll have trouble, early on, dealing with opponents you simply cannot read because they’re not trying to follow any sort of logic or strategy, rather just going by their gut, doing stuff they feel has worked so far. Doesn’t mean they’re button mashing, though.

What you’ll later come to learn is how to handle people who don’t block too much or who do a lot of unsafe specials, trying to randomly open you up. Against that sort of opponent you need to play less reactively, space your movement so they whiff unsafe stuff or you block it, get the knockdown and then abuse your okizeme.

Players who like to press too many buttons will die to a good mix of proper meaties and proper baits to wake up reversals, much more than they will fall for actual mixups or mind games. On top of that, KI’s combo system in itself is really good to punish ppl pressing too many buttons, they’ll tend to go for guess breaks and frame one breaks, and you can simply open them up, go for a hard to break manual if they’re guess breaking or insist on heavy AD’s if you see them going for frame 1 break attempts and then extend your combo as much as possible as soon as you see the lockout.