Tech: Exploiting 'focus dedication' to sneak in mediums

I want to bring up something about breaking that I don’t believe is discussed enough (at all). That is ‘focus-dedication’. Deciding you are going to react to the next stage of a combo means you are ‘locked in’ to a certain set of reactions. This changes the linker/auto game in an interesting way.

If your opponet is looking to break your linker they’ve ‘dedicated focus’

Human reaction is around 15-20 frames when it comes to breaking. If you’ve chosen to react to something you cannot decide at frame 7 you are no longer going to react to this and instead shift focus to the next stage of the combo. Choosing not to react after you’ve made that decision, is itself a reaction. Your focus is dedicated for that block of frames.

This is where light linkers come in.

Sabrewulf does an opener into a manual. You decide “I’m going to watch for a medium or heavy linker” Sabrewulf does a light linker and then a medium double.

You’ve seen Sabrewulf’s medium doubles so much you should be able to break it consistently, but suddenly you are hit with a yellow lockout. Why?

The reason is you didn’t START to react to his medium doubles at the start of his medium doubles. You tried to react to the linker, and it was a light that started and ended before your window of focus-dedication was up. That spilled over into the start of Sabrewulf’s mediums.

Had you decided you weren’t going to look to break the linker and reserved your focus for the start of the auto phase of the combo, surely you would have broken successfully. But this would mean you are allowing yourself to be open to medium linkers that give your opponent better manuals. And here we see the complex mind-game that is taking place.

How does this affect the breaking game? It doesn’t. We’ve all been doing this. If I see my opponent is breaking my medium linkers which give me good manual options, I go for light linkers and my autos become dangerous where they would normally not be. If you watch tournaments, players are MUCH more likely to go for risky auto options after short light linkers. This tactic has already been used extensively, however I don’t believe it’s been given a proper write up.

I hope I’ve succeeded in doing this, as the common perception here seems to be breakers are free for anything but lights; but in actual tournament play, this is objectively not the case. I believe this is just one of many explanations for this phenomenon.

7 Likes

I should add, another way this manifests is for combo openers.

It is more difficult to break after an opener, because reacting to a medium auto or medium linker is not the same when you know its one category or the other.

Medium linkers are most successful after openers because the opponent is often guarding against autos, and must pay that focus dedication to switch to reacting to linkers.

Hence one of my favorite ways to get a level 2 is

Opener -> linker -> manual --> linker -> ender

2 Likes

I have trouble going from Opener to linker. Its embedded in my brain to follow the chain - Open- AD- Link- AD- End

I need to break this habit… but its a 20 year old habit lol
Good stuff man… keep it coming…Im going to read this some more and work on it…thanks