Simply put, Auto Selecting is what an attacker does to beat all of the defenders possible actions, while Option Selecting is what a defender does to beat all of the attacker's possible actions.
There are quite a lot of players out there that utilize these techniques without even knowing that they're doing it, and then there are players who don't utilize them and aren't aware of them (but probably should be informed), and lastly there are the people who know of them but aren't particularly good at executing them. Thus, the world of Option Selecting tends to be a little gray for a lot of players, but it doesn't have to be and probably shouldn't be.
Auto Selecting is what I call an offensive action that counters all of your opponent's potential defensive options (including offensive maneuvers used to defend) in a particular situation -- generally in an advantage situation where you're unsure of what action the opponent will perform.
Street Fighter Alpha 3 had quite a few Auto Selects in it, for example A-ism tech trapping: after knocking your opponent into the air and while both players are close enough to the ground, it was possible to perform a quick light attack and then quickly executing a super to guarantee a hit. What happens here is if the opponent does not manually recover in the air they will be hit by both the light attack and the super, but if the opponent manually air recovers they will avoid the light attack but they will not be able to avoid being hit by the super and will thus eat the full damage of the super due to combo damage scaling being reset. This is a simple form of Auto-Selecting because it beats all of your opponent's counter-actions -- it beats both tech or no tech.
However, some Auto Selects aren't necessarily totally fail-safe, but are still useful for preventing a worst case scenario or preventing some sort of loss. In Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike there's another form of Auto Selecting used simply to avoid wasting a super bar while attempting to land a super: A character can perform a universal overhead attack and then immediately input the command for a super. What happens here is if the opponent blocks or parries the overhead then the super will not come out, but the if they do not block/parry and the overhead hits then you will quickly land and immediately perform the super (usually comboing). In this case the Auto Select was simply used to avoid wasting a super because the super will only come out if the opponent guard was down. Incidentally, Street Fighter Alpha 3 also had this kind of Auto Select in the case of Chun-Li (and Karin): Chun-Li could perform a jumping stomp kick (air down+medium kick) and input the command for a VC activation (V-ism custom combo), if the kick hit the opponent or the opponent blocked, Chun-Li would activate her meter and could perform a combo (hit or block, the combo would succeed because it was unblockable), but if the stomp attack missed the opponent because they performed an invulnerable move to avoid the stop then Chun-Li would not activate the meter, thus saving her from wasting her super. Karin also had something like this, but I'll spare the details.
One of the more classic Auto Selects is known in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo where it's possible to knock the opponent down and then perform a specifically timed jump-in attack -- The attack is times so that if the opponent blocks, jumps, or attacks then the jump-in attack will connect, but if the opponent does an uppercut reversal then the invulnerability will make the jump-in attack pass through the defender, but the aggressor will land before being hit by the uppercut. What this means is that the jump-in will connect regardless of anything the opponent does except an invulnerable reversal, but the start-up frames for any reversal attack is too slow to counter the jump, so the aggressor will be able to defend against any reversal and thus beating any action the defender does automatically (Auto Select).
Another form of Auto Selects are sometimes called "sliding" techniques by Japanese players where you quickly slide your finger from one attack input to another so that you are inputting two different attacks at nearly the same time (but not at the same time). This exists in games where different strength attacks have priority over other attacks and can cancel a previous input within the first few frames. This kind of technique is seen in Garou : Mark of the Wolves and Guilty Gear. What happens with these slide inputs is the game will automatically choose the attack that would normally be successful. In the case of Dizzy from Guilty Gear, you are able to perform a close crouching kick, then slide from Slash to High Slash while pressing toward -- if the opponent is on the ground you will quickly cancel the Slash attack into a throw, but if the opponent tried to avoid the throw by jumping or backdashing then Dizzy will instead perform a regular close Slash attack. This sliding input technique has a similar function in Garou where you are able to cancel a lower priority attack into a throw or throw defense, but only if the opponent was within grab range, otherwise the light attack would come out.
The primary use of Auto Selecting is either to avoid negative outcomes from potential counter-actions or to guarantee success regardless of what action your opponent performs. You don't know what sort of action your opponent will perform: will they jump, block high, block low, attack, super, or some other action? You don't know for sure, but with an Auto Select you can counter all of their options at the same time with just one input action, therefor it does not matter what your opponent does you will still succeed at least on some level, thus removing the need for anticipation or reaction.
As said earlier, Option Selecting is the term more commonly associated with a defensive action to prevent damage from all of your opponent's offensive options. Similar to Auto Selecting, but in reverse. Option Selects come in many forms as well (just like Auto Selects).
In Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike, you can block/parry defensive Option Select to help deal with crossups, due to the way parries inputs are performed. If a player attempts to hit you with an ambiguous attack that can either hit you from the left side or right side, you are able to tap either direction the moment of impact to either block or parry. What happens is because parries are inputting by pressing toward the direction of the opponent at the time of impact to high parry you will either parry the attack or block, if the attack comes from the left and you pushed left you'll parry but if the attack comes from the right and you pushed left then you'll simply block -- either way you avoid damage.
3rd Strike has has another defensive Option Select you can perform by pressing down+back and Light Punch + Light Kick to perform a grapple defense/low punch Option Select -- what happens is if the aggressor attempts a throw then your LP+LK input will be read as a throw defense and will tech-recover the throw (breaking the throw attempt), but if the aggressor does not throw then you will perform a crouching Light Punch instead which is less punishable than a whiffed throw animation, additionally if an attack connects before you input the command then you'll be holding down+back to block.
In Capcom vs. SNK 2, Roll Canceling gives another form of defensive Option Select. Rolling in CvS2 gives invulnerability frames to you character to all attacks except throws, however, you are able to kara-cancel the roll within the first few frames of animation into a special move, but the special move retains the invulnerability from the roll. Additionally, you can not be immediately thrown when getting up off the ground, so when recovering you are able to perform a reversal roll cancel into a move that can not be thrown to avoid being both hit and thrown. For example Vega (claw) can Roll Cancel into a Wall Dive which leaves the ground quick enough to avoid throws, and the invulnerability gained from the Roll Cancel last long enough for him to avoid most meaty attacks.
In Marvel vs Capcom 2, there are a few defensive Option Selects. One such Option Select involves using the Delayed Hyper Combo system to cancel an extremely fast super such as Magneto's into an extremely safe super that will likely allow you to escape pressure strings that contain frame gaps. Another function that exists in Marvel is the Variable Counter canceled into a safe Hyper Combo. The Variable Counter allows you to cancel block stun by tagging (switching) to another character on your team and having them perform a special move, which can then be canceled into a Hyper Combo, if the Variable Counter happens to have invulnerability frames then this is a great way of escaping ground-based block strings at the cost of a few bars of meter. These are simple mechanics implemented in the game, but when utilized a certain way they can avoid all potential offensive variations and are therefor able to be used as defensive Option Selects.
In Monster, Auto Selecting and Option Selecting is a little interesting. Auto Selecting in other games isn't "free" because they require a setup. Much like the concept of Domination as stated in my previous entry, you can't simply Auto Select at any time, you must first put your opponent at a disadvantage so that you can capitalize on the technique. In Monster there's an additional requirement due to the points system. Any Auto Select could possibly fail if your points are lower than your opponent's points due to Power Breaking. The proverbial sword swings both ways though, since having more points than your opponent makes Auto Selecting much easier due to Power Breaking as well.
One really simple form of Auto Selecting in Monster is simply a C attack/throw Auto Select with Katze against a cornered opponent. If you're close to the opponent and press toward and C then you will throw, but if you opponent jumps you will do a standing C instead and knock them out of the air. The opponent can't backdash in the corner to avoid the throw either because either the C attack will connect forcing the opponent to block, or it will throw them out of their vulnerable backdash frames.
Delga has a less strict Auto Select that is to simply perform a dashing charged C (66[C]) then cancel late into his command grab (41236a). What happens here is if the opponent jumps, attacks, or does not block they will be hit by the C attack -- however, if the opponent blocks then the C attack will cause enough guard stun for the command grab to recover safely (if charged long enough) -- and if the opponent back dashes the will be grabbed by the command grab during the backdashes vulnerable frames. This can be performed anywhere, unlike Katze's, but it's also potentially unrewarding if the opponent simply blocks, unlike Katze's. The reason Katze's is practically guaranteed a reward is even if the opponent backdashes and then blocks, Katze is able to cancel into a dashing C or dashing 2C to continue pressure and mixups. Although a minor reward, it's still better than frame neutrality.
Another valid Auto Select exists with T-Orju, where you can combo during or into a Shift, and then activate Orju's T-Enchant 236a and whiff 5C while the opponent is down, then instant air double jump B against a cornered opponent. Lots of requirements there, but it's actually fairly simple. After a combo you will probably have more points than the opponent and T-Orju's shifted Enchant acts as like a Power Break shield, if the opponent attacks the ring they will automatically cause a Power Break to whoever has less points (either Orju or the opponent). Throws that simply toss the opponent rather than hitting them can bypass this, but if Orju does a quick instant air double jump then he can not be thrown. There is no action that can be taken to get out of this except backdashing, which is vulnerable to a throw once Orju lands.
T-Orju also has the option of using his T-Enchant green dot instead of the Enchant ring 5C. Basically he does a combo either during or into a shift, does his 236a Enchant, then places a meaty 236b green dot, the dot then "poisons" the opponent and slowly drains their life. This is an Auto Select because there's no way to avoid it, the dot lasts long enough to connect with some one who back dashes, it will Power Break an opponent with less points that attempts a reversal or shift and poison them anyway, and they can not avoid it with a T-Shifted auto guard move or jump. The damage is only as good as the amount of time Orju can avoid being hit, but at least it's unavoidable damage and therefor an Auto Select.
Probably the best Auto Select is simply Katze's absurd. Once activated Katze is at such a huge advantage for such a long duration that it's practically guaranteed damage. Although not literally guaranteed damage, it's definitely practical to net a large sum of damage at little to no risk.
Defensive Option Selects exist in Monster as well, and are also made more interesting due to the point system for the same reasons. Most Option Selects can fail if you have a point disadvantage when performing them, but could also just as easily succeed if you have a point advantage.
Once again a simple Option Select belongs to Katze. On wakeup or during a frame neutrality or frame disadvantage situation Katze is able to perform his DP "wing" move (623a) then quickly cancel it into a shift and backdash. If he has point advantage this isn't entirely an infallible defense but it's fairly close. He can not be thrown due to wake-up throw invulnerability frames, and the DP's recovery is cut short by canceling into Shift, which he can then cancel into anything else, including (but not limited to) an invulnerable backdash. The DP itself trades with almost every form of attack there is, or beats it. Though the weak spot here is very long range and low hitting moves that completely avoid the DP's hitbox area such as Ryougen's 2C at max distance, but against a character such as Aleksander it is definitely infallible (assuming point advantage).
Another Option Select exists for pretty much any character (except Aleksander) while in Tranquility Shift, as that shift awards certain special moves with auto-guard frames. Characters like T-Orju can perform a T-Shifted 214a on wakeup and use the autoguard frames to avoid most attacks. The interesting thing here is it almost ignores point imbalances because the move instantly has auto-guard frames, but the hitbox (attack frames) does not occur until much later in the move. Therefor even if it collides with the opponent's attacks it will not cause a Power Break because the move has no active hitbox until the end of the move, it only has auto-guard frames. This isn't entirely infallible either though as the move itself can be thrown, but it's a pretty good Option Select for getting out of the corner and avoiding high/low mixups and pressure strings. The Option Select here is simply to avoid the implied damage that the opponent can potentially cause, and limit the opponent's potential damage to simply a throw's worth of damage.
In closing, I suspect that there are people who wonder if Option Selecting and perhaps Guarantees in general are a good thing or not. I'll probably delve into that subject in my next entry.
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