Stealing Frames (More Footsies)

I have already said most of this already, so I probably sound a bit like a broken record. But I'm going to try, this time, to make it sound a bit different.

- Evasive anti-air. Example: Ken walking pixels out of Urien j.RH.

Photobucket Click thumbnail for larger view.

The above example is something that happens quite often in SF3:3S. Either because of parries or because of really good jump-in options or maybe just force of habit, the Ken player we see reacted to Urien's jump and walked backwards literally pixels just outside of Urien's maximum effective jump attack range. This is what would be considered an evasive anti-air, and in Ken's case he also has a very very swift backdash to add to his options for moving backwards in these situations.

Why is it good? Well, fighting against Urien who is jumping at you is a pretty bad idea simply because of the risk/reward ratio involved with air parry. If you manage to anti-air him then you at worst get a reset and at best get a knockdown, and in either case you only get minor damage. In Urien's case, if he manages to parry your anti-air then at worst he gets a jump-in with tick throw potential, which may or may not succeed for a knockdown, and at best he gets a jump-in combo for large damage plus knockdown.

That said, it's better to avoid the situation and "steal frames". Because you moved outside of his range you earn a few frames of initiative. The time it will take him to land after you've moved yourself out of range is yours. Technically, in 3S almost everything is a guessing game at neutral, but there's no denying that an advantage is still technically advantageous. A player would not normally risk a down-parry or forward-parry against Ken who could do either a RH or c.RH, or any number of other things in his neutral-arsenal (such as walk-throw, c.MK/MK, etc). Though generally, the concept of evasive anti-airs does not belong to 3S alone.

- Baiting a poke. Example: Ken baiting Ibuki to whiff a poke in order to gain initiative in which to perform a jump-in or dash-in.

Photobucket Click thumbnail for larger view.

Photobucket Click thumbnail for larger view.

In the first scenario; Ken attempts a jump-in "naked". What that means is, Ken tries to jump without first creating the situation where he neutralizes Ibuki's anti-air options (he tries to jump without doing anything else first). Thus, what occurs is what we see: Ibuki does a c.HP on reaction to Ken's jump, which when performed at that range is practically infallible without meter. Ken's only option for not eating the c.HP is to parry, so if he does not parry then he is hit. If he does parry, then this also is not a success story,since Ibuki is still able to highjump cancel the c.HP even if it's been parried. Once in the air she is free to air parry herself. Worst case scenario, Ibuki gets hit with a light jumping attack for minor damage and reset, best case scenario Ibuki air parries and hits with a jumping attack for minor-to-decent damage and reset.

So, with an anti-air like this in the game, that is supposedly infallible at neutral, how does one actually beat it? Well, once again the answer is to steal frames.

In the second image we see Ken walking towards Ibuki first. This puts pressure on a turtling Ibuki player because Ken is now invading her space. He could quickly dash in and throw, or attack from afar to gain initiative, or any number of things. It's a natural human reaction, when in defensive-mode, for a player to want to keep the opponent out of their personal space. And normally the action spawned there is to poke with the best move available to keep them from getting any closer.

But as we see in the image, Ken knew his spacing perfectly well, and stepped only as far as he could go while still avoiding Ibuki's c.MK range.

Now, it's certainly no simple task to react to such a swift move, but we can assume that the Ken player knew the Ibuki player would "freak out" and attempt to poke a forward advancing Ken. Thus, with a little anticipation and timing, Ken is now able to do a jump-in or dash-in.

This is entirely taking advantage of frames. Ibuki is now stuck completing her c.MK animation for a good while and is unable to act until it ends. In the original scenario of Ken jumping at Ibuki after either reacting to or anticipating Ibuki's c.MK, he won't necessarily be able to hit her (she could "just block"), but now he has completely neutralized almost all of her anti-air options. For Ibuki, c.HP is out of the question, she is neither in the ideal range nor does she have enough time for it to come out before Ken is in deeper than the effective range.

At this point her only valid option is to attempt a DP, which is entirely too risky because it has high chances of either whiffing or being parried, and in either case Ibuki will suffer massive punishment damage. Ibuki also can not walk backward outside of the range of Ken's j.MK as we see in the image, but she can also not walk forwards under Ken's j.MK or Ken will still connect with the j.MK as a cross-up hit. Ibuki's only real option is to either block or attempt a very risky parry or forward dash.

- So what.

Well, the point of this is that it's really basic and core to a lot of 2D fighting games in regards to ground-based footsies. It's significant enough that players who utilize these concepts effectively are almost always a tier or two above players that do not (there's always exceptions though.. oh what a world).

Personally, I feel amateurs and scrubs generally don't get it at all, or don't care to. And perhaps in response, or just coincidence, a lot of new-generation fighting games take great measures to dilute these concepts or to try and make them irrelevant entirely. Games with excessively advantageous airmovement or defensive options, or games with piss-poor anti-airs, seem to want players to be able to fight without having to deal with such fundamental concepts as footsies, usually resulting in a point-blank slugfest which turns into a momentum-based rushdown/okizeme game for the remainder of the match after the first couple hits. Or games like SWR which are so devoid of anything resembling consistency it makes me want to retch.

So?!

To put it simply, it isn't always a bad or good thing. It really comes down to preference.

To use an analogy, it would be like comparing gambling to chess. I believe that for most people; it's a lot more fun losing and winning to chance when gambling, than it is to consistently lose at chess and not understand why.

But this is precisely why I like competitive gaming in the first place. I'd much rather be the latter group than the former. If I were the type to be in the former group then I'd probably prefer cooperation/team games or solo-play because competition and consistent negative results would be frustrating. Additionally, I would only be there for the enjoyment, and therefor anything that forced me to actually try/learn or pay attention would annoy me. On the flipside I genuinely do prefer competition because I enjoy the challenge and excitement of winning and losing.

So, this is why I personally feel games shouldn't ever try to mix elements in order to appeal to both types. Either build a game designed entirely for competitive play or don't mess with competition at all.

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