Twitch Baits

A twitch response is what happens when the opponent baits you into doing something. This technique in general is usually referred to just as a "bait", but since that's such a broad blanket term the actual mechanics of the technique tend to get lost. It's sort of like reverse tunnel vision, or simply exploiting anticipation or panic reactions. It's almost so simple that it feels a little ridiculous explaining it. But let's start with an example:

- c.LP walk forward throw (classic tick throw).
- c.LP walk forward -pause- c.LP

This is one of the most basic twitch-response exploits. The reason it works is because the defender is sitting there afraid to get hit, so they keep blocking and end up getting thrown a bit. After getting thrown enough they start looking for the throw so that they can tech/jump out. The problem is, most good players will just walk right up in a blatantly obvious/telegraphed manner, knowing damn well that the defender is afraid of the grab now, and then instead of grabbing they punch them in the nuts.

The reason this is so effective in games like SF4 and CvS2 is because jabs link to strongs which combo to specials and supers. Even better, if you attempt to tech the throw high you'll whiff a throw attempt, and if you tech it low you'll do a jab which gets stuffed by their jab which results in a counterhit.

It was made more effective in SF3:3S because this pattern could include down parry, as in c.LP walk forward down parry attempt c.LP/throw, where if the defender is hitting buttons to defend themselves aggressively/panicky they'll get parried and eat heavy confirmable damage, or again if they try to optionselect tech the throw by teching while crouching the defender would stick out a low jab and get parried.

It was also pretty effective in SFA2 and SFA3, and can be found in most fighting games where throws aren't instant and either counterhits or jabs/shorts are really powerful.

This is just the basic foundation of getting in your opponent's head and baiting out reactions that you want though. Pressuring people in the corner while whiffing obvious pokes or throwing fireballs tends to bait people to jump, which gives you free anti-airs. Doing a move with frame disadvantage tends to bait people into attempting an attack even if they know they can't punish it, which gives you an opportunity to beat their attack with an invulnerable or partially invulnerable move. Wiggling just within sweep range can bait people into trying a sweep despite most sweeps being incredibly risky and punishable.

Because you're getting into the opponent's head and getting a read on people, players will often mistakenly call this a "mind game" when it's not. It really is just a simple mixup. This mixup with the first example is a two option mixup, like flipping a coin. Either it will be a jab, which is melee and you prevent damage by blocking. or it will be a throw which is a grab and you prevent damage by avoiding it or teching it. In other words:

Melee/Grab == c.LP/throw --> block/tech (or jump or backdash or walk back or whatever).

Something Azrael said a while back made me realize SF4 was teaching a legion of MB and GG/BB players what the basic twitch-response mixup is in most "classic fighters". At first I thought it was the other way around, I thought SF4 was teaching SF/GG/BB players what staggers were. But that's mostly because I don't actually play the game, so it wasn't until I thought about it more that it became apparent that it was indeed teaching GG/BB players the twitch.

I'd say MB players already sort of know the twitch and the stagger, because it works like KoF or run-grooves in CvS2, but honestly I think a lot of players get wrapped up in what they are doing that they don't bother thinking about the opponent or what they want the opponent to do (other than lose) to really get a grasp on it. For example, it's easy to just go into auto-pilot mode and fall into the habit of running tick throws or block strings without actually even giving your opponent room to twitch or panic.

I daresay a player who is too focused on doing only tick throws and/or block-strings is missing about half the actual game, even when utilizing both ticks and strings. I also daresay the scariest pressure is the one that has holes, usually intentional holes designed to bait the twitch.



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