Lost Strategy Series: Overcoming Plateaus by Alex Valle Lost Strategy Series: Overcoming Plateaus by Alex Valle
Buried deep within the SRK servers are lost strategy articles written by the likes of Valle, Choi and many other fighting game greats. We’ll... Lost Strategy Series: Overcoming Plateaus by Alex Valle

Buried deep within the SRK servers are lost strategy articles written by the likes of Valle, Choi and many other fighting game greats. We’ll be republishing these must-read gems as we find them.

Overcoming Plateaus by Alex Valle

Original published March 5, 2010 by Alex Valle (@AlexValleSF4)

One of the problems with SF today is the amount of complaints about characters people find easy to win with, or hard to beat. These are usually symptoms of reaching player plateau.

A wise SF player told me there are two reasons for plateaus:
1. The player physically cannot execute to their character’s full potential.
Ex. Viper player losing purely for dropping commands/combos. Or a Ryu player unable to commit to simple fireballs/uppercuts, who ends up losing to basic jump-ins.

2. The player cannot or will not learn more about the game.
Ex. Whenever there are hurdles about a certain match up, this forum is bombarded with excuses which doesn’t help their situation at all. This is the true issue.

Every player has to face and overcome this obstacle. Practicing a game with the goal of winning tournaments, you always run into certain characters or tactics which give you trouble. If you don’t find a way to get past that hurdle, you’ll continue losing to that character and never make it to the next level.

I’ll share one of my personal experiences from a few months ago. I’d been losing to mainly Rufus players and instead of complaining about his EX Messiah Kicks or his low risk high reward pressure game, I had to dig deeper on how to overcome my opponents’ superior play. My problem was my frantic defense: I jumped away very predictably, I dropped crucial combos, I got baited by double dive kick pressure, and I threw on wake up after seeing a dive kick oki. My reaction time to dive kicks in general was mediocre.

To beat the next Rufus player, I needed train on the above issues. Otherwise I would’ve plateaued and accepted defeat – in the form of trying to counter-character Rufus, which would result in doubt and morale loss.

Another common example is Ryu, who’s started getting an unfair share of forum hate lately. We all agree Ryu has easy combos/setups to ultra. Noted. To the casual-intermediate non-Ryu player, these “advantages” can be overwhelming.

If you are constantly getting hit by them, ask yourself, how is this happening?

I can assure you, it’s your own impatient jumping, trouble teching throws or getting baited to eat EX Tatsu in the corner, your decision to chance a 1-frame link versus Ryu with 2 stocks/ultra, or thinking that (for example) Bison c.LK x3 is a true blockstring.

Being outplayed in short.

Once you’ve identified these problems, the next step is to stop gambling with links vs SRK FADC and develop better baiting options (mix ups) when you have your opponent in blockstun. It’s been a year and you know an SRK is coming under convenient defensive conditions (2 stocks + ultra). Accept that, adapt, and punish accordingly.

Hope this helps.