Finishing Your Plate: Tips to Improve Combo Execution

By on June 28, 2016 at 12:59 pm
Sin Kiske Eating

We’ve talked about doing training mode, and a fundamental part of your practice should be execution. Execution is one of the most basic points of playing a fighting game. You need to be able to control your character on will–move the way you want to, guard when you need to, and convert hits into a knockdown or a favorable situation as necessary. This is certainly not easy, but there’s one goal you should have when practicing execution:

You should to be able to do what you want, when you want.

I’ve received comments on my play for my execution. But to be honest, I’m not winning any execution exhibitions any time soon. The only reason it looks good is that during matches, I do the things I’m confident I can execute.

Consider a tournament set. You bait someone’s reversal successfully–what kind of punish should you do?

  1. Your basic combo
  2. A pretty decent punish–not the best punish, but better than the basic combo
  3. An optimized punish specifically for that reversal

The answer?

Whatever you know you can confidently perform at that moment. Ideally, if we’re theory fighting, you want to go with the third combo. That type of punish would deal the most damage and lead to the most rewarding follow-up situation. But if you can only execute the third combo 50 percent of the time, and the second one 80 percent of the time, you should go with the second one in that particular situation.

Nerves also factor into execution.

Let’s say I actually have the third combo down about 80 or 90 percent of the time, but it’s still somewhat difficult, or requires some special motion. If I’m especially nervous (and this happens!) I’ll choose to do something easier, rather than something optimal, solely because I know I won’t drop it. I’m sure you can think of a time where you watched a strong player do something that clearly was not optimal in a tournament situation. It might have seemed odd, but they wanted the certainty of completing the conversion.

So, how would you go about practicing execution?

Common advice I’ve heard is “practice until you get whatever you’re working on x out of 10 times in a row.” If we treat this like a test, we’re aiming for at least a C, or a 7 out of 10. This is fine as an end goal, but if you can’t execute the entire sequence, then you’ll need a method in order to finish the combo in the first place.

I’ll use Guilty Gear Xrd as an example. Millia’s standard BNB is pretty simple, but for someone who’s trying to increase their conversion ability, they have to learn how to do jump kick > instant airdash > jump kick. Let’s look at an example combo:

  • Throw > Standing K > Jump K > instant airdash Jump > Jump S > Jump H > land Standing K > Jump K > Jump S > Jump D > Double Jump > Airdash > Jump K > Jump P > Jump H

At first glance, this is a pretty long combo; it has many inputs, and also involves movement. First, I would group the combo into chunks. If you watch a recording of any combo, usually there is some sort of rhythm: some hits, then a pause, then some more hits. After watching a video of the above combo, I would group it as such:

  • Throw > Standing K > Jump K airdash JKSH > land Standing K > Jump KSD airdash JKPH

This is much easier to digest. This is the same as the first combo. The main difference is that any parts of the combo that are strung together are placed together, so that it’s easier to remember.

Next, you want to figure out your problem point. Again, Millia’s standard BNB combo is quite easy, and the second half of the combo is essentially her BNB. So the actual part you want to practice is:

  • [Throw > Standing K > Jump K airdash JKSH]

This is the part I would focus on, and think about the previous, general advice, “Practice it until you hit it x times out of 10.”

Finally, put it all together. In actual practice, this can vary. If you have problems with everything, but learned how to do it all separately, then you’re going to have to practice going from pain point to pain point. In this example, you’re already comfortable with the second half, so you’re going to have to get comfortable with moving from something challenging to something easy–following that same goal of successfully completing the combo with a high success rate. Once you hit your target, you can try to use your new combo in matches!

So as a quick review:

  • Review the sequence you want to learn
  • Make that sequence as easy to digest as possible by grouping parts of the sequence together
  • Practice each of these groups individually until you can land them consistently
  • Put them all together
  • Try it in a match!