SF4 Guide: Don't feel, think

Street Fighter is a very technical game. It is not about fancy combo's and great execution, it is about outthinking your opponent. You need combo's to do damage, but those combo's won't do any good if you have no chance to hit those fancy combo's. I'll take you to a short game where you think instead of feel.

The start of the round

In the first round, you want to figure your opponent out. At the start, walk around a little and look what your opponent does.

Does he keep throwing fireballs? Just neutral jump over them and slowly walk forward or focus dash your way in. While you get close, see what your opponent does. Will he dash back and retry his strategy? Just keep pushing him into the corner, he won't be able to throw fireballs when you got him all locked up. Now you can start your great corner pressure. This gives you vital information, the opponent locks himself in the corner, where you have a big advantage over him. Easy win if you make use of this! If you want to push the opponent in the quicker, do a jump-in. Just do one, and see if the opponent anti-airs. No? Good, you can do it again because it has no consequences. If he does anti-air, or anti-airs after the second time, stop doing it immediately! It will just get you killed!

However, a lot of players don't keep throwing fireballs, or play a character without a fireball. This is when you take a different approach. Walk around a little and see how your opponent reacts to that. Will he walk to you? Throw out a good normal, decide which one on the distance between you! Learn the range and speed of all your normals, you don't want to throw out a slow normal that doesn't reach, so the opponent can punish you! Will he throw out long-ranged attacks? Block them, jump over them and punish, or focus them and punish! Long-ranged attacks are slow, so you have time to react to it! Will he keep standing there and block? Just walk up to him and throw him! Throwing and level 3 focus attacks are the only two things that beats blocking. The level 3 focus attacks takes a while to charge, the opponent will surely punish you for trying that. A throw is way quicker, and does an easy 100-150 damage. This is the best option! Does he tech the throw? Walk very close to him and then walk back, tricking him into throwing and then you can punish that!

Will he jump into you? Anti-air him! NEVER let anybody get in for free! Anti-airs are some of the most important parts of the game, and if you don't master these, you will lose a lot of games! It's the same the other way around, if you master anti-airs, you will win lots of games with ease! People will literally kill themself by jumping into you.

A lot of players have a certain pattern. An example is: they walk around for a while, throw a fireball then jump in. You have to figure this pattern out so you can beat it!

Capitalizing on a knockdown

Now you know what your opponent will do while you are both standing, but what if you get a knockdown? If you knock your opponent down, you want to take advantage of what comes next. Don't just stand there watching him get up again, that will put you in the same situation as you both were before. You want to pull out the okizeme. Okizeme means attacking knocked down opponents. Every character has different options for his okizeme, and some characters do want to back up as far as they can, characters like Dhalsim and Guile. This is because their game revolves around zoning, they want to keep the opponent out any way they can.

Other characters however, want to do damage! The basic okizeme has three options: Attack with an overhead, attack with a lot attack, throw or block. These options cause a good vortex, you have to keep the opponent guessing what you are going to do. However, all of the first three options will get beat by a wake-up reversal. Whenever they wake-up with any good special move (e.g. a shoryuken) you will get hit into big damage! So you will want to block this, because whenever you block it the opponent can't do anything for a lot of frames. You can punish with ANY combo, and should do around 300 damage every time this happens. More if possible! So you will have to look what your opponent tends to do on wake-up. I usually block the first knockdown, will they reversal? I keep blocking. Will they throw me or just block? I pull out the okizeme!

Get in your opponent's head

This is extremely difficult and takes a lot of practice. You will want to make your opponent think he outplays you, but in fact you are a step ahead of him. You will want your opponent to think you are going to do move A, which gets beaten by move B. The opponent will do move B, and you already planned to do move C, which beats move B. You had the opponent figured out all along.

You will have to figure out yourself how to manipulate your opponent, but it is done by 'faking' moves, or repeating the same options all the time. This will cause your opponent to think you are going to do a specific move, while in fact you do another move. This goal can only be accomplished by a lot of practice!


Now you got your opponent all figured out. You are aware of his pattern and whatever he does on a knockdown. Now you know what your opponent is going to do, so you can react to any of his moves. You are in his head, he will doubt every move he does, because you seem to beat every move he does. He will doubt every move he does and this will cause him to do random stuff. Just sit back and relax, watch your opponent try reckless stuff which is easily beatable.

Street Fighter IV | Fighting Games

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