Always. Be. Closing.
And I’m not talking about rushing down. One of the things I noticed yesterday while watching top Bipsons, is not just the flashy execution and amazing punishes, but how often they keep themselves from being at the mercy of Bison’s built in weaknesses. Notably, cross-ups, annoying resets, and situations where they’re dependent on anti-air. How do they do this? My observation is that they aren’t stationary targets. They don’t stay in range of attacks that could potentially hurt them for very long at all. So that means moving and constantly re-adjusting, not crouching and gaining charge, and not being a stationary target holding a sign that says “please jump in on me, forcing me into defense.” And given the choice, between advancing and retreating, they do not move backwards, a frequent tendancy in less skilled players because it creates the safety and comfort of breathing room; but it also creates more distance between them and their opponent, which is a favor to the opponent. Remember, Bison’s best real estate is the corner, and all roads lead there (or they should). If you constantly find yourself a screen length away from a Shoto taking projectile chip damage or endlessly Devil’s reversing, hoping to catch them with a careless fireball, seriously re-evaluate your general approach to Bipson.
While some rush down, and others are more patient, top Bipsons always look for opportunities to close. This means being aware that you can
A) within the right range, safely dash forward while your opponent’s jumping or walking backwards
B) slide (cr. HK) while your opponent’s jumping backwards
C) throw in a teleport (42 frames to teleport) if they’re mindlessly throwing projectiles (58 frames total for one of Ryu’s non-EX fireballs) [albeit this is an unecessary risk most of the time]
D) work on mastering FADC’ing through fireballs from different ranges, with different speeds, and getting comfortable with neutral jumping over them since crouching and blocking fireballs pushes you backwards, which is counterproductive
E) teleport in between the time the first and second hits connect; when a player jumps in on you, it’s typical for your opponent to connect high (blocked high), then immediately connect for a second attack, usually a sweep which you must block low. Don’t stick around for both attacks, teleport in between the time it takes for the second attack to hit, and reset on THEM. Note this doesn’t work for all attacks, and I have to head to the training room to see whether this works against, light, medium, or heavy attacks. Will post findings.
F) head to the training room and stop treating focus attacks like they’re all well and good, but essentially useless. They are not. And great players use them to not only keep players from overdoing it on the type of attacks mentioned in point E) with the threat of a counter hit, but also as a way to instantly transition from defense to offense, by absorbing the first attack, and then dashing in to create an attack of their own. Note, the timing is exact on this, but you don’t get better by ignoring more sophisticated techniques requiring strict inputs. They’re also very important for protecting yourself as soon as you get into striking distance of your opponent (because of course by closing the distance, you’re both vulnerable, although technically you have the advantage). Upon seeing you close in, your opponent may try to attack as you get in range. Absorb and release the FA for a well timed counter hit, or absorb and dash forward again and grab or cr. lk x3 to sk or lk to grab, or even go to level three FA if you’re feeling lucky and are at the right distance (use this sparingly for obvious reasons). In any event, you want to start your FA just outside of jab distance, close enough to get poked by any other normal, but not so close that you’re jabbed twice, armor broken, and punished. It’s a game of inches, Bipsons.
G) **Mastering the dash! **And getting comfortable playing from your non-dominant side!! I suspect this is true for most right handed players as it was for myself, but double-tapping the joystick and dashing from the left side of the screen to the right is much easier than doing so from the right to the left. For the lazy among you, make sure that you make every effort to get back to your dominant side – why play at a disadvantage when Bison’s so adept at getting from one side of the screen to the other? However, for those interested in mastering Bison, you have to overcome this weakness and learn to dash from right to left as well as you do in the opposite direction. This means PRECISE dashing. Not going nuts on the joystick and hitting 3 times to dash or 5 or 9 times, but 2 precise taps to dash once and 4 precise taps to dash two times in a row (and to be able to do it from a crouching position as well – which requires integrating the standing hand motion into the dashing hand montion; you cannot double tap from a crouch to dash). Forget about heading to the training room to practice fancy 13 hit FADC combos, hell attacks, and the other high level stuff until you’ve mastered dashing. Once you’ve done that, I guarantee Bison will go from feeling like a dull blade to a scalpel. It’s essential to high level play. Ideally you want your timing with dashing to be so good that you can attack at the end of the last recovery frame every time and under pressure. Once you get a rhythm with the double dash especially, Bison magically begins to seem like a much faster character than he already is. Hard to describe, but you’ll know it when you experience it.
We’ve all played against Akumas who are so proficient that they make his relatively low health a non-issue. Top Bison players do the same with Bison’s lack of anti-air and vulnerability to cross-ups. They’re only issues if you constantly recreate situations where you must deal with them. Bison has one of the best dashes in the game – use it. It’s great for getting yourself out of trouble.
The reason tops Bisons make his gameplay look so easy and straightforward is because they avoid many of the problematic distance situations weaker players put themselves in over and over again. When you picked Bison, you chose a non-projectile, fast moving character with great pokes. To use them, you have to pay at least as much attention to opportunities to advance as you do to how many times you can chip with scissor kicks, etc. Review your replays and take a mental note of all the times you could’ve closed in but didn’t. I think you’ll be surprised.
And you do all this why? Because, who wants to come in second and collect a crappy set of steak knives?