Beyond the Plateau - Part II is up

I’ve been working on a series of short articles aimed at beginning to average players, like me. Like many other players, I hit a plateau and struggled to understand why I wasn’t improving, and why I always seemed to lose to the same people over and over. This is not meant to be quintessential truth, but rather some findings that have been relevant to my game-play. Hopefully some of these concepts and ideas will be helpful and useful for some.

Part I - Spacing.

Seth Killian wrote a wonderful article on “controlling space” in The Dojo (found here: and it covers actual control of space, and the potential of controlling space. Reading that article is a huge step in the right direction. My goal here is to break down the concept a little bit more and to explain why it is such an important idea.

This concept is fairly easy to define: Maintaining the optimum position on screen in order to control the outcome of the match.

That’s basically it. However basic the concept might appear, it is the corner-stone of Street Fighter 2. Without a proper understanding of your character’s range and options, you will systematically lose to good players. There is no “fix-all” solution. Every character in the game has a specific best position in every match up.

Dictator, for example, enjoys being about a character’s width away from Ryu/Ken. Why?

Because it is the easiest distance from which to punish “psychic DP” attempts, or to stuff Fireballs, Hurricane Kicks and any number of moves. You keep applying pressure with the highest amount of reward for the smallest amount of risk.

Correct spacing facilitates using normals, specials, cross ups and combos.

I’m sure many of you have encountered players that seem to stuff everything you do. You jump against Blanka only for him to use standing strong and shut down whatever it is you were trying to do. You tried a crouching short with Guile and Boxer stuffed it with his crouching forward. You tried to do a cross up with Dictator only to realize you were too close and go sailing past the opponent and essentially do nothing, or worse, give up your advantage.

Being positioned properly denies your opponent many of his options. It shuts down entire avenues that they might have otherwise taken. A classic example is Guile being about mid screen, sitting on a down charge. If he throws a Sonic Boom, and you jump at him, you’ll eat his cr.FP for free. If you wait, you’ll take some chip damage. If you jump too early, you’ll eat the Flash Kick. If I’m Ryu and react to his Sonic Boom with a Fireball, Guile will walk up and back-fist me. Spacing, spacing, spacing. If the opponent is bad, they will keep trying the same patterns, and keep failing. Since we are working under the assumption that your opponent is competent, they will then switch their strategy and adapt to you.

Correct spacing gives you options, while at the same time, removing those of your opponents. Every other facet of the game is directly affected by your understanding and mastery of the space your character occupies. Pro tip: you shouldn’t be looking at your own character. You put him there. Always watch your opponent so you can react.

Also, it bears mentioning: know at all times where you are located in a stage. What I mean by that is “How close am I to the middle or the corners?” Why is this important? Because it lets you know which moves are safe to do and which are not. Once cornered, the spacing changes, the push-back from moves also change. Getting yourself cornered because you weren’t sure where you were is silly and will cost you games that should have otherwise been yours.

In the same vein, holding back (<-) all the time is not a good habit. If someone throws a move, even from a significant distance, it will put you in block animation, if only for a moment. This will often allow players to keep you where you are. You want to stay mobile. Neutral is a good place to have your stick. If you know your and your opponent’s range, you are keeping a close eye on them, and your spacing is correct, you do not need to always be holding back. This is not exclusive to non-charge characters either. A mobile Dictator is a scary proposition. A dictator sitting in the corner holding d/b, not so much.

But how do you know you are in the right spot?

Observation, Study, Practice and Patience get you there. Observe really good players. We all have amazing resources available at our fingertips. Youtube, streetfighterdojo, srk. It’s all there, available at the cost of some of your time. If you’re lucky enough to bump into someone that’s better than you are online, don’t waste the opportunity. Watch them play when you’re in the lobby. There are a lot of amazing players online. I can say first-hand I learned a lot by watching DGV play.

Study what those players do, and what they don’t do. Where are they standing? Why? Try and model your game-play after them. Try and live the game along with them. Notice how mobile they are on screen, where they position themselves, if they run away or are aggressive. Practice what you’ve learned. Make a conscious effort to adjust your spacing. Correct it when it’s off. You will try new things, and some will work, but most won’t. Street Fighter is a thinking man’s game, and you cannot improve by going into auto-pilot.

Be patient. You will not suddenly become amazing at it. It will get frustrating. There will be lapses. You will lose a fair bit. Old habits die hard, and retraining yourself is difficult, but the effort is well worth it, and you will get better.


I’ve watched this guy get better and better since Remix came out. I think it’s great that he’s telling others how he analyzed his game play. Good stuff dude, keep it up!

I never felt this way. I always told myself to just keep playing and I’ll improve and look what happened. :stuck_out_tongue:

Anyway, great topic Raakam.

i just played online a bunch and practiced combos in training mode a little bit

ez pz

If you consider yourself average then I must be in the shit-stain tier of players, lol. Great thread btw.

Thanks for the positive response. I’ll be putting up articles about once a week in the thread - next week’s topic is “Jumping & You”.

just keep playing good players, all that spacing, zoning, cross up stuff becomes 2nd nature after a while. Good piece of writting man

Good Stuff Raakam. I know I probably never thought about it this way, but I think all this that you said is true playing good players and being able to analyze your play is the best thing one can do

Interesting… I think your best spot seems to change vs different character and what they are doing. Sim, seems to work better at very long nad very close but suck at middle. Vega seems to work best closing in, then backing off or holding at middle range.

I had a really interesting match with Traveller Penguin last night as Ken. In that doing what you normally do doesn’t always apply. Trying to catch up on the get up - was pointless as he could reversal every time, and then when you reversal he sort of lulled you into doing it then caught me on the recovery.

I wonder in ways if turtling more would have worked better, but then when I did try to go on the defensive/counter attack strategy I get hit with the tick-throw knee bash… letting him actually attack is also bad because every time he unleashed a super he combo’d into it with two short crouch kicks, making the damage sick.

I’d like to see a match of a top (100 Rank or higher Vega) vs a top (100 Rank or higher Ken) to see how I could possibly handle this seemingly very difficult matchup. That said - the zoning thing is important, the number of times I’ve seen people drop Ken’s overhead kick too close that it misses… Travel Penguin used it to good effect several times - at just the right range.


Well, Smokemare, the Ken vs. Claw matchup was actually brought up not too long ago with video linked to it to boot, so I can point you to it. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where it was brought up, but I’m going to guess that it was in “The Inevitable Tier Thread”. It was pretty much agreed that Vega does have the advantage in this matchup, but a few psychic DPs can easily turn the momentum in Ken’s favor. You’ll want to try looking in either “The Inevitable Tier Thread”, the Ken thread, or the Claw thread. I know those video links are in one of those threads.

Anybody else remember where those videos were posted and who was in them. All I can remember is that the action was quite intense as both players were definitely at the top of the class with their respective characters.

Oh…and when in doubt, search YouTube, too. Tons of videos on there, so you’re guaranteed to find something that will help you.

Here you go, Smokemare.

If you want your Claw tested by a Ken main on here, blitzfu is the guy for sure.

These were the videos: [media=youtube]-6Nn8O5bsxs[/media]

great post rakaam. i think i know a fair amount of spacing against certain characters, but its mostly instinct. i would love to see you spell it out. your posts inspire me to start writing my own views and startegies as ryu. such as what normals should be on your mind depending on the matchup. like standing short vs zangief and guile… vs blanka…etc

Good post :).

Part II - Jumping & You:

At its most basic, Street Fighter 2 is broken down into two distinct areas: The ground and the air. I’m not sure where the habit comes from, but a lot of players will often resort to jumping in order to “get away” or “put pressure”. There is a false sense of security and power attached with jumping. It might stem from the fact that jumping tends to beat some ground moves or allow for some amazingly devastating combos, and so people associate it with a get-out-of-trouble or finish-the-game move.

It often screams desperation or uncertainty to me. You see it all the time. Get someone cornered, they try to jump out only to eat that “psychic dp” and then they wonder how you knew they’d jump. You send a few fireballs their way, pause for a moment, and they jump for no reason, eating an anti-air or another fireball. Even good players sometimes suffer from this lapse of judgment.

Whoever controls the ground controls the match. This is simple Street Fighter 2 truth, and yet, it took me a long time to figure out. Why is that? Because on the ground, you have many options. You can fireball pressure, you can play footsies, poke, etc. If you watch top players, you will see this recurring theme. Basically, Do not jump because you’re not sure what else to do!

The biggest issue with jumping is that, for most of the cast, it locks you down into a set trajectory. If Blanka jumps, I know the exact path he is going to follow, and where he is going to land. I may not know what move he’ll do in the air, or what he wants to do once he lands, but you usually don’t need to. Jumping because you’re not sure what to do will get you killed, over and over. If you are maintaining proper spacing, you will rarely need to jump. I have won countless games without jumping once. Not because I don’t know how or because I wanted to prove a point, but simply because there was no need.

You have to eliminate the idea of uncertainty from your jump. Let your opponent do, then react. Just because Sagat did 8 tigershots in a row doesn’t mean that there will be a 9th. The occasional good guess does not make it a good, reliable strategy. Random jumping against good players will get your ass handed to you every time.

For certain characters, taking to the air is a different proposition than others. Why is Claw so good, when he lacks a projectile, and a big part of his game is air-based? That’s because he does not lose mobility in the air. If Vega’s wall-dives had a set trajectory and never varied, it wouldn’t be as useful. Fortunately for him that is not the case. T-Hawk doesn’t share the same fortune. His condor dive is a set trajectory, and while you can control where it starts from, it will always follow the same vector, making it a dicier proposition. Dhalsim can control his air trajectory with his drills. Dictator can, to a lesser extent, do the same with Devil’s Reverse and Headstomp. Ken, Ryu and Chun can also retain some mobility in the air with the Hurricane Kick(Juice Kick!)/Cyclone Kick, as well as a very limited amount for Honda and Boxer with neutral j.:hp:.

So, when is it safe to jump?

The safest time to jump is after scoring a knockdown. You should know what safe-jumping is by now. Learn to time it properly. If you spaced it properly, you can end up with an ambiguous cross up.

Jumping over fireballs can work out fine, depending on the opponent, your distance and the kind of projectile they used: a jab hadoken has faster recovery than a fierce. If you’re half a screen away from Ken and neutral jump over one of his hadokens, his fierce dp can and will catch you. You can always just block the projectile…

Great post Raakam just like the 1st. I noticed that jumping is not so great it once seemed to me. I think (at least for me) that you missed one thing you could mention. Correct me if i’m wrong.
Jumping against charge characters: I noticed that once charge characters move forward (or jump forward) a counter-jump can be very useful. The moment they lose the charge by moving forward is the moment you should use to put pressure on them and give you the advantage.
I don’t know if this works against the very best but i had a lot of success with this stategy against good players.
Thanks for sharing your opinion with me.

It’s hard to say yes in a vacuum. It’s more reasonable to jump against a charge character that is walking forward, but not necessarily a good idea. It’s very match up specific.

For example, jumping in against Blanka with a number of characters is a bad idea even if he doesn’t have charge, because he can just do a st.:mp:/electricity and beat most jump ins. Against Balrog, you eat a st.:mp: or cr:hp: for free, against DJ a st:mp:, against Bison a cr:hp:, st:hp: or st:lp: depending on distance, against Chun Li, a st:mk:, Guile a st:mp: or cr:hp: (I think?), Vega a st:hk: etc. Honda is probably the safest to jump in on if he is walking forward, though I believe he can just st.:lp: some characters like Gief without them being able to do much.

I find it better to use moves like Scissors kick/Psycho Crusher, Cannon Drill, Sumo Torpedo type moves against walking charge characters. Even then, I tend to use moves that are safe on block just in case they react fast enough.

Again, this is character dependent. Fast falling characters like Blanka or Vega probably have a safer time jumping in on charge characters, or people like Boxer, Hawk and DJ that have very good priority jumping moves (j:hk:, j:lp: and j:lp: respectively).

I hope that answers the question somewhat :slight_smile:


Next week, I’ll be writing about “Playing Safe”.

Yaeh thanks for the reply, perhaps the people i used it against were not fast enough an just blocked, allowing me to take advantage of the situation

THX a lot again

Well…I would like to mention something that James Chen mentioned about jumping maybe a couple of years ago. Jumping is actually not that bad of an idea when you have your opponent focused on your poking game. Obviously, the faster your character’s jump is, the better, but you can catch people offguard with the right amount of pressure. As it was said, this is character specific and matchup specific advice, though.

Jump arc

Hey man nice stuff. I forget where I came across it, but I was reading a post/article that echoed your point about jump arcs. I think the article had something to do with making the most of a game when you don’t have access to human competition. Regarding DP characters, the article suggested studying the jump arcs of the rest of the cast, and learning to put yourself at just the distance that would put the end of their jump arc right in front of you.

The advantage is obvious: this spacing let’s you throw projectiles safely while leaving enough time for [recovery -> srk]. I guess it never sank in until I read your post, but this is the most fundamental part of a DP character’s game. Quite literally, the proper spacing allows them to work as they were designed. (mind blowing, right?)

Anyway great post I just thought I’d add that bit.