Originally a blog post, but I thought this would get more attention/views/criticism this way.
In Street Fighter an important caveat is the difference between fireballs and body projectiles. Fireballs are an extension of the character without a hurt box and can cause damage full screen, while body projectiles follow the character and can be countered since the hurt box follows as well. Just as much as its important to have a seemingly random fireball pattern that zones you opponent both in mindset (impatience/annoyance) and where they are in the environment, its important to have a pattern of fireball avoidance, that moves you forward and puts you at an advantage.
Blocking a fireball usually puts you at a disadvantage because you?re in block stun and your opponent recovered moments after the fireball left them. You?re also at a disadvantage because you?re pushed back further from you opponent and because the fireball is no longer on the screen. A big change from vanilla is that there can only be one fireball per character on the screen at once.
For example in vanilla Ryu could throw a fireball, Balrog could tap past it and eat a super, no longer possible in super.
Blocking a fireball allows your opponent to fire a second projectile sooner than had you avoided it all together. This is also true for focus attacking. By avoiding a fireball without removing it from the environment, you take away your opponents ability to fire another one. This is especially useful for opponents who have fireball ultras and super since you remove their ability to use them.
A fireball avoidance pattern should combine all manners of avoidance, to build meter without placing yourself at a disadvantage while still moving forward. This is the reasoning behind doing a fireball and then a slide, or Deejay doing a fireball then a slide.
The last bit about fireball avoidance is that sometimes you want to get hit by them. For example against Akuma with U1, it?s know that they bait you to avoid a fireball because they can raging demon you on your recovery, but if you get hit and they fire it off because they?re waiting/hoping you have the advantage to punish Akuma with anything since he?s lost complete control of his character and you have mobility.
Also be aware of when there?s an actual fireball pattern or if the opponents just firing off at random. Over thinking an opponents play style is an easy way to lose to simple opponents when you?ve reached that plateau and you?re even with ?skilled? players but lose to simple/scrub tactics.
Balrog can avoid fireballs with neutral and angle jumps, all EX dash punches, Turn-around-punches, headbutts etc.
lp.headbutts are useful for safe full screen avoidance
TAP is useful for avoidance when you don?t have the backcharge or you?re just in range or just out of range to move forward and maintain back-charge.
Dash punches are good at 1/4 screen to outside of grab range (they can still easily be grabbed on reaction).
Dash punches can set you up for armor cancels (if you?re feeling yourself **snicker). or can AA opponents to do an ultra.
Headbutts build ex meter, while ex dash punches build ultra
Ultra and Super are very fast and useful for avoidance at 1/4 to 1/2 screen, they require a dash ultra, focus absorb dash ultra is easier but only useful if you confirm they?re going to shoot another.
For strong fireball zoning characters with strong normals like Guile, Chun-Li, and Dhalsim, your fireball avoidance pattern wins you matches. For example with Balrog avoiding a fireball with a max range TAP can trade/stuff an attempted follow-up attack from Guiles backfist or st.fp or Ryu?s st.fp. placing the opponent in block stun and you in range to do damage. With Balrog its important to use all of your headbutts when avoiding fireballs because each has its own angle and horizontal range. For example when Chun-Li throws a kikouken and dashes forward to attempt a cr.hk as you attempt to focus attack or ex dash punch, using a hp.hb as she dashes forward can net you an ultra and a win if you?ve been using lp.hb full screen.
Be aware what moves are safe on recovery to avoid fireballs. For example its unsafe to do anything but block (maybe jump) against Chun at full to 3/4 screen when she has a super or U1 or to EX dash/TAP through a fireball when Ryu has Ultra 2 since both of them can catch you as you?re dashing forward (and aren?t prey to the single fireball per character per screen rule).