Focus attacks really shut me down

As I’ve gotten better at the game and climbed in rank, I’m starting to run into people who use focus attacks in skillful ways.

How do you deal with players who use focus attacks a lot yet are careful to do them unexpectedly and cancel them seemingly before they can be punished?

Obviously Balrog is vulnerable to focus attacks because of his lack of multiple hit moves, but even his armor breaking moves seem to be of little use because of how slow they are.

I generally don’t spend meter using ex-upper to extend combos, because of this, I usually have the meter to cancel any dash punch or normal that would otherwise lead to me being crumbled.

Building super in the first round and punishing a focus-happy opponent is also a great way to shut down their willingness to focus.

In other words, play safe and spend the meter to keep yourself safe of crumbles. On reaction you can easily train yourself to cancel normals and specials to avoid focus crumbles.

along with anderson said, you can also react to focus attacks with armored moves. One of the biggest pains (as you mentioned earlier), is that boxer’s armor breaking moves: torpedo and overhead, are so slow, which mean that you can be counterhit if you do them on reaction. So if you react with an ex dash which is still slow, you can’t be CH, nor can they backdash in time to avoid being punished. Personally I react to focus attacks with ex.OH. The only way an opponent can beat this is by doing a lvl3 focus attack which breaks armor.

Both of these are viable options, the another non meter-intensive way to dissuade an opponent from using a focus attack is to bait them into using it and then getting the biggest punish possible. Possible ways to bait are: hitting with max distance lp.ds with the tip, and then doing the same with a smash, this can be beat by jumping. OR if the opponent is really into punishing your attempted pokes, you can cancel into super (or focus attack) or alternate between and which has shorter range and recovers about 10f faster. So when they release their focus attack, because it’s whiffing, they have to go through the lengthy recovery process and you can counterpoke with something nasty like st.hp, xx whatever, or sweep. You can also do ultra or headbutt, but that’s a bit risky although you do have plenty of time.

I have to agree with Anderson, very informative post if I may say so as well. I used to have major trouble with players who used focus attacks effectively, most times the cause would be bad spacing for the special, other times I would jump in and land an early HP/HK leaving me with more recovery and in turn being smacked in the face. As well as this sometimes I froze in front of my opponent doing nothing, I would try backdashing but my hands wouldn’t allow it. In time you will learn to combatant them.

Really good tips, thanks.

Few ways to go about it, really.

Up close you can pepper them with standing jabs - Sometimes I also SJab into Jumpin seeing as SJab Sweep isn’t as reliable considering Sweep has quite a bit hittable hitbox so SJab Sweep itself could get you crumpled at times. If they follow through with the FA you’ve hit them once already so the second hit (Jumpin) will knock them out of it into a combo - Failing that they can FDash or BDash - BDash can then be caught with a JFierce (Depending on how close you were when you jumped), FDash (Under you) may or may not be safe, or may or may not lead to you being punished, but not a lot of people would have to reaction to FDash and BDash is almost programmed as the safer bet in everyones head.

Don’t forget TAP - It has the same issue as Torpedo in that some FA’s can hit you before the TAP hits them, but as someone who uses TAP a hell of a lot, FA’s become less of a problem and instead neutral jumps and being stuffed happens far more than being crumpled. TAP can be used as a wakeup meaty for people who try wakeup FA’s when they see you at a distance and suspect a DS. In addition if you see someone charging an FA in your face, there’s tight timing but your TAP can completely ignore the FA hit - Been quite a few occasions where someone who was peppering their game with FA Dashes suddenly was close enough and ballsy enough to let rip with an L3 FA trying their luck. Neutral jumps, TAP or even a very delayed EX HB will knock them clean out of it, ignore it or just put you in a position to punish it.

In addition, as someone who uses CMP DS quite a lot as a blockstring and repeatedly to push people to the corner, depending on the character/hitbox, this’ll pretty much stuff all FA attempts other than ones done instantly (As in pressed and released immediately), which not many people do.

On the occasions I generate enough bar for SUPER, I always look for that LDS into SUPER on FA’s, or even a trusty plain old ULTRA.

Nothing gets people to stop repeatedly FA’ing than an Ultra or SUPER in the face, it makes you feel completely stupid for just handing someone all that free damage for nothing.

If someone is FA’ing close to you, the typical response is to FA right back - They either have to cancel it or risk trying for an L3. In most cases they release it and dash or dash cancel and allow you to dash, you get some Ultra bar and just need to watch your health (If they released it) otherwise you’re both back to square one.

I’m at a casual level where the above usually nets me free crumples because people are programmed and stupid enough to release their FA’s and FORWARD DASH into me as I’m charging an FA in response to theirs - God knows why they always do this but they do it anyway, eat a crumple and say hello to my favourite Back Dash TAP Ultra setup, thank you for the free damage you’re welcome don’t mention it.

I actually EX. RU the focus. It’s a free 300 damage anytime they release a non lvl 3. That or Super them.

Not entirely true. You both have armor for the initial strike, it’s just a question of wether they absorb your EX then just hit you after for a crumple, or release it and eat a RU combo when you absorb their hit. In most cases you most likely wont get a jab off after an EX hits an FA-Attack to stuff it entirely so you’re still open for crumples using EX.

I should specify. I wait until they release the focus, and ex ru. Causes a super freeze, I do 300 damage.

I ran into this problem too. I think more so than anything its about spacing. I try not to stand anywhere they can do the FA and hit me this usually results in them dashing forward or backward. If they dash forward you can punish all day. Once you know they FA to much you can feel free to look for it and punish harder.

I look at it this way if they FA and immediately dash they arent really gunna hit you with a lvl 2. If they are charging for lvl 2 I would let them wiff that or the 3 right in front of me and act accordingly. Hell at the right distance you can jump at them and grab them because most of the time they are gunna think you are jumping in to attack. Also if you conditioned them not to jump TAP is a great option.

There’s only a very small window of frames to do this consistantly up close - Anything else involves them stupidly whiffing focus from range. I know what you’re saying and I do try that at times too but you’d be hard pushed catching all released focus attacks in your face with EX RU really.

They used to give me problems when i first started. If someone is charging a fa in front of me, i just fa backdash. If they release it, I’m safe because i absorb a hit and backdash. If they keep holding it, I’m out of harms way.

If i have meter, ex low smash works wonders. It breaks armor and has super armor.

I also ultra/super it depending on each characters health.

two ways to combat this.

s.LP c.HK against it. But honestly you should be holding charge whenever you can while you inch forward. If you’re getting focused attack then you’re throwing out dash punch and/or c.HK just whenever. So my advice is be patient and if you see FA just torpedo. If they backdash out of it you still hit them.

Once you do that on reaction a few times (really easy) they will stop doing it. Just remember a big reason people are getting hit with a lot of focus attacks is they are getting to predictable with their dash punches + c.HK. Hold that charge, no reason to get over agressive and punish them for doing that FA. Or just stay close and use s.LP ~ c.HK stuff.

Worst case if your dash punch gets caught or your c.HK gets caught you can just FA out of it. But you really don’t need to do this. Ultra/Super/Armor breakers balrog has plenty of ways. Use tap more can also be an idea. But i do think it’s just being more patient and don’t be predictable.