From Training to Live Matches. How to complete the transistion?


Street Fighter 4 (and to a lesser extent Melty Blood), is the first fighting game I’ve tried to approach seriously and not be really bad at. I feel like I’ve made a good deal of progress over time, tightened up my execution, and developed some basic skills; namely I’ve gotten pretty strong at basic zoning and spacing, and have gotten good at punishing bad pokes.

The problem I’m having is capitalizing on any advantage I get. My neutral game is, at least moderately decent. I’ll land a solid punish with a sweep, get the hard knockdown and then sorta cower off and let it resume neutral game, cause it feels more consistent and reliable and wins me more matches than trying to put on pressure or do a meaty, and screwing it up and getting punished. Obviously the problem is, that’s not going to help me get better.

My pressure is so astonishingly terrible that even against opponents without like an invincible wake-up, even characters with bad or no wakeup options, I still tend to get punished like crazy and lose matches extremely fast as soon as I try something other than a neutral game. It’s far more reliable against medium-skilled opponents for me to just land 6-8 knockdowns and go neutral every time than actually try to maintain pressure (and a better opponent than that will just thrash me no matter what I do). Which means I have to work 4x-6x harder than my opponent for the same win, and that’s stupid when they can capitalize on their accomplishments mid match and I can’t. Which I think is part of the problem, the disparity between my two skillsets has gotten such a wide gap, which only gets wider as my pressure skills atrophy from lack of use.

My “best” character is Balrog, not because I can do anything good with him, but that because cLP -> sLP -> cHK -> sHK -> sHP (with a cHP thrown in for anti-air), is a very good spread of move ranges that let me be cheesy with zoning and ignore that I should actually be capable of following up with something. For opponents I can’t do that too because they are too good at zoning me out (IE anything with a strong fireball game)(Yes I know Balrog is one of the best anti-fireball characters in the game, I’m just that bad), I’ll play Ryu instead, who I’m told I am much more technically skilled with, but I simply lose more matches with him, I’ll get scared, and go back to relying on my safe predictable consistent Balrog strategy that’s crippling my ability to get better. (I also play Zangief occasionally which is irrelevant because churning butter is not playing a character; it’s advanced mashing.)

The problem is it’s more than just trouble with maintaining pressure after a knockdown. It’s my entire ability to combo which is out of whack. I will go into training mode, and practice a (admittedly incredibly simple and beginnerish) combo over and over until I can do it 10, 20, 50 times in a row without dropping the combo (Which is good, as my execution has been significantly improving over time). Then I’ll go into a match, get punished hard a few times for using it poorly, and before I know it I fall back on the safe zoning strategies, because for whatever reason I’m struggling to figure out how to convert that to a live game. I know what to do in a neutral game, and am extremely confident there, and don’t know where to go from there and keep falling back into my safe zone, zoning; never capitalizing, never comboing, always going back to neutral, and that’s why I am not getting better.

How do I break this goddamn mental block? Just putting more hours into training doesn’t seem like the solution as my execution is always improving but not my ability to actually use it. But fighting stronger opponents doesn’t necessarily seem like a solution either, as they just punish my poor pressure and lack of combos even harder, further discouraging their use. Do I just pick a character who is extremely atrocious at zoning and force myself to play them over and over with no variance until I start using other tools? Or what?

(EDIT: My apologies if I started to sound frustrated near the end there.)


You never complete the transition.


Stop trying to win. Fix short goals for the session.


Just keep practising, and don’t try to focus too much on pulling off a certain move / combo for too long during an actual game cos it’ll just distract you. I’ve lost too many early games from focussing on “Oh, I really wanna pull of X”. But just persistence and fundamentals, and seeing what other people are doing will help a lot in training your brain to do the right thing at the right time pays off


Any time you add something new to your game, it is going to cause you problems until you internalize it. Sometimes that’s easy and sometimes it’s gonna cost you big a bunch of times before you get the hang of it. That also means don’t spend entire rounds focused only on landing this one move, you need to get used to performing it from your normal play. You want to do it like opening a door; naturally as the need arises.

As far as maintaining pressure after a knockdown. You said it yourself: you are “confident” in your neutral game, and you gotta learn to have confidence when attacking. I didn’t get this at all when I started playing. I always wanted to play it safe and react to things. My solution was to fake it and act confident until eventually I realized I wasn’t pretending anymore. You surely know how bad being knocked down is. There’s no reason you should feel bad when you are on the good side of it.


Always keep it simple. If you’re not worried over losing a few games here and there, try to work on your offense during a match. When I played a bit of 3rd Strike online, I took a few games to actually try and get used to parrying since the tutorial only does so much for you. Take a few licks here and there and see what you can pull off. Also, if you have someone to get online and practice with, it could be a boon to your game since you’ll be able to get used to looking for the openings.


If there is one tip i can give you, don’t try so hard to combo, that’s what most scrubs do, then they end up totally disregarding the fundamentals, and walk into a bunch of normals.

Add me on PC or XBL if you wanna do some online training/talking strategies, i think i know a few things to help you get out of that " when i fight a real opponent, my mind goes blank trap." Sound familiar?