I originally wrote this for the Akuma section, but I thought some of the information in here can be useful to everyone. This was written with respect to Akuma so a lot of the examples deal with his option selects, but the general principles apply to just about everyone.
So for the longest time players around here have been asking “What’s an option select”, “How do I perform it”, “Against ____ what OS should I use?”, and many similar questions. So since I won’t be able to do a video on it anytime soon thanks to technology and time constraints, I thought I would do the forum a favor and make a mega thread about OS.
Here is a quick FAQ on option selects before we get to the core.
What is an option select?
An option select is a series of overlapping inputs that can give you two different attacks depending on how your foe reacts. For instance on a jump in if you double tap HK while holding downback you will perform an option select sweep. If the jump in connects the sweep will not come out, but if the jump in attack whiffs then the sweep will come out.
How does an option select work?
Option selects have existed in street fighter since the beginning and nearly all of them come from the way hit stun works in this game. If you observe when you connect an attack, blocked or not, the game slows down for just a split second. This little slow down is what allows most OS to work. Some OS work on the principle that the game can lose inputs that were entered before the attack connected. Some OS work on the principle that the slowdown can change the timing needed to link attacks. In the end most option selects come back to using this slowdown to your advantage.
Now there are also some OS that work off slightly different principles, but these are not as common and were more prevalent in 3rd Strike than SF4.
**So what kind of option selects exist. **
There are 4 main types of option selects that are used on a regular basis. For the moment we will focus on the 3 types that people aren’t really familiar with.
1: Jump in Option Select
This is one of the most important option selects for players to learn because these are the option selects that will keep your opponent from escaping wake up pressure. These option selects are perform by using a jump attack and quickly performing the desired option select as you are landing your jumping attack. Practically EVERYTHING can be OSed off of a jump in. Ultras, Specials, Normals, etc. You name it you can OS it.
2: Chain Option Select
These option selects aren’t as critical to learn, but still something you should learn to help your offensive game. These option selects work off the chain properties of your light attacks. For any normal that can be chained into another normal you can perform a chain OS rather easily. This is done by performing the first attack in the chain normally, but on the second attack you press the second normal in addition to the normal you wish to option select to. For instance you can OS sweep off of your crouching jabs by inputting c.LP, c.LP+c.HK. If your opponent back dashes the first hit will whiff fast enough that the second attack will count as a link instead of a chain and since the HK button has priority over the LP button the sweep will come out. Conversely if the first jab lands the small pause in the game will make the second input come out too soon to be counted as a link so instead it counts as a chain. Since c.HK cannot be chained from c.LP the game will read the input as simply another jab. This by far is the easiest option select to learn and is useful for dash happy opponents. In general these types of OS are used to counter dashes, but they are usually limited in what you can OS off of.
3: Recovery Option Select
These are probably the most difficult to learn because the room for error is the lowest out of any option select and the price for screwing up is also the worst. That being said this option select allows you to OS any special off of several normal which gives you another level of freedom that chain OSes do not. As the name suggests this OS takes advantage of the recovery frames of your normals to create the option select. The way you perform these option selects is to perform your attack and input the command for the special move with slightly delayed timing. You are trying to time it so the input for the special move co-insides with the recovery frames your special attack. For instance one great option select for many match ups is the c.MP OS SRK. This is great against Vipers who love to burn kick through your block strings. You begin by using your c.MP and input the SRK motion shortly after. You are trying to time it so on hit you finish the SRK input AFTER the active frames of your attack and before you recover from the attack. If you hit it too soon you will cancel the MP into the SRK, but if you hit it too late you will link the attack. In Both situations the SRK comes out which isn’t a good thing. If you time it correctly however the SRK will only come out if the c.MP whiffs.
My random scruby friend said OS is so cheap and should be removed from the game, what do I tell him?
First tell him he sucks. Second option selects are not brainless and actually are quite the opposite. It is very rare to have an option select that beats everything and usually if they exist in a match up it is because the other character sucks. Half of learning option selects is know when you can apply them to a match because if you option select the wrong move you can end up getting punished for it. You need to be able to read your opponent to use the correct option select.
So now that we covered what OSes are let’s talk about some of the commands to do them.
For Air option selects the general formula goes like this
(Air attack)—(Command for your OS)—(Hold DB plus the attack button for the OS command)
So for a simple specific example let’s look at Akuma’s option select for sweep off of a HK safe jump
j.:hk:, HOLD :db:+:hk:
The reason you hold the :db:+:hk: is this gives you a third OS that blocks if your opponent reversals. But suppose we are fighting a character like Bison who likes to EX Psyco and teleport on wake up. The sweep isn’t going to cut it. Instead we wish to OS a HK Tatsu to catch a Bison teleport and beat his Psyco crusher. The command would change to something more like this
j.:hk:, :d::db:, HOLD :db:+:hk:
Generally OSing special moves requires a little more practice than OSing normals. OSing sweep is incredibly easy since all you need to do is tap HK after your air attack. EVERY OSed special is performed in a similar manner. So for example OS fireball would be a quarter circle forward instead of back. A SRK would be the forward SRK motion. You can OS anything and everything off of a jump in so experiment with it. You might find an awesome OS to beat out that one move that has been driving you nuts.
The chain OS is unbelievably easy to do. The hardest part of learning it is simply working it into your muscle memory. It is usable in nearly every match up.
The general form for this OS is
(Chainable normal #1)—(Chainable normal #2)+(Option normal)
The most common OS from this family you will use is the sweep OS. So for Akuma the command will be
If the first jab whiffs the sweep will come out on the second hit while if the first jab connects you will simply do two chained jabs which is an air tight block string. Another one that can be useful for OSing standing normals is a chain using s.:lk: instead of c.:lp:. The command for OSing standing HK would look like this
This is also useful for catching back dashes especially against characters like Abel where you can get a full combo into sweep from it. The shorter the distance someone’s back dash takes them, the better this OS is. Nearly any normal can be OSed from a combination of these two.
While this series of OSes are incredibly useful, they tend to be limited to OSing normals. So in cases where you need to OS a special move on the ground you need to resort to the last series of OSes.
We now get to the last and hardest OS to learn. Unlike the other OSes which have rather relaxed timing, this OS is very intensive on its timing. As such I tend not to use this one online because it is easy to screw up offline.
The general command for this family of OSes goes like this
(Normal), slight delay, (Special move input)
A specific example of this is c.MP OS MP.SRK which is useful for people abusing neutral jump and also for characters like Viper who try to burn kick through your strings. It also tends to be one of the easiest in this class of options.
c.:mp:, slight delay, :f::d::df:, :mp:
The key to this is just to practice in training mode. If you get the timing right the SRK will not come out when you hit your opponent. If you time it early then you will cancel the MP into the SRK, if you time it late you will link the MP into the SRK. You have to hit it right at the recovery of the MP. Both late and early are bad for your health. You can also do the HP version, but the damage you gain off of it kind of sucks.
You can technically do this off of any normal, but the faster the normal the harder it is to do. In addition slower normals are kind of pointless to do this with in most application.
This is the most versatile ground OS, but it carries the most risk.
Chain and Recovery Hybrids
Now there is also a hybrid of the chain and recovery OS that allows you to OS special moves. Here is an example.
c.:lp:, :dp: :df:+:lp:
This will option select an SRK from in series of jabs. This is a recovery OS, but since we option selected a move that uses the LP button guess what happens when the first jab is blocked? The second input is now on the recovery frames which means the second jab now counts as a chain instead of the input for the SRK. So it will come out as two jabs if blocked and will come out as a SRK if whiffed.
You can OS special moves off chain normals, but the moves you can OS to are again limited. The input for the OSed special has to have a chainable normal in the input. For Akuma this limits this to moves that have LK or LP in the input. This does allow for EX moves since you can use LP or LK as one of your buttons.
Akuma generally does not have too many uses for this style of OS, but other characters have a ton of uses for this. Yun for instance can OS Lunge off of his c.lk > s.lp chain to punish back dash attempts.