How do you learn from a video?


As an incredibly terrible newbie who is just starting to get into fighting games, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon Seth Killian’s Domination 101 writeups.

One section was all about how we can watch all sorts of videos of pro players nowadays, and when I was reading it, I realized that I exactly fit his description of a scrub watching a video:

[details=Spoiler]Since Im talking to morons, Ill try and speak clearly: You scrubs watch these videos wrong. In particular, you watch them passively. A lifetime of butt-widening, beer-bellifying NFL fandom (and the like) has led to these sorry habits. You see a match, and you just sit back and watch it like a sitcom. Youre not living it alongside the players, trying to think like they do, in real time- youre just soaking it up like the spineless sponge you are. To really appreciate whats going on, you need to feel the tension, and try and react as they do.

The typical scrub match-evaluation goes like this: You watch the video all the way through, then think back to all the places where someone seemed to blow an advantage, miss something, etc. Now, the first identifying mark of the forum scrub (the modern, louder (though thankfully non-scented) descendant of the mall scrub) is that he always watches videos with respect to what they say about HIM and his precious l33t skeelz. Hes not watching to understand (if he did, he would hardly be the scrub he proves himself to be), hes watching to try and feel cool about himself, and maybe to find some simple trick or combo he can steal. He feels cool by trying to imagine himself playing the match, and thinking how well hed do against the best. Now mind, this isnt done by getting off their butts to actually do it- oh heavens no! (insert excuses about money/parents/gf/having a life/just being too cool/etc, here), but instead, by trying to insert themselves into some random match they saw (a related variant of the same scrub trick: the shockingly dumb transitive fest of “well, I can beat so and so, who once played a guy who once placed 19th in a Cali tournament, so technically, according to logimacality, that means Im pretty good.” And he didnt even have to leave the mall to figure it out!).

Because your scrubby motive is to always think the best of yourself, rather than understand the truth, a favorite evaluation trick is to pull some sequence entirely out of context. This works by ingeniously ignoring all the expectations, patterns, psychological advantages, and momentum that the other player had established, and just focusing on an isolated incident. What this does is to let the scrub get away with thinking “Sheeeucks! I coulda DPd that!”, or whatever. Bzz. Not only do you fail to notice how much easier it is to think “I coulda DPd it!” when you ALREADY KNOW WHATS GOING TO HAPPEN (this is the special, scrubs-only variant of the psychic DP: the hindsight DP!), but the obvious fact is that you COULDNT have. If you could have, youd be winning tournaments too, instead of pouting at home and taking out your frustrations on training mode (scrubs at home will be reaching for that bag of excuses right about now, again).[/details]

I know he goes on to describe the real way to watch a video, but I don’t really understand that mindset.

I spend a lot of time watching videos of pros, but I’m definitely not learning anything from watching them.

So how do you learn by watching a video?

3s at EVO 2012?

He’s talking a little bit about “Monday Morning quarterback” types. Only watch for one thing, to be entertained, or say I could do that, or here is why they lost. Wrote a quick bit on that for some Marvel 3 forum, quickly buried. Can grab in a second.


Try to start by watching one character the whole way through.
If it helps, think of it as you playing that character.
Remember concepts like “anti air.” Did they have plenty of time to deal with a jump in and did they take care of it?

Nobody plays 100% perfect, so watch for adaptation in future rounds. See if they correct mistakes they made before.
Try to ask why they did something in reaction to something their opponent did. More than “did it work, okay the match keeps going from there” but even was that the highest damage? Was it optimal? Did it seem forced or baited? how much did they get out of it besides damage, spacing, putting their opponent in a worse position, better position for them.

You have the benefit of watching over and over to see a lot more about the things that happen very quickly in a match, when played live.


u dont xcopy whatever you are seeing. you get basic ideas about how pros play thats it. and its fun to watch(at least some games are)


the first thing you do is learn fundamentals… once learned (and you will never learn all of them, i certainly havent) you look at how the pos apply those fundamentals and try and use those fundamentals in much the same way. you also look for things such as “why does he keep using that one move” and “why doesnt he ever use that one move”

figuring those out for yourself will help you lvel up cause even if you dont necessarily key on the correct answer, the mental process that you had to use just in order to get somewhat close to the right answer… will in fact make you a better player if you go out and try and apply it to your game.

but lets be real, the things that some players get from videos are different from things that other players will get from the same video. pros will probably look at the average video and not learn much besides opponent tendencies and MAYBE some new tech like a new use for an old move or some new safejump setup/ambigous crossup setup… ie pros are mainly looking for tactics, i’d imagine. strategically most of them are very close to each other and its only tactically and executionally that they can really gain an edge. this is of course cause as soon as a pro sees some new strategy… hes already figured out how to deal with it and use it himself… whereas tactics are character specific and matchup specific.

fundamentals are basically “things that come up over and over again that you can use to win if you are good at them and can cause you to lose if you are bad at them”

anti airing is fundamental

footsies are fundamental (in a non divekicker matchup)

mixups are fundamental

if it comes up over and over again its probably fundamental.



I remember years ago reading that article and having the exact same feeling. I agree with the point being made, but I think it comes across as something you can just start doing. When you still are learning the basics it can be hard to follow the decisions of pro players. The first step is to just challenge yourself to understand why things hit and why things fail at every decision you see in a match. It’s a bit tedious but it helped me.


imagine you’re playing and ask yourself a bunch of questions about the match. since you’re not actually playing, it will be easier to see mistakes other players make. here’s some questions i ask myself when i spectate videos of UMVC3 online:
pretend you’re both players

  1. is their team in the order you would have put those characters in? i.e. are all anchor characters in the anchor spot, etc. phoenix obviously isn’t going to be on point ever.
  2. did each point character start off the match the way you thought they would? it’s good to know what each character is most likely to do in the beginning of the battle.
  3. if a character is caught in an air combo, guess which way they’re gonna TAC or if they’ll even TAC at all.
  4. if one character uses a teleport/crossup move, quickly block the correct way on your “imaginary controller.” - this one’s very important. i think this is why i’m so good at blocking teleports.
  5. if a player keeps falling for something, how can he get out of it?
  6. guess if they’re gonna go into a DHC or a hyper combo-frame trap. for example, you block hulk’s gamma charge and 99% of the time, he’ll use a gamma crush hyper when you try to punish.
  7. you could also ask more general questions like, “was that really a good idea?” “was that the best thing they could have done?” “was it smart for them to use their xFactor at that moment?” "why didn’t they just do this instead?!"
    you’ll soon find yourself saying things like, “mm, he should have done this.” “he shouldn’t have called an assist when ammy has meter,” etc. and you’ll remember all that stuff when you fight.


Ask a lot of ‘why’ questions. Why did this person jump? Why did they go for the reversal? Why the frame trap? Why a tick throw? Why did they choose to stay at this range versus their opponent? etc etc etc…

Use some logic, reasoning, and critical thinking skills to analyse a match and pick out the good and bad moments that defined who won or lost that round.


Im guilty of this, watching matches to be entertained.

Trying to think about them constructively hardly crosses my mind


Do you play any specific characters? it would probably be easier to explain with an example video with someone you actually use.
Watch this video then watch another Sim tournament match and see if you can see the difference now. This is what everyone else is looking at while scrubs are looking at flashy colors and combos. Also pay attention to the explanation of what the players are thinking by their actions.


I think watching videos for learning is more like data-gathering than anything else, especially if you’re watching an upcoming opponent’s match. You’ll try to check his fighting style and then formulate several plans to counter his offense as well as defense.


I know you’re specifically asking about how to learn from videos, but don’t forget to enjoy them either. The FGC lives by the hype, and if you make everything clinical, you won’t be able to enjoy training anymore.


oh, one important question i forgot to include was, “why did this person lose/win?” the answer could be player 2 is obviously not as good as player 1, etc.
these are also questions you can ask yourself about your own matches if you remember what happened.


Thank you so much for this video! Because of the commentary, after 7 seconds had passed in the game, I felt like I had learned more than in all of my hours of watching videos.

I think I need to spend a lot more time on each video, watching what happens each second and asking myself why they do what they do. Thanks for all of the input!


God that Seth guy has some real mental problems I quit reading after the fifth ad homenium.


I was going to edit my post earlier and mention that but my computer at work doesn’t like SRK, anyway you seem to have picked it up after watching the video.
The part of the Dom 101 article after what you quoted is directly related to thinking like this but it goes at least one step further, Don’t just ask why they did what they did, ask what you would have done in that situation and be honest with yourself about what would have happened if they had done what you would have done in that situation. When what they did breaks from what you would have done pay extra attention, and realize that a person with more experience and tournament wins than you probably sees something in that situation that you don’t and try to figure out what they see or know that you don’t know.

Watch the match from the inside and pay attention to the entire course of events if a player has been trained to expect or respect a certain option over the course of the match, you won’t understand their actions fully at the time something critical happens if you don’t realize the other player setting it up rounds in advance.

The other issue with watching matches properly is that sometimes you just need to know more about the game. If player 1 is using an option select instead of just a single move and player 2 knows it, player 2 will adjust for the option select and it will affect their strategy, however the option select will not be visible to people watching the video, you just have to have enough game knowledge to figure out what is going on. Its just like how in the previous video where if you don’t already know where Dhalsim and Ryu’s advantageous and disadvantageous spots on the screen are you won’t be able to fully understand the decisions of the players.