I am my own worst enemy - Long read you've been warned

This was suggest by Mandel so here we go:

So with SFIV fast approaching, as well as HDR and with season four fast approaching. I just want to share with everyone some stuff that I do in regarding tournament play, fighting games in general. Now I’m not tryin to put myself out there like I’m on some higher level shit, just some things that I think about when going into a match wether it’s casual or tournament. I guess I’m just throwing this out there in hopes that it might open a person’s way of thinking when it comes to fighting games and they are able to share some of their mindsets and in the end get everyone better, because let’s face it. As important as it is to have your execution down, you gotta have your mental game down too. I mean what’s the point of practicing a touch of death combo in any game if you can’t implement a way to get a chance to do the combo in a match?

I’ll start out with what I had mentioned in the other thread which was having a defeated mindset and having mental blocks when it comes to certain players, or just a negative outlook when approaching a match.

Surprisingly you’ll be amazed at how much of an impact your gameplay is effected by your mindset. Let’s break it down like this:

You’re in a SFIV tournament and your first opponent is Cole. If you are already thinking “Man he’s gonna rape me.” or “this is fucking bullshit that I have to play him first round”.

Now let’s say you’re in a Marvel Tournament and you’re playing against someone that’s picked Hayato/Roll/Hulk. Besides the fact that you’re trying really hard not to bust out laughing, more than likely you might be thinking of things like “Let me try to land that one combo off on him” or “I bet I can beat this guy in under a minute”, or you might even be thinking about your next match.

You see the difference here?

You see how you’ve set your mental game up between those 2 situations? It’s a pretty drastic change. On one end you are not even trying to think about how to win, but how to lose and the other is vice versa, and everyone’s been in a situation like that at one point or another. I know I’ve used an example of me vs. Cole in the other thread but I have another one that illustrates both mindsets.

So at another SFIV tournament my first match was against Billy, now everytime I’ve played Billy in a game he’s scraped me, at that point I don’t think I’ve ever beaten Billy one game period. So when I saw the bracket and how we were going to play first round, I immediately looked at the Loser’s bracket to see who I’d play next. What do you think happened here? I wasn’t giving it 100% and played sloppy and lost. Now I managed to claw my way through losers, and once again I ended up playing Billy again for 3rd. Once I knew I had to play him again the first thing that I thought about was “Man this sucks.”, but then for some reason I thought about what Billy might’ve been thinking and all I could think of was how Billy probably thought this was going to be a piece of cake. For some reason when I thought of that it made me hella mad, and I told myself “fuck all that noise, you’re going to go in there and come out swinging and prove to him that you’re not an easy win” or something along the lines of that. We play and I ended up winning the first match, it was crazy because my whole mindset was completely different instead of worrying about getting the match over with the first time around, and just not paying attention to what was really going on. I stared to focus on some things he was doing, and how he would react to the things that I would do, I noticed somethings and tried to see if I could take advantage from them. The second round was pretty close from what I remember, as was the 3rd round, but in the final round I remember looking up and seeing that Billy was way out in front healthwise, and he had turtled up. I told myself that I was done, and pretty much gave up, honestly if I didn’t give up right there who knows what would’ve happened, but in the end of it all I convinced myself that I had alread lost when the game was still going on.

And like I mentioned before, I’ve heard different people from different games say something along the lines of “There’s no way I can beat _____” (Names that come to mind; Yosuke, Axel, Beasily, Mandel, Rat, Row, Jmar, Fatbear, LTB etc. etc.)

Listen, all the players I’ve just mentioned they are great players for the games that they represent…but they are not machines nor are they gods. And they are all beatable, and honestly if you have a negative/defeated mindset against ppl like that, not only are you cheating yourself out of getting better. You’re cheating them out of getting better. I mean shit if someone just came out of nowhere and started beating the shit outta a top player in their game, do you think they are just going to throw up a white flag and give up? NOPE. They are going to go back and get even better, which in turn can make you better and so forth and so forth.

Another good thing is having confidence or “willing the win” as Apoc puts it. It might mean something completely different to him but for me, it’s just having that confidence that if you’re going to do something that will turn the tide it’ll happen.

I remember Zach mentioning in one of the threads how he would enjoy watching me play Marvel, and Mandel agreed because as he puts it I take risks. My response to that is, I don’t even call it risky play. For me (at least in Marvel) I’d rather lose swinging than lose blocking. Which boils down to, if I see an oppertunity to try and go for something I’m fucking going for it. There are tons of matches where this has happened. Random stuff like someone trying to chip me with lightning attack XX Lightning Storm and I ended up AHVB’ing before the super went off to win the match, or there’s a match against Kenny where he tried to chip with a lightning storm while i was coming down from a super jump, and ass soon as it went off I immediately thought (I know I can hit him with a super right…now!) and sure enough, he got tagged up as the lightning bolts just whizzed past me. You have to have that confidence about your game, it’s like w/o your confidence/positive thinking you might as well be playing marvel with one hand. It really hinders your game a lot, but at the same time it can enhance your game by even more.

So I hope that those who have read this over, have looked back and see if they’ve said something about how they can’t beat a player no matter what. I would say to just take a step back and start playing at your best until you do actually start beating them. I had that happen last night in VF5, playing against a decent Sarah that was scraping me, but I knew that I could win at some point, and after 9 or 10 games I did win against him 3-0. Then ended up with a 6 game win streak of my own.

Next time I post in here I’ll talk about Sandbagging: How it helps you at a regional/world level, but how it hurts you and others at the local level.


…just kidding.

Solid post. I definitely agree with your thoughts on confidence and will to win. My only trouble point is being overly confident.

Example: When I’m playing HDR with people better than me (read: a lot of SRK’s skilled regulars), I have to mentally tell myself that a fight is winnable, even if the other guy is playing very well. However, it’s not unheard of for me to get off to a great start. That’s when things go bad. Somehow, my mind shifts from “I can do this” to “I’m going to hand this guy’s ass over to him.” That immediate shift from shaky confidence to cockiness kills me every time. Every. Freaking. Time.

In other words, confidence is great, but it’s way too easy for me to get cocky and careless, underestimating my foe. Just my little warning to anyone who may suffer from the same tendencies.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go work on these things in spite of being sick.

Thanks Frank! This post is inspiring. :tup:

I would like to take the opportunity to share a blog I made about a month ago as it pertains to this thread. Hopefully you enjoy!

There are two popular sayings, that I hate with a passion. “What are they?” You might be thinking, well, here they are…

“Never say never.”


“If you can’t beat em, join em!”

First and foremost, I feel that “never say never” is a stupid saying because well, you kinda have to say never, if you wanna actually get the meaning across. In my eyes it somewhat defeats the purpose of the quote’s underlying message. That one doesn’t really have much to do with what I’ll be talking about today. However, “if you can’t beat em, join em” does have relevance to my blog today. Instead, I prefer “if you can’t beat em, learn how to beat em.”

This more or less, pertains to the class of characters that exist in every competitive fighting game, and that is what is commonly known as the “top tier”. When I first began entering tournaments, I basically told myself that I would use the characters that I liked the most of the ones that were tournament viable. To a small extent I still practice this idea eight years later, but realized that, well, it’s not really fun. November the 22nd marked the final tournament for what was our Street Fighter IV ranking battle (popularly referred to as a ranbat, I fuckin hate that term btw but that’s another story). In total our ranking battle had about 4 tournaments total in which the top 7 participants get a set # of points. Here’s an example, not the actual scoring method used in our ranking battle…

1st-10 pts
2nd-7 pts
3rd-5 pts
4th-3 pts
5th placers-1 pt each

Well anyway, as for my personal performance, I finished second overall in the entire ranking battle with tourney finishes of 5th, 1st, 3rd, and 3rd. So my average placing was 3rd basically, hm, that’s okay I guess. LOTS of people get 3rd place =/. When it comes to not winning a tournament, if I don’t feel satisfied with my actual performance despite placing top 3, I always reference Nelly.

“Cause two is not a winner and three nobody remembers.”

I find myself getting sidetracked so let me get back on course. The main thing concerning those finishes and the topic of this blog is my character selection during this season. I play Chun Li in every SF game I play, simply because she’s my favorite SF character. I don’t need any other reason to pick her, and to me, the challenge of finding a way to win with her despite where she may be rated as a character, is where the fun comes in. In Street Fighter IV, Chun is by no means a bad character, but due to her design (lack of big damage options plus low vitality), she can be very hard to win with. It requires you to be the better player which is something I definitely do not have an issue with. In fact I’m glad they made her that way after the abomination which was 3rd Strike Chun (when was the last time she wasn’t in an Evo finals set? 2004?). Naturally due to the fact that we’re human and by nature aren’t perfect, I cannot always be the better player and with that, comes losses. My goal concerning wins and losses have always been to simply minimize the amount of matches that I lose. Easy enough of a concept, yet one worth shooting for. I understand my limits and I don’t try to exceed them. But what happens when I’m presented with a situation that requires me to play outside of my current ability?

Usually, THAT is when someone like me resorts to selecting a top tier character. You can’t win em all, and you aren’t born perfect, sometimes you simply have to swallow your pride and do it. Especially if you’re playing against someone you really wanna beat. But, that isn’t what happened during this last ranking battle season. I decided that I would play with the character I wanted to and I would live with the consequences, be it victory or defeat. As fate would have it, I lost to two different Blanka players in three different tournaments. In fact every tournament I attended, outside of the one I won, I lost to a Blanka player. Looking at the actual stats themselves, within our season, a Blanka has finished 1st, 2nd, 2nd. Now as for his actual tier placement, most believe Blanka to be a high/mid tier character. One that’s just barely below the top tier class. To be quite honest, I don’t know and I don’t care anymore. My only concern is continually developing my style of play in an effort to improve. And THAT is all the reason I need to not become one of the many that are now using this character in our area. Well, that and the fact that I have always hated Blanka =/.

That isn’t to say that I have always had this sense of pride when it’s come to character selection. In the last Super Turbo season we had (season three), I lost what was probably the worst Super Turbo match I’ve ever played, which took place in the very first tournament we had. One in which, Julien Beasley picked Chun against me and beat me 2-0. After I lost, I distinctly remember thinking “I just wanna play him again, there’s no way I’m that bad.” This mindset naturally clouded my judgment and I went on to lose my very next match as well. It sent me to a world I know all too well, 5th place. That loss to Julien I feel, forever changed me. I was infuriated, but I used that to my advantage. I let it motivate me to beat him. What this did however, was make me resort to picking Old Sagat. My gameplan for the next tournament was to pick Chun Li until I fight against Julien. I was dead set in only picking Sagat against him, and without much knowledge outside of tiger, tiger, tiger uppercut, I had to rely on my ability to read and adapt. Learning the matchup as fast as possible is what would be the difference between winning and losing. As it stands, that following tournament, I first ran into Julien in the winners final, where he beat me 3-2. With the cat out of the bag and me in losers now, he will definitely be expecting Sagat again should I make it back to the grand finals. But I had faith, faith in myself, faith in my gameplan. I was so close to begin with and I knew I was on the right track. I end up making it to the grand finals where I ended up winning 4-2, 4-2 out of losers. What’s funny is that I don’t really remember what happened during that set. I do however, vaguely remember the feeling that everything made sense. But, that was also one of the last times I picked Sagat in a ST tourney. Reason being because I didn’t want that performance to define me. Which fortunately enough, I don’t think it has. All the ST tourneys I won after was with Chun. Sagat (who seemingly is ALWAYS top tier) just so happens to be a character that I do like, which made him the obvious choice against Julien. Which brings me to my next point, about character selection.

I feel that competitive gaming is a hobby that requires talent (as silly as that may sound). I look at a tier list like this more often than not…

top tier <-----> these characters are usually easy to use and win with once you learn their strengths.
mid tier <-----> these characters require you to be the better player most of the time in order to compete. (this is where I would put SFIV Chun Li)
low tier <-----> these characters mean you must ALWAYS be the better player in order to compete and win.

Varying degrees of difficulty with each tier level. I suppose this is where you could say “never say never” as someday a person using a low tier character could win a big tourney. Would it be anytime soon? Hey you never know. As a player, I know I don’t have what it takes, to use a low tier character and succeed. I find myself getting irritated with players that use these characters as if they have to and then complain about their matches. Character selection is a personal choice, only you decide who you use. My usual response is “You’re the one who picked that character, not your opponent.” I think that most players subscribe to picking top tier characters as those are the characters that will give them the best chance to win. Which is most definitely, completely understandable. I think a lot of people SHOULD think that way. But that comes with understanding WHAT kind of player you are. Like people that succeed with a character that may be mid/low tier, yet couldn’t win with the top tier if their lives depended on it. Trial and error is how you learn that about yourself. Shit, I used hella characters in different games ranging from low tier to top tier, and I personally feel that finding a character you love to use despite tier placement, is underrated. It helps add to your overall comfort level during a tournament, which is another story for another day. It’s a long road to victory for the people who don’t wanna take the easy way out, but, worse comes to worse, if you can’t beat em, join em!

=/ hahahah.

Anyway, I agree with everything Frank posted. I will add more of my thoughts later on after I play some HDR!

  • Sandbagging -

Now first and foremost this isn’t directed to anyone here nor have I actually seen anyone try to pull some shit like this but it is out there. For those that don’t know when you decide to sandbag, you are pretty much not playing your best character against everyone else, usually so you don’t release your strats or your tricks to your opponents. Now this is a great thing to do at the regional/national/world level because when it comes time to step up you will definately want to have some things up your sleeve to get the upper hand.

But on a local level…it’s a great way to hold your scene back.

Pretty much there have been times that I’ve see this in other communities around here, where someone will refuse to play their best character during casual sessions, and only playing them during tourney time. To be quite honest it frustrated and irritated the hell out of me. There’s 2 things that go on when you sandbag at a local level.

You are preventing anyone else to learn and adapt to your tactics.

Now on paper this sounds like a great idea, but there’s something else that most sandbaggers fail to realize is and that’s:

Since no one can learn and adapt to your tactics, you’ve pretty much capped out on how well you can play that character, since no one is getting the chance to play against what you have to offer, your not allowing yourself to come up with new things to do with that character. And even worse, if you go out of state to play, and they have a person that plays your character, chances are those opponents are going to know exactly what to do against your tricks. So now what are you left with? You’ve pretty much bursted out with all you got only to find out that what you have isn’t working, and since you haven’t really been playing your character against other people you more than likely don’t have a back up plan. Where as if you went the other route and continued to play your best character against other people. You would’ve along the way picked up some other tricks and set ups to add to your arsenal, allowing you to mix things up and to keep your opponent on his or her toes.

So in short, just don’t sandbag at like Zach’s or any tournaments. Of course you’re going to want to keep some things to yourself especially when NWM comes around, but after what is said and done if you explain to those around you what exactly they can do against it, it’ll help them in the long run as well especially on the world stage if they play against someone that plays that character too. Plus it’s forcing you to not get comfortable and to try and improve yourself as well.

omg… these posts…

I 1000% agree with them. ive been running through alot of the same thoughts in my head. good shit guys

Response to Deezo’s post:
I remember when I was still trying to figure out which characters I want to use, my first train of thought was, “why not use Balrog, Vega etc. They’re top tier characters. I want to win after all.” My second train of thought was, “honestly I’m more comfortable with Ryu and Guile even though they’re just middle to upper characters. Plus they’re my favorite”. Then I was thinking that it would probably be better to learn my favorite characters because I won’t get so bored learning them. Balrog is a top tier character but it just doesn’t suit my style. Plus I’d probably get bored out of my mind because it would seem like homework to me. Which might eventually lose my interest in the game. So yeah, that’s how I ended up with Ryu and Guile as my main.

Response to Frank’s second post:
I have never actually heard the term “Sandbagging” before. After reading this post, I think I understand. I admit that I tend to play my third, fourth etc. characters (which happens to be Dhalsim, Chun Li etc.) more often than not during casual play. I hope people won’t kill me for admitting that!LOL. I am still learning about the scene after all. I play these characters mainly because I:
A. Am seriously trying to figure out what these characters are capable of because they seem so wonky to me.
B. Don’t want to give away all of my tricks until the tournament starts because I want to win, er, “play to win” as Sirlin puts it. I know how horrible that may sound but it was true, but I’m still learning the community ettiquette so please bear with me.
C. I actually like these characters but I’m not exactly that good with them. So what better time to experiment than during casual play where it doesn’t really count.
But I understand what you mean when it’s “capped out”. Which I totally don’t want to do. I honestly want to learn and help you guys learn these matchups as well.
In conclusion, during future casual play you’ll be seeing a lot more of my top dudes: Ryu and Guile. Thanks Frank and Mandel! You guys inspire me.

I would just like to say first off thank you to Frank and Mandel for providing such great posts. I hope that these posts inspire others and help them to potentially become better players. I agree whole heartedly with everything that has been said here and I too was hoping to throw a post up real quick concerning the dreaded topic of “Mental Blocks.”

Mental blocks happen in all shapes and forms. In my early days of Street Fighter, I was mentored by the infamous LifeTimeBoy. He gave me a pretty strong foundation of how to get better, things like execution, discipline/patience, the use of training mode, etc. However when we actually played and sparred against each other, it always seemed as if all my training was for nothing. There would be sessions where I would get OCV’ed every time, and even at times perfected with 1 character. I would ask him what I need to improve on, and all he’d say is “You just need to stay patient.” The brutal beatings weren’t teaching me anything, I wasn’t a smart enough player at the time to realize how to get better against him, at the same time he wasn’t a smart enough mentor to teach me how to win…however, was this really the case? I now question it, mainly because I have the idea that LTB purposefully beat me so hard not so that I would learn how to get better, but because it was a dominance that he was showing over me, basically saying “You will never beat me…ever.”

This was a really big thing for me. Through losing against LTB all the time, I began to think that I had plateaued, and that people who beat me, are just the better player, and to be fine with it. In short, I officially built a mental block against anyone who had beaten me in the past, with a pre packaged excuse to boot: “They’re just better then me, I can’t win.” I found myself playing LTB every tournament with the same mind set every time…that it was impossible for me to win.

So now, lets fast forward a bit through time, the announcement of Northwest Majors. After taking such a long break from fighting games and many life changing events, I decided that it would be interesting to test my limits again. I didn’t have any one to train with other then friends, however was also fine with practicing in training mode. Come tournament time, I win against my first 2 opponents, and come against LTB once again with a very noticeably DIFFERENT mindset then ever before. This was the first time where I realized, “Your a different person and a different player then before, your not a kid, and you know he’s not a god…you can win.” Though I didn’t win against him, I remember specifically having 2 fairly strong matches where it could have gone either way. I had finally broke what was holding me back before.

This is just my personal story of how I’ve been affected through mental blocks, and I too see so many people say “I can’t beat _________, they’re the better player.” The fact of the matter is that by having such a strong mental block, I ask the question: Why are you even playing then? It cheats other players out of trying to take a stab at the high competitor, and it cheats YOU out of becoming a better player. It’s one thing to know your limits, and know who the better player is, but it’s another to out right define yourself as a loss when the match hasn’t even been played.

I hope that this post helps out people. And would definitely like to hear feed back…I just hope that it didn’t turn out to look as if I was bragging about myself. I’m just trying to shed some light on why it’s important to break mental blocks at all. And though I’d like to say I don’t mean to put LTB on blast like that…I really don’t care about him, so whatever.

By capped out I mean your preventing yourself from elvolving your character.

Ex: say you have a strategy with guile, and no one around here can beat it. Instead of allowing us to play against him more you ONLY play chun/sim in casuals, then ONLY play guile in tournaments. What’s happening here is, you’re not letting us find a way around this strat, allowing us to be better, and at the same time you’re not learning to tweak the strategy, and change some things around, so you are not getting better either.

Now like I said its ok to keep some tricks to yourself, but give players the chance to try and beat it.

I will contribute more of what I can later, but this is just my opinion and experience with mental blocks and high vs low tier.

I get very attached to characters in fighting games, and its usually the first character I pick up. Unless I end up playing another character in a game who is drastically different, or I just enjoy on a much higher level, I tend to stay with the first character who suits me. I’ve done that with Marvel and playing Guile, although that is something I’m somewhat happy about because I enjoy the limits of that character and I feel it pushes me farther as a player to explore the best of his ability. I feel like I find out something new to use everytime I play, and I am still getting small suprises like what moves beat out usually safe rushdowns. In trying to overcome the advantages of the top 4, I become a better player overall.

But as I was saying, getting immediately attached to a character is something I view for myself as a mental block. It has its benefits in that I learn to use my character well, but I think it limits me right from the start when there is a much bigger game I could be learning. With SF4, I am trying to fight that block and be more open to exploring new characters and trying out top tier, which I would previously stay away from. I’m trying to play it in a new way, not just as a new game.

I am also planning on working on my execution this time. Execution is a huge limit I have always had, and this time I would like for it to not hold me back. I’d like my combos and counters to always be there in the same way I can rely on my character being on the select screen. I never want to worry about going for a reversal shoryu because I’m not sure if it will come out.

Just a few things I will be working on.

Edit: Spelling and Grammar

Ah, I see. :bgrin:

So onto the next thing that I want to talk about which I reffer to as “resetting yourself”

Have you ever just been in a slump when it comes to games? Something like no matter what you do you just seem to get scraped, and it’s as if your opponent can read you like a book. None of your tricks are working, or even worse they are working against you. You might even lose to the random guy that you’ve beaten many times before and he just comes out of nowhere and lets you have it. What could it be that is making this happen?

I know for me, this has happened a lot, in all of the games that I’ve played. What I would usually just do is focus on another game instead and just not bother playing the other one for the rest of the night, which usually turned into maybe like a week or 2, or in the case of Soul Calibur 2 back in 2k3, I stopped playing the game 3 months before Evo, and didn’t really touch it again until evolution. It didn’t really dawn on me until recently what exactly was going on here.

For starters let’s break this down here. Everyone has a pattern, even the most randomest fools out there (super joe) have some kind of a pattern that they have, or a mindset where their mechanics take over instinctively. Take me for example, when SFIV first dropped up here, I played Bison very defensively, and just poked the hell out of people as much as I could, the pace of the match was never hectic, and usually it led to what I ultimately wanted to happen, wether it was a chance to set up an ultra, or EX headstomp, or grab to cross up attempt. Well up until the regional that was working for me in tournaments, for the 4 that I entered, I took 9th, 4th, 4th, and 9th I believe. But I did end up taking a break for about a month or so from playing (mainly due to snow, lack of funds, and my health), so come around to when I played SFIV again. It was like walking up to the cabinet for the first time again. Like I knew what combos I needed to do and stuff like that, but my whole gameplan with how I wanted to approach the game was all kinds of messed up. So I had started to rush down more, mainly so that I could get practice in on some execution issues. It kinda took everyone by surprise and they didn’t know what to expect cause last they saw me playing against my bison was like watching a tennis match, calm but intense at the same time.

The point that I’m getting at here is sometimes it is good to just take a break from the game. Let your mind reset itself on the tendencies you would have from before, and that muscle memory too, then when you step up to play again, it’s like walking up to a clean canvas, allowing you to creat your playstyle once again. I mean I went from complete defense, to complete rushdown, and once I get the rushdown down to where I’m confident in hitting combos at clutch moments, I’ll probably take another small break again, then come back and meld both styles together, which as Mandel has told me.

“It’s hard to read what you’re going to do because you’re so unpredictable.”

Now it sounds like it’s a bad thing, but it’s actually the opposite. Yeah what I’m doing might seem unpredictable in terms of wether I’m going to be staying full screen away from you, or right in your face. But I know what it is I’m going to do, so in a way it’s not unpredictable or random, it’s just my gameplan to keep you on your toes, and just when you think you have me thought out I come with something completely different.

Now of course if you guess right on how I’m going to play that leads to a whole different thing…usually with me on the losing end but well someone else can talk about that shit =p.

Also could we get this stickied??? Kinda like a player’s guide to playing fighting games sorta thing. Plus anyone else out there have some things to share on? I’m kinda running out of stuff to talk abotu =D

More great posts from the bunch of you. :tup:

As you’ve probably all figured out… I haven’t been out to any of your tournaments yet. I’m a newguy/nobody, but I do my research so much as possible. Not only do I want to get involved with local fight scenes, I also wanna contribute to the community.

So, thanks for your invite for others to post up stuff. I didn’t want to use your thread to post my thoughts/tips if you wanted to use it as the “Frank Teaching Hour” or something. :lol: I don’t have the time right this minute to bust something out, but there are elements of the psychology of fighting that I’d like to share some ideas on. I’m not a psychologist or anything, but things like classical conditioning are pretty intuitive concepts… and they can definitely be applied to fighting games.

I’ll try to get to that later tonight. In the mean time… thanks for all of the awesome work you guys have been putting into sharing your insights.


anyone is welcome to post up things. It’d be interesting how everyone approaches their games and what not.

I don’t really have a long philosophy when it comes to fighting games. If anything, as a result of years of sports playing and whatnot, I feel the best way to approach anything is to just not think about it.

It probably doesn’t work to my advantage some of the time, but it really helps with that whole being phased by a personality or whatnot. Mindgames are a different matter because they don’t have a whole lot to do with attitudes, its more like conditioning. So in that respect, I suppose, I do tend to try to be aware of the options available to both sides.

Being relaxed it really nice, but its hard to pull off sometimes.

Well… I was just about to go play some more VF5, but I remembered that I was gonna write a little here.

In case you’re reading this and didn’t catch it already, I’m not an experienced veteran. I think I know what I’m talking about in general terms, but I may be off in the smaller details. Feel free to correct me if that’s the case. Then again, I’m not trying to push detailed techniques so much as I’m trying to suggest ways to think about fights.

Right now, I want to look into a small aspect of the mind games you can play with an opponent. Specifically, I’m thinking about what is called classical conditioning (if my memory of psych class serves me right) and how it applies to gaming. My modified (and slightly simplified) spin on classical conditioning is a pretty intuitive concept, but I’ll just give a basic overview before looking at how it works with Street Fighter and such. Basically, the idea is that an external action demands an internal response. For example: you smell some amazing food on your way to work, then you suddenly find yourself hungry. Classical conditioning is based on the idea of associating a natural (unconditioned) stimulus… in this case, the smell of the food… with an unnatural (conditioned) stimulus… say, for example, a sign for your favorite restaurant. The intended result is that you will unconsciously pair the smell of the food with the restaurant branding… which will then cause you to feel hungry/want food from that restaurant any time you see the branding.

Er… that’s how conditioning could be used with food advertising. Clear as mud, right? So… where the heck am I going with this… and how do I think this idea can be used to gain an edge over opponents in competition?

Mr. Frank alluded to a concept earlier that made me think of this: “It’s hard to read what you’re going to do because you’re so unpredictable.”

Playing unpredictably is a good idea… so long as you have a clue what the heck you’re doing. However, that demands that an opponent (who actually knows how to play) is going to have to watch your every move carefully. This is good, but you’re going to have to work hard to get past his defenses when he’s looking every which way for an attack.

I would like to suggest that… while it’s important to be able to use a variety of tactics… it may be more effective to implement mind games rooted in classical conditioning.

I believe that it was a Domination101 article that got me thinking about this kind of mind game a few days ago. See, the author suggested that if a guy tries to hit you with a jumping roundhouse three times in a row (successfully or unsuccessfully) he’s probably caught in a rut and will keep doing that. In seeing his jump, you’ll assume the roundhouse is next. Thus, after a couple of times of doing it, you’ll block (or anti-air or whatever) every time he jumps.

If you can deceive your opponent into thinking that you’re going to keep trying the same angle, you can then switch things up and catch him totally off guard. It won’t work on everyone, but it has a good chance of working on people who get over-confident (which you want to exploit every possible chance you have).

For example (and I suck at these, so please fill in your own example that doesn’t suck): I’m a Ken player, and I decide that I want to set up an opponent by using short hurricane kick, landing right in front of him, then try to throw a couple of jabs before a shoryuken. I get up close, he blocks, I jump back out, I try again. After doing this two or three times, he’s probably gonna assume that I’m a one-trick-pony and that I’ll keep doing this all day long, so he decides to walk up and take me down as I come out of the hurricane kick. However, this time, I go for a roundhouse hurricane kick, delivering a couple of hits on my opponent because he didn’t see them coming and having the upper hand for my next strike due to the element of surprise.

Er… like I said… I suck at these kinds of examples, but I’m sure you all, in your experience, can come up with better ones. Still, this more or less gets the idea across.

Basically, I’m suggesting that you play the fool. Let your opponent think he’s ten times better than you, then… once his guard is down… destroy him. By rapidly training your opponent to think you’re going to go for the same setup every time… he’ll expect a pattern (since he’s gonna be watching for one… if he knows what he’s doing). Once you break pattern, you should have an opening to deliver serious pain.

This, of course, demands that you have the ability to be unpredictable. Still, in my humble estimation, presenting yourself as being predictable can very much be in your favor.

The end.


PS Like I’ve mentioned, I’m very much new here (and fairly new to competitively playing fighting games), so I could be totally off base. However, these things have worked for me in concept and in execution on Live, so I wanted to share them. I can’t promise it’ll work so well at regionals or EVO.

I have not read a lot of this but I know where this is going. I think that some people have mental blocks and they believe that they cannot win or that if they are playing some top level competition then the stuff that is done when practicing won’t work. This is not true because even the top level players can’t do things outside the scope of the game. If you want to prepare yourself for a tourney then practice to get better and not to win. A lot of times on Xbox live I will get invited to play but when I arrive I end up as the sixth person in a full room on HD Remix. Usually I leave because my goal is to get better. By playing in these huge rooms you get to see some techniques but unless you are playing you will only go so far. Try playing in a smaller room of no more than three people so that everybody gets many chances to play. The best way to learn is by repetition. The training mode is good to see what crosses up and which combos to do but unless you play a lot you will not be able to see when the opportunity to use the combos or crossups happen.

Something else that you can do is to learn character counters. Having multiple characters is a must if you plan to go far. You don’t have to be the best at your other characters but if you know a match up where you will have a huge advantage this is the difference between winning and losing. When anniversary edition was at Evo I practiced before with Graham and Alex and they showed me a couple of advantageous matchups. At the end of the day I walked away the winner of my pool because I knew a match that my opponent didn’t. The person that I played at the end of that pool was not there for AE but was still a good streetfighter player and they ended up winning the Third Strike tournament.

Finally, just relax before a tourney and try not to give away all of your tricks before the actually tourney. Play to win and remember that if someone thinks they will beat you then use that to your advantage. If you get a lead early on someone expected to go far you can sometimes get them to make mistakes. Also do not underestimate your opponent either. Just do what you have been practicing for the whole time and if the person that you are playing is having a hard time then continue until they find a way out or they are beaten. Remember that once you arrive at Evo you need to be ready. Get a couple of matches in before you tourney match to get loose and you should be fine.

I too made a blog awhile ago in regards of “resetting” yourself. However, my experience is much different then yours Frank, I think that it really has to do with the player/person, on what is effective. For instance, I had a real slump in SF4 and didn’t know how to get out of it. This is what I wrote:

Looking back on my journal, I found this written on November 12th, 2008: “Recently I have been feeling stuck as a player I can never play to my standard any more. I think this is because I am realizing the depths to my character Ryu, were not as deep as I would have liked to think.” At the time, my confidence to play well was just shot. I started losing to player who I had never lost to in my entire time of playing…records of 12 and 0…would become 12 and 4 after 4 games. It seemed like I lost my eye of the tiger. Obviously over time, I was able to get out of the slump thanks to people like Deezo and Apoc. Apoc made it very apparent to me that coming in with a sour mindset will be a huge deterrent on your actual game play…something I wasn’t taking into perspective. I suppose it was at this time, I realized how important it is to remain confident in your own skill.

After the pep talk, I went to the arcade and popped in my credit. I sat down and said to myself “You are not bad at this game. Your not the best, yet your not BAD at this game. As a matter of fact your DAMN GOOD! Now play this game to your standard!” That night I left with something like a 30 win streak. The win streak really doesn’t matter, it was just the fact that the lesson was learned…whatever mindset you bring in before the match, is the same mindset you’ll have during the match.

This slump had to do with my confidence as a player, things just weren’t working out for me. I was second guessing myself all the time, when in reality, I just needed to sit back, know that I’m good, and bring the confidence with me.

However all slumps are different…mine was confidence driven, where someone else’s could be driven because of getting beat often. I would definitely suggest what Frank would do. I’ve done this myself recently after the 4th ranbat in our SF4 Season 1. Like Mandel, I had been outed by a Blanka for the 3rd time. I was sour about the game for a pretty long time. I decided to take a break of SF4 and just lay back for a bit. I stopped playing for a good 2 weeks or so…and all of a sudden, I was seeing the game in a different way. I was understanding what I can change to make myself become a better player. It was really weird because out of nowhere, I think that I just came to an epiphany concerning the game, while taking a break from it.

All in all if you get into a slump, realize what it truly is about. And just like Frank did, take a step back and you’ll find that in some situations, the answer will fall right on to your lap without you even playing the game.

I’m actually gonna keep a journal when SFIV(and hopefully R) drops, just to monitor my progress.

My main problem, aside from being shit, is that I’m always out thinking myself and telling myself I’m too slow to do something like Tick Throws.

Mike you gotta x out that attitude pimpin. You can’t say you’re shit at games. Especially at VF, cause the matches we would play in the GF you brough the best outta me and none were easy matches. I think if you can take that mentality of VF and translate it over to SFIV you’ll be a in good with the game.

Now in regarding tick throws, that sounds like something that you should try to sit down and figure out. I gotta give it up to you that you are actually thinking about your weaknesses and what you need to work on (something that I should’ve brought up before in here). You got Blake there to help you out and shit, just have him do some tick grabs against you to try and get the timing down on how to soften them. Now in SFIV there is something that I’ll point out to everyone right now.

In SFIV you cannot break grabs while ducking (wasn’t 3S like this too?).

Now I’m pretty shitty at breaking grabs myself, but you can make it easier for yourself if you pay attention to what your opponent is doing for grab setups.

are they doing one tick then grabing?

do they try to do a cross up then try to grab?

do they walk forward first then grab you?

there’s a guy down in tacoma that would grab me for free all the damn time, and it took a long time before I noticed that when he would go for his grab setups, he would do ducking jab, and not ducking short. So immediately I thought to myself “I have no reason to duck against this guy cause he never goes low first”. Low and behold, I started breaking grabs against him all night long.

If you know your opponents tendencies then being able to break grabs is a hell of a lot easier. Kinda like VF (remember to break 4 against my Eileen :wgrin:)