(warning, I’m going to ramble, livejournal style, and the last part of this is going to make very little sense to most people, but I want to record these thoughts down because they represent, I think, a fundamental stage of growth in my use of Guy as a character)
“If you want to play a footsie character, you shouldn’t be playing Guy, because there are so many characters with better footsies” - Rzr.Xian
Xian gave me that advice a few weeks back. Since then, they’ve forced me to undergo a re-assessment of sorts of the way I think Guy “should be played” (whatever that means).
When i first started playing Guy in Super, I used to jump and Bushin flip around a lot. Trying to take advantage of d.MP elbow as a pressure and fake out tool, and abusing the fact that most people would instinctively stand block whenever they saw a “jump” and would get grabbed by Bushin flip. This worked great for awhile… but then people started learning the match up. They’d low profile the elbow, they’d crouch the Bushin flip. Life started getting a lot harder and I was forced to re-evaluate how I played Guy.
Then I started seeing Kiyomatsu videos, and it was as if a light bulb went off in my head. Kiyo, who played Guy as a footsie God, with impeccable spacing with his ground buttons and run-stop frame traps. Kiyo was the Guy who became the epitome of how Guy should be played. Solid. Ground spacing with impeccable pressure once you got the chance. It was beautiful, it was elegant, and it was how a
street fighter character “should be played” at a high level. Ono once said that Guy was designed with a more “stoic” playstyle than Ibuki in mind, and those words rang true me as I decided that that was the path that would lead Guy to victory.
Except it didn’t. And not just for me.
For the last few years, no Guy has ever gotten far playing that way. The most successful Guy in the world, Marq Teddy plays a balls to the walls aggressive style. He doesn’t get much respect in these forums, because he doesn’t play the elegant game that Kiyo plays, but he does get better results than anyone else.
But even Marq Teddy hasn’t been able to break the glass ceiling. The very epitome of a balls to the walls Guy can beat a lot of players, but even he cannot seem to grasp the brass ring by beating the best consistently.
And I think most of us understand the reason for this on an instinctive level. Guy was not built for relentless aggression. If you want to play that game, you’re short changing yourself by not playing cammy, or the twins. The same can be said about a solid footsie Guy.
So does this mean we should all drop Guy? Or resign ourselves to mid card status?
The thing about Guy is that he has a lot of strengths that don’t translate into a clear advantage in the neutral game. Unlike characters with dive kicks, fireballs or dominant game winning pokes, his tools don’t allow him to control the game once he finds his sweet spot.
Don’t get me wrong. He has strong pokes, and run stop pressure is a very valid game to build off a seized initiative. But they are not tools that are dominant enough that all you need to do is play solid, till you can get it started, then ride the wave to victory. They win games, but the risk reward isn’t there to give Guy a house edge.
So what are Guys tools good for? What can they be used to win an advantage for him in a way that minimises his risks while maximizing the potential for a reward?
The word. The key word, I now believe is “mobility”. The reason I started maining Guy in SF4 was the Bushin Flip. The unparalleled feeling of being able to flip across the screen, and in that moment, being in full control of what happened next was what made me fall in love with Guy.
As the years went by, the Bushin Flip lost its importance because it’s a move that can be easily countered by crouching. But the truth is, the Bushin flip never lost its importance as a move that allows Guy to control his positioning. All of us who regular use the flip to turn the tables from being cornered to cornering the opponent know this. The best counter to an offensive Bushin flip is to crouch down. But by doing that, the opponent also cedes to you, the ability to decide where on the screen you want to place yourself. This means that when you naked Bushin flip from the right distance, you give your opponent a choice- give me control of the positioning game, or take a big risk in trying to deny it from me.
The same can be said about the wall jump- the speed and range of the wall jump actually accentuates the uses of the d. MP elbow drop. With correct use of wall jump mk/hk and wall jump elbow drop, you can play the jump fake game without being automatically beaten by, low profile moves and kara tiger uppercuts.
This leads to a new doctrine that i want to explore when playing Guy. By staying mobile with jumps, wall jumps, and Bushin flips, I control the pace of the game until I find the right moment to attack. Guy controls the match not by having superior footsies or rush down, but by having superior mobility. No one touches Guy until he wants to engage.
And that is how a real ninja operates.