MIXUP 101 Series


Chapter 1 Introduction to Mixups
Mixups are vital in any fighting game but for this article I will like to focus just on SF4. To me a mixup is your ability to make your opponent always choose the wrong option when he tries to defend your attacks. For example if he tries to block high then you hit low, if he blocks low then hit high, if he blocks right hit left and vice versa.

Now most people know this but sometimes it is difficult to choose a valid mixup approach to your game. My goal is just to open your eyes to mixup possibilities so you can create one that suits your character and your style of play.

The key to understanding mixups are two sided, on one side you need to understand defense and on the other side you also need to understand offence. By defece I mean how an opponent can fend off your attacks for example you opponent can do the following on defense

-Block High (Block Standing)
-Block Low (Block Crouching)
-Block Left/Right (Cross up and non-cross up)
-Throw in an attempt to tech
-Try to Counter via invincible move/armor move or faster attack
-Backdash out of trouble
-Focus absorb and attack/dash back

Now To the above options none of them is fool proof and can be beaten by the following options.

-Hit Low and Command Grab(note all crouching kick attacks are mostly low attacks if not all)
-Hit high or Command Grab(over head attacks like command normals and in the air normals)
-Hit on the opposite side they are blocking
-Let it wiff and punish, hit with an unthrowable attack or meaty attack
-Block and punish or use an attack with more invincibility
-Option select the backdash attempt
-Throw the focus attack or hit with multi-hit attacks

The thing is that Character abilities and traits makes some options more viable than others, for example Rose backdash is a more viable option than say Cody or El Fuerte or even Ryu for example, Ryu is more likely to throw out DP on wake up than say Vega, Akuma can afford to teleport more than Evil Ryu and so on and so forth.

One of the keys is to find your opponent defensive safe zone and exploit it, example if you are Sakura vs Sagat you probably have more chances of landing high low mixups on him than say vs Seth or Guile and if you are playing against Vega you can afford more high low mixups.

Now playing Ryu you probably have more luck with left right mixups than high low mixups due to invincible dp and with left right mixups you can make the attacks to wiff or stuff them.

If you are playing against Cody you have better luck with grounded mixups because of his below par reversal options and short backdash.
Now when you have figured out what options your character has to deal great damage against all the defensive options then you can now move on to how you can set up your mixups.

Next I will Cover the basics of conditioning your opponent. let me know what you think of this article by leaving a comment below. Thank you for reading. :slight_smile:


Mixup 101 Chapter 2: Conditioning Your Opponent**
Conditioning your opponent can be a daunting task, simply because as much as you are trying to understand and condition him he is doing the same as well to condition you. It is crucial to take advantage of any holes in the gameplan of your opponent at any point in time.
The process of conditioning your opponent is neither automatic or cut in stone and is ever changing from one opponent to another, the following are aspects of your opponent that can be subject to exploitation

Involuntary tendencies and actions
Emotional condition
Induced Fear or under pressure mode
Auto Pilot mode
False sense of security based on character ability

Involuntary tendencies and actions
Like they say “Mike Ross likes to jump!” “Gamerbee likes pushing buttons on wake up!” “Louffy likes to backdash” “Alioune likes to mash under pressure!” all these are examples of involuntary tendencies that can be exploited, like they say if it occurs once its an event, twice is a coincidence and three times is a pattern, so keep an open eye to actions your opponent like using alot and find out ways to punish them. Example, Many Balrogs involuntarily crouches after a wiffed dash straights leaving them open for an overhead attack.

Emotional Condition
A good example will be PR Balrog and Infiltration at EVO, Infiltration knew that mentally PR Rog was prepared for his Akuma and he decided to throw him off mentally by picking up Hakan which pretty much threw a wrench into his gameplan. Another example will be Gamerbee when he faces either Daigo or top Akumas, vs Daigo once Daigo hits him with a psychic dp Gamerbee automatically loses concentration and Akumas generally strike fear into him. So your job is to try to find what playstyle you can adopt in order to throw your opponent off, it may be psychic dp, walk up/dash up throw, or just doing something you wont normally do.

Induced Fear or Under Pressure Mode
This is usually happens when you do something crazy that works or you punished them hard for making a mistake like backdashing and punishing a wiffed dp will usually make them reluctant to doing so again.

**Auto Pilot Mode **
This situation happens when a tech works so much that it is heavily relied upon but can be severly punished by obscure characters. A good example is E.Honda ex-headbutt into Ochio throw for building meter, Mike Ross does it ALOT and no wonder Xian made him pay at the ESGN show but hitting him with super and ultra. Another example is Dhalsim jump back fierce which Xian also punished hard vs filipinno champ.

**False Sense of Security **
Usually happens in bad matchup situations, playing against a good matchup will most times lead to complacency on the part of the opponent who thinks due to matchup up on paper will translate into the battle. this makes it possible to suprise him with setups that he overlooked and then induce fear into him. Example is possibly Gen vs Makoto, considered to be in Makoto favor but when Xian hit Haitani with some obsure setups it went downhill for him fast.

When it comes to mixups there are usually two kinds of opponents, those that think and those that don’t, usually conditioning a thinking opponent is easier than those that don’t, although both can be conditioned but different tactics can be applied. Ultimately knowledge is key to successful mixup strategy and knowing what your opponent can or cant do is a great factor in creating great mixups and conditioning him accordingly.

Exercise: When playing a set, try and take mental notes what your opponents does during the following situations: 1. After getting thrown or waking up from a hard knockdown (when they have meter and when they dont have meter). 2. After an air reset. 3. When you jump at them from mid range. 4. After a series of blockstring attacks.
This will help you in reading your opponent and setting up a mixup strategy

Next we talk about how to make your mixups more effective so stay tuned and also let me know what you think in the comments below.


Having Effective Mixup Strategy

The effectiveness of your mixups depends on a lot of factors and those factors include

The skill level of your opponent
The reaction time window needed to react
The risk vs the reward
Timing and Spacing
Being Predictable

**The Skill Level of Your Opponent **
If you are playing a somewhat new player you find out that you can pretty much go far with left/right mixups and walk up throws most of the time due to their slow reactions and lack of knowledge but as you face stronger opponents you notice that your auto pilot mixups no longer work as good. The reason is that strong opponents are more experienced and the slightest visual cues will tip them off to what you are attempting to do.
Example: You jab jab on his wake up and somehow he techs all your tick throw attemps and you think he is psychic, no the reason is that he knows the range that he is vulnerable to throw him and he pays attention to your character, if your character is crouching then he keeps on crouch blocking but once your character stands it means you are either going for a throw or an overhead attack (much slower than a throw) which he responds with a throw of his own.
So making your mixup look similar will make it slightly harder to guard against

**The Reaction Window **
An average person can visual perceive motion and react in 24 frames while twitch reaction can be as fast as 15-19 frames, so having a mixup that the opponent has 24 frames or less to decided what to do is very effective is you don’t fall into predictable patterns.
A good example of this would be safe jumps, now basically safe jumps hits your opponent at the early frames of their wake up and jump attacks start up between 4-9 frames on average now you opponent has less time to decide if you are going to jump attack (block high), or you are going to land and hit him low (block low), or if you are going to throw (tech), now this makes most default to either backdash or focus backdash which can be either option slected or push them to the corner.
Another example will be Akuma, when he is going for a jump in, the opponent has very little time (less than 24 frames) to decide if he is going to jump hard kick/dive kick (block normal), air tatsu (block cross up) or demon flip throw (jump or backdash or mash reversal) and all options result in a hard knockdown making the vortex a scary tool in experienced hands.

So if your mixups give little time to think of the action to take they will be hard to block. Exercise: Experiment and see how opponents reacts to high low mixups off a safe jump setup.

**Risk vs Reward **
The more the reward the morer effective your mixups are, having damaging mixups will mostly make your opponent turn into mashbots (example Akuma and Ibuki) but if your opponent mixups will potentially deal like 80-180 damage (Vega without meter) its not as scary like dealing 300-400 damage per mixup (Gen/Akuma comes to mind) The good thing about having a high reward mixup is that it tends to make your opponent fall for the most obvious setups, a great example will be Jyobin throwing a top zangief 3-4 times in a row just because the zangief was cornered and Ryu had both meter and ultra, in an attempt to avoid ex tatsu into ultra (which will blow up any spd attempt) he just stood there and took throws like a man
So the more damaging your mixup the more reason for your opponent to crack under pressure. Exercise: Keep an eye on how your opponent reacts to your mixups based on the amount of meter you have.

Timing and Spacing
This one is a bit difficult but straight forward, most especially with jump in mixups, it is possible to have the exact same setup hit front or back based on just the timing alone, this makes for a deadly mixup because the opponent usually have very very little time (less than 5 frames) to react to it. example is Gen forward throw delayed dash mixup, depending on the timing of the dash Gen either lands in front or behind the opponent leading to 250-300+ damage depending on the amount of meter used. another example will be Akuma that can alter his trajectory and speed with a divekick forcing an obvious cross up looking attack to hit in front without changing the timing of the setup, also Deejay benefits from this. This one requires alot of practice in training room as well but once learned can be deadly and if your character has a cross up then he can perform this tactic.

Being Predictable
I know generally it is a bad idea to be predictable but in a one shot deal heavy damage move it can be a super deadly strategy. the whole idea is to just doing the same thing over and over and over again until your opponent becomes conditioned not to expect anything else. A good example is with Gen, if you keep going for OBVIOUS cross up set ups and then go for a frontal attack it has a higher chance of landing on your opponent that’s why sometimes people seem to WALK INTO a non cross up attack, another example is when Gen has super and ultra and you keep going for jump in attacks you have a very high chance of landing an empty jump low into super and ultra. Even though being predictable is usually advised against it can still be a valid strategy in the heat of battle.

That wraps it for this article, next we focus on guidelines for picking the right mixups for the right character and opponent.


Thank You for posting this!
I will gladly add it to the Newbie Links (if you do not mind) as this is critical information. PM me with other links for your articles so I can put them in Newbies Links.