Playing to win vs Playing to improve - My 1 week observation


The start of my journey came from a random link to a live stream, that live stream was Evo 2011. Within the first 15 min of watching people compete, I was hooked. I’ve had a long history of gaming on the pc stemming all the way back to 97 when I started playing quake1. Even though I would call myself a seasoned gamer that thrived off competition, I was never interested in the fighting scene. Well that all changed and within a few days of evo 2011 ending, I had a copy of SSF4AE PC and a Hori Real Arcade PRO V3 SA sitting in my room.

I won’t pretend like I was impressed by what I saw when watching the live stream, I figured how hard could this really be? Well my impressions of the “pro” scene changed real fast. My first initial mistake was trying to act like a sponge and pickup on the more advanced techniques such as fadc or flashy combos before I had a firm grasp on the basics. My second mistake was trying to win, this might sound silly but it’s the truth. Like I stated earlier, I didn’t and still don’t have a firm grasp of the basics so when I would fight it would consist of careless and punishable moves over and over again. I could win a match 50% of the time like this vs players like myself but at what expense? Why would I want to win like a scrub when I could lose like a player trying to learn the correct way. When I played to win, 80% of my attacks involved jumping, I was like a bunny hoping all over the screen. The way I play now is completely different, I try to limit myself to no jumping at all. I realize that not all jumping is bad but I feel like if I revert back to even jumping a little, I will eventually abuse it.

My advice to any new player looking to pickup a fighting game would be to start slow, learn the basics, master the basics. Learn to block, learn to execute simple moves, without a solid foundation you will go nowhere. I think this community is amazing and I look forward in being a part of it.


That’s very true, but the same could be said for alot of other competetive activites. Someone with a firm grasp of Fundementals will often beat players who are well practiced in things like combos, naunces & gimmicks.


Looks like you’re learning really fast if you started last month, you’re on the right track I guess


You’re taking the correct approach. The fundamentals of any fighting game are what will take you far. Without then you can execute any flashy combo a 110% but you’ll never win because that first hit that will set up your combo will never occur.


Nice story Bro !


Is that an upgrade or downgrade from “Cool story bro!”?


Word. Staying on the ground and getting your anti-airs down will get you really far in this game.
Also, pick one character and stick to it.


It’s great to see EVO bringing new players into the community. You have a great mindset when learning fighting games. I’ve had similar experience online, where simply doing tick throws and reversal DP will get me more wins than footsies and option-selects.

At low level play, “playing to win” is more or less equivalent to “playing the player”, since neither player has mastered their character nor their opponent’s character, the match usually boils down to finding out what tactic the opponent can’t deal with and abusing that tactic. Just like what OP said about jump attacks. Ken’s crouch jab a few times and then jump MK cross-up “vortex” is the bane of many new players because they don’t know the right button to punish it and because they don’t expect it. Thus you don’t need complex mind games and set-ups to beat them, just abuse the tactics they can’t deal with. Neither of you are “playing the character” because you don’t need to know specific set-ups and matchup knowledge to win.

But to equate “playing to learn” to “playing the character” is obviously inaccurate, because fighting game is not purely based on theory and explicit knowledge. Once both players have mastered their character and got their execution down, “playing the character” becomes second nature and “playing the player” becomes the main focus, that’s when all the mind games and set-ups come into play. Sometimes abusing scrub tactics to beat a scrub doesn’t hinder you learning the game, because you’re “playing the player”, you’re learning to ADAPT, which is one of the most important skill a good player should have. Just don’t get into really bad habits and you’ll be fine.


LOL it was a serious compliment!


Sounds like you have the mindset to get better unlike a lot of newer players that come here going “FUCKKKKKKK!! Ive been practicing for 12 seconds and I still cant get this combo down in a match. Combo this, combo that, combos blah blah blah”.

Yea, when you are grinding to get better you will definately lose much more than you will win. But it pays off after awhile (if you can last that long).


I applaud both your enthusiasm and your mindset mate :slight_smile: It is actually so refreshing.

Pick one char you like, stick to the road you are going and all will be fine!


Great mindset. Like so many people have said, once you get the basics down then you are on the road to winning. Learning the basics will give you the opportunity to see when you need to perform certain moves as well as what to stay away from. Keep up the great work man.


Just curious, what do you guys mean by “basics”? I’m just 30hours into AE, please pardon my noobness :slight_smile:


Seriously, if for every one newb that whines about his losses, there are 2 of you that actively seeks to improve, then this community will have a much brighter future.


Definitely the right mindset! A loss can be disheartening under some circumstances, but the most important thing is to try and understand WHY you lost. While I have known this concept to be true for some time, actually applying it is something that has come only more recently, because it’s only recently that I’ve actually been trying to seriously get better at the fighting games I play.

I watched a replay of a match I had against a good Sagat player not long ago. I hadn’t paid any attention to my own replays before, but I could REALLY see what people have said about seeing the mistakes you made (and the mistakes your opponent DIDN’T make) when viewing footage of your losses. In the replay, I could clearly see the flubs that - as someone who’s still not very good - I COULDN’T see during the actual match. I was picking out specific points where I didn’t properly block a cross-up, or used an FA at a bad time, or missed a major opportunity to punish, etc. Knowing how to do some badass combo won’t mean squat if you don’t know how to create opportunities to use it. Another thing I saw was how often I got thrown later in the match. He saw I wasn’t teching them, thus kept throwing me. What do I take away from this? That he read me like a book, and that I need to improve in those areas (adapting to the opponent changing **their offense in general, and teching in particular).

I would say to the OP to “keep at it”, but it sounds as if he has a good handle on how to approach the learning curve of these games, so I don’t think I need to tell him that.

Ha! This is what the internet has done to us, it’s so hard to tell when someone is being sarcastic. :rofl:


When i speak about basics i mean learning a characters ins and outs. what he/she can and cannot do. an example would be that some characters like cammy, ryu, ken, akuma, and a few others have great ways to control the air and apply pressure to players that jump a lot. Characters such as balrog, bison, and Dee Jay can apply pressure on the ground better than others. Every character has his/her strengths and weaknesses. learning the “basics” of the characters that you have chosen to learn really makes a big difference. Learn the standing moves as well as there crouching basic moves, learn there special moves suck as the fireball or cannon spike. If you practice this enough then you will begin to notice that you are developing what most call muscle memory. You can pull of the move just by noticing the situation that your in. Once you learn that then combos and timing really just comes natural. Hope that helps.

(@Saito S) Great advice man, i myself have almost make it a habit to watch all of my replays after a few matches whether there wins or losses, theres always room for improvement.


Yeah, it’s one of those things where, once I finally did it, I felt silly for not having done so earlier. And nice post breaking down the basics.

I used to be one of those players who focused too much on “learning combos” and not enough on… well, everything else (matchups, footsies, spacing, efficient use of normals… basically all that stuff that is, most likely, MORE important than knowing a crazy combo or 3). Trying to turn that around and pay more attention to the basics… it’s tough, partly because I’ve played fighting games for years, but not well, and I bet I have a lot of bad habits I need to break. I have friends who enjoy playing some rounds of SSFIV or BlazBlue every week or two, but none of them are as into the games as I am, and none of them have any interest in putting in the time and energy to really dig in and try and up their game (except one, possibly, if he can find the time…).


You play to get better which means you play to win.


Astonishing, I know so many players who after years can’t figure this out. Maybe there is something to age and wisdom.


thats true. But if you take the time to get to know the ins and outs of your characters then eventually the winning will come naturally. If all you do is focus on learning the characters combos, supers, and ultras then eventually you will fail due to not knowing how to set up each situation. If all you know is combos then your sol drive in a match is finding the one opportunity to pull off that combo. If you miss it or arnt able to set it up then your shooting yourself in the foot. Basics lead to things like set-ups, and footsies. Heres another prime example of how basics help out. If your using Ryu, a move as simple as his crouching HP can either trade or shut down almost any air advance from an opponent.