Random thoughts and questions

This post might seem random but I’m mainly trying to figure out where to go with my practice.

It seems to me that Balrog is meant to be an almost entirely reactionary character. Meaning that he really doesn’t have the tools to force the action under most circumstances. He can can try, but by design it doesn’t seem like the best strategy. This doesn’t mean he’s a turtle, because he’s usually pushing closer to his opponent, but he’s reactionary.

Take this video for example: [media=youtube]5dW90AyV38k[/media]

In that match and nearly all the others I’ve seen with Maeda Taison, he strictly waits for the other player to do something, and then reacts in the most optimal way he can. PR Rog plays in a similar way but slightly more aggressive.

When I watch videos of highly aggressive players such as R, it doesn’t seem like an aggressive strategy is consistently effective. It looks like they are trying to force a strategy that simply doesn’t fit the design of the character. Because Balrog’s specials require a back charge, they end up doing J. HK or tick throws repeatedly which are fairly predictable.

With all of that said, it seems to me that the most critically important thing about playing Balrog is reaction time. When I watch videos of high level players, I really don’t see a whole lot of tricks they are using that I’m not already using. The difference is that they’re able to pull off ultras or dash ultras on reaction incredibly fast. They’re able to auto correct headbutts and ultras in seemingly every circumstance. They can counter hit with an ex special on reaction to any poke, and they can cancel normals and specials on reaction on block or in response to jumps or focus attacks.

So, the conclusion I’m reaching about Balrog is that he’s an extremely simple character, but one where you have to put in countless hours in matches in order to get his reactionary moves completely ingrained in your memory, so that you can do them instantaneously.

How does all of this sound? Am I right about Balrog optimally being a reactionary character, and about putting in time in matches being his most important form of practice?

yes and no.

I think you may be mistaking reactions for experience. The whole thing with Maeda punising fireballs with ultra has already been visited, all of the fireballs were reversals against his cr.hk which recovers before Ryu recovers from his fireball, the consensus was that he looked for the reversal signage. That being said, reactions are 90% experience. IF you know it’s likely going to happen, you can buffer in the input and hit the punish more consistently than not.

But i completely agree with you on the player/character experience. At high level with Balrog, they know you in and out as a player and character, you can’t surprise them, so you have to play that much better than your opponent.

It basically boils down to Balrog’s main forte being one of the most solid footsie / normal move games going and his lack of consistant mixup ability. This moulds him as a linear character who is best played as a defensive Rog primarily who uses his delicious normals to punish or in reaction to the opponent / character. In short, Balrog hasn’t got a lot of ways to break someone who is also primarily on the defense, mostly thanks to a dangerously unsafe single overhead and no crossup, but in turn it’s also difficult to break a Balrog on defense because he’s just too good at it so a Rog who gains a lifelead and forces you to come to him can be quite problematic indeed.

You don’t have to play Balrog this way but it is most likely the optimal choice. We all know and love the likes of Iceoage -R- and his sick rushdown antics but more often than not he gets punished for abusing the sheer unsafe nature of that playstyle, whereas people like Maeda are extremely reserved and just waiting to slap you in the face all day with well timed punishes, then you have the likes of PR Balrog who is somewhere between the two being both aggressive and more than capable of being reserved and dishing out punishes galore when it’s needed.

Again, sadly, thats the way of Balrog - A straightforward tanky bruiser with limited variation.

Ironically it’s also probably the core reason I love playing him… It started out with him just being the easiest to grasp on Keyboard (Seeing as the likes of Guile and other chargers didn’t seem to work properly for me on Keyboard) then turned into a hell of a lot of practice and moulding my own niche scrubby aggressive playstyle - 75% of the people I play always expect the same old turtle Rog or hyper defensive Rog but I’ve no patience for that in the grand scheme of things.

A very satistying message I once got complimented how I play Balrog as if he was a mixup character. Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t saying I was great, and I certainly KNOW I’m not great (Just one of the many million regular mid-level online players out there), but when people tell you it was nice to play against a Rog who was tricky, it’s very humbling and satisfying thinking people are thrown off as it’s unexpected.

I’ve a medium range of antics and shinanigans I always adopt - Sadly my sparring partners are all very VERY VERY aware of what they are and often predict them pretty easily, so as of recently I’ve tried working primarily on footsies and Normals so that I have to good old fashioned Balrog kit at my back when I know my usual garbage scrubby nonsense won’t fly - The sad part is I’d have probably been far more successful with Rog if I had JUST learned that and only that, rather than trying to play him like a trickster.

TLDR, like 3nigmatic, more a yes/no than a total agreement with you.

I really like that Balrog doesn’t need to surprise anyone to win. I think it’s a difficult hill for an opponent to climb if one is both more solid with fundamentals and is also playing a character with better pokes and hit confirms with faster startup and recovery. I’m putting a lot of practice into this idea by focusing on basic stuff like spacing and footsies because I think any Balrog with those basics perfected would be very formidable.

It seems like the major downfall to his simple style are those rare circumstances where he doesn’t seem to have a proper response with his normals, and I think these are what create his bad matchups. In those cases he has to switch to what I’d consider a sub-optimal rushdown/“mixup” mode or else be continually hit by stuff he has no answer to. I guess there isn’t much reason to complain about it though, given that some other characters are much worse off.