A frame trap is Almost the opposite of a blockstring. A frame trap introduces a punishable gap in a string of attacks that can beat mashing and O/S crouch-teching. From a mind game perspective, frame traps can entice the opponent to attempt to press button and can produce a counterhit (for big damage). Frame traps can come in the form of strings of normals, special cancels, invincible frame traps, and tick throws.
What beats what:
Frame traps > Mash
Normal frame traps > O/S crouch tech
Invincible frame traps > Mash & crouch tech
Block > Frame traps
Block > Invincible frame traps
Backdash > Some frame traps
In general, frame traps seem pretty innocuous, meaning that you just see a player pressing buttons and the other blocking and/or being counter-hit. At first glance, you’ll probably think to yourself, he should just block and stop pressing buttons and he wouldn’t have to worry about it (Cammy for example). And the truth is that Street Fighter is, at its base, an RPS (Rock Paper Scissors) game; very defensive behavior such as continuous blocking opens up an opportunity for your opponent to take advantage and attempt, say, a throw. So people press buttons because they’re afraid of being thrown, or they figure that their opponent’s possible damage output from a throw is much greater than being counter hit while trying to press buttons.
In SF4 frame traps exist BECAUSE of the defensive O/S crouch-tech. True, your opponent may be mashing buttons etc, but frame-trapping normals is an art in itself; but frame trapping crouch-techs is extremely easy. To explain crouch-techs, throws need to be understood in their entirety:
The throw is by far, the universal equalizer between all characters. The frame data for a throw is as follows:
Startup [3f] - Active [2f] - Recovery [20f]
stand-tech: anytime within a 14f window
(regardless of who initiates the first stand-tech)
crouch-tech: once within a 7f window
(dictated by when the opponent initiates the stand-tech)
Although normal throws have varying ranges between characters, it’s frame data is static. Throws can be broken by stand-teching or crouch-teching. A throw can only be initiated from frames 4-5 and if not in range of a grab box, it will go through it’s recovery/whiff animation. Crouch-tech works by crouching and pressing cr.lk and cr.lp. Crouch-teching allows teching of throws on the first startup frame, and no others, while stand-teching can tech throws any time during the stand-tech window between frame 3 and 10. This means two things: stand-techs have a much longer window to tech throws whether doing it defensively or offensively, while crouch-techs have an incredibly shorter window, and if they whiff they can have less than 20f of recovery.
In general, it means that a crouch-tech is easy frame-trap bait because for it to be successful, an opponent has to gauge when you’re going to go for a normal throw (stand-tech), and press those buttons during the tech window i.e. delayed, making it susceptible to most frame traps. Crouch-techs are preferable to jumping against normal throws since they recover from the whiffed throw earlier than you recover from your jump and may be able to punish.
Crouch-tech/Frame trap Practice
[details=Spoiler]To practice a crouch-tech, record Balrog walking forward, cr.lp, and then throwing. Notice that if you stand-tech, you can press the buttons at varying times and still get a tech. Try to crouch-tech, you’ll notice that the window is specific and that if you want to avoid the throw, you have to press the buttons within this window.
Now Record Balrog, walking up with cr.lp, then cr.hk. Try to stand-tech, and then try to crouch-tech. You’ll notice that you can attempt a stand-tech at different times which will allow you to block the cr.hk, while if you crouch-tech you will always be counter hit unless you go for a very late crouch-tech.[/details]
At this point, this is all you really need to know to understand how frame traps work, and get an idea of how to punish them. The rest of the article is really granular as far as what it teaches, but is in no way necessary to understand frame traps. You CAN stop reading (I warned you).
Type of Frame Traps:
Normal Frame Traps
String (BLOCK) > Gap > Cancel > Block > Hit > CH – ?
cr.lp, cr.mp > 3f > sp > -2 > +1 > +4
st.lp, cr.mp > 2f > sp > -2 > +1 > +4
cr.lp, cr.hk > 4f > su > -6 > UKD > +3,-
cr.lp, st.hk > 4f > su > -4 > 0 > +3,-
cr.lp, cl.hk > 3f > su > +3 > +7 > +10 – !
st.lp, st.hp > 5f > - > -7 > -3 > 0
st.lp, st.mk > 5f > su > -1 > +2 > +5
cl.hk, cr.mp > 4f > su,sp > -2 > +1 > +4
st.lp, cr.mk > 3f > su > +4 > +7 > +10 – !
cr.mk, cr.mp > 3f > sp > -2 > +1 > + 4
cr.lp, cl.mp > 2f > su > -4 > +1 > +4
cr.lp, cl.mp > 2f > su,sp > -4 > +4 > +7 – !
cr.mp, cl.hp > 7f > su > -3 > +2 > +5
cr.mp, st.hp > 11f > -
String (HIT) > Gap > Cancel > Block > Hit > CH
st.lp, cr.mk > 0f > su > +4 > +7 > +10
st.lp, st.hp > 1f > - > -7 > -3 > 0
! Best for CH setups b/c of godly frame advantage on counterhit
Normal Frame traps can occur on hit and block. Frame traps on block are better in the sense that they always happen, while frame traps on hit can throw away good combo opportunity. There are situations where the combo can’t be continued and a frame-trap is a decent way to possibly net some damage and keep the ground-game at neutral (e.g. max distance st.lp to st.hp).
The best attacks to start a frame trap with are cr.lp and st.lp; the safest to end with are st.mk, cr.mp and st.hk because they’re generally unpunishable by the cast. The best attacks to counterhit with are cl.hk and cr.mk because they offer the most frame advantage on CH (+10).
Most frame traps are pretty set in terms of what they can and can’t punish, but good range normals at max distance can cleanly beat or trade with attacks in a way that’s not supported by frame data. The animation of every attack, especially those with range, go active before they’re at max distance. So, there are ranges where you can counter poke the attack before it can come into contact with your attack’s hurtbox.
Frame traps can be performed with normals that low profile. These have their own pros and cons: pros being that they can avoid certain moves like Balrog’s rush upper and dash straight, cons being that they generally startup slower and are susceptible to faster attacks to beat frame traps.
Low Profile Examples
[details=Spoiler]Fei Long: Chicken Wing
This special can be low profiled with ANY of Balrog’s crouching normals. Because hk.chicken wing is not strike invincible and only throw invincible, there’s less reason for Fei to attempt it. But, if he thinks you will throw he might use it. Applications can look like the following: [media=youtube]vC71I7WsPvU[/media]
Ken: f+mk, cr.mk
This is a well known O/S started. f+mk on block leaves ken at -2, and cr.mk is 4f. The pushback on f+mk is enough to where cr.mk is almost at max distance. cr.mk low profiles so it will beat non-ex headbutt and low profile ex.hb so forth and so on. Examples are here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=ajvoh5pcPbY#t=332s
*for early crouch-techs
Early crouch-techs are used when the frame trap normal is very positive (e.g. cr.lp, walk up throw). When you want to frame trap an early crouch-tech, you need a smaller frame gap of about 1-2f. The majority of crouch-tech situations use late techs which also allows for O/S Blocking. Early techs can usually be blown up with cr.lp or st.lp because they are so fast. A good example is this: cr.mp xx mk/hk.ru (on hit), cr.lp. mk/hk.ru is +1 on hit and cr/st.lp has a 3/4f startup leaving a 2-3f gap.
*for late crouch-techs and stand-techs
Late crouch-techs are used when the frame trap normal is negative (e.g. TAP, throw). When you want to frame trap a late crouch-tech, you need a longer frame gap and/or more distance to counter-poke the normal. This can also be used to frame trap stand-techs as well. A well known frame trap for stand-techs is walk back, cr.mp xx lp.ds/ex.ru. or…TAP, headbutt. The frame gap for headbutt is pretty ridiculous; it’s about 10f for lp.hb and 14f for hp/ex.hb. Non-ex.hb will lose to attacks that hit low, and ex.hb will whiff against attacks that low profile. You can also use armored specials to beat the normal that comes out with the crouch-techs but this loses to stand-teching. You can force this situation by using a normal that’s even on block (e.g. cr.lk).
*Long Range/max distance traps
You can also frame trap using normals with significant pushback. When a normal has significant pushback (At least out of throw range), you can use a normal with a decent amount of reach. Balrog’s normals and specials that push him out of range are cr.hk, st.hp, and dash low (ex.dash low is the only one that matters). When these starters are used, the only way the frame trap will connect is if they push a button. If they don’t, generally they whiff. This type of technique is an off shoot of whiff punishing, just not on reaction.
Proof of concept example
If Balrog does cr.hk, and then st.hk, cr.hk, or cr.mp xx lp.ds, he can catch certain long range normals. Record Balrog, doing cr.hk, st.hk. Then as Balrog, block the cr.hk, then attempt to use cr.mp, the st.hk will hit the cr.mp during its recover (but not trade nor counterhit). Replace st.hk with cr.mk to combat shoto crouching forward, cr.mp has a bad hurt box at his feet and is beat out by cr.mk’s like Ken’s, but Balrog’s cr.mk beats it clean. Very useful to setup an O/S Super
Special Frame traps
Special String > Gap* > Cancel > Block/Hit/CH
cr.lp, cr.lp xx lk.smash > > su > -5/-/-
cr.lp, cr.lp xx ex.smash > > - > -1/-/-
cr.lp xx ex.oh > >
cr.lp xx hp.oh > >
TAP, cr.lp > 5f >
TAP, throw > 5f >
TAP, hp/ex.hb (invinc) > 14f >
lvl 1 FA**, cr.lp > 1f >
lvl 2 FA**, cr.mp > 5f >
lvl 2 FA**, cl.hk > 5f >
*gaps started at single jab distance (e.g. j.hk, cr.lp, cr.lp xx lk.smash)
**lvl1 FA: -2f, lvl2 FA: +4 on block
Special frame traps have their own pros and cons, mostly that boxer’s lose to grabs in general, whether reversal or reaction, especially ex.dashes which lose to normal throws. Frame traps with specials other than TAP and headbutt are difficult because the distance from the opponent determines the startup, and aside from deep jump-in combos on hit its hard to determine the special startup.
Armored traps are easily hit and miss, but can be really useful in matchups like Balrog and Shotos (non-armor breaking dash punches for Balrog and DPs for shotos). lvl1 and lvl2 FAs have frame advantage on hit and block after dashing cancelling. Boxer’s lvl 1 is -2, similar to TAP, but with a much closer range while lvl 2 is like the frame advantage after ex.ru with much closer range, but no back-charge. Balrog’s FA is really bad in terms of its hitbox and its range, but at close range he can FA, peg the op in place with proximity blocking, connect, dash in, then go into a jab blockstring with the added ability to crumple stun and hit confirm. This is also balrog’s kryptonite in matchups like Chun who is positive after dashing in after a lvl1 FA.
Also, RopeDrink found a tool that can be applied to frame traps with FA’s. If you land a CH lvl1 FA or a lvl3 FA, you can buffer in your dash and get enough back-charge to land a dash punch or Ultra/Super against a grounded opponent. (Link)
Ex dashes are mostly safe on block (usually <= -3f) and will offer you the ability to armor cancel if they press a button, as well as absorb a single hit. They lose to armor breakers (moves that can hit twice before it goes active) and throws. Armor traps can also beat some non-ex.dps. For example if Ken does a reveral dp after TAP, you can ex.dash absorb a hit and knock him out of his DP. This goes double for DPs that have 5f startup and only hit once. Beware that reversal specials break armor, but you have the options of baiting and blocking. And along with the focus-tech backdash, there’s less to be worried about.
In addition, Balrog can create armored frame traps by canceling laggy normals into focus attacks, charging briefly and dashing. For example if Balrog sweep is blocked and the opponent attempts to punish with a normal or they see you FADC and attempt to crouch-tech, you can absorb the hit, dash forward and grab, or release for crumple stun which will hit SOME crouching opponents.
An issue that Balrog may come up against are invincible frame traps (he has them as well, but they’re significantly more unsafe). For example if Rufus or Ryu reads you and thinks/notices that you mash throw/crouch-tech during block string he can setup a 2-4f trap with ex.dp/ex.mk and FADC backdash if you block. Invincible frame traps are different in terms of Balrog because his only offensive option is to ex.hb which can’t be made safe. For example, if Ryu frame traps with dp, his non-ex dp can be beat with a reversal ex.dash (if its not a reversal), but his ex.dp cannot. Balrog’s only offensive option is to ex.hb, which will pass through Ryu and allow Balrog to follow-up with any ground combo in range. *Especially in AE, where his grounded recovery for headbutt on whiff has been increased. In Super, if the opp does ex.dp and Balrog does ex.hb, he’d land and recover first, but in AE, he may either be even with recovery, or worse. * With Ryu specifically, DP xx FADC backdash has about an 8-frame gap with about 2-3 character spaces. In the corner, this is probably in range for normals, but mid-screen, its only in range for U1 and Super.
Also Ken’s CH hp.dp causes free juggle, so he can land full animation U1. Keep this in mind when he has meter.
After a blocked TAP you’re at a frame disadvantage, but few opponents have moves that can attack you before you recover. You can condition an opponent to always attempt to guess after a TAP if they’re not reaction punishing like they should. They have the frame advantage, but at best they ALWAYS have to guess on block. You can space a TAP (like dash punch) to be out of range for throws, you can even space it where you can walk out of a grab reversal (since a throw doesn’t cause any proximity blocking). TAP on block, works a lot like Ken’s tatsu mixups on hit.
After a blocked TAP you can grab, headbutt, high/low ex.dash or defensively backdash/neutral jump. The best kind of offensive mix-up is alternating between low ex.dashes and throws. For example, if you’re facing a shoto, a high ex.dash will beat most non-ex.dps (Akuma’s hp.dp ALWAYS wins). As all ex.dashes are vulnerable to throws (and reversals), this loses to a throw (but will beat some crouch-techs). And then offensively, ex.hb beats all of those options, although it will whiff against low profiling attacks. Ex.dashes will beat most pokes that aren’t cancelled into specials that are invincible through some of their active frames (or they will trade).
A tick throw works by performing a special/normal then attempting a grab very close after. This is easiest after moves that have negative frame advantage. This is why TAP works so great if your op blocks instead of reaction punishing. Tick throwing can come in two forms, hit ticks and whiff ticks. Most characters use hit ticks like Balrog (TAP-throw, jab-throw) but grapplers like Zangief will use whiff ticks like st.hk - lp.spd OR in Balrog’s case against Fuerte he can do j.hk, cl.hk (whiff) U2. Whiff combos work because of proximity blocking to some degree. 1) You can’t jump out of whiffed attacks for example gief’s st.hk if done in range can’t be jumped out of, especially if you’re crouching; 2)if you’re holding back anticipating it hitting you, you’re planted in place briefly because of proximity blocking, so to backdash you’ve gotta go into neutral first. Whiff ticks simply throw you off; they’re completely avoidable using neutral jump/backdash.
Balrog has whiff tick options during an opponents wakeup. This is most useful against opponents who have 5f invincible reversals. You can train your opponent with, say, a meaty jab, and then time it so that the meaty jab is maybe a frame or two off. This will allow you to recover in time to block if they do a reversal. After doing this, you can jab on their wakeup so it whiffs, and then just throw as they’re anticipating having to block the jab (since they can’t throw a meaty jab on wakeup).
Balrog can also tick throw on block with other attacks utilizing 2 ex bars for FADC. Balrog is at most -1 after focus attack dash canceling dash punches and some normals, thus an immediate tick throw will always connect if in range since the opp will have left blockstun. Good attacks to use this are cr.hk, lp.ds. You can also use autodash U2 to do the same thing and catch an opponent who attempts to tech your throw or backdash to avoid the throw. Keep in mind that this is a “late tech” situation.
Some characters are very difficult to grab because of how their grab hitbox expands and contracts depending on whether they are crouching or standing. Balrog is one of those characters; if he crouches, stands, and crouches again, his hitbox actually pushes him further away from the opponent (this happens mid-screen and in the corner) so he’s out of grab range. This happens with characters whose stances are somewhat hunched over so the bulk of their torso is behind their feet and arms (compare and contrast Dudley and Balrog with shotos).