At least that’s what I call it. Oh and be forewarned, if you don’t want to read a long post, just leave and don’t make a comment. “This post is too long” there I said it, your job’s done you can go away now.
Anyway, ever since this game came out and frame data became available I’ve noticed something about this game that I’ve been pointing out to people, some online, some IRL and pretty much just anywhere anybody will listen. Characters with 5 frame medium normals (standing or crouching) generally have an advantage in SFV that can’t be understated.
Now let me back up before I explain that. And for the record I’m trying to make this post about facts more so than opinions, so try to keep that in mind.
We all knew that SFV wasn’t going to be USFIV. Some people like this about it, some don’t, personally I don’t care.
We all saw that Combofiend said they didn’t want one frame links and option selects in the game. (Even though there are option selects in the game, this early we can probably agree they aren’t as impactful as they were in USFIV where their knowledge and implication was more or less necessary for high level play.)
One of the complaints some had about USFIV is that you got too much damage from the combos that resulted from connecting with a light normal, because if you had the one-frame link timing down, light normals could lead to huge combos with many characters. People didn’t feel like they should lose 40+% of their life because they did a move that was -3 on block. I’m not here to debate whether this was a good thing or a bad thing, just stating it as a fact cause it’s important to my discussion about SFV.
It’s pretty obvious that this was removed from SFV. Most characters get comparatively very little damage from combos resulting from light normals in SFV, and on top of that they require pretty tight (3 frame I believe) links/reaction time. Yeah it’s easier than a one frame link, but there were techniques to help with those like plinking/pianoing and eventually it was no longer about “reacting” but simple muscle memory once you’d successfully punished that -3 move with the first hit of the combo. Part of what I’m getting at is, in reality, humans don’t have 2 frame reaction time. They don’t even have 5 or 6. Now there we go, I KNOW I just said the first thing in this post that someone will disagree with. “I get 1 frame links all the time” or “I used to crouch tech throws in USFIV on the regular, and that was only 3/4 frames.” The point I’m making is, if you think you have 3 frame reaction time, try to react to something unexpected outside of a video game in .05 seconds. You’re driving down the highway at 60mph and the truck in front of you kicks up a medium-sized rock right at you, are you swerving out of the way, or do you have a fresh crack in your windshield? Cause that’s an example of something that happens in “3 frames” worth of time more or less. Let’s not bring up the fact that by a pure physics standpoint this is a bad example because of vehicle size, obstructions in the other lane, and the gradient at which the wheel is turned etc. etc. if it were possible to dodge that rock in that amount of time, everyone still gets hit by that rock, unless maybe they were playing “rock dodge simulator” and knew that there was a strong possibility of it happening or that it was literally an inevitability. The ability to correctly anticipate a situation you expect to happen factors into your “reaction time.”
In fighting games we’re never truly reacting to what we’re seeing and processing with our eyes, we’re reacting to the situation. Let’s say in USFIV your opponent scored a hard knockdown on you and then waited briefly and did what you know to be a safe jump, you see all of this and think “they’re probably going to try to throw me because it’s the fastest move they have and we’ll be at point blank range, I should crouch tech.” And then you do, and then you brag about having a 3 frame reaction time. No, you started reacting the instant you got hard knocked-down, that’s more like a 40~50 frame reaction time with a 3 frame execution window in which you’re expected to actually do something, but your brain was “reacting” to the situation the whole time. The same could be said if you’re the one knocking your opponent down, you already knew that was a possibility, you already had a plan for what to do if it happened. Let’s use another example; red parries in 3s. It’s been awhile but IIRC red parries are parries that are performed within 2 or fewer frames of the move being parried and you’re basically only ever doing them to interrupt blockstrings. Despite this, in my opinion, they’re not very hard and there are some situations in which red parries should basically always happen. A blocked Ken SA3 or Q SA1, the last hit of Dudley’s machine gun blow, the s.lp or the s.lk in Yun’s “divekick to Gen-Ei-Jin” setup which is divekick>s.lp>s.lk>s.mp>(shoulder or gen ei jin activate) the last hit of Yang’s s.mp>s.hp>b.hp target combo, or the last hit of Necro’s hook. Red parrying in these situations is not that difficult for seasoned 3s players, even though you only have a 2 frame “execution window” you had the entire length of the blockstring up until that point to “prepare” to hit that 2 frame window. It’s not visibly seeing and reacting to the move, it’s reacting to the situation, and in every case I’ve shown, you have in reality way way more than 2 frames to do that.
So the point I’m trying to make is this. We all know, or should know by now that there’s essentially two fundamental components of a fighting game; the mechanical side such as execution and hit confirming, and the mindgames/rock-paper-scissors side such as correctly anticipating your opponent’s next move or “training” them to do a certain thing. Because of the, for lack of a better term “priority” system in SFV, where mediums crush lights if they trade, and heavys crush mediums and lights if they trade, putting moves on the screen in “neutral” scenarios, as footsies mainly, often scores counter hits, which buys you a few more precious frames to hit confirm with, or perhaps allows a combo that is otherwise impossible without counter hit. Being able to take advantage of this situation is what separates good players from not-so-good players in SFV, and usually, there’s only about 5 frames in which to take an action before your “window” is up and we’re right back to a completely chaotic situation, by which I mean a neutral situation at basically point blank range when everyone wants to touch buttons ASAP. A lot of us have probably heard Arturo or some other pro player say something like “SFV is about figuring out when your turn is.” Well, the window for your “turn” is about 5 frames long, basically.
PSA: I’m a not-so-good player at SFV, but that doesn’t mean I’m not right about this. What I see here, and I think it might be problematic, is that characters with 5 frame mediums can more or less avoid the neutral game mixup blender, and even the footsie game if they simply follow up every thing they put on the screen that leaves them +2 or more on block, or their opponent -2 or more when blocked with a 5 frame medium. “Yeah, Spectre, that’s called a frame trap” I’m sure you’ll say, yeah it is, but because of the way this game works, it’s also a one button option select. Option selects function by “automatically choosing the thing that correctly stuffs the option your opponent chose.” Well, in SFV if you have a character with a 5 frame medium, if executed with perfect timing, that button always stuffs everything your opponent can do as long as you’re within that window of them being -2 or worse, or you being +2 or greater. It stuffs neutral jumps, backdashes, 3 frame normals (the fastest non-super-non reversal moves in the game) and throws. If your opponent does anything other than block, they always get hit by the medium, or worse, counter hit, potentially leading to huge damage because you have more time to hit confirm off of mediums than lights. This maybe wouldn’t be so bad if -2 and +2 weren’t both really common frames for moves to leave you at. The reason for this is that if more moves were -3, that’d be punishable by jabs creating a USFIV situation, and if more were +3 or better, well since there’s no real “get off me” move in SFV like parries or focus attacks, the frame traps would be way too legit. There’s V-reversal, but compared to the two I just listed, it’s kinda lacking because unlike the two options I just mentioned, it requires meter (which you might not have,) can’t net guaranteed damage, is character specific as to whether it’s better used offensively, and can even be beaten by an option select throw in rare cases (which might become more prevalent since that’s just been discovered.)
The other problem this “5 frame normal” setup causes is that once a defending player knows about this, the threat of that move allows the advantaged player to get away with things that are otherwise within the parameters of SFV maybe not that great of an idea. Most jabs and shorts are 3 or 4 frames in this game meaning they beat throws clean. But if my opponent knows that I know that their 5 frame normal beats my jab because of the frame trap or frame disadvantage, they can just choose to throw me, (or worse, command throw me) because if I jab or if I throw, I lose to their medium and get comboed for huge damage. What this means is, if my opponent is properly using mixup and not just always choosing the frame-perfect one button OS that there’s literally no way out of (which forces me to take chip damage too, lets not forget,) Capcom expects me to react to a 5 frame move (by which I mean either the medium, or a throw, they’re both 5 frames.) And yeah I know “you can V-reversal.” Sure, IF I have the meter, but doing a V-reversal might be bad for the reasons I mentioned above, and they can also possibly bait it and block/interrupt it. I see people doing V-reversals a lot, but in my mind the jury’s still out on how much they swing the game in your favor, if at all. You might tell me you could potentially also do a move that has armor (if you have one) or an EX move that has armor (if you can afford to risk it and use the meter) keep in mind though, things like FANG’s 2-hit 5 frame s.mk, or Chun in V-trigger can potentially still blow this up. So those are your options really. Keep blocking, take chip damage and hope to survive the mixup, or use meter (EX armor/V-reversal/super) if you have it, because doing literally anything else will get you hit and probably lose you the round. Note, I’m not saying that the fact that this is how the game works is a bad thing per se, but I do think this is in fact how the game works. Most matches are decided in this oft-occurring “magic” 5 frame window that exists between -2 and +2 frames, where proper (i.e guaranteed) punishment doesn’t exist, but some characters have a massive advantage because they happen to have a normal that stuffs virtually every option their opponent has, and there’s no reason for them not to do it 100% of the time, unless they actually feel like doing mixup just to be scary. Also, if you happen to be fighting against an opponent whose fastest normal is a 4 frame move, then 6 frame mediums serve this same purpose.
And yes, I know I never talked about spacing off of blockstrings, which is super super important, but that comes from character specific matchup knowledge, and/or the opponent not realizing their move will whiff (which they should realize, and therefore not do,) and typically speaking, you don’t have too many more than 5 frames to whiff punish anyway (remember we’re talking specifically about 5 frame medium attacks.) Making sure you don’t whiff your blockstring/counter hit OS does matter for the sake of keeping pressure, but it doesn’t really affect the 5-frame window for reactions, especially if the opponent knows that move will blow them up if you don’t whiff, why would they touch a button in that scenario? I feel like “spacing your blockstrings correctly, and whiff punishing when your opponent fails to do this” is a thing that’s not really going to come into play in a match with less than highly skilled players. If you’re the kind of player who’s keen to this and takes advantage of it, good for you, you’re leveling up, most players aren’t there yet and lots probably never will be.
Then we have the situation for “what do I do when the window is between -1 and +1 frames?” Nothing is guaranteed here, everything is chaotic, but your best bet is probably your fastest move, which is probably a 3 frame jab, that you’ll have no more than 3 frames to hit confirm off of if you want more damage. If you don’t confirm though, you’ll instantly reset the scenario you were literally just in, you’ll be at point blank range with around 3 to 5 frames to make a decision. Also, lights cancel into lights, so if you’re mashing you’ll get a useless 2 hit combo, probably push yourself too far away to even threaten with your 5 frame move (assuming you have one) and never get the confirm. A lot of players will tell you “just block” but that’s a stylistic choice in this situation tbh, and if you don’t have a 5 frame reaction time, probably a bad idea, what if your opponent decides to throw you? 3 frame moves do stuff things within this tiny window (and 3 frame moves also stuff 6 or higher frame moves in situations when the person doing the jab is -2 and the spacing is right) so hitting jab or short is not always a bad idea, contrary to the opinion of people who play characters that get huge damage off of 5 frame mediums and tell you you should never touch a button unless you intend to hit confirm into huge damage off of it, by the way it also helps if that button is +2 on block thereby resetting the situation every time and eliminating the need to think about your options. Yeah I’m talking to you, Karin players. B)
Here’s the one place where I’ll tell you that what I’m saying is an opinion: I feel it’s problematic when some characters have this built in, and others don’t. We maybe didn’t realize it at the time, but the fact that SF had 3 frame throws before now was the great equalizer, if someone was point blank before now, throwing was your safest high percentage option for both players, ironically resulting in a tech most of the time. Throws were so good it basically made point blank mixup more difficult, more risky, and less likely to happen. Now that they’re 5 frames, it’s trouble because 5 frames is still too fast to physically react to, but it loses to more than just throws/crouch techs (which no longer exist.) You might be able to sneak one in as a mixup meaning throws are still a “good idea,” but 5 frames also happens to be the sweet spot for the highest percentage chance of getting blown the fuck up if you guess wrong, or have less than frame perfect timing, meaning throws are actually a terrible idea, and the sad thing is, most of us still do them out of reflexive habit. And correct me if I’m wrong here, but if a 5 frame throw trades with a 5 frame normal, the throw loses (at least that’s what I’ve noticed in training mode.)
I don’t have a problem with mixup, but I kinda have a problem with that mixup having to exist within only a 3~5 frame window most of the time because 5 frame moves cover so many options, and I kinda have a problem with that scenario being repeated 20 or so times per match, The fact is, most new players, average players, and older players like myself who have a diminishing reaction time due to aging, can’t pull off the combined 2 factored mindgames and execution required to outperform their opponents in a window that small. What this means is, SFV has a much larger gap between high level play, and not high level play than pretty much any other Street Fighter to date (except maybe SF2.) That could wind up being a very bad thing for the prolonged life of the game, but then again the online F2P “new character every X months” marketing strategy might keep less than great players playing the game too, it’s too early to tell.
Now if you think I’m wrong about this, I’m willing to admit that, but I want to see the proof. Why do I say this? Because if you can prove me wrong, and show it to us, then we can all learn how to work around what is honestly a very difficult and frustrating part of this game. If I’m wrong, and there’s options that people have to escape this type of thing that I’ve missed or gotten wrong, we all become better players. This thread wasn’t made to complain about the game, it was made to discuss a facet of the game that I think many players either don’t understand and get frustrated by because they view it as “random” or a facet that frustrates players like myself who honestly believe they know exactly what’s going on, and simply can’t find a practical solution other than “evolve superhuman reaction time” or “just guess.” (Personally I think even though both of those might work, neither of those are “practical” solutions.) I know I’m not a threat to win a tournament, and never will be, I’m not that dunning-kruger retarded, but one thing that I am is a veteran of the FGC who’s played fighting games for over 12 years at a tournament level. I feel like I kinda know what I’m talking about and when I’ve explained “Street Fighter 5-Frames” to some people, including some players who are vastly superior to me, they’ve agreed with me. But some (and in many cases it’s newer players who probably are dunning-kruger retarded) tell me I’m a complete idiot who has no idea what I’m talking about. Well, I’d like to find out, so, if you feel so obliged, prove me wrong, but be aware, I’m here for discussion and learning, I will discuss any videos or responses to this thread that you submit, and I expect that discussion to be civil. I want to actually figure this out communally, and I will report your post if all you do is come in here and say “lol u dumb.”
USFIV was all about “block and punish” and I honestly think that in SFV that’s a less correct way to play (not completely wrong, but less correct.) Street Fighter 5-Frames is about rapidly forcing situations in which your opponent doesn’t have the reaction time to properly stop to the thing you’re going to do, in part thanks to the fact that your character might very well have an option that single-handedly stuffs everything they can possibly do. It’s up to us to decide if this is 1) true, and 2) if true, acceptable enough for us to want to keep playing the game. I’d like to think I and others have what it takes to rise to this level, but I also feel like the bar has been set higher than ever, and I’m starting to wonder if I or even most players are even capable of reaching it.
I guess if you want a TL;DR it’s this: Capcom expects us to have a 5 frame or quicker reaction time because there are 5 frame moves in the game that in common situations function like option selects by stuffing everything your opponent can do, and are never not a bad idea in those situations, this allows throw mixup to be a real thing, but throws are also 5 frames so either “true” reaction time or “pure guessing” is forced onto the player being pressured. I’m not sure a true 5 frame reaction time is something that most humans, even the ones who play games competitively, can reliably achieve and repeatedly demonstrate, but I’ll give it a shot I guess. If you disagree, feel free to read my post and show me how I’m wrong. If you can show me I’m wrong, then we’ll all learn from it and that’s a good thing. If you think I’m wrong and can’t prove it, just keep your mouth shut for your own sake please, we should all be focused on learning this particular game’s mechanics and nuances, and I think what I’ve identified here is a really important one.