Individual+Team Ability (ITA) > Team Ability (TA) > Individual Ability (IA), imo
The problem that most people seem to have is that they either
A) Focus too much on IA and end up with either negligible team synergy or they end up capable of playing one or two of their characters, and only comprehend using the other(s) well enough to use them as assists.
B) Focus too much on TA and end up in a situation where, once their assists are eliminated or their specific team construction is broken down (via Snapbacks, for example) they’re practically incapable of continuing.
In reality, you need to find a balance of both.
Using my primary team as an example, they all work as anchors, they all work as point characters, and they all work with each other to perform some function. I’ve practiced enough with them that I can play them in whatever order I put them or if my team gets re-arranged by snapbacks I don’t have to become overly concerned with switching X character back onto point. I’ve even got functioning TACs with them from any order they might be in, not to mention very reliable DHC options that work both defensively and offensively. Their assists also all work to help each other in some way no matter what the order is
Vergil | Wesker -> Free OTG for Vergil
Wesker | Virgil -> Mixup assist for Wesker
Vergil | Akuma -> Mixup assist for Vergil
Akuma | Vergil -> Reasonable lockdown/mixup assist for Akuma
Wesker | Akuma -> Mixup assist for Wesker
Akuma | Wesker -> Unblockable option/easier OTG for Akuma
Granted you can’t always have the kind of situation that I’ve managed to concoct where all 3 characters work so well in such a manner, but you should ALWAYS, imo, at least shoot for such.
What that means is that at bare minimum you want to have 2 reliable point characters and 1 decent assist. If you take the odd route many people seem to take and have 1 point and 2 assists (or 1 character you can use with 2 backups), you’re just asking for problems, and that’s no matter how good you may think that you are. And even if you just consider one of your characters to be an assist, you still need to take the time to learn the character well enough to not only be able to play that character, but also comprehend what that character can do in conjunction with the other two. All too many times I’ve seen people lose games just because someone snapped-in their “assist” character and killed it. Shit like that shouldn’t happen. Hell, I personally get a little happy when people snap in most of my characters. They’ve lost a meter to cause what is typically a negligible effect on my effectiveness to play my team.
Another issue that people have is trying too hard to “tier whore.” Granted, if you look at the characters I play I seem to be doing precisely that, but in actuality I’m still playing all the same characters I’ve been playing since week 1 of Vanilla. For that matter, they’re even pretty much in the same order; my 2nd team is entirely the same, my first team has Vergil where I originally had Dante before I decided to swap him and Phoenix, and my 3rd has added Strider where Ammy used to be and I’m getting ready to dive deeper into learning one of my old vanilla favorites to put on it. I hand-picked the characters I intended to learn and play -before- Vanilla was even released and just stuck with them (except Wolverine… bored me to death). I’m just very fortunate that they all turned out to be good characters. But I digress…
“Tier whoring” will get you somewhere, but not nearly as far as you might think. It’s better to pick characters that you either have favoritism towards or simply enjoy as a character in most situations. Why? Because typically you’ll be much more willing to put in the effort it takes to truly learn those characters and apply effort towards comprehending how they work on more than a surface level. Using Doom as an example, he’s one of the two characters that I decided to play that wasn’t on my pre-release list of picks (the other being Spencer). I played through his tutorial and immediately placed him on my 3rd team even though I was completely terrible with him for the first month of the game’s existence. But because he was a character I just wanted to play, I kept at him until I got it, even though at the time people were still saying he was just an “assist character.”
Now, there will legitimately be times that you’d be better off putting a character on a team you might not necessarily enjoy playing. For example, Sentinel’s Drones assist is worth getting rid of another character for in many situations. Granted, it’s not a must have if you’re willing to work at things (lord knows I would have had a much easier time in Vanilla in several situations if I used Drones like everyone else), but assists like that offer a justifiable reason to sometimes ignore playing a character on a team. Hell, I’m actually probably one of the few players who has never played Sentinel in any at all serious manner; be it as an assist character or otherwise. When so many folks started picking him up for being “OP” (lulz) I was working out ways to make sure he didn’t have to be touched more than 1 time to die. Efforts like that are what will up your game, not just bandwagoning through the “best” characters.
Now if you’re only interested in the casual aspect of playing, by all means, play whatever. Otherwise people need to start taking the time to examine more than a tier list when they’re making their teams.
As I said before, I’ve been fortunate that all of the characters I happen to like to play are good characters, but even if that weren’t the case I’d still be pretty well off because I’m one of those players who doesn’t concern themselves with playing what the general community identifies as “the best” and focuses more on learning to play what ME decides the best is. Furthermore, I take the time to learn, in-depth, any character and team I decide to play. I don’t ever want to have a situation where I lose a match because of something as simple as a snapback or because I relied on tier-whoring to win a game instead of actual knowledge of the character(s) I’m playing.
That actually brings me to my final point of this response that probably no one will actually read.
Do -not- get so comfortable in your characters or abilities that you stop learning. Learning your own characters and teams is great, but the first time somebody plays a group of characters that you don’t have the slightest clue what to expect from, you’ll probably be screwed all the same. At bare minimum, go through the tutorials of EVERY character in the game. MINIMUM! Even if you don’t finish them, you’ll at least have some basic level of knowledge of the character. Even a basic understanding of a character goes a long way towards counterplay against a character or strategy.
Final Round (or moreso, it’s aftermath) is actually a good example of the lost concept of “know thy enemy.” People seem to have just been in awe at the potential disaster Raccoon’s log assist could cause. To anyone who bothered to at least tinker around with the character, the potential level of fuckery behind such an assist should already have been blatantly obvious, even without in-depth knowledge of the character.
It’s almost equally as important to learn your own characters/teams as it is to take a look at the other characters in the game just for the sake of achieving a basic level of understanding about them, and that’s definitely one critical thing to learn for fighting games in general (and loosely, in life itself). You can know every combo for every character you play down to the animation and frame data behind every single input of all of the your character’s and team’s abilities and it won’t do you a lick of good if you have no concept of what you’re up against when it comes time to take the training wheels off and face your enemy. This concept is broken down to the simple term “matchup experience” within the fighting game community. And although matchup experience is best acquired by facing others, it all starts by taking the time to learn the basics of what you might be up against on your own. It’s pretty damn difficult to know what to do about something you can’t even begin to comprehend, no matter how much you think you already know.
-----------------------------------TL; STFU Tragedy; TMTR (Too much to read)--------------------------------
Don’t focus on just team or individual ability at the cost of having thorough understanding of both.
Realize there’s more to your team than individual combos. Understand your TAC, THC, and DHC options as well.
Don’t get caught up in the order of your team; know how your team works forwards, backwards, sideways, upside-down and inside-out.
Don’t worry so much about tiers and focus more on playing characters that you like to play while simultaneously attempting to make them “fit” whatever you’re doing, and try to cover any weaknesses that may be presented to the best of your abilities.
Don’t tier whore, but don’t neglect the potential that an “assist character” could bring to the table. If you decide to do that, learn your assist character, even if you hate it.
Don’t presume you know everything just because you know your characters or team, their/its frame data, or watch every stream that ever happens. Have a personal understanding of thine enemy’s as well.
[*]Make sure your team’s colors match. Maybe it’s just me, but I play better when my team matches; plus I like them that way. (See the 12 paragraphs related to point 4 on why liking things is important)