Here is my attempt to create a comprehensive guide on the subject of team building as well as how to get the most synergy out of one’s existing teams in Street Fighter x Tekken. Constructing an optimal team and using it to full potential are among the most important aspects to master in SFxT, and since 100% of it is mental and pre-planned there is no excuse not to have a firm grasp of these concepts. I believe that finding a synergystic team in the long run will always be better than just playing your two strongest characters, and much of the lack of character differentiation at the higher levels stems from people not taking the time to explore team building and how certain characters can be used. It is my goal to provide a source of detailed information and analysis to those just getting into the game and/or unfamiliar with team building, but it would also thrill me if more advanced players learned a thing or two and/or became inspired to re-examine some of the teams they have been repping.
As for the rest of the topic, I’ll be happy to turn it into a kind of Rate my Team thread, where people can bring in their current teams and stables (more on them later) and myself and other posters can assess its synergy and make suggestions.
I welcome all critiques and comments.
**Chapter 1) Point and Anchor: A Tale of Two Trades **
In this chapter, I will discuss the concept of point (1st) and anchor (2nd) characters, explaining the roles each position is meant to accomplish and the qualities necessary to be successful in each position. In addition to giving quick examples of characters designed for either point or anchor use, I will cover those that occupy a gray area in the middle, and convey the significance of not seeing the two roles as black and white.
Section 1: The Point Character.
The Point character is the one who starts the fight every round. A strong point character must be self-sufficient, versatile, set up the anchor character in his or her ideal situation, and above all dictate the pace and positioning of the battle from the first second on.
The point character’s ability to dictate the pace and positioning of the match from the start of each round is their most integral role to fulfill. There are sundry ways in which to accomplish this: a strong zoning game, versatile rushdown tools, and an impressive poke and footsy game. Selecting a character first that possesses** at least one of these options is essential. Poison exemplifies this rule **because she not only has a suitable zoning game with her projectile and long pokes but also is capable of pressuring her opponent with other tools such as Love Me Tender and fireball traps, and thus can start the match either way depending on her partner and the opponent’s own point (Get it? She goes both ways…).
A point character must also be able to execute their gameplan without relying heavily upon meter. Meter adds a variety of options to every character and should never be ignored, but some require certain EX moves to approach efficiently or utilize signature strings. Such characters are ill-suited on point because they do not have access to meter at the start of round 1 and it is not guaranteed in later rounds either. Sagat’s special moves gain relatively little utility when used in their EX form, allowing him to function fine without needing them constantly. Thus, he can save meter to either give to his partner or tag cancel Tiger Uppercuts for often safe, always brutal tag combos.
Just as important as not spending excessive meter is the ability to quickly build it, and so many point characters should be adept at building meter faster and more efficiently than their opponents. Some of SFxT’s scariest anchors require a great deal of meter to be effective, and thus should be paired with those who ensure them consistent access to it. Characters can build meter by whiffing attacks and CADCing, outside the usual attacking of course. This means the best for building meter are those such as zoners who use attacks fullscreen, especially the ones whose chargable move is safe to use or bait with from a distance, like Guile or Ryu.** **M. Bison in particular can spam his super-chargeable Double Knee Press as well as his Devil Reverse and Follow-Up to build meter and goad opponents into making unwise approaches or risk you stocking up.
Additionally, a point character should ensure that they tag their partner into whatever situation is ideal for them. In most cases, this means possessing a strong footsy game so they can close the gap and tag the anchor in right up in the enemy’s face. Normally, any universal launcher will do or tag canceled move that starts a juggle. On the other hand, there are many moves such as Bob’s Cracker/Giga Jacker and Ryu’s Joudan that send the opponent a full screen away, allowing for a safe tag into a zoning anchor and giving them the space they need to start their shenanigans.
Every character benefits from hard knockdowns, which prevent a foe from teching their wake ups, but mix-up and oki oriented anchors such as Paul Phoenix particularly enjoy points such as Jin and Zangief who cause hard knockdowns on many of their unique and special moves and tag canceled command throws respectively. It prevents them from having to end their tag-in combos on sweeps to achieve the hard knockdown.
Finally, just as we will later learn that anchors pride themselves on dealing high damage on tag ins, some point characters can deal abnormally high damage pre-tag, or have certain moves that lead into more powerful tags. Ken is considered to be one of the strongest point characters due to his ability not only to use Target Combo into launcher rather than a Light starting Boost on punishes and jump-ins, but also more importantly HK Ground Tatsu, if tag canceled early enough gives his partner enough time to perform a free jump in combo. Be sure to remember moves that keep the opponent occupied for a while, such as Tatsus, Hwoarang’s HK Hunting Hawk, and Steve’s Gatling Punch, because they can open up huge tag combo potential.
Section 2: The Anchor
At the birth of Street Fighter x Tekken, several characters were heavily neglected on account of possessing poor neutral game options, something that is often synonymous with a death knell in other fighters. While it is inarguable that some characters are, umm, lacking, these shunned characters are meant to occupy the role as secondary, or anchor characters, and are thus constructed differently than would be allowed in, say, SFIV where the 2v2 mechanic does not exist. Anchor characters often lack many of the footsies and/or other tools to get in or out on their own against the majority of the cast, but in exchange, they possess qualities to ensure that once they are in proper position they shall remain so until the enemy is dead, predominantly through either a high straight damage output or a high potential damage output through mixups, oki, and resets.
Hugo and Heihachi are two prominent examples of anchors, as a straight damage and potential damage anchor respectively. It don’t take no rocket surgeon to tell Hugo hits like a locomotive and has a modest amount of options such as his body splash, armored attacks, and CH Leap Attack to go into his mammoth damage once he finds his comfort zone. The hitboxes on many of his limbs are deceptively small, however, and while his antics can ruin the day of a beginner he can find it nearly impossible to successfully approach experienced players. Heihachi’s snail walk and telegraphed options from far out give him similar problems as Hugo, but once he gets close his mixups, counter move, and hurtbox altering pokes all serve to put his opponent through hell just trying to react to his offense. Gee, if only there was a way for these fullscreen-deficient characters to start immediately in the mid-short game…
Besides mitigating the footsy and fireball games, the anchor position also offers characters the opportunity to start their offense sitting on the meter provided them by the battery in point. King for instance desperately requires meter to be utilized to his full potential. His EX Konvict Kick is likely his single best tool, for this safe attack is able to turn any boost, jump in, or hit confirm combo into either a big damage combo by linking Knee Lift or a mixup reset by linking elbow rush (he can even do both if meter allows). Additionally, King desperately needs the Strike immunity granted to the EX variations of his command grabs to prevent him from being jabbed out of them in many of his key mixups. By pairing the likes of King with point characters who are not as meter hungry, the team is better able to streamline its projected meter use and ensure both characters run optimally.
Lastly, it is important to know that many anchors are highly specialized in what I call sub-games, and should ideally be used only within the parameters of these games. These are often derived from Tekken more than Street Fighter, and the two most common sub-games are the Oki Game (the guessing game that ensues after you knock down the opponent) and the Corner Game (self explanatory). Paul Phoenix, largely thought to be the worst character overall (and he’s definitely not top tier >_>) actually has a great deal of tool for both of these games, and thus thrives in the two environments. His Mountain Raze allows him to corpse hop and cross up foes without needing to telegraph a jump, he has the strongest normal throw in the game, and his possession of a low-hitting OS and a mid-hitting auto-correct attack give him a 50/50 mixup regardless of whether or not the opponent forward rolls. The last part is also integral to his corner game (where rolls are more common), and in addition he gains access to more damaging and safer combos when the opponent’s back is to the wall. Characters like Paul may seem pretty useless in most facets of the game (and in fact, he is), but if used correctly in the anchor position they can dominate in his or her favored sub-games.
So that’s the gist of it. Characters in the primary position should function as closely to those seen in 1v1 fighters: they must be largely self-sufficient. Even so, the best ones have sundry tricks in their bags to actively help the anchor through building meter, setting the pace, and starting damaging tag combos. Characters in the secondary position are allowed to lack many of the elements necessary for the point and make up for it by playing specialized games and emitting huge amounts of damage, thus ending rounds faster (and really, isn’t that what a whole bunch of you are complaining about?). The tag engine of SFxT allowed the developers to create highly focused characters to serve as either point or anchor that could never exist in the roster of 1v1 fighters. It saddens me that many of these are overlooked when creating a team because “they lack the complete game possessed by X and Y,” when even these seemingly complete characters really only function as half a character since they must be paired with another in the first place.
Coming Soon: Section 3: Those who occupy the gray area.