So here’s how I wanna do this:
I’m gonna break this all down into specific match-ups, and I wanna get as in-depth as necessary for the matches. This will constantly get updated with good information, so it’s not such a search to find good shit.
If you have really good info, it’ll go into the first post.
Get your shit off first. Abel’s reversal options are pretty bad, so you definitely don’t want to be put on the defensive. Get out there early and keep pressure up. Look out for TT’s (Normal or EX). In a lot of situations, they’re gonna be Abel’s best defensive option. As we all know, TT is heavily punishable when whiffed, so look to bait it from time to time. I like to neutral jump, because it’s a good way to avoid TT, while only leaving a small window for the opposing Abel to escape/reverse.
Obviously, if both Abel’s take the above advice, somebody is going to be forced to go on defense. When Abel is coming at you, just relax. He’s not doing anything you don’t know about (more than likely).
I’m normally willing to take the risk of trying to EX Roll out of almost any reversal situation. Sure, it loses to throws, but I’ll risk taking a throw if it means I can get out on a successful guess. You’ve gotta try something, and it’s a much less risky option than EX TT (which is what most Abel’s seem to go for more often). I’d rather risk eating a throw, than risk eating neutral jump RH-> big combo, that’s gonna put me right back into the same situation.
Umm… nothing really. It’s Abel. You should already know…
A Drop of Juice
Shit… Long range, you lose. Mid range, you lose. Close range, he teleports. Fuck.
Fuck it. Go in. Not that this is a winning strategy, but it’s my current take on the Akuma fiight. Again, long range, you’ve got nothing really. Mid range, you’re gonna get raped by s. RH. You have no answer for it. Even neutral jumping it doesn’t really work too well. Akuma has the advantage from every angle here, IMO. The biggest thing you have to remember in this fight is just that you have a lot of life, and he doesn’t. You’re going to take damage, since he outclasses you from every point on the screen. Don’t just sacrifice that damage. Use every opportunity to get close. Whenever you’re able to get close to Akuma and put him on the defensive, just know that unless you’ve managed to push him into the corner (a pretty tough task), he’s got multiple viable options for reversal, and he’s pretty much gonna use one.
That means, you might as well not even attempt grab set-ups. It’s a waste of a decent opportunity. You’re gonna eat a DP, or he’s gonna slide up out of there. My general thought process goes like this… whenever I’m facing a Shoto, my major goal is to make them nervous, and bait a DP. Now, Akuma’s aren’t gonna go for DP’s early on, because they can teleport out, and regain control of the match for free. They keep composure. So, when I create a point-blank opportunity, my next move is to cover the teleport. I’ll get to point blank, and just do RH Roll. Fuck it. Punish that shit hard.
Now, again, this loses to throw, of course. It also just wastes an up-close opportunity if they just block… but they’re not gonna just block, more than likely. To me, it’s a chance you have to take. I’ve said it before, but I believe the mark of a good Abel is in the Abel’s ability to defer to the opponent on an opportunity. It’s not about brute force. It’s not about overwhelming rushdown. SF4 is too slow of a game, and Abel’s moves are too slow to come out for that to work. You have to create a situation, and plan for the likely counter. In this case, again, unless Akuma already has his back to the wall, cover the teleport.
This will open up a second layer mindgame for the next reversal opportunity Akuma gets (which will be right after you punish the teleport). At this point, you can work whatever your normal Abel mindfuck shit is. After you’ve compromised the teleport, Akuma becomes what I like to call a “fuckable character”. It’s how I think of Ryu and Sagat. I think Abel loses the fights (Ryu, more so than Sagat), but I think if he can get the opponent nervous, he can run through them. The challenge lies in challenging their comfort level.
So anyway, yeah… Punish teleport… Akuma becomes a much easier character to deal with at that point. Still really hard. Without teleport, he still has options, and if he manages to land a DP, he can resume his keepaway or mid range pressure game. You’re gonna lose that. Just make sure you take every opportunity you get, to hit Akuma as hard as you can, and keep him in the vortex for a little while.
Now, speaking of vortex, while I think smart Akuma’s will stay away from Abel, it’s not like Akuma loses to Abel at close range. Akuma can play that game too. If you eat a s. RH at mid range, you’re gonna get knocked down, and you’re gonna have to deal with j. RH/cross-up Hurricane/cross-up Forward mix-ups. Umm… as far as I know, there’s no easy way out. There’s no great move we have, and there’s no option select that I know of that covers multiple options. You just have to block, or look for a mistake by Akuma, so you can roll out. Now, I’ve been playing SF way too long, and I don’t really get hit by Akuma’s shit too much, but I don’t know how good the Akuma’s I’m playing really are. But, just generally, I don’t get crossed up. I’m pretty good at reading whether or not a move will cross me up, looking at jump trajectory, the take-off point, and, in this case, whether Akuma starts spinning (cross-up Hurricane). If you’re not very good at that yet, start to look at where your opponent jumps from. Learn the ranges. Now, good opponents will make that very hard. In that case… fuck it. Pick a side to block, and hope.
Then there’s also Dive Kick pressure. Good Dive Kick pressure is tough to deal with. He’s got so many options. If you’re playing a reckless Akuma, there will be gaps for you to respond with neutral jump RH or ROLL OUT, like Ludacris.
That’s against shitty Akuma’s.
Against good ones, you’re not gonna have that kind of luck. I’ll have to get back to you guys on that one…
At the end of the day, you lose, so don’t play scared. Try to keep momentum for as long as you can, but do it intelligently. The best way to keep momentum against characters with excellent reversal options, again, is to understand that they are going to use them. Account for them, and keep control.
OK… so mind you… I haven’t been playing SF4 at all, but I did play for a week before NEC, because I was going to go, but then got lazy… anyway… I had been thinking about the Akuma fight off-and-on since I stopped playing, and developed a different idea about the fight, which… well… it was working on PSN Akumas during that one week I was playing…
So yeah, disclosure aside, here’s my plan. Keep what I said before… I still like it, but here’s how you deal with Akuma’s offense.
Yep. Genius, right? I posted it somewhere in this thread, but I want to put it here for posterity. On the ground, Akuma’s shit isn’t that damn tough to just block. Roundhouse pressure… meh. Just block. It’s so much harder to win when you try to reverse what’s happening to you, when, in reality… nothing is really happening to you. SF4 does not have a guard bar… there’s no reason to act like it does. Blocking is way less risky, takes less meter, and is a lot easier to do than trying to squeeze in some shit like EX TT/CoD in a tight-ass string, that might not even have Akuma in throw range, or might hit twice to nullify the EX CoD… whatever. Akuma’s offense does pretty much zero damage until he’s able to land a hit. His shit really isn’t that tricky on the ground, so there’s no reason to give it more credit than it really deserves. Block it out, and force him to start trying to throw you. Once Akuma has to throw, those holes that you’re trying to squeeze through but aren’t really there now? Yeah… those open up. He has to walk all the way up to you somehow.
Now, Akuma can still control that mix-up. Honestly though, I can’t think of any Akuma’s in the States that can work a good up-close Counter-Hit/Throw mix-up… because nobody fucking makes them. They just give away free damage.
So yeah, block. Late-tech, when he tries to throw. Or if you are feeling a little more brave, you can start to squeeze in TTs, or try to get a Low Jab off before he gets to you, and push him away or combo s. FP xx CoD, or whatever.
This manor of defense is so much easier, and, in my limited experience, much more effective than getting all antsy, and trying to force your way out through gaps that don’t even exist.
A Drop of Juice
The Rog match is another fight largely based on momentum. If you can get a knockdown, you can make it very hard on Rog, since he has limited wake-up options. If Rog can knock you down, Abel’s limited reversal options make it easy for Rog to maintain pressure and bait escape attempts to punish.
Because of this nature, some people believe this is a 5-5 match. I disagree because A) I think it’s easier for Rog to land his knockdown first, and B) I don’t think Rog needs to land the knockdown to win. Rog is in control of the fight from 99 Seconds. He’s just better at mid range. Footsies are great. Long range, quick pokes dominate Abel, and force him into situation where he has to try to focus/EX CoD/Roll/Jump. All of this plays into Rog’s hands (gloves?).
That being the case, my general approach to this fight is to start off kinda far away, and wait for Rog to lose patience. Lesser Rog players will start to do stupid stuff like jump (Low forward that shit), or just try to rush their way in with random Dash punches. If you have bar, you can EX CoD through these if you like (they’re more than likely not going to be going for the Armor Breaking ones at first) to get your knockdown. At that point, you can control the fight.
Against Rog’s that don’t suck, this is obviously going to be harder. A really good Rog understands that the onus is really on you to take risks in this match. I can’t really help with this, honestly. You just have to figure out the best way to get in on your opponent. Maybe throw in some Wheel Kicks to keep your opponent guessing… I don’t know. Rog can cover all of Abel’s best pressuring options, if he’s got the eye for it. But, nobody’s perfect. I like to focus at mid range, and hope Rog gives me something to crumple. This can work, but not consistently. What it does do, often times, is take the Rog’s mind off of what I’m doing to get close, and I can often fake a couple of focuses, and use some other method to get it. Dash, roll, Wheel Kick, whatever. Once you’re inside… see what you can do. There’s nothing really special up close for you to do. Well, Rog’s do mash jab, so EX TT is a move I use in this fight (it’s generally not a move I use too much in most other fights). Obviously it carries a large risk, so use it accordingly. But… it gets you your knockdown, and, to me, that’s worth the risk. Once you get your knockdown, the fun can start.
Rog’s wake-up options kinda suck. The ones you’re going to see the most are wake-up block (his best option, IMO. It’s what I’d use if I used Rog), Headbutt, EX Headbutt, or wake-up mash jab. He’s got a three frame jab, so you have to respect it somewhat.
His fastest Headbutt is 8 frames, but it loses invincibility after 7 frames. Now, it still works as a good reversal, since moves in SF4 have no active frames. It can be difficult to time things meaty to stuff headbutt. So… you generally don’t want to do that. What you’re looking to do, is time moves meaty, that will recover before the 8th frame. Low jab is your move for this. When timed properly, you can have your low jab hit Rog as he rises, and have 6 frames recovery after that. So you’ll force him into block stun if he chooses to block. You’ll stuff him if he comes up mashing jab. If he attempts a Jab Headbutt (his fastest one), you will recover before it’s active, and you can block and punish. Low Jab is your only ground move that can do all that. Low Short is good too, but even if timed perfectly, it can lose to Jab Headbutt. It would require a frame-perfect reversal (which isn’t all that hard in SF4…). Safe jumping is also good here. Serves the same purpose, and creates longer block stun.
From here, obviously, you can go for tick throws, frame traps, whatever.
- Get good at reacting to overhead attempts. His safest one leaves him at -5. That’s free TT to punish.
- Once Rog goes on the offensive, it can get rough. Just understand your situation, and figure out what’s most important in your scenario. Can you afford to try to block and wait it out, and maybe eat a throw or two? Is your opponent going to stagger his Low Jab/walk-up pressure well enough to prevent escape? Are they smart enough to try to bait out TT’s?
- Max range sweeps on Rog’s wake-up can be good. Pepper that in from time to time.
- Max range sweeps in footsies are not good. Avoid them. Basically, if you’re at a range where you think a sweep looks good, so is Rog. His is better. Don’t even try it.
- Also, this: [media=youtube]_yiwJA2vyvc&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Ftheabelblog.blogspot.com%2F&feature=player_embedded[/media] (credit Busta, obv)
A Drop of Juice