Zoning is an important part of every character?s game, and Chun is no exception. When people think about zoning, they often think about keeping Zangief at full screen, or getting inside against Dhalsim or Guile. But there is so much more to the zoning dynamic, and with this post I hope to shed a little more light on that.
When zoning, there are three important things to take into consideration. The first is where the characters are in relation to each other. The second is what they can do from those distances. And the third is your position relative to the corner. With a firm grasp of all these of these concepts, you can take control of the match and see more victories.
Let?s take a quick look at zoning in a match. [media=youtube]dDMK_23Lr1I&feature=related"[/media] Note how Kayane starts the match ? she walks backwards and throws a Kikoken. Kikoken is a good projectile move, but from certain distances its very easily to react to it and either punish Chun or put her in a very disadvantaged position. The position that both characters are in at the start of the match is one of those distances where Kikoken can be easily punished. Walking backwards gives Chun space to recover and react to what the opponent does in response to the Kikoken. Kayane is not unique here, as a lot of Chun?s open up the round with some variation of walk back/dash back Kikoken. When I?m playing Chun, I typically open the round sitting on down-back, and watch as my opponent takes a dash/jump forward in anticipation of me moving backwards and throwing Kikoken.
The next aspect of zoning here is that Chun has sacrificed screen position in order to throw that Kikoken. Take careful note that Daigo?s Ryu does not let the screen scroll behind him ? he is very good at advancing forward. He moves into the perfect position for Kikoken punish (more on that later! ? and take note that this is roughly the same position as the beginning of the match), and when Kayane throws Kikoken, Daigo reacts and punishes easily. Also note that the punish he uses pushes Kayane into the corner. So now, only 10 seconds into the match, Chun is cornered with no meter. Kayane eventually fights her way out, but by this point Daigo has already taken ~80% of her life. Here, Daigo uses the three elements of zoning to score damage, and put himself in a position where he is in control of the match. If you can also utilize these elements ? both offensively, and defensively, it will make you a stronger player overall.
Next, let?s run down some of Chun?s zoning options/strategies. Note that this changes for pretty much every character. Since we?re on the subject, let?s look at Ryu.
Chun?s Kikoken will not reach Ryu at maximum full-screen distance. However, fighting against U1 Chun Ryu doesn?t have a free ticket to throw all the fireballs he wants to, as dash Ultra will hit him if he throws a fireball while Chun is sitting on down-back charge. Chun can throw Kikoken fairly safely ? there is nothing Ryu can do to punish. While EX/Shinkuu Hadoken can blow through a Kikoken and hit Chun in recovery, Ryu will have to do it psychically ? he?s got to throw it while Chun is still in the middle of the animation (the Kikoken hasn?t been thrown yet). This distance can be considered advantage Chun.
Can it be used to her advantage? With Ryu afraid to throw fireballs, it gives Chun the chance to control the screen. Chun can throw a Kikoken and move forward ? this will change the dynamic of the playing field, and force Ryu to respond. If Ryu moves backward, this pushes him closer to his corner. If he moves forward, he takes a partial risk. Where both characters end up after the Kikoken will again change the zoning game.
Very similar to Full Screen. Chun no longer needs a dash to punish fireball attempts with U1. However, Chun?s Kikoken is no longer completely safe ? Ryu can reaction RH Tatsu through it and hit Chun in recovery. This is somewhat risky for Ryu ? if his reaction time is slow then Chun can recover and punish him for it. For this reason, it?s not something Ryu will rely on, but it?s still an option he has.
At this range, Kikoken WILL reach Ryu, so unless he wants to take chip damage from blocking he will probably react to it in some way.
Here is where the dynamic starts to shift. If Chun throws Kikoken, Ryu can react by jumping forward ? even if Chun manages to block, she won?t be able to anti-air at all. This puts Ryu in an offensive advantage state, and now he can challenge Chun with block strings, throws, frame traps to defeat crouch tech, or even just DP FADC. At this range, throwing Kikoken becomes a pretty bad idea. Many Chun players, wanting to throw the Kikoken, will dash or walk backwards in order to escape this punishment range. Before you do that though, it?s important to think about the ground you are losing ? is Chun getting closer to the corner? Are you giving Ryu a way out of his? Is it worth it just to throw a Kikoken?
As Ryu gets closer, he will become more bold with his decisions to throw Hadoken. At a shorter range, it will be more difficult for Chun to react in time with Ultra. Also, note that this distance is on the very tip of Chun?s RH Hasan Shu range. Knowing this, Ryu may go into FA ? if you are baited into it, he gets a free punish. If you do nothing, Ryu will have to dash cancel either forwards or backwards. If your Ryu is prone to going backwards, this is one way to push him back to 3/4ths or Full Screen, and potentially drive him into the corner.
The only attacks that Chun can do that will reach Ryu are Hasan Shu and Kikoken. Both incredibly risky. So, what should Chun do? While this answer will vary depending on players and play styles, personally I believe that Chun should refrain from hitting buttons and change the zone dynamic ? either walk forward and challenge Ryu, or walk back to get back to Almost-Full Screen. I usually go forward.
Here?s where things get really interesting, and footsies become vital. As close as they are, both characters are just outside of their normal attack ranges. Chun can hit Ryu with S.RH and F.MK, but S.MP and C.RH whiff. So does Ryu?s C.MK. But if either character nudges forward, or does something to extend their hitbox, they can get hit. Plus, a whiffed attack can potentially be punished ? let?s look at the Kayane vid again. [media=youtube]dDMK_23Lr1I#t=0m48s"[/media] Kayane sweeps and misses. Ryu is able to capitalize on the extended hit box and counter sweep her ? this wins him the round. A lot of Chun?s like to throw out sweep here, and Daigo capitalized on that.
But that?s not all. Let?s jump back a few seconds to the first blood drawn by Daigo in this round. D[media=youtube]dDMK_23Lr1I#t=0m26s"[/media] Kayane retaliates with Kikoken, but Daigo jumps over it easily and gets the free punish. Take a closer look ? Daigo has already committed to the jump by the time Kayane throws the Kikoken. At that range, Chun?s only options are sweep, Kikoken, and maybe Hasan Shu. Even if Kayane had chosen to sweep instead and managed to recover in time, it still would have given Daigo the offensive momentum. Also take note that Daigo specifically pushed her into that range. I once played a Ryu who would get in close and hit me with a block string that pushed me specifically to that range. I would sweep almost instinctively ? he would FA dash through it and then tag me with the combo of his choice. Here, these Ryu players are intentionally putting Chun at a range where her options are limited and then acting according to what beats those options, as well as what most Chun players do almost reflexively.
If you come into this range, the match becomes a matter of point-counter point slugging it out. Chun can tag Ryu?s C.MK with Hasan Shu. Ryu can FA punish Hasan Shu or sweep. A naked jump from either character can be punished. While risky for Chun, in close I feel that this is her best range (at least better than close range), so long as Chun isn?t pushing fierce/roundhouse/abusing Hasan Shu. With her fast walking speed, she can dart in and out more easily than Ryu. It also only takes a few pixels to get Ryu in C.LK range, and if Chun can catch him while he?s trying to walk around, it leads to a free EX Legs combo. Mainly, this is the range where Chun should focus on small attacks rather than large ones.
This is a very dangerous zone for Chun. Here, pretty much everything connects ? including, most importantly, Shoryuken. If Chun spends too much time in this zone, Ryu is going to throw out DP. If Chun is doing anything other than blocking, she loses. And if Ryu has the meter to FADC, he has little reason not to throw out the DP. Aside from DP woes, Ryu can use both C.MP and F.FP, both very solid tools in his arsenal that lead to damage and knockdown. Chun is not without her weapons in this range ? C.LK, LK Hasan Shu, and her better throw range ? but Ryu?s tools in general lead to better damage/situations. This is a range that Chun should flirt with by darting in and out as needed. With her fast walk speed, this is not a problem at all.
So these are the main zones when fighting against Ryu. Knowing how to use them as well as defend against them will lead to better Chun play. Many Chun?s get burned by throwing Kikoken at 3/4ths Screen, or sweeping at mid ? knowing how not to do these things will give your opponent less opportunities to hit you. While the actual distances may be generally the same vs all characters, what each character can do/wants to do will differ greatly, as well as the zones that Chun wants to stay in/avoid. Here, experience is the best teacher ? if you notice your Kikoken losing to Chicken Wing or EX Green Hand, take a note of where you were on screen and remember that zone and that character?s options.