So I have watched the video on zoning and read a bunch of other articles on it, but the general definition of it has me confused. In the first video I watched ([media=youtube]HFTvXXoDNRA[/media]) it basically went over framedata and how hitboxes work. In another video it divided the screen up in 5 different sections. I guess my understanding of zoning is that zoning is how you play based on your position on the screen. I’m not sure if there is a general consensus to it or not, but I’m still pretty confused on different uses of the term.

The general essence of zoning is limiting your opponent’s options by controlling space. You should be placing yourself in a position that supports your characters advantages and reduces your disadvantages while doing the opposite to your adversary. Good zoning allows you to maintain your positional advantage.

So by doing this, I’m guessing you can read your opponent?
Are you trying to keep them far away from you (I play Ryu) while getting hits on them (hadoukens) from across the screen and shoryukening them if they jump in?
When do you go in for combos and such?

It’s really character, matchup, and situation dependant. Against a Dhalsim, being a full screen away isn’t the best place to be, but against Zangief, it’s a different story. Also, the Hadouken will not hit an opponent full-screen 99.8% of the time. It’s there to make them stay where you want them to. At a basic level, the ol’ hadouken to shoryuken trick works, but you’ll have to be a little more creative, since even the worst players will eventually learn to stop jumping in so you can DP them. That’s where the zoning comes in to play. By making them fear what you can do, you can put them in a location that gives you an advantage. As Ryu, you’ll generally want to keep your opponent right about the range of your crouching Medium Kick. That is usually the strongest position for a Ryu to be in.

Like I said however, It depends on the situation. For example, if my Abel gets knocked down when I don’t have meter for Ultra 2, a Cammy will want to be all up in my face. However, once I do gain Ultra 2, Cammy will want to back off, since I now have a very damaging tool to limit her options.

It’s really all a learn-as-you-go process, as your playstyle may differ from a prototypical Ryu’s, so you may have a different position that you feel more comfortable in.

Alright, so if I have the advantage does that mean I should attack them?
In other words, once I have discerned I have the advantage, what do I do with that?

It really depends on your playstyle. Some people zone to put the other player in an off-balanced position so they can start a rushdown/mix up game, others use zoning to turtle/bait mistakes and punish. People also do both.

In the end, you’re going to have to decide what works best for you.

Yes, zoning is basically limiting someone’s options. You are essentially zoning them out. Do not think of it in macro terms, think of it in micro terms. You are going to inch your way to get a dragon punch, a jump in on a fireball, a cross up and such. Use moves to bluff in order to plant them on the ground to get a cross up. Will you anticipate that dragon punch if he throws a fireball and go for the combo, or eye ball the fireball and jump in and get a block to push him back? Is he waiting for me to jump? If so should I walk forwards since he’s planted there waiting for me to jump or is he bluffing? Is he thinking what I’m thinking? Is he going for a crouching forward? Can I position myself to cross him up if I feel he’ll do it?

Note that whether or not you react or anticipate changes dynamics.

Well as for what to do once you have advantage, that is a very general question. I would say that you should zone to feel out your opponent. I personally feel that you can see your opponent’s personality if you zone. I wouldn’t go for pure mixup situations on knockdown early in a match because you have incomplete information on your opponent and you don’t want to rely on percentages. Zoning is a great information tool, so use it as one too.

I think what a lot of zoning tutorials fail to mention is that you have to know your tools vs your opponents tools, and what you have to anticipate and what you can react to. There’s a reason for that though, zoning is only learned through experience, and cannot be taught fully by reading, so you’ll just get very general concepts. So take note of that.

Alright I’m starting to understand it a lot more now. But, if you have the advantage an go in for a combo/rushdown, wouldn’t you be losing your zone/advantage since you’re moving away from that “perfect” spot?

A lot of times the “perfect” spot is just like where you want to be in a specific matchup, as others have mentioned. So if you’re Ryu vs. Dhalsim you definitely want to be right in on him.

Dhalsim is a pretty good example of the problem you’re talking about. While he does generally always want to be far away, sometimes if he’s really sure that he can punish a fireball with an IAT crossup into bread and butter, it might be worth it for him to give up some of his range to go for this. For instance if he’s getting close to pressed into the corner. If he has someone in the corner though it’s very unlikely he’s ever going to want to do this.

As Ryu, your “perfect” range changes a lot based on the match up, going for a block string or some kind of rushdown doesn’t necessarily need to give up your positioning. Say you’re against a character where your ideal range is pretty close to them and where you can hit them with most of your pokes while walking back and forth to try to bait them into doing something unsafe. In this situation you are probably fishing for a knockdown. Once you get a knockdown and you decide to go for pressure, it doesn’t mean you have to give up the positioning you’ve worked for. If you get hit with a reversal you probably will give it up, but when you go for a blockstring with mixup, it’s either going to end in a knockdown from linking into a sweep, a knockdown from a throw (both untechable), combo into ultra (also untechable), or the blockstring ending with you safe, say with a normal cancelled into fireball. After you cancel into fireball it puts you right back to your optimal range.

Obviously it’s not always a good idea to just get in someone’s face and start pressuring, but you also don’t want to just bait reversals after every single knockdown. Most of this does just come through experience and not so much from reading or watching videos.

As systran said, going for the rushdown does not give up your positioning. There is also a rushdown style of zoning (see valle videos from all SF games and you can see that he really likes to go into a spearhead formation and open the opponent up trying to break his lines) Many times it just reinforces your positional game. You land a combo and it pushes them back to the corner or to a knockdown. The corner is a bad place for everyone, and no matter what playstyle , and fighting for your opponent to go to the corner is equivalent to fighting for the center in chess in this game it seems . Crossing up will change your position, but sometimes it’s worth it. If you can go for the guaranteed damage, I say go for it. The bigger the gap in health, the more risks your opponent may have to take to win the round with the clock on your side.

I guess my problem is that I don’t know when I have the advantage or not.

Know that is your problem is a great start on improving.

Start asking yourself some questions:

  • What are your best pokes? What range(s) are ideal for for them? How does this change in different match ups?
  • What are your best anti airs, both normals and specials? Are they range specific? Match up specific?
  • Same questions about whatever character you are up against.

A lot of times you are going to have to put yourself at risk and lose position to get the advantage. You want to take risks sometimes to keep guys honest (even though your risky jump got denied, you trained your opponent to watch for that risky jump to smack his fireball attempt. That means instead of him throwing a fireball in the range where you both have to guess, you know he’ll just sit there waiting for you to jump, so that means he’s planted there, you can maybe footsie him or fireball him to the back. Since you force planted him there because he’s afraid of a jump-in, you zoned him to that spot. You controlled his space, even though he thinks he has you under his grips. I’m talking about a hypothetical ryu vs ryu matchup.)

Examples of advantageous positions that are pretty clear:

-badly placed fireball by your opponent (you can get a free jump in with or without a block, or you get closer to them)
-your opponent is knocked down
-they are in the corner, and you have a ton of space and clock to work with
-they are in a mixup position, and your opponent’s character has no reliable ‘get off me’ move
-the clock, the corner (and how much space you can runaway from), and your lifebar are working in tandem to make life hard for your opponent
-You figured out your opponent’s tendencies or as the east coast says, you just “downloaded” him

I cannot stress how much the lifebar and clock changes the value of certain moves too. keep that in mind. So if you have the life bar advantage, and perhaps if you downloaded him, it might be worth taking the risk of removing your space control options by going for a mixup or crossup.

I guess the thing that I’m lastly confused about is still what do I do with that advantage? In one tutorial it said for Vega to always be 1/4th of the screen away from the enemy. That was his good spot. If that’s so, you can never really attack the enemy, thus what is the point of an advantage? If you are keeping a safe distance, how/when do you attack? The only thing I see is if they jump in on you. I also see that with Ryu. If you start out the match just throwing hadoukens and AA in with SRK’s when do you know when its a good time to go in for the combo? Same for if you are in c.MK range of the opponent. How do you know when to go from full screen hadoukens/AA SRK’s to getting in close to the opponent, then knowing when to go in for the combo?

“for example, chun li can zone with c.mk and s.fierce. if she throws those out, you won’t be able to advance and hence she is keeping you in a position that is favorable to her.” Does this mean it’s favorable for her to jump in? Is it favorable for her to just keep standing in that same location?

Also, are spacing and zoning considered the same thing? I get that your “spot” depends on the person you’re fighting but is there usually only one “perfect” spot for different matchups or can there be more than one in each match?

Sorry that I may be asking stupid questions, I’ve just been trying to grasp this concept but for some reason I just keep getting stuck at these spots. I really wish to get better at fighting games, but I feel as if there is stuff that I’m unaware of that I should be.

Dup post ftl

You are 100% right, if you can’t ever attack the enemy, what’s the point of the advantage? Because if you stay 1/4 away from the screen 100% of the time without the threat of jumping in, then you are essentially being zoned out by your opponent if he knows you like staying 1/4 away from the screen. You have to take a risk and lose position eventually. ST vega seems to be threatening 1/4 away from the opponent because he can react to many things and threaten with many things VS a Ryu anyways. I’m not too sure about SF4 vega.

How safe exactly? If you are a full screen away against a Ryu, it really isn’t a very good place if you aren’t a fireball based character (even for fireball based characters, it’s not good because Ryu has one of the best fireballs in the games he’s in), and that’ll start his very good corner preassure. What you want to do is be in a place where you can make Ryu guess and commit. Of course, if you are in that position of the screen, you are guessing and commiting too usually. This is why it’s important to read your opponent. See what they don’t know and see what they are antsy about.

A good opponent will take note that he has been jumping in on you, and he’ll assume you have taken note too. Since you have to stop throwing fireballs (range and timing dependent) to DP, he’ll use that and try to footsie you in mid-close range or force you to block by throwing a fireball in your face. If it’s a DP after a haduken in that he’s in the air and you are still in the fireball animation, and you DP him while he’s still in the air, then your opponent will just neutral jump/focus/jump back those fireballs or jump in anticiaption instead of on reaction iff he’s smart. It’s not really an answer to your question, but this is the mentality of zoning and spacing. You have to READ your opponent and you have to test them and occasionally tell them that you have guts by doing a risky jump in. There is no textbook answer to your question, since the nature of SF is about reading your opponent. So I guess the textbook is actually your opponent.

I don’t know which game this is in, but here is general knowledge that works throughout games. A fierce move will result in a long recovery, while a weak move (standing jab) will result in short recovery. S.Fierce is a high priority move, so is C.mk in many Chunli versions. She is known as a versatile footsie character. If your opponent is smart and he knows you’ve been stuffing his pokes, he’ll approach like he’s going to throw say a c.forward, but feign it, back away and jump in on you since he baited the s.fp (he’ll most likely have to anticipate jump because Chun’s pokes have fast recovery). Now chunli must block the jump in and her opponent will take advantage (he is in an advantageous spot now) of her horrible inside defense. She had to block high, so she loses down charge, maybe you even crossed her up, she loses back charge too! You nullified her options and you are in an advantageous position.

Yes they are the same thing. As for the perfect spot, well the thing is there is no real textbook “perfect spot” because opponents have tendencies. The perfect spot will usually also be part of the battle between your reads and tendencies versus your opponent’s. Some people have an ideal range to throw a poke or a fireball that is different from others. Your perfect spot should be a position where your opponent has limited options, and you have favorable options. It should be a position where your risk:reward is in your favor, but not in your opponent’s favor. The dynamics of those change depending on position, corner, character spacing, clock, and life.

Don’t worry about asking stupid questions. Your questions aren’t stupid at all. Feel free to ask more. Zoning is something that is an esoteric art. Lots of people who’ve been playing SF for years still don’t get it, including me.

It really isn’t complicated to wrap your mind around it. Keep them at a range that is good for you and bad for them is the basic concept. Find a place where they can’t do much and keep them there, and if they get out, get them back there. Shotos and Guile are super good at this because of sb/fk, srk and hadoken. Just in simple terms for ya. :3

To get in a litte more detail I’m gonna need your character, zoning with Ryu, Ken, Guile, and Sagat can be pretty straightforward, with other characters, especially non fireballers, it can be a little more difficult.

I play Ryu. At first I thought good zoning would be to just stay far back away while Hadoukening them. When they would jump in I would SRK them. I’ve also heard that Ryu is good outside of c.MK range so I’m not sure which one I should go for.

I’m guessing I play the hadouken/SRK game till I knock them down, then I try and cross/mix up. If that doesn’t work then instead of going to the far edge of the screen and throwing fireballs like at the beginning, I stand a little outside of c.MK range and bait them out.

When you say to get them back in there, if I’m just throwing hadoukens again from across the screen then I’m not really going anywhere.

Does the advantage have to do with frame data? Or is it more of the range of my attacks

I don’t think frame data has much to do with zoning. It’s useful if you want to smack people who want to jump away, or crouch tech, or counter hit, crazy combos. I don’t think you need to know frame data to know the recovery of ryu’s fireball animation (this can be learned through experience).

You seem to look at zoning as the whole part of the picture. You should see it as a part of the whole. You must risk to lose position to get damage (the goal of the game is to put his lifebar to 0) because you don’t want to be planted in the back chucking fireballs (because if that’s your goal, i’ll just walk you to the corner because you’re waiting for me to jump in, you are going to stop throwing fireballs if you want me to jump in) if you knock a guy down.

Like I said before, you may not want to necessarily go for the mix up early in a match, because zoning is a great way to get information from the opponent.

What do you mean by this?