Theory Fighter

Things have changed dramatically in Street Fighter V.

Everybody is so knowledgeable. In the Street Fighter IV days, players didn’t share secrets like they do now.

I used to save specific tech for special occasions, but in a way that mentality was a little bit shortsighted.

You may win a game or even a tournament by using some secret tech, but the next time someone comes along they’re going to be ready for it. They’re going to have answers for it, they’re going to come back with something of their own and you’re going to be the one on the back foot.

Sharing tech and knowledge has improved 10-fold and it’s showing in the results. If you don’t share what you know, you don’t really grow the scene and you won’t truly get to test the robustness of your game plan.

Hiding it isn’t good for long term players. You want to expose people to your tech, break it, and force you to come up with other answers. Your opponents become more familiar and it pushes you to be more creative.

There’s a weird paradox that’s been set in Street Fighter V. The game is described by fans as quite shallow and robbery heavy. It’s actually very technical, you’re not going to beat people that you haven’t prepared for.

It’s heralded as a game where anyone can win, but in reality that doesn’t happen.

You still need to have very technical knowledge of the game’s frame data and situational awareness to win consistently.

We’ve had to change our mindset to adapt to this. To be on the same level as international players we have to do our homework and know the frame data and there’s no getting away from it.

In Street Fighter IV I knew a few things, but I didn’t know 100% of my character’s frame data and now I do. I know the majority of the other characters too. It can’t be a coincidence that our approach to that side of the game has made us better players.

Combine that extra knowledge with our experience and developed fundamentals and you see the game in a more technical light. That has made the difference between IV and V. We’ve all evolved as a European scene to be such a threat now.

Back in the day, Luffy put us on the map when he won Evo. Ryan Hart was having a lot of success, Problem X was coming through. Still, it was almost inevitable that if a player from Asia came to a Street Fighter IV event they would usually win it.

Not anymore.

It used to seem as though the international players were on a different level when we played. It used to be visible, but now you can’t say that.

We now see Problem X winning Evo and it could have just as easily been Big Bird or Infexious this year and that’s massive. We were so close to having 2 UK players in a row winning the biggest Street Fighter tournament in the world! If you’d said that in the Street Fighter IV days nobody would have taken you seriously.

Over the lifespan of Street Fighter V we’ve been very fortunate with good quality, local practice.

Logan’s WinnerStaysOn Sessions bring exceptionally strong London players together every Tuesday. We also gets lots of players coming from all over the world like Ryan Hart, Phenom and Gamerbee. Not only are you playing top players there every week, you’re also playing against a former Evo champ, and people from everywhere with all kinds of experience.

To have that kind of level of week-in, week-out practice is an absolute blessing. I understand not everyone has access to that.

We are also very lucky to be able to have in-depth discussions about the game regularly.

From a personal point of view, where I’ve levelled up a lot has been discussion. We talk about tournament mindset, how to prepare, how to look at losses/wins and we talk through hypothetical situations. When you’re not fighting on stream, you’ll be theory fighting backstage.

The theory fighting level in this current game is better than ever. We tend to start up a conversation about a certain character or a certain move:

“I don’t really understand Urien’s EX Violence Knee – have you seen how he deals with this? Have you seen his frame data, he gets so much frame advantage in this situation, it doesn’t make sense! Why would it be designed in such a way?”.

The people we’re watching don’t play Urien, neither do we, but that’s usually how these conversations will start and we’ll go on to talk about the intricacies of the character to understand them at a deeper level.

Eventually, after theory fighting back and forth for a while we’ll just say, “You know what? Let’s just go and test this out now”.

It’s this kind of inquisitive mentality that a lot of us have now that makes us into better players.

Thanks to the design of Street Fighter V, we are better now at understanding and knowing the frame data of every character. We know which characters have the best pokes, what every character’s best button is, what that button is on block and so on.

Being more au fait with the data means we can have much more accurate and creative discussions.

Situational awareness is the most important thing now because everyone’s base line is that they know the data and the execution isn’t tough. Just by having this baseline, we’ve got a much better understanding of how this game works. It was coming together at the end of Street Fighter IV, but in this game we’re going far deeper.

The Claw – Vega – scene is unbelievably tight and very supportive too. You’d think with the character we play we would be secretive guys, but you see players like Arlieth showcasing their tech openly, no secrets. They know their stuff, you wouldn’t believe what they find.

There are great claw players in our discord for finding that stuff and sharing it all the time. With our character, you’re getting blood out of a stone, so we need all the help we can get!

I’ve won games in serious tournaments thanks to tech that the Claw community has shared with me and the people at my local that challenge me.

Whether it’s finishing top 8 at a ranking or winning locals in the last year, I wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t for their help!

Image Credit: Joe Brady/Gfinity

Tam Mageean assisted with the creation of this article.

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