Losing Part 1: A Guide to “Taking your Licks”

As I sit on my futon, typing up this entry, taking the occasional sip of tea, I am reminded of the games I played two days ago. I had the day off from work, and decided to spend some time down at Taito Station Game Center in Shinjuku [Probably the one of the best places in the world to play Street Fighter]. It was about 2pm or so in the afternoon, and I made my way down the flights of stairs to the 2nd basement floor of the arcade; the familiar smell of cigarette smoke hung about the air. I sat down and for an hour and a half played. By the time I left, my record for the day was abysmal. If memory serves me correctly I was at 6 W 20 L when I finished. My biggest problem was against a Sagat player I ran into a few times. He had a good amount of solid skill, mixed with just the right amount of “not giving a fuck” [i.e. uppercuts]. I played as Yang and I can say that he had a much better grasp of the match-up than I did. I took a few rounds, but never any games. His victory was decisive.

I’m sure that everyone at some time or another has come to a point where they will play a someone repeatedly, and just keep losing. Chances are after the first three games or so you got frustrated and it was all downhill after that, am I right? Today I’m going to touch on this subject, but more importantly my ideas around the topic of losing in street fighter as a whole.

So let’s start at the beginning. You just played a game, whether online, with your friend, in a tournament, wherever. You lost pretty handily and you’re ready to jump right back in the fray to get revenge.

Not So Fast

Mistake #1

I’ll let it slide this time because you’re still a rookie. You don’t know any better.

Before you press the rematch button, or put in another 100 Yen, hear me out. Take 10 to 15 seconds to think about why you got hit. Not the hit that caused you to lose, but why you got hit in the first place. Did the round start and you just jumped in? Did you get backed into the corner then beat up? Did the opponent jump in and you didn’t anti-air? It could be a multitude of reasons, but pay attention to why you got hit in the first place, then think of a simple counter to it. For example, if you jumped: don’t. If you got backed into a corner: Play footsies [stand your ground]. If your opponent jumped in: Anti-Air. You’re a player of simple means, and straightforward problems require straightforward answers. At the beginning of the next match, watch for what happened in at the beginning of the last match. Play the same way you did, but be conscious of your answer to why you got hit first last time. When you become better at this, you can start doing it between rounds, which will dramatically help you adapt during the game.

Some of you might be saying “East, I can’t remember how I got hit last game.” This means you’re not consciously thinking when you play. You’re playing on what we call “auto-pilot” which is the best way to never improve. My only advice to you is to start thinking. Just focus on the first thing that happens in every match. That should be a good place to start.

That’s all for this entry. Stay tuned for the continuation of my experience in Japanese arcades and more on the art of losing. Next time, I’ll talk about Match-Ups & The Art of Forming a Gameplan. As always if you have any questions or comments, you can leave a comment or drop me a line or twitter or youtube. Keep up the good fight!

I Made a “Neutral Game” Guide. Check it out!
Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4