Losing Part 2: Losing? Don’t Plan On It!

On any given Monday, you can  find me aimlessly hanging from the handrails of Tokyo’s Chuo Sobu Local Line train. When the train’s roar dissipates, and the doors slide open with a cheerful ring, what awaits me are the arcades of the famed Electric Town, Akihabara, or the Tokyo Metropolis, Shinjuku. The arcades here are filled to the brim with the Denizen’s of the Street Fighter world. Unfffffffffooooooorrrrrrtunately, I was not there today. I did a little exploring around my own town and found an arcade with some street fighter cabinets. The competition doesn’t really compare to Akihabara or Shinjuku, but there are a few good players. Also the cigarette smoke haze is almost non-existent. Most of the players don’t pose much of a threat, but there a few exceptionally good players. The first is a Sagat player, the other a Yun player.

I had a 7 game win streak going until I hit the Sagat player. I must have put in about $4 worth of yen trying to beat him, but in the end was unsuccessful. In attempt to be proactive about my losses and preventing them in the future, during my defeated walk of shame home, I reminded myself that as of late I’ve had a lot of trouble with Sagat. So, eating my own advice from the first part of this series, I asked myself, “How did I get hit?” Thinking back I would normally jump first to try and dive kick [I’m playing Yang] in, but I usually got hit by a Kara tiger uppercut or forward HK. I later tried staying on the ground , but getting through the barrage of tiger shots is difficult, and my damage output is really low when I can get in. That’s when it hit me. I don’t know what to do. I don’t have a plan.

This time I’m not going to even give you the chance to make Mistake #2. Having a plan is one of the most overlooked aspects of Street Fighter. This is what starts to separate people as players. A good player will always have a plan. A bad player… well you don’t have to take my word for it:

This kind of match is indicative of most low-level players. For lack of a better term, they’re just doing things. They just want to get close to the other guy, press buttons, and beat him up. This might be a plan, but it’s not a functional one. A functional plan, has a special purpose or task that you try to achieve in a very specific way. One of the best examples of functional plan was from notable player, Daigo Umehara in his first to 10 set against EVO 2013 champion, Xian. Check it out for yourself below!

During the match Daigo had a very specific plan for the neutral game. If you didn’t catch it the first time, go back and re-watch the video. He was interviewed after the match and said that part of his plan was to stay at a very specific range in order to reduce the efficiency of Gen’s more powerful combos. If you’re interested in some of the information from the interview head to the URL below to check it out!

Daigo v. Xian FT10 Notes

At this point I’m sure you’re convinced that there has to be something to this whole “plan” business. Now the only question is where do you start? Unfortunately this article is getting a little long, so I’ll leave you with something to get you started! Below are some questions you should ask yourself when coming up with a plan for a match-up.

  • What are my character’s tools?
  • What are my strengths as a player?
  • What are my opponent’s character tools?
  • What are my opponent’s weaknesses?
  • What situation do I want to avoid?

In part 3 I’ll go over a plan I have for an actual match-up. In the meantime, think about the following questions and see if you can come up with some rough ideas, and next time we’ll use them to help you create your very own plan! Finally I’ll leave you with one last piece of advice that applies far beyond fighting games:

Having a functional plan to succeed is essential in any goal you hope to achieve. Have a plan, even if it’s a bad one. A bad functional plan can be adjusted. If you don’t have a plan, well you might as well be wandering in the dark.

My Series on Improving from Losses
Part 1