Often times you hear good players say that it is important to watch match videos to understand a match-up, critique your own play, or to familiarize yourself with some mechanic of the game. The problem with this is that they don’t really tell you what you should be watching for, or how to use the information from the video to actually improve. This guide is going to cover everything you need to know about how to use videos from the fighting game that you play [whatever it may be] to take your game to the next level. This guide will teach you to breakdown videos into three sizable chunks:
- Match Neutral Situation
- Advantage Position Situation
The first part of this guide will focus on the match neutral situation. Well then, what exactly is a “match neutral situation?” Match neutral is the position of the characters during the match where neither is at a strong advantage, and both characters are fighting for space or position to fit their game plan. [For more tips on game plans and strategy, check out our guide here] For many characters the match neutral position takes place in the combination of their and their opponents footsies ranges. When you watch a match, and both players are in a neutral position, you should observe the match, with the following three questions in mind:
- Where are they standing?
- How do they try to approach the opponent?
- What attacks do they use?
Let’s look at each part a bit more in detail
1. Where are they standing?
What ranges are they in relation to their opponent? Good players know where to position themselves as not to over-extend or put themselves in harms way for no reason. They will often put themselves in a position that they can effectively react to their opponent, but at the same time, have the ability to pressure the opposing character. It is important to note that for every character and match-up, this range will not be the same.
2. How do they approach?
During a match, characters are constantly fighting to get into an advantage position. What do the characters do to get themselves there? Divekick characters like Yun, might try to mix-up between walking forward or neutral jump to threaten the divekick, in order to confuse the opponent as to which way they want to approach. Characters like Sagat might even prefer to move backwards because they want to have space to safely throw fireballs. This allows them to react in time if the opponent tries to jump over the projectile. Big grappler characters like Zangief, might want to move forward so they more effectively “hug” their opponent. When you look at match videos, watch for how the opponent goes from the neutral position to an advantage position. What ways are the most successful? Why do you think they are successful?
3. What moves do they use?
Before, I mentioned that good players know where to stand as not to over-extend themselves. Well the same can be said about the moves they use. They follow a “low-risk” mindset, and as such typically use low-risk moves in the neutral position. Think about Ryu or Evil Ryu’s crouching medium kick for a moment… It’s pretty fast, extends far and retracts quickly. If it hits, they can do a fireball for a little extra damage [or in Evil Ryu’s case, take half your life bar for a little extra spent meter] Take note in videos of good players, and what moves they use at the match neutral position successfully. You can then look at your own videos and see if you’re using more risky, the same, or better moves in similar situations.
To wrap up this first part, using videos to understand the match neutral position, will help you learn where you should be positioning yourself instead of running in, guns a-blazing, only to be KO’ed moments later. Take a look at the video below and see if you can answer the three questions presented in this article. I recommend you take some notes while you do.
Next week, we’ll continue with Part 2 of the guide, which will help you decipher the advantage position more clearly!