I was gonna post this blog before I left for Summer Jam 9. But because I was having a hard time finding out what to say in this blog (Writer's Block), that's what's been holding me back. Anyway...
When it comes to newcomers joining the Fighting Game Community, I often hear people say the most common phrase: “I’m not ready”, “I don’t think I’m ready”, “I’m gonna end up losing”, “I’m gonna get bodied”, “I’m gonna be embarrassed”, etc. Newcomers would often have the whole “I’m Not Ready” mentality in which that they have the insecure mindset that once they join their first tournament, they will lose and probably never compete in tournaments again.
I got news flash for you guys: Not everyone is gonna win their first tournament. I’ve seen this attitude before online whether it’s on forum sites, Facebook fan/group pages, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I was exactly like you guys. When Vanilla Street Fighter IV was out, I competed in my first local tournament when I was 17 and lost because I didn’t know how to play Street Fighter on a competitive level. I didn’t know jack about frame data, links, spacing, or any of the advanced techniques in fighting games. Throughout the first half of my college life, I kept doubting myself on coming out to tournaments because if I entered, I’m going to lose and I’ll never show my face in offline majors again. If I didn’t go to my first major back in 2013, I would still have that mindset today.
When you have that “I’m Not Ready” mindset, you are just putting a lot of doubt in yourself. In this blog, I will try to the best of my ability to change your attitude from “I’m not ready” to “I am ready” when deciding on competing for your first major.
Here’s the thing: I’m not forcing anyone to go to a tournament. If you can’t go because of certain responsibilities, I can understand. But that doesn’t excuse you from saving up money to go to the next one.
I remember reading Patrick Miller’s eBook, “From Masher to Master: The Educated Video Game’s Enthusiast’s Fighting Game Premier” on Shoryuken (free to download and a must read), and I remember reading a chapter about the definition of a scrub, or better yet, the scrub mentality. Miller describes a scrub as...
“the guy who walks into an arcade (or majors, local tournaments, etc.) thinking that he is all hot shit even though no one has seen him before. He's the type of guy who would enter tournaments and refuse to play his competition characters (or the fighting games he enters entirely) because he doesn't want anyone to learn how to "counter" his super-secret techniques. He may yell at you for throwing him repeatedly, or doing the same move over and over because it's "cheap". He's never met you, but he thinks he could probably beat you, and if you won, well, it's because he isn't used to the arcade sticks, or his hands got cold, or he probably ate too many pizza and got grease all over the buttons (gross).”
One thing he said was “Go to a mirror and say I suck at Street Fighter” in order to let the player know that it’s their first time playing this game competitively, and it’s not the same as playing online or with friends.
Honestly, having that scrub mentality can mess with your ego. Don’t be another DSP. Just, don’t. Or better yet, if you play Smash Bros., don’t be a John.
So you use training mode to practice on combos. That’s cool, but that’s not enough. When I play fighting games, I focus on finding new combos, which move is safe to use due to frame data, what I can do to punish unsafe moves, the properties of each move, the works.
In Dead or Alive, I use both Leifang and Marie-Rose. I spend an hour or two to learn about what I can do with these characters. I wanted to know which move is good for spacing, which move is good for juggling and re-juggling, which move I can crush, what move is safe and unsafe, the level of where the attack is gonna hit (High, Medium, or Low), etc.
My advice is to be very technical with Training Mode. Turn on the fight data if you have to. Turning on the Fight Data will be very helpful if you want to look up frame data (Virtua Fighter and DOA does that), how much damage you can do to your opponent, what type of move it is, and more. For 2D fighters like Killer Instinct and Skullgirls, they have an option to turn on the hitbox data so that you can see the hitbox and hurtbox of each character.
Playing casual matches can help you learn the matchup of each character. You won’t get much with playing against CPU players. Playing casuals against offline players can help you understand other people’s play style. Mind you, there are times where players use the same character, but plays them in a different manner. With that being said in mind, don’t assume that just because you can beat that player because you think they all play the same style.
Four years ago, I recall what Alex Valle said during his Q&A segment on Reddit about the flaws of the newcomers to the competitive community. He said:
“Some flaws from the new generation of players are lack of fundamentals and simply being competitive.
Fundamentals is the art of controlling space with your character through movement and attacks. You see many players today just trying to land combos on a skilled player but fail to create opportunities for them. This also goes for players throwing out fireballs at the worst times or always mashing DP when someone is near. Players should research/ask questions about their flaws to whoever they are losing to.
About lack of being competitive, there's a huge audience for SF today and I still see players being too scared, embarrassed, or just turned off from playing on streams and/or going to tournaments. Try not to be discouraged when things get uncomfortable, you'll gain more respect and knowledge every time you get back on the machine.”
Although he was talking about Street Fighter, this also applies to every competitive fighter out there (ex. Tekken, Dead or Alive, Marvel, etc.). I don’t see newcomers asking for help when they lose. Instead, they would get salty and say things like “This game is garbage because this move beat my move” or just quit the game overall because they feel that they can’t improve and beat somebody.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you are having trouble defending yourself against a certain move in a fighting game, just ask. This, along with not sharing information to other players, are 2 of the 3 main reasons why we keep losing to international players such as Japan, Korea, etc. The last thing we need to do (and this one is important for newcomers, which is also the other reason why we keep losing to international players) is this…
After the Dead or Alive Festival, Kwiggle mentioned he noticed a difference between Japanese players and Western players. He says, and I quote:
“Something I noticed over in Tokyo is that players are not salty and simply enjoy the game. This means that they enjoy the matches no matter who's playing or what character is playing. They cheer and hype up the matches in between rounds whether a person is winning or losing. You'll never hear them say they hate xyz character or they don't want to watch a match because characters they don't like are fighting. They have a team spirit over there that players here lack. If players here lose, they get mad, stop playing, talk badly about the game, etc. Where over in Japan if you beat someone, they are eager to keep playing and learning, figuring out ways to adapt. They provide a challenge. Now that's not to say players here don't do that but a majority do not and will not.”
We need to learn how to have fun with the game. Sure no one likes losing, but if we learn how to have fun and adapt at the same time, it will be a step into leveling up. I mean, let’s be real here: how are you gonna get better if you keep on saying “fuck this game” over and over again?
Honestly, that’s all I have to say. If you want to compete in fighting games for the first time without any type of drama, all you need is a positive attitude and enjoyment. Sometimes, it can be even more than that if you are really serious.
Don’t say “I’m not ready” because you are imitated by high level play from other players. Say “I’m ready” because you want to experience the positives behind the offline fighting game community.