Cross-posted from my VF5 Blog.
When I first started playing Virtua Fighter, I found ranked matches
intimidating. I had no ranking whatsoever, so I was starting at the
bottom of the barrel, and every loss that I would accrue weighed
heavily on my mind. “Oh my god!”, I thought, how can I be this bad?
that you suck is one thing, but having a win/loss ratio sitting on your
screen as evidence of that fact is something else altogether. So, I
would spend the majority of my time online playing in player matches.
This offered me a few benefits. First and foremost, I would not have
any idea as to how good my opponent was prior to playing them. Seeing
someone with an impressive win ratio join your game can have a
psychological effect right off the bat, and set you up for a loss you
might not normally take. Second, without a rank showing on my opponent,
I was much more willing to request rematches, and, thirdly, in player
matches you can request rematches.
Rematches present a
great training opportunity. The most frustrating thing in the game is
having your opponent steamroll right over you, but if you really want
to improve, these are the people that you need to keep pestering for
rematches. As frustrating as it is, keep requesting a rematch and
trying to break down their offense and see if you can hang in there.
Whenever I request a rematch, I’m usually thinking about a few things
before the next match starts:
- How did the opponent beat me?
- How can I counteract the above?
- Was I frustrated after losing? Why?
he using some move that I’ve never seen before, in which case I need to
block more? Was I getting predictable, and letting him exploit that?
What about evades? Was I using that crutch far too often? Did he beat
me using only 2P?
I’m being predictable, I try to figure out new ways to achieve the same
effect. For Brad players, a large part of our game revolves around
moving in and out of his stances. If I’m constantly using KP to enter
his stance, then I know that it’s time to either take a shift away from
his stances and going for more juggles, or start using different
strings to enter his stances, like 4P, 4PK, and 6P. Is my opponent
always successfully blocking my moves? Then it’s time to start mixing
up my rhythm and introducing some throws and charge moves into my
the simple act of asking myself this question helps quell my
frustration. Usually I’m frustrated because I lost, and I think that
I’m capable of playing better. But how can I play better? What should I be doing differently? Return to the top two questions and reiterate.
when I spent a lot of time practicing funk styles and dancing, many of
the old schoolers would persist the following statement: “To each one,
teach one”. The idea is that everyone should take the time and effort
to spread the knowledge, and teach someone else the tricks that you
have learned moving forward. Do you find that you’re on the other side
of the fence, and absolutely crushing someone in player matches? If a
rematch is requested, go for it again. My attitude is that I don’t pull
my punches when I’m playing newer players, because that will not help
them improve the same way that forcing them to think under pressure
If you don’t like aggreeing to rematches just because it’s
helpful to the other player, do it for yourself. It is important to
play both stronger and weaker players; stronger players will force you
to adapt quickly under pressure, but weaker players will allow you the
opportunity to make use of the skills you have practiced, and to
properly set up for the moves and combo strings that you want to use
regularly. I wrote earlier that failure is only a failure if you don’t
learn something from the experience, and by the same token, a victory
is hollow if you don’t understand why you won. Make sure that
you are winning because you are executing your game plan, not because
you are flailing or taking advantage of a lower player’s bad habits.
Take playing weaker players as an opportunity to practice fixing the
bad habit that drives you nuts. It is by aggreeing to rematches in
player matches that I have been able to slowly eliminate some of the
wreckless dodging I’m doing, and fuzzy guard consistently after
connecting with the last hit of Brad’s PPK string.
pretty strong case for player matches. Why even bother with ranking
then? Jerky VFDC captured some of the essence of ranked matches for me,
when I asked him for advice and he told me, “Play ranked matches
against strong players. They will build up your mental endurance”.
Ranked matches will force you to accept that you are playing someone
with a proven track record, and, with something on the line, you will
find that your play style changes considerably.
Suddenly you’ll notice that you start consistently falling back to your perceived safe
moves whenever you are down a round in a ranked match. For the longest
time, I could not shake my habit of spamming 3PP as soon as I noticed
that I was getting low on life. Why? It’s not a good move, but for some
reason, I mentally perceived that it was safe and would get me out of trouble. Against good players, it just led me to more punishment.
other benefit of ranked matches – you can do chores in between each
match. I manage to get everything done around the house and
play Virtua Fighter because I can complete everything I need to do in
between each match. Yah, this is a silly reason to play ranked, but it
makes a difference to me.
Train in player matches, and then put
what you’ve learned into motion in ranked matches. In player matches
you will get the opportunity to play consistently against the same
person, and this will provide you many opportunities to adapt to their
style, exploit their weakness, and then have the tables turned as they
adapt to you. Once you feel like you’re winning consistently, switch
over to ranked and play there for a while. When you start to feel like
you’re getting stale and predictable, switch back into player and play
multiple matches against people that are able to pick apart your game.
You will be stronger for it.
Above all, remember the importance
of requesting rematches – everytime you feel yourself getting
frustrated, force yourself to reflect on why you are frustrated, how
you lost, and hit that button to request another match.
all for now. As an aside, if anyone reading has something specific that
they would like me to cover, drop a comment and let me know. I very
much enjoy the opportunity to write about different aspects of Brad
Burns and Virtua Fighter as a whole, and every chance to write about
something is a chance to learn it a second time, as I’m required to
break it down and think the whole thing through from start to finish.
Lastly, if you’re looking for matches, don’t hesitate to add me on XBL. My gamertag is Deathsushi, and I’m always up for games.