With this guide, I want to outline a number of bad habits new players make, and what you should be doing instead. It’s also important to be able to recognise these habits in our opponents and counter them.
After all, our opponents will be punishing our bad habits so why not return the favour? For a lot of players, just practicing the counters to these habits will result in an immediate improvement. You can also find some guidance to breaking these habits below.
If at first you don’t succeed. Don’t super dash again!
Far and away the biggest new player trap is the super dash, it was included as a way to help newer players approach in the neutral game but I find that more often than not, it prevents new players from learning how they should actually be approaching.
It’s definitely worth noting that super dashes are very useful tools in the neutral, but to use them to the exclusion of all your other options is going to make it impossible to beat a player who’s looking for them.
What to do instead
This is a tricky thing to sum up in a few paragraphs, since the answer is to learn how to play the neutral game. Not an easy task. So let’s separate it into three important tools for different distances.
Dash forward 5L/2M - When they’re in range for you to dash forward and 5L or 2M, this option should always be on your radar. Make sure you practice simple combos/blockstring so you can make the most of this risky option.
Long jump j5H - This is what I want you to try and replace full screen super dashes with. (You can long jump by forward dashing and then jumping in quick succession.
Forward jump and hold back - a safe, non-commital option for mid-range movement. They’re unlikely to be able to punish you as you jump unless they’re already on the move so this is safe to use almost all the time. As you fall, you can choose between using a second jump, an airdash in either direction or just landing, depending on how your opponent reacts.
How to punish it
When you see someone relying too heavily on super dash (and you will), you may first need to decide on how hard to punish it. If they super dash constantly regardless of the situation, you can just plant your feet and 2H them until they stop or they run out of characters.
More commonly, players will hang back, wait for a window and then jump back and super dash. To counter this habit, try to stay grounded more than you normally do and keep an eye out for unusual jumps. Jumping forward and holding back to block will let you safely approach without fear of getting hit.
Adjusting your style the correct amount is important, you want to be ready for their super dashes without freezing in place and turtling in the corner, that won’t get you far either.
Also, make sure you have a simple combo for each of your characters after landing a 2H, it’s one of the most important things to know.
Mashing under pressure
When forced to block a string, a lot of new players decide to mash their light attack in an attempt to break out. This approach makes no sense on paper but in actual matches it can sometimes work out for the best. This habit develops because at low levels, players often leave large gaps in their blockstrings that they can be caught out of.
The problem is, taking advantage of this habit is very simple, even for those same players that haven’t perfected their blockstrings.
What to do instead
Mashing under pressure is a hard habit to break but it’s important to recognise 3 simple things.
Everyone gets opened up in block pressure sometimes, regardless of skill level.
Holding down back loses to way fewer options than mashing buttons.
Even the tightest blockstrings possible aren’t helpful unless they mix you up, if all they do is one string, directly into another string with no variation, patiently waiting till they run out of steam is all you need to do.
Even if they do land a hit on you, they still have to be able to combo off of it. Forcing them to hit you with a move that’s hard to execute and harder to convert off is a big win.
How to punish it
Punishing people who enjoy mashing their way through your blockstrings is a lot easier than you may think.
The best way is to keep your strings tight and not let them mash at all, they often won’t be blocking properly because they’re focused on mashing out.
Alternatively, the best way to bait people mashing through your pressure is to leave a small gap in your blockstring intentionally.
If you delay a 2M or 5H in your string slightly, they’ll start to mash but won’t have nearly enough time to break out.
You can practice this small delay in training mode by setting the AI to block all, and set the counterattack settings to vanish.
Lastly, it’s important not to overreact to people mashing out of your strings, don’t focus on baiting it so hard that you leave gaps for deflect.
For some players, breaking this habit feels totally impossible, the best way to break this habit that i’ve found, is to literally take your hand away from your attack buttons when you’re blocking(I’m serious).
You can’t mash light attack if you can’t even reach the button.
Once you’ve broken the habit and learned to focus on blocking instead, you can trust yourself to learn to apply techniques like deflecting, teching throws and using light attack to challenge attacks that you KNOW end their turn.
2H into super dash/vanish
Very straightforward on this one, when your 2H gets blocked, the most natural reaction in the world is to follow up with a super dash or vanish. It’s quick, annoying to challenge and often gets a hit. But it’s also one of the first things people learn to look out for.
What to do instead
Unless you’re trying to catch someone using a falling attack or a jump-in, you shouldn’t typically be using 2H at all, in most pressure strings, you’ll be using assists or special moves instead.
2H into SD is not a legitimate blockstring in my eyes, It may catch someone out every now and then and you can even make it safe with an assist but it offers much weaker mixups than most characters get.
Not cancelling our 2H does raise another problem though, if we just 2H with no followup, it leaves us wide open to counterattack. The answer to this problem is to cancel it into a special move instead.
You’ll need to experiment with your characters but every character has a special that they can use after a 2H to make it safe. You’re looking for something fast, easy to use and preferably something that lets you time an assist so you can keep pressuring them.
How to punish it
Punishing this habit is very simple, 2H it. The problem arises when you’re slow to react and the start of your 2H gets caught by the super dash. They will often mix the SD up with vanish as well.
In both cases, after I block a 2H I will usually just wait to see what they do, this habit is pretty much entirely a panic reflex, if they do it once, they’ll do it again and again, so you can afford to be patient and let them get a free SD on you (since you’re waiting it out, you’ll be able to block it easily.)
If they favour SD, 2H right away, if they favour vanish, leave a small delay and then 2H. If they use the method outlined to the left, there will usually be a gap for you to deflect them.
One last thing to cover here, consider it the next step of the “What to do instead” recommendation.
If you use a 2H, leave a small gap, press H again and THEN use your special move, you’ll automatically use a special move if they block it and follow up with a super dash if they don’t. This tends to leave a bigger gap than usual though so is a bit more susceptible to deflect, a great trade off in my opinion. You can practice this in training mode and setting the AI block to random. Make sure you do the full string every time, regardless of what happens. You can double check your timing by recording the AI doing it and see if it works properly when you block it or don’t block it.
This is great for anti-airs/neutral use but isn’t worth doing in most block pressure, you won’t be leaving a gap for them to get hit in most cases.
Upteching on every wakeup
For those that aren’t familiar, an uptech is a wakeup option you can use off most types on knockdown, your character flips up in the air and travels backwards, it’s a really strong option that you can make a lot of use of. Higher level players will be able uptechs with jM into a combo or a blockstring, especially in the corner.
One of the most common followups is to use a super dash or vanish. Both of these options lose easily to 2H so I wouldn’t recommend ever superdashing or vanishing after an uptech, unless you see them throwing buttons out on the ground.
Instead of relying on this and building a bad habit of using it, you can find more information on varying your wakeup options in the video below.
Bad Habit Honorable Mentions
Not everything I could think of is deserving of a full paragraph so here’s a quickfire list of other bad habits you may want to avoid, keep in mind that some of these things are fine when applied properly but if you’re unsure, cutting them completely at first may be a good idea.
Vanish after a super dash
Double jump-back into tag
Unsafe heavy attacks or specials without an assist followup
Starting pressure with 2H
Throwing out auto combos at long-mid range
Raw level 1 supers in the neutral
Ending a pressure string with a vanish (unless it will kill)
Falling heavy attacks in the corner (often a great option but very easy to bait.)
Repeated ki blast use at mid-long range (super dash fodder)
Not blocking in the air while jumping
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