How I’m training in 2020

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Last year, I wrote an essay on time management and fighting games. (You might also have seen the video adaptation on Core-A Gaming.) Since I’ve been making some adjustments to my training plan for 2020, I figured I’d write up what my own routine looks like and how I plan on tweaking it this year.

Let’s kick this off with a rather obvious statement: I play a lot of fighting games. I work on a fighting game, I play fighting games during my lunch break (30–60min) come home and stream myself playing fighting games (~150min), and afterwards I might very well be watching some fighting game videos or something. I’ve got three locals a month (two WNFs and Norcal Dogfight) plus regular casuals at Gamecenter every Friday. In a full month, I’ll get something like 70 hours of casual games (netplay and local sessions), and 3–4 local tournaments.

I wouldn’t expect most people to be putting in this much time. Of course, there are benefits to this kind of volume and consistency; I don’t have to warm up for very long because my hands are always ready to go, and because I spend most of my time playing with people who are weaker than I am, I’ve got lots of opportunity to experiment with different concepts or try other characters.

On the other hand, I’d expect the people who are putting in this much time to be much better than I am, so I’m trying to be more efficient with my time this year by being more specific and focused on how I use it. Here are some of the things I’ll be trying out!

Dialing in my execution practice time with specific drills

Most of my training mode time in 2019 was spent on practicing my combo execution, and I wasn’t particularly structured with how I did it, so I’d meander into just doing things here and there that I knew I needed to work on. It wasn’t consistent, it wasn’t deliberate, and it wasn’t efficient.

This year, I’m putting together a few specific loops that cover some staple sequences that I use often and cannot afford to fuck up, and practicing those for a couple minutes a day. For example, I’ve started using Chipp’s corner combo into uncling alpha blade (2D xx 236S, 623H, jD xx 236[P], uncling 236[P]) into his gamma blade IAD combo (5S, 5H IAD jD 236[P]) which leads me back into uncling alpha blade, where I can 22H teleport back in, go for 2D xx 236S, and start the whole loop again.

With this series, I can keep my execution up on a couple tricky Chipp things that I often fuck up (the corner combo into alpha blade, uncling alpha blade, running gamma blade, and 5H IAD jD combos) all at once in a convenient, easily-repeatable loop. By designing more drills like these, I should be able to dial in my Chipp execution practice pretty easily, and hopefully it’ll make it easier for me to feel more comfortable practicing other characters too.

Situation-specific match review + labbing

When it comes to locals, I’ve lost most of my matches to a fairly small set of people — probably ten different folks over the last year. When I review those matches, I’ll usually look at behavioral patterns and decisions that I think I should change (“I should block more”, “I should do less random alpha blades”, etc.). But I haven’t spent nearly enough time actually going through the specific situations that come up a lot and figuring out how I should play them better.

When you’re a newer fighting game player, most of the damage you’ll take in a round will be from clean hits in neutral, because you’re not used to blocking and moving correctly and you don’t know how all the moves work. But as you get deeper into these games, you’ll find that a lot of your damage will be coming from common situations — knockdown mixups, blockstrings with different branches, that kind of thing. Personally, I am terrible at preparing for this stuff because I think using the training mode dummy recording feature is a pain in the ass, and that’s a major blocker to my improvement, so I’m gonna do this right in 2020 by:

  • Learning what situations lend themselves to different strings (midscreen knockdown vs. corner knockdown, meter or no meter, etc.)
  • Watching the replays and transcribing common strings to try them out myself in training mode
  • Labbing a variety of answers to those situations to try to make them less reliable for the opponent without increasing risk to myself

All of this should be pretty doable without increasing my overall play time if I do it on stream, so come through if you want to help me do my homework. ❤

Playing secondary characters

Towards the end of 2019 I started playing a wider selection of the GG cast, and I found that it did a lot to improve my overall knowledge of the game and how other characters want to play it. It’s easier to recognize what your opponent wants in any given situation if you can think like someone who also plays their character, and it’s easier to see how different patterns work when you’ve done them yourself. Plus, it’s a lot of fun, and it’s really good practice for learning a new fighting game, in case you’re also interested in preparing for Strive ;)

What I didn’t expect from playing other characters is that a lot of those learnings would change how I play my main. Playing Jam and Millia helped me better understand how to use Chipp’s speed; playing Johnny has helped me get more patient and deliberate with my spacing in neutral instead of taking big risks. (Playing Elphelt mostly made me wish Chipp had a shotgun.) So, I’m looking forward to seeing how continuing to experiment with the entire cast shapes my play overall, and trust that I’ll be documenting that stuff here.

Time to train for 2020! Remember, if you ever want to talk about your specific fighting game play routine and how to change it up to better focus on your goals, I offer coaching by email to my Patreon subscribers ($5/mo), so swing by and I’ll see what I can do for you.

Thanks for reading!


-patrick miller

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