Let’s talk about bad matchups

What makes a matchup bad?

I promise I didn’t write a whole essay because I lost to Pepsi at the last two WNFs.

The risk/reward is heavily skewed

tfw you tried to jump away from pot bust

Your strong position or win condition is harder to reach

You have to play outside your mental comfort zone

I hate teleporting into chains.


Stupid Leo and his stupid Leo knees.

Tips for tough matchups

  • Pay attention to how the matchup makes you feel. (And be more specific than “bad”.) Figuring out what you’re feeling and giving that feeling a name is a useful first step toward making a bad matchup better, because you’ll be ready to play it under additional stress instead of getting lost in it.
  • Work backwards from your feelings to identify the causes of the mismatch. I’ve found that when matchups make me feel afraid or panicky, it’s because I’m having a hard time defending, and if I feel like I’m constantly frustrated and annoyed, my problem is likely in neutral. Before you try to fix your problem matchup, you have to figure out which tools, decisions, and situations are stressing you out. You can use my descriptions of different kinds of bad matchups above as a starting point!
  • Beating the problem is good; avoiding the problem is better. It feels good as hell to lab a tough situation and find a piece of tricky tech that will solve all your problems, but your solution will likely still require making a correct guess or a quick reaction. Make sure you’re also looking for ways to prevent the opponent from putting you in that situation in the first place.
  • Approach the matchup from other angles. Remember that you’re not just playing against the character, you’re also playing against the person. Try learning to play the other side of the matchup to get an idea for how it feels to play as the other character. Study the matchups they hate to learn what pushes their buttons. You may find that there are things you’re letting them get away with or tools you’ve undervalued because you don’t know how they think.
  • Take matchup notes and look at them before you play. Matchup notes are useful for reminding you which adjustments you need to make. It’s better for you to remind yourself than for the opponent to remind you. Often, this might be all you need to take a matchup from “bad” to “manageable”.
  • Study match videos. Watch your own videos to see where you struggle, then watch videos of people who are better than you are to see what it looks like for them. Match videos are your most powerful training tool for matchup study, so find them, watch them, take notes, try stuff out, test it, and then do it all over again.
Leo keeps his matchup notes in that little book, but they aren’t very useful.




Game Designer. Learn to play Street Fighter: http://shoryuken.com/2014/07/07/learn-how-to-play-fighting-games-with-our-free-beginners-guide-ebook/

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Patrick Miller

Patrick Miller

Game Designer. Learn to play Street Fighter: http://shoryuken.com/2014/07/07/learn-how-to-play-fighting-games-with-our-free-beginners-guide-ebook/

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