Top Tier Tips is a series of bite-sized guides about improving in Street Fighter through various means. We’ll suggest some of the “best practices” used by players to improve more quickly and become tournament caliber players.
If your current playstyle isn’t working, switch it up immediately and play in the opposite manner.
Many lower-level players feel that they always need to be moving forward and attacking. Against a more skilled opponent, this plan often fails and the lower-level player’s response is to double down on their bet and try to go in even harder. How many times has this happened to you? Consider this kind of reckless play the expressway to the loser’s bracket. Remember that Street Fighter and fighting games in general, are games of knowledge; doing what your opponent expects gives them the upper hand in the fight.
If you can instead, completely 180 on your playstyle in the match, it might give you just the edge you need to throw them off balance. Imagine a scenario where the first match, you attack attack attack and lose, then the second round, you hit your opponent and then immediately back off. This kind of plan is a great power play because it tells your opponent “If you don’t do something. I’ll win with this life lead.” and it forces them to become the attacker. And immediately you’ve reversed the roles. Now you know what your opponent has to do and you can start to better predict how they will try to attack. You’ve also forced them to interrupt their gameplan and create a completely new one on the spot.
The master level of this is to continuously switch during a match. Going from offense to defense, and back again to throw your opponent off and make your movements or strategy unreadable. An opponent who can’t predict you forces them to “play scared” relying on base reactions which can be taken advantage of. Give it a shot. Imagine how frustrated a Dhalsim player would be trying to actually go in on their opponent, or how hard it must be fighting a defensive Zangief. Attack when they expect you to defend and defend when they expect you to attack.