Since the hey day of fighting games, the throw as a maneuver has received a lot more heat than it deserves. In the early days of Street Fighter II, I remember going to the arcades and hearing other kids talk about how the throw as a move was ‘cheap’ and that people shouldn’t use it in fights. Even now, I still get hate messages on XBOX Live and PSN about my use of throws in a fighting game, regardless of what game I’m playing.
Particularly around entry-level fighting game players, there’s a weird dichotomy at work where there’s a group of players who think throws are super awesome and will exploit them at every turn, and another group of players who actively handicap themselves by not using throws because of some phony gentleman’s rule that’s reached urban legend status. In this edition of the Universal Fighting Game Guide, we tackle the art of the throw, which is a key element to almost every fighting game ever made.
What is a throw?
This is fairly self explanatory. A throw is a move whereby you grab your opponent and force them into a direction against their will. Most of the time, you will be throwing your opponent to the ground. However, opponents may be thrown into the air, against a wall or in some other direction, depending on the throw used.
What types of throws are there?
Within the context of fighting games, there are two types of throws: regular throws and command throws. A regular throw is defined as a throw triggered by the standard throw input that every character has access to. Command throws are throws triggered through a character specific input. The classic example of a command throw is Zangief’s Spinning Pile Driver, which is the most iconic throw in all of fighting games. Some characters do not have access to a command throw at all, while others build their entire offense around connecting their command throw(s).
Common characteristics of a throw
– throws usually (but not always) lead to a hard knock down
– characters usually (but not always) have to be in close range though there are exceptions
– characters usually (but not always) can’t combo after one
– characters usually (but not always) can’t combo into one
– throws usually (but not always) cannot be blocked
– characters can usually (but not always) hit opponents out of a throw attempt
If you’ve ever been within any sort of proximity around fighting games, you’ve probably heard someone say something about the fact that throws are cheap. Maybe you’ve heard someone say that throws are banned in tournament play. You might have a buddy that has specific house rules that ban throws when you two play each other.
The reality is, throws are a part of the game. A pivotal part of the game, in fact. Are throws cheap? While their effectiveness will vary from game-to-game, the answer is, “No, throws are not cheap.” Every fighting game is designed in a way that allows opponents to escape a throw or ‘tech’ a throw. Even in games where there isn’t a specific mechanic built to help you beat a throw, such as the original Street Fighter II, you can still avoid throws if you play smart and can see them coming. Simply jump or move out of the way. If you’re still in the camp that believes that throws are cheap and no one should use them, then you can continue to whine while your opponents mercilessly throw you around.
The primary reason why throws are important
Fighting games at their core are a game of rock paper scissors. They are so close in nature that you can even map rock, paper and scissors to the three primary actions you have as a player in a fighting game. They map as follows:
Rock = Block
Paper = Throw
Scissors = Attack
If you played a game of scissors rock, the game would suck pretty bad. Without the guess work, everyone would pick rock. In a fighting game, without throw as an option, your opponent could simply hit you once, then block all of your attacks until the time ran out. Throws, when used effectively, force your opponent to play more honestly. Your opponent can’t simply turtle, because a throw will beat their block every time.
When you’re running an efficient offense, your opponent will constantly have to guess every time you approach whether you’re going to attack, throw or block. While the weighting of these three tactics will vary from match-to-match, you should always show your opponent that you’re willing to use all three to keep them on their toes.
Other reason why throws are important
Scoring a hard knockdown: Scoring a hard knockdown is an excellent way to break your opponent’s momentum and/or keep your momentum going. Once you’ve scored a hard knockdown, you’ll have time set up and put your opponent in a mix-up situation when they get off the ground.
Positional advantage: Throws can either leave an opponent directly beside, you, on the other side of the screen or somewhere in between. With the right throw, you can either put your opponent in your deadly vortex or get them off of your tail.
Damage: Throws generally do a decent amount of damage. While they are usually no substitute for a full combo, they’re great in key situations, particularly when you’re fighting someone on the defensive.
Mix-up potential: The tick throw is one of my all-time favourite tactics in all of fighting games. Above is a tutorial video, but I’ll explain the concept anyway. The way you do this is by hitting your opponent with an attack, which either puts your opponent in hit stun or block stun situation, depending on if they got hit. From there, immediately throw your opponent. This technique is particularly effective when your opponent blocks the initial attack, as they’ll likely still be holding their block from the first attack.
Don’t let others fool you; throws rock as part of a healthy, balanced offense. Mix them appropriately into your game and you’ll be very hard to predict.