Universal Fighting Game Guide: Countering Your Opponent’s Tactics

Anyone that has ever played a fighting game has been in this kid’s shoes before. Finding himself pit against a particular tactic that he doesn’t have the answer to, he just gets pummeled into submission, wondering what the heck just happened. While it’s easy to feel bad for the kid or vilify Justin Wong for being “cheap”, the kid has no one to blame but himself for getting beat like that. Not only did he fail to counter Justin’s projectile tactics, he just sat there and whined about it in hopes of shaming Justin.

In this edition of the Universal Fighting Game Guide, let’s talk about countering your opponent’s tactics. Whether it’s projectile spam, tick throws, resets, or whatever other gimmicks they have, you’re going to be ready with the perfect counter attack.

Be perceptive

The first step towards being able to counter a tactic is to know when you’ve been hit with one in the first place. This requires you to be making mental notes of everything. In particular, you want to make note of how your opponent behave in certain situations. For example, when your opponent is standing at full screen away, do they like to chuck fireballs? If so, how close do you have to be until they stop? If you get close, what do they then do to get you out of their space? The more granular you can get, the more prepared you will be to come up with an answer.

What you’re ultimately looking for is patterns. People often complain about fighting players who act randomly, but that’s far from the truth. As human beings, we’re not truly random. In the case of Justin Wong blasting that kid repeatedly with the rocket launcher, that pattern was very basic. However, other tactics may have more elaborate patterns, but they’re still patterns.

When your opponent executes a pattern that you don’t have an answer for, make a note of it. Doesn’t matter if you write it down, record video of it or just memorize what they did, but make sure you call it out. You might not have the time or brain power to process how to counter this tactic before the fight is over, but it’s important to know it when you see it, as it will likely be used against you again.

Understand that everything has an answer

There is no win-button tactic in 99.9% of fighters. As much as it can suck to be on the opposing end of an effective tactic, odds are, you just don’t know what the appropriate counter is yet. If something was truly broken, it would simply be patched out. If you’re too busy whining about the merits of someone’s approach to the game, then you deserve to lose to that tactic every time instead of finding the counter to it, which totally exists if you look hard enough for it.

In training mode, set the dummy to perform that tactic repeatedly

Training mode is not just a place for you to repeatedly hit a dummy. Using the record and playback options, you can have the computer set to perform that tactic repeatedly. Without the pressure of a live opponent in a real match, you have all of the time in the world to solve this problem.

Figure it out

Exactly how do you solve a tactic? Well, that depends on the tactic. It would be impossible for me to write out every single solution, but I can give you a few places where you could find the answer.

The Setup

In what scenario does your opponent perform this tactic? Do they use it when they have a full super bar? Or when they’re standing full screen away? Or if you block a specific attack? If you recognize that they’re going for the setup, you can probably game plan around stopping them from using it altogether.

Going back to the Justin Wong vs. the kid example. And for the sake of this discussion, let’s disregard obvious skill gap between these two players. We know that Justin was standing at full screen before launching his assault. Knowing this, maybe the answer was to stay in close so that Justin doesn’t have the time to fire off volley after volley. That way, you nullify the tactic before he even gets to start it.

The Execution

Justin then fires a rocket. At this point, what can you do? In Mortal Kombat X, projectiles fly through each other, so what can you do to stop it? Well for one, you can block. If you don’t want to take the chip damage, you can neutral jump or jump forward. You know he can shoot upwards, so maybe you can fake him into shooting an upward rocket that will allow you to run in and attack. If a rocket knocks you down, maybe delayed wake-up can throw off his timing and allow you to toss a fireball of your own during his recovery time. Certain characters also have moves that could go around that projectile, such as Scorpion’s teleport or Mileena’s dive kick.

The Recovery

The recovery time on Jax’s rocket launcher is relatively short. However, certain tactics leave the player vulnerable after executing them. If you’re in the right range and Jax fires off a rocket, you might able to simply jump over it and kick him in the head. Other tactics might leave the opponent so vulnerable during this recovery phase that you could really turn the tables on them with the right punish.

There’s always an answer

Whining about your opponent being cheap or the game being dumb will get you nowhere. If anything, all it does is make you look foolish. Pretty much everything in almost every fighting game ever has a counter if you put your mind to it. Heck, if you’re lazy, you’re probably one YouTube search away from finding counters to your exact problem. Type in your character’s name versus their character’s name in the search and watch how your character deals with it. However you want to go about it, there are answers to whatever conundrum you may come across.

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