There was a time when I thought the world of competitive Street Fighter didn’t extend beyond the bounds of local arcades. For a long time, I fancied myself as being savvy in Street Fighter II, as I could perform any of the game’s special moves on command and I could beat my friends. I didn’t think there was anything more to learn.
Boy, was I wrong.
Stumbling on one of the first live streams of a national Street Fighter IV tournament, watching the pros like Justin Wong, Ed Ma, Mike Ross, and Gootecks play felt like the moment when Neo saw the code in The Matrix scrolling everywhere. It was a whole other level of strategy, tactics, execution, and mind games that I simply didn’t think was possible in any video game, let alone in a franchise I thought I was so familiar with.
From that point, I was hooked. I wanted to play the game like they did. Maybe not to that level, but I wanted to experience that next level of Street Fighter that I didn’t even know existed. The road was…bumpy.
Along the way, I lost thousands of online matches. Thrown my controllers and fightsticks more often than I’d like to admit. Went through too many existential crisis’ to count. Even got stomped out by some of the best on stream in tournaments, with thousands of people trashing me in the chat. But the thrill of the fight kept me going. Being able to see and play the game from a more competitive perspective coloured the experience in a whole new way. Every right decision became something to celebrate. Every loss served as an opportunity to learn. Even training mode became entertaining, as I had developed the know-how to maximize my time with it.
Eventually, the thousands of hours of play would pay off. I could see and feel myself get better. The wins started stacking up. I climbed to the top of the leaderboards across different consoles and with different characters.
I would peak at the start of Street Fighter V. Winning my first-ever tournament in Kingston at the Cineplex WorldGaming regional finals, I would then move on to finish 17th at the national championships. It was a thrill to see myself playing so well, and to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best Street Fighter players in the country.
Nowadays, I’ve taken a step back from competitive Street Fighter. I’ll always support the scene, and at some point down the road, I hope to compete again. However, I’ve come to realize that I’m simply not a fan of Street Fighter V in the same way that I was with Street Fighter IV. If the next one is more my speed, then I’ll suit up for another go at the crown!
If there’s anything I can pass along in the broadest of terms, here’s a few tips for how to improve at Street Fighter, or any fighting game for that matter:
- Learn the game. The more knowledge you have about how the game works, the easier it becomes to make the right decisions.
- Read your opponent. While you may have a deep mechanical understanding of every character and mechanic in the game, everyone has their own unique play style. Make mental notes of their tendencies an exploit them for being complacent.
- Execute when the time comes. Once you have that opening, make it count! Make sure you have your combos, resets, mix-ups, and other tactics practiced in advance so that executing them is automatic in the heat of the moment.
- Learn from your losses. It’s easy to deflect your failures to a faulty controller, online lag, a cheap opponent, or any other excuse one can come up with. But you’ll never get better until you actually spend the time watching your replays, acknowledging where you made mistakes, and making an effort to improve!
- Have fun! For me, there is no better gaming joy than competing in a Street Fighter match. I understand that matches can get really tense, but find joy in the great decisions you make, and even the great moves that your opponent puts on you too. If it’s not fun, there’s no point in competing!
If you’re looking for tips that are a bit more specialized, maybe my Universal Fighting Game Guide has what you’re looking for!