Balancing time in the lab vs playing matches as a beginner

For some quick backstory, I used to play fighting games as a kid but never serious enough to really get into it. I’d play with friends and at home but never bought sticks, spent time at the arcade etc. Some time back a few friends got into 3rd Strike and we’d play but again with just slightly more interest than when I was younger, and this lasted maybe 6-10 months about 7 years ago.

When SF4 came out I picked it up and played it here and there but not a ton. Finally when SSF4 was announced I dusted vanilla off, picked up a TE and decided I wanted to try to get good. I played Ken for a while but struggled with adjusting to the stick so I decided to work on execution. I worked on it for a while, trying to get through all of the trials with a few different characters I was interested in and essentially drove my interest in actually playing into the ground. I wasn’t having fun just working on execution and combos that I’d probably never use in a match (since the trials aren’t necessarily bnb’s) but I didn’t want to venture out into actually playing until I felt better about my execution. The problem is, I didn’t (and still really don’t) know how to measure that. I got busy with school and work and didn’t touch it again.

I decided to come back to it a few weeks ago and to switch characters (and pick up MvC3). I want a rushdown character because I think it’d be fun so I’m messing around with Rufus and Ibuki currently. Basically this thread is to ask how do you balance spending time in the lab working on a) getting your execution down then b) working on combos and actually getting in play time? How much do you expect of yourself as far as execution goes before you decide that’s enough to play against people so that you can start identifying holes in your game and improving from a strategic standpoint as opposed to just a matter of improving your dexterity? I’m definitely afraid of forcing myself to work on execution so much that I lose interest again, but at the same time I don’t see the point in actually playing people when I feel my execution is still not great.

That ended up being a lot longer than I expected it to be haha. I’m hoping I’m not the only one who has this issue, and I’m really looking forward to seeing other peoples’ views on it whether they are beginners like me or more advanced players.

If you are still struggling with execution, I would drop Ibuki for now. Just focus on Rufus. The good news, you can do a lot with him with somewhat low execution. The bad news, you really need to learn his one frame link as it is part of his bnb. He is a much more scary character if you can do that reliably.

If I were you, assuming training mode bores the shit out of you, I would do about 30 mins every day (or maybe every other day) and spend the rest of your gaming time getting in casuals with people locally. It’s really better you start playing other people as soon as possible. Online is an option too, I guess, but you’re much better off playing with locals. Check the regional matchmaking section to try to find people to play with locally.

What works for me is this:

  1. Hit up training mode, learn one technique / combo to 90-95% accuracy. Basically, get it down in your muscle memory.
  2. Play a few hours of offline casuals, attempt to go for the new technique whenever possible, even if there’s something more optimal you could do. This will help you learn to execute as a reaction rather than having to think about what you’re doing.
  3. Repeat with a new technique

Second this. Online mode throws in a lag factor that can screw up your execution.

Something I’ve done with some friends is picking random select against them. Sure, I flat out didn’t learn some of the characters I used, but I learned the basic techniques of those characters and those helped me when I played against them.

Awesome, thank you guys for all of the great suggestions. My execution has been improving and the biggest block right now is timing links and what not (I still struggle with more difficult execution combos, but in general it’s gotten much better). I have a buddy who is in basically the same situation as me right now and we were discussing trying to get together at least once a week to play offline together so we might have to reach out and try to find some others in the area.

I remember reading a long time ago that someone suggested playing a few matches where you just do normals and some where you just block and don’t attack at all in order to help get used to your character and what not. Is this a good idea?

Depends who you ask. Some people swear by it, and some people say its a waste of time.

Just doing normals is a waste of time; it conditions you to make sub-optimal choices by removing what are sometimes key options.

Just blocking can be good, but I’d suggest you try that in a game where blocking is harder than it is in SFIV - blocking instincts carry over very well from game to game. Personally, I learned to defend by playing Guilty Gear, but MvC3 might be a good choice as well.

I use the technique of learning a new combo or trick in training mode, then going into some matches and trying to land it on players. I also usually like to warm up in the training room a little bit before playing other people. One by one you can add lots of tools to your fighting game arsenal.

Today after work i’ll be in training mode trying to learn how to better utilize frame-traps with Chun-Li in MvC3, then trying to get some real humans to fall for the frame-traps afterwards.

put Ibuki on the back burner for now. Invite some of your friends over(or go to their place) for some sparring(that way you don’t have to worry about any lag).

Yeah as much as I’d like to main her, the more I read the more I think she wouldn’t be a good first char. I haven’t had much time to play since I posted the thread (too busy watching the stream and finishing Peace Walker) but I did practice with Rufus for 20-30 minutes last night. Pretty much sat in training just working on that one frame link in his bnb (when I practice combos I break them into chunks starting with the hardest piece then I link each peace together as I get it down) so it was pretty much just working on that, s.hp and it’s fucking tough. I think I have it about 30-40% of the time right now.

Edit: And yeah, I’m definitely starting to throw together some local play time as soon as I can which will hopefully be around Friday.

Dude you live in milpitas! Go get some friends at svgl or mgl! Spectate a tournament or something. Being in a good area is what its all about

I’m in the same boat. I’ll take the advice as well and just practice with Rufus because my execution’s getting better but it’s still far from good enough. I admit, I’ve been avoiding Rufus just for the simple fact that his belly scares me. XI

Yeah, I know I know. Me and my friend (who I mentioned earlier) went about 2 1/2 months ago for one of the arcade night things at the Milpitas one shortly after I moved back here but at that point I hadn’t touched fg’s in a while so we just fucked around on random stuff but seeing the community here is what reignited our interest in getting serious again. I’m definitely still too intimidated to actually go play but maybe in a few weeks or something.

Haha yeah, I hate his character design but after trying like 8 chars that I liked the design but not the play style I just had to pick a good rushdown character despite that fucking belly.

Im quite in the same sitch as you and I train longer too, since I just got my stick and getting used to it is flipping hard . Id spend hours in training mode trying to get back the most I could. Even all the timing stuff felt different on a stick but don’t be afraid to play other people. It’s one of the best ways you could learn. And don’t worry about losing as well. It’s part of the game :slight_smile: goodluck!

I live by this for my casuals. It helps you learn the match ups quick so after a few nights of winner stays picking random only you will see some improvement in your overall game knowledge.