Better to play against people Better than you or Same level?

So I am still a beginner in SSF4, but am trying to get better. When I go online and play I normally just click custom match and search for “any” rank. I end up getting bodied by a lot of the people, though because I am still grasping the concepts of neutral game and when and how to go in. So, is it better to play against people who completely destroy me so I can’t get anything going, or would it be more beneficial to play against people who are around a similar rank to be able to practice footsies and punishing better?

I find playing people who are better than me beneficial. Can’t go wrong with playing someone the same skill either.

No point in trying to learn on someone who’s perfecting you every time though. If someone is completely shutting you out you’re most likely missing some important aspect of the game that you aren’t going to magically figure out intuitively.

Learning about the game outside of playing is important. The more theory and information you learn outside can be applied inside.

I think there’s something to be gained from playing people in all three directions. playing people better than you will make you better as you adjust to playing them (this is way more effective with a long set against the same guy), playing people worse than you gives you a comfortable environment where you can try new things or perfect something you’ve been working on, and playing a lot with someone around your skill level usually means you’ll both level up together.

the only time it stops being helpful is when the skill gap is too big. that can be either direction - you’re too good or too bad for either of you to get anything out of it. it’s nice to play someone way better than you here and there though, it helps you measure progress over a long period of time. get destroyed by someone, play anyone you can for six months, play that guy again and see how differently the matches go.

it will benefit you only if you go into the trouble to figure out what they are doing and also try to apply it yourself.
but for your beginner level this would require many hours of training and playing matches. this regarding the offence only.

but playing with better players will help you certainly in your defense and developing a better mind game.

or else you could always play with players of your level or with better players where they lower their gear a level.

My personal experience is that there’s a threshold. Ideally you want to spend time fighting someone who’s a little better than you are. People have told me in the past that the opponents who are double perfecting me, yeah those are totally the guys I want to be fighting if I want to get better. Frankly as a new player that was bullshit. I didn’t start to really see any improvement until I started to regularly spar with this one guy who was pretty clearly better than me, but close enough to my level that every time I lost it felt like I could have won.

Ideally you could use both.

-Slightly better players for new learning experience and challenging yourself to do better.
-People of same skill to keep practicing that newfound knowledge.
-Occasionally, worse players to make sure your fundamental skills are rock solid and can’t be wavered by random bullshit, risky play or gimmicks (but not too often, or you risk getting lazy and predictable yourself).

Ranked is great but for me I think I get better when I play endless. You get to play same few people a bunch of times in a row and you learn how to play and adapt to specific players instead of just trying to not lose. It also helps to friend a bunch of people that are around your same skill set or a little better.

What size room, though? Should you make your own and wait?

Do people respond better to random friend requests in Endless or in Ranked?

With Ranked, you don’t have to wait to play at all… but you tend not to get rematches/sets (unless someone has a vendetta) and you don’t get to pick who you play (well at least not when you’re using fight request).

I find it best to play lobbys with 3-4 players. Usually I prefer to host so I can kick people with lag but if you play with friends that problem doesn’t come up too often.

If I play a random person and we have a few good match ups I’ll usually add them but honestly these past few months I always see the same random people playing all day and night anyway.

I would say the ideal opponent is about 20% better than you. Still within the same general skill range so you can understand what they’re doing better than you and later incorporate into your own play, but not so good that they’re totally destroying you while you learn nothing from the experience. If someone decided to study mathematics, they’d start with arithmetic, not calculus.

Ranked is only good to feel a little bit of fake pressure, perhaps in preparation for a tournament. It won’t help you learn the game, it will usually make you play tight and you will be less inclined to experiment.

Endless against character specialists is where you will learn your trade. At low levels the game is about simply executing the basics better than your opponent, at mid level it’s about “tricking”, “fooling” or “baiting” your opponent to gain the upper hand, this is usually referred to as “mix ups” or “vortex” meaning your play can’t be as predictable as at the low level.

At advanced level it’s about adapting your game plan on the fly inside a match, realising and reading what your opponent wants to do but countering that by think one or two steps ahead.

I agree with the person that said there is something to learn at each level. Even for advanced players.

Thanks for the responses guys. I have been going into endless the past few days, but most of the time I go up against people who play against me once and then either kick me or leave the hosted game. It’s helping though. I am trying to improve my footsies and the better players are helping with that since they aren’t doing random stuff.

you should play offline with people better than you. that way you can ask for some pointers. most people are good about teaching new players, the bigger the fgc the better

I am going to try once school picks back up. According to the thread for Rochester, though, a lot of people play marvel or anime fighters.

Host your own 3 man rooms (I find 3 a good number, it’s less waiting but you can still look at the player habits), that lets you decide who you want to play and who you want to avoid.

Depends on what you want to learn I guess. When you’re low-level I find playing against bad players relatively helpful because they generally rely on gimmicks, forcing you to learn how to deal with them. For instance playing against a bad Oni was helpful for me because it got me more accustomed to dealing with his ex slash crossup gimmick. Being able to bait DPs (and other attacks) with safejumps, and execute simple punishes is fundamental, and something that you can learn and exercise against relatively bad players just don’t expect to gain much helpful matchup knowledge.

However generally I find playing people worse than me detrimental; particularly in long sets. I’d say if you want to level up it’s best to play people with slightly higher skill than yourself. You’ll get to there level with time, easily, and from there you can move to someone else, get to there skill level; endless process where you keep progressing, and moving up in regards to your ability. Unfortunately you have to learn all matchups individually, basically; leveling up, in SSFIV involves a lot of grinding. It’s a slow process, even if you have the fundamentals matchup knowledge takes a long time as what’s viable against low level opponents may not be what works against high. So often you find yourself relearning matchups if you’re too familiar with lesser opponents who make more frequent mistakes.

Playing better players only helps you refine your game. You need to play players on your level to improve your game. The best way is to have someone better than you tutor you through your matches with them. If they aren’t telling you why what you did was not optimal (nothing you do is wrong, even jumping) they are not teaching you.

IE1: You play people your level and don’t know why they are winning. The tutor says you let them jump in on you too much (had the opponents been on a higher level, you tutor would have just said footsies and you would be lost). At that point you practice by yourself and with your tutor your AA’s. Then you play people better than you, not to win, but to make sure they get zero jump ins on you.

IE2: You learned to AA. You play people on your level and you are losing. The tutor says you’re damage output is too low (had you played someone on a higher level, you would have not hit your opponent and your tutor would not have know about your crap damage output). At that point you practice better combos, hit confirms and safe strings. From there you play better players and try to make sure you’re damage output is at a scary level the few times you confirm or punish.

IE3: With high damage output and great AAs you need to learn the ground game. If you play higher level players, you’ll get beat to the punch every time so you play people your level to actually get a chance to push buttons. Your tutor tells you about baiting, wiff punishing and trading. You practice vs your tutor to get the feel of it. Then you play better players with the intention of not winning, but keeping consistent the three lessons you just learned: don’t let em jump in on you, hit em hard and beat them with your ground game. Next thing you know, you’re winning. It’s time to move onto stronger players and more advanced footsies…

Thanks for all of the info, guys. Got a bunch of answers that I didn’t even ask for in the original question and they will help. I just have to put them into practice now. My AA’s definitely need work, but it’s hard because I am playing Chun Li and her options are, according to the character forum, very character specific/situational. I definitely need work and to find more people to play/help.

I find that it helps a good deal. When I’m playing against someone who is way more skilled than I am, it forces me to stop bad habits that lead to me getting unnecessary damage and lets me experiment with stuff like footsies and other basic fundamentals. The only time it doesn’t really help is when the player is so good that you don’t get the chance to do anything offensively or defensively.