I thought I’d do a small and hopefully concise thread for people who are struggling with the concept of “frame trapping”. The term gets thrown around a lot these days and, as you progress through Street Fighter 4, the need to understand and utilise “frame traps” becomes more and more vital, especially as it’s almost the “counter tactic” to opponents who are adept at delayed crouch techs.
I hope you all enjoy and understand it!!!
So, first of all, we need to understand the concept of a true block string.
A true block string is a series of attacks that are performed one after another with absolutely no opportunity for your opponent to retaliate. To keep this Ken orientated here is a basic example:
Jumping FP, cr.mk xx fierce DP
Each attack creates so much block stun that the next attack is striking the opponent before they leave the block stun of the previous attack. No matter what the opponent is trying to do while they are in block stun, they cannot perform a move. They can even let go of their stick/pad and they won’t even be able to stop blocking.
So, using a true block string doesn’t really give your opponent an opportunity to do anything and this includes the opportunity to make a mistake. Thus, in Ken’s case (we have no “safe” specials that we can use to keep us in the advantage at the end of a true block string), true block strings are of very little use to us.
So this is where “frame traps” become useful.
In it’s simplest terminology, a “frame trap” is basically a “gap” in a block string, designed to allow the opponent the opportunity to make a mistake.
I’m going to discount special moves, Supers and Ultras for the time being and just discuss normal moves to begin with.
The fastest starting normal move in the whole of SF4 and SSF4 is 3 frames. Therefore, leaving a gap that is smaller than 3 frames long means that your opponent CANNOT hit you with a normal attack.
As an example, Ken’s cr.lp leaves him at +2 frames on block. If he were to perform a cr.mk (has 4 frame start-up) immediately after a cr.lp, he has, in effect, left a 2 frame window in his block string.
Now, if the opponent had been mashing on crouch tech (cr.lk+lp), the chances are they would have let loose a cr.lk during this 2 frame window. But because the cr.lk takes 3 frames to become active, Ken would hit them with his cr.mk for the counterhit and a combo opportunity.
Is everyone still with me? Good…
The slower and more controlled that your opponent is will reduce the likelihood of them “mashing” on crouch techs and thus, the general “frame trap” tactic is to extend the size of the gap that you are leaving them.
This gives them a larger opportunity to make a mistake but, unfortunately, it also gives them enough time to complete a mashed out normal move.
Here is an array of “frame traps” that Ken could use, with varying sized gaps.
(Please note that cr.lk chains into cr.lp leaving no gaps in block stun)
cr.lk, cr.lp, fierce DP = 1 frame gap (cr.lp = +2 on block, fierce DP = 3 frame start-up.)
cr.lk, cr.lp, cr.mk = 2 frame gap (cr.mk = 4 frame start-up.)
cr.lk, cr.lp, cr.mp = 3 frame gap (cr.mp = 5 frame start-up.)
cr.lk, cr.mk = 4 frame gap (cr.lk = +0 on block, cr.mk = 4 frame start-up.)
cr.lk, cr.mp = 5 frame gap
cr.lp, cl.st.hk = 6 frame gap (cl.st.hk = 8 frame start-up.)
cr.lk, f.st.mp = 7 frame gap (f.st.mp = 7 frame start up.)
“So What’s best?”
So, the beauty of all this extra level of tactics is that neither small nor large gaps is better. Smaller gaps are safer but are less likely to beat someone diligently timing their crouch techs. Larger gaps are more likely to lose you the advantage but also give the opponent much more room to make an error. It’s VERY tempting to stick out an attack in a big 5 frame gap!!
But if you leave your opponent a nice big 7 frame gap and they STILL don’t fall for it, guess what, they would have gotten thrown if you’d gone for a tick throw.
Obviously, we then need to add in the layers of tactics that Specials, Supers and Ultras add in to the mind games, but I’ll leave it there for now.
I hope that this clears up a few questions for people and hopefully we can keep the Ken forum clear of the “frame trap” questions that fill many of the other character threads across SRK. I know that for quite a few people, this will be extremely obvious stuff, but I hope that this helps a few Ken mainer’s “catch up” so to speak, so that we can all level up together!!