I just wanted to ask if anyones got tips on playing more reactionary or even what is meant by it exactly? I guess its self explanatory to play using reaction more but thought Id ask if theres more to it? Alot of my anti-air for e.g. seems to get stuffed alot and I am guessing maybe my reactions are too slow?
Also random question. I like watching matches online, Evo etc and am pretty good at knowing what X player should do in that moment or what is going to happen most likely (like predicting), but when playing in matches myself I never seem to be able to, or am not even thinking about it very much. Maybe distracted or in a kind of freak out mode. Has anyone else experienced a similar thing?
In my opinion, “reactionary play” comes with experience and experience only. If the game is new to you or haven’t been playing for a long time, it’s very possible that one: You haven’t picked a main yet. Two: You’re not even close to learning the matchups, or three: You’re playing on auto pilot. In my experience, it was when I picked my main finally (which is Gen) and learned matchups with that character that I was able to react to things quickly and see certain moves coming. As far as anti-airing, if it’s getting stuffed you’re most likely timing it wrong. Experience will help mend that. Just keep playing.
As someone who is just watching the match from the sidelines you often have a more relaxed and less tense mental state, this allows you to see things clearly. However because you are not truly involved into the match you will not be able to see some of the mindgames going on during the match. If you play a match you are processing alot more information and it is easier to become overwhelmed, but because you are so into the match your reactions are heigtened also. Pure reactionary play is about anticipation which like Dezman said only comes with alot of experience. It’s though thinking calm and clearlyin the heat of the match and being prepared so you can react to certain things.
Really think about the opponents tendencies and what tools they have at their disposal and risk vs the reward in a certain situations and what their best options might be at any given time. Playing a character that controls space well with poke and projectiles can severly limit the opponent options uring the neutral game while a rushdown character will limit the opponents options to retaliate from close range. But in short, experience and studying matchups, really study them, not just look at a few matches of those matchups, go into training and experiment.
Im gonna echo what has already been said here, being able to rely heavily on reactions stems from playing a lot. To expand on this, when you start playing you have to focus a lot on things like anti-airing, footsies, and execution. It takes a lot of mental energy to maintain the neutral game when you are learning sf, meaning that decisions are made relatively slowly.
Lets break down the steps required to anti-air someone:
1.) You have to anticipate a jump-in. On some level you have to know/suspect that your opponent will jump, meaning that you have act accordingly.
2.) You have to register when your opponent jumps that they are in the air.
3.) You have to perform the move you have to use to knock your opponent out of the air. Whether it be dp or a normal you have to act fast, hitting your opponent while they are in the air and you are on the ground.
For a beginning player, this is not a process that is automatic. As you play more and more and pick up on the tendencies of other players and know the places where certain characters want to be against the character you are playing this process becomes much faster. You go through each of the steps at a much more elevated rate. Whereas it may take two or three jumps from an opponent to finally anti-air an opponent when you are learning eventually it will come to the point where you have anti-aired enough opponents that you will not only be able to hit them on their first jump in but also quickly switch from maintaining a solid footsie match to anti-airing.
Just think of the mental energy needed to maintain a match as something tangible. Know that with experience you will have to think less about fundamentals, practicing things like aa’s, footsies, and execution leads to having to rely on using less mental energy to maintain a good neutral game. When things like these are automatic and come out based on instinct you are more readily be able to devote mental energy to picking up on your opponents tendencies and how you can play your strengths off of their weaknesses. Players at a very high level generally have amazing fundamentals, and thats what makes them able to consistently make good decisions. Because they don’t have to commit very much energy to maintaining the neutral game they are more readily able to feel their opponent out and find holes in their gameplay.
When we are watching pro players at home there are a lot of intangible things that we take for granted, like where a character stands in relation to their opponent or what normals are used when playing footsies. These are things that may seem irrelevant but the fact that these things are so easily maintained by top players is what makes them able to be in the positions to make the good reads that they do. They have plenty of mental energy left to focus on getting into their opponents head. The fact that we cannot maintain these intangible fundamentals nearly as easily or effectively as these top players is what leads to us making bad decisions even when we feel that we know better. Ergo, when you have most of a match happening at an instinctual level you are able to devote more mental energy to making twitch reactions to what an opponent does during the neutral game instead of having to worry solely about fundamentals.
EDIT: Also, a very abridged answer, if you are already expecting something it is a TON easier to react to it. Knowing what your opponent will do leads to gdlk reactions