You can Lead a Scrub to Water, but you can't make 'em Think

In a disappointing development, it seems we have a new wave of scrubs announcing theyre not only too stupid to play well, but too stupid even to watch a video. As any player whose SF history predates this site can tell you, what you get here every damn week used to be considered solid gold. Not too long ago, people killed to see how the champs played, and spent hours hunting down terrible quality VHS dubs, then begging someone to send them a copy. Now, were spoon-feeding top quality SF to you every week, and it turns out youre too stupid even to swallow. Heres you:

“Buh! He aint done no nuthin I caint do! Im the next durn Alex Valley! Yee-ha! (a hoe-down ensues)”

What cousin Merle means, of course, is that he didnt see any moves he couldnt do, and perhaps (like in CVS) not even any combos he couldnt do. Does that mean he could play like that? Any non-idiot (or even a bonafide idiot, who has at least read this column) will know that special moves + combos do not equal SF. Theres more to the equation- a lot more.

Since Im talking to morons, Ill try and speak clearly: You scrubs watch these videos wrong. In particular, you watch them passively. A lifetime of butt-widening, beer-bellifying NFL fandom (and the like) has led to these sorry habits. You see a match, and you just sit back and watch it like a sitcom. Youre not living it alongside the players, trying to think like they do, in real time- youre just soaking it up like the spineless sponge you are. To really appreciate whats going on, you need to feel the tension, and try and react as they do.

The typical scrub match-evaluation goes like this: You watch the video all the way through, then think back to all the places where someone seemed to blow an advantage, miss something, etc. Now, the first identifying mark of the forum scrub (the modern, louder (though thankfully non-scented) descendant of the mall scrub) is that he always watches videos with respect to what they say about HIM and his precious l33t skeelz. Hes not watching to understand (if he did, he would hardly be the scrub he proves himself to be), hes watching to try and feel cool about himself, and maybe to find some simple trick or combo he can steal. He feels cool by trying to imagine himself playing the match, and thinking how well hed do against the best. Now mind, this isnt done by getting off their butts to actually do it- oh heavens no! (insert excuses about money/parents/gf/having a life/just being too cool/etc, here), but instead, by trying to insert themselves into some random match they saw (a related variant of the same scrub trick: the shockingly dumb transitive fest of “well, I can beat so and so, who once played a guy who once placed 19th in a Cali tournament, so technically, according to logimacality, that means Im pretty good.” And he didnt even have to leave the mall to figure it out!).

Because your scrubby motive is to always think the best of yourself, rather than understand the truth, a favorite evaluation trick is to pull some sequence entirely out of context. This works by ingeniously ignoring all the expectations, patterns, psychological advantages, and momentum that the other player had established, and just focusing on an isolated incident. What this does is to let the scrub get away with thinking “Sheeeucks! I coulda DPd that!”, or whatever. Bzz. Not only do you fail to notice how much easier it is to think “I coulda DPd it!” when you ALREADY KNOW WHATS GOING TO HAPPEN (this is the special, scrubs-only variant of the psychic DP: the hindsight DP!), but the obvious fact is that you COULDNT have. If you could have, youd be winning tournaments too, instead of pouting at home and taking out your frustrations on training mode (scrubs at home will be reaching for that bag of excuses right about now, again).

Here are a few pointers on how to watch these matches:

Look for what the players DONT do. “But how can anything interestin be a happenin if a whole mess o life aint disappearin, or if there taint no huge ex-plo-zee-uhn on the screen, or leastwise one uh dem purdy color super-deals?” I know this is hard Merle, but bear with me. Yes, its important to notice what they do (with Kim, dont jump in, poke with st. Short, sweep a lot, etc.), but a lot of times its what they dont do. Why arent they going for the big Mag Tempest combo with Magneto? “Ooh! I know! Its because they suck, right?” Bzz. Sorry Cletus, theres a little more to it.

Basically, this was covered last article. You dont want to give away opportunities if you dont have to. In fact, you dont want to give away anything at all- you want to be minimal in all regards. Think of your bad kung-fu movies if it helps (images of bad kung-fu movies seem to influence scrub-think a lot). Whos the real badass? Mr. Flying Fists of Fury whos shooting out twelve million flailing attacks a second, or the calm, cool, collected guy who send Flying Fists packing with a single, well-placed move? Theres a sequence like that in pretty much every one of those movies. When applied to tournaments (since thats what youre watching) I call this the lowest common denominator theory- just like Mr. Cool, you want to do as little as possible necessary to still win. And rather than an embarrassment, this is a major skill.

Tournaments, even for seasoned pros, are tense environments. As such, youll often see MORE mistakes, not less, in actual tournament footage. It can also tend to be slightly conservative, because people dont always trust themselves to go for the flashy stuff. Another thing outside observers will miss in watching is that these matches MATTER. For anyone whos never been to a real tournament (and no, getting your 10 friends together at the mall and xeroxing a flyer doesnt mean youve been to a real tournament, please sit down), this is extremely difficult to grasp. Theyre thinking “Wtf- its the same game I play all the time, isnt it?” Yes, but mostly no. Tournament play is extremely different from casual play. At my first big tournament, I went on an over-an-hour-long, pre-tourney win-streak, against all the best players. I was a machine. Then when the tournament rolled around, I sweat my way into the final 16 (this was a 256 man tournament, IIRC), and got wiped out by someone I had beaten easily before (and beat easily again later). When you actually get to your first real tournament, then youll know what Im talking about. The worst youve ever faced before was that smart-mouthed kid who worked at Cinnabon, and if he managed to beat you, the only thing that stood between you and revenge was a trip to the bill changer. Not now. If you blow it, youre out. And these smart-mouthed kids live 2 thousand miles away- there wont be any chances for revenge. And youre not just playing to stay on the machine- theres actual stuff involved here, not to mention bragging rights. You can tell yourself it doesnt really matter, but (if youre good enough to have a shot at winning in the first place) your guts wont believe you. As such, you want to conserve all your mental energy, and focus as much as you can. You dont want flash unless its required. Ask anyone about their first tournament. Its different than you think. You dont know. Shut up.

Back to the loud variety of scrub critics. How do I know they dont know what theyre talking about? They prove it themselves. Once again, I ask you to take a look at what isnt there. Whats missing from these jackasses is any actual contribution. Heres what you dont get: pointers on how (move x) would beat that poke for free. Or how so-and-so cant retaliate against this move, so you should shift your offense more towards that. And so on. To wit, what you dont get is something worth knowing- instead you get the empty opinions of someone whos proving he doesnt understand by speaking in the first place. Worse than nothing. If you show me an average match between two scrubs, I can tell you a million things theyre doing wrong. You no-name scrub critics, however, cant manage anything beyond the super limp- “uhm, you should, uh, roll more!”, or the time-honored “jump in when he fireballs!”. Those above the third-grade level might realize “Hey, I have nothing to say because, while not flashy, this is some really solid playing.” But instead, the scrub has to convince himself hes a big man by publicly announcing that hes “unimpressed”. If he were there, he would have won easily. How exactly? Um, no comment. All they can ever offer is empty, 20-20 hindsight. Does anyone need to be reminded they could probably win if they knew every move their opponent was going to make in advance? Then shut up.

It all comes down to this: If youre too dumb to appreciate the invaluable resources youre getting handed, for free, with a little bow on it and cherries on top, at least try and refrain from showing it off. Before you post, take a moment to reflect. Collect yourself, breathe deeply, look in the mirror, and seriously consider: Am I a complete f*cking moron? Thanks in advance.

This should be what comes up when someone tries to make their first post.

Good read.

…you callin’ me a scrub!!!

wow im saving this incase i never find it again. great fucking read man.

Yeah, really. This article pretty much describes everyone who posts comments on YouTube… lol

Like all of your posts here this ones a great read. As someone who is just starting to take these types of games seriously this site and these kinds of pointers are just great. I can’t even imagine what it was like before sites like this. Though sometimes you have to know what to look for in match replays and such. Having recently read up on the concept of footsies it totally changes the way I look at match vids. Instead of looking at the combos and ultras and the kind of things that seem like they make or break the game I’ve started noticing little things. When a player changes tactics or does something unexpected like grab when they usually go in for a combo for instance. It’s definitely changing the way I look at, and play, fighting games.

“well, I can beat so and so ONLINE, who once played a guy who once placed 19th in a Cali tournament, so technically, according to logimacality, that means I?m pretty good.”


Such a good read, all starting players have to read this. I completely agree. Entering tournaments is such a critical part of advancing one’s skill and getting a feel of how tense the game can really get. Youtube observers really have no clue what’s going on in player’s head at high level tournament play because they’ve never experienced it. You can’t appreciate skill till you get your ass handed to you in tourney play.

The people that brag and complain alot should read this. This is some good stuff!

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This is exactly the kind of thing I’ve been looking for. It seems like a lot of the depth of these videos is lost on me, but maybe now I can get a little more out of them. Gratitude!

Once again, a great read.

Nice title too :lol:


Wow…I feel like I just got splooged upon with hate. But I appreciate the essence of everything you said in your little ditty.

That’s actually how I try to view each fight. I’m very new to this scene, and after getting my hands on a controller to play the game, I have such a new-found appreciation for every player out there. My wife and I are both enjoying the game (SSF4), and though she likes to joke sometimes at others’ expense when watching a fight in an Endless Battle room, I try to remind her that “it’s easier said than done.”

I’ve played guitar for over 30 years, and this is the first game I’ve played where I’ve felt like it’s demanding a similar level of commitment in order to get better. My greatest fear, though, is that I usually require a lot longer to grok things than others, and I often feel left behind the pack.

Anyway…I’ll shut up now and go into my scrub corner. :blush:

Jesus, the best thing I’ve read in a long, long time.
When I came back to SRK about a week ago and saw the Newbie Dojo, I was literally appalled by how scrubs baawwwed and cried because top-level play is ‘boring’ and ‘it’s all just turtling, that’s so stupid’…seriously?
What the hell is wrong with these people? I don’t play SF4 - more a Marvel player - and it pains me to see scrubs on XBL going “omfg, you do the same shit over and over…that’s so retarded” or “wtf man, all you do is jump and run away like a pussy with Storm, that’s so retarded” or “wtf man, Psylocke is just way too fast and you can’t even block that shit…that’s so retarded”

The next time some scrub messages me on XBL to bitch and baww, I’m gonna just send them back the link to this post.

The fact that this and other threads had to be made in the first place is a shame in itself. I blame the transition from arcade community to console community. There were no “Play To Win” discussions back in the day, it was common sense. You enter the arcade, wait half an hour for a turn, and then when you’re up you’re challenging the current winner in front of everyone in a match that consists of several rounds that only last seconds. You either win in front of everyone or you lose in front of everyone and go back to the end of the line and wait another half hour. Whether you played for respect, money, or just to stay on, you played to win.

Hunting down VHS footage? There was no internet and almost no one would record. If a few players did have some tapes you would have to physically hunt them down and have them physically lend you the footage. Good footage of pros is also not something the few people that had were willing to let others know existed nor to just simply share. In the early and mid-90s if you were a beginner and you wanted to learn you had to travel and stand up and stick your head over the rest of the mass crowd in order to just catch a glimpse of pro game play. The thing that surprised me most back in the day when SF2 hit arcades was how everyone got into it and how dedicated and willing to improve everyone was. Nowadays, the large fighting game population is split among a myriad of fighting games such as SSF4, SF2T, VS, JoJo, KoF, GG, BB, MvC2, MB, VF, DoA, Tekken, TvC, XvsSF, AH, MK, CvS, Smash, etc etc… you can name games for a long while and plus now MMOs among other games have gained peoples’ attention. Back in the day, everyone played SF, in the arcade, and it was awesome. That is all…

good read

Thanks for the read!

I am always looking on ways to get better, and reading this made me realize some of my own scrubbish faults. I’d have much respect for the games and the players, and one day hope to be considered a top level player.

Excellent read!
Im a beginner trying to get serious with fighting games and I’m glad I got this knowledge in my head in the beginning

I’m a very new player, so I don’t yet fall under the scrub category he’s describing. Seth seems like a really cool guy, but one thing I’ve noticed reading over these Domination posts is a seething, jaded outlook on things. Is the best way to reach people that don’t realize things really to call them and idiot and a moron every sentence? There’s a lot of good advice in this post, buried under a lot of frustration and anger.

I didn’t realize who the TC was at first and I’m sort of surprised, since most of Seth’s interviews and live vids he comes off as a nice, knowledgeable guy. Maybe this forum is his outlet to vent. This post comes off as typical keyboard warrior/forum elitism though. This isn’t something specific to Street Fighter, fighting game, or even gaming in general.

Anyway, I would NOT suggest true noobs read this sort of stuff. It’s not directed at people truly new to the game, it’s directed towards people who’ve been playing a while and still exhibit certain undesirable traits. These sorts of people are not exclusive to fighting games either and can be found in all walks of life.

Funniest thing about this thread is the very people he’s taking a stab at won’t get anything from this post. They will skim it, call him a douche, and continue on. So he might as well have made it less aggressive and more helpful for people that may not have reached this stage of scrub, and steer them towards the right path before they went to far. In it’s current form, it scares off true noobs who may really be looking for help and will have no impact on the people he’s directing his comments to because their brain will immediately go on the defensive and won’t soak up any of it.

I understand the frustration. Not about this game, but in anything in life that you do for a long time and know a lot about can cause you to become frustrated by people that don’t seem to “get it”.

If someone wants to actually help out the average newbie, someone should start a new thread, edit the original post to take out all the angry fluff, give credit to this post and link to it, and post the revised stuff.

Man, I’ve been a member of SRK for a while and never decided to look in this thread. Super excellent read. Go Seth!