Muscle Power Monthly: First Edition

mpm

Welcome to the first installment of MPM, everyone! My name is Damian (@telidas), and it’s my sincerest hope that you’ll get a few laughs and maybe some useful information out of this monthly article. I’ll be covering things from around the FGC, with special attention given to Street Fighter V since that’s my fighter of choice at the moment. You will get insights and opinions from pros (when available), updates on personal experiences and appearances at events (when I’m not being lazy {rare}), and other random acts of randomness. I will make every attempt to include newbies and non-FGC folks along the way. Okay, enough with the intro – let’s get to it!

I: Circumventing the Tiers

For those of you that may not know, often times certain characters are thought of as “high tier” or “low tier”. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but basically a high tier character is looked at as one that offers maximum return on minimum effort, whereas a low tier character requires a lot more work to be effective with. Not everyone even agrees with these labels, so I’ll leave it to you to accept or denounce them. In any case, the results speak for themselves right now in the Capcom Pro Tour. Ryu, Ken, Necalli, Chun Li and Cammy have been dominating lately (let’s throw in Mika for “Mika happened” sake, and Karin for “ooo ho ho ho ho” sake). Xiao Hai and GamerBee anyone? Yeah, Cammy and Necalli steamrollers, respectively. But what can we really pull from that information? What does it mean when we see the same characters taking major tournaments when a game hasn’t even been out for a full year, like SFV?

Well, the community is kind of torn on the subject. In briefly Tweeting with LTG (LowTi3rGod), he made the case that both pros and low-league players suffer from high tier dominance.

ltgtweet

I mean, whatever opinions you have on the guy, he has a point. Speaking only from Silver League experience, there is a different state of mind you get put in against a tough Ken player, for example. You start playing “harder” and ignoring solid fundamentals. Then you get frustrated and start yelling at the cat and punching furniture. Yes? Yes. This is not excessive behavior at all.

I also managed to catch up with Circa eSports’ Long Phi Nguyen (LPN)  on the subject. LPN is one of the few pros out there who can use several characters efficiently, though he prefers taking Birdie and Alex into battle most of the time. He subscribes to the school of thought that a character’s potential is in the hands of the player, though there are caveats:

…I don’t think there’s much of a gap when it comes to the character potentials in the game. Obviously there are some characters that are easier to use and are capturing more tournament victories with right now. Looking at the current CPT Victories, I believe almost every single character in the game has obtained a 1st place victory in either a ranking or premier event. Not necessarily saying the game is completely balanced but more so that it needs more time to marinate.

lpn
LPN

There’s a lot of wisdom in this statement. The game hasn’t been out that long, and, as with most competitive games, there are some early favorites that might have it a little “easier”. Anyone play StarCraft 2? Remember the Terran 1-1-1 (one of each production building) build back in vanilla? Sure, there were other openers, but if you weren’t using 1-1-1 most of the time, you were probably handicapping yourself. Then the game evolved, the meta changed, and it wasn’t looked at as a go-to opener anymore. Obviously there was balancing via patches to take into consideration, but you see where I’m coming from. LPN elaborates:

Some characters can carry the players really well By default (I.e. Mika,  Necalli, etc) because they are designed to just be really strong right off the bat and some requires more skill ( i.e. Juri, FANG, etc) .
Without digging too much into that, think of Xian for a moment. Xian is one of the world’s best FANG players, if not the best. Watching him play is like watching someone do calculus, except it’s fun. His setups are amazing, his precision is amazing…you get the picture. His play is a work of art, even when he gets beat. There are no random or wake-up DPs (dragon punch) or “air legs” to rely on with FANG. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but remember the commentators laughing at the absurd amount of DPs the Japan Cup grand finals (Poongko vs. GamerBee)? It gets out of control sometimes, and while it’s not exactly what you’d call “clean” play, it’s been effective. With FANG, the skill-factor mandates clean play to be effective. Some have even said you have to be a little masochistic to main FANG. This is the sort of stuff that I believe we’ll see fleshed out as the game ages a bit.
II: Tales from the Silver League
04-shoryuken
Your random DP has entered the station

I was getting beat up pretty bad a couple of weeks ago when I started thinking of ideas for this piece. Random DPs were driving me absolutely insane. Poking? Nah, get DP’d. Meaty? Nah, get wake-up DP’d. Throw? Perhaps DP is the cure for that. Granted, I block my fair share as well, but there was a string of probably a dozen games where everything I did was wrong. Think ISDD (imstilldadaddy) level fury with random DPs and that was me. It’s frustrating, but there’s not much to say on it…they connected and the risk/reward factor tipped in their favor. My mistake, in retrospect, was that I was trying too hard to exceed or meet my own expectations and lost focus of having fun. Want another dose of LPN wisdom?

Play with which ever character you enjoy most with and don’t concern yourself too much with winning because you’ll miss out on the more important aspect of any video game and that is to have fun!
Without a doubt, that’s easier said than done. I mean, this is a competitive game with a very unforgiving learning curve. What I did to regain my composure was went to the online store and bought a couple of Halloween costumes. Vega’s was my favorite, so I started messing around with him, even taking him into ranked play just to see what I could do. It was awful, let me tell you! But I had fun being awful and even started going on some win streaks. After a couple of days, I switched back to Guile and transcended where I was before the losing streak and character switch. That elusive moment of clarity hit me hard and I was playing really well after a couple days of fun for fun’s sake, even soundly beating a couple of players who were over 1000 LP above me. This section might turn into Tales from the Gold League if I keep it up.
That’s all for now! Hope you enjoyed the first MPM. Remember: fighting games are hard and not for everyone. Definitely do your research on your fighter(s), but don’t beat yourself up to hard if Ken rushes you down or Mika throws you into a corner. It happens. It doesn’t mean you’re bad. Just take a breather, watch your own replays, hit the lab and find some answers.
(MPM banner by Kris Arechiga. Follow him on Instagram: @kemikster)

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