There’s a subject I find interesting in the competitive fighting game scene that people rarely talk about — fighting style. Specifically, fighting style as in how a player approaches the game and how he or she believes is the ideal way to play. I like to categorize my top players because it’s another way to differentiate them beyond variety of character. For example, Alex Valle plays aggressively and recklessly while Filipino Champ plays safely. Which way is the “right” way to play, though? Some would say that there isn’t one, while others would disagree. In this article, I’d like to explore how a person’s fighting style comes about and how I think the optimal way to play is.
Well how does one develop a fighting style? I feel like it’s not something that you can really choose on your own. Rather, your fighting style chooses you. That is to say, the way you naturally play a fighting game is kind of a reflection of your personality. Not that Alex Valle is a dangerous degenerate or that Filipino Champ is a conservative home body in real life; it’s more of a reflection of your attitude within the cyber fighting world.
I’ll list and describe several fighting styles and notable top players in each category and a few traits to help identify the style.
Turtle — A player who plays from a distance and takes as little chances as possible. Usually becomes quickly disliked at the arcade. To scrubs, this style is hard to appreciate, but top players know how to appreciate a good turtle since it’s a difficult style to master in games which revolve around rushdown. Skills required with this style are patience, reactions, and zoning. Notable turtles include Rugal Fantasy (RF) and East Coast version of Justin Wong.
Aggressive — a player who likes to be the first to engage and attack. Doesn’t necessarily mean they’re reckless though. There are ways to be aggressive and safe at the same time, which is how most successful aggressive players play. You see this employed by players like Ricky Ortiz and Combofiend. They like to walk forward to intimidate their opponents and induce an opening. I like to call this “turtling in your face”. There’s the other type of aggressive player, though. The ones who have no regard for their own safety and will just do stuff just to do it. The player is
Reckless — this player not only just holds forward on the stick, but also doesn’t seem to learn his lesson. Ever see Marn play? He will eat anti-air uppercuts a whole round and make you think “surely, he won’t do that again!”, but does anyway. A frightening player to play against. Another seemingly reckless player would be Poongko. His relentless offense makes me question how he’s so consistent in tournaments, making him even more impressive.
Flowchart — the word “flowchart” seems to have a negative connotation in the fighting game community since it’s usually describing an online player mashing fierce Shoryuken with Ken and doing jumping roundhouse into sweep. However, “flowchart” actually describes a player like Tokido, someone hardly fitting the scrub description. Flowchart players try to maximize their efficiency by utilizing option selects, safe-jumps, unblockables, and 50/50 guessing situations. This style takes everything their opponent is capable of in a situation into account and has a safe or mathematically beneficial result in the outcome. Yeah, sounds pretty cheap to me too, which is why I tend to play this way.
Psychic/Stupid — why is psychic synonymous with stupid? You’re psychic when what you’re doing works and you look stupid when it doesn’t. This type of player has a knack for correctly reading the opponent in heavily risky situations, so the next time you see Mike Ross landing a Honda Ultra Combo 1 on his opponent’s wake-up backdash or Alex Valle hitting a guessy fadc- less Shoryuken, ask yourself how stupid it would look if the other dude just blocked.
Flashy — these types of players tend to play fast, aggressive, combo-heavy characters and sometimes play more to please viewers than to actually win. These players lean towards practicing their execution more than anything else. Who doesn’t like watching Latif and Marlinpie go nuts?
Adaptive — this describes a player who changes his approach depending on how the other player plays. On paper, this is the ideal style to have. In reality? Well, the two players I think are the most adaptive are Daigo and Fuudo, so you do the math. These two players have actually stated in interviews that they categorize and keep mental notes about their opponents and play accordingly. The results show.
So what type of player are you?