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Street Fighter 5 guide: What am I trying to do in this game?

This seems so elementary as to be obvious: You want to hit the other player until they're out of life. However, folks tend not to think it through much further than that. There is something about the fighting game that makes people just smack all the buttons and hope for the best.

You don't have to abandon hope like that. We want you to understand not just that learning these games is complicated, but that if you play video games, you’re probably quite capable of doing so.

Let's break it down. Victory in Street Fighter 5 comes down to outmaneuvering, outguessing and doing damage more efficiently than your opponent. We'll run through these concepts very quickly.


If you've ever watched tournament matches, you've probably witnessed two world-class talents seemingly wasting their time by shuffling back and forth. What they're doing, like boxers, is jockeying for position.

Each character has a place they want to be. You don't want to be far away from Dhalsim.

Nor do you want to be point-blank against Rainbow Mika.

To win, you have to know how to put yourself in the right place and keep your opponent from getting into their place. This is how you control the match.


To keep your opponent from doing what they want to do, you should have an idea of what they want to do. Sometimes you'll see players make amazing judgement calls. They aren't mind-readers. They're just making very well-educated guesses.

The classical example is the case of the knocked-down Ken.

Can you attack him?

Or will he use his shoryuken?

You can only guess. Players who are too predictable with their moves will find that their opponent predicts them at every step and makes them pay dearly. You don’t want to be that player, so try and avoid falling into the same comfortable patterns and mix up your actions so that you can’t be read so easily.

Dealing damage efficiently

This is the first subject many players learn and the last subject we'll be teaching in this guide. All the openings and chances in the world don't mean anything if you don't know how to make them count.

In the video above, Cammy blocks Ryu's sweep, and counters with a sweep of her own. It's a common situation and reaction. Good, but there are better ways to respond. Here is a simple but superior alternative.

Recognizing and punishing our opponent's mistakes is one thing, but in Street Fighter and many other fighting games, punishing them efficiently is something you have to learn yourself. Specific combos are beyond the scope of this guide, but we will discuss the basics.

Mixing it up

In any fighting game you can learn all the best attack sequences and combos, and train them until you can execute them to robotic perfection … but that won’t matter if your opponent knows what you’re going to do.

To successfully hit a skilled opponent, we need to do something they don’t expect. "Mixing it up" on offense means keeping it fresh and forcing your opponent to make a guess as to what we’re going to do next. Eventually, they’re going guess wrong, and that’s how we do our damage.

The fight is to a large degree mental, and part of defeating our enemy is defeating their thinking.

Get into training mode

With these points in mind, let's talk about how the game works and how you can win.

There will be exceptions to every basic rule, but in the interest of making sure this is a guide and not a textbook, we'll stick to the fundamentals. The goal of this guide is to make you a better, smarter fighter, and there's no better place to start than in training mode.

Fighting games have a sandbox training mode for a reason: While learning certainly happens during the matches themselves, basic training is really best done in a controlled environment. Rather than jumping into an online match with an unfamiliar character to be beaten on mercilessly, you should start in training to sort out their basics.

Luckily for you, Street Fighter 5 has a good training mode with some very specific practice options, such as the ability to program the computer dummy to do moves you might be having trouble dealing with. Do yourself a favor and use it while you read this guide. We did: many of the videos you’ll see here were set up in training.

  1. Intro
  2. What am I trying to do in this game?
  3. Controls
  4. Basic movement
  5. Basic attacks
  6. The poke game
  7. Knockdowns
  8. Special moves
  9. Control and execution
  10. Combos
  11. Counter and crush counter
  12. Critical meter and critical arts
  13. V-System
  14. Stun gauge
  15. Dealing damage and combos
  16. Character select
  17. Advanced techniques
  18. Good buttons
  19. What’s different in Street Fighter 5 Season 2?
  20. This is just the beginning