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Street Fighter 5 guide: The poke game

Now that you know how to execute the basic attacks, and before we get to anything so fancy as a fireball, you already know how to play the most basic game in Street Fighter 5: the poke game.

When a match starts, the two fighters are at a pretty moderate distance: not particularly advantageous for either fighter (players frequently call the poke game "neutral" for this reason). At the word FIGHT, the shuffle starts as both players jockey to get into position and to keep the other player out of their own zone.

We wage this war with pokes: moves that act as quick stabs from a position of safety. Players also call this phase of the match "footsies," a game you may be familiar with. In Street Fighter 5, this is the most important phase and the fundamental upon which you’ll be building your entire game. It is in this least flashy part of the game where players often strike the decisive blow.

Know your ranges (use your toes)

Cammy poking

Now that we know our moves, let's look at their reach using Cammy here as an example. The first thing you want to do when you test drive a new character is check out every single one of these moves and try and understand when and where you're going to use them. You can see that Cammy reaches forward quite a long way with her kicks.

As we said before, the poke game is about attacking from a position of relative safety. Strong pokes often serve as cover, which is why we've chosen Cammy. When she sticks her leg out, the part that's hitting (the hitbox) is her whole leg. The rest of her body is way back there. The leg is both attacking and providing cover. It's not completely without risk, but poking is a pretty safe way of attacking.

Vega poking

The safest way to poke is, as it says up there, using your toes — or in Vega's case, let's say his nails. When you're using pokes, try and hit from the very edge of the range of the move. If you're up close, a move with big range only serves a purpose if you predict they're running away.

Why not use a punch instead? Once you understand these optimal ranges, you'll start to see your game plan take shape.

Now we're playing footsies

If poking at your opponent is such a great idea, it stands to reason that your opponent is going to be poking at you as well. This is where the poke game really starts to take shape. Two experienced players are going to know each other's ranges, and they're going to shuffle back and forth, both jockeying for position and attempting to lure each other into sticking out a poke that won't hit. When a player completely misses a move with a long recovery (we often call this whiffing), they can leave themselves most open.

  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