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Street Fighter 5 guide: Advanced techniques

Punishment, frames, advantage and disadvantage

Now that you know Street Fighter 5’s basics, we'll close with some advanced topics.

Punishment and frames

In fighting game discussions, people often talk about the nebulous frames: a move is plus 2 and minus 3 and so on. This can be intimidating even to players who are quite familiar with the genre, but the concept is frankly not as difficult as it sounds. It's based on a concept you certainly understand if you've played any game at all: Who moves first?

Let's return again to the sweep situation. You'll often see this exchange: One player blocks a sweep and gets hit with a sweep in return. The sweep is a move with a long recovery and it can't be cancelled with any other move. This means that when it doesn't hit, the sweeper is left wide open to attack for a certain period of time. They cannot block if they want to.

Other players can do anything they want in this brief moment, and so they choose a sweep. However, because we know the sweep leaves our opponent open for a rather long period of time, we can actually do a lot better than this.

This happens because, again, the player who blocked the sweep has so much time to move that they can connect a full attack in retaliation. This is called a punish.

Learning to punish other attacks is a case-by-case situation that takes major research and training on your part — not just on your own character but on every other character in the game. It's also one of the surest ways to get a leg up on your competition.

Now that we've discussed the punish and why it's possible, we can get to the tough stuff.

Advantage, disadvantage and frame data

As with our sweep example, combos are possible because one attack has such a great advantage on hit that you can follow it up with another attack. At almost every single interaction, block or hit, one player has the advantage and the other player doesn't.

Earlier, we established that a lot of medium punches are strong at close range, so let's look at one such situation with Nash. Nash's Moonsault is a special move designed to leave him with a strong advantage when blocked. We know this because people have analyzed the frame data. For now, think of it this way: Having the advantage means that you (Nash, in this example) move first.

In this case, Nash immediately follows with a quick combination. The dummy attempts to escape the pressure with a jab, the fastest possible attack. However, because Nash made his attack earlier — by those precious few frames that are so important — the jab is snuffed out. In this situation, no attack the defender can make, save a shoryuken, can beat Nash's punch. They should patiently block and look for another way out.

The attacker, on the other hand, has successfully limited the defender's options and has a good chance to move in now. Nash players like it when you block their Moonsault, because they are still in a good situation. The other player must deal with Nash's offense now. That's the near-invisible power of having an initiative of even a fraction of a second.

On the other hand, special moves have a higher risk-reward ratio and usually give away the advantage on block. This is why the punish is possible. You can think of using one of these as the end of your offensive turn. In this clip, M. Bison uses his double knee press (with light kick) on the Karin dummy, who is set to respond with a jab as soon as she is no longer blocking. Bison attempts to block after his knee press. Karin counters the fastest (light kick) knee press with a jab, whether or not Bison tries to block. It doesn't matter. The knee press is still recovering.

We call this jab-punishable, and because even a jab can often lead to a combo, this makes some special moves risky. Try not to use moves like these, particularly when you're absolutely sure your opponent is blocking. In this example, Chun-Li punishes Alex for a blocked flash chop with a jab, into hyakuretsukyaku, into critical art. So don't do flash chop when you're being blocked, OK?

We've expressed this concept without using frame numbers, but ultimately when you dig into the concept. you're going to have to get familiar with them. For the precise numbers, we recommend you look up frame data via this rather unwieldy database, or use a reference app like FAT.

  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