How to win at Street Fighter 5

Despite being designed for new players, Street Fighter 5 is a difficult game to master. That’s why we’ve come up with a comprehensive guide that will ease you to greatness. Just by reading this, you’ve earned your first Dan. There he is! Great work. It’s not going to be easy. There’s new hardware to master, arcane skills to comprehend and hours of practice to suffer. Think of it like Daniel-san from Karate Kid, painting the house and accidentally learning how to fight. Some things here might seem obtuse, but they’ll stand you in good stead when a Silver-league Zangief is bearing down on you in the final round, thighs glistening and eyes aflame. And with that vaguely-threatening thought in mind - to the dojo!

BEGINNER TIPS

Stick or pad?

It’s perhaps the most-asked question on r/streetfighter: should I use a pad or a stick? The answer is an honest-if-unhelpful ‘whatever works best for you’. Many top players use pads. Luffy won EVO 2014 using a PS1 controller, which feels like bringing a flint spear to a shooting party. Truthfully, it doesn’t matter. Practice long enough with a modded Nintendo Power Glove and you’ll still get good enough to pick up a few wins. Whatever you decide, please don’t blame losses on your control method. BrolyLegs fights competitive matches using his face. Remember that when your opponent starts mewling about controller lag.

Block, block, block and block again

You’ve chosen your control method. Now let me introduce you to blocking. Blocking is your faithful gun dog. Blocking is your Doctor Watson. Before you even look at those lovely buttons, you should hold block long into the small hours of the night, just to see how it feels. Familiarise yourself with defending the standard attack of a high jump-in attack followed by low sweep: when you first start, literally everyone will use this. Obviously, blocking is fallible - people will throw you all over the place if all you do is hold back - but you won’t win many matches without it. Study your opponent's combos, block smartly and counter attack when it’s safe.

Practice until your thumbs feel sick

Learning a stick will certainly make certain inputs easier, but it’ll feel shatteringly unnatural at first. Look at it like a gym subscription. Dropping $200 on a shiny controller is a muscular sign of commitment to your new life as a top-tier Street Fighter player. Gootecks’s fight stick tutorial is a wonderful place to start, because yes, you’re probably holding it wrong. Follow his advice, and listen to the noise you make when you’re using a stick. Does it sound like a plastic piano being kicked down stairs? If so, you’re doing it wrong. Use the stick as if you’re secretly playing Street Fighter V in a forest and you don’t want the wolves to find you. Use training mode, turn on input display and execute your moves cleanly. If there’s an errant directional input in your Dragon Punch, practice until it’s gone. You should be able to do everything ten times in a row from both sides. If you fumble a move once, start again from zero.

Fools jump in

Remember how your mum would warn you about jumping recklessly into murky ponds? Street Fighter 5 is like that, but with uppercuts replacing rusty shopping trolleys. Don’t jump in unless you know it’s safe. There are stacks of character-specific safe jump tutorials on YouTube, and we’ll come to that later on. For now, you should avoid falling for the standard trick of jumping over a fireball into a miserable anti-air attack. Neutral jump fireballs by pushing straight up, and advance only when it’s safe. Always remember that walking is the safest method of moving in Street Fighter. Stay on the deck, and if your opponent starts throwing out pokes, stop, block and roll.

Normal wisdom

We get it: the first thing every new Street Fighter player wants to learn is how to chuck out endless snazzy fireballs. Specials are an essential part of the game, but remember your precious normals. Learn what they are, how they hit and how quickly they strike. Flame-footed spinning kicks are lovely, but there’s a pragmatic, elegant power to normal attacks, especially if you’re using the likes of Bison, Nash or Chunners. Start here, and use your specials when they’re needed. After all, you don’t want to be like this guy, right? Or maybe you do. That’s also fine.

Prepare to die

When you first go online, you’ll get bodied by almost everyone you play. Then, eventually, you’ll fight someone who does all the stupid stuff you did when you started. Then, just when you’re beginning to feel confident, you’ll meet someone who can read every single move you try, who’ll find new, humiliating ways to destroy you. Don’t be disheartened. Tough love is all part of the brutal, ultimately-very-effective learning process. Remember that however bad you are now, you were worse when you started.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hello! I'm Matt, group commissioning editor for Future's games division. My ideal game would be a turn-based beat 'em up set in Lordran, starring Professor Layton and Nico from Broken Sword. There would also be catapults and romance. Follow me @MGElliott for Darkstalkers gifs and advice on how to tie a cravat.
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