Trying to get to Diamond rank in Street Fighter 5? You've probably been overthinking things

Here's an approach that'll help you better play to SF5's strengths

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • March 13, 2018 at 8 p.m. PDT

If you choose to implement this into your gameplay please be careful to use it as a means to continue growth and development of your battle plans. If you use it as a be-all end-all strategy, you'll flourish at first but eventually hit a ceiling.

I recently wrote an article talking about Street Fighter 5's commitment-based nature and how that shapes the game's neutral. This will be more of a simplified and practical application of that idea.

Since the Arcade Edition update the SF5 matchmaking system has shown a lot more scrutiny in terms of pitting players of closer rank against one another. I was a 26k League Point player, (though I've dropped to around 24.5k LP since the patch) and have only faced Diamond ranked players and above since January.

I've since identified a strategy that seems to work decently well at the level I'm at, and will only be more effective the farther down the ranks you go.

Before I get into it I'll say that it's on you to be proficient at basics like meaties (timing your attacks to land on the first frame of an opponent's wake up) and combo execution, but things like that can be hashed out with time and a few Training Mode sessions.

As for the strategy, it's fairly simple: use a binary approach to get in on your opponent, and don't stop.

I've recently run into a Diamond-ranked Ken player on the regular, and he does exactly this. I caught on early in our sets that he was almost always going to do one of two things: run in with step kick or take to the air.

"Good," I thought to myself. "Now that I know what he's going to do I can counter it and beat him no problem." Yeah, well, sometimes.

To date we've probably played between seven and ten times, and I've caught him with numerous counter hit pokes as he unabashedly used V-Skill to try to close the gap. This is Street Fighter 5 though, and if your attention is pulled to the ground, the skies open wide and you'll soon find yourself under the fiery wrath of flaming air Tatsus or devastating jump ins (at least in the case of Ken).

I found that I could not consistently enough cover both the sky and the ground to dissuade this Diamond Ken from simply forcing the issue in one of these two approaches. Don't get me wrong, he eats a lot of damage, but for every two or three anti airs or counter hits that work, I eat a devastating jump-in combo or run cancel into V-Trigger that more than makes up for it.

He's beaten me considerably more than I've beaten him.

Certainly part of the problem here can be fixed as I become better and more precise with my spacing and reactions. I'm not the best by any means, but I've been around for a good while and have gone toe to toe with a lot of strong players in the last ten years or so, so if this kind of things works this well on me, it's more than likely going to work on a good deal of other players.

In writing this I'm instantly taken back to SoCal Regionals of last year wherein I had a talk with Ryan "Filipino Champ" Ramirez about how to get in on Dhalsim. Keep in mind that Champ is a widely successful fighting game player across multiple titles, and is the only player to ever take SF5 Dhalsim to an EVO top eight.

His advice? Get to the range where both forward dash and forward jump are threats, and then pick one. He told me that even he could not consistently be ready for both, and the pay off for a successful advance (especially against Dhalsim) is well worth the damage you'll take for a few wrong guesses.

Indeed I got very similar advice from Dankadillas, (a Grand Master ranked SoCal Sim) at Capcom Cup last year. The game's input lag and general flow make this a more viable strategy than in Street Fighters previous.

This won't look exactly the same from character to character, as Ken's approach is going to be different that F.A.N.G's. It's also probably appropriate to point out that some characters will be better at doing this than others.

The takeaway here is that maybe you've been overthinking it. Maybe all you need to focus on right now is placing yourself at the appropriate distance and then forcing your opponent to guess between dash and jump.

You won't hit them every time, and you won't win every time, but you will be playing to the strengths that this game pays out most to. Yes, it's more complicated than just dash/jump, but start there and make it easy on yourself by just having two basic options. You can flesh things out later.

Do be sure to do that fleshing out once you've gotten a good grasp of this, as the efficiency will become less and less the higher up the skill ladder you go. Still you'll probably find that you can rank up quite a bit online with this approach.

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