If you're getting bodied in Street Fighter 5, don't cry on Twitter — here are five ways to optimize your learning experience with Training Mode

People don't realize that they just need to hit the lab more

Posted by Steven 'Dreamking23' Chavez • April 11, 2019 at 7:50 p.m. PDT

In my line of work, I feel like I come across numerous cases of players declaring certain things in Street Fighter 5 are "cheap" or "broken" with little to no research done on proper counters. Hell, I'm guilty of doing this myself, but in recent times I have tried to steer myself toward a more positive way of thinking of things and being proactive.

With Street Fighter 5's high level of volatility, going into a fight unprepared can make some tactics and techniques feel legitimately unbeatable. But what many people don't seem to realize is that there's a legitimate solution for avoiding these situations, and it's called Training Mode. You just have to know how to use it.

I think back to my personal match up against M. Bison in Street Fighter 5. For a long run, Bison gave me a lot of trouble. He was a pretty bad match up for Urien back when I played him (Season 1 to 2.5-ish), his normals and pressure gave Abigail trouble, and against my current main, G, Bison can pin him to the corner and end things very quickly.

Naturally, I shouted "Bison is so cheap! There's nothing I can do against him with these characters!" And despite trying to make adjustments in actual matches and figure things out, I still kept hitting the wall and feeling completely helpless.

It wasn't until I really dug into training mode with G and shifted my mindset from "there's nothing I can do" to "let me figure out what my best options are" that I truly understood what to do and how to do it. It's easier to complain on social media and ask for nerfs of others than to do the lab work, but you'd be surprised how much ground you can cover by simply doing your homework.

Whenever I fight Bison now, I have a lot more control over myself and the game. The match still isn't easy, but I now have legitimate counters in several of the main areas and situations where I was losing previously, and that makes a world of difference.

Here are five of the things I focused on to get over the wall that will hopefully help you optimize your learning experience as well.

Normal ranges and counters

One of the first fundamental things you should dig into and understand is how your character's normal attacks work. What does each button do? Does it crush counter? Is it cancellable? Every normal has a purpose, so what's the purpose of each one?

After you test out each attack and learn how they function, the most important thing you can / should do is learn each button's range in neutral. Try hitting the training dummy with each normal attack and find the spot on screen that's the maximum distance away from the opponent where the button will still connect.

This tactic goes hand-in-hand with testing your buttons against specific characters. If you struggle against Birdie — a character with excellent buttons in neutral — you won't know what to do against him until you find what ranges your buttons contest or beat his, which will set you up for failure right out of the gate.

For me, I learned that I can stand at a range against Bison that is right around where his Psycho Ax will tag me at almost max distance. There, G is outside of the danger zone of Bison's medium buttons (standing and crouching medium punches being particularly problematic) and standing heavy kick, allowing me to answer with a standing heavy punch of my own whenever Bison fires off his slow Psycho Ax — and I crush counter him for it, giving me an opportunity to move in.

Frame data (in-game and external)

While frame data might seem like a difficult to understand concept (especially for newcomers), Street Fighter 5's in-game frame data feature is extremely helpful. Turning on the attack data in training mode will show you several things, but two of the most important numbers to focus on are what your attacks are on hit and what they are on block.

"It's easier to complain on social media and ask for nerfs of others than to do the lab work, but you'd be surprised how much ground you can cover by simply doing your homework. "

If your special move is -10 on block, you're likely going to get punished hard if you just throw it out there. But if that same move were +10 on block (which usually isn't mapped to a standard special move, but more something like a cancel into V-Trigger), the advantage you have in that situation is significant, and you should definitely know what these numbers are for your most frequently used normals and situations you find yourself in.

Couple these numbers with the start up of your attacks — which you can find over on Capcom's Shadaloo C.R.I. website — and you will paint a clearer picture of what normals should be used and where. You can also begin creating frame traps and learn which block strings from your difficult match up are traps, which will lead to figuring out the counters and when not to hit buttons.

Save status / replay saved status

This feature is one I have started using a lot more in recent times due to G having different combos for various levels of presidentiality and different spots on screen. If you don't know already, you can save the exact conditions of your training room scenario and replay it over and over with this feature, which is right there on the main pause menu.

If you need to find and practice the optimal combo for when your opponent is just outside of the corner and you've got V-Trigger active already, this feature has you covered. Need to practice that big punish when you block an EX uppercut? This feature's got you.

Save status and replay saved status makes it quick and easy to run through important drills and mitigates having to stack the dominoes back up every time. It's a feature that definitely shouldn't be overlooked.

Click images for animated versions

Practicing hit confirms

You've probably seen Rec|Punk landing "one-hit" hit confirms in tournament recently with Karin. This is something he undoubtedly practiced, and guess what? You can too!

Training mode allows you to set counter hits and blocking to random, which are the perfect tools for practicing hit confirms. In neutral, set blocking to random and practice a basic string — like crouching medium kick into Tatsu or the equivalent with your character. Buffer the special move input and try to react to the yellow hit spark each time, then complete the move by hitting the button.

Taking the time to practice this and make it second nature is crucial, as it makes you that more deadly in neutral and can help you create opportunities to begin mounting offense or take positional advantage.

You can also do this with counter hits to practice combos that only work on counter, like the G combo below.

Record / playback rough situations

Not unlike the save status feature, record / playback let's you recreate situations to help further your practice. One of the key functions here is being able to emulate bad situations for yourself in order to figure out the best ways out.

For me, Bison's corner pressure seemed completely inescapable. He could hit buttons all day and crush countered me every time I tried to make a move.

After watching the replays where I lost to him, I figured out what common strings Bison would do when I was cornered. Recreating them with this feature in training mode helped me find the gaps, and you can see in the GIFs below the wrong choice and the right choice for my G.

The first three hits from Bison all frame trap G, so all I can do there is block. But once Bison pushes himself out far enough, most of the time he wants to walk forward and go for standing heavy kick (for crush counter) or Psycho Ax, which has slower start up.

There was no way I'd ever figure that out without hitting Training Mode, so I cannot encourage you enough to jump in and do the same with your worst match ups. You won't believe how quickly things go from hopeless to totally manageable.

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