801 Strider: Where Street Fighter 5 fails is in the neutral... normals weren't really built for whiff punishing, they were built for fireworks

Part 2 of our exclusive 801 Strider Capcom Cup 2018 interview

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • January 7, 2019 at 1:35 p.m. PST

If you asked a regular tournament player about practicing fighting games online just a few years ago, you'd likely get a response about how lag makes the experience more or less moot, and ultimately leads to detrimental forming of bad habits.

While there's certainly some merit to that, online play has become incredibly popular and serves as one of the largest potential tools in leveling up. If you're hoping for proof, look no further than Gustavo "801 Strider" Romero, a player who spends most of his time in the training room and ranked matches, and who has beaten some of the best competitors on the biggest stages.

We caught up with Romero at Capcom Cup this year where he spoke about how he has used online play as his primary means to experience. He also chimed in on his gripes with Street Fighter 5 in comparison to Street Fighter 4, though never goes as far as to say he doesn't like the game as a whole.

Be sure to check out part one of our interview if you haven't already done so. There Strider talks on his Street Fighter 5 slump, how he overcame it and the secret to his amazing neutral play.

Catalyst: You've been well known in both Street Fighter 4 and Street Fighter 5, there are a number of players that deem SF5 too volatile. Do you have thoughts on that, having played both on a high level?

801 Strider: Street Fighter 4 had it's bull s***, let's not romanticize it and say it was perfect. It had a lot of bull s***, but the neutral felt really fair and a lot of times felt well-earned. People will point out Focus Attacks, but the game provided a lot of options to negate Focus Attack too. I felt like it was just another layer to the neutral instead of just normals.

801 Strider Cont'd: The neutral game was a lot less volatile. That's where SF5 fails, is in neutral. Normals weren't really built for whiff punishing or playing that back and forth game... they were built for fireworks, they were built for getting that big hit and going in.

I feel because the neutral is so chaotic, it makes the offense overwhelming. Anybody can lose neutral to anybody. In SF4 you could control the game. When I played in pools I would be stress free because I knew that if I could control the neutral, I can't lose. You have to outplay me in order to get that knockdown or that in.

In SF5 neutral is a lot more chaotic so you can get to those s***** situations a lot more often than the other games. Defense options are obviously lacking, but it's just how quickly the game rolls into mindless offense where I find the problem.

"That's where SF5 fails, is in neutral. Normals weren't really built for whiff punishing or playing that back and forth game... they were built for fireworks, they were built for getting that big hit and going in."

Catalyst: You're known for not living in an area where you have the biggest local scene so you play online a lot, what advice would you give to players that don't have a huge scene to practice with?

801 Strider: Honestly, I wouldn't know as much about the game or be as good if I didn't play online. I think online is a great tool, an amazing tool. There are a lot of great players that play online and it's about sniping em' out and trying to get sets with all of them.

Obviously grinding online in your boxers with Mountain Dew next to you is different from tournament play. Whenever you set up a Ranked match, just pretend it's a tournament match. Feel the adrenaline, feel the nerves because you actually care about the match.

Many people don't know how to control or manage that rush and they wind up freezing up and getting overwhelmed. Keep exposing yourself to that and you'll eventually be able to control and ignore it.

Romero regularly shares his findings and insights on his Twitch stream as well as his Twitter, both of which are great resources if you're looking to level up your game.

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