For those who want to take competitive Mortal Kombat 11 seriously, Sonic Fox shows exactly how you'll need to practice to stand a fighting chance

Hoping to compete? The grind is intense, but there are many helpful tools at your disposal

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • May 14, 2019 at 7:53 p.m. PDT

The majority of people who jump into Mortal Kombat 11 will likely stick around for the brilliant visuals, the incredible fun of casual bouts against friends, and healthy amount of single player content that can keep you occupied for quite some time. Those that hope to rise through the ranks and compete have a much less glamorous road ahead, as is per the norm with such endeavors.

Like most all NetherRealm Studios titles, MK11's basic game play patterns tend to skew towards the offensive. Now that doesn't mean that you'll be throwing defense and thoughtful neutral play out the window, but it does mean you'll absolutely have to be able to field flurries of attacks from all 25 characters, (more once DLC starts rolling out) knowing all the options opponents have, and how to counter each one of them.

That bit of advice surely comes across as a "no duh" statement on certain levels as it's an approach that you can more or less apply with some truth to virtually any fighting game out there..

The difference between MK11 and the majority of other fighters is that in many instances you'll be able to fall back on strong fundamentals and still get by without perhaps knowing all the intricacies of an opponent's move set, but that approach is an all but certain death sentence in medium to higher level MK11.

This is because Mortal Kombat, with its relatively long list of safe moves, safe attack strings, and longer start up windows, leans towards more preemptive offense. Punishes for successful blocks certainly do happen, but so commonly do characters have a means of opening you up in the middle of a block string or making said string safe altogether that it's often better to interrupt.

In short, this game is designed to favor offense over defense in the risk vs. reward department. That incentivizes players to get those mix ups started as quickly as possible, and while it's obviously ideal to shut things down before they even begin, having the ability to get out of the storm while you're in the midst of it is crucial.

With this in mind, your first step is to go out there and basically get your ass kicked. The first time you face off against Sub-Zero, for instance, you probably won't know that he has a very strong high/low mix up from the neutral that he can use in a rinse and repeat fashion to melt your life bar.

Sub's forward+2 (f2) sees him manifest an ice axe and swing it down as an overhead that you must block while standing. If you're guarding low when this comes out, you'll be eating damage and facing a follow up mix up if he chooses to spend meter.

At the same time Sub can choose to go low with his back+3 (b3) and get similar damage and follow up opportunity, and thus you'll see a lot of Sub-Zero players simply choosing one of these two options to approach you with, or peppering them into block sequences as they try to open you up.

On your first encounter you're not going to be ready to deal with this, but after you've seen it the onus shifts onto you to understand it. We can take a look at FOX|SonicFox's (easily the strongest NRS player in the world right now) process for figuring this puzzle out.

There was obviously some salt from the top MK player as he took to Twitter to show his findings in the way of solutions against basic Sub approaches. He posted four separate clips, each titled "F*** you Sub-Zero players part X" as he showed that you can actually react to this particular mix up, as well as others, if your eye is trained in what precisely to look for:

Click images for animated versions

Fox identified the strings that were giving him trouble, took to training and set the dummy to randomly mix said strings up, and ultimately made himself familiar with everything and anything that Sub can do when it comes to this. You'll need to gather this kind of info on every character in the game.

For those of you who haven't tossed your hands up in defeat and clicked on to something else, there is some good news. Information travels at the speed of YouTube these days, and you're not at all alone in your quest to start tackling this mountain of information.

Scrolling just a bit beyond these four helpful clips on his timeline, we came across this other very helpful clip, put together by Richard Mirabal, that gives us similar information for when facing off against Jax:

You're not going to be able to process the entire roster in a day, nor a week. Indeed even over the weekend's Summit of Time revered MK player PXP|A Foxy Grampa noted that there's a lot of character knowledge that's simply still unknown after his bout with NASR|TekkenMaster.

Developers have already made things immensely more efficient by including easy-access frame data and detailed tutorials. As you garner more general knowledge about MK11's ins and outs, you'll be able to use and build upon this kind of information more and more efficiently.

Staying the course and doing just a little at a time is what the pros are doing right now, and is what will separate you as a great from the pool of good players. While everyone is encouraged to tackle the research head on, there are some pretty consistent resources you should know about.

Character guides are usually seen as tools for the players that are actually using the highlighted fighter, but these often give you all the knowledge you'll need to counter what these characters will want to do.

I highly recommend content from True Under Dawg Gaming as he has been producing regular guides that both show what characters want to do as well as the counters to their go-to plans. Here's one for the top tier Erron Black, for instance:

I'd also highly recommend you check out Rooflemonger's channel for similar guides as well as tips and tricks to help make your training journey much easier.

Here's a simple but oh so important video about turn taking and dealing with pesky ducking attacks:

Finally, you'd also do well to peruse the Test Your Might forums from time to time. This avenue may be a little less direct for answering questions than others, but it's where perhaps the largest MK11 communal conversations are happening at any given time, and you'll surely be able to garner some pretty detailed information there.

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