Monday, 27 October 2014

I recently posted this question to my local SSBM community's Facebook group (SSBM Ontario). It generated some fun discussion.

My Question:
I have a question for all of you.
Suffixes aside, what do Zoning, Conditioning, Threatening, Counter-Poking, Camping, and Positioning all have in common?
Some of the Answers in the Thread:
Garbage King -- Yomi
Jamrun -- Sounds like they're all types of strategies from neutral
Duds -- They all end in "ing"
KirbyKaze -- "Suffixes aside..."
Morgan -- i guess they're all things that require you to interact on a mental level with your opponent
Eden -- They all vaguely sound sexual
Toast -- they're all things that you can use to alter your opponents play style
Chesterr01 -- I don't know... to me, they are all passive strategies/elements that require you to pay attention to your enemy more than yourself. If you have all that, it seems parallel to adaptation as well.
Kay -- They're the part of the game that involves reducing your opponent's potential options while maintaining (or building) your own. They're where smash becomes 'strategic' in a way that following through on combos and punishes isn't - it's about building the opportunity for something you can commit to safely, while forcing your opponent to commit to bad options.
Riddlebox -- they're all mix ups tho for the most part or options to do so. mixups change the flow of ze battleeee. also, the way you have it layed out, they every other word is a C word
Kage -- Psychology
The Du Man -- mental game elements that are used accordingly depending on your position relative to your opponents
Fisch -- Theyre all variables of mind gaming your opponent. Doing different things to avoid patterns of movement/being predictable. Or... theyre all defensive options that can also act as offensive options.
Nate -- If you're dictating the match, you're forcing your opponent to focus on what you're going to do to them rather than them focusing on what they're going to do to you.
Kay -- "Thiings that should be talked about more in commentary"
My Answer:
We've had some excellent answers.
The answer I was looking for, as Victor suggested, was related to control. Charlie and Fisch pointed out that they transcend offense-defense. A lot of you touched upon the fact that they depend on technical execution, but also have a mental component.
Quite simply, they're all Tactics.
What's a Tactic? A Tactic is a strategy designed to help you control how an interaction occurs.
The number 1 predictor of who wins a fight is HOW the fight transpired. This means that the player who exerts more control over how the fight took place is naturally at a huge advantage.
These tactics do transcend offense and defense because they can be used as either or both simultaneously. The extremes (of offense and defense) are not really that effective when not balanced with the other. Think about it: as a Sheik, if I don't put pressure on my opponent what's their motivation to run into my attacks? Similarly, there's an inherent limitation to constantly bashing your face into your opponent as your default strategy.
Some of the most aggressive forms of fighting in this game are done with counter-poking (see: Mango dance around a defender). Some of the most defensive forms of fighting are done with threatening (see: Armada floating back with fair / looking to pull turnips). But these still offer Mango defensive outs because he can choose to retreat while he's pressuring. Armada similarly is applying pressure because his opponent DOES NOT WANT him to get that turnip.

Balance. Flexibility. You need to push AND pull. And in varying amounts.

*** This Section is more specific to my own community ***

As a community we have a tendency to be, oh, how do I put this? Very direct. Direct to the point where it looks like most of you think the best or even only course of action is to bash your face into the opponent to win. Or to do what you perceive as your strongest option in every single situation (see: Peaches d-smashing on platforms). But these all have counters. Rather than seeing that the opponent has to respect and play around these options, people just keep doing them and get wrecked for it.
This was really apparent after watching the London stream. I don't want to name names, but I have never seen so many people run directly into so many attacks in my life. And with no effort to bait, move around, threaten, control space, out-position or... anything. And, sadly, when I think back to the other streams I watch, until I'm watching 2 people from our top 11 play (or some people from Waterloo) it's almost always like this.
We are capable of better. But we have to realize that there's more to this game than bashing our faces into the other player's.
This should not be read as: y'all need to camp. Because then we wind up with the other extreme (one individual at a recent MNIC literally stood still and was baffled when I set up my zoning on him and double 4-stocked him; he paid the price for defaulting solely to camping because he didn't actively deny me my strong positions -- doing nothing is NOT the answer).

*** This is where is becomes a bit more general again ***

Now for the example of what I do.
Sheik is normally given the title of a defensive character but what use is defense if you don't apply pressure? Without a pull factor (like Armada's turnip) there's no reason for my opponent to engage my defense. This is why just swinging in place with her is really... poor play. Even if it slays noobs or people with execution too poor to beat it.
The best thing about Sheik is her range advantage over most characters and the amount of threat she exerts with her attacks. Dash attack and grab are things nobody wants to get hit by because they're frustratingly non-interactive when she gets the ball rolling with either.
This is a simple strategy that combines numerous elements of those tactics in a defensive & offensive way simultaneously.
Dash in --> WD back
Dash in begins because it threatens the opponent with my 2 most dangerous moves (boost grab / dash attack). Now, if you know anything about Sheik, you'll also know she's low priority when dashing towards someone due to her high SH, low air mobility, and how her attacks swing. Grab and dash attack are actually low priority moves.
The common ways to combat this situation are:
1) Attack Sheik
2) Jump over either option (though risky due to jump being available during dash)
3) Move away
That's why the follow through is WD back. WD back counters most forms of attacking Sheik, while drawing with or gaining minor advantage vs the other two options. This is a way I can use my threats to condition my opponent, without really committing to a course of action. I like to call it Aggressive Baiting.
There are a few opportunities for an opponent to get the upper hand on me in that strategy (don't worry, I have some mixups after Dash in for just those instances) but that's just a simple example of how you can use one action to force a reaction out of your opponent, and in turn open them up for other options.
Bullying was a good way of describing it.
The mixups to my strat (my most used ones) are mainly:
Dash in ---> run --> crouch
Dash in --> SH back (fair)

No, I'm not explaining why those are the mixups. A gal's gotta have some secrets haha. But if you think about it, it's not hard to figure out.

- KK out