Thursday, February 26, 2015

Doing Bad Stuff to Marth 101

*Disclaimer* : I don't believe you can upsmash in dthrow combos on reaction and have it be a true combo a lot of the time. Because of this, I haven't experimented nearly enough with when it is optimal to upsmash...since generally it simply is not a good idea. I currently believe that it is rarely the best choice, but in very specific situations it might actually be quite good. I will not discuss upsmash out of dthrow for these reasons (a combination of lack of knowledge and it being usually bad). This isn't just in reference to the marth matchup, but all floaty combos I will discuss.

Punish game on marth off down throw on the 4 primary DIs you need to worry about:

  • On DI away you pretty much always want to regrab. The primary exception is the case where if you regrabbed it would put you in a position where you can't followup (for example, under a platform where if he DIs onto it the followup isn't 100% guaranteed). In these cases dash attack is actually pretty good. Eventually you just fair him off this, but you can actually regrab full DI away for a very very long time: I'm talking like 80% on marth.
  • On *most* slight DIs away, you can actually regrab, but I do believe there exists a slight DI that cannot be regrabbed. On this DI, at low percent, you should be able to take a step and uptilt. I'm not positive that this true combos, but he shouldn't have time to disrupt you meaningfully. You could try to ftilt in this situation, and just hope that he's in a bad enough situation afterwards that you can pseudo-combo or pressure him but I don't really like it... *shrug*. Once he gets to around even 15%, I would switch to SH upair, which is auto cancelable. You can actually fastfall for a couple frames right at the end of the SH upair and still get the auto cancel, and doing this perfectly puts you in a really good position. It won't generally true combo (though it can, but marth has very limited options to beat you uptilting or destroying him if he double jumps). One of the biggest issues with sheik combos off down throw that people don't realize is that the reaction is actually *very* difficult...I'd honestly compare it to tech chasing, once you get to the point of reacting to subtle differences in DI. For example, distinguishing between various slight DIs is rather difficult, so I honestly just dash SH upair all of them once he gets past the very low percents to remove ambiguity in my decision making (though purely optimal play might involve regrabbing certain slight DIs, even as his percent goes up a bit).
    • ***LOOK AT THIS*** Until 27% after the throw, starting at 0 (roughly 0-16 before the throw), if they DI slight away with the 45 degree angle notch you can regrab without dashing. On even slighter DI away (closer to no DI, than away) you can't regrab, but the uptilt hits guaranteed. You can also upair quite easily on this DI with no dash required.
  • On no DI you uptilt or upair; generally you want to delay the uptilt a little bit (though if you get predictable with your timing, it will be easy to SDI). The goal at low % is to get both hits of the uptilt, where it can lead to another uptilt, a regrab, a fair/nair, or an upair. FJ rising upair is super good around 20% (after the throw) onwards.
  • DI behind you is the same, but you want to turn around before the uptilt to make it possible to get both hits of the uptilt. In any case where you uptilt you need to be aware of how likely it is for you to get both hits of it (especially given potential DI from your opponent). In cases where you don't get the second hit even at low/mid percent, it's still usually possible to combo if you IASA pretty much perfectly; the hard part here is that occasionally it is ambiguous whether or not the second hit will get them. If you're too busy waiting for the second hit to connect, you won't IASA early enough to convert the uptilt into a fair/upair. Luckily if the opponent SDIs the first hit to avoid the second, it is usually pretty reactable. Again, FJ upair is probably the best thing starting at around 20%.

I didn't really go into depth about it, but pretty much all your uptilts should lead to fair/upair, and your upairs should combo into fair/bair OR put him on platforms (where you do more bad things to him).

Just as a reference, this is a great example of how to combo the DI that should make sheik players go oh babyyyyyyyy when they see it:

At the end, I turn around while on the platform after fairing him. This allows me to WD back, and if he falls low just grab the edge or bair him, and if he DJs I can DJ bair as a read (or reaction, depending on if he DJs early or not). I get a missed input and accidentally upair when he DJ fairs, or it would have been a 0-death.

In retrospect, uptilting while on the side platform instead of immediately fairing after the upair may have been optimal, but I probably was confident in the DJ read and wanted to keep him low when I faired to make it easier to cover all his recovery options (the higher up he is, the less useful fair is, since it doesn't send that far). It's probably debatable, but either way it's a great situation.

The last thing I think is super important off dthrow is killing him, which, again, is very difficult to do because of the reactions required. At 78% before the upsmash, tipper upsmash will kill on FD with optimal survival DI (which leads to my theory that FD might actually be better for sheik than people think). This means that if you grab him at 65, pummel twice, and dthrow you can kill him if he doesn't DI away on the throw. Here's how it works:

  • DI Behind: Upsmash (you don't even need to turn around, though at higher % you might need to)
  • No DI: Dash JC Upsmash
  • Slight DI away: Dash JC upsmash
  • DI away: regrab, walk ftilt, fair

Once you grab marth at this percent it's almost literally a guaranteed kill if you execute correctly. You can tipper upsmash everything as a true combo, except DI away. You can actually regrab the DI away at this very high %, and if he keeps DI'ing away you eventually get near the edge where you get dthrow-->fair into a guaranteed edgeguard. As a mixup with fair, you can walk into an ftilt and if they survival DI, you can upair/fair off the ftilt. I haven't practiced it much (beyond checking that it's a true combo in training mode) but as I said, the reaction is non trivial.

I would probably ideally talk about platforms somewhere in this post, but I'm not really sure what to say. You can often just waveland onto a platform and regrab everything, but if you don't have enough time he can tech in place-->spotdodge before you can grab. Something that every character can do that is fairly unexplored that would work for sheik is: 1)SH under platform 2) react to tech in place with an aerial or DJ aerial 3) react to tech roll with DJ waveland-->grab. This should be a perfectly reactionary coverage, but it's hard and people are lazy l0l. I think these are the only two variations of full option coverages that are really worth mentioning so I don't have much to say on it. I guess there's also the one where you can stay below the platform and AC fair the tech in place, land, then SH and instant aerial the tech roll. This should work, but requires a specific setup (you need to have already be at your peak and have your fair actively hitting vulnerable frames of tech in place so you can touch the ground asap) so I'm not exactly sure how often it is useful. Edit: Dthrow-->FJ-->autocancel fair on the tech in place/miss tech-->grab the tech roll is super good at higher %s. Dair also has its place in platform tech chasing, but it pretty much only covers all the options if you sort of land with them.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Things Sheik Players Aren't Doing

Alright, so this is going to be my first blog post. It all started because I saw a thread on facebook talking about sheik stuff, so obviously I couldn't resist. One thing led to another, and somehow I ended up writing way too much. As the title suggests, this content was originally written in response to someone more or less asking what sheik players aren't doing, that they need to be.

I'll just post this in its (nearly) unadultered, pastebin glory. Enjoy:

Unsafe things: 

Don't do them unless you have a really good reason. That's all I'm going to say on this but it's going to kill sheik from viability if people don't stop it.

Boost grab: 

It allows you to punish backwards/safe movement amazingly well. As long as you're aware of how you move to various spacings, it deals with ground camping effectively. If you use it as more of a read, it can also prevent aggressive movement. Anytime someone tries to move forward to take space vs. sheik, you could hypothetically be boost grabbing them. This and dash attack are your furthest threat range from the ground, and you need to represent this in your gameplay.

Punish game: 

It isn't complicated, but it is definitely difficult. If the punish game isn't flowcharted for any sheik main out there, I can easily write out optimal (or near optimal) punishes off all the standard situations if anyone wants them in more detail. Versus the spacies + falcon you can tech chase every single option on reaction, period. Against non fastfallers you can chaingrab the DIs away, and use uptilt/turn uptilt/dash upair for the other DIs. Again, in 2015 none of this is a secret; it just requires discipline and hard work.


Amazing and totally underused...particularly aerial needles. The reason they're so amazing is because of the range they cover. What if someone wants to stay outside of your ftilt/grab/fair game? They put themselves in SH needle range. What if they want to respect that range, then move in? They put themselves in dash attack+boost grab range. What if they try to move back at the range that you can dash attack? Platform + full hop needles covers a huge area for their retreat. Every range versus sheik that allows them to challenge you at all is covered by her next level of options. Combine this with the fact that needles only have the standard 4 frames of landing lag, and any needle hit gives you frame advantage or is neutral (in the case where you're not falling/delaying the needles) and they're an incredible tool to both: 1) disrupt the opponent's flow in neutral 2) Counter them respecting your close range game. The fact that you can combo off needles in most situations, or very close to combo, is also very ridiculous. SH needle charge, or dash away SH turn around needle charge: totally covers their forward movement, can be canceled early enough at any point to still go into an AC fair. Lagless + ranged option-->cancel/bait into another lagless option, both of which you can convert off of? Sounds pretty good to me. That's just an example, of course. There are soooooooooo many uses, but the big issue is that they can't be useful unless you establish respect and control with the other elements of your neutral game.


Fair, A Microcosm of Sheik's Gameplan in General: 

So first I'll talk about how to use sheik's fair in neutral. Essentially, you have your super safe SH backwards-->AC fair. There are two main variables here that most sheik players already mess up, and even our best sheik players don't do perfectly. If you get this part wrong you can't do ANY of the rest of sheik's stuff out of it, which sucks. 1) Don't jump at a range where if he runs at you immediately you'll either: a) get hit before you can set up the spacing, or b) whiff the fair as he's running at you, and then be in lag as he reaches you. This is specifically in reference to fox, as I think it's the best example of using the fair incorrectly, although it can be generalized easily (don't jump at ranges where immediate approaches threaten you, unless you have a read/good reason).

So now we've established that, ideally, you've jumped at a good spacing+timing relative to your opponent. Now what? Well, you can vary your fair timing. There is a large window during which it will auto cancel, and of course you don't even have to go for the auto cancel. You can just continuously delay it until at the last second you fair+l-cancel it. There are also mixups with when you fastfall during your SH. I'm still talking defensively here, so bear with me; there's a lot more you can do, but you need to be able to do this first. So you're doing your safe SH back, at a good spacing + timing, then you combine your reactions and expectations to vary your fastfall+aerial timing as necessary. Awesome! what?

You have this area around you that you control now. This is where the fun part happens! It all goes back to my favorite thing ever in the history of melee: stage control! (yay). So I didn't actually explain sheik's defensive game at all in this...since this was a post about what people don't do effectively...but you need to have a strong defensive game for the fun stuff and this fair zoning is part of it. So how does this relate to my favorite thing ever? Well, you have this zone around you that you control. Your opponent is respecting at minimum, that much space, and the defensive options you have out of it are awesome: throw out a move, CC, WD backwards, fox trot/dash backwards. Between the fair and the defensive option afterwards, you're pretty much sending out a huge "fuck you" to approach options. Now here's the tricky part: Once you choose your defensive option, you need to use that as a reaction point for your decision making. Here's the example I have most often in my own gameplay: I fair, dash back....and see that they're not taking the space (because they're forced to respect an aggressive option after fair, like dash attack, or dash JC grab). So on reaction to this new spacing, I dash back to my original landing spot. Why is this so cool? You establish control of an area, and despite moving backwards, you get to TAKE THE SPACE BACK. So you essentially get a zoning option, that transitions into strong defense, that allows you multiple reaction points which are usable to take back the space you gave up to be safe in the first place. Following? I hope so. Maintaining stage control is key here, because now you need to *gain* space. Remember, after your (ideally well spaced/timed fair, you can throw out a move, SH again to zone, or dash attack etc. If they're respecting that range, that means its a ton of space that they're giving up to you! So now using options such as fair-->dash/WD forward actually becomes viable/strong. Not only is sheik effectively able to control the zone around her, and maintain stage control even when she gives up space... but she's also able to take stage away from her opponent by virtue of the strength of her options AFTER the fair.

So now I get to talk about the reason I wrote this all up in the first place, and how fair is a microcosm of sheik's gameplay in general. The strength of her defensive options in neutral allows her to establish control, and fluidly transition into more aggressive options. Fair-->dash forward is a perfect example of this, but dashing forward after a fair is a good way to die if you don't actually understand how to establish this level of control in neutral. Strong defense-->transition into strong offense is what it's all about. There are a million more things I could talk about, but this is the gist of it. Sheik doesn't really have any inherently strong aggressive options, but at a high level being aggressive will be as successful as your defense is strong. ***Learning how to do this with sheik is *really* about mastering defensive decision making and neutral in such a way that allows you to continuously react and easily change to the next set of options.***