TL;DR: Try to always keep your opponent blocking. Blocking is the best way to limit your opponent’s options. When your opponent is blocking you, you’re winning the neutral. This is because having more options than your opponent means you have an advantage in the neutral. Keep moving to avoid blocking things yourself.
TL;DR(but i kinda want to): Scroll down to the “ACTUAL USEFUL INFO” section and read from there.
So currently I’m at ~650kBP, and I gotta say matches have totally changed recently.
Whereas I used to win games by punishing bad habits and taking advantage of holes in my opponents game, I now have to earn all of my damage. Unbelievable.
Players aren’t superdashing predictably anymore. People no longer fail to block high 6 times in a row and get oki’d to death without playing the game. Now we have a different objective after the match starts.
You all know it, we now gotta “Beat ’em in the neutral”.
Neutral is vague, but we all know what the neutral iswhether we are aware of this or not. We also know that we want to win the neutral. To put it into terms we can all understand:
The Neutral is when both players are staring at each other- both waitinglongingaching for a chance to super dash
Winning the neutral is when you hit them with your superdash
Losing the neutral is when you get hit by their superdash
Without solidifying what “winning the neutral” is, it’ll be hard to make any progress in this, so I will give my definition, and then explain why.
I define winning the neutral as any one of:
-Landing a hit that you can convert into a full combo
Stray 2m, raw super dash into 2H>character swap
-Landing a hit that will leave us in a more advantageous offensive situation
Assists, our own beam attacks, vanish them into a corner
-Getting the opponent to block
- The first point is probably obvious to everyone. We want to land our combo. At a high level, 2 or 3 hits that convert into combos means a character is dead. This is good. We win. Nobody ever won a game and wondered whether they won the neutral or not.
- The second point is a bit more nuanced. It is not a win because we got massive damage, but it’s a win because we suddenly made it harder for our opponent to play HIS neutral. For example, backing the enemy into a corner with a Kamehameha means they can’t walk backwards anymore. They now cannot properly space themselves, removing one of their neutral tools. Thus we see that gaining an advantage in the neutral is as important as winning the neutral. That sentence is so important I think I’ll emphasize it.
Gaining an advantage in the neutral is as important as winning the neutral
- The third point is something I don’t think is easily understood at first glance. They blocked our attack, so we didn’t gain anything of substance from the attack. But just like our second point, we have just gained an advantage in the neutral.
To make it clearer, we can compare the options our opponent has while blocking with those he would have had in our “hit them into the corner” example.
|Options While Forced Into The Corner||Options While Blocking|
|Walking forward, Neutral Jumping, Assists, all Normal attacks, all Specials, Supers, Super dashing, Dashing forward||Swapping characters(At the cost of 1 meter),
|Clear enough?||Was this table even necessary?|
See, getting the opponent to block will remove almost all of their tools from them. We have the ultimate advantage in the neutral if the opponent is blocking. Whereas the opponent is severely limited, we, on the offense, have lows, frame traps, vanish, overheads, assists, specials, supers, crossups, and grabs. Some of these can even be used together too. Our opponent can’t see a low coming if we’re both covered by Goku Black’s beam assist.
ACTUAL USEFUL INFO:
So now weI can only hope know that blocking is the best method of limiting your opponents options.
Okay, we get it, you fucking nerd. So what do I gain from reading past your TL;DR?
Well, my impatient reader, we can form some very useful and practical knowledge from my word lasagna.
- Since blocking gives us a huge advantage, assists that keep the opponent blocking for longer are better. Such as Yamcha, Vegeta, or any multi-hit beam assist.
- Since blocking gives the enemy a huge advantage, we try our best to avoid guarding things our opponent throws at us. This is why it is essential to keep. moving. you make yourself harder to hit, and you will be ready to dash in for any opportunity.
- When you finish your blockstring, you can use an assist to keep the opponent blocking so you can dash up and continue your pressure.
If you hadn’t, the gap between your two pressure attempts would give your opponent time to actually play the game. We don’t want that.
- If you can get the opponent to start blocking in the neutral, you will be free to close the distance and start attacking him without fear of retaliation. This is why people use assists before dashing in to attack the opponent.
- If your opponent used both assists, you will be 100% free to act when he has big enough gaps in his pressure. You can use this gap to dash away, or counterattack. Knowing the gaps in pressure is essential here.
- The key to good pressure in the neutral is get your opponent to start blocking as early as possible, as safely as possible, and for as long as possible.
- A character is good in the neutral if he has long reaching normals or specials that can be used often to get the opponent to block(or hit them if they’re not careful) from far away to minimize risk.
See: Cell, 16, Adult Gohan, Trunks
To reiterate, when in the neutral we want to either outright win the neutral(superdashing through vegeta’s ki blasts) or gain an advantage in the neutral(get the opponent to block cell’s assist and dash in).
We also want to keep the opponent from gaining the neutral advantage by pushing him back with beams and assists while constantly moving to avoid their stuff.
As important as all of this is, please keep in mind there will be situations on offense and defense where specific character and team knowledge will be needed. Every character/assist combination has different ways of pressuring the opponent, and you should find those for your favorite team to have the best pressure possible.
Also deflect(4S) is a thing. It is helpful to learn about that.
The next time you eat a clean hit in the neutral, watch the replay to see how you could have made it more difficult for your opponent. You can’t avoid all hits, but you sure as hell can make ’em work for it.