Street Fighter V got it’s big season 2 patch and whilst things are still terribly disappointing in the overall shape of the game as an application (or ‘service’ if you prefer), the actual decent gameplay has improved even further for my personal taste. Whilst the neutering of invincible reversals was a bit of an odd one, it’s lead to better overall balance IMO. And in particular the improvements to Dictator have led to me enjoying SFV quite a bit more, because when I lose, I don’t feel like it was the character holding me back so much – rather I feel like I can concentrate on improving my own play and my mistakes instead. Even some of the ‘nerfs’ to Dictator ended up being stealth buffs for me, in particular the reduced control on descent of Dic’s Devil Reverse ends up helping me more often than not, as it means I don’t screw up my positioning as much, and I’m more able to control it and keep a charge move ready too.
As if on cue as I was drafting this post, here’s Vesper with an amazingly insightful (but lengthy) run-down of all the Dictator season 2 changes:
(He did a shorter 5 min quick summary version too)
What is weird about the current season 2 changes though, is how certain characters were made almost deliberately too strong when they got improvements despite seeming to be in a decent spot balance-wise anyway – in particular Urien, Guile, Laura, Cammy & Boxer (who are currently many players’ top 5 characters in SFV now), and conversely how some weaker characters like FANG and Alex seemed to be made even worse overall. It makes little sense outside of some idea of deliberately forcing the metagame to change. I discussed this with BleedtheBones and he can see some merits in this idea, to attempt to get more real data on under-represented characters. I don’t see this as a great idea though, outside of a testing stage in a game. However if Capcom is indeed planning a further balance patch in the next month or so before the Capcom Pro Tour begins for Season 2 (see later), then they are perhaps using this period as a “live” testing phase. In this situation it does make a little more sense that some of the more egregious changes could be on purpose to test community response & results. However, I still fall on the side of disagreeing with this idea. In my opinion, good balance & viable variety is a hard enough goal to achieve without deliberately working against it yourselves.
Anyway, it is fortunate for me that Dictator was in the category of “makes sense” overall when it comes to the season 2 changes, as it rounds him out to being, probably, a solid mid-tier character.
So let’s see what I’ve been able to do with Dic in season 2… Now let us fight to fulfill that promise!
I’m not 100% sure why I saved this replay, but anyway, here’s me fighting vs a Juri in season 2:
I guess I was just happy that with my ability to play as a more reactive defensive style than usual thanks to all the season 2 changes.
Another early in season 2 match vs Space Ryu. I’m rocking the aqua coloured Dictator for the Dolphins season of course:
The failure to properly combo after a Psycho Axe Crush Counter haunts me in round 1, and there’s a ton of other mistakes throughout the fight as I fail to punish easy stuff, mess up Psycho Axe / Psycho Blast and standing HP execution, and generally play badly… but the fun part comes in this match once I get going with Dic’s Sweaty EX Balls (EX Psycho Blast), and the great ball juggle I finish the first round with. I was so happy to land that one 😀 I think I land at least 4 sweaty EX Balls in the course of this fight. It brings to mind the popular saying “Dic, often found with BALL”
You can see my frustration trying to deal with a bunny hopping Ryu in rounds 2 and 3 though. It’s so annoying to deal with a player like this without having a clear decent anti-air option, especially since Ryu’s air-to-ground hitboxes still seem ridiculously good vs Dictator. My c.HP gets stuffed or trades a bunch of times. More on this problem later.
Next up is a typical mindlessly flying all over the screen Rashid player… (nice boots though!):
Round 1 starts badly as I’m trying to V-Skill way too much, but our hero Bipson finds a way to comeback in rounds 2 and 3 despite very poor play initially. There’s a fun sweaty ball interaction to watch for in round 3 again too.
Here’s another vs Juri match, I’ve actually been matched with this guy enough times to recognise his CFN name too:
I was mainly happy with this match as it was the first time I managed to pull off a dash-through V-Trigger LK combo in a real match – using the ability of Dic in V-Trigger mode to do charge moves in combos without needing a charge, and then combo again into an EX move.
Here’s one of my favourite matches of the last couple of months…
I’ve added this one to “When tea-bagging fails”. I find it pretty ridiculous that players would taunt like this in the first round and only encourage their opponent to play harder! It certainly backfired for this fool. I must admit I tried to return the insult at the end of round 3, but I am not actually sure how to even do it properly as I’ve never tried before. I then also drop a stun combo which was pretty awful, but thankfully finish it off quickly anyway.
Anatomy of Losses
But it’s not all been plain sailing on the good ship Bipson. I’m still struggling a lot with adapting to SFV. Some of my SF2 habits constantly get me into trouble – for example I still react to try to stuff or tech a walk-up throw with a c.MP more often than I’d like, despite knowing it doesn’t work in SFV because my SF2 muscle memory is just too powerful to totally override my reaction to do it.
Here’s a great example of how I can struggle at even the fundamentals of the game vs a Ryu who decides to just keep on jumping at me. As soon as I’m forced to block a jumping attack, due to Dictators lack of decent anti-air options, I’m left in a terrible mix-up that I can’t reliably get out of:
On round 3 where I play awfully, he does about 80% of his damage just from ‘meaty’ throws or throws after a jumping attack.
Next is the pretty OP character Urien. I’ve struggled vs him since his release as he seems to play Dictators normal range better than Dictator does. I’ve read that the key is to play either farther away than usual, or try and get in really close.
However he wins the fight with a seeming glitch! At the time I was wondering wtf happened and I assumed it was lag, but watching the replay doesn’t make it any clearer at all.
Urien has an Aegis Refector out in front of him, and I’m in V-Trigger mode. I do a normal headstomp and then cancel it into a VT EX-Devil’s Reverse – which should teleport behind the opponent. But for some reason I get sucked into Uriens’ EX Tackle move AND the reflector appears to hit me too.
Here’s another loss to a very good Cammy player I’ve lost to a bunch of times now. Any Cammy that uses tick throws and walk up throws like this always gives me huge trouble too. With her walk-speed I just don’t have good enough throw tech reactions to deal with it (and I’m probably pressing c.MP a bunch of times due to SF2 too):
(this is both matches of the best-of-3)
What I’ve very recently discovered is the “late tech” idea, in which you block and input a throw tech at the same time, that should help me out a lot vs a player like this.
I’m actually a little bugged that this technique exists in SFV at all, as it’s rather too close to one of the things I really disliked about SFIV – the “crouch tech”. However at least here it isn’t totally ubiquitous, as using it at all does come with some other risks too. However when I know my opponent is going to tick throw me, and I can’t tech on reaction, it would’ve proved very useful in a match like that.
In the past few weeks I’ve entered two offline tournaments for SFV too and didn’t do too well. One of them I got knocked out by a strong local Dhalsim player JoeLark0. Here’s some very steady phone-cam footage by my friend Bart:
I feel that the main reason I lost this one is a total lack of matchup knowledge. I have never felt like I’ve understood the Dhalsim matchup in SFV. I checked on my V-League stats and indeed, Sim is my least played against online character :-/ Joe was great though and we chatted loads afterwards and he gave me lots of tips about how to play it – and I don’t think I’ve actually lost a set to the rare Dhalsim player online since!
JoeLark0 would go on to fight Quiggy in the finals of this event:
The other one was a much bigger tournament with a very high standard. I actually managed to win a match vs an R.Mika player and narrowly lost the two that knocked me out to Necalli and a guy who character switched from Cammy to Akuma after I won the first fight vs his Cammy. Again I felt I was somewhat undone here by not having high enough level match knowledge for fighting vs Akuma. Whereas I’d beaten tons and tons of Akuma’s online, none of them were that experienced I feel, as he was a new character at the time. Now I’m getting matched with much better Akuma players, like this guy was, I’ve had to learn so much more about how to fight vs him as Dictator. The loss to Necalli was totally my own execution errors and decision making that lost me. Every single round was ridiculously close, and so I feel it could’ve easily gone the other way.
Here’s the full top 8 from this event if you’d like to see more from it, the first match is Quiggy again vs a great local Guile player Chronic, who I also got to practice tons against and really helped me understand the vs Guile match better too:
What these events have really taught me, especially seeing the level of play in that top 8, and from a great Dictator player too, is that although I’ve probably improved over the last few months of SFV, I’ve still got a very long way to go if I want to be able to compete and be a threat in local tournaments. I definitely need way more matchup knowledge, much more experience vs good players, and hopefully I’ll be able to improve my execution along the way too, although that does feel much more difficult as I’m really up against my upper limits playing SFV.
Also, in the next few weeks Season 2 is about to receive a balance patch, which, like all Dictator players I’m concerned they are going to mess with him again, just when he seems to be in a solid mid-tier state. The vast majority of “complaints” about him are solely down to players – even very top players – not actually understanding the matchup vs him at all, as they’ve never really had to play against him in season 1 properly, due to him being so weak.
Not to end on a low point though, here’s some more matches of me doing well online 😀
The first is vs a Zangief player, and again, this is a matchup I’ve learnt lots more about thanks to some really helpful guys on the SRK forums, and also due to Quiggy giving me some excellent advice and practice along the way too.
I’m so pleased with this match as whilst it wasn’t perfect at all, I really managed to put together a lot of advice I’ve had and execute it ok. I’m also learning to be a lot more patient, especially vs Zangief players. I’ve gone from really disliking the Dic vs Zangief matchup, to it being one of my favourite in the whole game now, as it’s so much about patience and neutral spacing – well, except when a silly SPD loop occurs, but even then, you always have options, you just have to make some guesses based on what you’ve seen from that player so far.
And for the final video, here’s me getting some revenge on all those damned Akuma players, who seem to make up close to 50% of my opponents at times. Some nice patient play in this one too by both of us:
I dedicate this match to every Gouki player who tried to runaway fireball constantly for the entire match in SFIV.