I finally did it! After playing Street Fighter V for so long, I finally broke through my Ultra Bronze funk and got myself a higher position in the rankings of the game. And it’s not just reaching the Silver ranks. No, I made it all the way to the Gold rankings. Okay, the players that have much higher rankings may be getting a good laugh at this comment since they’re obviously much better than me and maybe it came naturally for them to be extremely good at Capcom’s latest entry to the Street Fighter franchise. But for me, this is an accomplishment because it took me ages to do this.
As a matter of fact, I felt that I was going to be stuck on the Ultra Bronze rank forever. It was so bad that I even wrote a post about why I felt I wasn’t moving up the rankings. So, imagine my surprise that, without me even realizing it, I actually snuck myself into to Gold rank. I will admit, most of the things in my Ultra Bronze post are still true. Yes, my Internet still sucks and I still flub combos and have trouble when someone is constantly attacking me like a bulldog. So, how did I actually leave the doldrums of the Ultra Bronze rankings and make the jump to the Gold rank?
I guess the first step for me to breaking out of Ultra Bronze was actually writing that piece as to why I was stuck on Ultra Bronze. You know that old saying where you have to first acknowledge the problem before figuring out how to solve it? Well, it worked out for me in this case. There are some issues that are still out of my control, such as my poor laggy DSL connection and a few online opponents who just want to cut out and run. What I could do, however, is work on the things that were in my control, like trying to play better under pressure and completing combos more consistently. And I did these two things.
I actually worked on the latter thing first because it was the easier one. Before, there were times when I would feel too nervous about punishing an opponent with a long string of attacks because I felt I would mess it up in the middle. So, instead, I went for sure damage and just used throws most of a time as a punish. This left a lot of damage on the table and I didn’t maximize how much life I could drain from my opponent. In short, I wasn’t comfortable with my ability to actually put on the hurt on my opponent. This was a big shortcoming because, while a lot of my opponents would be putting the hurt on me, I couldn’t do it on the same level as they would.
So I extensively went through the combos trials of my character and saw what kind of combos he could do. I then tried experimenting on some other combos that I found online and practiced the heck out of them! I had to force myself to get comfortable in performing the links into my subconscious so that I could do them on the fly when I needed to. I even created a set of combos for different situations. I now have a combo if I wanted sure damage but didn’t do all that much damage. I had a more complex combo that was harder to perform but did more damage. I also have a couple depending if I had EX, V-Trigger and/or Critical Art available. I also developed one that could hopefully get me out of a sticky situation. I then had to practice them for hours at a time so that they would register into my muscle memory. I would still flub them now and again but I was fine with doing them during an actual match for the most part.
The second thing I did work on was my ability to work under pressure against an opponent who relies on unrelenting pressure, especially while in the corner. I’ve always felt that Street Fighter V becomes a guessing game during these times because you have to predict what your opponent is going to do. Is he going to go for a meaty attack? Is he going for a throw? Is he going to neutral jump? Essentially, when I’m in the corner and your opponent is bullying me into making a error, I would usually make a mistake. Honestly, I’m still working on this aspect of my game but I’ve gotten better at trying at guessing. But, more importantly, I figured out ways to get out of the corner more efficiently. In other words, I don’t deal with the corner pressure as often as before, which means I don’t have to deal with the guessing game.
Another thing I did was switching to a character that suited my playstyle. I definitely went through a kind of character crisis when I made the move from the 4th Street Fighter to the 5th. I tried a variety of characters and I actually settled into using Balrog/Boxer for the longest time. Even before people were saying that he was one of the strongest characters in the game, I was drawn to Balrog for the simple reason that he was one of the rare charging characters that was left in the game but I never fully liked using him.
There was just something about controlling Balrog that never sat right with me. He’s a good character and all but I never really felt I was utilizing him to his fullest potential. I just felt funny controlling him. His style just didn’t mesh with mine. So, after a lot of soul searching, I decided to go back to using Vega/Claw. One of the reasons why I didn’t like the Street Fighter V of Vega was because Capcom made him a “motion character” instead of a “charging character.” I’ve always felt more used to the charge motion as it was simple and easy to pull off. However, I did mention that I practiced the heck out of my combos, right? Well, I’ve already gotten to the point where it felt good to do circular motions because of all that practice. As such, I became more at ease with playing as Vega online and performing more damaging punishes when needed.
These three things definitely helped me out but they were just the foundation as to why I managed to sneak into the Gold ranks of Street Fighter V. The hardest part was yet to come. And that was actually going online and playing Ranked matches and winning! Unfortunately, the only way to become good enough to start winning is to look at your flaws and actually admit that at least some of the losses are your fault. And I did this big time! However, it was important for me to lose because I had to honestly figure out why I lost.
It would be easy for everyone to blame on their losses because of outside factors like the aforementioned lag. But I know deep in my heart of hearts that I would lose some matches because they were my fault. I had to be honest and admit to myself that I didn’t make an incorrect input or not recognizing my opponent just doing the same thing over and over again. It was the second thing that I had to really recognize first because, let’s face it, there are a lot of high ranking Street Fighter V players who just do the same things regularly and they do these things because it’s super effective. I mean, if I can win by spamming the same move ad nauseam, I’d do it! It may be a cheap way to win but it’s not their fault that it works incredibly well. It actually falls to the opponent to find a counter to those moves and I did manage to find some counters to moves like Laura’s dashing in elbow into command throw move.
There is one thing that I did that really helped me getting into the Gold rank and that is playing Casual matches. You may not climb up or down the rankings ladder with a casual match but you will get actual online combat experience and I found that very helpful with familiarizing myself with some of the tricks some characters can do. In the process, I learned to concentrate on the matches themselves without having to be worried about gaining or losing points. Like I said earlier, I don’t deal with pressure all that well and entering a Casual match made the learning experience less stressful. But by learning and experiencing actual opponents, I would be able to take what I’ve learned and experienced and transfer that to my Ranked matches.
Am I going to break through the Gold ranks and bust through to the Platinum and Diamond ranks? Probably not. I’m oddly satisfied with my current Gold rank and I think I’ve kind of plateaued when it comes to my skill at Street Fighter V. At the very least, I need to learn a whole lot more new stuff and practice a whole lot more if I really wanted to move up and, unfortunately, I just don’t have the time to do that now. There’s just so many things to do and so many games to play. As much as I love Street Fighter V, I also love playing other video games. With that being said, if you’re stuck on the lower rankings of Street Fighter V, don’t worry. If I could break through the Ultra Bronze ranks and move up to Gold, I believe everyone else can.
What rank do you have in Street Fighter V? How long did it take you to get there? Let me know in the comments section below!