Welcome back to Levelling Up, the one stop shop to find some knowledge diamonds in amongst the rough journey to being a better player. This time we look at what makes and breaks a good player, and that is habit.

Habit is a funny thing when it comes to fighting games, it intrinsically walks hand in hand with our previously discussed game plans. It can be what defines us and at the same time what destroys us. Every player has a bad habit, some have plenty and I have lots.

A bad habit is something hard to shake, they are more often than not something we pick up while we first learn a game or something we bring from another game. For me in Tekken I struggle to maximise the use of the moves available to me and in Marvel I tend to try resets far too much for my own good or fall into a very repetitive flow chart. Both of these lead to a very predictable playstyle.

For others bad habits might even be a block string they repeat or a grab set up they abuse. These habits are something that others pick up before we do on occasion. It will be what costs you a match and more often than not your mental state.

A habit so bad, Miss Chang seen it a mile off.
A habit so bad, Miss Chang seen it a mile off.

These habits are what leads to what appears to be a sick read, well that or what everyone now claims is some sort of proximity blocking option select in Street Fighter 4. The reads are a product of identifying a player’s habits, they are the gut feeling you get to throw out a limb or back dashing for a whiff punish.

So what can you do to hide these bad habits? Maintaining composure is the key but not the only precaution to take but utilising a breather in between matches will do no harm. By identifying your own bad habits you can also minimise them or at least mislead your opposition partially to avoid exposure.

Alternatively you can also avoid becoming repetitive in your playstyle. This might happen when you believe that you are better than your opponent or distance yourself from the game by engaging the autopilot within. Try alternating between several game plans and cutting strings short for grab set ups or even just to try and force your opponent’s hand.

The same can be said for your opponent’s too. If you identify a weak point, or particular setup that works on that player. Identifying a player’s bad habit will revolutionise a match up, areas that you might excel in can become your greatest strength and your biggest weakness so ensure to play both with and against them. So next time in a long set be sure to scope out your opponent and look for bad habits, what forces their hand and what they fall for more often than not, it could be the difference between winning and losing.

A good read can be the difference in a vertical ad a horizontal slice.
A good read can be the difference between a vertical and a horizontal slice.

It might seem like it is so simple that most players think they already know that bad habits are the Achilles’ heel of all players and they have removed any fallible portion of their playstyle but it’s not true in the slightest. One that sticks out largely for me was in an interview with Daigo that he observed that before his matches with Xian that Xian had a tendency to FADC Gen’s hand special and that this was costly in meter and prevented him from building up to the highly damaging super to ultra combo. So through utilising this knowledge Daigo deliberately took hits from Xian to prevent this situation from happening and exploiting one of Xian’s major weaknesses resulting in a landslide victory over the current EVO champ shortly after his glorious win. Standing proof that every player have their bad habits.

So next time you pick up the pad or stick have a wee thought about how you play and then spice things up. Eradicate those nasty habits of yesteryear and start the new one with a new play style and a new attitude. Even if you just change the tiniest iota of your approach be sure to keep levelling up!