How to Outplay Your Opponent in Smash Ultimate
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How to Outplay Your Opponent in Smash Ultimate

Let me read your mind for a second. You’re a smash player, obviously, and you’re
chasing something, obviously, that’s why you’re here. You’re chasing victory and self-improvement. But even more than that, you’re chasing
style. No, you don’t necessarily want to be Mango
or Light, a player that thrives off stylish play. But you’ve had those moments where you picked
up the controller and made art with it. You got advantage and you kept it and you
pushed your opponent to the literal edge. And when you got them there, you read them
like a book, then you wrote the ending with a spike, a gimp, a raw call out. You’ve outplayed people before and you wanna
do it again. But that’s not really a hard thing for me
to guess, right? It doesn’t take being psychic to know what
makes a person watch video guides and fighting game content. It only takes playing and watching Smash competitively
to understand the desire to outplay someone else. The question is, just how do you outplay an
opponent? What even is an outplay? What even is an opponent? Where am I? What am I doing here? Okay, we obviously don’t need to get that
deep! But we should talk about what an outplay is. When people talk about outplays, they usually
mean it in one of two ways: a big outplay or long outplay. The big outplay is when one player absolutely
destroys another with a single move or string. These are usually gimps, reads, and even comeback
moments. The long outplay is when one player dominates
the neutral and rarely gets hit or falls into disadvantage. This can look like an extended string of combos,
ledge camping, and pressure where one player barely gets to breathe. Or it can look like a series of whiff punishes,
reads, and patient neutral wins. It’s the difference between when a caster
screams, “OUTPLAYED!” and calmly says, “he’s just getting outplayed every stock.” Regardless of which outplay you’re seeing,
chances are it came from a similar combination of factors. Almost all outplays are a combination of good
reads and reactions. Because of this, for a lot of newer competitors
and viewers an outplay can look a bit like fate. What I mean by that is that the outplay looked
like it was always going to happen and not critically think about how it happened. For example, watch how MKLeo outplays Nairo
here. MKLeo lands a two-hit jab, intentionally drops
the third hit, then seems to either randomly guess that Nairo will roll in and thus reads
him with a forward smash, or reacts to the start of the roll animation and hits him [can
replay clip in slow motion here]. But in reality the outplay had little to do
with random chance and a lot more to do with pressure. While we’re on the topic, the outplay also
had a lot to do with MKLeo being THE BEST player in the world for Smash Ultimate. He is the person you want to learn from and
mimic. And you can do that right now with ProGuides
dot com. Click the link in the description to check
out our website where you can watch our pro course delivered by the champ himself. Seriously, you do not want to miss that. But anyway… Whether it’s from standardized testing or
from the Queen song, we all know what pressure looks like. But in fighting games, pressure is a little
bit different than just fearing a bad outcome or feeling the stress of a situation. Pressure is when a player puts their opponent
into a tricky situation and gives them little time to resolve it. It can be hard to see when and where pressure
is being applied, so an easy shortcut is to think of pressure situations as ones where
a player’s options are limited. Some really easy examples of this are when
an opponent is trapped on the ledge or knocked to the ground. In both of these scenarios, a player has limited
options to pick from. At the ledge, a player has roughly 5 options
– roll onto the stage, normal get up onto stage, jump onto stage, regrab the ledge,
and get up attack. Each option has its uses and we cover that
in another video we’ve linked in the description. By forcing them to go to the ledge, their
opponent applies pressure. Ledge invulnerability will time out and the
player has to make a decision or risk getting knocked off the ledge and into the blast zone. They only have a few options, so the opponent
has an easier time reading what they do. If the opponent gets the right read, the player
gets hit and maybe even loses a stock. This does oversimplify the game somewhat,
and different characters can have different ways to fight and stall around the ledge. But regardless of whether you have 5 options
or 10 options, you are more limited and more pressured than normal. For comparison, you can look at the most even
point of neutral possible – the start of the game. At the beginning of the game, both players
have access to pretty much every ground and air move, every direction, every defensive
choice, and every offensive choice. You’re looking at a ton of options. Cutting all of that down to 5 options is a
huge deal. A lot of the outplays come from applying pressure
and limiting options. You can even cut your opponent down to one
option. At that point, you don’t have to read them,
you just have to execute a proper punish. Here’s another example from the same set
between MKLeo and Nairo. MKLeo cancels Palutena’s recovery with Joker’s
gun. Now Nairo only has one option. He has to up special to the ledge or he will
die. Nairo can mix up his timing to throw Leo off,
but that’s about it. Leo hits Nairo again, forcing Nairo down to
the same option again, then hits him a final time. You can apply this principle pretty easily
to your own games. If you think of pressure as limiting your
opponent’s options, then it’s pretty easy to spot pressure scenarios. Once you can see a pressure scenario, you
can get into your opponent’s head more easily and outplay them. Let’s take ledgetrapping as an example. When you have your opponent at the ledge,
you can stand nearby, bait out a get up attack, shield it, then punish with a move or even
a grab. You can jump and throw out a deceptively long-lasting
aerial, then carry the aerial downward to catch their get up or roll. Or you can just play Snake and make the ledge
a living hell. UP SMASH INTENSIFIES. Even if you don’t play Snake, one of the
best ways to get outplays, especially the long outplay, is to know your character’s
options for common pressure scenarios. Pretty much all the big disadvantage states
are high pressure moments. So creating pressure looks like putting an
opponent off stage, putting an opponent in the air above you, forcing an opponent to
the ledge, or knocking an opponent on the ground. Every character has different pressure situations
where they’re more or less dangerous Part of creating the outplay is knowing where your
character gets outplays most consistently. But knowing yourself isn’t enough to cut
it in Smash. The next step is to know your opponent. Knowing characters and matchups goes a long
way in setting up an outplay because you learn what options they can use to respond to yours. If you don’t play against lots of Rosalinas,
you might not know that Luma is ride or die and will do all sorts of weird stuff to interrupt
your outplay moment. If you don’t know Game and Watch has a frame
4 up special, you’re about to start eating a lot of parachutes. To see how much matchup knowledge matters,
let’s take another look at a set between MKLeo and Nairo, but this time one where Nairo
is on the winning end. In this case, Nairo pushes Leo off stage and
pressures him constantly, forcing early air dodges and bad ledge options. To cap it all off Nairo retreats to mid stage
and kills Leo with a hard read. Nairo shows a lot of matchup knowledge in
this simple interaction. He knows that Ike could land safely on the
ledge or could try to beat his move with the side special’s hitbox. He knows that lots of Ikes will want the hit
because it gets them back to center stage and relieves pressure. He also knows just how much distance the side
special travels, so he can stand right outside of its hitbox and punish it with charged up
smash. He gets rewarded with a huge outplay and a
classic commentary moment from EE. Knowing matchups means that you know where
characters feel pressure the hardest. Some characters can’t handle off stage pressure. Others can’t handle pressure on their shield
or pressure at the ledge. If you know where the pressure hits the hardest,
you also know where you can get the hardest reads most easily. But knowledge isn’t a one way street and
it can be used to prevent outplays as much as cause them. This is also why really good players don’t
tend to get styled on as often. So, how do outplays happen when both players
know their characters and the matchup? This is where the game gets very mental and
very personal. At this point, the outplay doesn’t just
come from knowledge of the game’s mechanics, but how each player uses those mechanics. Now outplays arise from players reading each
other’s tendencies. If you really want to outplay an opponent
in a game as complex as Ultimate, you have to read the opponent’s style on top of their
character. Watch for patterns in their play. What moves do they use to approach? What moves do they use to defend themselves? Do they feel more pressure when playing aggressively
or defensively? All these factors motivate how you should
respond to them. For example, aggressive players can be susceptible
to a bait and punish style. An aggro player wants to create an opening
and style on you, so faking an opening as bait, then whiff punishing can force them
on the back foot, making them less comfortable and applying pressure. But a bait and punish style might not work
on a patient defensive player. Since they don’t feel the rush to create
an opening, the bait may just give them time to develop a good defensive position where
they limit your options. We tend to think that players only ever have
one of these styles. Salem is defensive. ESAM is aggressive. And so on. But to compete at the highest level players
need at least some ability to switch between styles That’s right, we’ve done it folks. We’ve reached the final layer for this video. Conditioning is a term fighting games loan
from psychology, and it simply means reinforcing a behavior by punishing it or rewarding it. In Smash, conditioning is the art of creating
predictability in a game where options can be nearly limitless. Even at the ledge, your opponent has a minimum
of 5 options. If you were to just guess what they would
do, you’d only have a 20% chance to guess correctly. By knowing your character and theirs, you
can make a more educated guess. By applying pressure you can make that guess
college educated. By conditioning, that guess becomes so educated
that it passes its thesis defense and gets a PhD. Conditioning and tendencies run so deep at
the top level of smash that smart options can become dumb options and vice versa. At the highest level of Smash, you can see
weird interactions where players spot dodge three times in a row or hold a smash attack
until it somehow hits. So when you see a top player outplay their
rival, remember that what you’re seeing isn’t really just chance, or their character,
or even their raw ability to hit buttons quickly. What you’re seeing isn’t even just one
big moment of brilliance. Those outplays you’re seeing are a result
of a ton of knowledge, a ton of mind games, and a ton of pressure. For as difficult as all that sounds, you absolutely
can apply it to your games. You might not have time to study all your
opponents or all the matchups in the game or even all of your character’s moves. That’s alright. Just remember that an outplay often comes
from a read. You get more reads by applying pressure. You apply pressure by eliminating the options
you opponent can pick. You can eliminate those options through a
mix of conditioning, reading their style, and putting them in scenarios where your character
applies pressure their character has trouble taking. If it’s a lot to deal with now, start slowly
and with your own character. Build up your knowledge of your character
and how they apply pressure. Then start to learn matchups, how other characters
apply pressure, how they escape your pressure, and so on. Bring on the mind games by catching their
patterns and by conditioning them. And finally, hit that subscribe button! You’ll continue to learn more and come up
with great ideas for your gameplan with us here at ProGuides. It might take a bit, but if you keep it you’ll
hit that highlight reel.


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