Hit The Ground Running #8: Option Selects

An article series by Jay "Viscant' Snyder.

It's a busy period for Street Fighter 5 right now.  This past week we had the first premier event on the Capcom Pro Tour with Final Round 19 and this upcoming weekend is Nor Cal Regionals.  If you've been following CPT so far or just watching smaller events you've probably heard the commentators talking about option selects.  I've noticed some people in twitch chat and on forums are a little confused on some of the early SF5 option selects and even a little confused about the term in general.  So this week we're going to go over some basic SF5 option selects and talk about how to counter them.

The term “option select” in the FGC just refers to one set of inputs that does multiple things, with the system choosing a different option depending on what's going on around your character in the game.  You probably do some option selects without even realizing it.  Like let's say you're playing Ryu, you walk just barely into range and input crouching forward quickly into quarter circle forward + punch.  If your poke connects the hadoken comes out.  If the low forward whiffs, the fireball doesn't come out.  This is an option select; you're using the same input but the hadoken will only come out under the circumstance that the low forward runs into something and can be canceled.

While Street Fighter 4 had a reputation of being a particularly option select heavy game, that had as much to do with the community as the game itself.  Our community has learned some of the things to look for and has more accurate frame data leading to more discoveries.  All games have option selects and even though Capcom tried their hardest to keep option selects out of Street Fighter 5, there are still some here with more being discovered all the time.  

If you take nothing else away from this article, I hope you remember this.  For option selects the game doesn't always select the best/most optimal option.  It only does what it's told.  For some, the only possible scenarios are safe but for most of them, only the most LIKELY scenarios are covered.  A big part of understanding how to break option selects comes down to this.  Ask yourself, why does the game select this particular option in this circumstance?  And then ask yourself, can I make the game select something unsafe?  

Time for some examples.  This is a basic demonstration of the Ken jab into hurricane kick option select that was floating around on the front page of Eventhubs and SRK a couple weeks ago.  As you can see when the jab connects, Ken will cancel to hurricane kick, which leads to a juggle.  But when the jab is blocked, Ken WON'T cancel to hurricane kick and will be able to continue pressuring.  Since Ken jab is +2 on block, not only does he lose nothing for missing, he's left at a slight advantage.

Why does this work?  In Street Fighter 5 the window to cancel moves on hit and on block is slightly different with the cancel window being generally larger on hit than on block.  So the game reads the cancel as coming too late on block but timed just fine on hit.  This isn't Ken specific or really even Street Fighter 5 specific; when this technique hit the news sites, some people started calling it the MKX option select since this was common in that game with many characters having something that worked along the same principle.

The last example in the video shows that the option select, while good, isn't completely foolproof.  As I said above, the game won't always choose the best option for you, it only does what it's told.  In this case, the jab connects so the hurricane kick comes out.  In SFV there is no invincibility on backdashes, but they put you airborne and if you get hit out of a backdash the game registers a counterhit.  The counterhit isn't much good here since counterhit jab into hurricane kick isn't a juggle and with short hurricane kick then whiffing, this leads to a combo opportunity for the defender.  You could also accomplish the same thing by holding up back and jumping away, getting your jump interrupted by the standing jab.  Even in cases where you would land and have to block the last hit of hurricane kick, it's still -8 on block so a combo opportunity would still be there.

Is this a practical, one stop solution for beating the option select?  Not really.  Backdashing away from Ken at point blank range or jumping away from him is really not a great idea in the long run.  But if someone is really abusing this technique, it's something you can do sparingly to cause them to doubt themselves a little bit.  This is more proof of concept than anything else, proving that there are situations where you can cause a very safe option select to backfire

Here's another sample option select, this one with Vega and since he's a character I play, I do this one in my matches occasionally.  It was actually discovered during the second public beta and never altered so this isn't something I personally came up with, just some tech that's been floating around for almost 6 months now.  This situation arises after Vega's made the other side afraid of the throw game around the corner.  On block the low jab will cancel into the strong aurora spin edge, which is 99% safe on block due to pushback.  On whiff, in this case caused by a jump, the low jab won't cancel into the strong aurora spin edge but the game will read that input as a first frame fierce aurora spin edge which you can combo into EX wall dive or critical art or v-trigger, so on and so forth.  And on counter hit, the low jab will combo into strong aurora spin edge cleanly and this situation illustrated in the video is a counter hit trap.  You can see I whiffed a throw there that led to the counter hit situation and trying to mash out jabs will lead to the same type of situation.

This one works a bit differently than the Ken option select.  This one works due to input leniency.  Even though there's a bit of a delay between the end of the quarter circle back motion and when the fierce button is hit, on whiff the game reads it as an acceptable input and lets the special move come out, ignoring the strong button which was hit during the whiff animation of the low jab.   And on hit or block, the game just ignores the fierce button input since the strong button was pressed first and the fierce button isn't hit in time for the game to read them as simultaneous inputs that would lead to an EX.  Incidentally, if you see Vega players do random low jab into EX aurora spin edge for no reason, they were probably going for the option select and just mistimed it.  It happens to me more often than I'd like to admit.

The weakness in this option select is that low jab into strong aurora spin edge is not a true combo without a counter hit nor is it a true blockstring.  You need to use jab aurora spin edge to get a true combo and/or true blockstring and that one will whiff outside of point blank range.  So as you can see in the video, Cammy can cannon spike through the setup and reversal timing wasn't even necessary, the gap is that wide.  You can also use the same backdash counter as in the Ken example, to use backdash to create a counter hit that doesn't juggle and then punish the strong aurora spin edge that the game selected.

Also I threw in the final example in the video partly for my own amusement and partly as a reminder to leave inputs on when you're messing around in training mode trying to find option selects out on your own.  So the end of the video shows Cammy jumping over Vega and Vega turning around and performing the fierce aurora spin edge.  The first time I found something like this I got really excited thinking that I'd found an option select that not only beat jump straight up but also beat a crossup jump.  This would be amazing for Vega.

But unfortunately, it's not real.  Check the inputs on the CPU's side of the screen.  The exact input is down, down-back, back+strong, fierce.  And specifically to the right side of the screen that would be down, down-right, right+strong, fierce.  In the final example though, the CPU's input is down, down-right, LEFT+strong, fierce.  Where'd that left come from?  This setting in training mode doesn't differentiate between right and left, only between towards and back.  So at the time the final input comes out, training mode has read Cammy as already having crossed over, then inputs back as left, which turns Vega around.  So despite what it looks like, this is not a valid anti-crossup option select just a training mode quirk.  Vega HAS one, but this exact input timing I used isn't it and I could have been fooled if I didn't have the inputs on.  Always leave them on when trying new things!

Bananaken put this video up a couple days ago. This one is a particularly important option select for current tournament play and I noticed a few of the players at Final Round using it.  It has a bunch of names going around right now but since Bananaken calls it fuzzy jump in the video, we'll call it that just to keep things simple.  Fuzzy jump works because up-back+jab+short registers as a valid throw tech input and instead of whiffing a throw if you miss on this, you get a jump back, usually jump back short.  This isn't great for a character like Dhalsim with his floaty jump (he has his own version of this with a teleport buffered in) and it seems especially bad for Chun-Li.  Her jump is floaty and her up-back+jab+short becomes a low air throw and also has a tendency to become light spinning bird kick if mistimed because she's a charge character.  But for most characters it works out pretty well.  Since a lot of players like to neutral jump in your face as their “nothing” option these days, fuzzy jump seems even better since a jump back short with most characters tends to beat neutral jump options.

The main for use for right now is to make the guessing game on wakeup a little easier.  If done frame perfectly the defender is completely invulnerable to regular throws and is only vulnerable to strikes on three frames, the frames when you commit to leaving the ground and are not yet in the air.  If you input the up-back and then jab+short on exactly the eighth frame after wakeup, you will still be able to tech a first frame throw and are only available to be hit by strikes on the ninth through eleventh frames, kind of a strange window for the attacker to hit.

This is the counter shown in the video to this option select, delaying the attack to hit the pre-jump frames.  Also meaty overheads will usually screw with people trying to use this one.  There's nothing special about the down back input; this option select works perfectly well with back and a standing block but most people who use this have trained themselves on down back and will be more vulnerable to overheads than they are normally.  Obviously against command throw characters like Zangief or R.Mika, it doesn't help out too much since their command grabs can't be teched so a first frame SPD or giant swing would still go through.  Another counter would be just to let them jump away and then punish the jump back.  For characters with strong juggles, this one is probably the best option rather than trying to hit the 3 frame window.  Of course playing this passive on their wakeup has downsides, like letting them wake up with jabs, backdashes or really anything else they want.

When the patch comes out, this option select is going to be nerfed slightly but not eliminated.  The pre-jump frames will increase by 1 which doesn't eliminate the option select but does give the attacking player an extra frame in the window.  So using the frame perfect example from above, instead of ninth through eleventh frame after wakeup, they'd now be vulnerable from the ninth through twelfth.  It remains to be seen how this will affect this option select in real play but the current consensus is that theoretically it shouldn't change too much.  

Last example we're going to go over is a video from PR Balrog and it is similar to the SF4 crouch tech option select.  This was discovered even before the first public beta test; people were talking about this one as early as the E3 build.  In this example, low jab and jab+short are performed in quick succession.  If the attacker has started his throw animation, a throw tech will be selected.  If not the low jab comes out and with some characters, the jab+short input becomes another chained attack because the game will not allow you to 2-in-1 cancel an attack into a normal throw.

This works (for now) because of a different kind of input leniency than the kind we talked about earlier.  Street Fighter games with 2 button throw and throw tech inputs have traditionally allowed the player some leeway in inputting the motion; even if the two buttons aren't pressed on exactly the same frame the game has built in leniency that will still give you the throw or the throw tech.  This worked in games like Alpha 3, SF3:3s, SF4, etc.

But for Street Fighter 5 once the March input drops, this is being specifically eliminated.  To quote Haunts's blog, “if you push buttons during the normal throw delayed tech window you are unable to escape throws for 2 frames.”  So in less than a week or so this option select will be eliminated; there's even a chance that by the time you read this it'll already be gone.  

So people might ask, if option selects like fuzzy jump can be weakened by a patch and ones like the jab+tech can be completely eliminated, why can't Capcom simply patch out ALL option selects found.  After all, that was their intention with Street Fighter 5; to make a game less OS-centric than Street Fighter 4 was.  It would be possible but in a way the cure might be worse than the disease.

Like they easily could eliminate leniency based option selects like the Vega one by making the input requirement for a special move much more strict.  Or you could eliminate option selects like the Ken example by tightening up the cancel window.  But the side effect of this would be that it would be much harder for players to get special moves out and to do combos.  This may seem fine, even preferable to the advanced player but for beginning level players this would make the game a lot more frustrating.  So even though a lot of players may strongly dislike option selects, due to how the game is made, they're mostly here to stay.  It's up to us as players to figure them out and find counters for them as they arise.  Keeping up to date with option selects will likely become an important part of keeping up to date with Street Fighter 5.

That's all for this week.  I was hoping to talk about Alex and the new update next week but it doesn't seem like it'll be out in time. So next week's topic will be everyone's favorite Street Fighter 5 wakeup option, the wakeup jab.  See you then.

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1 comment

  • Nice read and Solution Suggestions, how Capcom could fix all the OS you mentioned.

    Would you consider this a OS worth mentioning, since it seems to work on Proximity to Opponent?

    YT link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ol9yRM2Dp6w

    • Mike