Learning SFV-AE: Rookie to Bronze

When Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition was released late last month, I decided I’d finally take the plunge and start playing it online. I did some research on how people tend to practice, and stumbled upon several resources that have helped me a lot thus far.

My training regimen consists of 3 parts:

1) Practice Mode

Joe Munday’s Gief’s Gym is an amazing place to find practice mode workouts ranging from the most basic topics to really advanced techniques. The entire series is available online in the reddit thread linked above, but please consider supporting the author by buying the paperback version on amazon.

In the first part of my SFV training I’ve been focusing exclusively on the first 4 workouts of Gief’s Gym

Below you can find one example of what drilling normals looks like:

You can see how to set up the anti-air practice, as well as 3 basic drills below:

I added another wokrout, namely dashing, so I could get used to doing this instead of jumping to close gaps. After reviewing my replays from the past month, I’m surprised at how difficult it is to consistently apply it in my matches.

2) Casual Matches

While looking at some general tutorial videos on YouTube, I came across the following advice about playing online:

If you want to improve, you need an environment in which you can experiment and try new things without being scared you’ll be punished and lose LP for that. And while some people manage to keep this open attitude while playing ranked, for many players casual matches provide the breathing room to try something new.

So, if you want to improve, you should play a lot of casual matches, as those will pair you up with other Rookie and Bronze league players and give you the opportunity to practice against players of your level. Once you find you’re consistently beating them, it’s time to jump back into ranked.

There is one caveat, though. Casual matches at the very bottom of the ladder (0LP) are a place where you could get a good match, but are just as likely to be mercilessly slaughtered by 3000+ matches and 95%+ winrate smurfs. If you want to lower your chances of being matched with smurfs, the best thing to do is to struggle a bit in ranked until you get to at least 50-100LP (that’s just 1 or 2 wins!) before grinding out practice sessions in casuals again. This seemed to drastically lower the amount of smurfs I encountered (and echoes the advice I read online).

3) Ranked Matches

A reddit user named Truen1ght posted a series of ‘Tips for Players in Rookie, Bronze, and Silver‘. I highly recommend you go save that nugget of wisdom in a notepad file somewhere. As I had absolutely no prior experience with fighting games, I decided to follow his advice on how to approach ranked play to the letter. Here’s what he has to say about working your way up through Rookie League:

Rookie to Bronze

To get out of here, you don’t need much. You need an anti air to deal with front jumpins, an air to air to deal with crossups, and a fast combo to punish the things your opponent does.

  • Learn 1 anti air and its followup. For Akuma, this would be : b ST HP xx H Red Fireball. It’s super reliable and does decent damage. 8-10 of these and you win a round.
  • Learn 1 air to air, and its followup. For Akuma, he doesn’t have a good one, so jump back MP is ok, as it does some damage and comes out relatively quickly. There is no followup for Akuma’s air to air.
  • Learn 1 fast combo, by that I mean a combo that starts with a light attack. When your opponent does something like a heavy special that you block, use it. For Akuma this would be : ST LP > ST LP xx L Tatsu > H Goshoryuken.

Now for your strategy. Just play it safe. Walk, and block. If your opponent jumps, just anti air or air to air him : do that enough times and you win the round outright. Don’t jump unless the opponent is spamming fireballs, in which case you jump in HK or HP, and then use your light combo to finish it off. Let your opponent kill himself, block everything he does, and only punish. Don’t try to start any offense yourself unless the timer is running out (30 seconds or less). Let him do his random attacks and specials, and just punish after blocking them.

I would always do my practice workouts first, warm up some more in casual mode and only move to ranked when I was feeling good in the casual matches. On days were I was getting consistently outplayed, I just skipped ranked play and focused on executing Truen1ght’s strategy better in casual matches.


I’ve currently played a total of 109 matches (20SW/17W/72L or 33,94% winrate). Of those, 84 matches were casual (15SW/11W/58L or 30,95% winrate) and 25 were ranked (5SW/6W/14L or 44% winrate). After match 107, I made it to Bronze league, where I’m currently sitting at 567LP.

Apart from the obvious lesson here (You’ll lose. A lot!), those numbers aren’t all that important. I’ve found that the ranked strategy of trying to block everything and anti-airing jump-ins works quite well on other Rookie players. You can see what that looks like here:

Because of the way LP works though (the reward for winning is a lot higher than the penalty for losing), just being able to deal with other Rookie players is enough to propel you upwards to Bronze league.

The next step

Looking at my replays I noticed quite a few things to work on.

I have a lot of trouble with two types of players. The first ones are people who use a similar defensive strategy as mine, but are consistently better at blocking and anti-airing. While I managed to take the first game, this Nash adapted quickly and completely shut me down in game 2 and 3:

I’m not sure on how to approach this type of opponent, and I imagine I’ll continue to struggle in these matchups until at least Silver league, when I start expanding my neutral game options.

The second scenario in which I tend to struggle is when playing opponents that just rush me down and take advantage of inconsistent blocking (I push too many buttons or step forward at odd times) and late anti-airs.

I guess the answer to this second type of players is simply practising more and improving my block and anti-air consistency.

Other bad habits I should work on:

  • I miss most opportunities to tech throws (especially after an opponent aggressively dashes up to me or pressures a lot).
  • Most of the super combos I launch are accidental, and as a result I almost never hit confirm them first, wasting lots of meter and leaving me vulnerable to counterattack.
  • I have a reliance on sweeping after the c.HP anti-air. I should look for a better combo to punish after I hit an anti-air.
  • I use tatsumaki as a gap closer/attack which is slow, easy to block and punish. I should stop using it on its own, and only utilize it in combos.
  • I miss most opportunities to do the 4-hit target combo (the only combo I can reliably reproduce almost 100% of the time) after hitting a jumping HP.
  • I get caught in a crouching blocking position by overhead attacks a lot. I should stand up more while blocking.

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