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Jumping into the realm of playing your favorite game online can often be a daunting, soul-crushing task. After all, by making the leap to the worldwide platform of Internet play, you are leaving your comfortable bubble of safety where you can proclaim yourself to be the best Unreal Tournament contestant ever without anyone really knowing that you compete against bots.

No longer can one spout off one's skills in Street Fighter just because one can beat arcade mode on easy.

I made the conversion to play Street Fighter 4 online with excitement and not trepidation. For months, I had been playing my girlfriend, Rachel Jagielski, in friendly offline matches — all the while dreaming about the newest iteration in the series (the upcoming Super Street Fighter 4), discussing strategy with particular characters, and making fun of how big of a douche Ryu is.

Was I ready? Could I withstand the pressure of playing real-life opponents? Would I ever see anyone use Dan? The answers may surprise you. This is my account of playing Street Fighter 4 online.


I would like to preface with the fact that at this point I have over 120 total hours played (on SSF4 alone), 450-plus online ranked matches, and a win percentage of 70 percent [ed: William originally published this article in September, so these values are likely greater now]. I am B-ranked with one character, and C-ranked with three others. I consider myself good at the game, as the gorgeous and talented Rachel would agree. I state these facts to not brag, but to relay that I am persistent: I’ve played for awhile, and I take pride in my exploits of the online arena.

Despite this, Rachel and I were both still grasping the new fighting-game concepts and trying to commit them to memory. Patterns one may be used to using with certain characters no longer worked against the new tier of players we were now facing since ranking up to C from D.

For instance, I was finding that using Hakan’s oil slide on wake up and start up was not only expected but led to the typical retaliation and punishment of a sickening dragon punch from whichever completely expected Shoto character (typically Ryu) I was playing at the time. Rachel was having her own issues with playing Cammy and realizing that she needed a new option for knockdown follow ups besides cannon drilling and hoping for no solid low blocks.

A learning process, indeed.

At this point I was tired of playing against the myriad of Ryu, Ken, and Akuma players ad nausium. This fact did not bother Rachel nearly as much as I; but to be frank, I was just getting tired of dodging multiple hadokens just to get dragon punched. At the time, I was still trying to prove that I could make Hakan work online, a task that was becoming more and more difficult as my opponents became more accustomed to the game. In the beginning, I was able to use Hakan with the element of surprise on my side, but since ranking up I was facing a better grade of competitor.

Not to mention I was tired of seeing this.

And this.

Oh, and let us not forget this memorable matchup.

Safe to say, I was not equipped to play against a Shoto character with my oily hero (this would come later, but I digress). This made me reevaluate my stance on my main character and begin my journey to find a new fit. Up to that point, I had been a jack of all trades and master of absolutely nothing. I was competent with Sakura and Abel, had flirted with Zangief (though, I rejected him due to him not being a bear), and had not even glanced at Cammy or Rose since they were officially claimed for my dear lady.

So began the trial and error, and by that I mean getting my ass handed to me online. A lot. The beatings were epic.

The first rung on the ladder was with C. Viper. Although I didn’t use a fight stick, I was hoping that I could pick up the nuances of the complex character. I will give you a summary of my play testing.

Multiply the above result by 24 straight matches, and you’ll have an idea of the punishment I received. Although, I guess I should state that not all of the matches were against Ryu…I think two or three were against Ken.

The search would continue — this time to Makoto. Sadly, a similar result happened as I just couldn’t get used to playing a purely offensive character. Oddly enough, my rapid failure with the karate girl would later inspire Rachel to try her own hand with very similar results (though, she did make good use of Makoto’s ultra combo, or as I called the move: the “Ball Punch of Doom”).

On a whim, I decided to play Ibuki. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting much and was even a little skittish over trying the character, as I had read nothing but complaining about Ibuki’s turtling capabilities. I was also more than a little intimidated by her massive list of target combos that I simply could not memorize.

I’m glad I tried.

Ibuki ended up being a perfect fit for my play style — not to mention my ambitions to find an anti-Ryu character. Between her crouching medium kick and EX neckbreaker that dives right under every fireball in the game, a nice selection of quick linking combos, and one of the most powerful ultras in Yoroitoshi, I had found my ideal character. Although, I made sure to watch replays of Ibuki matches to find out how others were playing the ninja girl…then I would play in the exact opposite fashion.

The result? Instant success. Of course, this didn’t mean I wasn’t going to try and progress with her. I’m happy to say that I had a 75 percent win rate to this day with Ibuki, and my friends all groan with displeasure when I pick the dear girl as my street-fighting representative.

But, the story of my current Ibuki success is meant for another time.