Why is execution important?  KOF can be played like any game, just do whatever you feel like and randomly try stuff.  But when you really want to win, you have to change your mindset.  In a high level state of play, the player drives their character on autopilot with the only input from the player being which setplay to use next.

This high level player is constantly monitoring the situation: the distance between the characters, the opportunities and risks of doing a move, and the stocks in supply to use efficiently for a combo or to push back an offense.

It is highly recommended to learn the optimal combo for your characters from crouching LK (close and far) while other characters like Iori can also use maxmode combos from far HK.  Don’t change around the order of your characters unless the differing size of the maxmode bar won’t make a difference- although it definitely will for some, such as Ramon!  For these combos to work everytime and in every situtation we need a higher level of execution.

Here are some words that will help.

  • Situational awareness exercise
  • Execution issues
  • Recognising pressure
  • Calming down
  • Combo Training

Situational awareness exercise

Go into practice mode and select Ramon as P1 and Mai as P2.

Record Mai mashing LK and then set her to repeat.

What moves can you do to get past this?

  • Perhaps you have a faster poke
  • Perhaps you need to use a special move
  • Perhaps you’ll need to block till you can do something else
  • Perhaps you can’t do anything and you’ll need a different character!

Once you find the answer, you’ll be able to maneuver after Mai gets the knockdown and tries to poke you with aforementioned far LK in an actual match.  Finding the optimal punish between the whiff of her poke will raise your execution.

To become master of KOF, you need to know the same situational information regarding every character’s move.

In a time limited situation, just learn the top tiers ^^

Execution Issues

  • Are your fingers slipping from the stick?
  • Does your whole body jump when you have to hit something difficult?
  • Can’t get a combo to work?
  • Was sure it worked in practice but doesn’t work in the match?

Don’t give up!  There’s a few things to check…

QCF issues in combos: sometimes the move doesn’t come out like it should, or overlaps with another, this is a prevalent issue with KOF, what you have to do is add uf (up forward) to make it work.  Try it.

Pressure: First of all, the pressure on performance is totally different, comparing practice mode and an actual match. Frustration is also a key factor.

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Recognising Pressure

  • The game seems faster than usual
  • The images are blurry
  • Cannot focus on character and see what is happening
  • Memory of what happened is blank after KO

This often happens when you face a character that is new to you.  On the contrary, when you are calm, focused and know the situation, the game can slow down, and you feel you can read the opponent.  This is often called “being in the zone”.  It’s happening because you know what the opponent can and cannot do, and how you have the advantage.  This is a result of a lot of study and experience, so get playing!

Calming down

Disclaimer: we do not accept responsibility for any ill effects of taking this advice, these are tips given by people who are not qualified medical experts in any way and should not be taken as such.

Breathing: do not over do this, as too much oxygen, same as a lack of it, can cause light headedness and lack of focus.  Breathe normally – some people need a reminder when they are stressed and it’s no joke!

Coffee and other stimulants: find the balance that works for you, a cup can raise your awareness, too much can make you jumpy and lose control, get the jitters or shakes, etc.

Water: It is advisable to drink water, especially in a hot room, and if you are sweating and talking, you are using up that valuable h20.  Keep yourself hydrated, players often take a swig between matches.  Beware of the need to visit the bathroom getting yourself disqualified!

Take a walk: stop playing, get some fresh air.

Other people advise a beer, a hot/cold face towel, or a hot chocolate or a shoulder rub from your coach!  Different things work for different people.  Got a tip? Leave a comment!

Combo Training

Before the combo:

Have you considered the amount of movement your fingers are making and the time it is taking plus the possibility of error, versus using a macro button?

Is the combo very long? Break it down into chunks!  Some combos have juggles which are height dependant so you must match the exact conditions or it won’t work.  Get the timings for each cancel into your head so you don’t have to think about it.

Combos and input preparation: Do look at your inputs and where they are before the next one is due. Perhaps you don’t need to holding down-back when you could be holding down.  Think about saving physical movement with your hands and then using that buffer!

Doing the combo

When you find your optimal combo, you should practice it till it is firmly in muscle memory.  When you first try it, it may be a bit blurry in your head and you may feel tense.  These feelings will go away after practice and experience.  There is no substitute.  When you can calmly do the combo without any tightness in your chest or wildly erractic hand movements, you are now ready!

After the combo

Even if you cannot finish the combo, take a break, 5 minutes, 30 minutes, anything, even sometimes a good night’s sleep can help clear things up and make the combo more comfortable the next day!

Even if you complete the combo, that doesn’t mean it’s in your muscle memory. It should be rehearsed regularly till you can almost do it blind – although some combos do need visual clues!

Now you need to be able to react and do the combo when there is an opportunity.  Go into practice mode and put the dummy on RANDOM block.  Now try.  This will improve your reaction time and way of thinking.

Now you need to do it in a match.  Try against the CPU.  That does not mean go into practice mode with infinite stocks – this is a bad way to prepare for that small opportunity in a real match.  You’ll feel the difference in pressure immediately!  Try CPU level 5, as it starts really reading your inputs hahaha….  It’s very good practice. But not better than fighting a human.  This is the start of your path to become the King of Fighters.  Good luck, warrior!

A good revision of game logic and what is important  in KOF (by Atma) is also highly recommended.

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