Online multiplayer is a great feature. For a casual fighting game experience, it’s totally a must-have thing. You just play your game and don’t have to search for opponents in the real world to feel the power of a match against a fellow human. For competitive gamers, playing online is both a blessing and a danger.
On the one hand, you can participate in esports tournaments without even leaving your home (and that’s proved to be useful when the world is shaken by a pandemic). Street Fighter V is a game that utilizes the opportunity to have online tournaments quite well. The official events of the Capcom Pro Tour series happen online — and that’s actually a super-top level of fighting esports.
On the other hand, though, fighting games players in general and Street Fighter players in particular should be aware of some negative sides of competing online. OK, I will not talk strictly about lags. This issue is pretty known. But also, those lags are the basis of bigger potential problems for individual players and the whole community.
Limitations of your environment
Yes, online multiplayer has its obvious problems — especially for fast-paced fighting matches where even fractions of a second might bring a victory or a loss. Game developers try to deliver tricky innovations into this aspect and allow people from distant regions to play without lags. For Street Fighter V, that’s rather a fantastic dream than reality.
When you play SFV online, you “meet” people from the surrounding physical area. And it causes bitter limitations.
Strong SFV regions. Not-so-strong SFV regions
Traditionally, some countries/territories have a bigger number of prominent players. Japan and North America are the first ones that come to mind. Playing inside of such an environment creates a high standard, so the players have a challenging goal to strive for, and they actually have the opportunity to reach it. Strong opponents make you a stronger competitive player.
Other regions, such as Europe, Middle East, and Central/South America, also have some exceptional Street Fighter players — but would we know them if they had no chance to travel to the offline events? And also, could they reach this level without participating in those offline tournaments and facing strong players from other countries?
Being stuck in one region is an obvious issue for fighting gamers from such territories. A talented player in an environment with no fighting games tradition might not have a chance to prove their talent and develop it.
The issue for strong regions is not that apparent, but it also exists.
It’s a bit more subtle thing to talk about, but the effect of this aspect is tremendous.
Practice is crucial for becoming a better Street Fighter player. And getting various challenges to work on is a huge part of everyone’s practice. But what if you don’t get a challenge to practice some specific game skills? What if your practice never touches that feature or this layer of the fighting mechanics? You might get stuck in your development and never have a chance to break annoying limitations.
Having specific fighting styles in some regions is an absolutely real thing. It would be hard to give them any clear explanation, but you will be able to just feel the styles by watching CPT or other online events.
If you are dealing with mostly aggressively offensive opponents in your daily SFV practice, you might not have decent training with highly defensive players. If your region has a tradition of using some characters more than others, your experience will not reflect the matchups of the vast international scene.
Players in the regions have enough online practice and get high Street Fighter 5 ranks, so no one can call their in-game power insufficient. It’s mostly about not having some small details in the big picture of their style. And those details are important enough to prevent the player from reaching the level of perfection.
Just to make this point even clearer, let’s bring something from the wild. Whenever a location is totally separated from the rest of the world, it develops its own ecosystem. And then, when suddenly a new microorganism penetrates into this ecosystem, it might become horribly deadly and destroy the internal harmony.
The same pattern is working for Street Fighter online communities. We need to share our experiences for everyone to become stronger.
Even traditionally powerful regions benefit from getting fresh energy from players with different styles.
Steps to go beyond your SFV region
The first step has been taken — we’ve discussed the issue and (hopefully) accepted it exists. It’s the basis to move forward.
Some potential solutions are totally out of our hands. The developers should create better network codes for the multiplayer modes, and probably the inevitable Street Fighter 6 will give the community some interesting technological innovations.
Also, we could hope to have the pandemic situation resolved and the earlier habits of free travels return. In this case, dedicated Street Fighter players should use any opportunity to join international tournaments and gain valuable experience with players of other fighting styles.
Some things are still available quite easily. You could expand your daily practice to some new dimensions and help yourself to grow beyond regional limitations.
Watching matches from various regions is a reliable way to absorb new unique tricks. Still, just watching might not be enough in this case. A bit more mental activity is needed here. You need to activate your attention to try and notice some specific features in the fight flow. And that’s not enough — keep those moments in mind while training and playing Street Fighter. Intentionally bring them into your own playstyle, even if this process creates some slight discomfort in the beginning and costs you easy victories.
Also, it would be helpful to follow streams of successful players from other SFV regions (like the GOAT Daigo Umehara). Just listen to them talking about the game and watch how they train. It’s like collecting different mental “lego blocks” to use in the perfect construction of your Street Fighter practice and esports career.
Becoming better at Street Fighter is a multidimensional process, so you should keep your mind open to fresh ideas and brave attitudes. Practicing your way is a good idea to develop your personal strengths. But that doesn’t mean you can afford avoiding those aspects where you potentially have some issues. Going beyond the limitations of your SFV regions is not an easy thing to do, but that seems to be a must-take step should you plan building your global esports success.