Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Killer Instinct Guide for SFIV Players by Infil



This online guide is an extremely well done introduction to Killer Instinct. The guide's author, Infil, may indicate through the title that this guide is meant to aid in transition from Street Fighter to Killer Instinct, but the information goes beyond that. Not only does Infil include terminology and concepts that Street Fighter players will understand, he includes a robust breakdown of the game's mechanics and very good introductions to the playstyle of each character.

I first encountered Infil's work through an article posted on Shoryuken. I found the guide extremely informative even in those early stages. I dropped Killer Instinct early on due to not having an Xbox One arcade stick at the time, and the impending release of Mortal Kombat X was much more interesting to me. Now, with KI being a consistent side event at the Brutality series of events, I have slowly rekindled my interest. Imagine my surprise when I found the guide again, completely updated with information on all the current characters.

It was like hitting the lottery. Usually, really good sources of information stay that way for a short while. The authors put in a lot of time and effort for very little to no reward. It is a lot like this blogsite, really. The content is produced because of the player's passion. I think that is the second reason that I chose to write about Infil's guide. Not only is it a great resource for those people looking to play Killer Instinct competitively, but it is a labor of love.

Infil's guide is well written and full of GIF images that show the techniques without the need for numerous videos to load. The information is also deep; this is not a rudimentary overview of the game. Everything is giving a competitive slant complete with tips, tricks, and the frame data to back up the assertions. The guide is not so deep that reading it alone will give you all you need to know about the game and its characters, but I daresay it gets quite close.

The guide, as a website, is extremely user friendly. It is also mobile friendly, and I am sure that is no coincidence, as so many players at tournaments have only their smart phones to look up information. In terms of design, the guide is gorgeous to look at. Simple colors, easily readable text, and proper resolution images round out a wonderful piece of work. There is even a FAQ section and an Ask.fm. I do not know if the Ask.fm is still active, but as of this writing the most recent response was from approximately one month ago. So go ahead and ask Infil your question; you might just get lucky.

I posted on Twitter a few months ago and said that playing KI was great fun; I had been missing out. It was fun playing on pad back then, and I look forward to now playing on an arcade stick. Infil's guide has helped me choose the characters I am most interested in playing, and I highly recommend that you go the guide yourself to learn about why you should be playing Killer Instinct!

Follow this link to Infil's guide: http://ki.infil.net/index.html

Monday, June 29, 2015

Brutality - July 2015


The Spring Season 2015 Championships for MKX are here! Eight players have qualified by having power rankings in the top five amounts. We are also resetting the power rankings and beginning the first tournament of Summer Season 2015! Lastly, we will be giving a special thanks to this season's outstanding community member with the FGCitizen award.

Congratulations to this season's invitees:

Action Jackson
Bad News Brendon
Kenshinoyo
MKLEGEND
Red Cyclone
Tylenolz
Unlucky Charmz
Zubastion

Your invitations have been sent, or are coming soon. Please RSVP by July 23rd. In addition to the normal MKX bracket at Brutality - July, these eight players will be allowed to enter a special round robin event to determine the Spring Season 2015 Champion! They will be putting themselves to the test in a gauntlet of matches; who has the stamina and the skill to make it out on top?

VENUE
$5 - All Night Entry to Arcade Legacy

Arcade Legacy
662 Cincinnati Mills Dr, Cincinnati, Ohio 45240

GAMES
MKX - PS4 - $5 Entry
KI - XBONE - $5 Entry

This is a BYOC event (Bring Your Own Controller). There are no guarantees that Arcade Legacy, PowerUp, or other players will provide you with controllers.

All players will be responsible for deleting Bluetooth devices from the PS4 that they are to play a tournament match on.

STREAM

The stream will show exclusively MKX.

PRIZES
MKX
1st Place - $15
2nd Place - $10
3rd Place - $5
4th Place - $5

Spring Season 2015 Championship
1st Place - $40 + Trophy
2nd Place - $20 + Trophy
FGCitizen Award - Trophy

One random player who enters MKX and places 7th or below will receive free entry to the next Brutality event (a $5 value, cannot be turned into cash or credit). The same person may not win consecutively.

POWER RANKINGS
Players who enter MKX will earn ranking points based on their performance. The top 5 ranked players will be invited to compete in a Championship Round Robin during Brutality - October 2015. There will be prizes, and details are TBA.

There will be a normal MKX bracket during Brutality - October, and the power rankings will be reset.

Players will be seeded in all Brutality MKX brackets according to their power ranking. The first tournament of each season will always be randomly seeded. Players without a power ranking will be seeded as having zero ranking points.

CURRENT POWER RANKINGS
Everyone starts with zero points for the new season! The bracket will be seeded randomly. You have to prove yourself all over again.

RULES
Winner is character and variation locked.

Blind picks are allowed upon player request of the TO.

You may request a coach, who must follow the PowerUp private coaching rules. Follow the link below to the PowerUp Rules Document for more information.

Stage will always be randomly selected. Either single random or double random.

No fatalities on the big screen. The tournament will be up on a giant projector screen, in full view of children. We do not want any parents bringing complaints to our generous venue, Arcade Legacy.

For the complete PowerUp Rules Document, please go to: http://www.powerupfighters.org/p/event-rules.html

Brutality - June 2015: Results


Thanks to everyone for coming to the event! Special thanks to Quentin Ross and Jesse Baker for their help. We tried for an hour and a half to get our stream setup working with a PS4, but to no avail. Therefore, and very unfortunately, we have no video from this month's event. We are looking into solutions for July and will be testing new stream capture hardware soon!

We did not meet our goal of 36 entrants, but 27 for MKX is still a strong showing. Let's aim for more next month at the Spring Season Championships and start of the Summer Season!

Look forward to a new episode of the PowerUp Podcast talking about Brutality - June 2015 and all other things MKX and FGC in the coming weeks!

FULL RESULTS

MKX
1st - MK LEGEND (Kung Lao)
2nd - Semi Evil Ryu (Grandmaster Sub-Zero)
3rd - Action Jackson (Flame Fist Liu Kang)
4th - Kenshinoyo (Pumped Up Jax)
5th - Advil
5th - Tylenolz (Ermac)
7th - Enter the Gecko
7th - MOD (Thundergod Raiden)
9th - Mac
9th - Arkayne (Ravenous Mileena)
9th - Bad News Brendon (Ermac)
9th - AMP Gamer
13th - Red Cyclone
13th - Nathan Shields (All Variations Shinnok)
13th - Hornett
13th - Unlucky Charmz (Kitana)
17th - Young Silk
17th - Jellitime (Kung Jin)
17th - Zubastion (Erron Black)
17th - Squall
17th - Combot (Master of Souls Ermac)
25th - MPII The Ronin
25th - cR | Skcorpion86
25th - Mratomicbk
25th - DLG Royal
25th - Ethyrium

KI
1st - Kenshinoyo
2nd - Arkayne
3rd - Bad News Brendon
4th - Angelz and Demons LP
5th - Zubastion

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Bonesickle Chronicles - Part 2



Ladies and gentleman, has Shinnok arrived? Let us remember June 23, 2015 as a momentous day in the life of Mortal Kombat X's big bad himself. I often tell the story of how I always seem to pick the lowest of the low tier. I am somehow drawn to them like a moth to the flame. I know the pain is coming, but the chance for something so marvelous is so great that I just keep moving forward into the fire.

Forget all that melancholic foolishness! Shinnok is moving up and my curse has been lifted. At least until the next patch, that is. However, let us not get too carried away. Shinnok is good, but he still is not great. Why, you ask? Well, his spacing game is strong, but his footsie game is still weak. His mixups are not guaranteed safe, and he still uses up the meter much faster than he can build it thanks to lackluster block strings. Does he need more improvements? I do not believe so, but he is also in no danger of cracking the top ten anytime soon. Right now, I am a very happy Shinnok player.

Shinnok is a character that thrives off of his variations. The most recent patch has made Necromancer much more relevant, and I am very happy to say that I have finally started lab work with Necromancer in ways that mirror what I have done for Impostor and Bone Shaper. This is all very good news because there are some matchups where Mimicry is giving you an almost useless move, and where Bone Shaper just does not cut it in the spacing war. Think: Kung Jin, Liu Kang, Sonya Blade, and others I have not fully investigated.

I firmly believe that Shinnok is, overall, a defensive, reaction based character who, when he wants to, can turn up the heat in matchups where Mimicry can lead right back into itself. Here's looking at you, Kung Lao, Scorpion, Mileena, Ermac, and a variety of other matchups I have yet to explore completely.

So you see, Shinnok is a character that thrives off of his variations. I get a strong sense of how unique each variation is, and how they stack up in various matchups. Sure, there may come a time when you need to load up Impostor against a Kung Jin or a Kano because you believe that your opponent just won't be able to handle the Tricky Port. Or you need to pick Necromancer against that Ermac because you just cannot close the gap. And some matchups are in-between, where the choice of variation is a multi-layered decision that takes into account the character and the opponent. This is, of course, how it should always be in an ideal world.

Learn each of Shinnok's variations. They all have their uses in different matchups, and they all do different things that can catch your opponent off guard.

So what is next on the training regimen for me? Well, with Brutality - June 2015 around the corner I have little time to prepare. I need to do three main things: combo research / offensive flow / punish on block and backdash.

Things have changed a lot for Boneshaper, now that the end of Deity can be special canceled. This opens up new combo possibilities for Shinnok off of Scepter Slam. I have yet to try things out in depth, but I have a sneaking suspicion that even a couple of meters will still only net me around 35% damage. That is if I am lucky, of course.

In Impostor, I need to record into my muscle memory the various ways to connect back into Mimicry off of a stolen move. The remainder of my previous combo training is probably still useful to me.

In Necromancer, I simply need to practice. I have just begun exploring combo possibilities in this variation, and it will take time to arrive at conclusions about what I believe are the most useful combos. Further, I will need to commit those combos to muscle memory.

Offensive flow is essentially the flowchart of how Shinnok keeps pressure on the opponent. I like to keep it a bit more open than an actual flowchart, but I consider the concept essential. What should I do when my opponent blocks the NJP after an Air Tricky Port? I just blew my read, option select, or hit confirm and have to burn meter on Hell Sparks. It was a great buff, but after I use the meter, what should I do next? These are the types of questions I will seek to answer based on matchups and, then, right in the middle of my matches. An inflexible strategy is one doomed to failure because not everything will go the way you want, nor should it.

Shinnok cannot afford to leave damage on the table. Not only will I need to stop dropping combos, but I will need to understand when, and in what way, I should be punishing the actions of my opponents. On block, I need to use Shin Kick xx Hell Sparks most of the time in order to get Shinnok the space he needs to work most effectively. Of course, some moves on block push Shinnok too far out for Shin Kick, so what shall I do instead? Next, I will need to know what strings I can backdash out of, and what the best punish is afterward.

I will come to an end with my quick thoughts on two topics: the neutral game at 1-1.5 character spaces away, and option selects. First, that scary distance of 1-1.5 character spaces away puts Shinnok in a bad position most of the time. Reacting with Hell Sparks is almost impossible because it is too slow, and uppercuts are prone to trade with well time jump kicks. The solution seems to be situational avoidance, and then the use and management of backlashes.

On the topic of option selects, I have learned how the simplest one works. A character's blocked normal or string will not cancel into a special move, but that same cancel will happen on hit. I am by no means proficient at this option select yet, but I also feel it is of little use to Shinnok. Option selects keep you safe, correct? Well, if most of Shinnok's cancelable, safe strings and normals can already be hit-confirmed, why bother option selecting? It seems to be most handy in situations where Shin Kick can cancel into Hell Sparks. Usage after Mimicry seems obvious here. You cannot hit confirm Shin Kick, so an option select prevents the blind read from backfiring on you. It just so happens that option selecting the cancel into a Shin Kick is very difficult. Lastly, the new block or backdash option select described by Ultra David will require more testing just to see how useful it may be to me. It seems good, but don't backlashes have invulnerability to deal with short range, meaty attacks anyway? I may be in need of some education on that front.

Good luck on your personal journey to power up!

#Bonesickle