Friday, July 26, 2013

Secondaries & Counterpicks

Sometimes you need a little backup. Maybe the matchup is 7-3, not in your favor, and you feel like evening the odds a little bit. Or perhaps you are just not feeling it with your mainstay character at the moment. Never fear, the character select screen is here!

A good counterpick is one that has higher benefits than costs, and the lowest amount of risk possible. Should you counterpick immediatley, banking on your opponent choosing the character you love to hate? Or should you play out the first game with your main and see what happens? Personally, I would play it out with my main unless I know with at least 90% certainty that the match will not go in my favor. At that point, hell yeah I am going to counterpick straight off the bat. The only thing I need to account for is that if I do win with my counterpick, will my opponent be able to counterpick me in turn? This is where knowledge of your opponent really starts expanding in scope.

Now what about a good secondary; are secondaries and counterpicks one in the same? I would argue that they are not. Secondaries should, ideally, cover the holes in your main character or team's gameplan so that when bad matchups arise you can handle them. A counterpick in the purest sense is going directly to the character or team that has the best matchup against your opponent's character or team, irregardless of whether or not that counterpick may also be your secondary.

There are some great examples of counterpick strategies at the highest levels of MK9, SSFIV:AE 2012 and KOFXIII gameplay. Those are just a few games where counterpicks have played a major role in determining the outcome of a set.

For a list junkie like myself, adding secondaries and counterpicks seems like clutter. However, it takes a great deal of effort to make a secondary character tournament worthy. At that point they are not really a secodnary, they have become just another character you play when you deem the situation adequate.

So go forth and learn more about your game(s) of choice. When the time comes you may find yourself in need of a counterpick and/or secondary character. Do not avoid this in order to be a character purist. Embrace the additional learning and hope that you do not suck with your new character or team!

UPDATE: Another important point to be made is that a secondary or counterpick should only be relied upon when you feel you are playing your existing character to the maximum potential. If you feel that you still have room to grow, or that if you had done something different in a matchup that you could even the odds, then stick with your main character or team. Sometimes experience is more effective than playing the bad matchup card.
Nathan Shields PowerUp Founder

Fighting game enthusiast, martial artist, and teacher. Nathan Shields ran three regional events, two of which were part of the Road to EVO Championships in 2011 and 2012. He continues to run local FGC events and supervise the growth of his scene and the PowerUp brand.

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