Improvement in Smash 4 IV – Friendlies

**If you’re unfamiliar with Smash, this probably isn’t the post for you unless you’re curious. In order to get a full understanding of this, you should be familiar with Smash’s game mechanics and lingo (EX: Forward Air = Fair), specifically the mechanics for Super Smash Bros. Wii U.

Let’s talk friendlies.

Friendlies are one of your best resources for valuable practice, especially since you can play in a low-risk environment where you can talk mid-match, pause, etc…

The absolute best way to utilize friendlies is to disregard their relevance as it pertains to your skill level. Losing sucks, but that shouldn’t compel you to play to win all the time. I want you to make sure you drill this into your head: Winning. Friendlies. Is NOT. Important. There’s no pride lost in losing a friendly.

Let me paint you a quick picture. It’s been 3 months since I picked up Project M competitively, and I go to the local monthly. There, an Out of State (OoS) Lucas players 3-stocks me in friendlies. Now my friends are gettin’ hype because I got bopped, as friends do, and I just laugh it off. Coincidentally, I fight the same Lucas player, and I solidly beat him – it’s a complete turnaround to what happened while we were playing friendlies. The kid wasn’t very happy when he lost – I’m pretty sure he was going in confident after 3-stocking me before. I won where it counted – in tournament.

So then, what should you be doing during friendlies once you’ve acquired this mindset? How did I go from losing those friendlies to winning in tournament? By experimenting!

When I play friendlies, my general game plan is “what can I get away with against this player?” To that end, I ask myself questions as I play – what if I try x move in y situation? Would z be more optimal? How well can my opponent punish me for throwing out moves haphazardly? How well can they deal with pressure on and offstage? Will they fall for a gimmick? What spacing are they struggling with against me? What habits can I ascertain easily? Once I find this out, I can adjust my game plan accordingly if we meet in bracket, where all that information will be put towards me winning.

To this end, I always play friendlies to learn, rather to win. Winning a bunch of friendlies is great, but playing to win means you’re not allowing yourself to explore the “what if” scenarios that are present in every game you play. That spike you don’t go for? Maybe you could’ve learned if it were possible by at least going for it in a friendly. You’re basically stripping yourself of valuable information.

Friendlies are also a great way to practice a specific MU. This is the only time I’ll tell you to take the player out of the equation momentarily – when you practice a MU, look for a few things:

– Move priority
– Kill %’s
– General Spacing

Then zone in more tightly. Look for ways to get around a Sheik throwing needles. What’s the best spot to disrupt a Yoshi’s Eggs? How can you space away from a Luigi’s grab? In other words, look for very character-specific instances and look for ways your character can beat it. Then, take all of this information and apply it to the player. Luigi can Nair through a double Uair combo, so see how a player reacts to it – do they stop it, do they not? Sometimes, even a disadvantageous position can turn advantageous if the player is unaware of it.

Make sure you’re talking with your opponent before, during, and after friendlies. Even if they don’t know much about the game, asking for advice or just conversing about the game can sometimes provide valuable insight into the game itself, the fundamentals, and how that player views and plays the game. That’s critical information when playing against them. You’ve (hopefully) read all of my posts now – how do you think I play the game? What’s my style? I guarantee you can tell from reading these posts.

Finally, friendlies provide one other very useful function – they’re GIANT energy-savers when it comes to endurance during a tournament. But we’ll talk about that later.

Friendlies are your best tool for practice. They allow you to learn and adapt without the pressure of winning. And if you’re experiencing pressure to win, drop that now and start thinking about friendlies differently. They’re a tool for you, not a way to prove yourself.

That’s what results and taking names in bracket are for.

Just Sayin’

I – Fundamentals
II – A Different Way to Look at Match Ups
III – Attitude
V -Stages
VI – Preparing for a Tournament
VII – Training Regimens
VIII – Character Loyalty

Check out the BONUS series!

IX – The Plateau
X – Practice Methods I
XI – Practice Methods II
XII – Practice Methods III
XIII – At a Tournament
XIV – Practice Methods BONUS IV
XV – Game Flow