Improvement in Smash 4 VIII – Character Loyalty

**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.

This will be my last official post on improving in Smash 4. It’s been quite the journey, but I’ve had fun writing these for you guys, and I hope you’ve taken something from them and improved because of it. While this will be my last official post, fret not! I still have plenty of content aimed at improving in Super Smash Bros.: there are a few collaborative posts in the works, I’ve got some topics I received from the Chicago Smash 4 community after asking about topics they’d like me to cover that aren’t necessarily improvement-focused, and I’ll be starting a video series aimed at improvement to supplement this series. This will all be coming in the following months, so stay tuned for that!

And now, without further adieu, let’s talk about character loyalty!

Character Loyalty is a term generally used for a player that will stick with their character, no matter what. Maybe they love the character’s franchise, the character themselves, or the style of play the character provides. Either way, the player has their reasons for sticking with them. I’m going to go over another kind of character loyalty: the kind that will improve your play.

Your Main

The character that you eventually choose as your main is the character you’ll be spending the most time playing, watching, studying, and experimenting with. After all, you’re trying to win tournaments with this character. Now, while Smash 4 is a game that benefits from playing at least one other character (having a secondary), it’s a good idea to master your main before you even think about picking up a secondary. While a veteran can adapt to new character MU’s and player MU’s on the fly, it’s hard to stay consistent if you keep switching characters. Even veterans can become inconsistent if they keep switching for months because they’re struggling.

Let me lay this out for you plainly: you have not mastered your character until you’ve been playing for at least a year.

If you’re playing as many different people as possible, traveling out of state, and attending whenever out of state competition comes, it takes about a year to accumulate all the knowledge you’ve gained as a player to master your main, and that’s assuming you’ve only been using your main in tournament.

All the research, techniques, and intricacies of your character that you need to learn for every single character MU and to adapt well to players takes a long time. Add onto that the general techniques you need to learn to execute if they help your character, and you’ve got quite a lot on your plate to practice. And then, you need to be able to utilize all of those techniques and information in a tournament settings. Being able to do it in Training Mode alone isn’t enough. And that’s why it can take so long to master your character.

If you switch your characters, you’ve effectively barred your progress. And no, playing another character isn’t going to transfer over to your main. Smash 4 is in a stage where learning new things is still very possible and currently happening. When you return, you’re not suddenly going to be performing better because you don’t know every nook and cranny of the character to begin with: how can you possibly transfer skills from another character over when it might not even be effective?

You could transfer over play style knowledge, but be wary that you might start playing the character in a way that’s really not efficient. For all the efficient ways to play character X, there’s also very inefficient ways.

Now, most of these rules apply to new players who have picked up Super Smash Bros. when Smash 4 came out. Veterans, generally, have the fundamental know-how to switch a character and still perform decently, although they, too, will have to put some practice in before they achieve mastery, although it will take them a significantly less time to do so.

My bottom line is this: if you’re new to the scene, stick to character loyalty before making the switch. At least master your character. You’ll gain valuable knowledge that will help you when you finally decide it’s time to pick up a secondary or change your main entirely. If you really can’t stand using your main now and want to switch, then you switch and you don’t look back. Do NOT use your old main in tournament. You’ll run into the same problems.

Be loyal to your character, and you’ll succeed far more than juggling characters.

Just Sayin’

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

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

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Improvement in Smash 4 VII – Training Regimens

**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 about how you train. Back in my post about fundamentals, I said that you had to play for at least 30 minutes every day if you wanted to improve. However, just playing for 30 minutes isn’t going to help you. You want to narrow down what you’re practicing on any given day, much like how an athlete trains different skills and works out different parts of their body on different days. You need a Training Regimen.

Now, what your regimen should be is a fairly loose subject. It can range from practicing a certain technique with a character to match up knowledge. Whatever you choose, there’s a certain way to practice those techniques. Now, I’m not going to say that the way I practice is superior; everyone learns differently. You need to find what works best for you when it comes to training. If you’re lost, follow my guidelines to at least set up a base. These are if you’re practicing alone against CPU’s. Obviously, you can practice with other players, but make sure that when practicing a MU you play someone who uses the character you want to practice against in tournament.

Match-Ups

Play the MU you want to practice 10 times in a row. Pick the stages you want to practice on (if you don’t care, choose the stages you know you’ll be playing the MU on and pick randomly).

Fundamentals

Play against any character, any (legal) stage, and practice only a couple fundamental skills at a time. Don’t just beat up on the CPU – really think as you try to apply those fundamental concepts. This includes pausing to

Techniques

Techniques are tricky. A lot of players will practice a technique and then go into a match and try to use it and fail horribly. Why? Because they’ve only been practicing in training mode. They haven’t applied the technique to an actual match where they’re not in complete control of the situation. The way I practice a technique is to practice execution, and then try and use it while fighting CPU’s in the same training session. I keep doing this and reserve using it in friendlies until I’m comfortable using it against CPU’s, and then I’ll start using it in friendlies. Once I become comfortable in friendlies, I’ll use it in tournament.

The key here is to practice execution, then application. Rinse and repeat that for techniques.

Creating Your Training Regimen

Okay, let’s get down to creating your training regimen. The one guideline you should follow is at least half your time should be dedicated to fundamentals. You should plan out your regimen each week based on the previous week and try and improve on what you think you need to improve on. For example, recently I went to Mashfest, and I lost very decisively to Luigi twice, and struggled to win against another. I would definitely include MU practice against Luigi in the next couple of weeks to try and see what I can do to improve my knowledge of the match up. If new tech has been discovered, start dedicating some time the following week to implement it.

Here’s a sample from when I was playing Project M heavily. I only played for 30 minutes every day I trained, 5 days a week.

THURSDAY
30 mins Fundamentals

FRIDAY
15 mins Fundamentals
15 mins IDC stuff

SATURDAY
15 mins Fundamentals
15 mins Fox MU Practice

SUNDAY
15 mins Fundamentals
15 mins Wolf MU Practice

MONDAY
30 mins Fundamentals

TUESDAY
15 mins IDC stuff
15 mins Falco MU Practice

WENESDAY
Wave Dash Wednesday – no training

You can probably tell which MU’s I struggled with since I was practicing them. If you notice, my week starts with Thursday and ends with Wednesday. That’s because the local tournament, Wave Dash Wednesday (WDW), was on Wednesdays, so there was no need to practice on that day. It’s also the day that I would re-evaluate what MU’s or other techniques I wanted to work on and update my regimen. Again, this is just a base to help you get started. The most important thing to do is stick to it and keep updating it as you improve.

If you’ve got locals you go to, make sure you factor those in. There’s absolutely no need to practice on the day of a local. You don’t want to burn yourself out by training too much. Also, if you’re serious about doubles, make sure to try and include that in your regimen as well. As you can see, doubles wasn’t a big priority for me back then.

With a training regimen, you can start taking charge of how you’ll be improving instead of just playing and not having any focus. If you’re serious about winning, I highly suggest you implement one.

Just Sayin’

I – Fundamentals
II – A Different Way to Look at Match Ups
III – Attitude
IV – Friendlies
V – Stages
VI – Preparing for a Tournament
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