I had just gotten back from OHN, fresh off the high of not going 0-2 for once. It was time to fight one of my good buddies in League of Sharpies: Cactus.
Dhalsim vs Ryu…hm.
I’ve played Cactus a lot before but he’s always generally had my number. The only thing in my favour is that he doesn’t play as much as before, so he’s a little rusty, and I now have access to Manny, the great Dhalsim player from Mexico who’s living here in Melbourne this year as a student. Now Manny is pretty damn good- he’s currently undefeated in League B tearing the likes of Exis (former BAM champ) and Hoppa up.
So I tried to apply my same training regimen as against Spoony, to lab it up, but this time to combine it with actual match training against Manny.
Some of my notes from the lab (didn’t really come up with much):
- Punish sniper with super on block or FADC thru ultra/tatsu
- Tatsu thru ultra
- Lvl 3 focus in corner on his wakeup.
- Normals that can hit yoga tower, stand hk, chp, far stand hp. Best to do stand hk
- Neutral jump mp is good against limbs.
- Whiff punish his fierce with sweep
- Mix up jump tatsu and empty jump low forward with regular jumps
- Option select Meaty with clk+clp, then qcf back to down clp for hado to chase teleport. Do the regular sweep os for Backdash
- Tip of medium slide is safe, if I press buttons I will get ch by light slide. Can dp but unsafe.
- Can dp all lk slide.
- Throw fireball midrange if he slides under sweep him
- Stand mk into flame jump over it for big punish
- Use more lp fb and sweep his slide under
- His back lk is bloody three frames! If he’s mashing it treat him like boxer and do a tight clp cmk string or immediate ex tatsus
- Clk clp chp hado leaves u at an awesome range to punish back lk
- After tech do cmk buffer super. It’ll whack the shit out of his bloody crouch long jab
I found it pretty hard to implement a lot of the stuff I was practising against Manny.
Specifically whiff punishing fierces and punishing Yoga snipers was high on my “to do list” but I never could pull it off. Also, Manny plays a lot differently from Cactus, and specifically his back short was giving me so many problems. And abusing focus attack from Cactus has worked occasionally in the past before but Manny is really good at beating it out with multiple options.
Now my LGP has been really buggy the last few weeks, failing to properly record the last CouchWarriors ranbat grand final and a ton of Sharpies matches I was recording for people, and even my match against Tomcat zzz. At least my match versus Cactus made it through.
So I watched it and took notes:
G1R1: Bad combo ender cost me the round (self cornered myself with hard tatsu)
Execution with air sniper tatsu still not 100% despite specifically practicing it for this matchup.
Bad fireballs at close footsie range which is good against other normal characters but maybe not Dhalsim.
G1R2: Another recurring bad habit of mine. Being frugal with meter at the END of rounds. Why did I not EX tatsu to end that stand RH combo?
G1R3: Getting defeated by my bane. Those back shorts. Got a good two ex fireballs to hit though, which is rare on a good Dhalsim. Then I throw it all away by getting back thrown by Sim. Again, I should have conditioned Sim to respect my meaties with some low shorts before going for bigger gap mixups. I started the mindgames circle one step higher than I should and really paid for it in the early rounds. A backthrow by Sim in the corner usually means you lose the round.
G2R1: Another one of my deficiencies. A lot of times I don’t tech when I miss a jump-in. First of all, opponents should be properly punishing my landing recovery instead of giving me a chance to tech. But I should tech regardless. Spent a LOT of meter to get that win.
G3R1: BACK THROW! Anyway in this case Cactus had a good reaction to correctly the time a use of a risky focus attack by me. He’s also reading my patterns better and better.
Damnit I could have ended the round if I went for stand RH crouch HP ex tatsu. I guess I was caught by surprise that he teleported behind me. And then…BACK THROW!!!
G3R2: Hmm. I’m getting more jump-ins at this point than I remember. My memories of that match consist of getting hit by that back knee a hundred times plus the 400 psychological damage of each back throw.
G3R3: Excellent D by Cactus in the corner. Stuffed everything I did.
G4R1: My midscreen gimmicks are working less and less. My crouch MPs, my read tatsus, everything. Cactus is also reacting well to my FA with his own. I give up a lot of life to push him into the corner where I get…BACK THROWN!!!
G4R2: To his credit, the last set we played before this I won a very unexpected 5-2. And a LOT of it was me abusing FA against Cactus. This set he was very prepared for it and defended against it extremely well. He’s also getting into rhythm and doing the Cactus teleport shimmy all over me! I get squished. The download is almost complete. I see that he gets hit by a low short low short low short which means he’s still stand teching a bit. All those rounds I lost prior…if only I did low short (plus tech) low short instead of bloody going for probably overhead or something…
G5R1: I take a bit of time to think and decide to play a bit more patient. Build some meter before pushing in my cards. It doesn’t really seem to get me anywhere and I fall back into desperate Ryu mode which gets me killed right quick. Watching it now I see a distinct lack of LP DP in the last two games. I am letting him press all sorts of buttons in close range. Instead I seem preoccupied with whiffing level 3 FAs.
G6R1: Hey as if on cue. Two LP DPs get him in the corner relatively quickly for once! Bloody Cactus’s blocked all of my EX Tatsus so far in the set though! Why didn’t you stand tech then Cactus!!! I throw the round away with an executional error though.
Also notice that I never really successfully use stand FA against his limbs. I notice that I dashed through it a few times in the first few games but why didn’t I just release it to crumple and get U1?
There it is again at the 73 second mark. Cactus is really confident now, with no fear in pressing multiple buttons against me in close range. My DP comes way too late again. A clear lack of ume-powers here.
G7: Great play by Cactus. I think the download is complete. He is pushing me back and reacting very fast to everything I do. I am slow as sludge.
G8: I’m not sure what changed in this round. Let me watch it again. Ah a successful Focus attack. So I’m probably batting 1 for 50!
G9R1: I should have lost that round with some mega fimbles in the corner. But Cactus let me jump over his ultra when I should have EX Dped instead. He could have smacked me back into the Ultra easily; maybe he was reading a Tatsu again?
G9R3: It’s really the little moments against Dhalsim. It’s like a beautiful romance. One well-timed LP DP to put him in the corner. And one throw into a DWU ambiguous crossup setup (which I can only really make ambiguous against the likes of Sim, and Manny often just slides out of my DWU framekill setups anyway) gets me the round.
G10: I see a pattern emerging with me. I’m like a slow infant, when something works I grasp onto it desperately and sort of forget that I have other tools. Sniper tatsu returns after a five game absence. -_-
I need less FA upclose which Cactus has been blowing up. Or at least FA backdash a few times, maybe he’ll whiff his so I can punish. And I need a much quicker DP trigger finger. I see that my pattern is that I block two or three normals and then DP. Cactus already reads this and punishes me. I need to DP more unpredictably and quicker.
And a panic fimble to end the set. GG Cactus.
I did okay in the first few games, utilising a lot of things I had in my head like whiff punishing stand HP, some counterpoke cmp, LP DPs, attempting to use sniper tatsu etc. I made a lot of crucial errors at the start when I should have established respect from Dhalsim to not stand tech with some meaty low shorts or walk back cmk or whatever, instead getting back thrown at very crucial moments to lose a lot of big games.
But as the set went on Cactus downloaded me and went on a monster 5 game run. I became desperate and error prone in a lot of games and gave away life, positioning and meter way too quickly. I latched on desperately onto things that worked and tried to recreate them at the cost of forgetting all my other tools and Cactus was always one step ahead of me.
At the end I finally was able to shake free of my despo-Ryu malaise and get in a few games…but I couldn’t come close to coming all the way back.
I still have a long way to go in the Dhalsim vs. Ryu matchup. This matchup in particular exposes my big weakness. Manny said that fighting Dhalsim is less about labbing it up or being methodical, but rather a big test of your ability to make reads on your opponent, and that is what I lack big time.
This is less a failure of my knowledge/preparation, but an indictment of my subpar prediction skills and temperament.
Coming into this match, I was feeling a rare surge of semi-confidence whilst remaining somewhat scared. Tom was an unknown, and I don’t know how good he is, but on the other hand I had just beaten a Yun at OHN and had been specifically researching that match (Notes below, BIG thanks to ZG for all his help). But…