Street Fighter V pro Justin Wong placed first in the Canada Cup Master Series tournament with the new character Falke, described by some pros as “the worst character in the game.” The reason Wong can succeed with Falke is due to his expert defensive play, particularly when it comes to engaging in the back-and-forth duet that fighting game players call “footsies.”

Fighting game players use footsies to close the distance between one another, usually by tossing out normal attacks with a quick pullback time. For most characters, these normal attacks are a low hit that has a little bit of reach; Falke has both a shin-level kick and a low staff swing that Wong tends to use.

In Wong’s match against Chris Gonzalez, both players use their normal attacks to try to predict when their opponent will move in. They are often too close to each other to rely purely on reaction time; they have to guess what their opponent will do and toss out a normal attack at the right time. This results in some attacks that do not connect, but that’s all part of the spirit of footsies.

This video might look like Wong and Gonzalez just throwing out low attacks at random and not doing much of anything. But those attacks help them gauge the spacing between one another and serve as a defense against their opponent rushing in. That’s why, when players are hovering just out of range during fighting game matches, they poke out moves like the ones seen here.

This game of footsies is all the more tense given that Wong’s health is low, and any confirmed hit from Gonzalez would be the end of him. But Wong stays patient, observing Gonzalez’s patterns and ultimately ending the match with a punishing special move.

Advertisement

Compete is Deadspin and Kotaku’s joint site dedicated to competitive gaming.