Training alone
Image via: Time.com

SSBM: Training Alone

Jun 22, 2016
-1.3k
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Image via: Time.com

Many Melee players have felt the frustration of having no options for online play. The game came out in 2001, well before online console play. No one to practice with, no one at your same skill level to play against, no ladder to climb. What’s worse, if you live far from a major city you might be completely out of luck. Sure, it’s rough to train against someone with a different skill level than yours, but you know what’s even harder? Training alone.

Although the going can be tough, becoming a great mechanical player with little to no opponents can be done. Here are some of the top tips for training in Super Smash Bros. Melee, alone:

STUDY MATCHUPS:

Studying is probably the number one thing that is actually better to do alone than with another player. If you are looking to compete, you will no doubt run into a lot of Fox, Falco, Marth, Sheik, and Peach. Learning how your main combats each of the top-tier characters is a must. Learn the tendencies and timings of top players who use those characters. Once you have the timings down, find where you can punish.

Obviously, not all players who rock Fox are going to play at the level of Leffen, but training yourself to play at the highest possible level will yield much better results than conditioning for low-level competition. All top players can beat amateurs, not all amateurs know the matchups well enough to play versus a pro. And if being the best you can is the goal, why not aim high when training alone?

SHADOW BOX:

Shadow boxing is a technique used by all top real-life fighters during training. The object is to throw jabs, hooks, and combos as you would during a fight and watch yourself with a critical eye. This is a tip that was shared by one of the greatest Smash players ever, PPMD. If it works for people throwing combos in real life, why not in Smash?

Not only does this allow the player to practice their moves, but also trains their eyes to see mistakes. By entering a game with an empty 2nd controller, you have the ability to advance and strike from any distance. Also, you will be able to see any mistakes you’ve made and correct them immediately. Once they’ve been corrected, run through the combo again over and over. One of the best aspects of training alone, you can repeat when needed. Learning to play Smash at a high level requires twitch reactions and great execution. Make sure you practice the moves/combos you found would work during your matchup study!

WIN WITH COUNTERATTACKS:

One big complaint a lot of players have is that playing against a CPU will develop bad habits. This is usually true. The CPU may be designed to play at multiple difficulty levels, but it sure doesn’t play like a human. However, counterattacks are one aspect of your Smash game can be effectively practiced against a bot.

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Counterattacks are difficult to master because they typically require close quarters and getting hit. Set your CPU to any matchup you would like to practice for and move the level high enough that he will be aggressive. The point of this exercise is to win the match, but only off punishing the CPU’s attacks.

As mentioned before, computers do not play like people, so the approaches will be strange. Just focus on what move the bot uses to advance and practice dodging then striking back. You will take percentage during this, you may even lose stock depending on your familiarity with the matchup. Do not let that frustrate you. You are in the game to learn how to win future matches, so take your time and experiment.

DOWNLOAD 20XX MELEE HACK PACK:

This pack is available completely free and is used by nearly every top Melee player. For a player training alone, there is not better tool. There are so many training tools in the Hack Pack you might not even scratch the surface.

One great feature is that the CPU opponent can tech and DI (directional influence) at random when hit. This variation is a big help when practicing your punishments. Also, as the tech and DI is randomized, your reaction times will need to increase to master the tech chase.

Another great feature in the 20XX Melee Hack Pack is the shield options. In the pack you are able to toggle several shield settings including forcing the CPU to shield grab immediately after shield stun. This gives you the chance to practice spacing and avoiding the grab post-attack to your heart’s content. Don’t need to work on your grab avoidance? You can also have the CPU immediately perform a frame-perfect neutral air out of shield stun. You can also work on your chase by programming the CPU to roll a random direction out of shield stun.

One more great tool in this pack is the ability to highlight your character when certain criteria are met. The most popular way to use this tool is to make your character highlight when you are inactive. You never realize just how many frames are wasted until you see your character flashing green over and over. Actually getting to visualize the lack of movement helps create fluid motion and combinations.

TRAINING IS TRAINING:

All the techniques, exercises, and tools discussed above will help you become a better player if taken seriously. Training alone and running drills with bots is not the most fun way to learn, but they will up your skill and reactions. It is also important to keep in mind that you are training to learn, so pay attention to what you are doing. Focusing and working on specific matchups or combos will always yield better results than a shotgun approach. As with anything, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Also, don’t go light on the trash talk when you 4-stock a Falco at your next tournament. You earned it.

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Cameron Rogowski
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Long-time blogger, esports fan, last of the AP Tryndamere. I follow every game I can find the time to watch and have an unhealthy fascination with esports in the Southeast Asian region. You can catch me on twitter @cdrogowski.
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