How to Avoid Fireballs in Street Fighter IV

Join David as he walks you through his informative tutorial.

How many times have you been playing Street Fighter IV online and you just cannot seem to get past Ryu’s Hadoukens or Guile’s Sonic Booms? It feels like every time you jump they have an uppercut waiting for you and then you’re stuck at the other end of the screen watching your opponent mash quarter-circle forward as fast as he possibly can.

 Well don’t sweat it anymore because I am going to give you a crash course in anti-fireball tactics. It does not matter if you are brand new to Street Fighter or have been playing for a while I’m here to help out, and make sure you don’t lose to the average fireballer.

Spacing:

 The most important part of countering fireballs is positioning. There are all kinds of tricks you can use to punish your opponent for throwing projectiles, and we’ll get to those later, but they don’t matter if you are not in the right position to take advantage of them. So let’s talk about the optimal range to stand at.

 Every character has a low hitting attack that knocks down called a sweep. Usually the input command for this move is down plus heavy kick. The length of a sweep attack is about as long as the character model of the person using it. So when you are fighting against Ryu mentally picture a second Ryu standing right next to him and you can guess the range of his sweep. Your main goal when fighting fireball characters is to stand right outside sweep range, so if Ryu presses the sweep button it won’t quite reach you. This is the sweet spot.

 In the sweet spot a fireball character can’t hit you with normal attacks unless he walks forward, and if he throws a projectile you are at the perfect range for a jump in attack. You see, at this range if Ryu uses a fireball you can leap over it and hit him before he recovers from the fireball animation. That means he can’t uppercut you!

 When you are in this position you are in a fireballer’s “dead zone” where he has no good options. The only things he can do are move his character or through a risky fireball. If he moves back you rush in, if he moves forward you hit an attack button to stop him and if he uses a projectile jump over it.

 Now a good player will try to fake you out or scare you into jumping early by whiffing light attacks. Do not let all his flailing scare you. Just remember that when you are in the sweet spot you have the advantage, all you have to do is sit back and wait for him to mess up.

Neutral Jumping:

 Neutral jumping (jumping straight up) is a great way to avoid your opponent’s fireballs without advancing forward. Now it may seem like you are not accomplishing much when you do this, however it does two very important things.

 First it prevents you from being hit by an uppercut because you are not jumping on top of the opponent, and second it allows you to recover faster than a regular jump so you have more time to move around before the next projectile comes out. Just beware of people who try to make you land on their fireballs by mixing up there projectile’s speed.

 Neutral jumping is also a great thing to do in the corner. A smart player will put you in the corner and position himself so that when you jump out he can anti-air you. But if you neutral jump over a projectile and walk forward a bit, then neutral jump the next fireball and walk forward a bit you can get out of that bad spot.

 Use Your Characters Anti-Projectile moves:

 In Street Fighter IV most characters have some special or EX-move that passes through fireballs naturally. For example Blanka can use his normal slide and his EX horizontal ball to get through projectiles. Whenever possible use these instead of randomly jumping because they are safer, and you can wait for the opponent to throw fireballs and use them on reaction.

 By the way, the best place to use these projectile avoiding attacks is the sweet spot. I told you it was the most important part of countering fireballs.

 Trade Hits:

 Without getting to deep into frame data just know that most fireball moves start up very slowly compared to most normal moves. This means if you press a normal attack at the same time that Ryu throws a projectile your normal won’t just hit him, you will stop the fireball!

 Moves like Chun-Li’s crouching heavy kick, Fei-Long’s rekka punches and M. Bison’s stand medium kick are incredibly good at stuffing fireballs. Poke with these moves at their maximum range a few times and your opponent will think twice about using projectiles.

And there you have it, some of the most important tools you can use to prevent someone from pushing you all the way across the screen with Hadoukens. It will take some good games and maybe even some time in training mode to get the hang out it. But when you get this stuff down you will never be scared of seeing Ryu’s face at VS screen again.