Wednesday, February 2, 2022

10 Things You Can Do NOW to Improve at Smash Ultimate

Smash Ultimate is a complex game with nearly endless matchups and intricacies to learn. In a game like this it can be difficult to improve because oftentimes there is no clear path forward. Without a step by step outline leading to improvement, many players get lost in deciding what to practice and when. Today we will look at 10 things that ANY player of ANY skill level can do NOW to get better at the game.

#1 - Watch Other Players of Your Character

Watching other players of your character is a great way to learn new things about your character. It doesn’t have to be only the best player of that character; there are always things to be learned from lesser known players as well. Each player has different playstyles and is good at different aspects of the game, so watching a large variety of players is important to round out your character knowledge. When watching other players, take note of what they do differently and why. Then you can take what you learned and begin to incorporate it into your own play.

#2 - Watch Other Players of Other Characters

Besides only watching VODs featuring your main, a lot can be learned by watching other characters as well. This is particularly effective in matchups you struggle in. If you have a hard time fighting Pac-Man, for example, watching how a variety of players with a variety of characters approach the matchup can help you to better understand Pac-Man’s weaknesses. Then you can think of ways to exploit those weaknesses with your own character. In addition, you will be building up an intuitive understanding of Pac-Man’s game plan which will help you to avoid falling into his traps.

#3 - Watch Your Own Matches

Memories of how matches went are often not as accurate as you would think, so watching matches back is key to finding out your strengths and weaknesses as a player. Look for what areas you struggle at, take note, and concentrate your practice time on those things. By focusing on your weaknesses in practice you will work towards becoming a more well rounded and consistent player. If you don’t have any tournament matches to review, you can always just play on online and save the replays.

#4 - Practice in the Training Room

Becoming really good at Smash Ultimate involves reaching a point in which you are in perfect control of your character. A common pitfall many players fall into is that they stop practicing in the training room when they become “good enough”. They think “Yeah, I can hit this combo now, I’m good to go.” However, when the tournament comes around they end up dropping the combo and losing the match because of it. If you want to become consistent, you must reach a point where your inputs are nearly flawless. Practice everything in the training mode not until you can do it successfully, but until you never mess up. Work on spacing your moves, attacking and fast falling with proper timing, movement options around the stage, all your bread and butter combos, and recovery angles. If you ever misinput in a real match, take note of it and practice that the next time you go into the training room.

#5 - Play Online

While online play does differ dramatically from offline play, the characters and the way they interact with each other are all the same. Don’t abuse “wifi strategies” such as spamming laggy projectiles that are difficult to punish in 15 frame delay. Those strategies are much easier to punish offline, and if they become habits you will have a harder time in real matches. Instead, use wifi as a tool to learn how you can use your character’s strengths to capitalize on other character’s weaknesses.

#6 - Write Matchup and Character Guides

You may have heard of a study that says that students only remember 10% of what they read in textbooks but 90% of what they learn by teaching others. While the accuracy of these numbers is debatable, the idea holds true. If you can teach someone else how to play as a certain character or how to fight against a certain character, you will retain the knowledge much better than if you just read someone else’s guide. Through the act of physically writing a matchup guide, for example, you will quickly realize where you have gaps in your knowledge of the matchup. If you then fill those knowledge gaps to complete the written guide, you will have better solidified your knowledge of the matchup.

#7 - Have Discussions on Discord

Hopping into character Discord servers and talking to other players of your character is a great way to see perspectives of many different players. While the players in the Discord server mostly all play the same character, everyone has a different background with varying amounts of knowledge in different areas. Collectively sharing thoughts and ideas will not only improve your own play, but also those in the server. When everyone improves together, the character’s metagame can be advanced.

#8 - Learn Frame Data

Knowing frame data alone is not enough to help you become a better player. You must first know how to apply that knowledge. I don’t have time to go into the specifics, there are many sources out there to help you if you seek them out. That being said, knowing the amount of startup frames on all of your attacks is useful in figuring out what the best possible punish option is for every situation. Similarly, knowing your frame advantage on shield with all of your attacks will help you know exactly how safe or unsafe each option is.

#9 - Read or Watch Guides on Other Characters

Similarly to watching videos of other characters, reading guides on other characters can be useful even if you don’t play those characters. These guides will help you to understand those character’s general game plans and what things to look out for in a match. Character guides also generally include counter play to watch out for. You can take those counter play options and incorporate them into your play when you fight against that character in bracket.

#10 - Watch My Videos
Ok, ok, I admit it, this one is kind of a meme. Joking aside, If you made it this far in the guide, you probably would enjoy my other content as well! I talk about everything from improving your mentality, to avoiding burnout, to how to approach learning matchups. If this aspect of improving interests you then I encourage you to look into my Improvement Series.

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