The arrival of the COVID-19 has put a great damper on a lot of parts of the lives of many. With the introduction of quarantine and the cancellation of events everywhere a lot of people are stuck indoors with little person-to-person contact. This, of course, extends to things such as social gatherings which means no tournaments, both local or major. While it may seem like the fighting game community and Super Smash Bros community are straight up canceled for the year, there is actually a lot that one can get done, even with such an issue eating up the tournament season, both to keep you from getting rusty and to continue having fun with your hobby and the community.
Quite possibly the most important thing to do that will help you keep your sanity is to keep connected with the community despite the distance. This can be as simple as interacting on Twitter, or making sure you’re actually checking that community Discord that someone made for your locals. You can also then ask for Netplay matches here so you won’t have to worry about the struggles of ranked match. This also extends to the next thing you can do which is…
While you may be thinking that streaming isn’t for you during this time, you don’t have to think of it as simply trying to entertain others. It’s mostly another way to keep connected with the community. You’d be amazed at how comforting and freeing it is to have a group of friendly names you recognize from your community chatting it up with you in the chat. For those that have always wanted to stream, this is a great option as well. Not only is it during a time where tons of people are looking for content to get their minds off things, but it’s something that can keep you busy and just as distracted.
Just because you can’t get the best practice possible with your offline training partners, that doesn’t mean that you have to completely stop practicing. In fact, there are many ways that you can still keep your muscles pumping in the lab. There’s always the good ole classic that is combo practice which will keep your muscle memory clean. This, along with practicing setups, will keep your sharp. However, be sure to practice not only the basics or only the overly advanced, but a mix of both. This is also a good time for practicing your hit confirms as well as other points of your gameplay that have to do with reactions. Utilizing the record function will be your best friend right now, as for many of us it’s the closest thing to an offline way to keep reactions sharp that will be present for quite some time. There’s also studying high-level matches and - if possible - your own recordings, as well as frame data studying. I even wrote a guide on optimizing solo-training mode in fighting games for those that are more interested in going about training alone to the max.
One thing that is the bane of many fighting game players is a bad case of match-up familiarity. While this is something that can be fixed online, most know that things work a lot differently in that dimension than that of offline play. This leaves a lot of players without a way to learn how other characters work…is what I would say if that were actually the case. This is your chance to learn more than your main character. Familiarize yourself with how other faces of your favorite fighting game’s roster. Find out their setups, frame data, and other things that make them tick and take it online. By the time this is all over, you’ll know them head to toe or even have a new favorite character or secondary to play as.
We can’t have offline play but why would you let that cut you off from playing with others? Yes, the old saying is true: “Not all netcode is created equal.” Some fighting games are borderline horrible when trying to play online, but you don’t have to let that ruin it for you. For those that would rather not chance it with random matches, simply hook up with friends online with bearable net and try to keep those fighting juices flowing. It also helps that we have things like Parsec and Steam-share to help a bit. A lot of communities are even holding online tournaments during this time. Just sign up and have a good time. Remember, it’s online so don’t think too much of it if you take some kind of horrible loss.
Remember how I quoted that, “Not all netcode is created equal”? Well, that’s one of the oldest facts of the fighting game community. Some games just have better netcode, so why the heck not try those out and learn something new with a netcode that allows it? From Skullgirls to Killer Instinct (two games that are always very cheap by the way), there are a few great fighting games you could be playing to keep your muscles sharp. Much like with learning a new character, you could even find a new love that you could walk out of this annoying time with.
So you see, things are looking kind of grim for our communities, but that doesn’t mean that you have to sit around doing nothing and being bored all day. Just keep on playing, keep training, stay connected, and take this time to step out of your comfort zone while you can step away from your main game for a bit.