Mashing gets a bad rep.

You’ve probably heard it a lot. “This person is a masher!” “All they do is mash!” “They aren’t even thinking! Just mashing!”

If you didn’t know better, you’d assume that mashing is an inherently bad thing.

Well, I am here to dispel some myths about mashing that may change your mind on it.

The first point is probably one of the biggest ones: mashing is just as valid of a defensive option as any other. Let’s say your opponent is pressuring you, but slowly. Some staggers and restrings. It’s happening a lot, and you don’t know what to do. If you were told all your time that mashing was bad, then you probably aren’t getting out of this pressure without an unsafe option, like a DP. This is where mashing comes in. Mashing here is a very good way of challenging someone who is taking their pressure slowly. It’s essentially putting a big sign out, saying “Hey! Find another way of pressuring me!” I’m very guilty of getting mashed on because I tend to structure my pressure in exactly this way.

Additionally, if you’re losing to someone who keeps mashing, you have a weakness in your gameplan. It doesn’t matter if your opponent keeps doing it. You keep getting caught by it. If you were playing chess, and your opponent kept doing the same opening every game, and they keep getting checkmated in the same way, why would you not keep doing it? Same thing applies here. Regardless of what your view is as a whole, you must be ready to deal with it.

Building upon the previous point, there’s a delicate balance when it comes to knowing when to mash vs. doing something else. It’s important to understand that even if you do use it as an option, it isn’t always going to work out. Try very hard not to lean on mashing as an option all the time, as it can lose to a number of fundamental pressure options. If you want to add a layer to your mashing, however, there’s this nice little thing called fuzzy mashing.

A fuzzy can have multiple meanings in fighting games, but we’ll keep it relevant to this topic. A fuzzy is an action that you typically do when you expect a hit coming in. Let’s use a common example in Guilty Gear Strive: Nagoriyuki’s Rekka (f.SSS). When Nago has meter, a very common thing for him to do is the full rekka string into RC. Nago can cancel the second part of the rekka into whatever he wants, but it does leave a small gap. If you fuzzy mash this gap, it creates an option select; an action that produces two different things, but always gives the best out of the two in a given situation, if done properly.

Maintaining this example, if Nago doesn’t do the third hit of his rekka and leaves a gap, if you decide to fuzzy mash, you will get the button that you decided to mash with if it fits the gap. If he decides to complete the string and you decided to do it, you will just block, as the blockstun prevents the button from coming out. This is not a foolproof plan, as any sort of delay or other action that catches your button will result in a counterhit; but fighting games have layers, and this is only scratching that surface.

The last point on this topic: It’s okay to mash offensively too! Some characters can take advantage of mashing on the offensive end as well. Striker in DNF Duel can take advantage of this quite well with her reverse beat. You can do a string with her, whiff cancel into a fast normal, then get right back in there by mashing another button to reset a string, even if it presents a risk. This isn’t a universal thing, so it’s important to assess how you can apply it, but it’s important to understand where you can use tools in all kinds of ways, even in ways your opponent may not agree with.

Fighting games are tough, and they can take quite a bit of practice to find your footing. There are a lot of options that are considered “bad” or “scrubby” by others, but don’t ever let that affect your development as a player! Your character has a toolbox, and not taking advantage of all of your tools, including mashing, is important!

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