One thing I love doing is going back and looking at sets and matches that really make me think of how players approach and think about fighting games. I don’t consider myself a high-level player by any stretch of the imagination, but I absolutely love to analyze things and try to get a glimpse of the point of view of great players. This series is an attempt to get into the nitty gritty of it all, and talk about why a given set is so good.

We’ve been blessed with so many legendary sets throughout the years, but with Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2’s rollback beta in full swing, and the popularity of the game peaking, I thought it’d be fitting to take a look back at one of my favorite sets of all time: LostSoul vs. Daymendou, at one of the biggest majors of the year, Combo Breaker 2019.

This isn’t one of my favorites because of who’s playing or what fancy stuff is happening in the set, but the fact that not many mechanically complex things are happening in the set at all. This is a very classic, rushdown vs. zoning, aggro vs. control, in vs. out matchup that’s being played, and Elphelt, while not classified as a zoner, has the tools to keep hyper aggressive characters or players away from her.

LostSoul is one of the greatest Guilty Gear legacy players ever, but in this matchup, he demonstrated an extremely basic, fighting game 101 playstyle. What makes this set so impressive to me is how this single button, the aforementioned 5HS, completely invalidated the first few attempts at Daymendou’s gameplan, and Slayer, who is typically an extremely fast paced and in your face character, was completely stuffed every which way. This caused Daymendou to really think about his approach and how deep into the toolbox he had to dig to find a way to get his offense going. Lostsoul, on the other hand, knows this, but can comfortably lean on Elphelt’s 5HS to do the heavy lifting until Daymendou can find the answer.

A lot of fighting game players would try to do a lot of things here, sniper, move a lot in the air. Maybe some 2H or Bridal Express shenanigans. But Lostsoul just stands his ground and threatens 5HS, the entire time. He’s effectively telling Daymendou: “This is my space, and you’re going to have to earn your keep in said space”. The most common combo you see in this set is Elphelt’s f.S into 5HSx4. It’s not the most damaging combo you can do, but it’s so effective here because Lostsoul is committed to playing the ground game, standing his ground, and completely invalidating the space that Slayer could occupy. This is for good reason too, as Slayer isn’t exactly a great aerial character. His damage can go through the roof, but his approaches are fairly linear. Being able to establish and secure space is paramount to a successful set here.

Despite all this, this set isn’t free for Lostsoul, not even close. In fact, Daymendou resets the bracket in Grand Finals, putting both players at 0-0, and forcing a final final set for the entire tournament. Even still, Lostsoul sticks to his gameplan, securing space on the ground, and making every hit he does get count, and count hard. As the set goes longer, Daymendou begins slipping up just a tad more, and Lostsoul capitalizes.

I think the big turning point is actually a very subtle defensive change that Majinobama, one of the commentators, pointed out. Daymendou decides to instant block Lostsoul’s f.S’s. The purpose of this is to increase the amount of pushback that Elphelt receives on her moves. The issue here is that this doesn’t actually change much about how Lostsoul is pressuring him, and would additionally give him more space to actually control. In the first game of the Grand Finals reset, this resulted in more winning opportunities for Lostsoul in the neutral game, and it would secure him the win in the first game, and eventually the whole set and tournament.

It’s incredibly hard to analyze games like these because while they appear simple on the surface, there’s so much information and trust that’s going between both players, and it translates to the sequences in game at a lightning fast pace. This is part of why I enjoy matches like this. You can dig into it and see exactly how it plays out, but understanding why it plays out that way is a massive task that only gets more and more intriguing.

There is certainly something to be said about sets with ridiculously hype combos and super fast and exciting sequences, but this particular set is such an important lesson in how to approach what’s in front of you on a barebones and fundamentally sound level. Often times, you don’t need to be that fancy in your gameplan and execution, especially when your opponent isn’t giving you a reason to. Sticking to the basics can take you a long way, even at the highest level!

Anthony Lowry (they/he) is a seasoned TCG, MMORPG, and FPS veteran. They are extensively knowledgeable on the intricacies of many competitive outlets, and are always looking for a new challenge in the gaming sphere.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.