Friday, 18 May 2012

The Matchups: Ryu vs Ken v2012

Ryu (4.5) Ken (5.5)

Ken is the aggressor in this matchup. Essentially, Ryu's job is to let Ken kill himself as he tries to break through Ryu's rock-solid defence and zoning game. Ken players tend to be quite impatient by nature and will often resort to taking bigger risks when frustrated by an effective fireball/dp defense. Zoning is Ryu's most effective tool here; his mission is to keep Ken out. Ken's over-arching goal is to get inside Ryu's safe fireball distance and begin his step kick/kara throw mixup game. Once in, he has a serious advantage in the ensuing footsie battle and can often fluster players with kara throw mixups. Hence, Ryu needs to concentrate on mounting an effective zoning defence early in the round.

Start off with a basic zoning game, throwing fireballs and remembering to dragon punch (dp) all of Ken's attempted jump-ins. If Ken gets close, > hadouken is a very effective tool to keep him at bay. Applying these three tools consistently (fireball, srk and > hdk) can easily drain 50% of Ken's life before he manages to get anywhere near Ryu. Remember, the more you frustrate him, the more likely he is to take bigger risks (such as jumping) and leave himself open for punishment. Remember that zoning gets significantly harder in the second round. Your opponent will be familiar with your fireball patterns and will be far more adept at reading you. Players should take care to randomise their fireball patterns as much as possible from round two.

Once Ken breaks in, it's important to stay calm and stick to the fundamentals. OS tech as per normal and resist the temptation to mash cr.lp + out of fear of Ken's kara throw. If your opponent is frequently attempting kara throws, throwing out the occasional cr.lp(s) can stuff this immediately and lead to a free knockdown (cr.lp, cr.lp, Plinking after two of ken's cr.lp can often yield a free counter-hit into a sweep. Backdashing during Ken's blockstrings is also a good option as it can cause Ken's kara throws to whiff.

Dealing with the step kick
Ken's main offensive weapon is his step kick, which he will use not only for general harassment (stuffing your normals and fireballs during startup) but also to move himself in range for kara throwing, counter-hit srk U1 setups and other assorted shenanigans. Ryu's response should vary according to the distance at which the step kick is executed:
  • If the step kick whiffs, sweep him
  • If the step kick is blocked at mid-range, plink > (you have frame advantage on block at this range)
  • If the step kick is blocked at close range, OS tech as per normal but be aware that he may attempt a counter-hit hp srk if he has two bars
In reference to the last point - after a step kick blocked at close range, Ken can immediately input hp srk (counter-hit) > fadc > U1 (full animation) if he catches you throw-teching or trying any other normals after blocking. Use common sense. If Ken is low on health, has two bars and an ultra, he is far more likely to attempt this setup after a blocked close step kick.

Remember that the best defence against the step kick is to simply stay out of range. Dancing just outside the range of Ken's step kick can cause him to whiff, allowing Ryu to punish with (sweep) and get a free knockdown.

Some other tips:
  • Watch for airborne EX tatsus to try and break your zoning game. These can be handled with a well-timed cr.hp
  • After eating > fireball, Ken players will often try to launch a step kick counter-attack; follow up with an ex fireball straight after the regular one for an easy knockdown
  • As mentioned earlier, when Ken has two bars, watch for the counter-hit srk after a close blocked step kick
  • Do not go on the offensive against Ken unless you get a knockdown

Whilst Ken has the advantage, albeit a minor one, this match is perfectly winnable provided a solid defensive zoning game is present.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Do you have any issues with Guy players? Any tips for that matchup?

  3. Hi Dejan - unfortunately I don't have enough experience in this matchup, but I did find a thread on SRK written from a Guy player's perspective

    Personally, I have a lot of issues with Guy players despite the matchup being in Ryu's favour, at least on paper. Guy players tend to have a lot of issues dealing with Ryu's, so try working that into your game more (it beats his elbow drop clean, as well as any crossup attempts). Also note that your standard zoning game won't work on him, largely due to the range of his jump and also his elbow attack that goes through fireballs.

    Good luck and keep training!

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  5. This matchup is at least 5.5 - 4.5 in RYU's favor. Ken's overall slower speed (slower walk, slower fireball, slower sweep) gives Ryu the advantage. If played properly it is very difficult to break through Ryu's defense. Just watch Sekinganryu vs. LeviStrauss1829. It doesn't get much more high level this this. I'm hoping this matchup becomes even in 2013.

  6. @openuserx03
    In this matchup:
    Ryu = more defensive
    Ken = more aggressive

    Both chars are able to zone well, Ken needs to get in and get that knock down for his mixups. Ryu needs to keep Ken out and play more defensively, do the damage on knock down and get out/ re-zone.

    Personally I believe it's a pretty even match, therefore it comes down to the player skills.

    I watched the first round of the linked provided, You can tell the Ryu player had better zone/footsies, he played smart and punished the whiff kicks and went into offensive and defensive positions at the right time. On the other hand, ken player were too eager to get in, made many whiff and mistakes which Ryu took advantage from.