Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ryu vs Balrog


*I kind of switched up my layout a little bit for this matchup. Make sure you read the counter part of his special moves otherwise it might be confusing in the “Mind game and OS section”*

      This is a popular matchup! As Justin Wong said, it's kind of a counterpick against Ryu. I would say 5.8-4.2 in Balrog’s favour, and probably 6-4 if you ever happen to fight a Balrog who just sits whole day and can do perfect anti-airs. Balrog has some of the best normals in this game in my opinion. Either him or Chun-Li have the best normals, but i would probably say Chun Li just because I am Chinese! (BIASSS!!!) Chun-Li has faster ones I would say, but I’ll get to that matchup in the future.

      Balrog has more control on the ground when it comes to Ryu. Especially when Balrog has EX-meter, because Ryu players have to be cautious to not to get swept by Balrog, but also have to be wary of his armored EX-rush punches. For Ryu, good zoning is the key to winning. Otherwise, it's going to be way too tough. One thing to note is that Balrog has a pretty weird hitbox and if anybody ever realizes how he looks big, but his hitbox is actually smaller than it looks. However, hopefully you readers can learn something reading this. So here it goes:

Ground Games:

Far Range/Full Screen: Zone him out, Balrog's jump is short and lands slower than most of the players. If Balrog ever wants to get in, his options are jump, turn around punch which can be reacted and countered easily (at least for me it is) or doing random Ex-rush punches when he has meters, but that can also be countered. 

Mid Range: This is Balrog's best range. You have to be careful of his sweep, because it is far and fast. And yes, all Balrogs abuse this normal like no freakin’ tomorrow. (Imagine Ryu's sweep is like Balrog's *droolz* ) Ok, enough dreaming. Whenever you can sense that YOUR sweep range can touch him, that is also where his sweep can touch you. So don't try and recklessly do low forward that won't hit, if you whiff you will get punished by his sweep. As I mentioned above about his weird hit box, when you try to land a low forward against him, don't be afraid to walk a bit more forward then do it. You will see better result than your usual low forward range.

      Also this is a range where allows you to throw random fireballs that is hard for Balrog to react in time. But beware, if Balrog is crouching, he might have charged headbutt which will go through your fireball. Look to throw your fireball when he's walking forward when he has no charge. Though he can jump as well... :( ..just be careful... :).

Close Range: This range is pretty dangerous as well since Balrog has a 3f jab which basically beats everything of Ryu's except SRK. Being stuffed by his jab leaves you not much options but GUARD or mash on SRK which probably won't do much since there is a big risk if you miss :(. ( Not recommended! ) Majority of the boxers would follow up by rush punches to apply more pressure and chip damage or lead to a throw ( I find Balrog's throw pretty hard to tech maybe because he walks fast and has a 3f jab which is the same frame as throw that screw up your timing. )

      *Be sure to watch out not to get hit by an EX overhead rush punch which can cost you a lot of life*

On Ryu’s Wakeup:

Balrog has a little trick after a head butt knock down. They whiff a forward jump roundhouse to  land as a crossup or front and then land a meaty jab which you have to block or do a srk to punish. (You can tech, don't even try). Back dash on wakeup is also not recommended because Balrog does have an option select sweep. So…block please. That is your best option. 


Dash Straight Punch: This is Boxer's fastest rush punch. An early straight jump attack, early low forward or focus attack level 2 allows you to land combos.   (If this you are close enough when you blocked this move, you can punish with fierce Srk, jab into combo or super)

Dash Straight Low Punch: Same as straight punch but slower. And can punish with sweep on block.

Over Head Punch: This is the slowest rush punch out of all his rush punches. Can counter like the rest of the rush punches except focus attack since its armor breakable. On block you can punish with jab into combo, a fierce srk or super(make sure Balrog doesn't fadc back dash after you block it)

Straight Uppercut Punch: This punch whiffs if you block low and not armor breakable. As it named, uppercut punch, can hit you in the air! 

Dash Low Uppercut Punch: Another armor breakable rush punches with decent speed. Depends on range, usually can be swept on block. 

EX-Rush Punches: All ex rush punches can be countered by low forward xx srk (best counter), throws (you can only grab ex straight punch if he's close enough, the punch sticks out too fast) and hurricane kick/EX-hurricane kick.

Turn around punch: Goes through fireball and almost hits full screen. To counter this move the trick is to look at his body closely. Whenever he starts turning around, have you SRK ready to counter it. This move is not punishable on block.

Head Butt: Normal version is a lot slower than the ex version one which is not a good move to use on wake up. Ryu can usually beat it with a meaty attack or block in time if he ever does it on his wake up. *Ryu's low forward makes this move whiffs.*

Against Ultra 1:

This ultra can go through fireball and has a pretty wide range, its like Chun-Li's ultra startup which is pretty fast. However if Balrog ever does use ultra 1 to go through hadouken full screen ANYWHERE or mid range in MID SCREEN, the last part of the ultra never hits. Therefore if you ever have enough life to take those damage and wants to finish him off with a SRK > FADC > Ultra, this is also an option :). But other then that, don't throw reckless fireball, make sure he has no charge.

Against Ultra 2:

I actually never bumped into ONE Balrog who uses this ultra...nothing much to comment since I have ZERO experience. But I guess....when he has ultra meter treat him like Zangief? 

Mind games and Option Selects:

In a Balrog matchup, reading your opponent can make the match less tough. Balrog has a pretty far and fast backdash that only Ryu's OS hurricane kick/super/ultra can hit. A close jump in attack OS sweep does hit sometimes, but why not do Hurricane kick when it's going to catch his back dash 100%? Ground OS there aren't much cause OS sweep doesn't hit. As a result only option is OS fireball that doesn't do a lot of damage ( better than nothing I guess? ) However, whenever you do a jump in OS attack, make sure your jump in is a safe jump in order to block any of his wakeup moves if he doesn't back dashes.

When Balrog has meter, Ryu's safest thing to do on his wake up is low forward or ex-hurricane kick that beats everything of Balrog's. Even if he back dashes your low forward would hit him out of the air. Most of the Balrogs tend to do an EX-straight rush punch on wakeup since its safe and beats all of Ryu's attack. As I mentioned above, reading skills do apply in this matchup, therefore if you can read your opponent correctly, throw him or do an ex hurricane kick when you think he is going to do an EX rush punch on wake up. Mix up it with a safe jumped OS and an empty jump throw just to make your opponent think.

      All charge-based characters are afraid of crossups, not just Balrog. It forces them to block in the other direction and lose their charge. Option selects are useful, but don't leave crossup attacks out. Especially when you have a super meter, doing a crossup hurricane kick into super can make a huge lead or a big come back. 

Other things to be aware of:

Most Ryus follow up with fireball 2-in-1 after a low forward as a habit. In this matchup, you have to make sure your low forward > fireball is at a combo range. All of Balrog's special moves can go through fireball and if they assume you will throw a fireball after the low forward, most likely they will do an EX-rush punch or headbutt into ultra.

After a low forward fireball that is in combo range, Balrogs tend to do a reversal rush punch just to get in + free damage that forces you to block. In this case, right after your fireball, whiff a low forward OS hurricane kick ( you can do fireball if you want ) to counter his rush punch. But do be cautious that smart Balrogs ( especially the ones I fight in Japan ) will wait for your low forward then punish with a sweep. It's all about who has the better reading skills :).

Many Balrogs will try to jumping fierce over fireballs without fear of being punished. BUT THAT IS WRONG! Ryu can punish his whiffed jump fierce with a jab ( Daigo uses jab ) or a fierce punch ( I use fierce punch cause it beats it clean, and I don't see the risk if I whiff ). Also roundhouse kick works too, but it's a trade.

Last but not least, a little secret when Balrog has Ryu down to one chip damage of life left, they will often do an ex-headbutt on your wake up to finish you off. BUTTTT there is an escape! Whiffing low forward on wake up with Ryu can evade his headbutt ( I swear I was the first one who discovered this ). This reduces Ryu’s hitbox dramatically to where Balrog will sail right over. This also works on Balrog's focus attack. If people ever charges to level 2/3, whiff a low forward, the focus attack can't hit you. :)


  1. Here are a few things i learnt:
    1) super can punish balrog's dashes n sweeps on block (if close enough)
    2) i have trouble srk balrog when he does a sudden jump in at close range. Even if i react in time, we usually trade hits with me getting more damage. Nowadays i just use d+hp
    3) people say that balrog cant do much when trap in corner, i realize that i cant do much as well!
    4) d+mp seems to work well against balrog, stuff some of his moves

  2. one question.
    when you walk up cr.MK to hadouken. what is the best way and how to do it without a SRK coming out. especially when under pressure.
    People say press down back to QFC should help it which does but sometimes when doing it fast or see the perfect opportunity to do it a SRK comes out.

    what is your state of mind when doing a walk up cr.MK to hadouken?


  3. simon, there's no secret to doing it consistently. The buffer window in SSFIV is huge, so after low forward, pause before you do the fireball motion. Practice so you don't get a random DP.

    And I really hate this match-up. Unfortunately, I didn't really learn anything from this article to help me besides a few tricks like low forward under EX Headbutt chip so it comes down really to my ability to read my opponent.

  4. sorry guys, i am heading out to my birthday dinner now. can't explain further and as i stated this is just a draft, since there's so much to this matchup. The main key in this matchup is to run and have good zonings.

  5. awesome info Air. could your next match-up post be about how to fight one of those 3?

    Rufus/Chun-li/Feilong? (whoever you consider the hardest/trickiest

  6. I really enjoy ur blog, Air

    Boxer has been one of my hardest match up since SF4. These tips would defintely help out...a lot!

    Please do the Viper, Guile and Rose match up soon, dude!
    I have been having trouble with those three in SSF4

    Also as u know, there is an online EVO qualifier for US and Canada, so hopefully, u join in man then u can get back to Japan for 2011 EVO. I am planning to attend that event too

  7. Good stuff about whiffing low forward to avoid EX headbutt. I knew you could do it on Balrog's wake-up to avoid reversal EX headbutt, but I didn't know it also worked when Ryu's waking up.

  8. I am working on a Ryu fundamental write up right now...i think it'll help you guys alot more and easier to understand why i do certain things @ certain situation.
    I've also received plenty of emails requesting next matchup...i mean, there's thousands of you, and the next match up is just ONE character...just to be fair i will make a poll ^^..

  9. Great entry Air !!!
    Thank you so much for posting it just in time right before my Tournament =)

    I´ll read this Stuff tomorrow and wish me good luck for sunday :D

    If you want i can give you the Matchvids of course therefor i need to enter the finals =/

    @ simon
    im doing it like this:

    f,b,db+mk,d,df,f + p

    hope this helps you

  10. if you want to know a little more about hot to match up against balrog Alex Valle have a few videos up against balrogs.

  11. Thanks for posting! Chun, Rufus and Cammy are so difficult! Sako is coming to Socal Regionals and I lose to most decent level Cammys :(

  12. Cammy kills shotos imo. And when i was in japan i only beat sako once, so ya... Even here online in north america i only have a 65% win ratio cammy.... After u get knocked down cammy can do wutever she wants.. all free. Cant wait for the ae nerf

  13. Have you tried safe jumping Balrog with I'm pretty certain testing has confirmed that it is in fact feasible to use in a way that it counters all of his reversal wakeup options (the only way he can punish it is with armor canceling into ultra for some reason).

  14. @David i tried it and it works, but i think ex headbutt can hit u + the timing to do OS doesn't really seem to work..

  15. i learned that balrog's headbutt whiff on wakeup against most of 2LKs. If balrog is down, and the opponent mashes 2LK, he has no option but
    -headbutt EX
    for the 2 last reversals, it's risky because the opponent can stop mashing just in time !
    Hence everytime i put Balrog down, i abuse of this, until i feel he's going for the less risky options