It’s been a while since I wrote one of these articles. I figured with SF fans getting hyped for E League and wanting to grind for the opportunity to be apart of the next SFV invitational, this would be an interesting conversation to have. Now I know that frame data conversations can get as controversial as talking politics online. I want to make it clear that I’m not trying to shun lab specialist, or frame data fanatics.
What is Frame Data?
Frame data is a list of data which calculates the certain aspects of fighting game characters moves through the use of frames. If you were into SFV around season 1, one complaint about M. Bison (Dictator) was he lacked a 3 frame jab to contest characters with a 3 frame jab like Cammy.
Three frames refers to the start up of the jab. Seeing as Bison has a 4 frame jab, his jab wouldn’t reach Cammy before Cammy’s jab would reach him results in Bison being hit first. I won’t go into too much detail about frame data, but if you want to learn more about frame data, I suggest you watch the following video.
Frame data is often seen as the tool of choice if you want to be a pro player in any fighting game. Heck, Nether Realm Studios went as far as to include frame data in their games along side the command list of their games. Pretty much, frame data can be seen as a fighting game bible. Which is what I wanna talk about.
Frame Data Is My Ride or Die
While frame data can help you to understand the start up and recovery of your characters moves, there are some that seem to take it a little bit too far. Hence, the title of this section.
The intentions of many FG players are sincere, however I don’t think some of them realize how obsessive they can be about frame data and how off putting that alone can be. Like say you’re just getting into taking fighting games more seriously. You have a decent understanding of the game but you aren’t a beginner either. The first time you google “should I learn frame data?” Boy you’ll be in for a treat.
Many people swear that to become a pro player you need to know frame data. They will say it’s so you know how to do combos or you know what moves are negative on block. However they never explain why learning frame data teaches you how certain moves combo into one another or which moves are on block. Instead, there’s a strong insistence on learning frame data because it goes hand in hand in “knowing the game”.
This can be bothersome because this fanaticism over frame data isn’t really expanded upon. It’s emphasized as important but lacks actual reasons which make it important. It reminds me of the not so glorious trend of counting calories. People say, “Oh it’s crucial for weight loss” as if it’s the only way you can lose weight and maintain it.
Here is a quote from a reddit post I found regarding frame data. Someone questioned the need to teach frame data and they were met with the following quote.
“It’s essential to learn frame data as soon as possible, because if you don’t start right away, you’ll develop bad habits that may be hard to break in the future. For example, beginner subzero players will use the slide move excessively, even though that move is extremely punishable on block. Same goes for scorpion’s teleport, and many other moves in the game.”
I’m going to put this in practice and try to explain why Sub-Zero’s slide is punishable on block.
Explaining Moves Without Applying Frame Data
Here is Sub- zero’s slide.
According to the comment above, you won’t understand why excessively using Sub-Zero’s slide is a bad idea unless you know frame data. Well, let me see if I can figure it out. I haven’t looked at MKX frame data since the game came out so this should be fun.
In my opinion, the slide worked in the first clip because the Kitana player wasn’t expecting it. In the second clip, the Kitana player was made aware that this Sub- Zero player was going to slide a lot and decided to punish.
The reason the Sub Zero slide is punishable is because Sub zero isn’t in a state to block. He’s still pretty vulnerable as he slides across the jungle floor. Because Sub zero can’t block, because he hasn’t recovered from the slide, Kitana was able to punish the Sub – Zero player.
Knowing this, will this stop a beginner player from doing the slide over and over again? Probably not. It’s fun move that also looks cool. Will this knowledge stop a player who wants to be a better player? Of course. They’ll realize that putting themselves in a situation where they can’t back up or block is a big risk and they’ll more than likely stop the frequency or eliminate the move altogether.
Looking up some old frame data, it seems like Sub Zero’s slides are/were -22 on block. Now if I wanted to break it down frame data wise I would say, “Don’t do Sub-zero’s slide because it’s -22 on block.” It explains the frames but it doesn’t explain why the slide being -22 on block means I can’t do it anymore. It kinda feels like a short cut for someone who doesn’t want to teach.
Personally, it doesn’t seem like the best way to teach a beginner how to play a game. It’s kind of like, “Eh, go google it. Come back when you’re ready to play sets.”. What is the player supposed to learn? They may study their character’s frame data, however that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to understand poking, footsies, combos, and overall movement on a more professional level.
To Use or Not To Use Frame Data
Frame data offers lab monsters and technical players a like a myriad of data to try new moves and push the boundaries of their characters. In regards to that, I can’t fault them for using frame data. It becomes questionable when frame data is perceived as a be all end all for being a strong FG player.
I remember during one of Alex Valle’s streams he said something about frame data which made me question the dependency of frame data. He said people who obsess over frame data usually are the same players who hesitate. Those players don’t wanna go in cold turkey and learn what does and what doesn’t work. They would rather go in with a theoretical knowledge of how a match up should go.
Personally, I’m not a frame data girl. I like to get hit with things and learn how to work around the move. It seems weird to spend more time looking at paper or my phone than watching the screen and familiarizing myself with spacing and execution. However I understand for some, that isn’t time wasted. It’s time well spent.
Again, I don’t want to come across as someone who hates frame data. Rather, I want to explore the emphasis on frame data and is it truly a necessity or a preference. I’d like to know what you think about frame data. What do you think about introducing frame data to beginning players? Do you find frame data as a necessity to be a better player? I’d love to see what others think.