It’s getting into fighting game tournament season, with CEO on the horizon this weekend and then the holy grail of FGC events, EVO, following soon after in early July. This means fighting game coverage will start to dominate Twitch and many people will start watching competitive fighting games for the first time. While fighting games are much easier to comprehend on a base level compared to a MOBA, keep hitting someone until they have no health, there is a lot of in-depth terminology when it comes to understanding high level play. So, this guide hopes to give you a basic definition for many of the terms you will hear commentators use when casting tournament matches. This will mainly cover traditional fighting games like Street Fighter and Tekken, so expect a guide on Smash Bros related terms in the near future. Much of the terminology is universal but there is enough differing lingo in Smash that it deserves a separate guide.
+/- on block: Being +/- on block determines how quickly you can act after an opponent blocks one of your moves. When you hit an opponent who is blocking, you will put them in a state known as blockstun. This means your opponent can’t do anything except continuing blocking, meaning they have to wait until you finish attacking before they can do anything. This is where being +/- on block comes in. So, you may have a move which is +4 on hit and +2 on block, meaning that if your move hits a non-guarding opponent, you will recover 4 frames before your opponent comes out of hitstun and if it hits a guarding opponent, you will recover 2 frames before your opponent comes out of blockstun. You can also have it where a move is maybe -4 on block, meaning you have to wait 4 frames before you can act, giving your opponent 4 frames in which to throw out a move.
Armour: Armour is a quality which is added to some moves, which allows a character to sustain a certain number of hits before their move is interrupted. Usually, armour is limited to one hit but you can get moves which have super or even hyper armour, allowing them to soak up more hits until they are interrupted. A character still takes damage if their move has armour, they just aren’t interrupted.
Bodied: The act of getting absolutely destroyed. It’s like you are being put away in a body bag.
Bread and Butter (BnB): These are the standard combos for a character which players will fall back on, due to their efficiency and versatility.
Buffering: Buffering is where you press the inputs for a certain attack when you are in a state where the attack won’t come out. It helps simplify complex inputs by having you buffer all the inputs before you can act again, and then just pressing a single button as soon as you are able to act to have the attack come out.
Chip damage: Chip damage is a form of lesser damage which is dealt to a player while blocking. Mortal Kombat is a series where players suffer from a lot of chip damage, which forces them to make the decision between staying in block and continuing taking damage, or trying to attack and stop the chip. If a commentator says that someone is being chipped out, that means they are in danger of dying due to chip damage.
Command grab: This is a grab which is not executed via the standard grab input. They also cannot be teched, usually leading to massive damage if they land.
Crossups: A crossup is a move which will hit behind the enemy’s guard, leading into a combo. A move like Ryu’s jumping heavy kick is a move with crossup properties, hitting behind the enemy on the ground and leading into a combo. While crossing up an opponent can be a good mixup, the two are not mutually exclusive. It is quite easy to see a crossup coming.
Downloading: Downloading is the act of perfectly adapting to your opponent’s play style and then coming back to destroy them. People will often say that the download is complete when a player gets a handle on the other player’s style and proceeds to beat them convincingly.
DP (Dragon Punch): A DP or Dragon Punch is usually an invincible uppercut of some sort, which is used to either catch the opponent off guard or to hit an opponent out of the air after they jump towards you. The name comes from Ryu’s Shoryuken which literally means Dragon Punch. It is a high risk, high reward move, as it results in short term invincibility and your opponent being knocked to the floor if it hits, but it will leave a player wide open if they miss.
EX: An EX move is an enhanced version of a special move, at the cost of a single piece of your special or EX gauge. EX moves may hit more times than the standard move, be safer on block or do additional damage.
FGC: Acronym which stands for fighting game community.
Footsies: If you hear a commentator talking about someone who is good at footsies, this means they are good at winning the neutral game and establishing control in the match. Footsies is the phase of a match where players are scoping each other out, usually moving in and out of the range of a sweeping attack, in order to either land an attack or bait their opponent into attacking, so they can swing the momentum in their favour.
Frame Advantage: Frame Advantage is where you have more frames to input an action before the opponent can do something. Say your opponent had a move that had 6 frames of startup before the hitbox came out, that means you have 6 frames in which to do something before you are hit by the opponent’s move. So, if you had a move with a 4 frame startup, you would hit the opponent before their move came out and thus have frame advantage. This is a massive part of mastering a character in a fighting game, as you need to learn which of your moves beat out your opponent’s.
Frame trap: This is linked into the whole notion of frame advantage. Sometimes, a player will knowingly leave gaps in a string of blocked attack in order to bait the defending player into attacking with an unsafe move. The attacker’s frame advantage means that the defender’s attack will lose, allowing them to go into a combo.
Fraud: A fraud is someone who talks a big game and who cannot back it up. A player will usually be called a fraud if they play a powerful character then proceed to get destroyed by someone who plays a much worse character.