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In the simplest definition, an option select is pressing a set of inputs that produces a different result depending on the state of the game. This could mean distance from opponent, having meter or not, in block stun or not in block stun, if previous move hit, or more. Option Selects do NOT always guarantee a favorable outcome for you, and it's important to understand what all the possible outcomes are before decided to use them. Below are some universal examples in Street Fighter V.
For more information and visual example, see Infexious's "How to use Option Selects" video.
V-Reversal Option Select
This Option Select is also commonly used against V-Reversals, and works in the opposite way. When a V-Reversal occurs, the screen freezes for several additional frames, during which the game will ignore any inputs. This can be used to cause moves to come out only if a V-Reversal is used by entering 3 inputs. The first is the normal, the second is the to do if a V-Reversal is not performed and should be performed at the normal speed to link into a combo or if they block, and the third is the move to perform if a V-Reversal does occur and should be performed 2-3 frames after the second input.
Using Ryu with V-Skill 1 (his parry) again as an example against someone with a 17f strike V-Reversal, press MP, MP MP+MK. MP MP should be timed as normal, with MP+MK timed about 2-3 frames later. If the opponent is hit, then the second input MP will be read. Because of how quickly the MP+MK is entered after, it occurs before MP's buffer window for specials and is ignored. If the opponent performs a V-Reversal however, the second MP will be ignored because it was entered during the V-Reversal screen freeze. The third input is timed in such as way as to come out just as this freeze would end, causing the game to read MP+MK. The MP+MK is a parry, meaning Ryu will parry the opponent's V-Reversal leaving them open for a punish.
This can be done with many character's parries such as Gill's V-Skill 2, Alex's V-Trigger 1, and Kolin's Frost Touch (qcb+P). It can also be performed with the throw input. An example is with Sagat's LP, MP LK+LP. If the opponent does not perform a V-Reversal, then the MP will come out. If the opponent does perform a V-Reversal, the game will "eat" the MP input, recovering in time for the LP+LK throw to come out. Against escape V-Reversals, this can be enhanced by inputting the third move as a special that only comes in if the opponent changes direction. An example would be with Chun-Li, entering MP, crMK qcb+KK. If the opponent does not perform a V-Reversal, MP crMK would come out as expect; since the third command is qcb+KK which is not a move for Chun-Li, there is no risk of canceling into a special accidently. If the opponent performs an escape V-Reversal that crosses sides, then qcb+KK becomes qcf+KK, which is the command for EX Hyakuretsukyaku (kicks).
Again, the key criteria for this are:
- The first move must have short recovery. If it is too long, such as Bison's HK, then the player will not be able to recover in time to perform the third input.
- If the second move can cancel into the third move, the buffer window should not be immediate for the second move otherwise you may risk canceling into it if the opponent did not V-Reversal.
For a more detailed visual example, see Infexious's Option Select Guide starting at 3 minutes 53 seconds.
Crush Counter Option Select
A slightly different variation on using hitstop to cause different results, this time using Crush Counters. When a move performs a crush counter, it inflicts a large amount of hitstop than a move normally would. This also causes the buffer window to be extended. Using a crush counter move that is special cancelable, and entering the 2nd special later than normal, this can cause a move to only come out if a crush counter occurs. If no crush counter happens and the move is a normal hit or block, the special occurs after the buffer window so nothing happens. If a crush counter occurs, the buffer window is moved later meaning the special occurs inside of it, and it cancels into the special. There are not many crush counters that are also special cancelable, however there are a few such as Chun-Li's b+HP, and Blanka's HP. The additional hitstop can make reacting to a crush counter and canceling possible, but the option select removes the need.
Back Walk OS
In Street Fighter 5, most characters have at least one light attack with frame advantage that leaves the opponent in throw range. However, most of these moves push the opponent out far enough for them to OS your strike/throw mixup. By simply walking back for a few frames, then crouch blocking, you can take yourself out of range to be thrown, stay safe from frame traps, and still be able to block low medium attacks.
This isn't an OS without weaknesses obviously. If the attacker in this scenario simply walks forward slightly, they can still throw their crouch blocking opponent. This, of course, will lose to challenging with normals, creating an RPS situation. Command throws also generally beat this OS due to having longer range than normal throws, though depending on startup they may also lose to normals.
Anti-Back Walk OS
One of the most useful counters to this is a 3-hit light confirm where the second hit is a low. For example, Ryu can do 5LP, 2LK, 2LP as a string that confirms to his light tatsu and beats this OS, as the length of time you need to walk back is too long to avoid the throw and also be able to block the low. This has the benefit of being extremely safe, compared to the risk of using a command grab, as well as likely leading to better oki than a command grab would. These strings aren't universally available, and for some characters they will only work on counter hit, needing either the higher hitstun or lower pushback of CH to complete the sequence. A complete list of these strings from normals that set up tick throws is as follows (please add to it if you find something that's missing here):
- Ryu: 5LP, 2LK, 2LP
- Chun-Li: 2LP, 2LK xx EX legs (2LK xx EX legs cannot be confirmed, but is safe on block)
- Laura: 5LK, 2LK, 2LP
- Guile: 5LP, 2LK xx VT activation (5LP requires a slight walk before throw and only tick throws vs 4f normals; to convert from this use 5LK xx HK flash kick. VT2 flash kick won't combo properly so you'll need to use EX.)
- Balrog: 2LP, 2LK, 5LP
- Urien: 5LK/5LP/2LP, 2LK xx VT1 activate (5LK requires a slight walk before throw; 2LP is only +1, so will lose to 3f)
- Kolin: DURING ICE DASH: 5LP, 2LK, 2LP (MK vanity step can technically set this up, but the most practical way is using either trigger. however, her ice dash 5LP sets up un-OSable throw anyway, so this doesn't really matter too much~)
- Abigail: 2LK, 2LK xx VT activation
- Menat: 5LP, 2LK, 2LP (combo options are lacking, goes into either EX up orb or VT activation)
- Ed: 5LP, 2LK, 2LP
- Blanka: 5LK, 2LK xx VT activation (+6 on hit)
- Cody: 5LP, 2LK, 2LP
- Sagat: 5LP, 2LK xx VT activation (+4 on hit)
- Honda: 2LP, 2LK xx LP hands
- Gill: 5LK/5LP, 2LK > 2MK xx VT activation (+6 on hit)
- Nash: 2LP, 2LK, 5LP (5LP will whiff in a blockstring, so this isn't especially useful)
- Cammy: 5LK, 2LK, 5LP (5LK is only +1, so will lose to 3f)
- Zangief: 2LP, 2LK, 2LP (ONLY combos into post-activation VT1 spin, or VT2 SPD)
- Akuma: 5LK, 2LK, 2LP (5LK is only +1, so will lose to 3f)
- Lucia: 5LK, 2LK, 2LP (5LK is only +1, so will lose to 3f)
- M.Bison: blocked 2LK, NH 2LK, 5LK
Not as common in SFV, D.E.D. was a common OS dating back to Street Fighter 3: Third Strike and is similar to buffering. It relies on how the player gains more meter on moves when they hit an opponent than when they are blocked or whiff. The basic idea is to get your Critical Art gauge to about 95% of the way full. Use a move that will build at least 5% of the critical art gauge when it hits and is cancelable into critical art, such as Chun Li's stand HP. Moves that cancel into Critical Art but not specials can be especially important for characters that have an unsafe special move that overlaps. For Chun Li, qcf+K is also the input for her Hyakuretsukyaku kick special, which all normal versions are punishable on block. The input would be HP xx qcf,qcf+K. If Stand HP hits the opponent, then Chun Li builds the last 5% of meter giving her Critical Art, allow her to cancel into the Critical Art for huge damage. If the opponent blocks, Chun only builds 3% meter which is not enough for Critical Art, meaning she still does not have access to it. If the move whiffs, Chun does not build any meter, meaning she is still at 95% and cannot cancel into Critical Art. Stand HP is also not special cancelable which prevents Hyakuretsukyaku from coming out, leaving her at -4 which is safe when done at a distance.
The above example uses a single normal hit, but the same idea can be used with specials. Specials builds more meter on hit than block, meaning if Ryu does crMP xx Hadoken xx CA at 90% meter then the same results would occur. On block, crMP xx Hadoken would come out and build a small amount of meter that is <10% of the meter required to get Critical Art. crMP xx Hadoken is generally (not always, be aware of the opponent's options) a safe string of moves at further ranges because of the pushback. On hit, both the crMP and Hadoken would build meter, pushing Critical Art up to 100% allowing the Hadoken to cancel into Critical Art for large damage. Doing button xx special xx CA is a bit riskier however as both the button and special will build meter on block; if not careful it could be enough to gain enough meter to gain Critical Art even on block leading to it coming out, and you getting punished.
The easiest way to beat this is the similar to buffering walking into the opponents range and blocking when they weren't expecting it to, causing them to build enough meter to get CA and buffering into on block. If they're skilled though they shouldn't be trying to use D.E.D. if that's the case.
The above examples relate to the Critical Art gauge, however the same idea applies for the V-Gauge and V-Trigger Canceling using Crush Counters. Once the meter is at about 80% and the next crush counter will fill it, you can buffer it V-Trigger Cancel on any crush counter button. If the move crush counters, the V-Trigger cancel will come out. If it doesn't, then the player will not have enough meter to cancel into it. In Champion Edition this is much less useful, as a crush counter scales combo damage and V-Trigger canceling scales it even further, however this can be useful with a few characters such as Falke's V-Trigger 2 or Nash's V-Trigger 1 which scales less than normal.
For a visual example, see Bafael's SFV mini-primer: DED OS Trigger video, which is based on Season 1 before the damage reduction changes.
One of the simplest examples of an option select, buffering is inputting a normal move followed by a special move at a distance, such as Ryu's crMK xx Hadoken. If the crMK does not hit the opponent, then the move is not able to be canceled. Since the Hadoken is inputted during the crMK which whiffs, the input is not registered, and the result is only the crMK comes out. However if the opponent was in range and the crMK did touch them, on hit or on block, then the crMK is able to cancel into a special move. The result is crMK xx Hadoken, which is generally a safe option at range to deal damage and push the opponent away. This also applies to chaining attacks such as Ryu's crLK crLP, or target combos such as MP > HP > HK link. Buffering at further distances with knockdown specials is especially useful in footsies; buffering Ryu's LK xx MK Tatsu is a great option for him to whiff punish or counter hit an opponent's button and begin his own pressure. Chun Li can do this with crMK xx HK or EX Hyakuretsukyaku, Karin with MP xx Tenko, Urien with MP or crMP xx HK Chariot Tackle, and more.
The opponent can beat this by purposely walking into range and crouch blocking which extends their hurtbox. This can cause moves intended to either whiff or hit to be blocked; if the opponent is buffering in an unsafe move it will come out and be blocked, and you can punish appropriately.
Delay Throw Tech
One of the most important options for Street Fighter V is delay tech. Delay tech it used when the opponent is able to go for a throw, and simply involves blocking for about 4-6 frames then pressing downback (or just back) +LP+LK. This is commonly done after a jump in, after a close + on block attack such as many crLP's, or on wake up when the opponent gets oki. When done correctly, the results are:
- If the opponent presses an attack button, you block because you were holding block. Because you are in block stun, the throw input is ignored.
- If the opponent tries to throw, you have 7 frames + (startup of throw - their frame advantage) to enter a throw to tech it. You press db+LP+LK which registers as a throw. The throw is teched, and you return to neutral.
- If the opponent jumps or is not in range, a throw whiffs. Throws recover quickly, and depending on the situation may recover in time to block a follow up especially if they are not prepared for it.
There are 3 main ways to beat this, in order of riskiest to safest.
- Command Throw, if your character has one.
- Delay Buttons. This usually involves walking up and pressing a slower, safe crush counter button such as Ryu's HK or Akuma's crHP, or walking forward slightly longer than needed and pressing a fast button. A common sequence with Akuma would be LP slight walk forward crHP. Because the opponent expects a throw or fast normal, they block and press throw 4-6 frames later. Since they aren't in blockstun their throw comes out which has 5f or startup. The result is during the throw animation they are counter hit by the player's slower button, which causes the crush counter. If they did not try to delay tech, then they block the attack and the player is safe (Ryu's HK is -1) or + (Akuma's crHP is +3) depending on the move. This in turn can be beat by the opponent not delaying their tech, which will grab the slower button, or pressing their own fast button to interrupt it.
- Shimmy. Shimmy involves making the opponent think you are going to throw, and walking backwards outside of their throw range. The opponent tries to delay tech, since they aren't in blockstun or in the throw tech window, their own throw comes out which whiffs because the player walked out of range. The player then punishes the whiffed throw. While the concept works with any character, this is best done with characters with fast back walk speeds such as Sakura or Cammy, and less useful for slow characters such as Abigail or Dhalsim. This in turn can be beaten by the opponent pressing a low attack to catch the walking backwards. A shimmy also has the other advantage of protecting against fast moves, invincible reversals, and Critical Arts.
For a more in-depth visual example, see Sajam's short tutorial on the subject.
As discussed in the Hit/Block Stun/Stop section, when a move connects with an opponent there is additional frames of animations that occur in addition to the normal frame data, called hit/block stop. During this time, additional inputs are ignored. This can be used to cause different moves to come out when a move connects with an opponent versus when a move whiffs. One example is against Dhalsim's teleport, which is strike invincible and a common choice on wake-up. After a knockdown input: MP forward forward (quickly), then delay MP as if doing in a link timing. If Dhalsim teleported away, there will not be any hit/block stop frames, meaning the MP will complete its 17 total frames and game will immediately read the next input as soon as the MP finish, within the game's 5 frame buffer. The forward forward is read as a dash, so Ryu will dash forward. After the dash the second MP will then be read, but because Ryu is dashing it will be ignored.
If Dhalsim did not teleport away, then MP will hit and there will be about 20 frames of hit/blockstop. During these frames, the forward forward input will be read, however because the game is in hit/blockstun it extends the window past the 5 frame buffer window, and the dash input is ignored. The second MP was timed to it would be read as a link, so it will be processed and another MP will be performed.
The example above uses a dash, however any 3 sets of inputs should be fine as long as they meet the below criteria
- Press a move with fast recovery and does a medium amount of blockstun. Mediums are usually the easiest to do this with. Lights cause less blockstun which could cause the third input to come out on whiff if not timed correctly, heavies have more recovery making them less useful.
- Make sure the second move (that should only come out on whiff) cannot be canceled into from the first. For example, MP xx Hadoken MP would not be good for this as Hadoken would come out on whiff, but if MP connects then it will also be canceled into. However using something like Ken's MK would work fine because MK cannot be canceled into a special.
For a visual guide, see Infexious's Option Select Guide starting at 1 minute 6 seconds.