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StriderHoang avatar 4:56 PM on 05.09.2013  (server time)
Injustice: You and keepaway

Injustice is definitely one of the more keepaway friendly fighting games. In many fighting games, keepaway is a niche role in the cast. But in Injustice, most characters have a strong option for zoning at all times. 9 out of the 25 characters seem to have powerful options to zone and control space in the game. Even Superman has great tools at his disposal with his sweeping eye lasers and straight eye beams! Deathstroke is the most popular offender but countless other characters don't get any grief until you actually run into them like Aquaman or Black Adam.

It's either to just give up after being zone out the whole match by a Deathstroke but in actuality, keepaway is strong but not an end all, be all strategy. The most important thing to remember about keepaway is that it's built on the notion of frustrating your opponent. If your opponent can't get in, undisciplined fighters get frustrated. And when you're frustrated, your execution and judgment suffer. Anything that makes you play worse only furthers the zoner's plan of attack. In most cases of Injustice matches, most damage isn't necessarily done through chip but rather through clean hits while the one being forced to approach lets clean hits get through.

Here are important tips to getting around keepaway in Injustice, but most can be applied to other fighting games as well.

Be patient
Nothing good comes from rushing in hastily. You're going to need to keep your head cool because a hot head will make mistakes. Patience is equally important to the zoner because they need to stick to their gameplan and have an idea of what to do if it breaks apart. After all, Green Lantern has few options if Catwoman gets in on him but the ability to break free isn't impossible.

Chip damage is meager but piles up in the right cases. Still, chip damage is better than raw damage, especially in cases where your opponent decides to burn meter for extra damage. Wasting meter is practically a sin in this game. Don't worry so much about blocking attacks fullscreen when your main concern is to not take full damage at fullscreen.

Stay grounded
Jumping is a big liability against keepaway. Not only can you not block in cases of bad calls, but being knocked out of the air moves you back, which is exactly what the zoner wants.

The smart thing to do is to leverage all you can into ground movement. For certain characters, dashing on the ground is in fact faster than jumping. Other characters have extremely floaty jumps, which can help. Ground game is easy to dismiss when you're used to the idea of jumping over attacks while moving forward but sometimes making the call to jump forward can become a guessing game. Even characters with slow dashes are better off doing something they know is safe rather then doing something risky.

A great example of this principle is Nightwing in escrima mode. Wile he is often a victim of keepaway, his dash can put him in range after two or three reps. Against dedicated keepaway, you can easily breach their comfort zone after dashing once or twice, blocking one volley of projectiles, then quickly dashing again. Nightwing can easily close the distance on Deathstroke after one or two waves of bullets as long as you're careful to factor in lag.

Being held at fullscreen can give you a lot of time to assess the situation. Like, if you're having trouble getting in, you might accidentally notice how much meter you both have. Maybe you incidentally have enough for super? You'd also probably notice they have meter for enhanced projectiles, like knowing Superman has access to meter burn eye beams, which becomes an overhead.

This is of course practice for staying aware when you're being pressured as well. Knowing things like meter management and positioning will help. Knowing your opponent has a projectile that becomes an overhead with meter or that you have super ready with armor goes hand in hand with the mind games of overcoming keepaway. After all, what is keepaway but a repeating series of predictable attacks? Outsmarting the pattern is a given but knowing your limits given the options of meter and execution is important. Keepaway should know to be careful if characters like Batman or Killer Frost have super ready to punish.

Of course, you should also be careful of your opponent's supers. You wouldn't believe how many times I fell for wake up supers.

Pour on the pressure
Once you do get in, you might be tempted to take a step back and think about how you want to approach the rest of the match. Maybe you back off for a split second worried that a reversal is coming your way or lag will prevent you from dong what you want.

Even with the worry of reversals, I can promise you that you're better of keeping the pressure up and to throw out meaty attacks or cross ups on them. Think about all the times you were a victim of rush down and how you felt things spiral out of control. While keepaway can frustrate people at range, the same can happen as you continue relentless pressure. Staying on them and continuing your offense can have a similar effect of demoralizing and confusing someone who needs space and range to function at their best. Even something as simple as making them guess between an overhead or a sweep on wake up can do a lot to keep the game in your favor. Something as simple as a guessing game can detract from a zoner's ability to correctly space and defend while in an unfavorable situation.

In a lot of examples, the best scenario is called a vortex; a situation where every successful attack leads to a hard knockdown. The knockdown seems like a fairly basic event but the momentum of a match rides on every knockdown. Getting up from a knockdown with the attacker right next to you is as disadvantageous as you can get in a fighting game. At best you can gamble on a reversal which may or may not get blocked, leaving you open. At worst, you're forced to figure out how to prevent additional damage by blocking correctly or avoid a throw attempt. And a vortex is a situation where you're constantly knocked down and forced to guess what direction to block or how to avoid damage because if you guess wrong, the cycle of damage and knockdowns continue until you can break it.

In most scenarios, you shouldn't be giving space because you're afraid of a reversal. You should press your advantage and pressure your opponent, at least as safe as you can make it.

I think the most important part is to not give up and not be impatient. Most keepaway don't involve combos. They involve slowly chipping away at your health bar, whether they're actual hits or actual chip damage. But as anyone who's been a victim of keepaway can attest to, keepaway is a long, slow process. Usually I take my time to use that process to plan out my approach and as long as I don't get greedy in the number of dashes or how I spend meter, things come out closer than you'd expect between a good player and a good zoner.

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