In today’s State of Calibur, questions focused on current situation where our game was moved to online-only environment. The questions were generously answered by Aelz, Boom, Shen Chan, Party Wolf, Skyll & Shen Yuan.
For the 2nd State of Calibur issue, we have got proper representation of all 3 main Calibur regions.
Also, small note for anyone interested in why the player’s answers are ordered how they are: They are ordered by names in alphabetical order (with team name being ignored for Shens).
And here are today’s questions:
Are there any significant differences between online and offline competition other then lag?
Aelz: The major difference between offline and online is how much easier it is to react to anything offline, strings, some lows, your spacing and your opponent approach, you can play way more tight when lag is a non-issue. One less talked about aspect of offline play is the pressure of playing against real players on the scene, it is extremely stress inducing and some very strong players have crumbled in offline competition because of this factor.
Boom: I think the only comparable thing between playing in an online tournament and an offline tournament environment is the fact that the game you are playing is SoulCalibur VI. Can you play with the Tekken 7 soundtrack blasting behind you, while the venue is overly hot or cold at 8am in the morning, while being cramped with only 2 setups and people consistently brushing up against you, while also hungry? It is a totally different kind of nervousness and a different kind of experience.
Shen Chan: Atmospheric factors impact more heavily in offlines than online. Stage fright? Nervous around people? Afraid of what others think of you? Homies cheering for you? Different people react differently to these and it impacts their gameplay.
Party Wolf: There are many things that are different. You will be outside of the room in your household, so you will be in an environment where you are not comfortable in your solitude. The desire to win after spending money on a big trip will also contribute to your drive and nervousness which will affect your performance (as well as your competitors). Your time windows to take care of yourself will have to be more scheduled, since unlike being at home, you can’t simply walk to the kitchen or order food to your house when you want your own. There will be a lot of noise in the background due to the crowd and commentators. You will have lots of eyes looking at you when you make it further into the bracket which can affect people who have stage fright. You will need to make sure you sleep well, since the temptation to hang out with friends (maybe consume alcohol?) before top 8 the next day will be stronger. Sometimes you might even have trouble with managing your frustration, since when you get sent to loser’s bracket, people tend to try to cheer you up when you stress management is best when you’re alone. If you’re anything like me, you will probably have the urge to use the restroom too before matches because of nerves as well.
All of these require a lot of care when you are managing yourself for offline competition. One benefit I will say, is that if you are meeting up with people you know, you will be receiving good moral support and possible irl coaching before matches.
Skyll: For a lot of players, competing online helps when it comes to stress. You can sit alone and chill while playing at home without worrying about anything else than how you’re playing. Facing a big crowd of players looking at you can be really stressful. You also don’t need any kind of accommodation or anything, so it’s way easier to be able to enter an online tourney.
Online has its issues though. Lag is the first one but it creates another a less noticeable problem. You can get a lot of bad habits playing with delay. And because you built those into your muscle memory, you can keep those bad patterns quite easily, even when playing without delay. A lot of people don’t even notice them in my experience.
Last but not least: I can’t hang out with friends during my online tournament ahah! This is what motivates me to travel a lot to offline competitions to be honest.
Shen Yuan: For sure. Hearing buttons and seeing physical reactions of players is real. It affects decision making. Friends cheering for you in tournament can really affect your confidence. In offline competition – I’m very sure air-conditioning is a factor many players talk about but don’t think about. It affects execution, nerves etc. Stress levels at offline events are, I think, much higher than online. Ultimately, the sense of achievement winning offline – much higher than online.
Will the current online-only competitive environment affect the game meta in a long term, even when offline tournaments returns again?
Aelz: I really cant say much about this, probably the first Offline tournaments will be influenced by Online meta. I’m fairly sure that when offline freeplay will return, we will see different chars and different strategies because offline will revitalize the scene (at least I hope in France), but it is still a distant dream for now 🙁
Boom: I think that the meta will change, but not because of things like lag tactics. I think that because of the sheer volume of tournaments now, people don’t feel pressured to win as much. Because of this, people are more inclined to explore different characters and situations more, which thus pushes the meta. So in a sense, the meta does change because of an online only environment, but for offline play, I think the biggest thing that will change will be the number of characters that we will see.
Shen Chan: Unlikely. If the devs take a balanced approach to balancing, the meta in competitve play will not be affected so much that it’ll change. Offlines will always be offline, it’ll always be superior.
Party Wolf: Long term it definitely will not. Competitors who have the intention of competing offline will condition themselves to be ready for lower latency and not rely on the handicaps that online presents. This has always been the case for high level players, even the ones with no offline scene.
Skyll: I’m scared that because of how simple it is to compete into online tournament compared to offline events, people will become lazy and lose their will to come offline. It’s purely speculation though, I hope I’m wrong. Time will tell I guess.
Shen Yuan: For the high level, I doubt so. The same meta applies on and offline. Maybe in the lower levels – yes.
Due to no intercontinental competition, all regions and continents are currently evolving their meta individually. Did you spot anything particular that is becoming unique or different for some part(s) of the world?
Aelz: I think regional metas have always existed even when there were international competitions. In the US, you have the biggest amount of top players with many different char, but a clear lack of Zas, Voldo and Mitsu players. In EU, the scene is smaller so we don’t have super top players for MU like Cass or Sophie, but we have some top players for rare char like Voldo, Mitsu, Zas. For the Asian scene, i really don’t know the ongoing meta. One of the funny meta topic that i saw recently was about Astaroth and where does he fit on the tier list, the EU rating him rather low while he is put very high in Japan and US, perhaps each scene have their different style of plays and some characters are better equipped to deal with the local scene.
Boom: I think the biggest thing that is noticeable is that the pace of the game changes where you look. Feels like at a higher level, matches in America tend to be slow at first, and then the pace sort of explodes. In EU, the pace feels a lot faster, and in Asia, it feels consistently slower. Also, a lot of player in the Asia region don’t like to use their meter, which probably helps to keep the more consistent pace.
Shen Chan: I see more people generally having fun like having Slipout tournaments. I don’t see anything particular worth mentioning.
Party Wolf: Japan doesn’t use meter enough and relies a lot on trying to overthink situations with defense. North Americans like to mash and kill the opponent before they have time to do anything. Europe is probably a nice in-between. I think Koreans are probably similar to Americans and Europeans too which is interesting. Singaporeans like to troll (especially Shen Yuan which is why he plays Haohmaru). I don’t feel educated enough to comment on other scenes. I will say that my favorite international players to watch are Skyll, Kura, and Shen Chan. Tamonegi is impressive too, but I haven’t seen him play in a while (since SCWB Japan).
Skyll: Tier lists and playstyles are very different in each region. A lot of Eastern players tend to respect frames a bit more and don’t go for hard mixups if they don’t have a very strong oki to do it. In the West, we have a riskier playstyle based on risk/reward. If something turns out to be hard to punish, it’s being abused way more than in other regions.
This is, in my opinion, what led to the big difference in tier lists in regions. Haohmaru, a heavy poke character is placed noticeably high in Eastern tier list. He can place quite low in ours. It makes sense because he doesn’t have those kind of high risk/reward tools that a lot of Western players value very highly.
This is just a guess though, and I could be totally wrong too!
Shen Yuan: I’m not sure what you mean by developing their own meta, because in Singapore we are taking a rest. We love the game and can’t wait to play it again when the scene returns.
But I know that because of the pandemic, many players are learning new characters, switching mains, experimenting with many new ideas. If anything, that’s the difference.
BONUS QUESTION: Which character benefit from online environment the most? And who suffer the most?
Aelz: Characters with those are advantaged online : Stances, lot of string moves, crushers, long-range/zoning, high impact lows on the slower side. a few example : NM, Seong-Mina, Ivy, Maxi, Siegfried.
Characters that really on those are disadvantaged online : Poke-heavy playstyle, bad or no TC moves, tight spacing playstyle, heavy execution. A few ex : Mitsurugi, Geralt, Raphael, Setsuka
Boom: I think every character suffers from online at the same time of being buffed in different aspects, but the characters that are unbeatable online to me are Mina, Azwel, Groh, Yoshimitsu, Raph, and maybe Haohmaru (or any matchup that requires you to dash guard). Characters that suffer the most online are Setsuka, Mitsu, Hwang, Cassandra, or pretty much any character that doesn’t have a lot of room for mistakes.
Shen Chan: Characters that have range, high damage or mixups that are hard to react to online. The general suspects are Azwel, 2B, NM, Sieg, Ivy, Maxi, Amy, Yoshi, Mina, Zas, Groh or perhaps even Raph. I don’t think there’s anyone who suffer the most 😀
Party Wolf: Setsuka I think will see a jump in tier lists when offline returns. Her CH game is too awesome for low latency. You’d also be less likely to drop just frames offline with her. Timing is a key skill that gets dulled from online latency.
Boss characters of online: Anybody with keep out buttons that hit your forward step, and characters who have high reward lows that are 26 frames or slower in speed (assuming no mid that’s similar looking) that are intended to be blocked on reaction. To be honest, this play-style is viable offline too to an extent. However, when you fight a greater player, it has no chance to win. Therefore, players who rely on these reaction checks do not perform enough to win tournaments.
Skyll: Most characters benefit of online in some way or another. It can be a frame trap, a spacing tool or even a low unreactable with some delay added. Punishes are harder to do consistently so some risky moves become better too.
If I had to name 3 characters that are way harder to deal with when lag comes into play, I would name Ivy, Seong Mina and Nightmare. All of them have high damage in neutral and slow spacing moves with huge range. Online, you can’t get close to them as easily as you should. The delay stops you from block reacting to their spacing tools and give them a lot of free openings on you. They also happen to have great lag lows.
But who gets the short straw then? For me, it is obviously the high execution characters, Raph and Setsuka that are hit the most. You can’t deal stable damage because the connection is different for each opponent you face. They are also great punishers, which make them incredibly hard to play optimally with.
Shen Yuan: Benefits online – Seung Mina, Ivy, Siegfried
Suffers – Xianghua, Sophitia, Setsuka