Are you struggling to survive constant attacks? it’s time you learned the secrets of an unstoppable SFV Defense. We even got Esports.gg’s Justin Wong to chip in his thoughts.

It’s no secret that in its early years, Street Fighter V was a game that focused more on offense rather than defense. With mechanics such as Crush Counter, V-Trigger activations on moves to make them safe, and the removal of invincible non EX Dragon Punch type moves, the game seemed to punish players for playing a more turtle style. A strong SFV defense has become a forgotten art.

Back in Season Two, many top players commented on the lack of defensive options, but since that time, Capcom has made multiple changes, both character wise and system wise, to make defensive play a more viable option than it was before. In this guide, rather than teaching you how to Rush That Shit Down, we’re gonna show you how to Hold That Shit Down instead!

Know Your Frame Data

This may seem like something very simple, but knowing the frame data on a move can make the difference between being locked in a blockstring and being able to fight your way out of your opponent’s pressure.

Likewise, knowing when the opponent is plus can help you to avoid getting Crush Countered by moves such as Akuma’s crouching Heavy Punch or Bison’s standing Heavy Kick. You don’t have to know the frame data for every single attack in the game, but make a mental note of what the opponent’s key buttons and specials are.

Moves such as Akuma’s standing Medium Kick, Urien’s crouching Medium Punch, and many characters’ Crush Counter buttons are important to know.

sfv defense frame data
Frame data is a crucial part of understanding when you’re at an advantage (Gif courtesy of StreetFighter Fandom)

Pick The Correct Character

Not all characters are made equal, and some definitely zone better than others. A character with long reaching normals, a good projectile, and an easy way to get away from the opponent is going to be a better choice for zoning than someone like Rashid for instance.

Characters like Guile, Dhalsim, and Menat are perfect examples of zoning characters.

“I would say Menat seems to be on the top of everyone’s tier list,” said Esports.gg’s Justin Wong.

“Menat is a very good defensive character that forces people to play more risky which will show a lot more openings in general.  She is able to really keep people away with just her orb normals and if you do decide to play Menat, do not throw the orb away at all.”

“Menat is a very good defensive character that forces people to play more risky which will show a lot more openings in general.”

Esports.gg’s JUstin Wong on why menat is his tip for a defensive character

Don’t Be Afraid To Use V-Reversal

While V-Trigger might be a powerful comeback mechanic for characters in Street Fighter V, but V-Trigger might be useless if you’re stuck in the corner with no opportunity to activate. Smart usage of V-Reversal can help to turn the tides if you’re being pressured non stop or close to being stunned.

It’s very good to use a strike V-Reversal when you know the opponent is using a move that has multiple hits in order to punish them between hits. Moves such as Rashid’s Spinning Mixer, Ken’s Tatsumaki, or Bison’s Double Knee Press can easily be punished by V-Reversal. Many V-Reversals can be punished if used in improper timings, and they are not immune to being grabbed, so make sure to be aware of when and how you use it!

sfv defense
Don’t be afraid to use V-Reversal! (Gif courtesy of StreetFighter Fandom)

Know Your Pokes

An important way to stop opponents from starting up their offense is preventing them from getting in at all. A strong SFV defense is built upon poking to keep your opponent at a distance. While many normals are special cancellable, sometimes you need to use your “poke” normals in order to dissuade them from moving forward.

Normals like Guile’s crouching Medium Kick, Karin’s standing Medium Kick, Sagat’s crouching Heavy Punch, and Chun Li’s standing Heavy Punch are all excellent poke tools that while they cannot be special cancelled, almost put up a wall that prevent the enemy from moving forward. You might not be able to combo, but you’ll keep yourself safe, and chip away at the enemy in the process.

Rose is another great character for long range pokes – Check out Justin Wong’s guide on Rose.

Have Your Anti Airs Locked and Loaded

Jump ins are a very common way for characters to get in and start their pressure. While most characters have a special move that they can use to anti air an opponent like the Shotos’ Shoryuken or Guile’s Flash Kick, some characters might not be so lucky. This doesn’t mean that you’re out of luck though, all characters have some sort of normal that has an extended vertical hitbox in order to hit opponents out of the air.

Birdie’s crouching Medium Punch, Seth’s standing Heavy Kick, Karin’s crouching Heavy Punch, and Ryu’s crouching Heavy Punch are all great examples.

Every character has a normal that works as an anti air, and even if your character has a anti air special, an anti air normal can be input faster since you don’t have to input a motion to do it. A strong SFV defense won’t let an opponent jump in at all. Practice anti airing in the training room with your main to build your muscle memory and dissuade opponents from jumping in!

Know Your Opponent’s Options

In a pressure situation, many players tend to get easily shaken up and end up leaving themselves open to whatever the opponent wants to do. Sometimes defending against an opponent can be much easier than you may think.

Not every character has options to open you up compared to others. Balrog (Boxer) for example lacks a cross up and an overhead if he isn’t using V-Skill 1. In a lot of situations, it’s safer to crouch block and react to a potential overhead rather than stand blocking and slowly walking back. By knowing what options the opposing character has, the easier it is for you to be able to block them.

“Taking the throw has been a thing since Season 1 of the game and it still holds true.  Its more important to take the throw which does a fraction of the damage compared to a very big counter hit combo which will do half your life.”

ESPORTS.GG’S Justin Wong on advantages of playing safe

SFV Defense: Choose safety over risky revenge

When knocked down by the opponent in the corner, you’re going to be put in a 50/50 situation when you’re getting up. Do you block a potential attack from your opponent, or do you try to tech the throw? “The most important thing is to weigh the decisions of risk and reward,” said Justin Wong.

“Taking the throw has been a thing since Season 1 of the game and it still holds true.  Its more important to take the throw which does a fraction of the damage compared to a very big counter hit combo which will do half your life.”

Don’t get too hasty and try to tech a throw that might not even be coming, it might be the last decision you make in that round.

Know How to Get the Opponent Away From You

Many characters made with zoning in mind will generally have some special move that will leave the opponent very far from them after landing. Attacks such as Sagat’s EX Tiger Knee, Guile’s EX Flash Kick, or Menat’s EX Soul Sphere are all great ways to put the opponent back at full screen, forcing them to have to try and close the distance once again.

Use this guide as a foundation for your game plan when you play your matches in Street Fighter V if you want to try and take things slow and steady. A good sfv defense is crucial to victory.

“The most important thing is to weigh the decisions of risk and reward,” said Justin Wong. If you stay calm, hold strong, and play safe, you should be able to zone out the competition and keep your opponents at bay.

Tyus Hotta-Takahashi -

Tyus Hotta-Takahashi

| Twitter: @KazeFGC

By day Tyus is a quality assurance tester for Idea Factory International but by night he is a prolific Street Fighter fan and aspiring competitive player.