In this era of COVID, masks and social distancing there’s been a large number of American citizens that have continued working through the entirety of the pandemic thus far. No layoff. No unemployment checks. Maybe a raise or a “hero pay” bonus as consolation for putting themselves at risk in order to keep their families housed and fed. It’s an arduous go for these essential workers, but there’s been a group of people who have had it even tougher in the last year+. This wholly unfortunate group I’m referring to are the poor souls that just don’t understand the concept of personal boundaries. An unending, perpetual need to be no more than 6 inches from your face. The look of devastation that glosses over their irises as you inform them they really need to back up for a plethora of reasons. Unable to quench their desire to be close enough to breathe someone else’s exhaled carbon dioxide they turn to other outlets to satiate their hunger. Another avenue where they can forcibly invade personal space and instigate rapid, somewhat nonsensical interaction. They’re there lurking in your favorite game’s lobbies, ever present, inevitable. I’m speaking of rushdown mains, of course.
What is Monke?
Rushdown is an aggressive, up close playstyle that relies on confusing the opponent as to what direction and height they should be blocking and, occasionally, if they should be jumping or not. It differs from the other main archetypes (Zoners, Grapplers, Shotos) by being loosely defined, with many rushdown characters having wildly different attributes and abilities. For example, there are rushdown characters that have projectiles and others that don’t, some have a command grab, some have access to a rekka special, they can be wildly different in size as well, some are even charge characters, which is an archetype that is typically thought of as defensive. However, there are still a couple of characteristics that do give a rough outline of whether or not a character can be defined as rushdown:
- Average to below average footsie/midrange game due to stubby normals but very strong up close because of the speed of those same attacks
- High mobility, usually having good walk speed, low recovery and far advancing dash, sometimes possess an air dash or another special that launches/carries them across the screen, bypassing neutral
- Small health pool, typically one of or the lowest in their respective game
- Strong stagger pressure and frame traps
As what categorizes a character as rushdown is difficult to encompass, I’m choosing to exclude characters whose strategy revolves around 50/50 overhead – low mixups, I’ll be covering those as a separate archetype entirely.
Absolutely braindead. Just imagine cavemen beating each other to death with their barehands, possibly a club, while screaming in gibberish laced with an unga bunga and an ah-tah here and there. Beating on their chest, roaring and baring their teeth to display a willingness to engage in fisticuffs with other potential alphas. Occasionally, one of them will find a very strong tool and abuse that as they rise above the other apes to the status of chieftain. With newfound power obtained, they then slaughter the remaining bloodline of their competitors… well, maybe not that braindead, but close enough. The strategy of a rushdown character is similar to that of a grappler, in that they are the one pressing the issue and forcing interactions more often than not. However, rushdown has much easier time getting in thanks to their enhanced mobility, such as the aforementioned superior walk speed, dash, etc., along with sometimes being able to easily circumvent neutral altogether. An example of one of these footsie defying specials would be Jacqui’s “Bionic Bounce” in MK11. This incredible movement offsets their 2 biggest weaknesses: poor range and a low health pool. Once they get in though, the fun, or agony begins. Rushdown gets away with murder up close because of how blazing fast their normals are, with jabs and pokes that are anywhere from 3-6 frames depending on the game you’re playing. Not only are these moves fast, but they’re safe and have a large amount of block stun, allowing them to create frame traps off of blockstrings, leaving opponents at a frame disadvantage and unable to press a button to take their turn back and pressure you. The mindgames don’t come close to ending with the plus frames though, as I said before, the normals of a rushdown character are almost universally safe. This means when you’re applying pressure each single hit of the blockstring they’re performing isn’t punishable after they block it, creating ample opportunities for stagger pressure. Stagger pressure is exactly what the name implies, instead of finishing your intended blockstring, you stagger your actions after a hit that’s safe on block, rendering your opponent unable to know if you plan to finish the blockstring or not. This creates scenarios where you can steal away turns from your opponent when you’re minus on block because they are afraid of you finishing your string and continue blocking, netting you chip damage at the least and more opportunities to mix them up, rushdown is especially adept at strike/throw mixups because of how good their staggers are. Establishing this fear is when rushdown gets to open up their toolkit/moveset even further, exposing defenders to deeper mindgames/mixups. Once you make opponents tentative to attack, rushdown excels at having defenders make rapid guesses on defense, forcing choices between blocking low or high, ambiguous crossups to make people guess between blocking left or right, or throwing out a grab (command grab if your character has one) to entice opponents to backdash, jump or throw tech. Paired with frame traps and stagger pressure this allows for creative, intuitive mixups that can be adapted and changes on the fly. If a defender can’t keep up, they get “caught in the blender”.
Who is Monke?
Any and every fighting game that can be played includes Rushdown specialists, from Akuma in Street Fighter to Nina Williams in Tekken, Leo Whitefang from the Guilty Gear games to Liu Kang, lead protagonist of the Mortal Kombat franchise. If you enjoy being the only one able to speak in a conversation, I mean, the only one allowed to press buttons, generally fast paced and aggressive strategies and rolling your drooling, closely ape related face all over whatever controllor you’re playing the game with, then reject humanity, embrace monke. You play rushdown now.