Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: How To Avoid A Character Crisis

By on March 16, 2020

There’s nothing fun about ending a relationship. That’s true for friends, significant others, and even fighting game characters. Even if we in the Fighting Game Community (FGC) don’t love our main characters, at the very least we’ve invested in them, worked with them, and carried them through ups and downs. It can be scary to think of throwing that all away to start over again with a new main. And even if you do decide to break it off with your current character, how do you know that your next one will be better?

We at toptier are here to help. There’s nothing we can say or do that will make this easy or painless, but, with intelligence and sensitivity, we can get you through the rough patch and help you avoid the dreaded character crisis.

Warning Signs

Typically, when we think of ditching our current main, it’s for one of four reasons:

  1. Our current main isn’t fun or satisfying anymore
  2. Our current main has difficult matchups that we’re sick of playing
  3. We’ve hit an intimidating execution barrier with our current main
  4. We’ve become jealous of what a different character can do

While all of these factors lead to the same feelings of frustration and impatience, it’s important to identify your particular motivations. If you act without understanding the reasons for your dissatisfaction, you’ll be much more likely to encounter similar problems in the future.

Just as in the world of romance, serial monogamy is not the answer in the FGC. The greatest joys can only be achieved via commitment, and that starts with asking one simple question.

Can The Relationship Be Saved?

Sooner or later, we all have to learn that relationships require work. Whether it’s your spouse or your main, you will eventually encounter obstacles and rough patches. Some of them will be deal-breakers, but in most cases the burden falls on us to adapt and persevere.

For example, if you’re no longer having fun with your current main, then it’s time for some introspection. Fun is mostly about self-expression, that is, enacting your thoughts, feelings, and desires. So ask yourself: what are the thoughts, feelings, or desires that are involved? If your character simply has difficulty doing those things, maybe it’s just a matter of hitting the lab or theory-crafting. There are plenty of people who’ve figured out how to play rushdown with a zoner or who’ve discovered filthy mixups with supposedly “honest” characters. If you like most of what your main does but you wish they could do a little bit more, experiment – maybe they can!

Likewise, not every annoying matchup is a reason to break up with your main. Some matchups (especially in older games) truly are masochistic, but most bad matchups just require a little extra work on your part. The same is true for most execution barriers: fighting game inputs are hard, but focused, well-structured drills can get you over that obstacle.

Finally, be wary of jealousy. When we look at other characters, we often see them in binary terms: overpowered or trash. Yet in most modern fighting games, every character struggles with something. It might look like a lot of fun when someone else lands several command grabs in a row or spends the entire round throwing projectiles from full screen, but you shouldn’t delude yourself into thinking that every moment with a new character will be bliss. It’s natural to appreciate the abilities that other characters have. But if you actually pick up a new main, you may quickly find that the grass is always greener on the other side of the character select screen.

Irreconcilable Differences

Sometimes, though, there’s just no saving a relationship. Maybe your character really can’t do the things you want to do; maybe they do have punishingly one-sided matchups; in short, maybe the hurt is just too much to overcome. If you find yourself in this unfortunate position, start by taking a moment to remember the good times. Breaking up is a hard process, and there’s no reason to make it harder by acting from a place of bitterness and spite.

Once you’re ready to move on, start by focusing on the specific issues you want to resolve. If you’re moving away from your current main because of an execution barrier, do the smart thing and check to make sure that your next character has easier inputs. If you want to avoid a bad matchup, limit your choices to the characters who fare well in that same matchup. In other words, don’t simply start over with a blank slate. You should already be familiar with the game and its roster. Take that familiarity and combine it with the self-awareness that you gained earlier so that you don’t waste your time on characters that aren’t right for you.

Also, remember that polyamory is a widely accepted practice in the FGC. (Or, at least, it’s widely accepted when it comes to character choice. Please consult with your significant other before attempting it in real life.) If you’re satisfied with your main in nine out of ten circumstances, maybe what you need isn’t a breakup but a secondary or pocket character. There’s no shame in playing multiple characters or counter-picking bad matchups. Marriage may be for richer or for poorer, but in the FGC it’s all about getting the win – and if someone is salty enough to complain about your infidelity, simply suggest that they might need to work on their relationship with their own main, and then link them to this article.

For Better, Not For Worse

Just as we compete better when we commit to a well-thought-out plan, navigating a rough patch will be easier when we approach it rationally and with resolve. Don’t be afraid to examine your relationship with your main. Whether you decide to stick it out or to take your affections elsewhere, doing it the right way will only make you a stronger, more confident player.

If you’ve decided to part ways, check out our article on how to date around for a new main.

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