What Is An Anti-Air?

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One of the most important concepts in fighting games, anti-airs are one of the first fundamentals a player will tackle while learning how to play any fighting game. It is foundational to making yourself as complete a player as you can be, and it’s only important to understand if you’re watching fighting game tournaments to understand the dynamics of what’s going.

Read on to learn about what an anti-air is, why it’s important, and how it can affect the flow of a match.

What Is An Anti-Air?

An anti-air is pretty self explanatory: it’s a move that beats out and punishes an aerial attack. In traditional fighting games, jumping into an opponent is a common approach tactic and if the opponent only blocks, they may not take damage but they will still be on the defensive. 

An anti-air gives the player something to fight back with if they know a jump is coming. Instead of just blocking an aerial attack, the player can dish out their own move and completely turn the tides; an experienced player will be able to anti-air an opponent’s jump and immediately turn it into a high damage combo in seconds.

Some characters have better anti-airs than others, and there are certain types of anti-airs that you should prioritize if possible. There are several factors for what makes a good anti-air.

What Makes A Good Anti-Air?

A good anti-air will have either a combination or all of the following three factors:

  • Range
  • Speed
  • Invincibility

Speed is important because you want something that can come out fast; jumping may not be quick, but it’s also not the slowest option in the world, and if an anti-air is too slow, opponents can often land from their jump and block the anti-air option, leaving you open to be punished.

Invincibility is a great aspect to have in an anti-air because it means a normal jumping attack can just be beaten by the anti-airs invincibility frames. Ryu’s Shoryuken in Street Fighter is a great example of this; the move is invincible on startup meaning even if an opponent is landing with an attack, the shoryuken will eat through the attack and still punish. There are many normal moves that can serve as anti-airs, but their lack of invincibility means that they could trade or even lose to incoming aerial attacks.

Range is very important for an anti-air because it allows you to cover more space and also not worry about your own positioning. If your anti-air has too small a range, an opponent might know where to jump to make your anti-air miss, or you’ll have to time your move so that it catches their jump while the move’s small hitbox is out. Think of range on an anti-air as a wall; the taller it is, the harder it will be for opponents to get around it.

The Importance Of Anti-Airs

Having a good anti-air and being able to execute them consistently is crucial to being a well-rounded fighting game player; if you can’t defend yourself from aerial attacks, it’s a glaring weakness that can be exposed without mercy. By frequently punishing jump-ins, you prove yourself to be no slouch, and the opponent will have to work that much harder to take you down.

Mastering anti-airs will have you noticing that the amount of pressure you’re put under is much less than before; jumping in unopposed is basically an invitation to your opponent to put you on the defensive. Whichever character you end up using in a fighting game, find out their best tools to knock people out of the air and practice them so you won’t get overwhelmed in a fight.

It’s important to note that an anti-air is strictly a move that’s done on the ground to punish aerial attacks; if you do a jumping attack at the same time as someone else jumps, this is known as an air-to-air.

Hit The Lab

Labbing anti-airs is a necessity if you want to start taking on more experienced players. Watch some tournament level fighting games and watch how carefully players use their jumps, and how they still get hit with anti-airs if they’re too predictable.

It’s worth noting that you’re still likely to get hit by aerial attacks from time to time even after mastering anti-airs; we’re only human. But by getting these moves down to a science, you can sniff out bad jumps and force the opponent to engage in more footsies; anything to get the enemy on their toes is a step in the right direction to taking over a match.

If you’d like to learn more about fighting game terms, check out the glossary for more information!