In fighting games, what is a ‘setup’


I've been getting into fighting games recently (some of which are: Super Street Fighter IV, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Street Fighter X Tekken), but there's one piece of terminology that I can't find a solid definition for – what exactly is a "setup"?

Best Answer

A setup is a generic word for the preparation needed to land a "canned" attack that is either guaranteed to hit or has a very high percentage to hit.

Sometimes setups are mistaken for combos, but in a combo every consecutive attack is guaranteed to hit if executed properly. This is not true for a setup.

Especially in Street Fighter people distinguish between:

  • Unblockable setups (see: What does unblockable mean?)
  • 50/50 setup - its really hard to figure out if it crosses up and it sometimes does and sometimes does not. Sometimes even the agressor does not know which side it will hit on
  • "the rest" - sometimes it is clear which side a setup will hit on. If you "know" and "recognize" the setup you can "react" on it.

Usually you have to meet certain criteria for a setup, like:

  • You play against a specific character (e.g. Akuma vs Guile)
  • You have already pulled of a specific attack (e.g. forward throw or sweep)
  • If you execute a given command list (not necessarily combo) you can hit the opponent (e.g. instant s.HK whiff then instant HK Demon Dive)
  • Usually you can then combo into whatever you are able to execute (maybe just a sweep)

This is why there are different categories for setups:

  • Forward throw setups
  • Corner setups
  • Character specific setups
  • Corner setups
  • Hard knockdown setups
  • Crossup setups

You can combine those (e.g. unblockabe, forward throw setup on Guile in corner)

You should alter between your setups randomly to keep the opponent guessing and force him to make mistakes.

If a character has many setups that directly lead to another setup scenario he is considered a "vortex" character or he "has a vortex". Good examples in Street Fighter 4 are currently: Akuma, Cammy and Ibuki.

There are some sites that list setups by game and charcter: