My first meeting with Makoto came during a supposed “Smashfest” for Super Smash Bros. Melee that was going down at El Centro Community College here in Dallas, Texas. The smashers never did show up and instead there were people playing Street Fighter III: Third Strike. At that point, I had only played some Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact in the mall, and even then I had only used Sean. I randomly picked Makoto only to realize this character was not a boy but a really masculine female, I was soon smitten with her raw, aggressive style.
Practicing more helped me quite a bit, as one of the main thing holding me up from making progress with Mak was my old habits. By not changing my style of play to suit the new tools that she had been given coming into Ultra Street Fighter IV, I was essentially playing her at more of a handicap than she needed to be. The main buffs she has, which completely change the way she is played, is being able to connect a EX Fukiage while your opponent is still standing versus being in the air, this gives Makoto a psuedo-vortex which can be abused for easy stun and heavy damage. In additional to this you can connect a delayed Fierce Punch Fukiage while your opponent is crumpled from a Focus Attack to achieve the vortex as well, this makes me happy since I use Focus quite a bit. Despite how small and minor of a buff this might seem, especially with her Light Kick ad Medium Kick versions of Tsurugi are now very punishable, it adds a devastating vantage point in her ground game. Once I learned of this, I was ready. The last buff I feel is the mechanic “Ultra Combo Double” that allows a character to be able to use either of their Ultras for reduced damage output of both, while it being a feature given to everyone, I feel it benefits Makoto more than most.
Playing in matches proved to be exciting because of the pseudo-vortex, you have many options when hitting an opponent that can lead into a stun. Sure, you are able to be Dragon Punched out of it, and your opponent could actually block the mix-up, but if they do not happen to block it (Or if you predict the reversal uppercut and block it), you can lead into some big damage that puts them into the same situation they were already in. Figuring out that Crouching Medium Kick and Standing Strong Punch are good anti-airs stops opponents from frivolously jumping at you, especially when they are desperately trying to get out of the corner. Matter of fact, once you use certain tools like Forward Strong Punch and Forward Light Kick, it can start to make your opponent fearful of throwing out any random strikes, this gives you the perfect opportunity to throw out a Karakusa and make them pay for their turtling with a reminder that they are not safe, no matter what.
Honestly, I feel like I have been doing the best I have ever did with Makoto. Being able to destroy some of my opponents thoroughly brings a joy I have not had since I played Makoto Nanaya in BlazBlue (Guess I am a sucker for the “Makoto” name, huh?). I have never had this many Perfects nor this many Stuns in Ranked Match. While I am currently stuck between 1400 and 1600 Player Points, I feel like my knowledge grows stronger with each loss and my power and confidence increases with every win.
Looking Towards the Future
The path I have chosen is a hard one, as the only Makoto who ever won a major of significant importance (That I know of) was Haitani. I feel I can make strides in the Street Fighter scene, but I need to actually sit down and take it as seriously as I did Soul Calibur V when it was out. I think the core of that is going to learn character match-ups, and learn how to improve on the ones that are least favorable to me character-wise and play-style wise. As far as getting better with Makoto besides character match-up, I feel like my aggression can be better transferred into maximizing her potential. I feel like Makoto needs to be played aggressively while disregarding your life loss to instill fear within your opponent. She lacks in defensive options (Especially on wake-up), and she has no ability to go through fireballs (Like a lot of other Non-Fireball users). She relies on pure aggression and forcing others to block to get off Karakusas.
Ultimately I would love to be the best Makoto player in the world, and I would love to be a player that is respected for his aggressive play-style and ability to go with no fear. I would also at some point like to become a sponsored player who is seen as an influential personas within the fighting games community. However, the goal I think every person strives for is to become an Evolution Series World Champion. One day, if I am good enough to have my name archived with history’s greats, then my work is done.