The value and irritation of crossup
This isn't simply me trying to brag about my El Fuerte skills (I can't do a single repetition of his infinite, so I can't brag), but to comment about the frustration it generates. It's one thing if I consistently beat people with Zangief, another with Dhalsim, another with Gouken, and entirely another with El Fuerte. Gouken is an example of all-encompassing play, because I will play spacing, grabs, one specific good combo, and parry often. Zangief is a formula people understand as a walking tank that you want to keep away. Dhalsim is a gimmick for me, just poking away kinda stupidly, hence I dub it my "stupid Dhalsim." My El Fuerte is an example of a gimmick that, although people can understand it, they still have difficulty truly stopping.it.
In David Sirlin's book Playing to Win, he used Guilty Gear XX's character Chipp as an example winning a game without "actual fighting" (see the chapter The Sheathed Sword). He puts the opponent in a guessing game where the opponent only gets to actually play if they guess correctly. If they guess wrong, they remain in Chipp's control. There is a similar thing happening with El Fuerte, but I don't know how similar as I don't play Chipp (I main Ky Kiske). It all starts once El Fuerte can knock the opponent down. As I said, I can do 6 different attacks during his dash, which is narrowed down to 4 if I'm moving forward and 2 if I'm going back. I can also simply cancel the dash and stop, allowing me to do any normal thing I want. This means I technically have as many options as El Fuerte has in his entire moveset, though only a few are actually relevant in this instance. Furthermore, his jumping attack from the dash, called the Tostada Press, can attack from either the front or back, exercising a technique known as a crossup. For those unfamiliar, Street Fighter games have you block by moving backward. Crossup means that you attack in a way that once the attack would hit, you're actually behind them, meaning that backward instantly changes so they have to essentially move forward to block it.
I don't think I need to explain any further to give you the idea that there's a lot of power to El Fuerte here. The opponent has to guess with a fair amount of accuracy just which of these 6 (possibly more) moves you're going to perform as he gets up. He gets very little time to assess this, know his options, and respond accordingly. It's about a quarter of a second. Evaluating so many options and responses in that short a time requires not only skill at the game, but it requires both players getting inside the other's head. You already know rock-paper-scissors. This is just like that, except with far more options and heavily in El Fuerte's favor.
I think I started focusing on the character too much again. The point is that this whole setup is incredibly frustrating. Most everyone I've played with him has gotten personally upset at me for using this strategy. Granted, they get upset at me for the way I play with anything else too, but at least the other characters don't have anywhere near as powerful/quick a mixup game as he does. It's easier for them to understand why they lost and they can attribute it more to a difference of skill (theirs vs. mine) than them simply not having enough to get out of this mixup. I certainly understand how they feel. I got really frustrated when my Zangief first got caught in it and I found only one possible way out of a certain move, to which the opponent would later respond by mixing in a move which beats that.
Yet, while I now am conscious of this and keep El Fuerte in my back pocket when they want to train against it, I think the character is the key to my overall improvement. His entire game is psychological once he's there. Justin Wong, a world famous player of fighting games, commented that understanding psychology is a key aspect in his skill. He understands how people think, not simply how characters play. As El Fuerte works off of psychology, the ability to successfully work this style against skilled players will be a key component in my understanding the psychology of other players. Of course, it will still simply be a piece and I'll have to improve on overall fighter psychology. This will get me a good start, though.