Francis Cook has been button-mashing ahead of this weekend's Auckland competition.

Just three weeks ago I tweeted about my Street Fighter training progress. I was playing Street Fighter 2 turbo in preparation of the new game and upcoming tournament I misguidedly agreed to enter.

In the tweet I said I had learned how to do Ryu's hadouken and "spinny kick across screen move."

My girlfriend's boss replied: "If that's the extent of your Street Fighter skills, you're going to get so badly beaten you might die in real life."

How hard can it be, said Chris Schulz when he suggested I enter. "You just mash buttons don't you?"


Well. Street Fighter V, as I've discovered, is really hard. The series gets a lot of slack for being boring, mainly because button mashing doesn't work. Street Fighter requires patience, muscle memory, and frame perfect timing.

It's often compared to poker, or a high speed game of paper, scissors, rock. A jumping attack will be trumped by an "anti-air" (upward hit). A missed special attack will leave you open to a combo. Blocking too much will get you thrown. Players have to think quickly about these considerations, pick up on each others' patterns and "read" their opponent's next move.

All this, of course, goes out the window when you're fighting in the last round and trying to close a victory. I feel like the more I learn, the worse I get. I spent more than an hour drilling combos in training mode yesterday, trying to get my cancel timing down. When I jumped back online, I had my worst streak yet.

The first official New Zealand Street Fighter V tournament is on Saturday. At this stage, I expect to lose every game. I'm sick of my character (the aristocratic butt-kicking babe Karin) but I'm sticking to my choice until it's over because I've gone to the trouble of learning how to play her.

If you want to tune in and watch me lose my gaming credibility, the tournament will be streamed on

Alternatively, come on down to Parnell Rose Park Hotel where the tournament is being held. It's free for spectators, and a small cost for casual players.