Fireball trap

What it is

The “fireball trap” is a strategy where an aggressor controls space by launching projectiles (e.g., Hadōken, the “fireball”) and shooting down the opponent with an anti-air move (e.g., Shōryūken) if they are daft enough to jump in.


In some games, there may be characters that have overly good projectile and anti-air capability even though there are very strong at zoning on the ground. Because these three in combination make things very safe, a fireball trap is definitely a chicken’s strategy.

This could happen in older games, but newer games have systems like air blocking and such, making it much more difficult to achieve this sort of checkmate. Moreover, developers are well aware of the fireball trap tactic nowadays, and test it in all sorts of ways when determining game balance. Particular tricks to subvert it (such as unlaunched projectiles, or projectiles with limited traveling distance) have reduced the power of the fireball trap, but of course, it is not going to go away entirely.


The basic key to overcoming a particularly tough fireball trap (e.g., against Guile in Street Fighter II) is to find the right avenue of escape, and/or to trick the trapper into messing up somehow.

The primary way to escape is to advance very slowly, taking vertical jumps when necessary (you could also cancel out the projectiles with projectiles of your own, but this is riskier unless yours is faster). When it is very apparent that you can dodge any projectile and you will not be suckered into the anti-air, the pressure is on the opponent to find a way out.

Naturally, you have to take riskier approaches in special cases; if the opponent is attempting the fireball trap to stall for time because they are ahead by a little, you have to take big risks to win the round. If they are attempting it to stall because they are ahead by a lot, it’s probably better to look like you’re going full defense, but then jump the gun on the offense.

Further reading

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Based off the article on the wiki, edited on or before 5 January 2009.
Unofficial translation published by BRPXQZME / Alfie Parthum 6 February 2009. No unauthorized redistribution permitted.