The SC2 community has created a standard format for notating moves. It may look arcane at first, but it's compact and unambiguous. Learn it, love it, confuse your friends by yelling it at the dinner table. If they look at you like you're crazy, don't worry-- they're scrubs.
There are 9 directions in SC2 (counting the null direction-- no direction pressed). Each is given a number from 1 to 9, arranged like the keys on your keyboard's numberpad.
7 8 9 \ | / 4 - 5 - 6 / | \ 1 2 3
These directions are arranged as if you were on the left side (Player 1, abbreviated P1). So 6 is forward, 4 is backwards, 7 is diagonal up and back, etc.
If you're on the left side of the screen and you want to execute 6, tap the right button. If you're on the right side of the screen and you want to execute 6, tap left. Remember: 6 is always towards your opponent, 4 is always away from your opponent.
SC2 only has four buttons, called A, B, K, and G. These correspond to Square, Triangle, Circle, and X on the PS2 controller, respectively. G is also mapped to L1 (which I personally find more convenient than X).
Physical arrangement on the PS2 controller:
B A - | - K G
- A: generally, used to execute horizontal moves
- B: generally, used to execute vertical moves
- K: generally, used to execute kicks (sometimes it executes headbutts and punches, but it always executes a non-weapon move)
- G: used to guard, guard impact, duck, jump, and throw.
See the Engine section for more details on what all this means.
- By default, all the inputs in a move should be tapped.
- When no direction is specified, don't press a direction
- For example, the move A means to tap A without pressing any directions.
- When a direction and a button are written next to each other, press the direction and the button at the same time.
- For example, 6B means to tap 6 and B at the same time. 2G means to tap 2 and G at the same time, which executes a crouch.
- When a direction and direction or button and button are written next to each other, execute them in sequence.
- For example, AA means to tap A, then quickly tap A again.
There are several special symbols used to notate moves.
- + (plus sign)
- Press two buttons at the same time. For example, A+B means to tap A and B at the same time.
- [ ] (square brackets)
- Hold the move inside the brackets. For example, 6[B] means to tap 6 and B at the same time, then continue to hold B. [A+B] means to press A and B at the same time and hold them.
- _ (underscore)
- Means "or." For example, 7_8_9A means to execute 7A, 8A, or 9A. All of these are jumping horizontal slashes. 8A jumps straight up, while 7A jumps up and a little backwards while 9A jumps up and a little forwards. Usually, this symbol is only used with directions and not buttons.
- (lowercase button)
- means to tap the indicated button very quickly, then press the next button. For example, bA means to tap b, then as soon as possible tap A (but make sure not to press them at the same time, e.g. A+B). This is also called a slide, e.g. "slide from B to A," since people often execute it by using one finger to literally slide from the first button to the next.
- ( ) (parentheses)
- Indicates an optional move.
- , (comma)
- Used to separate moves. Think of it as a long pause.
Stances are indicated with an abbreviation, followed by a space, followed by the move. If no stance is given, this means to execute the move from standing.
All characters have a few basic stances. I'll say more about these in the Engine section.
- Standing (no abbreviation)
- Your character is standing.
- Full crouch (FC)
- Your character is crouching. Enter this stance with 2G. Hold  to remain crouching. Many moves also end in FC (e.g. 2A, 2K, 2B).
- While rising (WR)
- Your character is in transition between crouching and standing. Enter this stance by entering FC, then letting go of any directional buttons. For example, do 2G, pause for a moment, then execute the move.
- While landing (WL)
- Your character is falling after jumping. Enter this stance by jumping, then waiting to fall. For example, 8G, (pause).
- 8-way run (8WR)
- Your character is running at full speed. You can enter this stance by holding any of the directional buttons for about half a second. You can also start executing 8WR moves instantly by double-tapping the desired direction (e.g. 8WR 6A can be executed as 66A). This is the preferred way to execute 8WR moves when you're already in the right position, since it doesn't require your character to actually start running.
Here are some examples covering the whole notation "alphabet." I've indicated how to execute the move and also what this move does for Ivy.
- Tap A without pressing any other directional buttons. Ivy executes a standing horizontal slash.
- Tap A and B at the same time. Ivy twirls the whip at her side, entering the Spiral Serenade (SR) stance.
- Tap K, then immediately tap 2. Ivy stomps her foot. The stomp turns into a grind if the opponent is on the ground.
- Tap 6 and B at the same time. Ivy lunges forward with her sword.
- Tap 6 and B at the same time, and hold B. Ivy lunges forward and her sword turns into a whip and extends in a straight line in front of her.
- Tap 6 and B at the same time, and hold B. While holding B, press 2 or 8. The whip will sweep left or right, catching opponents to the side.
- Tap 1, A, and B at the same time. Ivy raises her sword to shoulder level, points it downward, and the sword shoots out at the opponent's feet.
- FC 3B
- Crouch (via e.g. 2G or 2A), then press 3 and B at the same time. While crouching, Ivy pokes her opponent's feet with her sword.
- WR A+B
- Crouch, then stand up, and while you're standing up, tap A and B at the same time. E.g. 2G, 5 (release all buttons), A+B. Ivy does that maniacal pirouette you love so much.
- WL K
- Jump, then tap K (e.g. 8G, K). Ivy does a falling kick.
- Tap 7 and B, 8 and B, or 9 and B at the same time. Ivy jumps and shoots her whip at the opponent's feet in midair. She jumps straight up if you do 8B, up and back if you do 7B, and up and forward if you do 9B.
- Tap 1 and B and K, 2 and B and K, or 3 and B and K at the same time. Ivy plunges her whip into the ground in a surprise attack. 3B+K has the longest range, while 2B+K is medium range and 1B+K is short.
- 8WR 6A
- Enter 8WR by holding down any direction until your character starts running. Then, without letting go of a direction, tap 6 and A at the same time. You can also execute this without entering 8WR first by tapping 6, then quickly tapping 6 and A at the same time (notated 66A). Ivy dashes forward and does a powerful horizontal swipe.
- 8WR 2_8B
- Enter 8WR by holding down any direction until your character starts running. Then, without letting go of a direction, tap 8 and B or 2 and B at the same time. You can also execute this without entering 8WR first by tapping 8, then quickly tapping 8 and B at the same time, or by tapping 2, then quickly tapping 2 and B at the same time (notated 88_22B).