There are useful NHL 18 fighting controls besides mashing upwards repeatedly on the right analog stick… Yeah, It surprised me too!
In total, there are 8 different fighting controls, which makes it sound a lot more complex than it is. We’ll cover each one below then the possible combos that involve more precise timing and finally the best tactic for actually winning your fights.
UPDATE(18/09/2017): All information below is still relevant for NHL 18. I originally wrote this guide for NHL 17, but the fighting system hasn’t been changed at all for 18.
If you win, your team gets all of their energy 100% replenished as if it was the start of the game or period; on the other hand, if you lose you only get a very small energy boost.
With that in mind, it will be more beneficial to fight at least half way into any given period – otherwise your lines will still have a lot of energy anyway and the boost advantage won’t be worth spending 5 minutes in the box.
Note that in the EASHL or OTP you have the same line for the whole game so this big energy boost over your opponent can feel a lot more significant.
There are some major cons to fighting as well. For one, you lose a player for a minimum of 5 minutes and possibly even yourself if you are playing EASHL or OTP. If you lose, then not only will you be gone for 5 minutes but your team will be up against a fully energized opponent.
Oh wait… I forgot the most important pro of fighting. You assert your virtual dominance over another human being! Isn’t that what online gaming is all about?
How to Initiate
You can initiate fights by double pressing “Y”(Triangle) while near another player during the game or after a whistle.
*If done during play then it can result in a 2 minute instigator penalty in addition to your 5 minutes so I’d advise against doing that.
A big hit can trigger a fight or even shooting at the opponent’s goalie after a whistle – just like in real hockey.
For Playstation users:
LT = L2
RT = R2
There are two types of grabs:
- Fake Grab – Tap LT(L2)
- Grab – Hold LT(L2)
Fake Grab: Far as I can tell the fake grab is completely useless. If you know of a scenario where fake grabbing would do something positive then let me know in the comments. For now I recommend only doing it if you want to see your player twitch out. Perhaps the twitching will strike some fear into your opponent?
Grab: Initiates the clinch when you haven’t already begun clinching. Some fights will start out in a clinch with your opponent in which case this button won’t do anything until you get into the combos.
This video illustrates a few fake grabs and then finally the full grab.
Two types of punches:
- Overhand – Push up on the right analog stick
- Uppercut – Pull down on the right analog stick
Overhand: Weaker of the two punches, depending on the fighting attributes of the players fighting it can take anywhere from 7-11 overhand punches to win(if damage is not done in any other manner)
Uppercut: Does approximately 30-40% more damage than the overhand and therefore takes between 5-7 punches in most cases.
*It is possible to land a “critical” hit that will knock out your opponent in one punch – either punch type can do this. I didn’t find any concrete data on how to consciously do this but I’m guessing the better your player’s fighter attribute is the more likely you will randomly land a critical punch.
Video illustrating both punch styles:
The push/pull can be very effective and will be part of the last section on how to win all your fights.
- Push – Upwards on left analog stick
- Pull – Downwards on left analog stick
Push: Pushes your opponent and temporarily stops them from being able to punch.
Pull: Same as push, it temporarily stops your opponent from being able to punch and when combined with the “Dodge” can be used to take down your opponent; we’ll cover this in the combo section further down.
- Block/Lean – Hold RT(R2)
Block: Only works when you haven’t started clinching, otherwise it will just be a lean. Blocking will substantially decrease the amount of damage done by punches.
Lean: If you are in a clinch then you can lean back instead of block. In NHL 18 you CAN still be punched while leaning so I recommend not doing it at all. In past NHL’s you use to be able to hold down lean and wait until the ref broke the fight up – not anymore.
The video illustrates the difference between “blocking”(at the beginning) and then leaning where the Boston player leans back only to have his face pummeled.
- Dodge – Press RT(R2) right before an oncoming punch
Dodge: Dodging punches is essential for performing the combos we will talk about next. When you successfully dodge a punch your opponent will be vulnerable for a second – you can either get a punch in or attempt one of the below combos.
Dodge and Pull Combo
Right after dodging a punch pull back the left analog stick. You will pull your opponent around and inflict some damage. Dodge pull can do more than punches do.
You can see in the below video that not only does it do a lot of damage but it can also result in a takedown win.
Dodge and Headlock Combo
The most effective move you can perform in a fight and very effective against opponents who just repeatedly mash the overhand punches.
Right after dodging a punch press the “grab” button(LT or L2). Once the headlock is performed successfully you don’t need to hold down LT. You can stay in this position as long as your opponent doesn’t “dodge” your punches.
It will take some practice to get the timing right. I’d recommend going into a “Play Now” match and purposely go offside then shoot on the opponents goalie. This is the easiest way to initiate a fight vs AI and what I did a countless amount of times to get these clips 😀
*IMPORTANT: Don’t pull back or push forward on the left analog stick when trying to perform the headlock combo. If you are finding that the animation consistently keeps doing the dodge/pull combo instead of dodge/headlock then it’s likely you are inadvertently still pulling back on the left stick.
**Even when done correctly it won’t always put them in the headlock.
What if you get yourself in a headlock? As alluded to above you can get yourself out by dodging with RT(R2) just like you would dodge regular punches when not in a headlock.
Fighter Player Types
As I’m sure you have already realized, each player has their own “fighting” attribute value.
The biggest difference I found between a player with a high rating versus one with a low rating is the amount of damage dealt per punch and the amount of damage they can take(health).
Better fighters can take more punches and also do more damage with their own punches.
This is what determines how many overhand/uppercut punches it will take to win a fight.
How to Win Your Fights in NHL 18
The big question, is doing any of the above actually worth it or should I just keep spamming overhand punches?
Being honest, if your player is a good fighter then you will probably win a lot of your fights simply spam punching. Your losses will likely be against players who utilize the above combos.
To beat the spam punchers I recommend first getting in a few punches then once you know their rhythm – dodge and headlock. Even if it doesn’t put them in a headlock it will still take a big chunk of health away so you can finish them off with punches.
If you’re having trouble timing the dodge then first do a push. When you push someone it will stun them for a moment but you know they are likely still be trying to punch you so as soon as the “stun” wears off be ready to dodge and headlock.
When fighting someone who knows how to fight it really just comes down to timing. The previously mentioned push, dodge, headlock combo I’ve found to be very effective.
I’ll update this guide if I find anything else useful as I do more fights.
See ya in the sin bin!
Bonus fight video. I obviously had to call up Biznasty back to the bigs for this guide, no question! Paul Bissonnette vs Zdeno Chara:
*Notice the push, dodge, headlock combo.