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The neutral game is the state in competitive play in which neither player has an advantage over the other. During this phase of the game, the competing players' primary goal is to gain an advantage over their opponent by landing a hit, thereby allowing them to act on the offense while forcing their opponent to defend. The offensive player, upon gaining the upper hand, may choose to use a combo, edgeguard, or predict what they think the defending player is going to do and act accordingly (otherwise known as "reading"). Meanwhile, the defending player must find a way to escape from their disadvantageous position, whether by making their opponent drop a combo though the use of directional influence or air dodging, evading an edge guard to make it back to the stage, or mixing up their defensive options to make themselves more difficult to predict. Once the defending player successfully escapes form his opponent, the neutral game resets. Alternatively, if the defending player dies, they will return to the stage with limited invulnerability, allowing them to re-establish the neutral game.