Benimaru’s been a troubling character for many players to encounter due to his offensive and defensive potency which allot Benimaru players a multitude of playstyles to cycle between at a moment’s notice.  But as with every character, he has his weaknesses that can be exploited once known, so let’s take a look at Benimaru’s most frustrating attacks:

Jumping D


Benimaru’s j.D is notoriously good in XIII: it crosses up, it has plenty of horizontal range, and it hits down much deeper than it would appear to.  Most normal crouching uppercuts will flat out lose or trade to it in most cases, and running underneath Benimaru can be difficult since the j.D could cross up anyway. The most consistent way to stuff this attack is to react with an invulnerable DP move (and Benimaru’s taller hop arc makes this easier), though air-to-airs can provide an additional answer.


Some characters like King are put in a terrible situation against a full jump j.D, and here the best answer aside from trying meet Benimaru with a fast air-to-air is to run or move forward to get underneath him, causing j.D to whiff. Although punishing this setup is very difficult for King, getting out unscathed allows King to buy more time or to avoid getting into the same situation, while encouraging Benimaru to try another approach to keep King from weaseling her way out from cross ups each time.


Standing D


Benimaru’s sobat kick could perhaps be the best in the game due to it’s decent startup and exceptional horizontal reach, all while being immune to low attacks. This poke makes it difficult for opponents to sweep or otherwise hit Benimaru with a low attack, or even approach him from the ground. This move can be punished on whiff during its 16 frames of recovery, though this can be difficult to do unless a player is looking to attack with a nice horizontal special as soon as he whiffs. On block, Benimaru’s only -2 and with the combined pushback, he’s essentially at neutral. However, like nearly all the sobat kicks in the game, it’s quite possible to hop, hyper hop, or jump over Benimaru’s sobat and hit him with a jumping attack. Aside from jumping in on him and risking being anti-aired, a nice counter is to neutral hop and attack with a downward and horizontal attack such as Iori’s j.D in order to counterpoke it while being mostly safe against Benimaru’s DP. Other special pokes can be used to out-space the sobat, such as just about any projectile or Vice’s lengthy hcf+K.

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I’ve been specifically requested to transcribe the process I apply when learning a new character in KOF.  As it so happens, I’ve recently picked up the Muay Thai inebriate, Hwa Jai, and for the sake of consistency I shall primarily base this article by using Hwa Jai in my examples.  Note that my goal here isn’t necessarily character analysis, but rather to convey my method for learning once committing time to further explore a character.


Grounded Normals

It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact starting place for learning a character, though I’ll begin by assessing a character’s grounded normals since they’re the basis of a character’s defensive and offensive capabilities.  There’s a lot to take in, but I usually look for moves with rapid startup or recovery and attacks that cover an excellent zone, while lastly taking note of special attack properties such as cancelability.


Most light attacks are somewhat standardized in terms of speed and so their usefulness relies more on range and special capabilities, though the heavy attacks in the game vary more greatly.  Take Hwa Jai’s Standing Heavy Kick: its startup is moderately fast, but the recovery period is so concise that it’s difficult for the attack to be punished on whiff, allowing Hwa Jai to make liberal usage of this attack.  The second point I mentioned refers to judging all of the angles that a character can control via their hitbox; I listed these primary regions on the SRK Hyper Guide and I’ll assume you’re familiar with them.  Any attack that can fill up and control one of these areas is usually great, except in a few instances where slow startup imposes an issue, which is why I mentioned attack speed first.  Not only is Hwa Jai’s aforementioned Standing Heavy Kick quick, but if you take a look at it you’ll see that it dominates the low hop space.  Combined with its long horizontal length, this makes for a killer normal attack that can shut down grounded and short hop approaches.   So Hwa Jai can cover that space really well with st.D and also with his other horizontal attacks like st.A, st.B, and st.C; but what then of the other two?  Notice that he lacks an upward, vertical grounded normal like a standard cr.C so this sets up a potential weakness for him (unless he has a special move or great air-to-air option to help him cover those higher spaces) that’s important to recognize.


Also be aware of other miscellaneous attack properties when assessing a character.  A few st.D kicks (and Hwa Jai’s st.CD) have lower body invulnerability which can give a character an option to beat low attacks without having to commit to a hop or rely on whiff punishing or frametrapping as often to beat out low pokes.  These hopkicks can sometimes anti-air hops, so they can potentially reverse the standard RPS attack flow by controlling two fronts effectively.  Cancelability is another key for judging how good a normal attack is.  Many st.C attacks function as good hop checks or as nice pokes, but certain characters such as Hwa Jai and Ryo can actually cancel theirs into specials which can further increase their usage in creating blockstrings and frametraps.  Knowing the order that a character can chain light attacks also gives insight to their strengths.  Shen can chain cr.B into st.B but since he can only HD cancel cr.B/st.B, it doesn’t often convert into much damage despite its deceptional horizontal reach; Hwa Jai can’t cancel his cr.B, but he can chain into his st.B and then cancel it into his df.D slide which can be converted into a knockdown. Finally, while some attacks are capable of dominating a certain space, hitbox position can make certain attacks whiff against crouching opponents which can really hamper how safe a move is in footsies.  Hwa Jai’s Standing Light Punch is one of the rarer standing jabs that hits every crouching character which decreases the risk of tossing out a fast hop check and even if the opponent was crouching he’s able to gain a frame advantage on block.  Be sure to recognize which attacks will whiff on crouchers and keep that gap in mind whenever deciding to use one of these attacks, especially heftier ones like King’s st.C.


Aerial Normals

KOF places a heavy emphasis on a character’s jumping attacks due to the inclusion of hops which allows players to control a wide variety of angles when in the air.  As with grounded spacing, I broke down the main aerial regions in the SRK wiki.  Look at every jumping attack and see which of the four catagories each falls into.  Most characters have a good vertical or vertical-horizontal jumping attack that serves as their main tool for close-ranged hop pressure as well as at least one good horizontal air-to-air.  Hwa Jai’s Jumping Heavy Kick is his main air-to-ground tool since it has a nice vertical hitbox and it has a long horizontal reach.  Unlike certain other vertical-horizontal attacks, Hwa Jai’s hitbox reaches down deep so the move can cross up, meaning it lacks a dead zone where it can whiff at point blank (it’s a horizontal and vertical attack, with more emphasis on the vertical depth).  Iori’s Jumping Heavy Kick is comparable to Hwa Jai’s j.D, but notice that it wont cross up and should the opponent crouch it up close it can whiff, which means Iori needs to recognize when to use his sheer vertical j.C.  In this regard, Hwa Jai can be a little lazier with his spacing since his j.D encompasses so much that j.C and j.B aren’t as relevant (except in instances where j.D would overextend Hwa Jai’s vulnerable hitbox, making him more susceptible to being DP’d), just like how Benimaru can get by using his j.D most of the time.  Other characters might be lacking a certain jumping angle which factors in to being a character weakness, just as how Kyo lacks a strong horizontal-vertical jumping attack since his j.D can be crouched under in this game. This creates issues when attempting to approach the opponent from the air from a far range, so Kyo has to more rely on spacing to be in range of j.CD or j.2C to make the opponent respect his jumping attacks.


More horizontally-focused attacks are better suited as air-to-airs, though most are capable of hitting standing  opponents (and sometimes crouching opponents, when delayed) as well.  Timing a good horizontal attack can shut down oncoming hops and jumps and also hit opponents that may be running, walking, attacking, or blocking high in anticipation of a traditional air-to-ground.  Previously I mentioned how Hwa Jai lacks a grounded normal for controlling the vertical space above him, but by meeting the opponent with his buff Jumping Blowback Attack he’s able to take care of that gap from a backwards, neutral, or forward hop.  These longer-ranged jumping attacks are great pokes from hops, though by hitting early or spacing an attack to just tip the opponent, it’s usually not possible to convert a hit into any further damage, though the player still earns a decent frame advantage for a setup afterward.


As with Hwa Jai, a character’s repertoire of spacial control is greatly increased when you factor in jumping attacks from hops and jumps.  As an example, Vice’s grounded, vertical anti-airs aren’t very good so she best controls that space by meeting the opponent in the air with j.B or j.CD (and then landing her anywhere juggle after air-to-airing). If you pay attention, you’ll notice that this  scenario revolves around Vice having enough time or be in a good position to get into the air, meaning her anti-air options are much more restricted if she’s rushed down.  Compounding the matter is the fact that she lacks a good reversal, so she struggles in anti-airing certain approaches on the ground.


The most important thing to take away here is to recognize a character’s types of grounded and air normals, as this can possibly expose a character dynamic or reveal how a character may need to rely on covering specific angles from the air instead of the ground.  Be sure to learn which attacks can cross up and keep note of which ones can be canceled into air specials, and certainly be sure to know which ones are prone to whiffing on crouchers.  There’s a few other nuances such as startup speed and length of active frames, but it’s mainly that light attacks generally start up faster and have more active frames than the heavier moves.  All of this info can be found on the character pages on the wiki.

Command Normals

Command normals vary greatly in terms of standalone utility, as some function as decent overheads or anti-airs while some are so slow that they’re too risky to use in footsies.  Nearly every command normal becomes cancelable when chained into, so they function nearly universally in hitconfirms, combos, and blockstrings.  Certain command attacks have poor recovery on block so it’s not advisable to leave them uncanceled (some are completely neutral on block, though having one blocked forfeits the player’s advantage by resetting both players to a neutral state).  For characters such as Joe whose f.B is unsafe on block, this poses an issue since if he cancels into his projectile he can potentially be punished by a Guard Cancel Roll.  The best answer in Joe’s case is to avoid committing to f.B often and instead relying on other normals for blockstrings.  Hwa Jai can suffer a similar dilemma with his df.B slide in that it’s unsafe on block from up close, so unless it’s spaced at max range he’ll have to cancel into a questionable special to minimize damage.  If a character’s command normal has poor recovery then you’ll have to use it sparingly or commit to a 2-in-1 which may be susceptible to Guard Cancel Roll punishes, or better yet save it for hitconfirms or the occasional frametrap or setup.


Specials and Desperation Moves

The biggest concern with specials, their EX versions, and DMs is their utility. Learn which specials are safe on block and if there’s any spacing requirements, such as Hwa Jai’s qcb+K which can be made safe against command grabs on block despite it normally being punishable from point blank.  Keep in mind that even safe blockstring ending specials may be vulnerable to Guard Rolls, and some normally safe moves can be punished with a backwards Guard Roll in the corner.  Reversal attacks are a great plus, especially ones that are moderately fast and fully invulnerable, preferrably costing no meter.  I talked about Joe and Hwa Jai’s possible weakness in controlling the deep vertical space and showed that they can manage to cover their heads with preventive air-to-airs with j.CD, but doing so requires a good bit of space and time.  Unlike Joe, Hwa has a fast vertical DP which completely nullifies the huge weakness that Joe suffers in anti-airing vertical approaches. Many DPs and generally fast (EX) specials and DMs are good tools for punishing slightly negative moves that are spaced to be outside of Close Normal range.  Command grabs can work nicely as nearly instant punishes as well as providing a character with additional means to break down an opponent’s defense as per KOF’s grappler okizeme.  Keep an eye out for Anywhere Juggle attacks, as these connect against opponents that are in a hit reset state: they allow a character to tack on additional damage from something as low-risk as a standing jab anti-air or from a clean air-to-air (for instance, K’ can just about always follow an anti-air st.A with an instant air minute spikes to tack on extra damage while pushing the opponent across the screen).


There’s a handful of great special moves serve as buff pokes against grounded and hopping opponents–such as EX Kyo’s qcf+A or Maxima’s mighty M4 Vapor Cannon–which are important to utilize in the neutral game for establishing spacing, but like with all things the opponent can go for a counter so it’s definitely necessary to be ready at a moment’s notice to switch up to a more appropriate normal, anti-air, or to get back into an idea spacing instead of relying solely on these moves. Projectiles are always strong tools to have access to because of their range and disjointed hitboxes, and in KOF (and XIII in particular) many light projectiles have short recovery periods which with enough space allows a player to run behind and follow up their projectile like Guile can in Street Fighter.  Due to the damage being skewed more towards combos or multiple hits rather, it’s more crucial to try to follow up projectiles primarily by trailing them to get in and start a direct offense or to set up a trap to punish jumps or rolls, while now more occasionally using a fireball to play runaway tactics.  Projectiles are fine blockstring tools (though Guard Rolls can punish them) and can be used to bait hops, jumps, EX moves, and run the attrition game.


EX moves typically either have better startup and invulnerability, or dish out better damage while more likely leaving room for a juggle on hit.  EX reversals and a select few DMs tend to be really nice for reactionary anti-airing or for punishing an opponent’s projectile or slower attacks.  The key here is reacting in time while also recognizing the effective range of an invuln move, since most DMs and EX moves don’t tend to travel too much further than half-screen while being invincible.  And despite EX specials and DMs being fast, the majority of them can be safejumped and then punished since most (good) reversals are unsafe on block.  NEO MAX DMs are generally fast and invulnerable so they can dish out punishment on reaction, but they’re hefty investments (100% Drive, and either 2 or 3 meter depending on whether or not you’re in HD mode) and more suited for closing out a match or salvaging a dropped HD activation.



It’s no secret that XIII is more combo-centric than previous KOF games, but I’ll keep it simple by listing basic requirements that you should master for any character that you’re attempting to learn:

  • Learn to hitconfirm from a standard Close Heavy Attack > Command Normal chain and end with a safe special or cancel into a special that causes a knockdown.
  • Learn to hitconfirm from a Crouching Light Kick chain series.  These vary by character, but a default pattern is cr.B > cr.A> command normal > special.  Likewise, work on stopping before committing to an unsafe special so that you can mix up your blockstring with a safe special or by rehopping or frametrapping with another normal attack.
  • Learn how to combo off of raw specials if applicable.  After anti-airing with a fireball, it’s possible to hit the opponent before they land.  Some specials can anti-air and then allow further hits afterward (just about every rekka can anti-air and combo the following hits).  Hwa Jai can link a Close Heavy Punch off of his qcb+D after hitting a grounded opponent.
  • Find a way to spend about 1-2 meter and one Drive Cancel to beef up the damage output from a solid hitconfirm.  For Hwa Jai, this means drive canceling his usual BnB ender dp+D into j.qcb+B and then linking qcf qcf+K for a simple 1 bar 1 drive 45% combo.
  • Learn to hitconfirm a counter hit j.CD into a followup.  Counterhit blowback attacks cause a free juggle state so there’s no reason to not take the extra damage when the situation presents itself, so at minimum you can rehop and do another j.CD or tack on a fast horizontal DM if your character has one.
  • Learn to hitconfirm into HD mode from both a Heavy and Light attack chain.
  • Learn at least one HD combo, preferably a 2 meter combo into NEO MAX.  It may be beneficial to learn a midscreen and corner combo for optimal damage, though if just starting out you can spend 3 meter for an easy pattern of Hitconfim > HD activation > Close Attack > Command Normal > Special > Super > NEO MAX which should deal around 80%.  This will severely up your damage output and give you more of a fighting chance.
  • Keep an eye out on the health bar so that you can judge how much damage you need to finish off the opponent.
This sounds  like a lot to keep track of, but the chief concern is becoming consistent with heavy and light chains for BnBs and then being able to extend combos with with meter or turn them into HD combos when the extra damage is needed.  Working these factors makes your punishes hit harder, and you should be earning every extra pixel of life you can knock off.


Blockstrings and Frametraps


In a previous LogicFighter article, I discussed the basics of close range pressure that provides an in-depth look into using movement to create offensive blockstrings and frametraps, covering more than what I’ll discuss here.  You can look for more very subtle setups and tactics to apply by looking in to Maj’s Footsie Handbook and slightly altering the rules to account for KOF’s system.


When looking at a new character, I pay close attention to any notable frametraps or exceptionally safe special moves that can be used with little risk of retaliation.  There are several tight frametraps that can combo on hit or create an airtight trap, such as Hwa Jai’s cr.B, cr.C combo/blockstring.  These frametraps into heavy attacks can be difficult to counter (except for blockstrings into sweeps, which can be hopped) and it offers a way to inflict heavier blockstun which can then be canceled to create tighter traps than what you’d get from canceling a standard light attack from a chain series.  As mentioned before, certainst.A attacks hit crouchers and leave the attacker at a nice advantage (or at least certainly better than the recovery a st.B provides) for baiting a counterpoke or for frametrapping into a followup attack which creates plenty of potential room for reading the opponent’s intentions.


Hwa Jai can’t really continually blockstring into his specials since they leave him slightly negative and also place him right in front of the opponent so eventually he’ll either be forced to accept that he’s at a disadvantage and block or to commit to something reckless like DPing, so as someone lacking a reliable special he’s more about spacing with normals than basing his footsies around a special move like K’ with his Ein Trigger.  Instead, Hwa’s better off doing more standard hop and light attack pressure on the offensive while utilizing cross ups, tick throws into his command grab, and solid frametraps, or by playing more defensively with st.D, st.A, st.CDj.CD, and dp+B to anti-air and either capitalize from a knockdown or hit reset, or eventually set up for an offensive approach such as baiting a counterpoke st.C from the opponent and hopping/jumping over it.


So not only should you be looking to play into usual character strengths, you should be willing to switch up your strategies to counter the opponent’s playstyle, such as when being defensive with Hwa Jai.


Other Setups


An easy starting point for learning setups is figuring out what options are available from each knockdown a character has available.  If a character’s normal throw causes a hard knockdown, then chances are that they can either follow it with a safejump, cross up, empty hop, or even ambiguous roll on top of the usual grounded meaty or simply moving to a strong spacial location.  Likewise, figure out which moves net the most ideal knockdowns and always have an idea of something to do after every knockdown or hitreset, even if it’s nothing fancier than being able to run forward and then block safely.  Even certain NEO MAX DMs like Kim and Shen’s leave the player with enough frame advantage for a meaty safejump afterward, so don’t rule out any possibility until you’ve tested it yourself.  Obviously, you shouldn’t always autopilot into the same cross up or always go for a throw from a quickrise, but having the experience of what you can do from every single situation allows you to build up a automatic memory that ensures you go into something smart and don’t accidentally forfeit an advantage unintentionally.


Another type of setup that most characters have access to is setting up for a cross up against a standing or crouching opponent by either hopping or hyper hopping forward at a certain range.  Each character’s hop arc and cross up attacks play a role in determining the effectiveness of these cross ups, but a nearly universal way to set up the spacing for these cross ups is by feeling out the exact distance by measuring distances with a blockstring.  For instance, Hwa Jai can chain three light attacks and hitconfirm from the series, and should it be blocked he’s in range to hyper hop forward with j.D to cross up the opponent.  Some of these setups may only work against a standing or only a crouching opponent, so it’s necessary for some like Iori to attack with lows to encourage the opponent to crouch block long enough for him to hyper hop over the opponent’s lowered hitbox.  These more active cross ups can be difficult to set up, but because they occur fast they can be devastating when executed successfully and so learning ways to land them are important.


There’s also the topic of shenanigans which I’m not too fond of, but they’re certainly important to be aware of at the very least so that you’re familiar with countering them on defense.  These can get out of hand whenever a player drops a HD combo since some characters can fish for a command grab or DP and then combo into NEOMAX before the HD meter runs dry, or sometimes a player might just fish for an opportunity to land a raw NEOMAX to avoid wasting their HD meter.  These more desperate tricks are best dealt with by recognizing that the opponent is desperate and then treading carefully.  As for landing one yourself, try being subtle when sneaking something like an overhead into a HD combo and be sure that you’re aware of the risk and reward of the situation since guessing wrong can have difficult consequences.


As always, any of the specific properties and setups I mentioned can most likely be found on each character’s page on the SRK Guide, so you don’t have to pioneer everything about your characters alone.

Why did you decide to pick up ken and what is the reason behind your name Banana Ken?

My reason to name myself Banana Ken is not very interesting or profound, it just sounded like a fun name to use at the time when entering a local tournament with my Austin friends in Arcade UFO. Something about using a silly name that would regardless strike fear in people’s hearts sounded amusing to me, I guess. In retrospect, it might be a little confusing when I don’t play Ken or play other games, but I guess it’s too late to reconsider, haha.

I decided to pick up Ken because he always seemed like a fun character. However, my first character choice in SF4 Vanilla was actually Ryu, and given how strong of a character he was I didn’t find much reason to switch. Once SSf4 came out, I decided to switch my main to Ken since he felt like a character that I could play more freely, whereas Ryu you play more “by the book” and is very focused on fundamentals and footsies.

What is your opinion on the changes for AE 2012 and will you still be sticking with Ken or moving onto another character? If you will be switching,
who will be your new main?

I think the changes in 2012 make for a more balanced game overall, and this is what most people have been looking for all this time. This will definitely extend the game’s replayability and its presence as one of the main games featured in fighting game tournaments. I will still be using Ken as I feel he is just as strong as before, if not stronger. Using a secondary character in tournaments is a possibility, but for the time being I am sticking with him. His changes made him more of a footsie oriented character, where his combos into untechable knockdown were nerfed, but some of his normals got buffed in return.

Are there any matchups you fear with Ken as extremely bad matchups and if so, can you describe why you feel it’s hard to win that matchup?

I think Ken doesn’t have extremely bad matchups since overall he’s a complete character, but he definitely has a couple of 6-4′s which he has to be wary of. In general, any matchup in which Ken can’t jump at the opponent easily is tough. Characters with good keepaway can also give Ken a hard time. Among these characters are Guile, Seth, Dhalsim, Yun, Yang, Fei (although the last 3 got nerfed significantly). Ken is more effective rushing down than turtling, so this makes characters like Zangief tricky as well. Overall Ken players should practice very hard against these characters, since just outplaying them slightly may not be enough to net you a victory.

In contrast, are there any matchups with ken you feel very confidentally in?

I feel very confident against C.Viper and Akuma. I’ve also taken a liking to the Zangief matchup, even though Ken has to work pretty hard there. I think the changes have worked in Ken’s favor for these matches as well.

Sometimes, players have that opponent that they can just never beat. Is there a particular player for you that you just can’t find yourself to beat?

I’ve hit a brick wall against Filipino Champ and Arturo. While I feel this is partly my fault for not practicing against Dhalsim often, my past tournament performances against these two players have been discouraging. Although I normally feel confident in this matchup, there were simply times where a link was dropped or a jump was mistimed, and that gets you thrown away and you’re back to the opposite side of the screen with a life disadvantage, a very bad position. I think I’ve improved considerably in being patient and having the correct mindset, but I have not practiced the Dhalsim matchup enough to the point where I will stop giving them openings to exploit and force them to find them on their own, in which case I feel I will win.

What fighting games did you play prior to the SF4 series and how long have you been playing SF in general?

Before SF4, I played 3rd strike and Tekken 5 competitively. People knew me as frodo/frodo-san back then. I’ve been playing fighting games since I was a little kid, playing classics such as KOF96, Killer Instinct, but only casually. I do remember I started to win local tournaments in 3rd Strike when I was around 14.

How do you feel about the American SF scene as opposed to the Japanese scene since you have experienced both during your trip to Japan?

There’s tradeoffs between the two. I think the Japanese arcade scene shows a lot of life when it’s close to big tournaments like SBO, but word of mouth is that they’re not doing too well otherwise. We seem to share similar problems with arcades not being as popular as before, although this is certainly more pronounced in the US. However, I believe from a grassroots standpoint the US is more developed than Japan; I’m talking about majors and other events inevitably built outside arcades. This seems to be a natural consequence of having to look for an alternative for that which we are passionate about, being faced with arcades wittling away and struggling to survive. Japan on the other hand seems to be much stronger when it comes to public transit and placement of arcades in major cities like Tokyo. If I was working a 9-to-5 or something similar in Japan, a major arcade with very strong players are usually just a cheap train ride away with a few minutes of walking. This ability to just casually walk in whenever you’d like with very little investment is something that’s rare to find in the US even when arcades were in their prime. This makes it incredibly easy for top players to get constant practice against a wide variety of characters, playstyles and skill levels.

There was always a bit of a debate on who the better shoto was between Ken and Ryu, Infiltration recently ranked Ryu slightly ahead of Ken if not even.
Who do you feel is the better shoto and why?

I think in AE2012 Ryu is probably the better character overall, even though their styles are different. Ryu’s “by the book” play is slightly more defensive and reaction based, and defensive play is generally more rewarding in SF4. Ken’s main strength lies in pressuring the opponent from a closer range constantly and provoke mistakes as a result, but the pressure is also on you to not mess up, since any mistake when you are in close range can be very costly. I still think that Ken is competent enough to win in tournaments, especially now that Yun/Yang/Fei got nerfed, which I thought were his 3 worst matchups.

Will you be playing UMvC3 or are you going to stick to just AE?

Although I play many fighting games, I don’t plan on playing UMvC3 for the time being. It’s exciting to watch, but I just don’t feel motivated to play the game.

Any advice you have for aspiring Ken players such as yourself?

There’s no shortcut to being good, just practice. Ken is deceptively hard to use, but try to focus on his strengths rather than his weaknesses. He has the potential to exceed the limits of his moves by kara-cancelling. There’s an use for every normal, find it and get used to it. Kara-focus attack, Kara-DP, Kara-Super, Kara-Ultra, Kara-Fireball, they’re all useful, and also often neglected by Ken players, don’t make this mistake! It requires practice, but it sounds much harder than it actually is. Don’t forget to work on your footsies, since in 2012 he will be a more footsie oriented character!

Last but not least, any shoutouts?

Shoutouts to TFA, we hope to achieve big things in the future. Shoutouts to Latif for getting sponsored by Razer, he deserves it! Shoutouts to the FGC and shoutouts to eSports! xD

Thanks for your time…

Rex0r and JJJ fight it out in a first to 10 set in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Rex0r whom you may know from his 2nd place performance at UFGT7 comes back in UMvC3 with the same team he is known for, while JJJ many may not know is a long time local rival who plays quite the unique but dangerous team of Morrigan/Storm/Felicia. It’s a great watch and be on the lookout for JJJ’s extreme meter building combos.

A large, ubiquitous concern that is impairing newer KOF players comes in the form of fretting over team composition.  Character selection and ordering is an essential aspect of KOF as in all team fighting games, but in reality team selection plays a lesser role in KOF XIII than in CvS2 and undoubtedly less so than  MvC3.  However, I’ve witnessed plenty of fighting game players that spend more time fixated on their team rather than playing the game and improving, so I shall go into further depth on this subject to clarify how a player decide upon a team.

Marvel vs Capcom 3, Skullgirls, and Street Fighter X Tekken utilize character assists and DHCs which allow a player to greatly magnify or supplement characters’ damage output and spacial tools: to overcome character weaknesses or to augment strengths in simultaneous conjunction with other team members.  Indeed, plenty of characters in MvC3 are heavily outclassed in one on one situations against omnidirectional characters like Wesker, which invokes the need for creative team synergy to even the playing field.  These dynamics and complexities are absent in KOF XIII’s individual 1v1 rounds, so there’s less emphasis and thus stress associated with compiling a team of three characters.  Even the traditional train of thought where a player uses a meter-dependent heavy-hitter as the anchor is somewhat variable due to the flow of meter in XIII, so what then should a player consider when selecting characters?

Character Choice

Most players gain interest in a character either by way of aesthetics or by analyzing or seeing their tools in action, so selecting an initial team is usually an uncomplicated process.  Eventually, players will feel indecisive or realize certain characters may not fit their playstyle and that they need to incorporate new characters into their roster (as unlike in Street Fighter and traditional one on one fighting games, KOF requires a minimum understanding of three characters, so learning new characters is a common and less overwhelming experience).  This is when newer players turn to others for help and ask for vague suggestions which makes it difficult for others to offer more apt solutions to supplement their needs.  If a newer player asks me for a team suggestion with no given criteria, I’ll autopilot into my response of choosing Iori/Kyo, a grappler, and a zoning character just so that they start off learning a variety of different playstyles.

Character selection all comes down to game knowledge:  judging hitboxes and attack properties, ways to control space and limit options, being familiar with damage output and the practicality of scoring damage, evaluating character risks and rewards, and then making a decision of if a character’s options and tactics resonate with the player.  These are factors that players should consider when switching to other characters in any fighting game, so this is nothing new (these factors are generally what also decide tiers, but since this iteration of XIII is so new there’s plenty of tier debate going on). If you’re not familiar with each character’s options, then at least try narrowing down your search by deciding what type of character you seek.  Perhaps your first two characters lack a projectile or long-range aspect so a zoner may contribute more tactical variety that could counter certain (impatient) types of opponents in ways that the other two characters you’re using can’t.  You may decide to add a character with a command grab to your team in order to use KOF’s grappler okizeme or to have access to an instant throw in order to punish and thus limit certain characters’ options (for instance, Terry and Hwa Jai can’t reckless use their qcb+K moves in blockstrings against grapplers and so they’re forced to use other tools for their close and mid-range strategies).  Even a simple criterion such as having high midscreen HD combo damage or an easy j.CD counterhit combo will narrow down the spectrum of choices and limit frustration on both parts.


There are plenty of schools of thought to subscribe to when devising a team lineup.  The basic pattern of putting a battery character first to build meter and saving a meter-dependent damaging character last works, though because getting hit and blocking rapidly builds meter it’s likely that both players could end the first round with 3 super stocks and a full HD bar assuming little was used in the first round.  Assuming that the point character survives the first round, they may be in a position to burn all their meter in the next round in a HD combo.  Any character can use meter and get about 50% from a HD loop without supers, or reach 70% with a Neo Max finisher.  The point here is that it’s easy and often necessary to burn meter to get more damage from a combo, and if a player already is fully stocked then there isn’t much use saving it for other characters if it’s enough to kill a character.  Because of the new tug of war with meter in the console edition of XIII (more on meter management and strategies is coming in a future article), it’s certain that sometimes the secondary or tertiary character will start a round with little to no meter, so following the traditional method and placing Maxima last in hopes to land a quick 90% combo is a weak strategy unless a player is very comfortable with the idea of playing Maxima with little meter.

This plays in to my biggest point in this article: being comfortable with playing all of your characters with and without meter.  It’s possible to save meter to make sure a later character will have access to it, but doing so entails reducing the damage that the former characters can do just to make sure that the final character can haphazardously spend meter for combos and resources.  To me, this strategy type feels flawed since it requires sacrificing damage and options available to the other two characters just so that the final character can land quick damage or so that a player can use an EX move or utility DM as a crutch instead of dealing with having no meter and running basics.  When I choose an anchor, I tend to look for a character that can play the neutral game exceptionally well without meter while also being capable of going wild with damage when meter is earned.  For instance, either Iori has all the normals needed for offense and defense and both have very complete blockstrings, BnBs and burst damage so he can fit any needed role to close out a game, and most KOF players are really familiar with how to play a fundamental Iori.  This makes him a great character for staying level-headed even when in a bad situation.

Don’t be limited with your character order, instead go for what works best for you.  Some characters are generally known for being popular in one position (i.e. Shen or Daimon as an anchor, K’ or Kula on point) but there isn’t an established ‘best’.  Daimon can easily tack on damage if he has a surplus of stocks and drives, but then again so can the majority of the cast.  If Daimon isn’t the heavy spender, then Elizabeth or Mr. Karate or Yuri or any other character of choice could always fill the position of meter burner.  Using what you know a character can do and with their strengths and weakness in mind, place them in to your team accordingly: if blocking cross ups or dealing with projectiles is a frustrating matter, than putting Daimon last would be a bad choice since the player can’t work around two of his primary weaknesses.  Similarly, a player could put K’ second or last if really feeling his options and knowing how to circumvent bad situations.  Some may favor placing a defensive/zoning character like Athena first in order to test the opponent’s reactions, tendencies, and patience while dealing with less abare EX moves or guard rolls, though plenty of others prefer their secondary character to be the defensive unit that plays more cautiously while possibly building meter for the anchor.  Instead of putting a ‘battery’ character on point just to build meter, a different approach is to place a dominator on the line whose goal is to go for a clean OCV.  I slightly alter my team or order to avoid matchups I’m uncomfortable with or to more counterpick a player’s style, such as using King against an impetuous player in order to bait or force mistakes and then make my damage from punishes while playing conservatively.  Form your team however bests suits your interests.

As one’s understanding of the game increases, one be able to make wiser judgments in in their character and team strategies.  Don’t be discouraged if you doubt your team isn’t the initially optimized based on common placements or tier listings.  Even if you cycles through multiple characters when playing, the basic knowledge of enacting KOF fundamentals, working offense and defense, gathering a feel for how combos work, learning how to judge and when to use normal attacks will transfer over when learning a new character in KOF (and truthfully, this applied information is transferable into other fighting games).  I used King in KOF ’98 for a long time before finally coming to terms with how terrible she is in that iteration and realizing I could be doing so much better with a stronger character like Iori.  Although I don’t use her in that game anymore, all the time I invested with her paid off since even she is a lackluster character, I was still able to learn how to play KOF from using her so it’s not a big loss on my part.  Likewise, don’t be afraid to jump in to KOF XIII without having your team formally approved; the takeaway is that playing and learning will instinctively improve any player and the rest of the ordeal will naturally sort itself out.

How to Approach a Fighting Game

No doubt the last three years have been incredible as far as the fighting game genre goes.  Last year gifted us with KOF13, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Mortal Kombat, and my personal favorite WWE all stars which no one plays and that fact is actually very tragic now that I think about it (damn it, its a good game!). This year seems to be almost as giving with Soul Caliber 5, Skullgirls, and already-infamous yet Street Fighter-cross-Tekken coming down the pipeline.  Needless to say, being faced with such a plethora of options can be a little daunting, especially if it’s your first time playing these games competitively.  Despite that, I believe with the right mindset, you can adjust and breakthrough the baby portion of your training in a relatively short period.


How to Play Improperly at a Hookup

I feel that getting good at any game takes a two pronged approach; learning the game and learning the character.  I feel most new players when they play any game always gravitate towards learning the character.  It is very important to learn the ins and outs of your fighter of course, but most of new players will simply stop at learning the combos, (maybe they’ll go a little further and learn the set ups), then find the “cheap” attacks (for clarities sake let’s say “shoryuken”) and call it a day.  Then, when they travel to hookups or tournaments, they literally run in and try to do their combos even though they get anti-air punished, block punished, and basically get the ever-loving hell beat out of them. After said thrashing they get pissed off about how they lost because they weren’t able to get a situation to perform said combo. They also tend to have a habit of using their “cheap attack” and getting punished clean for it, then doing it again.  Such a tragic cycle is all due to the player not knowing how to play the game at its fundamental level; going into detail of what that fundamental level slightly differs from fighting game to fighting game and would take a handbook; say…Maj’s foostsie handbook on sonic  Instead, I’ll just ask you this: If you do a shoryuken and I block it, then punish you with a combo, knock you down, and finally jump at you while you get up, what are you going to do? A reversal Shoryuken?  Most new players will reach for that rainbow, flaming fist high in the air while screaming “SHOOORYOOOOKIIIIN”….only to get punished by a high damaging combo and then knocked down again, because I did an empty or safe jump and baited them. So what I’m saying is try not to be that new player.  Let me suggest that you instead be that new player that goes to hookups, thinking about “hopefully I’ll play against “x” character tonight so I can see if my character can deal with his “x” special or normal as opposed to, “Gosh I sure hope I hit my combos tonight!”

How to Play Properly at a Hookup

Now learning combos and getting your execution down IS important but needs to be set aside for a night by yourself in training mode. During this time you can just grind combos until you get it down where you can do it over and over again with muscle memory.  Now of course the world isn’t perfect and players who have been playing the game before it got into your hands for whatever reason will have an upper hand.  One can wonder if they should even bother going to a hookup or opt to stay at home and practice combos? My advice is to go to the hookup anyway; when you go to them, try to learn what your character can and cannot punish.  After all, you can train at home anytime; depending on where you are, hookups may not happen often.  If you are not sure in the strength of your reversal, then just block. Then block. After that, go ahead and block some more. Of course, for the purposes of learning, go ahead and try that reversal if nothing else to see how it can get punished; if you lose a lot for trying it, and then don’t try it again if you see a similar situation getting set up. On another note, if you haven’t played the game in training mode at all before, and you don’t know any punish combos whatsoever, just throw;  at the very least you can get a knockdown and setup a cross up situation for your opponent.  Don’t reject yourself valuable experience and playtime against another human just because you “Haven’t gone into training mode yet so…” Throw that excuse in the trash.  If you can’t get your combos to work try to focus on finding your opening again, but don’t force yourself. For example, don’t screw up a combo, fail, and then immediately try to repeat the combo right after the failed one. It sure sucks when you drop a combo, but it’s too late, you lost that opportunity; you are just going to have to move on and work towards finding another one.  Execution aside, the main point of a hookup is to learn the game itself, such as the way the game moves, the way the fundamental game works, not to mention learning what your character can and can’t do against characters.  If you need anymore motivation watch this video of Justin Wong entering a Kof 13 tourney and making grand finals even with having limited time with the game.

Of course Wong loses because Reynald has so much experience with game, but notice HOW Justin loses.  Yes folks, there is a way to lose correctly, and Justin shows it right there.  First of all, he waits for the right opportunities to make his attacks and comes in at full steam when he sees them, and his combos are not that complex, but he sure does his best with what he knows. In the end, the most important thing to take away from this video is that he never GIVES anything away to Reynald.  He doesn’t do brash reversals with any of his characters and does not give Renyald anything for him to get an easy punish such as whiffed Shoryukens.  Notice that Reynald gets all of his damage by out poking and finding ways around Justin’s blocks more than anything else.


At The End of the Day?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with learning combos or trying out whatever sick set-ups to land in the game, and hook ups are great for that sort of thing. Still, try to understand what can happen you go for that combo or set-up and look at what your opponent can or can do, instead of getting stuffed and then trying to hammer your way back in.  Also do not be afraid to ask questions to other players.  It won’t make you look weak, better players will not have any disrespect for you if you are continually losing.  They will only lose respect for you if you are doing the same erroneous crap over and over while apparently learning nothing from it.  Better players will always see potential if you have an open mind and ask why stuff isn’t working.  Unless they are complete and utter pricks, better players will generally WANT you to get better, because good players make THEM better. When everyone gets better, then guess what? You get a strong fighting game community.  So go ahead, go to community hookups, and don‘t be afraid to ask questions.  As long as you keep an open mind, and actually look at what factors are beating you, you will have no choice but to get better.

Written by RamenNoodle

One of the biggest difficulties I’m seeing newcomers to KOF struggle with is how to actually mount an offense other than landing an odd special move or threatening with unsafe frame traps or EX gimmicks.  The largest hurdle is that many players know how to manoeuvre in KOF, but they don’t understand how to use this movement to create pressure.

My good pal Laban just finished his video that covers the basic flow of KOF’s inside game, and it’s much easier to see why certain tactics are strong rather than just reading about them.  His tutorial covers a more holistic view of offensive options and their counters than this article, so please give it a watch since I’m primarily going to focus on incorporating and making good use of KOF’s special movement options.

Before going any further, have a refresher over the basic Rock-Paper-Scissors of the three main types of attacks.  As in Street Fighter mid attacks are naturally countered by low attacks, low attacks can be avoided and sometimes punished by hopping attacks, and hops are susceptible to being anti-aired by mid attacks and especially so at close range:   There are of course more to offense than 1-in-3 guessing and of course exceptions to these RPS rules (such as in the above video where EX Kyo is able to whiff cancel his sweep into his Aragami (qcf+A) which can beat lows and anti-air hops), but we’ll ignore these until they become relevant.  Dandy J’s tutorial covers this flow at a basic level, but piecing how this all comes together on offense isn’t quite as well explained.

The backbone of a quick offense is attacking with light and jumping attacks, both of which can easily be comboed from and so the opponent will definitely not want to be hit by even a stray cr.B by characters that can cancel into safe specials, such as K’s Ein Trigger (qcf+P).

Light Attacks

In KOF XIII, every character can chain together light attacks and hit confirm from one of these attack strings.  Unlike in Street Fighter, these chain-able lights are cancellable on their own so there’s no need for links in most basic combos.  Each character’s ideal chain varies, but the main tool of choice is a cr.B since it hits low, reaches far, and just about every character can either cancel their cr.B or chain into a cr.A or other cancellable light attack.  This much is common knowledge.

What I’ve seen players not know is that even if a certain cr.B is technically neutral/slightly negative on block, the attacking player still has the initiative to act next, be it hopping or running/walking forward, waiting to anti-air or throw a roll, or use a ranged blockstring ender like a sweep.  (Although most cr.A attacks aren’t as necessary in combos in XIII as they were in older games, it’s important to know that crouching and standing A attacks are more advantageous on block than a cr.B.  These low jabs are still useful for creating even tighter blockstrings, just like how in Street Fighter a blocked low jab nets a bigger frame advantage than the low-hitting crouching short.  Most st.B attacks are pretty good pokes that can be chained into, but they’re even stiffer than a cr.B on block so it’s harder to do as much after one gets blocked, so it’s worth considering to end parts of blockstrings with a cr.A to set up more advantage time for your next course of action.  However, stick with using cr.B when learning how to create your offense since the difference between cr.A and cr.B is subtle and characters like K’ and Kula get by without ever needing to use anything but cr.Bs).  KOF follows a general rule of 2 or 3 when it comes to chaining together light attacks.  For example, Ash Crimson can combo three cr.B light kicks, or chain two cr.Bs into b+B (his backward sobat command normal) so either way he gets three grounded hits as part of his main hit confirm series.  However, command normals are generally negative or certainly more neutral on block than a cr.B, and they push the player back more on block so it’s important to be able to pressure with light attacks to stay on top of the opponent with enough of an advantage or passive threat to continue assaulting the opponent.

Hop Attacks

Two monumentally important factors to consider when using a jumping attack are selecting which attack to use, and also timing when to use the attack.  Most close-range offense revolves primarily around using vertical jumping attacks that hit down deep, which also lets you use them earlier in a hop arc.  Vertical-horizontal attacks like Clark’s j.CD and Ash’s j.D are also amazing tools for close and mid-ranged pressure, though these attacks are sometimes more susceptible to being anti-aired by sweep attacks.  Their main strength lies in their extra horizontal range which makes them better for approaching the opponent or tipping the opponent, an action that is difficult to anti-air with most standard normals.  Once in close to the opponent, vertical jumping attacks are usually the most optimised choice.

Timing when to activate a jumping attack is also crucial.  The biggest mistake players make is to use an aerial attack far too early which in poor instances causes the attack to completely whiff on the opponent, leaving the aerial player completely vulnerable in the air and on the ground when initially landing.  Also note that some moves, namely horizontal and certain vertical-horizontal jumping attacks, can always whiff against crouching opponents regardless of the timing of the attack.  Ash’s j.B can air-to-air exceptionally and it’ll even hit standing opponents, but it’s punishable if the opponent crouches.  The same is true with Vice’s j.CD which is popular since if it hits it’s easy to confirm into her anywhere juggle, but it’s always punishable if crouched.  The other aspect to timing jumping attacks is that if you time one early enough to tip the opponent really early such as when approaching with Iori’s j.D then you wont have enough time to combo after landing.  Hitting early lets a player get in and start an offensive string, but not land a combo.  In order to combo after a jumping attack, a player will have to time their jumping attack ‘late’ such as that they hit on the way down on their hop.

Now let’s create a scenario; assume you’re playing Ash:  After chaining together three cr.Bs and confirming that the opponent blocked them all, what would be a good followup?  This question can really trip up newer players (“uhh… maybe just sweep every time it’s blocked?”), but there’s a huge amount of answers and options available after having a (light) attack blocked but we’ll focus on two of the most basic options that are unique to KOF and foreign to newer players.


Hopping in after or rather during a blockstring comes with multiple advantages.  Since the player quickly goes airborne, hopping attacks can be used to go over low attacks and against laggier sweeps and pokes this can result in a guaranteed jump-in combo, sort of like a more powerful and safer Universal Overhead from Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike.  If the hopping attack is correctly blocked, the attacker will end up right in front of the defending player at a large frame advantage which easily allows for any followup blockstring of choice, so much like the other option of running back in discussed below, successfully forcing the opponent to block a hop means resetting into ideal blockstring/frametrap positioning.  Rehopping during an offensive string is a legitimate tactic since the opponent may want to feel out an escape option or look for a pattern to punish, so being predictable by repeating a jump-in and auto-piloting into a hitconfirm allows the opponent to anti-air telegraphed hops with ease.  It’s necessary to make the opponent respect your other options by peppering in more lows, mid-pokes, frametrapping specials and normals, varied blockstring lengths, neutral hops, and other footsie techniques like creating intentional gaps/breathing spaces or twitch baits (A KOF example would be to chain into or use a whiffed st.A and then hop on the opponent in an effort to bait a low counterpoke attempt, a natural instinct when viewing aseemingly poor-spaced attack).  Another good offensive and defensive use of hops is to neutral hop and then use along-ranged vertical-horizontal attack like Ash’s j.D (or even j.B which will air-to-air better and still hit standing opponents, though as a horizontal jumping attack it whiffs crouchers and can be punished by lows).  These longer-reaching attacks have good range so they’re better moves for approaching the opponent or spacing so that they tip the opponent, but generally the purely vertical attacks are better for ‘standard’ hop pressure when hopping on top of the opponent since the added downward hitbox length makes these attacks harder to anti-air.

A weaker way to use hops offensively is to go for empty hop mixups.  This means hopping at the opponent without attacking and then going for a throw or low attack upon landing.  Sounds good, but unless you have a good command grab then the defending player can hold back to block and then press C or D to do an Option Select that will tech normal throws and throw or interrupt empty hop > low attempts.  Unless the opponent doesn’t know how to block well or rather they’re mentally drained from the strain of the fight then don’t rely heavily on empty hops unless your character has the threat of hopping into a fast command grab which will beat the Option Select defense.


Running lets you quickly get in on an opponent, certainly much faster than simply walking.  What’s important to know is that runs can be canceled into attacks and specials, meaning it’s very quite possible to end a blockstring and then run back in with a light attack.  This can be especially good for characters with command grabs since successive low light attacks discourage alternate guard attempts so grapplers can essentially go for ‘running tick throws’. After Ash chains his three light attacks (or perhaps he only does two cr.Bs before running, for the sake of keeping his blockstrings more inconsistent and unpredictable) he can run right back in into a cr.B to keep the opponent blocking low.  Even without a command grab, this can force the opponent to stay crouching and buy time to sneak in a hop or toss out a nice and safe (but slower) special move.

It isn’t very difficult to react and correctly block running pressure since the worst a character can do is use a low or maybe a throw, but it’s their fast nature that–combined with hop and other standard types of pressure–helps to open up the opponent into taking an action which will naturally carry some sort of risk.  This leads in to a ponderous little key aspect of KOF’s offensive:

Barring times when a player gets into a bad situation and is on the receiving end of a cross up setup, ambiguous roll, or command grab mixup, most hits in KOF are landed by conditioning the opponent and countering their choice of action; NOT from doing fast high/low mixups.  Indeed, the Low/Throw Tech Option Select allows a player to punish most empty hop mixup attempts with a simple press of a button all while blocking, so it’s never about being unable to react to a hop mixup in time.  Even characters without command grabs like K’, Kula and Kyo have historically dominated the tier lists in KOF due to them being able to play so well on offense with their normals, not because their basic offense is hard to react to.  Rather, their spacial control tools–their attacks’ speed, properties and hitboxes–and their frametraps and ways to land damage have proven to excel in KOF’s systems.

Continually blocking is easy, so easy that KOF always has a Guard Break system that inevitably encourages a defensive player to take a necessary risk to try to reverse the momentum of the match.  This means trying to counterpoke the opponent when expecting further running pressure, or throwing out a jab or strong anti-air poke to stop a hop, or Guard Rolling a blockstring and punishing the recovery of a special move, or hopping over a frametrap into a character’s sweep.  It’s these tense actions that will make or break either player.  An attempt to sweep a running opponent could be hopped over by the other player, a quick jab anti-air check could be beaten with a frametrap or by a low attack, or something risker like a roll is reactable and easily punished with a throw.  The goal on offense is to make the opponent to act (out of haste) and then capitalize on their (panic) response or in other words to force an error.  What’s an error?  Whatever you set it up to be, since everything can be countered.  Mis-timing acr.C uppercut anti-air and getting counterhit  is an error against a properly-spaced and timed jumping attack or against a tight frametrap.  Hopping forward in anticipation of a low and smacking into a neutral/backwards hop air-to-air is a mistake.  Using a cr.B when lacking frame advantage is a mistake if the offensive player does a grounded frametrap by delaying a blockstring, and if the offensive player hops the whiffed light attack the defending player will be able to block before being hit, though now the offensive player gains a bigger psychological leeway from stealing so much positional advantage from the tiny mistake and if the opponent’s startled then they might block incorrectly or fall victim to a normal throw during this miscalculated moment that only God knows.

Now let’s go back to what Ash could do after having his hitconfirm blocked.  This is just a general example of some basic options that should become familiar with players after spending some time in the series and getting the feel for standard offense.

cr.B cr.B cr.B (run) cr.B (delay into) cr.B (hyper hop forward) j.A, cr.B, (walk forward) cl.C xx b+B.

This offensive string mixes together a lot of the techniques and ideas mentioned above and it’s a fairly standard offensive threat, with this blockstring in particular featuring a lot of intentional gaps which encourage a cautious player to try sticking out a counterpoke somewhere, while a more aggressive player would be more dealt with by using a tighter strings with more rigid hitconfirms at each point.  Notice that at one point Ash walks forward to get into cl.C activation range, and since Close normals are so fast in KOF they’re wonderous in blockstrings.  In fact Ash could hitconfirm into a HD combo from the final cl.C xx b+B should it hit the opponent.

My advice is to start out basic in training mode against a dummy set on random block to get the feel for really simple offensive strings.  Try running back in into lows and try hitconfirming from that, or mix forward hops and go into your basic low series.  This should be a practice session just like when learning how to hop, so keep at this until it becomes second nature.  Once these are down pat, the importance of staggering, mystifying, and shaking up timings and blockstring types and approaches will naturally become a necessity when fighting live opponents that will react and punish predictable patterns.  Worrying about tempering your offense comes second to getting a fundamental baseline for pestering with lows, hops, strong blockstring finishers (sweeps, safe specials, beefy heavy normals), and reversal/roll/jump baits.

St. Louis will be holding a regional tournament at Danno’s American Pub on Saturday, January 14, 2012. The tournament will include games such as UMvC3, SSF4 AE 2012, KOF13, Mortal Kombat 9, and more. Many notable Midwestern players will be attending such as Big Marcus, Humbag, LogicFighter Rex0r, Slips, AKA, Sparkster, and more. LogicFighter is one of the proud sponsors of this tournament so be sure to check out the stream and you can find more information over at STL Bar Warz: Mass Appeal Madness.