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Pokkén Basics: A Comprehensive Pokkén Tournament Guide

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Welcome to Pokkén Basics, a Pokkén Tournament and Pokkén Tournament DX tutorial! I created this comprehensive guide to help new players get into Pokkén easily, and to help experienced players take their game to the next level. I've placed in several top 8s for the game since the Wii U version launch and I qualified for the 2016 Pokkén World Championships. Everything I'm going to share in these guides are tactics and strategies I've used in major tournaments and I will back them up with examples from events. Unlike most guides, I won't focus on teaching a series advanced techniques without context. After going over the basic controls and mechanics, we'll jump straight into the core of this series which is strategy building. Each chapter of this guide will have an accompanying video. Both have the same information, so pick whichever you prefer. If you already know the controls and mechanics, you'll want to check out the following chapters where I pick up the pace. If this is your first fighting game or you're totally new to Pokkén, stick around for the rest of this so I can get you caught up. Let's commence!


Pokkén Basics Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Part 1: How to Play- Objective, Controls & Mechanics

Chapter 1 Part 2: How to Play continued- Synergy Burst & Supports

Chapter 2: Ultimate Visual Glossary of Pokkén

Chapter 3 Part 1: Field Phase Overview

Chapter 3 Part 2: Field Phase Strategy

Chapter 4 Part 1: How to Read Frame Data

Chapter 4 Part 2: Applying Frame Data

Chapter 5: What is Neutral?

Chapter 6: The Wall


Volume 2


Chapter 7 Part 1: Footsies Primer

Chapter 7 Part 2: Preemptive Attacks

Chapter 7 Part 3: Whiff Punishing

Chapter 7 Part 4: Armor in Neutral

Chapter 8: Projectiles, Jumping, Anti-Airs

Chapter 9: Basic Offense

Chapter 10: Basic Defense





Table of Contents. Use ctrl+F to navigate to the desired section.

1.1 Objective

1.2 Controls

1.3 Command Counters and Command Grabs

1.4 Phases

1.5 Attack Triangle

1.1 Objective
The objective in Pokkén is to win 2 out of 3 rounds. You win a round by either depleting the opponent's hit points bar to zero or by having a higher percentage of HP left than your opponent when the timer reaches zero. You deal damage by landing attacks and throws. 

1.2 Controls 



Controls will reference the official Pokkén DX Hori Controller

You move in different directions using the D-Pad. Double tapping a direction makes you dash in that direction. In the three dimensional field phase you can walk diagonally, but you can only dash forwards backwards and sideways. As for buttons, Y is for light attacks. X is for strong attacks, B is for jump, and you can jump in multiple directions using the d-pad, and A is for Pokemon moves. These are unique attacks like special moves in other fighting games. You can see a list of all of your attacks in the move list in training mode. L is to call your support, and R is to block. When your Synergy Gauge is full you can press L+R to go into Synergy Burst. Pressing L+R again when in Synergy Burst lets you use your Burst Attack, which is like this game's version of a Super. I will often refer to this as a "Super" for most of my tutorial, so you don't get confused about using your Synergy Burst activation or the actual Burst Attack. Using the default control settings, ZL and ZR can be used to reset the screen position in training mode and different directions put the characters in a different spot. They don't do anything in a match unless you assign actions to them, but this is extremely helpful when practicing.


Pressing Y and B at the same time will do a grab. Besides shield breaks, grabs are the only way to hit opponents who are blocking. Pressing X and A together will do a counter attack. Counter attacks have armor starting frame 1 meaning they absorb and beat normal attacks. I'll elaborate on those interactions in section 1.5. You can keep holding down X and A to charge counter and you'll continue to absorb attacks as you charge. While charging, you can cancel the counter attack into a dash by pressing a direction and then R while still holding X and A. This is called a CADC or Counter Attack Dash Cancel. This is mainly used for avoiding projectiles without taking chip or shield damage. Whether you charge all the way or release immediately, there is a period of time right before the counter attack's hitbox comes out that it loses armor and is vulnerable to any attack. Strong players will abuse this to stuff reckless counter attacks. 

Many characters have unique movement. For example, characters like Blaziken and Shadow Mewtwo can dash while in the air. Shadow Mewtwo and Mewtwo can also teleport, though with different properties. Garchomp can Dig under the ground and there are many more examples. Even though there are all these different ways to move, walking is by far the safest. While you're dashing around or while you're in the air, you cannot block, and you don't have access to all of your moves instantly so you can't react to what your opponent throws out. Mix in side steps, dashes, air dashes, and other movement options after you've gotten comfortable with just walking, and only when you have a specific reason for doing so. 


By holding up or down on the D-Pad in duel phase, your character goes into either high stance or low stance. These stances have properties of varying usefulness like armoring through attacks, building synergy meter, or avoiding certain attacks entirely. You can use attacks while in these stances to do a different version of your normal attacks. High stance + Y is usually your character's anti-air attack.(High stance Y is generally referred to as 8Y. My notation and terminology chapter is upcoming, but for now this video by Mitchel will be helpful) Here is a Pokkén Arena thread by Madluk detailing stances and also a Blaziken stance video by McDareth, to give an example of the different moves characters can avoid by utilizing stances. 

1.3 Command Grabs and Command Counters


Command Grabs
Normal grabs are done by pressing Y and B at the same time, but there are also character specific grabs done with different inputs called command grabs. You can find your character's command grab if they have one in the move list section of training mode. The properties are similar to normal grabs, but they usually don't phase shift instantly and some allow for combo followups afterwards, or they just have abnormal hitboxes. 



Garchomp's Sand Tomb is a command grab done with down + A (or 2A).

Command Counters
Just like command grabs, these are character specific counter attacks. Some properties that may vary are things like having different thresholds for how long they can armor though attacks, the frame the armor properties begin, and the the total startup and frame data of the attack.



Sceptile's Leaf Blade is a command counter done with forward + A (or 6A).



Now that you know the basic controls of Pokkén, let's get into the mechanics and explain how the game actually works. Specifically, we'll be covering Phases and The Attack Triangle.

1.4 Phases 



Field Phase (left) and Duel Phase (right)

Phases are one of two signature mechanics of Pokkén. Pokkén shifts from a 3D plane to a 2D plane and back during the course of a match. You start off in field phase, and whenever a character lands certain types of attacks and most grabs, it shifts to duel phase. You can find what moves shift to duel phase in the frame data from The Apple BOOM which I'll be referencing continously. 

In duel phase, Pokkén looks similar to traditional 2D fighters and you can do much longer and more damaging combos before shifting back to field. The three main ways to shift from duel to field are: First off, maxing out an opponent's phase shift points. Phase shift points are like an invisible stun meter that never goes down. Once your character takes 12 phase shift points, the game shifts back to field phase. This is a detailed explanation of phase shift points featured on SRK. Some players are meticulous about counting phase shift points, but as long as you know which combinations of attacks lead to a shift, you won't have any problems even at the highest levels of play. The second way to shift from duel to field is a combo doing 21 hits. The last way is by landing a normal grab.

1.5 Attack Triangle



Pokkén has a very straightforward set of rules governing how the different types of attacks interact with each other. On the surface level, there are normal attacks, grabs, and counter attacks. They are also color coded to make it easier for new players to understand what's happening quickly. Normal attacks don't have any special coloring, and they beat grabs. Grabs are colored green and they beat counter attacks. Counter attacks are colored blue and they beat normal attacks. Winning an exchange in this attack triangle grants the player a critical hit which increases the damage done to the opponent and sometimes changes the frame data or other properties of the move you used to get a critical hit with.

From a glance, this seems like rock, paper, scissors. It will feel like that early on, but I assure you it is not. There are many, many exceptions to the attack triangle, and much of Pokkén's depth and fun comes from finding ways to circumvent or cheat the attack triangle. Understanding how to bypass the attack triangle requires you to view the game differently than it is presented in the in-game tutorial. First off, think of Counter Attacks as just moves having frame 1 armor like other fighting games. They are not invincible like uppercuts in Street Fighter. You can throw counter attacks of course, but more importantly, you can actually use many normal attacks against them. Since counter attacks have a long startup and impact freeze animation you can cancel many moves into a different attack or movement option that can avoid the counter attack or go through the vulnerability frames of the move on reaction. In addition, there are moves called counter pierces that specifically beat counter attacks outright. 



Shadow Mewtwo's Vortex pierces through counter attacks, circumventing the attack triangle.

Grabs beat counter attacks, but only if the grab can start up fully and if the grab's hitbox connects with the grabbable hurtbox of the counter attack. In other words, a properly timed or spaced counter attack will beat a grab. The most volatility in Pokkén comes from the fact that normal attacks beat grabs. You can mitigate this slightly by timing your grab to be meaty when an opponent first gets up. This makes most of their attacks stagger instead of actually beating your grab. But there are still specific moves that crush grabs regardless of what frame you get grabbed. In order to circumvent this, it's helpful to set up your grabs with something that can cover you if the opponent crushes it like with a support or some character specific setups. 
This means, yes, there is a high risk when it comes to grabs since the defender has to reversal with a normal to break it since there is no tech button and the attacker can lose over a third of their HP for doing so. But ultimately as as a whole, with good spacing, especially with zoning characters, and with the amount of ways to circumvent the attack triangle, Pokkén is very far from rock paper scissors. If you're having trouble dealing with standard counter attacks, check out this video from McDareth about how to deal with them

Alright now you know the very basics of Pokkén Tournament. You know the controls, and the two signature mechanics of the game which are phase shifts and the attack triangle. Practice what you've learned in training mode or against the CPU. Or play some other players that are new to the game as well just so you can get a feel for everything. In the next video we'll finish up with the groundwork for developing strategies by going over Burst Mode and Supports. There are many more chapters ready to be released so bookmark this thread or follow my social media channels so you don't miss them when they go up. Thanks for reading, have fun, and see you with the next installment of Pokkén Basics!



If you need additional resources check out this collection of materials: http://www.pokkenarena.com/forums/topic/515-where-to-find-the-resources-everybody-talks-about-but-nobody-tells-you-where-they-are/ Also check out r/PokkenGame. If you have a specific question, leave a comment (ideally in the video so I'll see it quickly) or hit me at http://www.twitter.com/badintentx.

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Chapter 1 Part 2: How to Play Continued- SYNERGY BURST & SUPPORTS


Welcome back to Pokkén Basics! Last time we went over the controls and two key mechanics, including phases and the attack triangle. Today we'll finish up with the core mechanics by explaining Synergy Burst and Supports. Charts are from Burnside's #PokkenCharts https://twitter.com/i/moments/827169536940007424.




Table of Contents. Use ctrl+F to navigate to the desired section.

1.6 Synergy Burst

1.7 Supports

1.8 Anti-Support Tactics


1.6 Synergy Burst

There is a meter next to your HP bar called your Synergy Gauge. You gain meter by doing different actions. Some examples are whiffing or connecting with attacks, initiating a phase shift, taking damage, or armoring through attacks. You also gain synergy by picking up Synergy orbs scattered on the ground. Each character needs a different amount of meter to fill their Synergy Gauge. 



Graphic by Burnside. https://twitter.com/BurnsideBH/status/917056297371136001.


Synergy by itself does not do anything, but when your gauge is full, pressing L+R puts you into Synergy Burst, or Burst Mode. When you enter Burst Mode, your character is fully invincible and creates a shockwave which knocks opponents backwards, pierces through armor, and resets your phase shift points to zero. On hit, the shockwave resets the opponent's phase shift points as well, and grants frame advantage (+8). Burst Mode gives you a 10% increase in attack and defense, and gives a slight speed buff. In addition, your character gains light armor. This means your character can absorb up to 9 light attacks before taking hitstun. I will go into detail about the different types of armor later, but for now, here is an overview of light armor and a list of moves that bypass it.


All characters, besides Chandelure, gain specific changes like extra or better hitboxes and frame data on their attacks. Characters like Gengar and Lucario become drastically different and very difficult to stop. Lastly, Burst Mode recovers some of your grey life. After a few seconds in Burst Mode without taking damage, you slowly gain even more HP back. I'll talk more about different types of armor and grey life in general in the next chapter. 


Pressing L + R while in Burst Mode does your Burst Attack or as I refer to it, your Super. These attacks are very powerful and most gain invincibility or armor very early in the animation such as frame 1 or 5. I'll dedicate a special chapter for helping you contain the different burst modes and show how to shut down every Burst Attack in the game, so look out for that. Each character stays in Burst Mode for a different period of time before the synergy bar depletes and they revert back to their normal form.



Graphic by Burnside. https://twitter.com/BurnsideBH/status/919595053072437.



1.7 Supports

The icon above your Synergy Gauge is your Support Gauge. When it's full, you can call your support. Different supports have different initial charge and recharge times. The charging times listed in-game are inconsistent, but this chart provides accurate values.



Another Burnside Graphic. https://twitter.com/BurnsideBH/status/922128513959911424



There are three types of supports. Attack, Disrupt, and Enhance. Attack supports are some sort of attack designed to hit opponents. Disrupt assists are generally defensive in nature and some of them can be used as invincible reversals or even used in pressure if you want. Enhance supports give you some sort of boost, like restoring HP, giving a stat buff, giving synergy or other boosts. Most players pick a support that directly plays to their character's strengths or covers up one of their shortcomings. For example, Lucario players often use Farfetch'd to patch up its field phase, and several Blaziken and Shadow Mewtwo players (in the final Wii U patch) often use Cresselia to compensate for the way those characters drain their own HP. Ultimately, just pick whatever Support works for your own play style.


1.8 Anti-Support Tactics

Supports can be quite annoying to deal with on the receiving end, so here are three techniques you can use to shut them down. 


-Most supports are not invincible, nor do they grant armor starting frame 1. There are exceptions like Fennekin and Umbreon, but properly timed meaty attacks and throws will usually beat out supports even before the screen freeze. Many well timed Burst Attacks can go through Fennekin anyway.

-Supports are always called from the right side of a character. This means in field phase, you can often move to your character's own right to avoid many supports and sometimes even punish them. 

-This last tactic goes for any fighting game, but once you get used to the patterns of when people like to use supports you can bait and whiff punish them with good movement like teleports and backdashes.


Finally, Cheer Skills impact your Support and Synergy Gauge drastically, so experiment with them and choose one that fits your own play style. (I'll edit in the exact values or meter that the cheer skills provide once I track that down).



Okay, you already know about the controls and mechanics from the last video, and now you know about Synergy Burst and Supports. Now when you go out and play and watch matches you'll have a pretty good understanding of what's going on. Next up is terminology and fighting game concepts, so we can finally get into the real good stuff which is strategy building. See you in chapter 2!

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Chapter 2: Ultimate Visual Glossary of Pokkén- Input Notation and Terminology



Now that you know the controls and mechanics, there are only two things stopping us from getting into strategy building! We need to cover input notation and terminology. After finishing this chapter, you'll be able to understand everything I say in future videos clearly, and you won't be lost when you're reading forum posts or listening to other players or commentators talk about the game. Some of this information is in Milln's thread, but if this is going to be a comprehensive guide, it needs everything!


Input Notation


Let's start with input notation because it will make it easier to understand all the other definitions. Pokkén players use numpad notation where the numbers in this image correspond to different directions. Just look at the number pad on your keyboard for reference. So for Shadow Mewtwo, 4A would be Miracle Eye or back A. 6A would be Zen Headbutt, 8A would by Psystrike, and 2A would be Teleport. 1A and 3A would be to teleport with down back and down-forward respectively. In field phase the notation is more straightforward. It's just forward back and side, so fY would be forward Y, and n is neutral. Closed brackets mean to hold a button down and open brackets means to release a button after holding it. w! means wallsplat and j means jump. Startup or impact of the move is i. So i9 means a move starts up in 9 frames. Here is a Blaziken combo video that shows examples of what input notation looks like for combos. 


With that out of the way let's move onto terminology or the jargon of Pokkén and fighting games in general. I'll mostly be going in alphabetical order but some of the definitions require me to explain other terms so I'll skip around just a bit.


Ultimate Visual Glossary


Air tech or Air drift 

The act of holding a direction while your character is knocked into the air to land in a different spot. Getting knocked into the air in a state where you can air tech itself is called an air reset. Air teching is especially useful after a phase shift to create distance when opponents try to run under you. Of note is that the CPU in training mode generally does either no tech or air techs backwards. 




The property of being able to absorb an attack without taking hit stun. Hit stun is when your character reels from an attack and cannot move. There are three types of armor in Pokkén. Blue armor, Red armor, and Burst mode's light armor. 



Blue armor comes from counter attacks, command counters, and certain Burst Attacks such as Suicune and Chandelure. Command counters again are character specific counter attacks done with inputs other than X+A. Blue armor doesn't have a specific limit to the amount of hits it can absorb, but they only have so many frames that they can absorb attacks. Different moves can absorb attacks for a longer duration. In general, command counters seem to have a lower threshold than normal counter attacks, but they are also more likely to flat out beat moves with a lot of hits anyway. Blue armor can be thrown and counter pierced. Throwing blue armor usually grants a critical hit but not when you grab a Support's blue armor. 


Red armor is similar to blue armor, in that it also absorbs attacks, but there are a few differences. One major difference is that the character still takes damage when absorbing attacks, unlike blue armor. Red armor can only absorb 9 hits before it wears off. Also you can NOT throw red armor, it counts as an attack for the purpose of the attack triangle. Red armor can be counter pierced, but it doesn't show a distinct animation when doing so. Lastly, red armor is not immune from phase shift points, so you can still be shifted out of duel phase when your PSP gets maxed out. Red armor isn't very common, but moves like Chandelure's Overheat, Mewtwo and Shadow Mewtwo Psystrike, and Garchomp's Burst Attack have Red Armor. Certain stances also have red or blue armor properties.


Light armor occurs in burst mode, and lets you take 9 hits from "light" attacks before wearing off. Light armor still takes damage and throws work against it like normal. And similar to red armor, you can still take PSP from light attacks. What counts as a light attack is frankly extremely arbitrary it's not just all Y moves. So I've linked a list showing all the moves that ignore Burst's light armor. Light armor is nullified by opponents who are also in Burst mode. In addition the attack up stat, such as from Eevee, circumvents light armor. Critical hits also bypass light armor.


One thing the armors share in common is that all armors still take hitstop, which is different from hit stun. When an attack makes contact with a character, -regardless of hit, block, or armor- The game has a visual sort of slow down to simulate an impact. Hitstop is also called impact freeze. For the purpose of frame data, which I'll get to shortly, it doesn't change anything. Hitstop has two actual effects on the match. First is, it delays the action of whichever characters are in hitstop. So for instance if I'm Shadow Mewtwo and I do a 5Y or jab and the opponent blocks it or gets hit, we both get stuck in impact freeze so everything plays out normally. But if I do pillar (6Y) into Miracle Eye (4A), my attack is making contact with the opponent so they get stuck in hitstop, but I am free to move normally because Shadow Mewtwo is not touching anything. Putting opponents into extra hitstop with projectiles is a good way to make your character safe from armored attacks since you can throw them or block on reaction without committing. 


The second effect of hitstop is it determines how much real world time both players have to react to a move. For example, Blaziken's 6Y by itself is unsafe on block against almost the whole cast (-12). They can usually 2Y or throw it. However, you almost never see it get punished because the amount of hitstop -or impact freeze- is so small by the time the opponent recognizes what happened on the screen and tries to punish, Blaziken has enough time to recover and block or avoid the attack. Armor generally gets stuck in hitstop longer than when you are blocking or getting hit. Even breaking a throw gives you a red armor effect, and it can cause certain combos to drop because of the delay (such as Shadow Mewtwo 6Y, 4A). Different armored moves are more resistant to hitstop than others. For instance, Lucario's Extremespeed doesn't get slowed down by very many attacks, but normal counter attacks do. Certain stances take almost no hitstop at all. Most of it is trial and error so test your attacks against different armored moves to see how your moves interact with them. 



This just means holding R to defend against an attack. Different characters have different shield strengths. Shadow Mewtwo's shield is very weak compared to Machamps so you can break it with less hits. While you're blocking, it actually slightly extends the range your opponent can throw you so be aware of that.


Block String
A block string is a series of attacks done while the opponent is blocking. While you're blocking an attack, you are in block stun. For instance doing Blaziken's 5YYY into EX Blaze Kicks is a block string. In Pokkén, most sequences of attacks have gaps, or periods where the opponent can stop blocking and interrupt your action. A blockstring with no gaps is called a true block string. In Burst mode, versus certain characters, Blaziken's 5YYY into EX Blaze Kicks is a true block string, meaning that after you block the first hit, even if you mash or put down the controller, your character is stuck block stun and cannot move for the entire sequence.


Buffering is inputting a move during the action of another move. So for instance if I'm Lucario I can press 2Y. And while it's out, I can press 6A. I'm buffering the 6A, Bone Rush, into the 2Y. If you do it quickly enough, then if the 2Y whiffs, nothing happens, but if it makes contact, the 2Y will cancel into Bone Rush. 


Counter Attack Dash Cancel. Canceling your Counter Attack into a dash by holding X+A and then pressing R and then a direction while still holding X+A. 



A cancel is the act of stopping your move's recovery early and doing a different move. So if I press 5Y with Shadow Mewtwo it does jab then stops. If I press 5YY, it stops the ending animation of his jab to do another one. You can cancel different moves into different attacks like Pokemon moves, or sometimes jumps. Moves that can be canceled into Pokemon moves are known as special cancelable moves.



Clashing is when two moves connect with each other on the same frame. I will explain frame data shortly. Moves of weaker strength lose and creates and explosive impact freeze animation, while moves of the same strength trade and neither character takes damage. Strength of a move is kind of an arbitrary value so it's trial and error to find out if two moves will clash. I have a video showing examples of clashing.



A combo happens when you hit the opponent with an attack, and then hit them with another attack before they can block again. An easy way to see if your attack actually combos is to go in training mode and set the CPU to stand still and react with block. Then do two attacks; if it actually combos they won't be able to block the second hit. If the CPU ever blocks in the middle of your attacks, either the attacks don't combo or your timing for the combo was incorrect.


Critical Hit
A critical hit occurs when you win an exchange in the attack triangle. But I'm not going to go in depth here, that's in chapter 1!



Exhaust is the transition from Burst Mode back to your regular form when your Synergy Gauge runs out. Crow actually wrote an article on SRK that explains it better than I could. But basically, once your meter runs out and you're on the ground, not in the middle of any action, you flash white. During this time, most of your inputs get canceled out except for block. However, you do get a little bit of invincibility. You can use a move that should be punishable or get exhausted while stuck in certain combos and you might phase through the opponent's attack. Usually this just ends up messing up your inputs, but if you're aware that your burst is going to run out, you can hold any direction on the D-Pad and it will give you extra invincibility. Many people do not know this, and even people who do know about it like me, don't really use it to its full potential so a lot of times you'll see people go for grabs when the other player is about to go into exhaust. If you try to break the throw a lot of times your input won't come out and you'll get thrown anyway, which is why people do it. So it is best to hold a direction, then try to break the throw normally.


Frame Data
Frame data is something I'm going to make a separate video on, but here's the fast version. Pokkén, like most fighting games, runs at 60 frames per second. This means that 60 still images are shown every second to give the illusion of movement on the screen. So one frame is 1/60th of a second. Now every attack has a different amount of startup, active frames and recovery animation. These are all measured in frames and the collection of that information is called frame data.


Here is an example: The startup of an attack, say Shadow Mewtwo's 2Y is 9 frames. That means it takes 9/60 of a second from the time the game accepts your input for the 2Y to become active. Active frames are when a move has a hitbox and can connect with your opponent. Recovery is the time it takes for your character to return to a neutral state after the active frames so you can do something else, like block. As of this writing, there's no public data on the number of active frames or recovery on whiff, so the most important things to know are the startup frames of your attack and the frame data on hit or block. So if my attack is +12 on hit, that means I recover 12 frames before my opponent. In other words, my opponent is still stuck in hitstun for 12/60ths of a second after my character has recovered and can move again. So now I can use any move that is 12 frames or faster to hit my opponent again while they are still recovering. Hitting an opponent while they are already in hitstun leads to a combo. Now if I'm minus -12. Say I do Blaziken's 6Y from my hitstop example. If my opponent blocks this move, that means they recover 12 frames before I do and they can act while my character is still in their recovery animation and can punish me with any move that is 12 frames or faster.


An upcoming chapter will explain how to learn and implement frame data into your game, but for now just remember just know that it's super important to improving your game so check out this amazing frame data sheet created by The Apple BOOM.


Grey Life
Your HP bar starts as one solid color, but as the match progresses, some of the damage you take becomes grey life, or recoverable HP. Some people call it white life, doesn't matter. You can recover some of your health by using a support, winning a field phase, or activating Burst Mode. On the other hand, losing field phase or getting wall blasted takes away recoverable HP for good. Characters that do recoil damage to themselves like Charizard, Blaziken, and Shadow Mewtwo, are always looking for ways to restore that HP back before it gets removed completely.



Attacks have multiple heights. The basic divisions are high, mid, and low. But there are also mid-highs, mid-lows, and special mids. You can see them in order:




There is a detailed thread from Pentao, the Bone Rush Jesus, that details all the different height interactions. Highs strike near a character's head and most characters can duck them. The characters that cannot duck highs are Blaziken, Garchomp, Mewtwo, Shadow Mewtwo, and Machamp. Lows hit the lower portion of a character. You can jump lows frame 1, meaning if your character just got stood up after being knocked down, if you mash B, you'll jump over a low even if their attack is already out. So highs can be ducked and lows can be jumped over. Mids cannot be ducked or jumped over. There are also mid-lows and mid-highs which are similar to mids but with some shortcomings. Mid lows can be jumped frame 5 and mid-highs lose to moves with upper body invincibility. 8Ys have upper body invincibility usually starting frame 5, but sometimes frame 1 so they are good to anti air opponent's jumping attacks which are generally considered mid-highs.


Profiling is the act of avoiding a move with another. So if I use a 2X or 2Y to go under a move that means I low profiled it. A high profile would be using a move like Blaziken's 8X which goes over mid-lows on frame 9. 



A hit box is the part of an attack that can damage the opponent. 



Hit Confirm
Hit confirming is doing an attack or multiple attacks to give your brain time to register if your move landed successfully or not. So for Blaziken, I would do YY against an opponent and by the time the second Y finishes I will be able to react and go ok this is hitting and go into Sky Uppercut. If it's blocked I can just stop, or cancel into a safer Pokemon move, or jump cancel away. I wouldn't just run up and Sky Uppercut raw because I'll get pushed for that if it's blocked. 


A hurtbox is the part of a character that can be hit by an opponent's hitbox. So for instance, holding down with Lucario, shifts its hurtbox so it avoids Blaziken's 5Y hitbox. 



Collision Box
Similar to a hurt and hitbox is a collision box. This is the part of a character, generally their center that doesn't let them pass through other characters. Some moves like teleports make your character vanish, remove your hurtbox and pass through opposing hitboxes but sometimes they still cannot pass through an opponent's collision box. 



Homing Cancel
Homing attack is done with X in field. You can break a throw with homing, then press block and the opponent will still be in their throw recovery animation. So you can follow up with whatever attack you want. Homing canceling is safer than breaking throws with other attacks or the regular homing because you don't have to commit to a move. You can also use homing and then block immediately against single hitting attacks like Burst Mode's shockwave. When you do this it's called Perfect Blocking.



Instant Air Dash
Tthe act of air dashing as fast as possible. So for Mewtwo it's doing its air dash very low to the ground. Blaziken and other characters use the same term, but Mewtwo's is the only air dash that I would actually consider instant. 



Just Frame
A property that certain attacks have where if you do the inputs with perfect timing or on the correct frame, then you get a better, usually more powerful version of your attack.



A knockdown, also known as a hard knockdown, is when your character is knocked to the ground obviously, but not when they just tumble. It's specifically when they fall down and they're stuck on the ground for a set period of time. It is important to know what moves cause hard knockdowns because you can do consistent setups after them since the opponent always rises at the same time and in the same spot unlike air resets.



Starting up a move as you're landing to reduce the recovery frames of your landing. So if I'm Shadow Mewtwo, and I do jumping Y then right before I press the ground I press A to do Reflect, Shadow Mewtwo will turn blue but Reflect won't come out. I canceled the recovery of landing into reflect which gives me less frame disadvantage when I land.



A link is a combo where your character returns to neutral at some point before you use your next attack. So doing Blaziken's 5Y into Blaze Kicks is a cancel. But doing 5X into Blaze Kicks is a link because Blaziken had to return to neutral before doing so.


A lockout is when all of your inputs, except for block are temporarily disabled. Certain homing attacks like Mewtwo, Shadow Mewtwo, and Machamp have this property of locking out all the opponent's inputs so you can safely pressure them without worrying about reversals. DX they removed this property from these moves, but it's good to know the term anyway. You might hear some people call this a frame trap, but that's not an accurate way to describe a lockout. A frame trap is when you leave an intentional gap in your block string to bait opponents to press a button to escape. But when they fall into your "trap" and they get hit because you still have frame advantage. A lockout is a type of frame trap, but the difference is the opponent literally can't move or press any buttons at all except for block.


Meaty is a tough one because the original definition got split into two. Most attacks have multiple active frames. So let's say for instance a move has 5 active frames. (I don't actually know how many active frames any individual attack has). A meaty attack would be using the move so that only the last frame or at least later frames connect with the opponent. So I'd make it so this move connected on its 5th active frame for instance. What this does, depending on the move is grant your attack more frame advantage than it normally would. I'll explain why in my frame data video. In order to actually do this, you usually have to hit the opponent just as they are getting up so the first few active frames whiff and only the end connects with them. This is why the act of hitting an opponent just as they get up (or recover from an air reset) is also called a meaty.



Is any sort of setup or move that you do when the opponent is getting up from a knockdown or air reset. Oki often gets used synonymously with meaty. 


Option Select
An option select is when you do an input a series of inputs where you get a different action depending on the circumstance. A few examples are the most basic buffer option select. So like that Lucario example from before, whiffing 2Y and buffering 6A on whiff, nothing comes out but only on contact, will Bone Rush come out. The option selects in Pokkén that I use personally are based on Poke combos and I'll show an example at the end of this. Option selects vary a lot in terms of usefulness and how much execution is required. I'll make an entire video about this in one of the later chapters because it's a pretty complex topic that not very many people understand, even people who throw the term around a lot.


Poke Combo
A poke combo is a specific type of cancel where you cancel the same button into itself. So Y into Y. If you look at your character's move list you'll see a ton of Poke combos. Poke combos seem to be made to allow people to mash out combos easily, but they way the implemented actually makes it super complicated so here's the deal. In duel phase pressing YY does your jab canceled into a followup normal attack. But after the second Y there's a ton of variation. So with Blaziken Y three times does this string of punches into a knee but for Shadow Mewtwo pressing Y three times does the two jabs but the third Y actually activates Psywave which is a Pokemon move. In duel phase, somewhere in each character's Poke combo is going to be a Pokemon move. So with Blaziken, pressing Y four times ends with Blaze Kicks. So basically the game did 3Ys but the fourth Y was your Pokemon move which was actually forward A. In the Shadow Mewtwo example, two Ys is the jabs, the third Y is Psywave and if you keep pressing Y you'll do the Psywave slashes. 


When you get to the Pokemon move part of your Poke combo, you don't have to end it the way the game wants you to by default. The Y just acts as A and whichever direction the game pre assigns. You can hold the 4th Y to give you EX Blaze Kicks instead of the regular version for instance or end the combo in another Pokemon move with a different button. Poke combos work similarly to how chains work in the Budokai games in the sense that even after you've input several buttons, you can overwrite your inputs with other buttons as long as you do it before the character gets to that part of the combo. So if you're mashing YYYY but you decide part way that you want to do Blaze Kicks instead, you can do 6A at any point and it will cancel out the remaining Ys.


Poke combos also apply to moves in other directions. So for Lucario's 2YYY Pokecombo you can change the Pokemon move into whatever you want. In fact, I suggest whenever you get to the Pokemon move part of your Poke combo to stop pressing Y and instead press A and whatever direction you want so you have full control over your Poke combo. This is the only way you can do Blaziken's YYY canceled into EX Heat Wave because doing the fourth Y without holding a direction will always give you Blaze Kicks.


Field phase has a similar mechanic with ranged moves, but instead of Poke combos the game calls it link up with ranged attack. In field phase, doing YY will generally cancel your Y into your forward Y, but you should just manually cancel whenever possible. There are Poke combos you can do from the ground, from the air, all kinds. Bottom line is Poke combos are the game's way of allowing you to easily do combos by canceling the same button into itself.


Safe Jump
A safe jump is a jumping attack timed so that the attacker can block in time to be safe from reversal. A reversal is any attack that you do during your wake up or during a block string on the first frame you can move. 



Throw Crush
Throws are broken using any normal attack. Breaking a throw is called throw teching or just teching. However, if the throw hits you early in your attack's startup animation, you will stagger and not do any damage in return. Throw crushes are specific moves that always beat throws without staggering. All 8Xs, all homing attacks, and i9 startup moves crush throws. List of throw crushes are also found in Pentao's thread.



Wall Blast
When a character gets phase shifted after a wall splat, so the game blasts them off again! This gets rid of grey life and forces distance between the two characters.



Wall Splat
When a character is hit against a wall and get stuck to it. Characters take more damage while they are stuck to a wall and the strongest combos in Pokkén come from wall Splats.


PHEW! Now you know all the terminology necessary to dive into Pokkén fully equipped with knowledge! But where do you start? How do you create a strategy? I'll tell you exactly how to dominate out the gate in Chapter 3: Field Phase Strategy! 

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Chapter 3 Part 1: Field Phase Overview



At this point you know the controls, mechanics, and terminology and concepts of Pokkén. But when you get into a real match and the first round starts… What do you do? I'm going to teach you how to create your own strategies from the ground up, starting with field phase. But first, in order to do that, I'm going to provide a super quick overview of how field phase works and go over a few field specific options.


Table of Contents. Use ctrl+F to navigate to the desired section.

3.1 Ranged Attacks
3.2 Projectile priority
3.3 Homing Attacks
3.4 Field Shortcomings

3.1 Ranged Attacks
Let's start with the Y attacks, which the game calls Ranged Attacks. nYs are linear attacks and they usually only combo on hit from far away, but characters like Chandelure can combo from any distance. They are used for poking at an opponent who is getting too close. sY moves you to the side that you choose. Some characters move farther than others, and the best side Ys are extremely good for lateral movement which I'm going to explain the importance of in the second part of this chapter. fYs are your go to poke when you want to hit the opponent. They go far, and they're generally either safe on block or they push back so much that it's hard or impossible for the opponent to punish. Your opponent can counter or CADC through it usually, but from max distance it's a great option. If you don't know what to do in field, fY is a good choice. Just don't whiff it, because the recovery animations are pretty long. bYs vary a lot and are character specific. Some of them are okay anti airs, but really it's trial and error.


3.2 Projectile Priority
All projectiles, not just normal ranged attacks, but also Pokemon moves have different priorities. This means some projectiles will completely bypass others, some will go through each other, and some will trade and cancel each other out. Her is an excellent spreadsheet of all the different projectile priorities by Shadowcat. You don't have to memorize the entire spreadsheet, but it is important to know how your best projectiles interact with other characters since it will help you decide whether you can zone effectively, or if you have to go on the offensive. More on that in part 2 of this chapter.


3.3 Homing Attacks
X is your Homing Attack. Just like it sounds, it homes in and tracks your opponent. Once you press it, in order to cancel it you need to press block or jump. You can also home to the left or to the right. This increases the startup, but it lets you avoid certain attacks or setups that you wouldn't be able to with normal homing. Homing attacks have 2 or 3 different parts. Meaning the initial hit with X and then either one or two moves after it with XX or XXX. Whether your character has two or three hits of homing, you can charge the last one all the way and that breaks shields and counter pierces. However, the last hit has significant startup so unless you have some sort of a setup it is quite risky to charge the last hit because it can be interrupted. Ideally, you'll want to hit confirm after the first hit of 2 part homings and after the second hit of 3 part homings. The inherent flaw with homing attacks is they have a distinct startup animation that looks different from walking. Meaning, opponents will start charging counter on reaction to it. Because of this, I feel homing is best used for whiff punishing or poking through the end of counter attacks that have been charging for a while already.


One of the best uses for homing attacks is breaking throws. Homing attacks are throw crushes, meaning they beat throws every time instead of getting staggered. And remember how I said you can cancel your homing into block? Well you can break a throw with homing, then press block (or jump) and the opponent will still be in their throw recovery animation. You can then follow up with whatever attack you want. Homing canceling is safer than breaking throws with other attacks or the regular homing because you don't have to commit to a move and you will not get hit if the opponent went for a counter attack. Homing canceling is very low risk and the only real way to beat it is to walk up to the opponent and throw them really late after you anticipate their homing cancel will already be over. This of course is its own risk because you can get thrown waiting for the opponent to make a move. Long story short, if possible when you expect an opponent to throw you, homing cancel it. And if you want to throw someone in field, delay your throw attempt. Personally, I believe shield breaks are a safer and more consistent method of winning field phase than going for a throw.


3.4 Field Phase Shortcomings
There is an overall lack of speed and precision of attacks. In field phase, the fastest normal attacks are usually way slower than the fastest moves in duel. For instance, Blaziken's fastest normal is 17 frames in field, but 9 frames in duel. When it comes to precision, duel phase gives you pretty complete control over the exact spot you want your limbs to go. In field phase, there are a lot of blind spots. Specifically, most characters don't have a fast move that they can use to hit opponents right on top of their head, meaning many anti airs are quite suspect in field. What this means is field phase emphasizes overall spacing and movement rather than close quarters combat, because you have more control over what you want to do from far away and less speed and precision up close. Also, this lets you abuse certain aerial attacks without fear of being anti aired, so you can take advantage of that.


Now you should have a good understanding of field phase. We went over ranged attacks, projectile priority, homing attacks and homing canceling, as well as some of the limitations of field phase. Now- FINALLY- let's get into some strategy building. See you soon.

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Chapter 3 Part 2: Field Phase Strategy... AKA How to Win Field Phase



Now we're getting to the best part and focus of my guide which is strategy building. I am going to teach you how to create an effective strategy for winning field phase. 


Table of Contents. Use ctrl+F to navigate to the desired section.
3.5 Choosing your role
3.6 The Aggressor
3.7 The Counter Striker


3.5 Choosing your role

To win field phase consistently, you need a plan with a clear objective. Pokkén's objective is to either deplete the opponent's HP bar to zero or to have more HP left than the opponent when time runs out. Therefore, our strategy is going to focus on either one of those two objectives. Here is an analogy to help you pick which objective you want to pursue: 



Think of field phase like a UFC or mixed martial arts octagon.


If you've ever watched an MMA match, you'll notice the fighters generally pick one of two distinct roles. The aggressor and the counter striker. The aggressor wants to close the distance and deal damage to the opponent. Just like Pokkén's objective, depleting the opponent's HP bar to 0. The counter striker wants to widen the gap between the opponent and avoid taking damage. They mostly sneak in hits when the opponent lunges at them, and they aim to win by scoring points from the judges. In Pokkén, that is like winning by time out. Which role you pick is going to be based on your own personal style, but it is important to also consider your character choice and the matchup. For example, if I am Shadow Mewtwo being a counter striker against Blaziken is easy. I do not have much trouble chucking Psywave Blasts at Blaziken and jumping and dodging all around the screen. But against Chandelure, trying to do the same thing gets my projectiles out prioritized, and if i'm playing defensively, I will get my shield broken easily all the way from full screen. So it is clear I need to be the aggressor in that matchup. If you don't know which role to pick, a good principle is if your zoning tools are getting out prioritized, you probably should be the aggressor. And if your projectiles are winning, you can just stick with being a counter striker. Once you pick your role in field phase, stick to it. You can branch out later, but for now pick one and commit.


3.6 The Aggressor

Let's say I pick Blaziken who is like a Ronda Rousey type of character who likes to attack the opponent relentlessly. I will need to close the gap, but I cannot just dash forward in a straight line or I will get hit. I also cannot just start lunging from far away because my opponent, the counter striker, will be waiting for me to whiff and whiff punish me. If you want to safely and consistently close the gap as the aggressor, you need to do two things: 


#1. Occupy and deny the center of the screen. Not like kind of around the middle, stand in the actual center. Otherwise, the counter striker can move all over the stage indefinitely, nullifying your ability to close the gap and deal damage to them. You can often take over the center by simply walking and blocking and the counter striker will usually naturally back off a bit. But if they don't, moves like sY and fY are good for dislodging opponents from the center. If the opponent is also an aggressive type and refuses to move when you get close, then they do your job for you and now you can try to pressure them without even needing step two.



Stand here.


#2. Once you are in control of the center, the goal is to close the distance and force the opponent towards the wall. This is done by picking a specific point on the wall, doesn't really matter where, and walking the opponent towards that point. You need to cut off the angles leading away from that point. For example, if you are walking an opponent towards your desired spot and they start to run to their right, cut them off with something like a side Y and then when you see them walk the other direction, intercept them. Characters with traps like Shadow Mewtwo can set up things like side Y mirrors to one side and immediately cut off the other side before the opponent can escape. If your opponent is throwing projectiles at you, side stepping will avoid a ton of them while still advancing you forward. Good counter strikers are going to keep you side stepping and pushing you back with a barrage of projectiles, but that's okay. If the opponent starts to drift away from your desired point, pick a new one and keep slowly pushing them towards it. Be persistent. The reason you want the opponent at the wall is because now they can no longer widen the gap between you two and you don't have to worry about whiffing attacks and getting whiff punished. 



Pick any spot on the wall and push the opponent towards that point.


Now you're in! What you do once you're up close is character specific, but here are some guidelines. If the opponent tends to block by default when you get up close, use something that gets you frame advantage so you can do shield damage and get right in their face. If they like to counter, and you can usually tell because they'll be CADC'ing a lot as you try to approach, you'll probably want to start off your offense with something that counter pierces or is at least safe from or beats counter attacks. Or just walk close to them with just enough space to block a homing attack on reaction, wait for them to charge counter, and immediately grab it. If you don't know the opponent's tendencies, try to poke at them to see what they do before deciding how you want to pressure. Remember, throws seem like quick ways to open opponents up, but since homing cancels are very strong in field phase it is easier and safer to go for some sort of shield break. Speaking of, it is really tempting to rush in with a homing attack, but unless you're point blank, people are going to react to the animation with counter attack, and in general engaging with moves up close that don't pierce or avoid counters is quite risky. I tend to avoid using homing unless I am trying to whiff punish someone or to poke through the ending frames of a counter attack after it has been charging for a while. I have an upcoming video about specific ways to penetrate through an opponent's defenses.

Aggressor Summary
Slowly walk and block forward then side step projectiles. Take control of the center, push the opponent to the wall and cut off their escape routes, then rush them down. Apply this in your very next game!


3.7 The Counter Striker
The counter striker's objective is to have more HP left than the opponent when time runs out. So they want to widen the gap and avoid taking damage. There's a good chance they won't actually win by time out, but by making the opponent rush at them so they don't get timed out, they get a lot of free damage in the process. A counter striker could be a character like Shadow Mewtwo, Darkrai, or Braixen. Think of Holly Holm or Floyd Mayweather for a fighting or boxing equivalent. They constantly bob and weave away from the opponent's attacks and clip them when they overextend. Thulius, a two time Pokkén Worlds qualifier, fully embraces this style of play in field. 



Use your lateral (side to side) movement to evade your opponent while staying near the center of the screen.


The key for the counter striker is lateral movement. As the more passive player, you would like to be in the center point, but you are more benefited by moving laterally -or side to side- around the center point. If the opponent gets too close, back dashing or depending on the character, jumping back can also be a good way to evade. Take advantage of the side Ys that move your character a far distance horizontally to maintain your spacing. Avoid the walls and never stay in one spot for an extended period. Make yourself hard to hit by becoming a moving target. The purpose of your projectiles is to push opponents back or chip at their shield. You can go for moves like fY to get an easy phase shift the opponent keeps rushing in. The counter striker's job is to bait some sort of lunge or whiff and then whiff punish. Alternatively, characters with good shield breaks can fire at the opponent from a distance and shift into duel safely that way. An example is Chandelure. 


Counter-Striker Summary
Use the threat of time out to get easy phase shifts and shield breaks. Most strong field phase characters combine good lateral movement with shield breaking. First you chip at the opponent's shield while moving evasively, to provoke actions. Then, if they lunge, whiff punish. If they are content to block, shield break. Setting up some sort of trap that beats counter attacks is an excellent way to get free shield breaks.



With that framework, you now have a consistent, battle tested field phase strategy that you can modify based on your own character and playstyle. Just remember the octagon, remember the aggressor wants to take the center, close the gap and push to the wall and the counter striker wants to play the clock. This means widen the gap, avoid the walls, and do chip damage and get whiff punishes. As soon as round 1 starts in your next match, implement these strategies, and start winning games.

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Chapter 4 Part 1: How to Read Frame Data


Last chapter we covered field phase strategy in its entirety. In order to go into that same level of depth in duel phase, we have to learn frame data.


Table of Contents. Use ctrl+F to navigate to the desired section.
4.1 What is frame data and why is it important?
4.2 Breaking it down


4.1 First off, what is frame data and why is it important? 

Frame data is the mathematics of all the attacks and movement options in a video game. Pokkén Tournament, like other fighting games, runs at 60 frames per second. Meaning 60 still images are played quickly one after another on the screen every second to give the illusion of movement. Frame data measures the speed of attacks and other actions in frames. The fastest attacks in Pokkén are 11 frames or 11/60ths of a second. 


Why is frame data important? Knowing frame data is the only way to have a true understanding of what is happening on the screen. If you're blocking an attack or sequence of attacks, the best way to know what your proper response should be is to know how fast your and your opponents moves are and what their properties are on hit and block. That is what frame data tells you. So let's get into how to understand and read frame data. If you click the link at the beginning it will actually take to a key that gives a brief explanation of how to read the information, but I'll explain it here anyway because Part 2 of this chapter will get complex quickly if you don't understand how to read it.


4.2 Breaking it down
As I mentioned, every attack has a speed or startup that it comes out. Secondly, it has a set number of active frames, or the amount of time the attack has a hitbox and can damage an opponent. Lastly, there is recovery of the move. This is how long it takes the attacking character to move freely again after executing their move. How fast you can recover, or move again in relation to the opponent changes on hit or block. Recovery frames on whiff are not in the frame data document, but strong attacks generally have longer recovery animations than light attacks and therefore can be whiff punished easier. the following will be an overview of how to read the frame data spreadsheet using a local copy I have. Your values may be slightly different as values get updated regularly as errors are found.


In the frame data document, created by the AppleBOOM (now managed by Milln) you will see something like...



-The first column has the command for your attack in numpad notation. This corresponds to the numbers on a keyboard number pad so 6A for Blaziken is forward A or Blaze Kicks. 
-Type is whether the attack is a normal, a grab, or a counter attack. N/A is for movement options like air dashes or things like Synergy Burst shockwaves.
-Imp is short for impact. That's the startup of your attack. So as you can see Blaziken's 6A or Blaze Kicks, starts up in 15 frames. Also written as i15. 
-Blk is the frame data on block. I'll go over the numbers shortly.
-Hit F is for hit frame data in field phase and Hit D is for hit in duel phase. Here you can see all the attacks that will instantly cause a phase shift from field to duel.


In the Hit and Block columns, there are all these numbers. These numbers show how fast the attack recovers in relation to the opponent. In other words, after an attack hits or gets blocked, this information shows who gets to move first. For example, Blaziken's 5Y (listed as Y) in duel phase is -4 on block. And 0 on hit. This means that if the opponent blocks your 5Y, you won't recover (be able to move again) until 4 frames after your opponent can move. Blaziken's 5Y is also 0 on hit. So if you hit the opponent, both characters will recover at the same time. 


The rest of the columns are:

-Phase shift points which I explained in chapter 1 which is an invisible counter that causes a phase shift once it hits 12.

-Damage is self explanatory,

-Height is where a move hits, explained in chapter 2, and then there's notes. This is where you'll see things like counter piercing, recoil, and other propertiers.


All of these columns are important, but where people get tripped up is trying to memorize the numbers in the hit and block sections. Or just being lazy and not even remembering the notations for all the moves. Now you know how to read frame data. In part two of this chapter, I'll explain how to properly utilize it to gain an advantage in matches.


Cool information:
Average human reaction time according to Human Benchmark Test https://www.humanbenchmark.com/tests/reactiontime/statistics is about 17 frames (283 milliseconds). Combined with Pokkén's input delay of 9 frames http://forums.shoryuken.com/discussion/comment/10974565/#Comment_10974565, it means that on average, people will be able to react to moves that are around 26 frame or slower, but moves 25 frames and faster are very difficult to interrupt on reaction. 

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Chapter 4 Part 2: Applying Frame Data



You know how to read frame data, but how do you apply it in games? Here are some ways to utilize your knowledge of frame data on block, frame data on hit, and other specific frame data information in real matches. Document: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/108awMgIuD21L0d1SQneG9w3KOyzwmWQ8335mkrOmm54/edit#gid=1602977002


Table of Contents. Use ctrl+F to navigate to the desired section.
4.3 Frame Data on Block

4.4 Frame Data on Hit

4.5 Height and Armor interactions

4.6 Info for Nerds (Variable frame data)
4.3 Frame data on Block  
Frame data is most useful for knowing what moves are advantageous on block or hit, meaning which character can act first after a move makes contact. This is how you determine if a move is punishable, if a move is safe, or if a move is advantageous and you need to keep blocking. A punishable move is a move so negative that the opponent can hit you before you can block again.  
Blaziken's 2X is -12 on block. That means if an opponent has a move that starts up in 12 frames or faster, they can use it to punish. For example, Lucario can punish with 2Y which has a startup of 11 frames. If you're having trouble knowing what to do when an opponent is attacking your shield, the first thing to do is look up your opponent's moves and find out their frame data on block. Once you know exactly how negative each move is, you'll be able to retaliate once they lose frame advantage or interrupt the opponent or get out of the way of slower attacks that keep the opponent plus on block. You don't have to sit there and try to memorize all the frame data in a single sitting like reading a book studying for a test. Just play some games, remember the animations of the attacks that you were having trouble with or don't know about, find them in the frame data sheet and focus on those. Learn how big the gaps are in your opponent's pressure and when you can strike back. This is the fastest way to gain understanding of any matchup. Without doing this, you're basically just playing in the dark and hoping you get lucky and land a hit.  

However, in the heat of a match, especially in a tournament sometimes you will get overwhelmed by attacks that you are not used to. An easy way to tell if you just blocked a move with significant frame advantage is by looking for the yellow flash on the screen and a stagger back animation from your character. That generally means your opponent is positive but not always.



Lucario's 6[X] is +8 on block and causes a yellow flash and stagger back animation from the opponent. jY and 4[A] do the same.


Frame data can help you determine whether or not you can continue your offense afterwards. Blaziken's 8X is +4 on block, so after the opponent blocks it, if both characters do a move of the same speed afterwards Blaziken's will come out first and win. Well unless the move had armor or some sort of invincibility. Also, two moves clash when they connect on the exact same frame. Such as when Blaziken is +4 and uses a 15 frame move against Lucario's 11 frame move. This either causes both characters to stagger back and do no damage, or the stronger attack (strength is an arbitrary property), will cause an explosion effect, increase hitstop and beat out the weaker attack. 


4.4 Frame data on Hit
From our previous example, Blaziken's 8X is +8 on hit meaning you it recovers 8 frames before the opponent instead of 4, but since Blaziken does not have any 8 frame moves, it still cannot combo after it. The fastest moves in Pokkén are 11 frames. If a move has enough frame advantage, you can combo after it. Shadow Mewtwo's 8X is +12 on hit, meaning you can move 12 frames before the opponent can move or block again. So you can use a move 12 frames or faster, like 2YY which is 11 frames to continue your combo. Following up a move with another move after the first move recovers is called a link. Combos are also possible using cancels, which is interrupting the recovery of a move into another move. Frame data does not incorporate cancel data because there is so much variation, so it is up to you to find what combos you can do using both links and cancels. 


4.5 Height and Armor Interactions
Even if your move starts up faster than the opponent's, it might not win for various reasons. Counter attacks have armor starting frame one and so do most command counters and red armored attacks. Also, your opponent's attack may have upper, lower, or full body invincibility. 8Ys are usually used as anti-airs because they have upper body invincibility starting on frame 5. Specifically, they are invincible against highs, and mid highs, starting frame 5. Some, like Chandelure's 8Y have this property starting frame 1. Most attacks that have some sort of airborne animation avoid lows early in the animation like 8Xs. Sometimes they avoid mid-lows early too. And remember that jumping avoids lows from the first frame, so it's usually not a very good idea to meaty someone with a low attack. Also jumping avoids mid-lows starting around frame 5.



Barring a few exceptions, 8Ys, even very slow ones, can be used to beat out aerial attacks due to upper body invincibility frame 5. (Gengar and Chandelure are frame 1)


With these interactions in mind, you can modify your defensive (or offensive) options based on how much frame advantage your opponent has. If your opponent is +8, you can jump back and avoid 11f lows because of jumping's frame 1 low invincibility and 15f mid lows because of frame 5 mid-low invincibility. This will still lose to 15 frame mids, mid-highs, and highs, but if your character has an armored attack in the air like Shadow Mewtwo's reflect you can avoid certain characters entire movesets even at -8 without having to guess.

Info for nerds

4.6 Variable frame data:
The frame data document is not absolute. Some of the data is the document is actually just wrong so if something doesn't seem right, there's a decent chance that it isn't. But aside from that, frame data for a move can vary depending on how the move connects. We know that moves have startup frames, active frames, and recovery frames. A move can make contact with the opponent on any of those active frames. Usually moves connect on their first active frame; in fact the entire frame data document lists moves as if they hit on their first frame. However, using certain setups or specific spacing, moves can hit later in these frames. This gives you more frame advantage that what is listed.


For instance, Shadow Mewtwo's 6X canceled into Miracle Eye is not listed in the frame data, but it is somewhere between +12 and +14 on hit. So, you can link 11 frame moves after it, but not 15 or slower. However, if you hit late in the move's active frames with a setup such as: 6X 5A(2)YYY... 2X, 6X, 4A... then the meaty 6X hits late in its active frames and allows Shadow Mewtwo to connect 15 frame moves after it. 


How this works is every move has a set total animation length which includes startup, active frames, and recovery. Once you hit on an active frame, the move puts your opponent into a set amount of hit stun or block stun and then you have a set amount of recovery. By hitting with a move late in its active frames, your character puts the opponent in the same amount of hit stun or block stun, but you are farther along in your animation. So if you hit on the second active frame, that's one frame of animation that your character already skipped before your opponent goes into hit stun or block stun so it translates into an extra frame of advantage after the move is done. This same principle is why dive kicks and jumping attacks have less frame advantage when done high in the air and more when done lower to the ground. Hitting lower to the ground reduces the amount of frames the attacking character has to transition to the ground although the defender is always taking the same amount of hit stun or block stun. For this reason, rather than accepting the numbers listed in the frame data document for jumping attacks as concrete, test how much they vary depending on height for yourself. You will notice the data on both hit and block can vary wildly from what is listed. Bottom line, hitting with moves late in their active frames makes you recover faster in relation to how fast the opponent does, which can grant you more frame advantage and make you safer from armored reversals like counter attacks.


Don't avoid learning frame data. It only stunts your growth as a Pokkén and fighting game player. Knowing attack startup speeds, and their frame data on block and hit will improve your offensive pressure and give you knowledge for how to improve your defense drastically. Remember, don't try to memorize everything at once, keep the frame data sheet up every time you play matches and try to memorize a few attacks every session. That's it for Chapter 4. See you soon!

Cool information: 
Average human reaction time to visual stimuli according to Human Benchmark Test is about 17 frames (283 milliseconds).   
Combined with Pokkén's input delay of 9 frames, it means that on average, people will be able to react to moves that are 26 frame or slower, but moves 25 frames and faster can be very difficult to interrupt on reaction

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Chapter 5: What is Neutral?


Table of Contents. Use ctrl+F to navigate to the desired section.
5.1 What is Neutral

5.2 Importance of Winning Neutral


5.1 What is neutral?

This is perhaps the most debated philosophical question about fighting games and thus in Pokkén Tournament. Today I'm going to give my answer on what neutral is, and why having control of it is key to winning a match. I was originally going to make one chapter called duel phase strategy just like my field phase guide, but there are just so many important concepts to cover I decided to just break them all down into their own chapters. Winning duel phase or any fighting game really comes down to winning neutral. So why not start with the most overarching question, what is neutral?

When your character is not committed to any action and can move freely, meaning they're not crouching, jumping, blocking attacking, etc. they are considered in a neutral state. 

But when people talk about the neutral game, they're talking about spacing. Neutral is the midrange game where both characters can move freely, the characters are not point blank and when neither character is in the corner.


5.2 Importance of Winning Neutral
Your definition of neutral might vary slightly, but anyone will agree on its importance. Fighting games start off in neutral. And the way you get damage is by winning this war of spacing. Winning neutral either nets you damage directly from pokes, grants you a knockdown to allow for mixups, or pushes the opponent towards the corner. 

Winning neutral does not mean avoiding approaching the opponent and purely poking at them. It just means seizing control of the space on the screen, regardless of how you do it. I think this is why characters like Blaziken get a bad reputation. Blaziken gets torn to shreds if it tries to out-zone or out-poke characters like Mewtwo or Lucario. Instead it wins neutral in other ways. It can take advantage of the opponent's tendency to play reactionary to get in close uncontested or whiff punish anti air attempts. 


Neutral has all kinds of elements besides just footsies, or poking with limbs and projectiles. It includes, jumping, walking, dashing, lunging and anything else to go from a position where you can move freely to gaining some sort of advantage against an opponent. Full screen Flare Blitz from Blaziken, 6X from Mewtwo, Fire Punch from Charizard, half screen Lucario Bone Rush... those are all neutral. Should you actually be doing those? Probably not because they are unsafe on block and very punishable when just thrown out randomly, but they still count as neutral and still lead to real rewards. Do not ignore them or you'll be eating a lot of them. In Blaziken's case, its reward from winning neutral from one EX Brave Bird is it pushes towards the corner, causes a hard knockdown, and forces a mixup. Don't worry I'm going to go into all the conventional and fundamental aspects of spacing like footsies anti airs and corner control. But I needed to set the ground work and establish that playing conservatively and whiff punishing is one approach to neutral, but it's not the only one, and no fighting game only consists of that.


Every character and player has a slightly different objective on the ground or in the air when comes to neutral. Some want to rack up as much chip damage as possible and win by time out. Some just want to get one knockdown and start their mixups and make the opponent guess until the round is over. But to some degree every character in almost every fighting game benefits tremendously from forcing the opponent towards the corner or the wall. So much so that I would consider that a universal goal of fighting games. Next chapter I'll explain why pushing the opponent towards the corner, avoiding it yourself, and preventing and punishing opponent's attempts to escape are vital to winning games. See you next week!


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Chapter 6 The Wall



In the last chapter, I talked about neutral, which is controlling space when neither character is right next to each other. I mentioned one of the universal goals of neutral is to force the opponent towards the corner also known as the wall. Now that we have a consistent game plan for field phase and understand what neutral is in general, it's time to use the concept of the wall to create a strategy for how to approach duel phase as well.


Table of Contents

6.1 Movement

6.2 Risk vs Reward

6.3 Psychology

6.4 Taking advantage of the wall

If you take anything from this chapter let it be this: You want the opponent at the wall because it makes them easier to hit and being away from the wall makes you harder to hit

There are three main reasons why this is the case. 


6.1 Movement

First is movement. When you have empty space behind you, you can maintain the correct distance for your attacks to make contact. Conversely, when your opponent's back is to the wall, they cannot move backwards or jump backwards to avoid your attacks. They also cannot maintain the correct distance for own their attacks to hit as you can move freely around the screen making their attacks whiff and allowing for whiff punish opportunities. A few examples of players who utilize this concept well are Bim? and Thulius. While they can be aggressive up close when they want to, they are constantly looking for opportunities to back up when the opponent is at the wall. Not enough to give up screen positioning, but enough to get opponents to misspace their attacks and punish them on whiff for it. Characters with good back walk speeds and fast whiff punishers are best at taking advantage of this.



Mewtwo walks back to make Blaziken misspace its 8X then whiff punishes the move with Fire Punch.



6.2 Risk vs Reward

The second reason having the corner is important is the risk vs reward. Risk reward is weighted heavily in favor of the player who has control of the wall. Wall splat combos do massive damage and grant either hard knock downs or wall blasts into field phase depending on what you want. For example, a stray Flare Blitz does 170 damage and gives poor positioning from mid screen, but in the corner it leads to 285 damage and a wall blast that removes recoverable HP and lets you control the start of the next field phase. The smallest conversions from 5Y strings to 2Y hits can do far more damage when the opponent has their back to the wall. This means the risk is higher for that player to press a button making them more susceptible to being thrown but also more predictable as they really want to get out of the corner. Cornered players having restricted movement and being in a high risk situation leads to last benefit to having an opponent cornered I'll talk about is which is psychological.



Blaziken's Flare Blitz normally does 170 damage but can be extended to 285 with a wall splat.


6.3 Psychology

Cornered opponents, knowing they cannot move often get scared and make rash decisions to escape without thinking them through. This means when trying to predict what an opponent will do, you can eliminate some evasive options such as jump back, walking back or back dashing. In turn you can emphasize trying to avoid people jumping out of the corner and throwing out desperation pokes or armored attacks. You do not always have to get greedy and force an immediate guess. Wait for the opponent to over extend, wait some more, and wait even longer. You'll win this game of chicken way more than you'll lose it. Your opponents are humans and humans crack under pressure.



Yung Maverick jumping out of the corner.


6.4 Taking advantage of the wall

So how do you take advantage of a cornered opponent? Walking up and throwing is the most direct way to get damage, but it's also the riskiest. Instead, more often than this walk near the range where you can throw them and walk back out quickly into a range where you provoke an opponent to jump or press a button preemptively. Poke at them with moves that keep you at a range where you can anti air jump attempts and try to scare them as much as possible without overcommitting to moves that are unsafe or very negative on block. I've linked a video I made a while ago on Corner Control


Now I've gone over three great benefits to cornering the opponent (movement, risk reward, psychology) and what you can do once you have them there. If you ever find yourself in duel phase and don't know what to do, or even field phase honestly, aim to put your opponent near the wall first and foremost. But how do you get the opponent to the wall? How do you stop yourself from getting pushed to your own wall? With a good ground game. The next chapter of Pokkén basics will cover footsies, and spacing which all help you maintain proper positioning on screen and avoid the walls and push your opponents there. And don't worry it won't be two months before the next chapter comes out!

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Chapter 7 Part 1: Footsies Primer



Table of Contents (use Ctrl+F to skip to the desired section)

7.1 What does footsies mean?

7.2 Push opponents to the wall and control space

7.3 Avoid mixups

7.4 Get a knockdown or air reset


7.1 Footsies is an old term for the ground game and space control mid screen. It is my favorite aspect of fighting games and Pokkén. Mastering it will make you seem untouchable even against characters with much higher damage output or players who might have stronger combos or more advanced tech and setups than you do. None of those things are important if they can't hit you. This chapter will have 4 different sections and it will my essential Pokkén Tournament DX Footsies Guide. In this section I'll talk about the goals of footsies. Part 2 will be about preemptive attacks. Part 3 will focus on reactive attacks, and part 4 will be about armored attacks, an element of footsies unique to Pokkén.



Me attempting to expose Toasty's footsies.


Goals of Footsies

The goals of footsies are simple. I'll go over three of them.


7.2 The first goal is to push the opponent to the wall and avoid the wall yourself. I know I sound like I'm repeating myself, but fighitng games are all about space control, and that's what footsies helps you achieve. Pretty much all attacks do some sort of pushback or the combo you get after it knocks your opponent backwards. This allows you to have control of where your character is on screen and stop yourself from getting shoved around by your opponent. The easiest way to achieve this goal is through the use of preemptive normals and by not walking backwards too long unless you're provoking a whiff or a whiff punish. We'll go over preemptive normals in the next video.


7.3 The second goal is to avoid getting mixed up. The only actual mixup in Pokkén is either grab or don't grab. There aren't cross ups or overheads or things that you have to block a specific way. So all you have to do to avoid ever taking damage, besides chip, is stay out of throw range. But you'll notice, a character's forward walk is almost always faster than a backwards walk. And even if you have a fast back walk, eventually you'll walk yourself into your own corner where you can no longer evade throws by moving back. So you can use pokes or quick attacks to interrupt opponents trying to throw you or walk or dash at you to get into throw range. The side effect of this is actually what most people assume is the point of footsies which is to get damage. Throwing out limbs isn't going to damage anyone if they just block or stay away from your attacks. But people WILL get hit by your pokes when they're trying to close the distance on you. And since people are always trying to avoid the wall themselves and avoid you getting close to them, they'll be striking back at you and it's in these exchanges that you end up getting damage just for defending yourself in neutral. Pretty cool.


7.4 The third goal of footsies is to achieve a hard knockdown or air reset. The emphasis on this is not as heavy as in a game with safer and stronger mixups like Street Fighter 4, but getting a knockdown or air reset allows you to mix up the opponent as they are recovering. Since you have significant frame advantage, many of their retaliation attempts can be nullified. For example, after a knockdown, Lucario's 6[X] becomes a very dangerous tool. It's too slow to just throw out in neutral, but opponents generally have to hold it when they get up because on contact it can be canceled into moves to beat many different types of armored reversals.


Which one of these you emphasize more comes down to your play style and character. But in Pokkén, landing a single stray poke can achieve all 3 of these goals: Push to the wall, avoid mixups, and achieve a knockdown or air reset. Because landing one attack can be so beneficial, and because people just want to hit each other, you'll see a lot of preemptive attacks which is what I'll be covering in part 2. See you there.


While you wait, I suggest reading Maj's Footsies Handbook on Sonic Hurricane.com. It is extremely helpful for understanding the concept of space control and how to effectively bait and punish opponents on the ground (or in the air). Chapter 1 alone covers the essentials of whiff punishing, something I will be talking about in depth but not until part 3.



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Chapter 7 Part 2 Footsies: Preemptive Attacks



Table of Contents (use Ctrl+F to skip to the desired section)

7.5 What are preemptive attacks?

7.6 Key properties of good preemptive attacks


If you've watched any of my tournament sets or watched any of the sets I play online for my channel, you'll notice the majority of the damage I get is from winning neutral. That is not a coincidence. The nuances of spacing is something I've developed over almost a decade and I'm gonna teach everything I know to you in this chapter. I'm going to show you exactly how I choose which attacks I use in neutral and why. So definitely take notes. In the last section, I described what footsies are: space control mid screen. And I also went over the three goals of footsies which are pushing the opponent to the corner, avoiding mixups, and getting a hard knockdown or air reset. Before you ever throw out an attack, make sure it's either to accomplish one of these three goals or to get a whiff punish which I'll talk about next section. One of the easiest ways to achieve these three goals though not always the best, is through the use of preemptive attacks.


7.5 What are preemptive attacks?
Preemptive attacks are simply attacks done in advance of or before an opponent's action. You are not waiting for a dash or a whiffed attack; you are trying to prevent or stop that action before it happens by sticking out your own move to interrupt the opponent. If the opponent is walking up to you and they haven't yet committed to anything unsafe, or if you want to immediately take control of the space on screen, that's when you might throw out a preemptive attack.


7.6 Key properties of good preemptive attacks

Any move can be used as a preemptive attack, but here are five properties to consider when you're looking for a move you can just throw out there. You want to consider:




Now to break down all 5. 

-Speed. If two attacks are pressed on the same frame, the one with the faster startup gets a hitbox first. So if they hit at the same height and neither move has armor, then the faster move will win. If you want to know more about frame data and height, check out Chapter 4 of Pokkén Basics. 




-Range is important because no matter how fast a move is, it can be beaten out by moves that outreach it. In general, moves that have more reach are slower, and moves that are really fast have less reach. This is not always the case, but it is a trend that goes across different fighting games. Lucario's 2Y is a super fast move you can just throw out, but even though it's fast at 11 frames, Shadow Mewtwo's 6X outreaches it. If they're pressed at the same time, the 2Y will whiff and the 6X will make contact and Shadow Mewtwo gets a full confirm from that.




-Height is important because it allows you to use a slower move or a move with less range to beat a faster move or one with more range than your own. For example, Shadow Mewtwo's 6X goes farther and comes out faster than Blaziken's 8X. But if they're used near the same time, Blaziken's 8X will win because it is invincible against mid-lows starting frame 9. 6X is a mid-low. Ideally, you'd want to only be poking with mids because they don't lose any height interactions, but there are very few true mids in the game. There are a lot of highs, lows, mid-lows, and mid-highs, but very few true mids and the ones that exist aren't generally far enough or fast enough to poke with. So just know that because of the height properties in Pokkén, every time you throw out an attack preemptively, there's a risk that the opponent might avoid it because of its height. So know the properties of your opponent's best pokes and try to use moves that can counter their height. So against Blaziken, for example you don't want to be throwing out too many mid lows or lows. But you can throw out highs, or even projectiles that are mids because Blaziken doesn't have any good lows or a ducking low stance to avoid them. The fourth property to consider is safety.




-Safety applies to frame data on block, its recovery, and how safe it is against armor which is trial and error but it's very important. Here are some examples of relatively safe preemptive attacks. Lucario 2Y, Aegislash 4Y, Pikachu 5X and Darkrai 6X. All of these moves are negative on block, but they are safe and cannot be punished. And all of them aside from Aegislash 4Y do good pushback. Meaning the opponent is not in range to throw you and often not in range to strike back with any of their fastest moves. All these moves either recover super fast or have disjointed hitboxes. Meaning the hitbox is at the tip of the move but the hurtbox is way back at your character's model. The means even if you strike into an attack that's already active you'll still win, and it makes it almost impossible to whiff punish you. Fast recovery means the attack retracts quickly, so you can often poke into a counter attack that's charging and still be safe. In Lucario's case that's true, but Pikachu and Darkrai, they mostly are safe because of their disjointed hitboxes. So to summarize safety, you want a move that is safe on block, recovers quickly, and is safe against armor. I'll go more into armor in the upcoming videos, but just keep that in mind. The final property to consider in footsies is damage.




-Damage. Now depending on your playstyle this might be the most important or the least important. I don't like taking big risks in neutral. It's not my style, I like consistency I don't like volatility. So I tend to use moves like I mentioned earlier that are safe, but don't necessarily lead to a lot of damage. But sometimes this gets me in trouble because- and you'll notice these cause when I lose games this is usually how it happens- I hit the opponent more times, but they're doing more damage per hit. So for example against, Aegislash. Let's say I land 2YY into Zen Headbutt twice in neutral. That's good. And the move is safe. But what if the Aegislash doesn't care about safety and just does half screen 6X and they land both of the just frames. That move is -16 on block, it's not safe. But it does so much damage that it's literally twice as dangerous as landing Shadow Mewtwo's safer confirm in neutral. So you'll see characters like Machamp, Blastoise, Chandelure poking with moves that are not necessarily safe but they do so much damage that they don't even care. So this is a playstyle choice if you want to focus on damage. But really keep it in mind because if you're Lucario. 2Y is good but unless you are whiff punishing with it it only does 30 damage every time you land it. If you're using it preemptively, you're going to have to land it 9 times to match the amount of damage Sharp Aegislash gets from 6X even though it's unsafe.



Knowing all this, what moves should you be poking with? In my video guide, I show examples of good preemptive attacks with every single character in the game. So check that out if you want to see the moves in action! You want moves that are fast, have good range, have good height properties- so ideally mid but since those are rare just height properties that are good against your opponent's best options, you want moves that are safe both on block and on armor. If a move is special cancelable that helps a lot with safety against armor. And you want to consider how much damage the attack does. The more the better, but usually the more damage, the less safe it is in neutral. There are always exceptions.


So that's how I choose my attacks, and this method has been very effective for me. Always remember, when you are poking to be deliberate. Stick to the 3 goals: push to the wall, avoid mixups, or look to fish for that knockdown or air rest. Don't toss out moves unless you think they'll make contact - or unless they recover super fast. Doing this leaves you susceptible to reactive attacks, or whiff punishing which is what the next video is going to be all about. Making your opponent's preemptive moves miss the mark and attacking them in their recovery before they can block again. This is a tactic that every player needs to master, and it's especially helpful if your opponent has superior normals. Like I've said before, whiff punishing and footsies is my favorite part of fighting games. I hope you found this valuable and I hope you use some of these actionable strategies in your next matches. Thanks for reading, see you soon!





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Chapter 7 Part 3 Whiff Punishing



Whiff punishing is the most important skill to master in Pokkén Tournament DX. It's your reward for perfect spacing and anticipation. Once you master it, you can base your entire game plan around this one tactic to beat even the top players in the game. I'm going to teach you what a whiff punish is and how to set one up.

So first what is a whiff punish? A whiff punish occurs when you make an opponent's attack miss your character, or whiff and then hit them- punish them - before they can block your attack. Think of it like a real fight: you want to make the other person's punches or kicks miss you and then counter strike them when their guard is down. Super simple strategy, and it can lead to full combos for punishing an opponent's mistake.


Now, how do you set up a whiff punish?


Even some of the best Pokkén players haven't properly incorporated whiff punishing into their game. And part of it is because of two misconceptions. Number one. It's not about having fast reactions. You can have trash reactions like me and still land these all day. Secondly, it's not about just walking back and forth, hoping your opponent throws something out, and swinging at the first thing that moves. A lot times you'll see people just blocking in neutral or walking themselves all the way to the corner for no reason looking for a move but they didn't bother to create the perfect spacing situation in the first place. So they can't capitalize

There are 3 steps to setting up and landing a whiff punish. Write these down and don't skip any of them:




Strong players aren't going to be just throwing out high recovery attacks for no reason in neutral to let you punish for free. Actually scratch that, even top Pokkén players will do that, they can't control themselves. But after you get one or two launches from that, then they'll start to wise up and get a lot more conservative with their buttons. To get them to whiff another one, you have to provoke it. This means, you do something that makes your opponent think it is in their best interest to press a button.

There are 3 easy ways to do this. The first is to approach a range where you threaten a throw. In Pokkén you cannot break throws on reaction, so you have to preemptively guess and use a throw break. This means you can use a move or just basic movement like walking to get you close enough to the opponent to throw them and then quickly back out of that range by walking back or back dashing. 8Xs are universal throw crushes, but they also universally have really long whiff animations, so you can get a full combo with most characters.

The second method is to provoke a preemptive anti-air. Not every character can do this, but many characters have some tricky aerial attacks like Mewtwo, Blaziken, Decidueye, Gengar, really most of the cast honestly. The thing is, it can be hard to anti air some of the options on reaction, making them pretty obnoxious on defense. So throw them out once or twice in a row to make your opponent wary of it, and then just camp out at a range where opponents are looking for it but know they still can't react. When they get antsy and throw out their 8Y, you can hit it, in its recovery. A very obnoxious variant of this is to charge your counter attack just outside of an opponent's grab range. People will try to stuff it out, especially if your CA can be anti aired or beaten out with a low. CADC back to get a beefy, albeit, scummy whiff punish.

The last method is to convince your opponent to use their best general use preemptive poke. Chapter 7.2 was all about each character's best preemptive attacks. Keep walking into the very tip of that range and walking back out. Poke once or twice to try to push the opponent to the wall to make them uncomfortable. When they whiff their best move, make them think twice about it next time. This method is especially effective when your characters own preemptive buttons aren't necessarily that good or they're risky. You can still get massive damage by letting your opponent make mistakes for getting impatient.


Now that you know how to provoke 8Xs, 8Ys, and other lunges, let's talk about properly anticipating them.

It's not enough to just make an attack whiff. If you swing at the first thing that moves, you might try to punish something small like a 2Y, fail and then get hit by armor in neutral or an immediate whiffed button into a jump. But if you just stand around waiting for buttons and you try to confirm if a move has a high enough recovery to punish every time, you'll often react too slow, or you'll pay so much attention to that, that you won't be in the correct position to do anything about it. I notice a lot of Blaziken players do this. They have a great whiff punisher in 6A, but they either walk back too far, or they are super late on their punishes and end up getting bodied by preemptive anti airs anyway. So this is the way to anticipate a move and up your whiff punish success rate.


When you're provoking a move, pick one or two specific attacks you want your opponent to throw out. So let's say I'm Shadow Mewtwo playing footsies against a Lucario. I want to provoke move that I can react to like a throw break so 8X. And another far reaching poke like 6X. So I can use my own 6X into Miracle Eye or maybe throw out one or two Psywave Blasts. After I do this I want to walk or backdash juuust outside of 8X and 6X range. Close enough so that I can still punish the recovery animation, but far enough so that it still misses. A pro tip here is to let go of block, since blocking widens the distance that your character can be hit and thrown. You want your hurtbox to be as narrow as possible. Now that you've moved into the specific range you need to be, only look for those two attacks. If you see anything else, 8Y you're not gonna catch on reaction, 2Y, not gonna catch. Anything that's not those two buttons, just ignore it. This way, when you do see 6X or 8X your reactions will be primed to punish them hard. 


So let's talk briefly about reacting. A reaction is how fast you can do something, like press a button, after a given stimulus (or event). So in this instance, how fast you can press a button after seeing a move. But a reaction is different than recognition. Recognition is how fast you can differentiate between two different stimuli. By taking the time to differentiate between whether or not a move has a long enough recovery animation to be whiff punished, you slow down your reactions. A twitch reaction, is when you don't even consider what the heck happened on screen, you just press a button at the first thing that moves. This is the only way to whiff punish super fast recovery attacks like Lucario's 8Y. But it can still be done, and I've done it in tournament. The trick is, you have to use provoking, anticipating, and reacting all in tandem. So Lucario's 8Y is an anti air. You'll want to use some sort of obnoxious aerial attack once or twice like EX High Jump Kick or Mewtwo's Instant Air Dash jY to provoke. Back up just outside of its range and since you know 8Y is the the only thing Lucario would logically throw out to stop you from going into the air again, you skip the recognition and just straight to twitch reacting to the first thing that moves. Again you are very confident the 8Y is coming out. You know the 8Y is going to whiff since you put yourself at the right range. Then you react with your fastest whiff punisher.


The best whiff punishers are fast and far reaching like 11f 2Ys from Shadow Mewtwo and Lucario, but work with the fastest thing you've got. The longer the whiff animation of the attack you're looking for, the slower the move you can use. Even 19f moves or slower can work as whiff punishers depending on the right attack. 


Remember the same concepts apply in field phase, but obviously you won't be baiting throw techs as often since you can't whiff punish homing cancels. But fYs and any other high recovery projectile can be side walked or side dashed and whiff punished with your own forward Y. With Togekiss and a decent speed homing, you can punish just with homing attack.

Alright that's it, Provoke, Anticipate, and React. Practice this every match you play, and you'll have a skill that you can use to dominate almost anyone. 

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Chapter 7 Part 4: Armor in Neutral




This topic pains me to talk about… But we have to cover it. Armor in neutral. Armored moves, both blue and red, add a very unique dynamic to neutral. 

When you're throwing out attacks, not only do you have to worry about spacing, startup, and height interactions, but every character in this game has access to frame 1 armor with their standard counter attack. There are a lot of command counter and red armor moves as well. If you strike into them during the armored frames, you'll lose the exchange and you might get critical hit as well for even more damage. Chapter 7.4 is going to be all about how to abuse the armor system to nullify an opponent with strong preemptive attacks. If you want a video about how to deal with armor, I've linked that here. Some of the best times to use armor are:


-When you predict an opponent's poke
-As a reversal (When you have frame disadvantage, but you want to attack anyway)
-If you're really wild, as a preemptive poke


Predicting pokes
If your opponent has been pushing you back or outright damaging you with good buttons, you can armor through them as long as you time your read properly. Start charging counter attack just before you think your opponent will strike at you. If they do, let it go and get a critical hit, and possibly even a crumple depending on the character. If they don't strike, you can just CADC backwards, or even forward if you want to be obnoxious and force a mixup. This is a pretty safe tactic in general, and beating it requires a character that can lunge far enough and has enough active frames to punish your CADC, or a support that travels far and fast like emolga or Rayquaza. CADCs have vulnerable frames right before you dash, but how easy it is to actually strike into those frames depends on the CA. Suicune can abuse counter attacks the most as it can cancel into it's command counter instantly. 


A second use for armor is as a reversal. A reversal has slightly different meanings depending on what game you're talking about, but in Pokkén I mean attacking from frame disadvantage or when your character is just getting up or recovering from an air reset. Pokkén's design makes it so you rarely have to block a sequence of normal attacks for very long, even when you're negative on block. All poke-combo strings have gaps in them, and it requires very precise timing to attack an opponent that is getting up or they can use a command counter right through the attack. Pay attention to what attacks your opponent is using on you when you're at frame disadvantage. Attacks that startup slowly or have long recovery animations are easy fodder for armored attacks like Leaf Blade, Detect, Fire Punch, etc unless they're done really meaty. And even then, fast armored moves like Psystrike and Extremespeed can still beat them out. If your opponent is pressuring you with a lot of normals, but they're not using a proper setup, you can call them on this with a command counter or even a fast counter attack. This is risky, but it will make opponents second guess their pressure and let you avoid close quarters combat when opponents are scared.


Preemptive Poke
The final use for armor in neutral that I'll cover is as your own preemptive poke. Many command counters or other armored moves like Leaf Blade are unsafe on block and can be punished unless at a perfect distance. But that trade off is because it will beat out most other normal attacks. Even if you press your button after the opponent or the opponent's move has faster startup, you can armor right through other great preemptive attacks and land a critical hit. If you don't mind gambling some life for a chance at a huge reward, poking with a far reaching command counter, or a standard CA with a really good hitbox like Suicune can get you lots of mileage. This isn't my preferred style of play, but it's been proven to be effective by top players like ThankSwalot, even in the Grand Finals of the Pokkén World Championships 2018.


So those are three ways to abuse armor in neutral: predicting pokes, reversaling, and using armored pokes yourself. Use these to nullify players who are giving you trouble in footsies. Next chapter we'll go over two different aspects of space control: projectiles, and anti airs.



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Chapter 8: Projectiles, Jumping, Anti-Airs



Chapter 7 was all about Pokkén's ground game. I love Pokkén's ground game, but some characters have superior control of the ground compared to others. Many times this is because they can keep opponents out with projectiles or really good pokes. To get around these, other characters often resort to jumping and using their aerial options to do damage instead. Projectiles, jumping, and anti airs are all related so I'm going to talk about all of them in this chapter.


Projectiles are... well anything that your character throws out at the opponent. There are some nuances to that and some attacks that look like projectiles don't get erased by projectile invincible moves, but that's the general rule. In field phase, most projectiles don't track very well so the best way to avoid them is with side stepping. In duel phase, most projectiles don't go very high, so you can stop them with jumps. Different projectiles have different priority levels, and I've linked a list of them made by Shadowcat. Projectiles keep opponents at a distance, and deal a lot of chip damage. Because there are so many varying animations, there's not a universal way to stop them all. Some can be punished with a CADC, and others leave opponents in hitstop so long, the character using the projectile can punish the CADC instead. Some of them only hit at certain heights, or can be jumped or slid under on reaction. Others are negative on block from close up or completely unsafe. As a general rule, however, walking and blocking is the strongest counter strategy. Check out my video on dealing with projectiles that I've linked. As for utilizing these yourself, they're great for stopping opponents who like to dash and lunge at you constantly, as they'll give you free damage and even a confirm depending on the move.


Projectile Priority list: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/14wbEh4fmmcpMKvpqir_1zieaJxK-Qad6Gxn31X2mvo4/edit#gid=0


Jumping is the kneejerk reaction to stopping grounded pokes and projectiles. Jumping is very strong in Pokkén because it avoids lows on frame 1, and it avoids mid lows on frame 5. Most of the best pokes in the game are lows and mid lows, and jumping avoids a ton of projectiles. This allows you to punish their recovery animation as you're coming down. Many characters like Gengar and Decidueye have obnoxious jumping movement options and attack animations that make it almost impossible to keep them out of the air. Even using the universal 8Y anti air, you'll often still get beaten out. The main downside to jumping is that it's committal. Meaning you cannot block in the air and you obviously can't microwalk to avoid danger while in the air. Let's get into how to take advantage of that fact to stop players who are jumping at us.


Anti airs are attacks used to stop opponents who have jumped. I have a video on how to properly space yourself to anti air effectively, and I've linked that. I also talk a lot about spacing in my Pokkén Basics Plus course. Some moves are designed to stop jumps, and others are just used as improvised anti airs. 8Ys universally have upper body invincibility. Most of them have invincibility starting frame 5, but others can start on frame 1 like Chandelure and Gengar. Check the frame data to see if you have moves with upper body invincibility that you'd like to use. Otherwise, armored moves can also act as anti-airs like Shadow Mewtwo's Psystrike. But those are character specific for how effective they can be. The faster the move, the more likely it is to be active fast enough to actually punish a jump in. If you hit opponents while they are still in the air, you usually can get a juggle afterwards. Some characters just are bad at controlling the air. Blaziken's 8Y has a really low priority hitbox and will clash and lose with jXs, and other aerial attacks a lot. So instead it has to dedicate to RL X which still has a pretty narrow hitbox on top of it. When fighting a character like that, you'll find it very rewarding to pressure them with lots of jumps. Even if Blaziken tries to use an i15 move like EX Sky Uppercut, it has no upper body invincibility, so it's not protected from your jumping attack's hitbox at all. Remember that you can still use jumps which are usually mid highs, and other highs against most anti air attacks, but it has to be done meaty. Specifically, it has to be done before the opponent's anti air attack reaches its upper body invincible frames.

Projectiles keep opponents out, jumping is used to counteract projectiles, and grounded attacks, while anti airs are meant to control jumps. Master all three of these AND footsies to assert dominance over the ground and the air. Now that we've finished basic spacing concepts, next chapter will be about Basic Offense.

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Chapter 9 Basic Offense



Now that we have a very thorough understanding of how to approach neutral in both field phase and duel phase, let's talk about how to damage an opponent once you get in range to attack them. Remember that there are two ways to win a round in Pokkén. Either deplete the opponent's HP to zero, OR have a higher percentage of HP remaining when the timer reaches 0. This chapter will focus on the former, but if you're looking for defensive strategies, and don't mind timing an opponent out, check out Chapter 10. Let's go over the ways to deal damage, the basic mixup in Pokkén, and exploiting blocking opponents.


You can deal damage in 3 ways:
-Making contact with an attack when your opponent isn't blocking.
-Grabbing an opponent which bypasses blocking
-Chip damage, which is having your opponent block certain attacks that still do a little damage


Now there is kind of a fourth way, but we're gonna get to that at the end. 


None of these ways are inherently better than the others. And if you're predictable, opponents can take advantage of whichever method you choose to try to damage them. If you want to damage your opponent, your offense should be based around your opponent's defense. Meaning, during neutral you'll want to pick up on when your opponent likes to block and when they like to use counter attacks, since those are the two main ways they'll avoid your normal attacks. Once you recognize these patterns, that's when you can go for a throw, since grabs beat blocking and they critical hit blue armor. If you want to hit red armor, well I've already made a video going over all the ways to deal with red armor so check that out if you haven't.


Basic mixup
Your basic mixup in Pokkén or the guessing situation that you force your opponent into, is usually going to be grab or don't grab. In fact that's really the only mixup. There's no cross ups, no overheads, and few unblockables. When your opponent is knocked down, they'll have to guess if you go for a grab or not. If they try to break it preemptively (since you can't react to them), then they'll get a critical hit if you go for it. But if you didn't, and went for an attack, counter, or something else instead, the opponent is vulnerable to get hit because they're at frame disadvantage. Actually let's talk about that. In order for your offense to truly be consistent and effective, you'll have to work to stay at frame advantage or at least stay in a range where being at frame disadvantage doesn't end your offense. If you're trying to fish too hard for damage in neutral, or trying to retaliate with normal attacks when you're at frame disadvantage, your opponents own attacks will be active before yours and you're a lot more likely to just get hit than to do any damage. Instead, while in neutral, your job as the offensive player is to get into throw range to make opponents act preemptively and whiff buttons or jump so you can punish them. That's why walking and pushing opponents to the wall is useful: it gives them nowhere to run from your grabs, so it makes them panic and throw out moves under pressure. 


Exploiting blocking opponents
Now we know that grabs beat blocking opponents, but if you've played any matches at all, you'll know grabs are a huge risk and can lose you half of your HP or more if your opponent crushes your grab. Fortunately, there are two other ways to deal with shields.


-Chip damage and
-Shield Breaks


Most attacks that aren't light attacks do a small amount of damage when your opponent blocks them. This doesn't really amount to much usually, but every bit of chip damage can put you in the life lead and as long as you have that life lead when the timer runs out, you win. Chip damage is most noticeable for zoners or projectile heavy characters. Darkrai for example can base its entire game plan around never actually getting close up and into mixup range, and just racking up chip damage with projectiles and long reaching attacks. 

Shield breaking is that 4th way I talked about in how to land damage. Breaking a shield in field phase, just leads to a phase shift with frame advantage on the opponent's block. But in duel phase, shield breaking gives you frame advantage as if your opponent got hit, so you can still combo afterwards. Some characters are really good at breaking shields like Blaziken, and Braixen while supports like Dragonite can help you get the opponent's shield into breaking range. I don't know all the shield damage values off the top of my head but if I can get a hold of a list, I'll go ahead and link it. But just like PSP, as long as you can remember which combinations of attacks break shields on different characters, you'll be alright. 


And that's it for basic offense in Pokkén. We went over the different ways to land damage, the basic mixup in the game, and how to exploit blocking opponents. See you next chapter for basic defense!

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Chapter 10 Basic Defense



In chapter 9, we went over how there is only one mixup in Pokkén. Grab or not grab. There are a lot of ways you can play into this and try to weight the decision making in your favor. Backdash, jump, command counter, red armor, or even an invincible reversal or Burst activation if you have one. But let me tell you how I look at this.

The best defensive option in Pokkén, and most 3D fighting games, is... not blocking - nor is it any of those ways I mentioned. And it's not attacking either. It's movement. Guessing your way out of mixup is cool, but spacing yourself in such a way that you don't have to deal with the mixup at all is infinitely better. Even in duel phase, using evasive options such as walking backwards, backdashing, and jumping are extremely effective and low commitment to stay out of mixup range. Now if you do find yourself in mixup range, here are a few tips to keep yourself from taking too much damage.


-Homing cancel
-Perfect block
-Delay tech


The first two are specific to field phase, even though Machamp can mimic a perfect block in duel phase with Submission. 


A homing cancel is when you press X to start homing, but press R before the attack becomes active. This is a useful technique because it nullfies meaties with slower startups from being a factor. If you committed to breaking a throw, but the opponent started charging counter, you can press R to block instead. Also meaties that were effective in duel phase like Shadow Mewtwo's Vortex, and Blaziken's EX Heat Wave can be defended against by committing to breaking the throw but then pressing R once you see the opponent is starting up a slow attack. Homing cancels let you also defend against the throw vs homing mixup when you're negative on block. At -8 doing a homing cancel will break the grab but you can block in time to stop homings. There's some more nuance to this and it can be beaten by things like like delayed grabs, and really fast moves like Blaze Kicks, but those are the basics. To practice homing canceling, use a move that puts you at -8, set the opponent who has an 11 frame grab to block and then grab on reaction. Then press X long enough to break the grab but not do damage, then press R. Grab them back before they're done recovering from their animation. Homing cancels let you get unique punishes with characters who would prefer not to end in homing.


Perfect blocking is an extension of the homing cancel technique. When your character goes from homing into block, you get stuck in your blocking animation for a while before you can do anything else. But you're always stuck for about the same amount of time. Meaning, if you homing and then block, attacks that normally would put you in large amounts of block stun suddenly don't as you recover from your block animation in the same amount of time that you would if you didn't block anything at all. This lets you punish moves that should be safe or even positive on block. The window for this isn't very big, and I have a short video explaining exactly how to perform this, but it's very useful to punish or gain frame advantage against reactable single target moves including Burst shockwaves.. 


A delay tech is something I personally use a lot. This isn't a technical term,it's  just what I call it. It's the same thing is just inputting a throw break, but doing after blocking for a few frames. So, if I'm knocked down, I'll often commit to blocking but then after a bit, I'll go for a dive kick or even a 2Y. This is to first, make sure I don't eat too much damage initially as I'm getting up. But secondly, to avoid people trying to react to the fact that I'm blocking and try to throw me once they see it. A meaty throw can still beat this, and so can a delayed attack, but that's where I mix in what I think is often the best defensive option.


Backdash. Backdashing has a small amount of invincibility as it's starting up. So if your opponent goes for a meaty attack with few active frames, you'll avoid it. It also beats grabs that are done very meaty as well, but this isn't always reliable since most people don't use meaty setups for their grabs. I once asked on Twitter, which type of jab is better, mid low, or high? But the answer is it doesn't really matter because you can backdash both of them since jabs almost universally don't have enough active frames to catch backdashes. 


Those are some of the techniques I used to defend myself, homing canceling, perfect blocking, delay teching, and backdashing. Notice, how none of those methods I listed were block. Blocking is good since it makes sure the most damage you can get is from a grab. The problem I have with blocking in Pokkén, however, is that a lot of grabs still do way too much damage, and there's no real throw break system so you can't react to them. And you can't even safely delay tech without committing to a normal  with significant recovery. Just remember that avoiding the mixup with movement is far better than any other defensive option.


With this chapter, you should now have a complete understanding of the mechanics and basic strategy involved in Pokkén Tournament DX. Thank you for checking out my Pokkén Basics guide and if it helped you improve, sharing it with others helps me out. This has been over a year-long content creating journey. Fight hard!






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