Machamp vs. Chandelure Guide
I wrote this up because it's generally considered to be one of this game's notoriously bad matchups. I don't think it's that bad in DX though. If anything, it leans to a slight advantage for chandelure or an even matchup. As the matchup that I have the most experience with, I thought I could write a guide helping players out.
It's kind of long so if you don't want to read the whole thing, you can check out some of the resources I used while writing it.
Goreson vs. Twixxie set (Wii U. But still contains good footage)
Ouroboro vs Twixxie (DX)
Goreson vs. Finchster (Dreamhack Summer: Wii U)
1) Approaching in field
2) Securing the phase shift
3) Approaching in duel
4) Options vs. chandelure at -4
1) Approaching in Field
Until you get closer, all you can really do is walk and block. Machamp is too slow to walk around chandelure's nY and sY. Rolling will allow him to avoid them by removing their tracking, and he can jump over the fireballs too. But both are risky options because the laser follow ups from both moves will hit him anyway.
Using j.X at long range is also out of the question. Chandelure can cancel nY into flame burst, which has anti air properties even if chandelure's timing was off. Similarly, sY can be canceled into s[Y]. Bulk up is always unsafe to use in neutral as well, even when chandelure is -20.
You won't be taking chip damage from anything from maybe will-o-wisp (you can karate chop flame burst as long as the projectile hasn't hit the ground yet). Your shield getting broken shouldn't be a common occurrence even when playing on really big stages. It might be one or two hits away from breaking by the time you reach chandelure, in which case you can attempt to land the phase shift. It isn't easy for chandelure to stall for time in field either as its mobility is nothing to envy.
2) Securing the Phase Shift
Mid / close range is where you can finally start pushing buttons.
Scary Face does a good job at securing the phase shift, especially thanks to the range buff in DX. The speed debuff is appreciated too since it removes overheat as an option. Unlike in the past, phase shifting with not critical hit scary face doesn't leave machamp at a -8 frame disadvantage anymore, so there aren't many downsides to doing this.
At midrange is where jumping becomes more of a viable option if you see chandelure use nY or sY. Those moves have enough endlag on them to be punished by Machamp's j.y if chandelure does not commit to them. And even if it does, it won't be able to move out of the way in time. It can use flame burst or bY (from neutral), but j.y, surprisingly, has higher projectile priority than both. Chandelure can smack you out of the air with s[Y], so watch out for that.
Champ's j.X is a faster option than j.y that can't be reacted to with Chandy's s[Y] from midrange (s[Y] is a frame 35 attack). While it runs the risk of being punished by bY, flame burst, or Chandelure's CA, it does its job well. It's also better at punishing chandelure for jumping, whereas j.y would allow chandelure to punish you with an aerial laser. Note that you can't use j.X low to the ground because the fireballs will clip you out of the air. But even if chandelure just blocks you and you're left at -10, chandelure can't truly punish you for a blocked j.X either.
Let's say chandelure just blocked your j.X and you're at -10. You're still allowed to push a few buttons:
Karate chop: The important moves this beats are nY, sY, s[Y], bY. b[Y] can be used instead to allow chandelure to low profile karate chop, but that's a rather risky option to go for.
Grab: Grabbing? When minus? If the chandelure knows that karate chop beats common options, then they make expect it. And in that case, both smog and CA are valid buttons for it.
Blocking: Doesn't do damage but is still the safest button you can push. If chandelure uses nY or sY on your shield, you can still karate chop in response. And as karate chop at -10 will lose to homing attack or fY (which I have NEVER seen done at that range), this is still a safe bet.
5y is another option that can be used from midrange. If your shield is close to being broken, chandelure may opt for s[Y] to secure the phase shift for itself. Champ's 5y is the fastest move he has for interrupting it, and because chandelure is considered to be airborne during s[Y], you'll get a hard knockdown too.
The last thing I will mention is this. This is less of a matchup specific thing and more general chandelure knowledge and I think it warrants space here because I often see players fall for it. If your shield has taken heavy damage and you're close to an airborne chandelure, just use your counter. No matter how much time chandelure spends in the air, jX is always available to it as an option it can use instead of simply falling to the ground. It's -12 so it can be punished, but it breaks shields too.
3) Approaching in Duel
Let's say you lost field phase (a very common occurrence in this matchup). Here's a quick run down of what you can do to approach in duel and what you probably shouldn't do.
I'll start by saying that you should never jump in neutral vs. chandelure. Don't do it. It will always end badly and I cannot stress this enough. Chandelure's 8y is arguably the best anti air in the game. Wake up slap will trade with 8y at best, and Champ's jX will never win that battle. Even if you manage to armor through the whole thing, smog, flame burst, and overheat will beat it anyway. Jumping should be a response to seeing chandelure use any other move such as will-o-wisp.
Flame burst is another reason to not jump often in neutral. Wake up slap can be used to erase the projectile, but you're better off just staying on the ground.
***Three important ranges***
When fighting chandelure, there are three important ranges to remember. The maximum range of 5y, the maximum range of 2y, and the maximum range of hex. Unfortunately, I lack the ability to show pictures of those three moves right now. At the moment, I will say that, in range, hex > 2y, > 5y.
If you're outside of those three ranges, then you should try to safely use bulk up. Laser has worse frame data in duel than it does in field and chandelure doesn't have any anything else that's really fast enough to punish you.
If chandelure uses will-o-wisp, you can jump to avoid it. In doing so, you do risk landing into a 6X or a hex. You can throw off the chandelure's timing by stalling your fall with wake up slap or jX. At closer ranges, you can use 2XR (Machamp's 2X roll cancel) to dodge wisp and punish chandelure.
Should chandelure charge will-o-wisp instead, it might be better to just wait it out. You can use heavy slam or something to hit chandy while it's charging the move, but once the attack has already been used, just wait it out.
Hex is reactable. Fortunately, machamp possesses a grab break that can punish hex on reaction even from max range. 6[X] can be used to grab break hex, knock down chandelure, and close the distance. This is a major reason to use it over 2y if you fear hex. However, using 6[X] late can result in chandelure having time to punish you with smog, CA, or even overheat.
Even if the chandelure player does not use hex often, your goal should be to get out of hex range while moving closer to chandelure.
A combo starter with a disjointed hitbox. Chandy's 2y can be low stance armored by machamp. If you low stance it, 2XX is most likely your preferred punish. You can CADC it, which is fine, but you'll be dashing backwards away from chandelure. You can block it too, but the far reaching hitboxes have pushback and this move will push you into hex range. Even if hex is reactable, you probably aren't going to be able to do so when holding the shield button. And you might become one of those guys who eats a crit, rage hex from burst chandelure, loses 368 health and dies.
The 2y hitboxes closest to chandelure have no pushback at all, so the closer you are, the better. At max 2y range, you can't be hit by 5y, so low stance to your heart's content.
Chandy's 5y is a high, so machamp can 2XR through it and land a punishing combo. He can also just 2X to low profile the move entirely. High stance armor is an option...but unless you're right in front of chandelure, you get nothing out of doing so. You can also use CA if you're out of hex range. Machamp's multi hit CA is pretty good at hitting chandelure out of smog, but overheat can be used instead.
If you're close to chandelure and you think it will commit to 5y and use smog, you can jump and whiff punish with air grab. This is purely a read though, and you run the risk of chandelure using flame burst or doing nothing after 5y.
If you have a bulk up, then this move is punishable by cross chop on block.
4) Options vs Chandelure at -4
So you've made it up close to chandelure! Now you get to abuse machamp's raw strength, big damage, and superior frame data! But wait! Chandelure's just holding shield. So your 2y was blocked and now you're -4. Now what?
Here are some options
2y again: Beats every option chandelure can use out of shield barring smog and overheat. It clashes with Chandy's 2X and 4y. It also loses to forward dash and backdash.
8X: Beats 2y and 2X. Still beats Chandy's 8X if they were expecting the tick grab. It's an auto shift so it beats overheat. It beats smog too, which is...interesting. It will only lose to smog if they delay the timing, but otherwise, it avoids the smog hitbox altogether. It loses to 8y, 5y and other 19 frame attacks. However, it will beat 4y and 6X if you spaced 2y so that you hit chandy at max range.
High stance / Low stance: More as reads than anything else. If you're at -4, Chandy's 2X will break your grab if you go for that. And if chandy goes for 5y, you get a combo. Don't use these randomly, but try throwing them out after you've conditioned your opponent.
5) Machamp oki
Let's say you got the knockdown on chandelure. What are some really good options to go for on chandelure's wakeup?
5XX: Standard fair for machamp. If chandelure was near the wall and didn't block, then you get a wall splat. Unfortunately, chandelure (alongside garchomp and other machamp players) gets splatted too low to the wall to use wake up slap → air grab, so decide which one you want to hit with. Keeping chandelure in duel for as long as possible is what I personally prefer but 5xx → wall splat → close combat will always be the optimal combo.
5X[X]: The “I don't really feel like timing my meaties” button. Beats everything, but depending on how you time this, chandelure can forward / back dash to avoid it. And you will be punished for it.
5y: The safest meaty to go for and the main reason chandelure does NOT want to be knocked down by machamp. Meaty 5y is the best option to go for against chandelure. Here's why.
Chandelure attacks: It gets hit.
Chandelure uses overheat: On reaction, special cancel 5y into heavy slam (9A) and start a combo anyway. Overheat will whiff completely while chandelure is in the air.
Chandelure uses smog: Same as above. On reaction to the blue armor, use heavy slam.
Chandelure uses CA: This one is a little tricky because I couldn't fully test it. Chandelure can always CADC but I don't know if you'll be punished by it, or if chandelure will have time to block after using CADC.
Block: Nothing happens. But if you've conditioned the chandelure player to hold block because their common reversals don't work, then you have more chances to use special cancel into submission instead.
Minimize: The only thing chandelure can do to avoid oki shenanigans in general, but this move loses to grab now and chandelure players have become more wary about tossing it out when not in burst.
Emolga: Considered to be the “anti chandelure” support in general. Punishes zoning attempts and applies a debuff. Chandelure can avoid it in field by using b[Y]
Litten: A good midrange support. Erases projectiles, hits chandelure, and can be a combo starter depending on how much hp you have.
Togekiss: Allows machamp to just walk around most of chandelure's projectiles in field without having to block. Assists with approaching and also increases the speed of both field phase j.X and submission.
Rotom: More useful in field than it is in duel. Prevents chandelure from using s[Y] or bY without taking a hit.
Dragonite: A personal preference. Check out Goreson's video on dragonite's shield break setup. Helpful because chandelure will most likely win field more often and get burst before you do.
Jirachi: While one of the go to supports for machamp in general, I find that jirachi doesn't really do anything in particular to help with the matchup. It can give you the extra meter you need for burst though, and that's important if chandelure is already in burst.