The King of Fighters XV/Ash Crimson/Strategy
The A version throws out a slow moving, single fireball. Ash recovers shortly after throwing the fireball. This slow travel time and Ash's fast recovery is very strong, as it allows the fireball to fight in tandem with Ash, leaving a constant hitbox on the field as long as it's active. You can run behind it or sit back and have ample time to counter your opponents jump/roll in response to the fireball. The hard truth, however, is that almost every fireball in KOF acts like this, and when we start to compare Ash's fireball to other characters' fireball, the cracks start to show. One, it's not a large fireball. It can be hopped and low profiled under, so the opponent has multiple options to avoid it. Two, it requires a charge motion. Charge time in KOF is short compared to other fighting games; only 30 frames, but not being able to use it on demand is still a detriment, especially in such a fast paced game like KOF. In most other games with this character archetype, this charge requirement is compensated for by having very short recovery on the move, but Ash's fireball only recovers slightly faster than other fireballs, by 2-4f on average. In fact, to compensate, it has a 17f start up, which is higher than average (Robert's A fireball is 15f start up, Andy's is 13f, to give some examples). In a fireball war, these weaknesses tend to not make a huge difference, but when using this in tandem with trying to form an offense or move around for spacing, the issues can show. Nonetheless, it's a powerful and very important tool you should use frequently. Be sure to avoid sitting on charge the whole round to always have a fireball ready. Move forward when it is advantageous.
The C version has Ash swipe in front of him, then throw a fast fireball. This is a unique C fireball; most characters will just throw a fast fireball, but Ash does a combo attack. The first swipe has short range, but can nullify other fireballs, excluding EX fireballs. The fireball that follows can go through regular fireballs and trade with EX fireballs. This overall recovers faster than the A version, has a higher hitbox, and has an extra hitbox on the swiping motion itself, making it harder to hop over. This is ideal against opponents who like to stand around super jump range and try to punish a fireball on a read, or to combat against other zoners if they give you the time to use it. This can also be strong against the common technique of throwing a slow fireball and chasing after it to force an approach. After nullifying the fireball with the initial swipe, the fireball follow-up will often interrupt the approach, especially an hop based approach, and even if it doesn't, Ash recovers fast enough to be safe. The initial swipe can also act as an anti-air, and the projectile will combo, although this is hard to do on reaction and the range could leave something to be desired. One disadvantage this move has is the overall long animation. Although it's able to cover itself very well, making it hard to counter, if your opponent has a projectile invincible attack, they can see the animation of the initial swipe and blow through the follow up projectile with ease. Keep this in mind when considering your match-ups.
The EX version throws out two fireballs in quick succession. These fireballs move fast and can be a great option to mix-up your keep-out game, throwing off your opponent's timing. The way the fireballs are spread out makes it difficult to jump over, and the swipe Ash does when throwing the fireballs has a hitbox like the C version, further strengthening this against jumps. However it's possible to punish Ash between the two fireballs. You can use this to beat out other fireballs, but unfortunately because the first fireball will clash with the opposing fireball, allowing the second fireball to go through, instead of having the fireball blow through the opposing fireball entirely, you won't always hit the opponent. The way this fireball clashes with other EX fireballs is much better however; despite being only one hit, the first fireball will nullify the opposing EX fireball entirely, allowing the second fireball to go through. The damage on this is above average compared to other EX fireballs as well. This move has a similar issue to the C version, where characters with projectile invincible attacks can react to the first part of the attack to blow through the second one, but the overall speed of this version makes it harder to do. This is a strong neutral tool, but be careful to not blow all of your meter on this, as meter is very important to making Ash threatening.
Genie (Flame Trap)
When the flame is onscreen, if the opponent is about three character lengths away, they will enter a blocking animation if they hold back, preventing them from walking back. This can give Ash a window to move in, as if they want to retreat they'll have to use a more committal option such as a backdash or roll.
There's no way to guarantee a flame on block, but if your opponent is very defensive, you can get away with setting one off of blocked heavies or CD. The ideal flame to place on block is either A or B. The A flame will usually interrupt the opponent if they attempt to poke out. The B flame will explode the soonest as it'll place the flame right on top of the opponent, but they can jump or poke out of it.
If you end a juggle with a normal, you can cancel the normal into a flame to set one on top of your opponent as they get up. You can also set it after hard knockdowns such as throws or supers. Note that some of these set-ups are punishable. However if you can scare your opponent in pressing on wake-up you can potentially take advantage of these set-ups still. Cancelling into 6A or 214BD flame will make you safe, potentially throwing off what your opponent expects they can get away with. Not cancelling at all is also an option. Consider what potent wake-up options the character you're facing has as well. Your options will be:
- 2D midscreen = C flame (-7) (push them into the flame if they don't quick rise)
- 2D corner = A flame (-7)
- Forward throw = A flame (plus)
- Backward throw = B flame (-12)
- 236236K = B flame (-8)
- 236236BD = C flame (-8)