The King of Fighters 2002 UM/Advanced Strategy

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Neutral Game: The New Trilemma/Rock-Paper-Scissors

Translation courtesy of Heicko

This is a translation from the JP 02UM atwiki of the 新三すくみ(shinsansukumi) page. 新三すくみ translates literally to "new trilemma", trilemma being the technical term for a rock-paper-scissors type scenario. The "old" trilemma is referring to "short hop < standing light attack < long range low < short hop < etc" KOF flowchart that you will likely have seen before. I recommend checking out the "The Beginner's Incomplete Guide to KOF" for a clear explanation of this if you are unsure. Despite it being termed the "new" rock-paper-scissors, it's not to imply that it didn't exist in previous entries into the KOF series (DandyJ literally goes over it in his guide with 98, albeit not as explicitly). However, my opinion is that it is more pronounced in 02UM than the "old trilemma" hence why they settled on this term.

What is the "New" Rock-Paper-Scissors?

It refers to the three options below:

  1. Early Jump Attack
    • Beats late jump attacks
    • Loses to crouch B (trip)
  2. Late Jump Attack
    • Beats crouch B (trip)
    • Loses to early jump attack
  3. Crouch B (Trip)
    • Beats early jump attack
    • Loses to late jump attack

Why is there a "New" Rock-Paper-Scissors?

In a game like KOF where you often approach the opponent by jumps/hops, naturally how often you contest your opponent in the air will increase.

To win an air-to-air battle, you need to have your jump attack come out quickly.

If we jump and do an early attack, the hitbox will not stay active long enough to cover the landing area. This makes crouch B (tripping) an effective punish.

Discussing the "New" Rock-Paper-Scissors

The less time you are in the air, the risk of your opponent being able to see and react to your early jump attack will decrease.

The exact interaction of the crouch B trip attempt will vary depending on your characters crouch B hitbox and the opponents hurtbox.

When it comes to doing crouch B, you can either "confirm" or "not confirm":

  • The risk in going for crouch B will differ if you are confirming the opponents jump attack or not confirming the jump attack.
  • If you are able to see the opponent has done an early jump attack which has whiffed, you can confirm your crouch B trip and there is no risk.
  • However if you decide to go for crouch B trip without confirming then the risk is high.
  • "Confirming" and "Not confirming" doesn't only depend on whether or not you are paying attention to your opponents movement. You also have to factor in the length of time the opponent is in the air and the timing of their jump attack.
  • If your opponent is in the air for less time (Super jump compared to Jump compared to Hop), it will make being able to confirm the crouch B trip more difficult.
  • The earlier they press their jump attack, the easier it is to confirm your crouch B trip.
  • A more detailed point that has a factor is that the startup of the crouch B trip will have an affect. Faster startup crouching B attacks will be easier to confirm.

Regarding the crouch B trip:

  • When the opponent lands they are standing, which makes confirming into a combo easier.
  • As long as you have confirmed that you can crouch B trip your opponent, it isn't necessary to hit confirm your combo. So it is possible to go for big punishes like cr.B into Quick Max close C.
  • For characters that can't combo from their crouch B or it is difficult to do so then it is important to check for other tripping options like crouch D.
  • Slide attacks like the ones Chris and King have are also suitable tripping options.

Regarding "Uppercut-style" (cr.C) anti air attacks:

  • Attacks like Yuri or Vice crouch C are able to be executed from a crouching state. Whether the opponent does their jump attack early or late, it can be possible for the crouch C to win.
  • There is also the possibility that they will trade, either way this can negate this rock-paper-scissors type scenario which makes them a good option.

Regarding down to up charge anti air attacks:

  • Similarly to the above cr.C type attacks, these charge attacks can be used to negate the need to go for a potentially risky trip attempt.

Crouching B Speed List

- 2F Startup 
    - 2F active: Lin 
- 3F Startup 
    - 3F active: Joe, May Lee(Hero), Angel 
    - 4F active: Benimaru
    - 5F active: Heidern 
- 4F Startup 
    - 2F active: Kyo-1, Kyo-2
    - 3F active: Terry, Ryo, Leona, Athena, Billy
    - 4F active: Yuri, Ralf, Kasumi, Choi, Chris(both), Takuma(both), Kusanagi 
    - 5F active: Shingo, Blue Mary, Chin 
    - 6F active: Robert(both), King, Ramon 
- 5F Startup 
    - 2F active: Nameless
    - 3F active: Hinako, May Lee(Normal), Kula
    - 4F active: K', Kyo, Andy, Bao, Jhun
    - 5F active: Daimon, Clark, Xiangfei, Kim
    - 6F active: Seth
- 6F Startup 
    - 3F active: Mature, Vice, Vanessa, Foxy
    - 4F active: Mai
    - 5F active: Yamazaki, Iori
- 7F Startup 
    - 3F active: Yashiro(both)
    - 4F active: Kensou (both)
    - 6F active: Whip
- 8F Startup
    - 5F active: Chang
    - 6F active: Maxima
- 9F Startup 
    - 5F active: Shermie

Advanced Techniques

Running Regular Throw

To perform a regular (C or D) throw quickly from a run, you should input the running throw as follows: run, back+C/D. Make sure you are close enough to your opponent for a throw to come out, and try to press C or D very close to the back input, otherwise you may accidentally walk out of range for the throw.

Note: in 2002 UM, after inputting a run (forward, forward), your character will enter a "minimal run" state for 10 frames during which your character will continue to run even if you let go of forward, thus you will not be able to do a running regular throw until at least 11 frames after you begin running. You can get a feel for this minimal run by going into training mode and inputting a run, then holding down or down-back: your character will start crouching the instant they are able to stop running.

Reversal Superjump

In 2002 UM, buffered superjumps are airborne on frame 1: this makes them very useful as a defensive reversal or wake-up option, as you will be able to dodge many lows used as a meaty and if your opponent hits you with a mid or a jump-in, you will get hit in the air meaning you will bounce back or air-reset instead of being left standing in hitstun for a combo. Being in the air, you will also avoid any command grabs that throw grounded characters. Reversal superjumps are useful for avoiding mix-up situations such as the classic jump-in V.S. empty hop low or command grab V.S. strike, and for creating space between you and your opponent at the cost of taking a hit from any non-low meaty.

If you are on offense, the easiest and safest way to counter someone using reversal superjump often is to perform a meaty j.CD: if they jump it will hit them and knock them down again, and if they block you have enough frame advantage to re-hop or run up and apply more pressure.

You can buffer superjumps during recovery frames or while you are waking up by pressing down-back/down/down-forward right before you are able to move and then holding up-forward or up-back. A back superjump is often preferred for better safety, although you then risk cornering yourself. Keep in mind that a buffered superjump after a backturned knockdown will not be frame 1 airborne, maintaining its 4f start-up like a normal superjump so an attempt there will get stuffed by a meaty.

Alternate Guard

Alternate Guard is a special tech against grabs that exists in older KOFs and takes advantage of the KOF guard stance being completely throw invincible. When a character is put into a guard stance (i.e. when they block an attack or an attack is whiffed near them while the player is holding back/down-back), they can quickly go back and forth between back and down-back to alternate between standing and crouching guard, forcefully keeping their guard stance active: while your character is in this guard stance animation, you cannot be thrown by either regular grabs or command grabs, making it quite useful against grapplers or characters that want to land a command grab on you. Note that you are extending the block/guard stance and not the block/guard stun, so you can break the stance at any time to move. The alternating should be done quickly but not too quickly, there's a fairly precise speed range the player should get a feel for through practice.

You can set up a practice scenario for Alternate Guard in training mode by setting the CPU to do an attack (say, HP/st.C), then standing near the CPU and either blocking the attack or letting it whiff near you while holding back/down-back, then you can begin to alternate between standing and crouching to maintain the guard stance: if your character stays in their guarding animation and you do not walk backwards, this means you are alternating quickly enough for Alternate Guard to work.

Alternate Guard is somewhat useful against Proximity Unblockables as they won't come out (including Ex Robert's bugged d~u+P) but simply trigger a normal that'll be blocked. It is however extremely useful against tick throws as you'd be able to keep your guard up making the opponent's incoming throw whiff at point blank and leaving them open for a full punish. As strong as it sounds, that same sentence also points out its limitations.

The first downside is you can't put yourself in guard stance. Proximity guard can help but there's no way for the player to setup alternate guard without the opponent's help. That means this technique only comes in play in very specific scenarios that the player has to be ready to take advantage of while still paying attention to the other aspects of the game, making them that much more likely not to react in time to a raw throw rather than a tick throw. The second downside is alternating between standing and crouching guard means you aren't blocking low half the time so the best thing to do against this on offense is to just stagger lows to fish for a hit and a confirm. The opponent can also forcefully stop the guard stance by switching sides (with a jump or a roll), but that's obviously just asking to be punished.

Alternate guard is much easier to perform in XIII and is entirely absent from XIV and XV.

Backturned Corner Cross-up

This is an old bug that was already in 98 but evolved to be more limited in 02 and is still in 02 UM with both sides sharing the same type of corner cross-up that Player 1 had in 98. When a character is knocked down in the corner in a backturned state, if you jump early enough to be on top of them as they wake up you're considered to be on the other side so the opponent trying to hold back to block will just be walking towards the corner. If you then use an air normal that can cross-up they'll have to block it as a cross-up even though you won't actually cross them up but land on the same side you jumped from, effectively landing a cross-up while keeping them in the corner. The timing of the air button matters, if done low/late enough in the jump it won't be a cross-up. This means being cornered backturned inherently comes with a 50/50 towards which side you'll need to block if you do commit to blocking one side.

One way to set up a backturned knockdown in the corner is through one of your character's normal throws if they have one that turns the opponent around or throws them backwards while keeping them facing the same direction, and is a hard knockdown: some examples being Kyo and Benimaru's D throw or Kim's C throw. You can also create this situation through a cross-up or rolling through the opponent for a punish.

Although this mix-up sounds very strong, you don't have to simply commit to blocking it. While a great cross-up button like Kyo's j.d+C lets him corner cross-up off a hop, most characters will have to full jump early on your knockdown to do this, making it obvious to see coming at which point a simple OS can answer the situation if you have an invincible DP. The OS is to buffer said DP towards the corner so b,qcb+P instead and hold back+P so that your DP comes out if you get crossed up and you just block if not. Emphasis on buffering it to avoid a wake-up button. Note that there's no need for an OS if you have a flashkick, especially if you can delay it to make full use of your eventual invincibility frames (avoid using Kim or Jhun's flashkicks for this as they are not well suited). While you don't need an invincible reversal for this, you then risk getting easily meatied out of it by the air normal. Without the appropriate tools, trying to roll away from the corner as you see the early jump is also a decent response on defense.

As a counter, the player at offense can then jump a bit earlier to safe jump your reversal and leave them plenty of time to punish you. So while the OS is very useful against a backturned cross-up it's not something to entirely rely on and you should still build the experience to have a feel for the timing of the opponent's jump to watch out for.


The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match

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