You can get safe taunts all the time. Any time you knock an opponent back far away. Down mk from the right distance can give you a safe taunt option against most characters. At times, when they jump back, you can taunt. If you understand the distancing of the taunt, it’s not hard to create options. Pretty much, any time you knock the guy down far away from you, you can taunt safely against most characters. It’s more important IMO to understand the distancing than to expect it only after certain moves.
It’s easy to get taunts at the beginning of the round if you play more of a zoning Hugo at the beginning and then become more aggressive towards the end of the round.
I’m not saying that I go for taunts EVERY MATCH but if it pans out where you can get one or two taunts at the beginning of the round (which isn’t a rare occurance) then I think it would be a smart idea to go for it. Hugo has a devestating wake up game, but if you are far enough away to taunt, you will have to spend so much time closing distance that it will cripple Hugo’s wake up to a degree. There will still be plenty of opportunities to play wake up when you are closer to your opponent–when you can mix up your cross ups, regular jump in, canned jump in, over heads, low attacks, claps, throws, etc. If you’re far enough away to taunt, IMO opinion by the time you close your gap on your opponent, they will better be able to read you than they usually would on wake up. (For example, dashing forward to get that wake up opportunity eliminates Hugo’s cross up, vs. regular jumping attack vs. canned jump in which is a lot of his wake up game right there.)
Basically, to contrast my opinion with Ultradavid’s, he says that you shouldn’t go for the taunt because Hugo has weak mobility and thus should forego the taunt to get close to his character. In my opinion, sometimes it is worth it to taunt because Hugo has weak mobility and if you knock an opponent back far enough to taunt, but the time you close your gap on the opponent, you have eliminated a lot of wake up options anyway. I’m not saying that Ultradavid is wrong about Hugo’s mobility problems–just that his mobility sucks so much that sometimes it is not worth chasing after the opponent on the knockdown anyway.
You say that you taunt when your opponent is far away and trying to build up EX but IMO that strategy isn’t that safe if the opponent wants to get you… Certainly that is more risky than doing it after a far away knockdown. Luckily though, a lot of people don’t really try to stop Hugo from getting his taunts, and with those people I guess it doesn’t matter. If someone doesn’t really try to stop you from taunting, ABUSE IT.
How I calculated the damage reduction was for example on the first taunt (86/80-1). If you calculate it differently, you can get different answers but I still think the damage reduction is significant.
BTW, this is why I think YSB has the best Hugo. Sometimes I’ve seen him play like Hayao but other times I’ve seen him play in the style I’m talking about. He is so flexible with how he uses the character and that’s why I think he’s so great.