Timing and practice.
I noticed doing other characters’ trials that you can link into a chain and be able to special cancel the chain.
It’s best to learn links because you will be able to gain more than Day 1 tag in combos as well as improve your hit confirms in different situations.
Usually, or from my experience, you can’t chain into a special directly. The reason why EX always works is probably because EX versions have different properties than their normal versions.
I will correct this as I get more familiar. Forgive me for any errors, I’m always reading and sometimes shit gets mixed up. Lol.
A chain is when you simply press three attack buttons in an ABC fashion, starting with the lowest strength. You are able to stop at any point in the chain. You can also start with Medium as long as you don’t start with Heavy.
St.LP, St.MP, St.HP chain will not let you cancel into her Storming Flower special move. (QCF+P) The most you can do is a launcher into a tag in but remember that chaining into a launcher on block is very unsafe and can potentially get you killed.
St.LP, St.MP, St.HP chain will cancel if you used the EX version of Storming Flower (QCF+PP) Causing knock down and some positional advantages.
A link is when you time your inputs between attacks but not in an ABC form. These are slightly more harder to do but you have the added benefit of hit confirming as well as being able to special cancel. This is timing and practice at its finest. The entire casts trials will generally show you combos the characters’ links.
Back to using Xiaoyu:
Her link that’s shown in the trial is:
Cr. LP -> Cr. LK
The reason why this is great is because since you linked the LP into the LK, the game engine will count your combo as a link which means you will be able to special cancel.
Mind you that there are also slightly harder links. But that depends on your character!
So because you can special cancel, you can now open yourself up for better options.
Ex: Xiaoyu walks up to you and does Cr. LP 2x, this means she is fishing for a hit. Not to mention since all jabs are safe on block.
If she lands one of those Cr. LPs and links into her Cr.Lk, St.MP, St.HP chain, she will be able to cancel into whatever she wants.
Her Cross Art, Super or into her wallbounce combo or just a general combo.
I’ve only been playing since SF4 vanilla but over the few years, my execution just gets more used to it. I’m not the best in execution but I can hit certain links for a good majority of the time. I’m also very lazy to go into training mode which is funny as well but I will start spending more time there.
Practice practice practice! If you can’t hit a combo at least five times consistently, then you’ve yet to master it. Then when you are able to perform it, up the ante. Try doing it ten times. And keep doing it until you can hit it with a 90 or above percent accuracy!
I wish you best of luck!