Blanka: Health 1000, Stun 950
Ugh, Blanka. What can be said about him that hasn’t been said a thousand times? His mobility throws traditional defensive strategies out the window. His defensive game, can be outright frustrating. Blanka’s normal attacks are really the foundation that make him a solid character. None of them are incredibly fast outside of far st.LP, but generally the hitboxes on them and on his specials are so good, he can hit you out of almost anything. His specials are good for stopping other characters’ momentum but some can be punished easily. His combo’s arent flashy but do respectable damage, and his mixup game is quite strong, but not on the level of C.Viper or El Fuerte. Wrap all this up with 2 very strong and useful Ultras and he becomes a very frustrating matchup indeed. All that said, he does take tremendous skill to use at high levels.
-Very fast jump with a great attacking arc
-Great anti-fireball game with slide, coward’s crouch, ex horizontal ball, and U2
-Great anti-air options
-Good footsie normals
-Lots of + frames on blocked electricity
-4 frame U1 which allows for meter free combos to ultra and the ability to punish heavily
-Builds meter well
-Lots of ambiguous mixups and gimmicks
-Fast focus attack
-Slightly below average stun
-Low damage output without a jump in, ultra, or super which hurts his comeback potential
-Horiztonal and vertical balls are very punishable on both hit and block
-Reversals can easily be option selected against
-Hard to break opponents defenses safely
-Must use EX meter for invincible reversal
The problem with the Blanka matchup for Viper is that, while Blanka may be a nuisance for other characters to play, he can be just that much worse to Viper due to her inherent weaknesses. His footsie game can shut many of her options down. His far st.HK can beat Burning Kicks, his far st.LP can poke you and interrupt pressure, his d/f HK slide goes under Thunder Knuckles and can beat EX Seismic Hammer, just to name a few. Viper can punish some of his moves that other characters might have trouble with, but good Blanka players know this and won’t throw out random specials. Her slower normals and special make his hop tough to deal with, and his reversals are great at stopping any less than airtight oki Viper throws out. That, and a Super, U1, and U2 that do nearly 500 damage each, can make getting hit by Blanka the stuff of nightmares.
Rolling Attack - If a Blanka does this to you at random, it probably means he doesn’t know the matchup very well. Block these and you get a free punish with reversal MP or HP Seismic Hammer (EX doesn’t have to be reversal’ed). If you want to hit him out of it, cr.MP, cr.HP, and far st.MK work well to stuff these if you see them coming. Burning Kicks can beat it but it’s quite hard to time them. Alternatively, a neutral jump HK or jump back HK can beat them out pretty easily. Be cautious of the LP version as it stops short, and is often used to set up grabs or electricity. Learn to spot when this is being used to cross you up on your wakeup, or in the corner to start shenanigans.
Backstep Roll** - Again if you block this move, it’s fairly easy to punish. Certain angles might let you HP Thunder Knuckle after, or MP Thunder Knuckle. Seismic Hammer works as well because he does have a small recovery window as he lands. The real news is that EX Thunder Knuckle can punish any version of a blocked Backstep Roll. If you want to stop it before it even hits you, close st.MK can kick him out of it, even the EX one, but the timing and angle need to be good. It can also be anti-aired with HP Thunder Knuckle but often will trade with no follow-up available, because it knocks you down. Can also be focused to avoid worrying about a cross-up.
Vertical Rol**l - This can be troublesome for the Burning Kick happy Viper player. Each version starts in 4 frames, and works as an excellent anti-air. Much like Rolling Attack, Seismic Hammers are usually the weapon of choice for punishing a blocked Vertical Roll. If one whiffs, he does have a bit of landing recovery but it may just be easier to hit him while he’s still in the air. If you’re feeling particularly stylish and you manage to get a whiffed Vertical Roll, you may be able to punish with an EX Thunder Knuckle, sometimes getting only one hit (if you catch him with his feet pointed down), allowing you to juggle into U1 or something else.
**Electric Thunder **- Look out for these at the end of block strings or after he performs hops. Normal versions can be beat out easily enough by an overhead or properly spaced cr.LK, cr.MK, cr.HK, or Seismic Hammer. Can also be used as an anti-air. With the EX version, overhead will trade in Blanka’s favor, but cr.LK, cr.MK, and cr.HK all still work. EX version has become much more useful since Arcade Edition as it starts up in 5 frames, so it’s also a decent reversal. EX version is also very good for chip damage.
As Viper, you almost have to break down Blankas gameplan into different sections as you approach this matchup. What will Blanka likely do at full screen? What might he do at point blank? Knowing his best options will help steer you towards making better decisions, or anticipating the all important punish. Specifically look out for his go-tos like slide (16 active frames makes it hard but not impossible to hit with EX Seismo, if done at close range focus is a good option, or just block and punish at -11 frames on block), hop (can be hit out of the first and last few frames, cr.lp, cr.mp, cr.hp depending on your comfort level), and any reversal he may throw (punish).
On his wakeup, it’s generally not a good idea to do any kind of non safe-jumped attack as his Vertical Roll starts in 4 frames, has a deceptively good hitbox, and auto-corrects easily. Be fully aware of how much meter Blanka has, both EX and revenge, this may tip you off to an EX Backstep Roll or EX Electric Thunder on wakeup, or depending on the level of respect your opponent shows, a wakeup Ultra. Essentially learning how to deal with Blanka’s specials is a main factor of learning the matchup, but having solid Street Fighter fundamentals will help seal the deal. Blankas goal may be to throw you off your defensive game by hopping around and grabbing you so knowing how to tech grabs is helpful. Same thing with footsies, not every Blanka is going to go for the standard mix-ups or random special moves. Know your normals, and look out for counter hits as they give you opportunities for extra damage in a matchup where a life lead can really be helpful. Also keep in mind his charge character nature, use overhead if you know he may be holding down + back at a given moment.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Blankas falling hitbox is strange, it may be difficult for instance to land Burst Time on him as he is falling. Keep this in mind if you don’t want to risk getting punished for a missed Ultra.