Abel: Health 1050, Stun 1050
(From the Abel sub-forum introduction thread, modified with ULTRA in mind)
Abel is a rush down character at heart; once he gets in, Abel can begin his mix-up games and typically have his way with his opponents. This is emphasized by his f+mk (step kick) which lets him get to point blank range at +3, leading to control in that moment. With the introduction of SSFIV, Abel now has two great (rather than 1 good and one subpar, as others do) ultras; U1 is easily combo-ed into, whereas U2 is basically an armored, very fast, very strong, forward moving grab. However, Abel does have his disadvantages. If zoned, Abel cannot get in and start an offense. Some characters also have a stronger footsie game than Abel, forcing him to resort to a less-than-common offense.
-Excellent mix-up game
-Dominant at mid-range because of f+mk
-Has a command throw that beats every throw (besides Ibuki’s Radia) in the game
-Fastest forward dash (tied with Elf) in the game and relatively quick backdash
-Relatively high damage output
-Slightly above average health and stun
-Lacks a variety of pokes.
-Poor defensive options.
-Anti-air has a rather steep learning curve; Abel has to learn to use 3 or 4 anti-airs rather than 1 catch-all. Abel’s AA also tends to have a high-risk, high-reward feel.
-Able can be zoned by projectiles (not too big of a deal, as roll, EX wheel, and U1 ignore projectiles) and characters with exceptional footsies.
-Several bnb combos are 1-framers; this tends to require plinking.
-Somewhat poor wake-up options.
His special moves aren’t typically a huge threat to Viper, nor are his normals. One could argue that Abel is a little less far down the “mix-up heavy character” spectrum than Viper or Fuerte for instance, but still considered to be a mix-up based character. His mix-ups come mostly from rolls, being at +3 frames after a step kick, a quite good crossup with medium kick, Tornado Throw and to a lesser extent, Change of Direction. Much of dealing with any mixup is learning to block correctly, and once blocked, many of Abel’s special moves can be punished with some practice.
Falling Sky - Most Abel’s dont consider it a good anti-air unless the EX version is used. Keep in mind the regular Falling Sky variations land you behind Abel while the EX version puts you in front of him. It’s probably not a good idea to just spam Burning Kicks all the time, but again, the move kind of sucks as a straight up anti-air.
Change of Direction - When dealing with mix-ups these can be frustrating to block as they have lots of block stun but with practice you can see how unsafe these “rekka” really are. First hit is blockable high or low, either of the follow up hits have to be blocked high if they are done with punches, or low if done with kicks. It’s not extremely difficult to see which direction to block, just make sure to pay attention and not get interrupted by going for an ill-timed punish. As for punishes, the first hit is unpunishable on block at only -3 frames. The second or third hit can be punished with cr.HP which of course can lead to either LP or MP Thunder Knuckle, or EX Seismic Hammer. Generally you are pushed too far away for a full FFF punish. Alternatively if you block the first hit of Change of Direction and see that the opponent is choosing (stupidly) to continue the move, HP Thunder Knuckle is usually your “go to” reversal. EX Change of Direction is a little trickier because it absorbs a hit at the beginning so keep that in mind, also remember he can FADC out of the first hit and the second hit if done with a kick.
Wheel kick** - Very punishable on block (-10,-11,-12, respectively, EX is -6), can be anti-aired with HP Thunder Knuckle. Some Abels use these to get over Seismic Hammer so it’s possible to bait them out. If blocked at a certain distance, it’s slightly safter, but using cr.MK to punish should still be able to work. EX version I believe gets pushed back further when only the last hit gets blocked but otherwise it can be reversal U1’ed and hit with cr.LK. This move is useful against players who neutral jump a lot, so look out for it in that regard. A very well timed EX Seismic Hammer can beat out this move.
Marseilles Roll - All rolls are vulnerable to throws throughout the animation. Physically LK, MK, and HK, rolls are vulnerable up to frame 5, and on their last frame. EX Roll is invulneralbe to physical attacks completely. Needless to say, grabbing is probably your best bet when dealing with Roll. Even Viper’s quickest normals would be difficult to interrupt it, however I sometimes randomly do an overhead when they roll to mess up their spacing.
Tornado Throw - Viper’s hardest to deal with part of Abel’s mix-up game. The goal here is basically to predict it and LK Burning Kick it, or otherwise get yourself in the air so you can punish the recovery. HP Thunder Knuckle may be a more viable option now that it has throw invincibilty up until the first active frame, but with certain timing the startup invinciblitly of EX Tornado Throw can still allow him to grab her. Other times, she may just fly through the grab and land still in front of him with neither character really being in a good position to punish.
Typical strategy against Abel is really just a “business as usual” Viper mix-up game, frame-traps can be somewhat useful, as well as baiting out Tornado Throw and using a max damage punish. His wake-up options still aren’t the best (typically roll, the occasional EX Change of Direction). The footsie game is about even, slightly in Abels favor, but Viper has some good tools here with decent range on her normals, being able to feint them, and with her overhead. Always consider her counter-hit setups and combos. Middle-ish range MP Thunder Knuckle is good because it catches lots of stuff, including early frames of Wheel Kick and of course, Focus Attack. Getting knocked down by Abel is where the matchup starts to get really tricky. Vipers wakeup is somewhat vulnerable to his mix-ups, especially ones that involve roll into ambiguous normals or Tornado Throw. EX Burning Kick may help out when waking up, but we all know it’s a risky move. As far as any kind of distance game, Seismic Hammers should be used sparingly especially if Abel has any kind of meter, whether its Super/EX or especially Ultra. If you let one rip, Abel has the ability to Roll through it, Wheel Kick over it, Ultra through it, and basically do the typical avoidance maneuvers to make sure you can’t SJC out of it to make it safe, and punish you. Speaking on Ultras, Abel may choose to use either/or in the Viper matchup. Souless means guaranteed damage off of a combo, while Breathless can catch any kind of recovery time Viper has. Breathless is good for catching all kinds of Viper screw ups, and needs to be feared and respected. Viper’s low vitality is a big factor to consider when dealing with the Abel matchup.
Vs. Juicebox matches start at 7:45