Akuma: Heath 850, Stun 850
Akuma is a veritable “jack of all trades”. He has a tremendous footsie game, great ambiguous mix-ups, respectable damage, and good zoning. His “vortex” style of play is what most people think of when his name gets brought up, but his real strength is in the extremely specific setups he has when dealing with okizeme. Top players have a mental database of safejumps, option selects, character specific combos, and just generally difficult setups to deal with. His sweep is one of the best in the game, giving him the knockdown he needs to get his pressure started. The Zanku Hadoken is tough to deal with for many characters, which coupled with his Ashura Senku (teleport) can almost shut entire matchups down. Dangerous is the Akuma player with matchup knowledge and airtight execution.
-Great reversal options
-Good damage from bnbs, typically leading to a knockdown
-Great anti-airs and air-to-air moves
-Wrath ot the Raging Demon does great damage
-Low health and stun
-Relies on setups to land his most useful Ultra
-Requires strict timing on most of his advanced techniques
For Viper, Akuma lies on the difficult end of the matchup spectrum. His sweep alone gives Viper a hard time, simply because of how fast it comes out and how far it reaches. Just for perspective, Akuma’s sweep has 6 frames of startup. Viper’s cr.MK has 7. His fireballs aren’t too big of a problem for Viper, even his air fireballs have drawbacks if Viper knows what she’s doing. Just like any of the other shotos his Shoryuken can’t be safe-jumped, and teleport gives him a “get out of jail free” card in sticky situations. Dealing with a character with so many great tools can seem like an uphill battle for Viper, but when you know the tricks and focus on making every hit count against his low life, the matchup may not be quite as scary.
Gahadoken - The typical shoto fireball. At certain distances, it recovers quick enough to Shoryuken an opponent trying to jump over the fireball. Like just about any other character with a fireball, this can be HP Seismic Hammered if done at full screen and super jump cancelled to avoid the fireball itself. Alternatively, at less than full screen range, a well timed EX Seismic Hammer will allow the fireball to go through you and will still hit Akuma. At close range, you can go for the jump in, do an overhead over the fireball, or use LP Thunder Knuckle to go under. EX version is dealt with in the same way, but it just comes out quicker.
Shakunetsu Hadoken** - Same deal as Gahadoken, but starts up and recovers slower. You typically only see this coming at you if you’ve jumped at full screen, or are getting up and Akuma tries to chip you out. If that’s the case, having meter will save you as you can do a reversal EX Seismic Hammer.
Zanku Hadoken - Akuma’s trademark air fireball. Unless spaced very well, these can be dangerous against Viper. Anything relatively close and Viper can LP Thunder Knuckle under the fireball(s) and hit Akuma. Anything from full screen can be EX Thunderknuckled with good timing or Seismic Hammered. If he throws a particularly poorly timed Zanku you can just dash under it and do as you please. It’s not hard for these to beat out Burning Kicks and HP Thunder Knuckles so keep that in mind if trying to chase him down.
Goshoryuken** - Typical shoto uppercut rules apply here. Its going to beat out pretty much whatever gets thrown at it, but can be punished badly if baited out. 3 frame startup across the board means no safe-jumps for Viper.
Tatsumaki Zankukyaku - On the ground, it’s not a big deal outside of combos or punishing non-feinted Seismic Hammers. Just crouch it and hit HP or LP Thunder Knuckle to hit the lowest part of his hitbox. His EX version starts very quickly and can set up for some corner juggles. The regular airborne version of Tatsumaki Zankukyaku is typically used as an ambiguous cross-up and does well at avoiding HP Thunder Knuckle. Sometimes you can get lucky with an auto-correct on HP Thunder Knuckle or EX Seismic Hammer but it’s probably better just to block it or avoid it with EX Seismic Hammer feint. Airborne EX Tatsumaki Zankukyaku can beat out just about any air-to-air attack and has no recovery upon landing so it is often used to bait out a counter attack. For a punish just wait until he stops spinning and try to HP Thunder Knuckle while Akuma is still in the air.
Hyakkishu - The demon flip. No follow up attack causes him to slide along the floor with his foot out. This has to be blocked low but can be punished on block. It has a whopping 15 active frames so EX Seismic Hammers invincibilty frames arent typically enough to beat it unless you catch only the end of the slide. The palm follow up has a really good hitbox and will beat just about any aerial move. If the palm whiffs, he has no recovery upon landing so it’s also a good baiting tool. Kick follow up if mis-timed can be HP Thunder Knuckled but it’s often used as a safe-jump so be wary. Also has no recovery on landing but usually used with the intent of connecting on the opponent. Look out for trades as they can usually be followed up by Viper for more damage. The grab follow up is especially tricky. Viper has no way to lower her hitbox enough to avoid it so she usually has to rely on airborne frames to avoid it. The best way to deal with Hyakkishu and it’s follow ups is to hit Akuma out of the flip as early as possible. Jumping forward with an early HK/HP can beat it out fairly well. Viper’s less than stellar wakeup game makes this a very dangerous move.
**Ashura Senku **- The teleport. If this can be baited out or predicted well, it means free BIG damage for Viper. Her EX Thunder Knuckle is a great way to punish this because it’s fast and far reaching enough for you to try a jump-in in the corner, and just throw it out on reaction to a teleport. Depending on your spacing you can get a myriad of combos including FFF. Viper can also super jump to catch a nice juicy air attack to a full combo. Be careful if Akuma picked U2 however as either teleport can be cancelled out of to land it.
Momentum can be a big deciding factor in this match. Both characters have relatively low life and both have ways of dishing out big damage. Dealing with his vortex mostly comes down to how good your defense is, however there are ways of avoiding/punishing parts of it, especially cross-up airborne Tatsu. Try feinting EX Seismic Hammer to use the invincibility frames and punish his landing.
On the ground, you CAN play footsies to a degree, but it’s especially important to learn his sweep range and dance in and out of it. His walk speed makes this difficult however. His step forward HK is also tough to deal with as a footsie tool and because it can beat out Burning Kicks fairly easily. If crouch blocked, the second hit will whiff allowing for a nice punish. His cr.MK is great tool for stuffing Thunder Knuckles so again dance in and out of range, and be unpredictable with them. Like other shotos, his cr.MK also lowers his hitbox enough to completely avoid any Burning Kick. His cr.HP is also a very good anti-air. Far st.HP is now another footsie tool to watch out for due to his ULTRA changes, as it is now special cancellable.
On his wakeup, it’s a good idea to go for setups that either avoid Shoryuken or bait it out, or bait out teleport and give you enough time to catch it. Throwing out the occasional non-cross up, or cross-up normal can be useful if you’ve gotten in his head at all. It’s important to note that Akuma can cancel ANY normal (save for sweep thanks to ULTRAs changes) into his Super or U1 and most players have setups specifically designed to catch you in one of these devastating moves. His demon flip with palm follow up allows him to land right next to you with no recovery and is a big factor in setting up either the Super or U1. If Akuma has the meter, you also have to worry about things such as punishing a whiffed normal (like the second hit of far st.HK when crouch blocked). Doing a Burning Kick also sets you up for a cr.MK cancelled into his Super or U1.
Wanted to post these two videos from FRXVI to showcase specifically how Wolfkrone took his knowledge from seeing Latif play Infiltration before him to try and use LP Thunder Knuckle and close st. HK in the matchup to decent effect before Infiltration adapted again.