In an effort to make Q easier to pick up, to clean up the Q forum, and to emulate the one-stop-shopping of some of the other character forums, Im making a big ol Q post with everything you need to know to learn Q. Im gonna cover all sorts of stuff, but if theres anything you feel should be changed or added, let me know and Ill edit this.
First off, dont pick Q if youre expecting to win easily or soon. Q is bottom tier. Hes not a joke character, it is possible to win with him, but it often takes more work than itll take for your opponent to beat you.
Second off, go check out Streaks Clawstrophobia vid on Combovideos.com, which is a great intro. If its not there when you read this or you dont want to download it, then fine, nobody likes you. And now, time for some meat.
Part 1: The moves etc
a) Special moves
Capture and deadly blow (c&db): half circle back, kick. A slow command grab with excellent range that sets up some huge damage combos. The stronger the kick button used, the farther the opponent will be launched. The short version comes out the fastest, but its only 1 frame faster than the forward version and only 2 faster than the roundhouse version, although its recovery is 2 better than the forward version and 4 better than the roundhouse. C&db is very important to Qs game, especially against certain characters.
Regular dash punch: charge back, forward, punch. The harder the punch, the farther the dash goes. Always safe on block, combos into super. Can be comboed into and out of and can be used to cover ground quickly. Just dont get predictable with it or use it too often; you dont want it to get parried. Something else thats cool is learning how to keep your charge when the opponent switches sides. Always charge back in relation to the where the opponent is, so if youre charging back and the opponent jumps over you, just switch your charge to the other side right when the opponent switches sides.
Overhead dash punch: charge back, forward, hold punch. Use sparingly. Its an overhead, obviously, and it hits a little later than the regular version, so if the opponent is crouching or going for a parry its a little harder for them to deal with. You can link it to SAII, but only if you do it close enough. Its punishable on block, so watch out.
Low dash punch: charge back, forward, kick. Sweeps the opponent. This is even more unsafe on block than the overhead dash punch is. The ex version combos into SAI, but the damage reduction is huge. I dont use this very often, and when I do, its super randomly.
High-speed barrage (slaps): quarter circle back, punch. Q slaps the opponent a few times. Its nsafe on block, but only against characters with quick rushing supers like Chun SAII and Ken SAIII. Against others, it can be spammed all day for chip damage, to beat out opponents pokes and moves, and for spacing. Use the jab version (the low-hitting one) most often because it hits everyone, even when theyre crouching. Fierce slaps can be used as a decent and situational antiair and strong slaps are good if you parry an air attack or to beat out pokes. Strong and fierce slaps can also be used to keep an opponent from jumping if you have them in the corner and are playing c&db reset games. EX slaps do great stun and damage and also knock down, and will do good chip damage if blocked, but they can be easily punished on block by just about anything.
b) Normal punches
Far standing jab: Q does a quick little slap, actually has pretty good range. Used to tick into c&db and keep opponents at bay.
Close standing jab: Q does another little slap, but it comes out more quickly and has less range, can combo into ex slaps for a useless combo. Mainly used for antiair and ticking into c&db. Can be parried high and low (somehow), even though the shorter characters can duck it.
Neutral standing strong: He flings his arm forward and then takes a step. Has great range, safe on block, but very slow startup, easily punished if whiffed, and not much use. Used in c&db corner resets and can also serve as a preemptive antiair. Its his second-best karathrowing move.
Back + strong: A great antiair. Q steps forward and moves his fist straight up. This is his best normal for karathrowing. If someone is trying to jump over you, this will knock them out of the air; it even hits a little behind Q, so sometimes the opponent gets reset onto your opposite side. Its safe on block and has good range, so its a good poke. Its also good when youre in the corner to make sure the opponent doesnt jump. Plus, if you do it at the right time as an antiair and it gets parried, you can recover in time to not get hit/thrown. It has to be parried high.
Neutral standing fierce: Q hops forward zombie-style and knocks the opponent down. This move sucks, I only use it to end an SAII combo in the corner. Has to be parried high.
Back + fierce: Q hops forward, doesnt knock down the opponent. This move isnt as bad as youd think. Used a lot as a reset in corner c&db juggles. Also a decent poke against opponents without a good, ranged, quick low normal that they can get big damage off of and are also tall enough to always get hit by it, like Dudley for example. It beats out a lot of things. Has to be parried high.
Crouching jab: Great quick ranged poke, good for keeping the opponent out, beats slower attacks. Only problem is that it can be parried high and low and doesnt need to be blocked low.
Crouching strong: Great antiair, perfect angle to beat the air attacks of some of the characters. Safe on block and can recover in time if air parried. Can be used right up close to tick into karathrow or to preemptively antiair a jump. Can be parried high and low.
Crouching fierce: Q slams the ground with his hand. Safe on block, but not that useful. Has to be parried and blocked low. Range extends beyond and above Qs fist, so it can be used to stuff things like Chuns low forward if you wanna be risky (which I dont usually want to do).
Jumping up jab: Q jumps up and puts his hand out in front of him. Has great priority, lasts the whole jump.
Jumping toward jab: The claw! Great priority, beats all sorts of things in the air, used to reset the opponent into SAII, good for after air parrying an air attack if the opponent is above you.
Jumping strong: Q angles his elbow upward. Good against jumping opponents higher than you. Also used against Hugo, since hes tall enough to make it worthwhile even if hes grounded.
Jumping fierce: Q angles his arms downward and zombies the opponent out of the air. Great air move, good for starting combos, beating air attacks, trading with things, etc. Sets up a taunt if it knocks the opponent out of the air. Also used to tick into c&db. Use this one a lot.
c) Normal kicks
Standing short: Q does a quick shin kick. Great for keeping the opponent out and ticking into c&db. Can be parried both high and low.
Far standing forward: Qs best poke. It beats all sorts of stuff all the time. Use this a lot.
Close standing forward: Outside of close standing jab, this is Qs only (only.) cancelable and comboable grounded normal attack. Use this all the time too. Doesnt beat as much stuff as far standing forward, but its comboability is real nice. Has to be parried high.
Neutral standing roundhouse: Safe on block, but if whiffed, youll eat anything and everything the opponent has. Stuffs a lot of stuff, I use it on super-less Chuns sometimes to keep them out. Mostly used as a c&db combo finisher. Has to be parried high.
Back + roundhouse: some people use this, but I dont really. It knocks down if down close and if blocked or landed can cancel into every special and super Q has, but none of it will connect. Cancels into the taunt, too. Some people use it as a preemptive antiair, but I think its too risky.
Crouching short: Another good poke. Its like crouching jab but doesnt beat as much stuff, has slightly longer range, and must be parried/blocked low.
Crouching forward: Decent poke, does more damage than crouching short but a little slower. This is also his best meter-builder. Has to be parried and blocked low.
Crouching roundhouse: Sweeps the opponent. If it doesnt knock the opponent down, it can be punished by anything. Still, its a great meaty attack and beats everything up to and including dragon punches. Also used as an antiair. It has to be parried and blocked low.
Jumping short: Q quickly knees the opponent. Just like jumping toward jab, but is better at hitting opponents who are lower than you.
Jumping forward: really good. Has great range, starts combos, good for hitting opponents out of the air, good for keeping opponents at a distance. Use this often.
Jumping roundhouse: can stuff a lot of things, even dragon punches. Knocks the opponent down if theyre in the air. Qs most damaging way to start a combo from the air. Can also be used to tick into c&db.
d) Frame data
Part 2: Combos and whatever
a) Stuff that works anywhere, on anyone
(Optional jumping fierce/roundhouse/forward) close standing forward, jab/strong dash punch
(Jumping fierce/roundhouse/forward) close standing forward, jab/strong dash punch, SAI/SAII
(Jumping fierce/roundhouse/forward) close standing forward, ex dash punch, neutral standing roundhouse
(Jumping fierce/roundhouse/forward) close standing forward, jab/strong/ex slaps
(Opponent crouching) overhead dash punch, link to SAII
EX low dash punch (one hit), SAI
Short c&db, SAII
Short c&db, fierce slaps
Universal overhead, SAII
b) Midscreen stuff
Roundhouse c&db, strong dash punch (everyone)
Roundhouse c&db, fierce dash punch (Yun, Yang, Ibuki)
Roundhouse c&db, ex dash punch, neutral standing roundhouse (everyone)
Roundhouse c&db, jab overhead dash punch, strong dash punch, SAII (Sean, Akuma, Chun, Makoto, Ryu, Dudley, Elena, Ken)
Roundhouse c&db, jab overhead dash punch, ex dash punch (Sean, Akuma, Chun, Makoto, Ryu, Dudley, Elena, Ken)
Roundhouse c&db, strong overhead dash punch, strong dash punch, SAII (Yun, Yang, Ibuki, Oro)
Roundhouse c&db, strong overhead dash punch, ex dash punch (Yun, Yang, Ibuki, Oro)
Forward c&db, jab overhead dash punch, strong dash punch, SAII (Remy)
(In any midscreen situation) SAII, fierce dash punch (everyone)
Short c&db, SAII, fierce dash punch
c) Near the corner but not quite there stuff
Roundhouse c&db, strong dash punch, jab/strong/ex dash punch (everyone, choice between jab/strong depends on distance to wall)
Roundhouse c&db, strong dash punch, neutral standing strong (reset) (everyone)
Roundhouse c&db, ex dash punch, neutral standing strong (reset) (everyone)
(Jumping fierce/roundhouse/forward) close standing forward, ex dash punch, neutral standing strong (reset) (everyone)
(In any almost-corner situation) SAII, strong dash punch (everyone)
d) Corner stuff
Roundhouse c&db, fierce dash punch, strong/ex dash punch (Yun, Yang, Ibuki, Remy)
Roundhouse c&db, strong dash punch, strong/ex dash punch (Oro, Alex, Q, Dudley, Makoto)
Roundhouse c&db, jab dash punch, jab/ex dash punch (Ken, Ryu, Sean, Akuma, Chun, Twelve, Elena, Necro, Urien)
Roundhouse c&db, fierce dash punch, back + fierce (reset) (Yun, Yang, Ibuki, Remy)
Roundhouse c&db, strong dash punch, back + fierce (reset) (Alex, Oro, Q, Dudley, Makoto)
Roundhouse c&db, jab dash punch, back + fierce (reset) (Ken, Ryu, Sean, Akuma, Chun, Twelve, Elena, Necro, Urien, Hugo)
(In any corner situation) SAII, strong dash punch
(In any corner situation) SAII, neutral standing fierce
Part 3: Stuff about Q
a) Taunts: Taunting is really important. After 3 taunts, Q has the highest defense in the game (that is, he takes the least damage), even better than Hugo after 4 taunts. Against a Q jumping fierce, close standing forward, SAII, fierce dash punch combo for example, Q normally takes 93 damage points. After 1 taunt, he takes 76, after 2, 65, and after 3, 54. As you probably know, Q isnt a very good character, so being able to cut the damage he takes so dramatically is a huge plus for him. I tend to think of the taunts not as making Q take less damage (which is really what they do), but as lengthening Qs health bar. Picture it going off the screen another 50%. This is helpful because itll make you realize that if you take some damage in order to get a taunt, you havent really lost net health but instead gained a lot of health and lost a little. Dont make taunting the most important thing, though. Think of it as an advantage, not as a necessity. Only taunt if it gives you an advantage over all, taking into account not only your health bar but your positioning and other opportunities. Taunting in Kens face, for example, is totally not worth it. If he doesnt have super youll get something like strong, fierce, jab dragon punch, jab dragon punch, entirely negating any gain you got from the taunt. If youre just gonna get hit by a full screen fireball or if youre up against a meter-less Chun, fine, do it. But also think about your positioning. You want your opponent in the corner as often as possible, so say you land a standing forward, ex dash punch, neutral standing roundhouse combo about 2/3 of the way to one side of the screen. You could taunt after, which would be fine in some cases (like if you need a taunt badly or if youre playing runaway) but would leave you across the screen from your cornered opponent. Instead, think about doing a fierce dash punch to leave you right on top of your opponent in the corner. This kind of thing is entirely situational, though. Just think about what would be most advantageous to you and recognize that what is most advantageous is not always a taunt.
So what are some good ways to set taunts up? Air-to-air jumping fierce and ex slaps will get you one against characters who cant hurt you real fast from far away. You get a free one after a back/toward throw, SAI, two free ones after SAII if you dont do a follow-up attack, and a free one after SAII even if you do a follow-up. You also get a free taunt after any c&db combo, but against certain characters (characters who get up late), if you do short c&db, fierce slaps, you get two free ones. You can also taunt if youre reasonably far away and arent against a character that can cover ground quickly and painfully. You can even taunt up close against characters that lack a way to painfully punish you (like Twelve, meter-less Chun, etc). Yet another way to do it is to get the opponent into a rhythm and use that rhythm to taunt. Do something a few times in a row that makes the opponent want to move backward or do some attack, and then when the opponent is expecting you to do it again, taunt instead.
b) Defense: Blocking and teching (parrying and throw teching) are also really important. Q doesnt have too many options in a lot of cases. Whereas Ken might be able to dragon punch through a Yun air raid, as Q, your best bet is just to block it. Knowing when and where to block is essential because youre going to spend more time on the defensive than the offensive. Theres no guard break in Third Strike, so block as much as you want. Parrying is also important, but dont rely on it. You should try to minimize your risks with Q, and parrying is definitely a risk. Also, try to tech any throws your opponent might try to land. This kind of stuff can set up some of your attacks. Against shotos, for example, constant blocking and the occasional throw tech could lead to your opponent getting frustrated and trying to sweep you. Thats awesome for you, because if you block a shoto sweep at any distance, you get a free (and, since the opponent is crouching, a very damaging) SAI.
Wakeup parrying is usually pretty dumb. If you do a wakeup toward parry, youll lose to down parry attacks and even if you guess correctly, you can still lose to attacks that can be quickly canceled into others. Heck, even a wakeup SAI is less risky, since you know that if your opponent did anything other than block or jump out of the way, youre going to hit him, and even if he jumped, certain characters cant punish a whiffed Q SAI because he rushes to the other side of the screen so quickly. Its alright to put a wakeup parry out there occasionally just to make your opponent think twice about meaty attacks, but dont do it very often.
Personally, I feel the best way to play Q is extremely patiently. Not as a turtle exactly, but in a way that minimizes the danger to yourself. Just sitting in the corner will make you lose, but you want to spend most of the match frustrating your opponent into letting you punish them. At the same time, occasionally going on the offensive will make the opponent think twice about your style of play, and confusing them is a great asset to you. If you get the opponent in the corner, dont abdicate your positioning for the sake of turtling; try to keep the opponent in there and deal some damage.
c) Normals: Q doesnt really have the benefit of having notably awesome normal attacks that can be used in various situations. Unlike some characters, which have some kickass normals you use all the time and some that you never ever see, Q just has some pretty good ones, some ok ones, and some crappy ones, but almost all of them have uses. You have to go for more of a learn-and-use-everything approach. I literally use every one of his normals. I use some more often than others, obviously, but youll need em all in your bag of tricks to succeed. Note that Qs only overhead (other than the risky and slow overhead dash punch) is the universal overhead, so make sure you use it. You dont want to give your opponent the luxury of only having to block down when youre on the ground. Plus, remember that superjumping can be really handy because your air attacks will come from higher up than your opponents regular (in most cases). Superjump forward is good stuff.
d) Karathrow: A kara cancel is where you cut off the animation of a normal move extremely early (just a few frames in) with a command move. In this case, the command move is a throw. Karathrowing is really important for Q because with it he gets excellent range on his throw. The one with the best range is back + strong, but neutral standing strong is a great one too. Use back + strong if you need the extra range and dont mind the fact that the opponent will get thrown behind you, and use neutral strong if you want to keep the opponent in front of you (say, if hes in the corner). You should use the karathrow a lot, it really helps Qs game. Since your throw range is better than everyone elses (except Chuns), you can beat out lots of throw attempts, stop up-close poke strings, etc. There are even some situations where you can only use the karathrow to punish the opponent. Make sure you dont use it every time, though, since there are also situations where you might not have much time to throw and, since doing the karathrow takes a little longer because of the extra frames canceled from the normal attack youre using, youll get punished instead. Traditional ticks for it are jumping toward jab, close crouching forward, and close crouching strong, but sometimes its the weirder ones that get the job done.
e) Landing c&db: Like with taunting, there are lots of ways to do this and all of them are about doing something unexpected, so dependence on one way or another in particular will get you punished. There are traditional ticks like close/far standing jab, standing short, and crouching short, and then there are less traditional ticks like jumping roundhouse, universal overhead, and jumping fierce. Another way to do it is as an antiair. Q has a few options for antiair, like back + strong, crouching strong, standing jab, crouching roundhouse, etc, and if your opponent tries to jump in a few times and is denied, chances are hell eventually try empty jumping in looking to parry something. If it looks like he is indeed empty jumping, then bam, toss out a c&db. You can also get them used to blocking a block string like standing short, standing short, far standing forward, or low jab, low short, far standing forward, or universal overhead, standing short, and then once they get used to that, replace the third or even second attack with a c&db. Then theres also the very risky c&db when youre waking up if you think the opponent is just gonna sit there blocking, waiting to parry a wakeup dash punch or random super or whatever.
Against some characters, a single corner c&db combo can take up to 30-35% of the opponents life. Nobody wants to be cornered against Q, so know that and use that fear to your advantage. Dont feel you need to, or even should, go for a c&db every time in the corner. For example, say you do land a c&db there and do one of his resets. The opponent lands back on their feet and, if they know what Q is capable of and unless youve taught them otherwise, chances are they wont just sit there and let you command grab them. This is a great opportunity to land a standing forward, slaps, a preemptive antiair back + strong, neutral standing strong, crouching roundhouse, crouching forward, fierce slaps, or a dash punch that you can reset with back + fierce or neutral standing strong, putting them back in the same situation. You can also sit there and block if you expect a random super or dragon punch or whatever. Just the very act of NOT attacking can teach your opponent that its ok to sit in the corner against your Q, and thats a great chance for you to c&db them. There are a lot of mind games that are very advantageous to Q here and you need to learn to use them to your advantage. Playing c&db games in the corner also gives you a great chance to use your karathrow to keep them in there.
Something else you should know is how to superjump cancel. This is where you cancel a superjump at the very beginning of its frames into a command move, in this case c&db. To do it, just do a half circle back motion but quickly keep going until the joystick hits up, and then press kick. Q will flash a little and then the c&db will come out. This is useful because you cant be thrown while the flash is going on (the flash being the beginning frames of the superjump, during which you cant be thrown). So, if youre thinking the opponent is gonna try to throw you, try this. Note, though, that you only have throw invincibility (youre not invincible against other attacks) and that that invincibility is only during the beginning of the move.
f) Supers: In general, use SAI unless theres a good reason to use SAII. SAI deals good damage, can be used to punish laggy distance moves (a la the shoto sweep), can be comboed well, and gives you plenty of meter for exs. Use SAII if youre up against a character that takes a lot of damage, doesnt give Q many chances to land super, doesnt give Q many chances to use ex meter, and/or has character-specific things that make him more susceptible to SAII. Its best to use SAII on Ibuki, Yun, Yang, and Akuma for sure, but I also use it on Dudley, Elena, and Twelve. SAIII is useless in serious play like, completely. Theres only way to guarantee youll land that super, and thats corner c&db, dash punch xx SAIII, Dageki, which does crap damage and ruins your positioning. Other than that, you have to count on your opponent to be stupid to land it. That said, if you wanna just mess around with it, heres Drunken Master’s Total Destruction Guide.
There are some important properties of SAI and SAII that you should know. Both can punish blocked moves, but SAI can hit slowly-recovering distance moves (like the shoto sweep) because it moves forward so quickly. Also, if an opponent is crouching when theyre hit by the super, unlike most supers SAI keeps them crouching the whole time, and since crouching opponents take more damage, SAI will take off a good 40+%. SAI also has invincibility for its first few frames, meaning that it can go through fireballs/lovs/fireball supers, making your matchups against characters that depend on projectiles (Remy and Denjin Ryu, basically) a whole lot easier. Also know that with SAII, Q actually steps toward the opponent a little bit when doing it. Like, the range is actually longer than you would expect and its range extends both above and below where Qs fist actually is. Plus, its partially invincible in the first few frames, so it powers right through stuff like poke strings. Its also a really good antiair. Antiair parry, SAII is handy. Some characters (like Dudley, which is why I use SAII against him) have jump arcs that just lend themselves perfectly to SAII. Its also useful against Yun/Yang dive kick games. Keep in mind, though, that SAIIs invincibility does not extend to Qs feet, meaning that far low attacks like a max-range Urien crouching roundhouse or Makoto crouching short will beat it. As long as the opponents attack doesnt come from above and behind Qs fist or from below and far away against his legs, SAII will win. Plus, although this will almost never happen, both SAI and SAII can be beaten by throws if the throws are input before you do the super or if the throw is a command throw like Alexs back + fierce, Hugos running bear grab, and a few others, which can beat SAI even after it starts. Dont worry about it much (although against Hugo its good to keep in the back of your mind when thinking about wakeup supering), but if you play enough itll happen eventually. Oh, and SAIII? It blows.
By the way, about random supering, its one of those tricks you need to have up your sleeve as Q. Apart from his supers, he doesnt have any wakeup attacks that will beat any meaty attacks, so aside from parrying on wakeup, its the only thing that will make your opponent think twice about sticking out a meaty. That isnt the only time you can random super, though. Another time to think about it is after a blocked dash punch. People sometimes attack back, not necessarily because they think their attack will hit you (hopefully they know enough to know that youre safe on block), but rather because they want to try to control what you do after a blocked dash punch. Well, screw that. Control of the match needs to be in your hands; make your opponent think about whether or not he should do anything other than sit there after he blocks a dash punch. And there are other times to do random supers, like between poke strings, after an empty jump, in expectation of a meter-less Chuns far standing fierce, etc. You dont need to pull this kind of thing out often, and indeed you probably shouldnt; your opponent just needs to know that youre capable of it.
g) Combos: Q isnt much of a combo character. Like I said, the guy has two normals that are both cancelable and comboable and only one of them (close standing forward) is useful. So unlike Ken or Chun or Ibuki where it seems like every normal cancels or links into something else, with Q, you dont really have many chances to combo. Most of the combos youll be doing start with c&db. Even though Q doesnt have that many ways to start combos, as you can see above there are a crapload of different variations to most combos and just about all of them are important. You need to know all the different button strengths and timings associated with c&db juggles against the different characters, all the different ways to end c&db juggles, and all the different ways to cancel or link into super in order to maximize the damage you do. Let me tell you, it is incredibly annoying to get knocked out of a tournament just because you forgot the timing for how to do c&db, over head dash punch, dash punch, SAII on Ibuki. So while you probably wont get to start many combos that dont begin with c&db, you have to know what the combos and all their different permutations are if you want to succeed. Always be on the lookout for ways to combo anyway, though. If for example you jump in deep with fierce, even if it doesnt hit, you should still do close standing forward and then either jab slaps or (if youre against a character that can punish slaps) strong dash punch. Sometimes, just randomly, the opponent will stop blocking after the jump-in or the close standing forward out of expecting that youll stop attacking, and thats great because you get to either land slaps or dash punch xx super. Sometimes you get opportunities in the strangest of situations; always take advantage of them.
Something else you have to, have to, have to learn is how to cancel into super on reaction from the dash punch. This is essential to Qs game; its one of your best tools to make the opponent wary. If your opponent knows that if he eats a dash punch, all hell get is the damage from the dash punch (which, while not inconsiderable, isnt too terribly much), hell be worried about getting hit by it, but it wont change the way he plays. If he knows that if he eats a dash punch hell get 40% taken off, that will change the way he plays. So learn it. If you can learn to cancel from close standing forward, thats even better, although considerably harder.
h) Stupid stuff
Combos (the best place to find random, ridiculous, and useless Q combos is in KYSGs Q/Twelve combo video, which Im pretty sure is on Combovideos.com)
(Optional jumping fierce/roundhouse/forward) close standing jab, super
SAII, roundhouse kick dash punch
Crouching jab, link into SAII
(Only when Q is in the corner) jab slaps, link into SAII (only against certain characters)
(Opponent crouching) Back + fierce, SAI/SAII
Resets into super (I almost never use these, but theyre good to know I guess)
Close anti-air standing jab, dash toward, SAII
Forward c&db, jumping toward jab, SAII
(Only when opponent is cornered) Roundhouse c&db, jumping toward jab, SAII
Part 4: Matchups
a) Rundown of Qs best and worst fights, more or less in order
Makoto: totally shuts down Qs poking game, has command throw thats better with better setups, can combo the crap out of Q, bad guessing game for Q on wakeup
Chun: shuts down Qs poking game, likes to be out of range of all of Qs things, can easily punish Q, outprioritizes most of Qs attacks, hard for Q to punish her
Yang: shuts down Qs poking game, wants to be in a position just out of Qs range where he can punish any move Q throws out, dive kicks create a big problem for Q
Ken: can punish Q really well with or without meter, can combo from close or far range for big damage, has lots of stuff that Q can only beat by blocking
Genei Jin: genei jin pressure bastes Q, Q has hard time taunting, dive kicks are hard to beat
Urien: outprioritizes Qs moves, Q cant antiair him effectively, beats Q in the air and at midrange, but Q does alright up close
Akuma: can lock Q down in the corner pretty effectively but it only takes one or two opportunities for Q to kill him
Alex: beats a lot of Qs attacks, scary for Q up close
Bad but not that bad tier:
Elena: beats a lot of Qs attacks, can mix him up well, Q has a hard time antiairing her
Remy: likes playing far away from Q, Q cant duck the punch lov, one of the few matches where Q cant make his opponent come to him, but Remy has a small stun bar, doesnt take damage well, and a charged SAI makes him think twice about discs
Oro: difficult for Q to land c&db, difficult to knock him out of the air, but Q can poke pretty well, hard for Oro to land big damage
Dudley: Qs best high tier matchup, Q can antiair him well, can outpoke him, can punish a lot of Dudleys stuff, but Dudley still has good mixups, can deal big damage, and makes it difficult for Q to taunt
Twelve: doesnt deal much damage, doesnt take damage well, but its hard for Q to land c&db and super, Q cant do antiairs well, cant poke him much; hard for both characters to land big damage, rounds often last very long
Ryu: a pretty fair matchup, Q can punish some of Ryus stuff, ruins denjin, can antiair alright, can poke alright
Ibuki: Q can eat her up with just a couple combos, can poke her well, and can keep her out to an extent, and it takes forever for her to kill Q, but if she gets Q in the corner its hard to get out
Necro: Q has a huge stun bar, can poke Necro well, can punish his stuff, Necro has no real wakeup options, but Necro can juggle Q well and its hard for Q to get out of the corner
Q: even, obviously
Hugo: Q can taunt easily, other than that its a pretty even matchup
Sean: probably Qs best matchup (big surprise); doesnt deal damage without super, difficult for him to build super, limited mind games centering around the sean tackle which can be beaten pretty easily, no wakeup options, Q can taunt pretty easily, but his pokes are alright and is semi-dangerous when he has super
Doh! way to go, Capcom.
Note that most of Qs matches are in the first three tiers, the worst, bad, and bad-but-not-that-bad tiers. Only 7 non-Q characters are ok matches for him, only 1 is actually a good matchup, and only zero are great matchups for him. So, like I noted above, its an uphill battle. That said, the hill isnt THAT steep. I mean, its steep, but its definitely surmountable. Third Strike isnt that unbalanced as fighting games go, and it has certain features, like the parry, that are designed to balance the characters even where Capcom left them otherwise a little unbalanced.
b) Character-specific stuff (to be taken in addition to the general things mentioned above)
Chun Li: Use SAI. First, heres some random stuff to know about this matchup. For whatever reason, Q often has to red parry the last hit of Chuns SAII after blocking the rest, so I usually dont (unless itll kill me obviously). You can punish her well without having to be right next to her with strong dash punch xx super, or if you dont have super, roundhouse c&db (yes, it connects from that distance), ex dash punch, roundhouse (or whatever other c&db combo seems appropriate to you at the time). Never use slaps if she has meter unless itll chip-kill her and you doubt the opponent will parry, since her SAII can punish you not only if she blocks your slaps but even if she gets hit by them when youre at the range where only the first and third slaps actually hit. Now, how to fight her. Make sure you get your taunts in as early as possible. You have to make sure youre taunted out by the middle of the first round when Chun will probably get super. A short c&db, fierce slaps combo will get you two taunts, even if she has SAII ready. You can also taunt her with abandon before she gets super. Once she gets super, the match changes entirely. Before she has super, she still outprioritizes you, but she cant do significant damage and cant really retaliate much, so try to do as much damage as possible then. Your mobility is about as good as hers is before she gets super, but once she does, youll be severely restricted in your movement. Your dash punch can be easily beaten by her back + fierce and low forward, both of which she can cancel handily into SAII. Once she gets super, this matchup really comes down to How can I avoid being hit by Houyokusen? One of the answers is by turtling. This is one of the rare matchups where Chun is not the better turtle. If you see Chun turtling and/or meter-building across the screen, thats great for you, take that opportunity to taunt or build meter with crouching forward. Dont feel you need to go to her, because you dont have any good way of doing so (like I said, the dash punch can be easily beaten for a free super). Some of your attacks are also intensely annoying for Chun when used defensively, like jumping forward, jumping roundhouse, and jumping fierce. Other than a parry, Chun doesnt have very good answers for jumping forward, which can zone her out really well. Jumping toward, backward, and straight up forward is good. Also, done late enough and at the right distance, jumping roundhouse and fierce will beat Chuns low forward. Low forward and low jab will trade or beat low forward, as well. Universal overhead also beats it, and you can use it as a tick into c&db. Chuns are accustomed to being able to use their great throw advantage on their opponents, and while her karathrow still has a little bit of a range advantage over yours, its not much. Shell probably try to get you to guess between blocking and throw-teching; if you think shes gonna go for the throw, think about going for a superjump-canceled c&db. If youre taunted and you think its likely that you can land a c&db, go for it, but realize that Chun with SAII is one of the riskiest characters to try to command grab. She can also just use her stupid 2-frame crouching jab, which will beat even the best of your c&db ticks. Also, trying to use standard pokes like far standing forward is risky because if you dont get her to block them or get hit by them, you might eat a crouching forward xx SAII.
Yun: Use SAII. SAII is good here because Yun takes damage like crazy, doesnt give Q many opportunities to use ex, and doesnt give Q many opportunities to combo into super, so you want to take advantage of the chances youre gonna get with a big damage super. SAII can also beat dive kicks, but note that it wont beat dive kicks on your head, just the kind in front of you if, say, Yun is trying to get you to whiff a throw or to throw you. Keep a charge handy as often as possible, not because youre gonna try to attack Yun with a dash punch, but because youre gonna try to run. Your best way of dealing with dive kick games (other than SAII) is to avoid them completely, and fierce dash punching if Yun is in the air is a good way to do that. There are plenty of attacks that can beat the dive kick if timed correctly, like back + strong and fierce slaps, but the problem is that good Yuns wont let you time them correctly and youll just end up getting beaten out, so dont bother trying very often. Like with most characters, you dont want Yun to be up in your face. That said, you dont want him a screen away either (unless you need to taunt). You want him kinda mid, far-mid range, like the distance it would take for him to jump and then roundhouse dive kick at you. That way you can see everything he can do coming at you, and its also the sweet spot where your antiairs, including SAII, are at their best. As it is for every character, Genei Jin pressure is difficult for Q to deal with. Yun gets super priority on all his attacks while in Genei Jin, so a properly timed attack will trade even with SAII, meaning you have nothing that will beat it out. The best option you have is to sit there and try to block it. If you want to take a risk, throw out a crouching jab, standing forward, or SAII if it looks like Yun is going for a toward + forward kick or something, but be real careful; even if youre fully taunted, its not worth eating a Genei Jin combo.
Yang: Use SAII. SAII is good here because Yang takes damage like crazy, doesnt give Q many opportunities to use ex, and doesnt give Q many opportunities to combo into super, so you want to take advantage of the chances youre gonna get with a big damage super. SAII can also beat dive kicks, but note that it wont beat dive kicks on your head, just the kind in front of you if, say, Yang is trying to get you to whiff a throw or to throw you. Keep a charge handy as often as possible, not because youre gonna try to attack Yang with a dash punch, but because youre gonna try to run. Your best way of dealing with dive kick games (other than SAII) is to avoid them completely, and fierce dash punching if Yang is in the air is a good way to do that. There are plenty of attacks that can beat the dive kick if timed correctly, like back + strong and fierce slaps, but the problem is that good Yangs wont let you time them correctly and youll just end up getting beaten out, so dont bother trying very often. Like with most characters, you dont want Yang to be up in your face. That said, you dont want him a screen away either (unless you need to taunt). You want him kinda mid, far-mid range, like the distance it would take for him to jump and then roundhouse dive kick at you. That way you can see everything he can do coming at you, and its also the sweet spot where your antiairs, including SAII, are at their best. That said, Yang isnt about the dive kicks as much as Yun is, hes more about landing mantis slashes and ex mantis slashes. When hes not right up in your face making you choose between blocking a slash, blocking a low forward/strong, blocking an overhead, and trying to counterthrow, hell be at this really annoying range outside of your pokes but close enough to slash you on reaction if you do anything. He also wont run away like Yuns sometimes do to build meter, because he only needs meter for slashes, not supers. So how do you beat Yang? Try to run away to that sweet spot. If youre there, you can beat him. Otherwise its just a guessing game that youll probably lose.
Akuma: Use SAII. Akuma can shut Q down like few other characters can. If hes doing his cautious rushdown thing, and he probably is, youll get precious few opportunities to punish him. That said, all it takes is a couple combos from you and hes ruined. Any round in which you land SAII is a round you should definitely win, not only because it takes off 2/3 of his life but because it gives you a chance to taunt once or twice, making it so that you can live long enough to punish other things he does. This matchup is, to a large extent, about the beginning of the round. This isnt a match where you can turtle easily, because turtling will just get you caught in the corner, and thats precisely where you dont want to be. So unlike most of Qs other matches where he can just walk back, block, tech throw, and generally be an annoying defensive character, here you have to be more active. Try not to get backed into the corner, try to dash punch or something to get back into the middle of the screen, and try to build meter. Q depends on his super more in this match than he does in just about any other because once he gets SAII, Akuma has to change his gameplan considerably. Like I said, you land that on him and that round should be yours. Hes going to have to play more cautiously because he knows that if he messes up at all or if you get a parry in, hes dead. You also just plain remove some of his options, like the hurricane kick; if he does a hurricane kick of any strength and you have SAII, bam, its free. The timing is strict on the roundhouse version, but you need to learn it. You also depend on the parry more in this match than in just about any other. Normally I dont like to parry very much because of the risk inherently involved (and because I think its kind of an artificial way to balance the game), but you have to here. If you dont have meter and cant parry, Akuma can literally just spam roundhouse hurricane kick against you until you die of chip damage, so learn how. Apart from the fact that it does so much damage, you want SAII here so you can take advantage of the few chances youre gonna get to punish him and because Akuma doesnt give you many chances to use ex moves. Its tough to land c&db on Akuma. He has a virtual get out of jail free card from your corner games with his teleport, hell probably spend a lot of his time in the air, and he doesnt empty jump often. That said, if you do manage to land one, awesome, youre gonna take a third of his life off. Jumping fierce is really handy here because it beats out just about everything Akuma has. Your antiairs will mostly get beaten out unless youre at just the right spot, especially by the dive kick. You also cant play a poking game that well unless you have super stored to scare the Akuma into not doing things like hurricane kicks. Like I said, be active in this match, try to dictate the play.
Urien: SAI. Some people use SAII here, and thats fine because neither is really a great choice since you probably wont land your super all that much. The only reason to use SAII is because itll go through the Aegis Reflector, whereas SAI will go through it only on the first hit and get stopped right after. The main reason I use SAI is because of the extra meter. Although getting a chance to use super on Urien is kinda rare, you can make up damage in other ways, including with ex attacks. I also like SAI because, scrubby as it may sound, its better for random supering on wakeup. If Urien does a max range sweep on you as you wake up, with SAII youll either get only one hit on him or his foot will just go under the super to straight up sweep you, whereas with SAI youll get all the hits on him and theyll all be crouching hits. Also, if you do a random super and Urien jumps over it, its difficult for him to punish you, whereas with SAII youre stuck there waiting for whatever crazy things he wants to do. Also, the only way you can punish a blocked shoulder charge is with a super, so if Urien does one and doesnt have meter to cancel into Aegis, super him (wont happen very often, but its good to know). Oh, also, if Urien does a crouching fierce on you, you can punish it on block with super. So anyway, this is a really hard matchup. I used to think it was just about the hardest one Q has, and while I still think its quite difficult, I dont think its as difficult as some of the others. The thing about this match is that you want to play sorta up close to Urien. Turtling here will just get you cornered and probably Aegised to death, and you dont want that. Plus, Uriens tackle, standing fierce, crouching forward, crouching roundhouse, and jumping roundhouse make it hard for you to get in once youve gotten out. A less-than-one-jump-away, mid-screen or opponent-cornered poking game is the way to go. Standing forward, back + strong, crouching strong, crouching forward, standing short, and slaps are really useful here. Crouching strong, back + strong, and far standing forward are safe ways to beat out wakeup headbutts and jumps. Close crouching strong and forward are surprisingly solid ticks into karathrow, too. Slaps are great, especially the strong ones because Urien cant duck them, theyll preempt jump attempts, and they can actually be used to beat some of Uriens pokes. Once Urien gets used to your pokes, start up the c&db games. You cant really do much against his jumping roundhouse in terms of grounded antiair unless youre at the right distance, but if you are (at a bit less than a Q jumping length), fierce slaps works pretty well provided Urien is jumping toward you. Blocking it is fine most of the time, though. Jumping forward and superjumping forward give Urien some problems, but again, playing a distance game is ultimately not the best idea.
Alex: Use SAI. I dont think either super is that great in this situation, so I pick SAI just because of the extra meter in case I need ex moves. So, this is a hard matchup for Q. I didnt put it higher because Alex doesnt really have anything he can abuse against Q, its more just like hes annoying for Q generally. First off, in the air, he wins. Jumping roundhouse beats all of Qs jumping attacks cleanly. Qs antiairs also dont work that well (crouching strong and fierce slaps are probably your best bets) and his air attacks can be beaten. Again, like with Urien, its all about being at the sweet spot, which is a little farther away here than against Urien. You dont want to be up close against Alex for fear of his command throws, which really annoy Q. Q doesnt have very good ways to get out of powerbomb setups, and Alexs stupid guessing games between close standing forward, back + hp, ddt, crouching short/forward, powerbomb, and standing fierce are really annoying. You really dont want to get knocked down and dont want to be in the corner against Alex, because you dont have any good ways of not taking damage. Even the ol scrub standby, the wakeup super, can be beaten by Alexs back + hp. Its also hard to taunt against Alex because of the threat of the ex slash elbow and ex stomp, both of which can punish you on reaction and are bad because they both knock you down, and thats bad for you. So, how to play. Well, as always in Street Fighter, you want to be in a certain range. Lets put it this way, you dont want to get any closer than about the max distance of your poking range. Being far away can work sometimes, but realize that once you dont have any good ways of switching sides on Alex other than getting up close to him and throwing him, but that would require you to be close to him, and thats not a good idea. The only time its a good idea to be close to Alex is when you have him cornered, and even then, watch out for wakeup stomps. Yes, your karathrow gives you a longer throw range than Alex has, but considering what could go wrong up close, its kinda risky to play in such a way that the karathrow comes up often. C&db tricks are risky here because of the threat of the powerbomb, especially with up-close ticking like close standing short or jab. Max-range and antiair are probably the best ways to land it. You want to do a lot of poking in this matchup because Alex doesnt really have the best ground-based pokes. Far standing forward, back + strong, crouching strong, and crouching forward are all good here.
Makoto: SAI. Both SAI and SAII are fine choices here, you can land both of them, but I choose SAI because of the extra super bar. I consider Makoto to be basically Qs worst matchup. Why do I say that? Well, she dominates you in the air. Seriously, dont even think about trying to go up against her in the air. Second, her air attacks baste your antiairs. Third, her pokes destroy yours. Fourth, she has similar command grab games, but hers are more effective and you dont have any good ways out of them. Fifth, she can cover ground very quickly and likes to be right up on you, so taunting is difficult. What can you do against this stuff? Well, you can try to poke. Standing short and far standing forward will beat some of her stuff on the ground, including the hayate. You can try to block; blocking a hayate gives you a free super or karathrow, which is nice. Your poking game can move her backwards, its possible, but its unlikely. Your better bet is to play defensively and hope to find an opening to punish her with a super, c&db, karathrow into the corner, or whatever. The best place for you to be on the stage is a little out of her throw range with her in the corner. Here you have the full Q mind games going on. She can do a random SAII and entirely reverse the momentum in the match, so watch out for that, but apart from that she doesnt have very good ways of getting out of the corner. Obviously, though, this is where you want to be against most characters in the game, and also obviously, getting her into the corner is difficult. Now, playing defensively is really hard here because thats exactly what she wants you to do. Like, both of you want the same thing. She wants to be up close to you trying to get you to guess between blocking, jumping, and teching because she makes her money off those mind games (and she makes a lot of money against Q), and at the same time, you want to be up close to her trying to guess correctly so that you can deal some damage or get her into a position to deal damage. Does that make sense? Maybe not, but thats the best way Ive found to play her so far. Its also the reason why this is such a bad matchup. Essentially, your best option is just to go right up to the dragons gigantic fanged mouth with your little wooden shield and hope that you dont get eaten. You have to guess correctly to win this match, plain and simple. Against everyone else you can play more or less methodically, you know, try to control what happens, force the opponent into certain situations, but here you dont really have that option. Makoto v Q for worst matchup in 3S!
Part 5: Use your brain
Think for yourself! No one can just tell you how to play Q, or any character or any fighting game at all for that matter. Its something you have to get experience with and make your own decisions about. How do you beat actual people who actually know the game and can actually play it? For one thing, get all the videos of good Q players you can. Links to vids featuring Kuroda, TK, Riki, Kyosenshi, Fal, Nonsense, and other Q players can be found on this site, the #gamecombos room on EFNet on IRC, the Go For Broke hub, and www.video-opera.com (which links to new videos daily). Make sure that when you watch them you arent just watching them but thinking critically about them. Why did Kuroda taunt there? Why did TK not taunt there? Why did Kyosenshi use jumping strong there? Why did Riki use a certain combo over a certain other combo? Why did Nonsense just get destroyed? What do these guys do that seems effective, and why is it effective? What do they do that is not effective, and why is it not? And so on.
Im not going to sit here and pretend that I know everything about Q and how to play him in every situation or that Im the best Q player in wherever. I dont and Im not. These are all suggestions, and if you feel you have better ones, again, let me know and Ill update this post. If you see anything you feel should be changed, added, or deleted, post it here or (preferably, since Id like to have all the meat easily accessible on the front page) pm it to me.