This is a nice little flowchart of Zangief’s best options in certain situations. Some of these involve some pretty fancy things, including safe jumps, option selects, short jumps, kara cancels, and unthrowable specials, so I’ll explain them in case you’re not familiar with them.
This is something I’ve been working on for a while and still have some more work to do on, so expect changes and expect videos. Where there’s a question mark, that means I’m still doing some tinkering. Feel free to test everything out, make sure it all works, and let me know if you have any better ideas. Thanks!
I tend to flip back and forth between the old and new normal attack names, so hopefully this clears things up. Jab is light punch (lp), strong is medium punch (mp), fierce is hard punch (hp), short is light kick (lk), forward is medium kick (mk), and roundhouse (rh) is hard kick (hk). In general I’ll use “toward” to mean moving in the direction of or facing the opponent to avoid conflicts with forward/medium kick, but eh, don’t hold me to that. Splash means jumping down+fierce and knees means jumping down+short. PPP means all three punches, kkk means all three kicks, and any combination of p and k means whatever number of punches and kicks are listed in the combination. Spd means spinning pile driver and 360k always refers to atomic suplex (the move that comes out when you do that motion up close). If I mean running bear grab (the move that comes out when you do that motion far away), then I’ll say rbg, but in general that move is nothing but a moving taunt. DP means dragon punch or dragon punch motion. Dt means down-toward, as in Gief’s down-toward+rh sweep. Headbutt refers to neutral jumping up+fierce.
Also, I usually use the ST-style code names for the bosses with switched names. US Balrog/JP M Bison = Boxer; US M Bison/JP Vega = Dictator; US Vega/JP Balrog = Claw. And as far as I’m concerned, El Fuerte is Fuerte, E Honda is Honda, C Viper is Viper, Chun Li is Chun, and Fei Long is Fei.
–Option-select (o-s for short)
Refers to the game engine’s ability to select the best option for the player from among a set of inputs put in by the player either simultaneously or close to it. In an option select, there is a dominant option (like a fierce splash) that comes out under most circumstances and one or more subordinate options (like an ex hand, a lariat, or a throw) that come out in some circumstances where the dominant option doesn’t work. You can use this to guarantee a good result for yourself in some situations by using a dominant option that’s good in most cases and hiding within it one or more subordinate options that can come out to address other cases should they arise instead.
Attacks done as the opponent is getting up from a knockdown, ie ones he has to wake up into.
–Reversal aka reversal aka wakeup attack)
A special, super, or ultra move done on the first possible frame after waking up from a knockdown, waking up from being reset in the air, coming out of hit stun, or coming out of block stun. You’ll see the “reversal” message pop up on the screen if you do it right.
This refers to two things. The first and most common usage is either a grounded attack (called a safe meaty) or an airborn attack (called a safe jump) timed so that you’ll recover from the attack in time to block if the opponent did a reversal move, but if the opponent didn’t do a reversal move, he’ll be touched by (ie either hit by or have to block) the attack. This works because some characters’ reversals take a little while in between when they begin and when they actually start hitting; your meaty attack has to both hit and recover all during that window. The other thing this references is a meaty attack located on screen such that it either cleanly beats the opponent’s reversal attack or leaves Gief at a range where he’s out of harm’s way.
Zangief can make his jump distance slightly shorter if he presses up and then up-toward instead of just up-toward. This is actually not a bug, it’s a confirmed feature that was thought to have been taken out but was accidentally left in only for Zangief. Here’s a [media=youtube]-6OhtwgWp3s"[/media] on it.
–“Cr. jab” etc
When I say “cr. jab” or something like “air attack cr. jab o-s green hand,” the cr. jab means do a bunch of crouching jabs like how you normally would in a crouching jab block string or combo. If you’re holding back while you do that, a properly timed safe attack will still let you block the opponent’s wakeup attack because that wakeup attack puts you in block stun before your 2nd jab can come out.
Kara canceling is canceling the early startup frames of a normal attack into a command move. This can be done with any normal attack (ie light kick, hard punch) into any command attack (ie taunt, dragon punch). This can be done for any number of reasons, but it’s most often used to improve the range of whatever move you cancel into by using the startup frames of a normal that moves you forward. You’ve probably heard of kara throwing, which is where you cancel whatever normal your character has that moves him forward during its startup into a throw in order to gain more effective throw range. Gief’s standing roundhouse is his best kara normal and is most important in kara hand.
If you press up and then input a command move, your move will become unthrowable. This works because pre-jump frames, the startup frames for jumping, are unthrowable and also cancelable in the same way that the startup frames of normal attacks are cancelable in kara canceling. This is probably most useful for Zangief because he has the most pre-jump frames (six) and because his lariat doesn’t require any extra directional inputs that could make the motion harder. Note that the special move itself doesn’t become unthrowable, the only thing that is unthrowable is the pre-jump; once the unthrowable pre-jump ends and the move itself begins, you’re as throwable as ever.
General Option Selects
–Cr. short o-s normal throw
-----What: This is a way to apply some pressure with a normal move and simultaneously tech the opponent’s throw if they try to throw you.
-----How: Just input down+jab+short.
-----Where: For Gief this is usually most useful after doing a meaty jumping knees. The knees don’t do enough block stun for Gief to land safely after them, so the opponent can actually throw Gief before Gief can land and do a normal attack. If you land and do this o-s instead, though, you’ll just tech the throw.
–St./cr. jab/short to nothing o-s ex hand
-----Where: Use this in footsies
–Safe jump to cr. jab/short o-s block
------What: This is a great way to apply some safe pressure. If the opponent tries a reversal attack then Gief blocks before his cr. jab/short come out, and if the opponent sits there he’s forced to block or get hit by the safe jump. This only works on characters whose special moves have 5 frames or more of startup time.
------How: Just do a meaty air attack timed really early while holding down-back on the stick and then time your down-back+jab/short like normal. If the opponent sits, your attack should touch him right before Gief touches the floor.
------Where: Useful only in meaty situations.
–Safe meaty cr. jab/short or standing strong o-s block
------What: Same deal as the safe jump but with a grounded attack. Your meaty attack has to either recover very quickly so that Gief can block attacks that would otherwise hit him or have a hitbox in a location that either beats the opponent’s wakeup attack or puts Gief out of harm’s way. Gief’s crouching jab and crouching short recover in time to block reversal attacks with at 7 and 8 frames of startup respectively, and his crouching short and standing strong take advantage of some characters’ weak wakeup attack hitboxes.
------How: Time your meaty attack as early as possible so that only the very end of its hitting frames touch the opponent as he gets up. Make sure you hold down-back or back while doing this so that you’ll block if he does a reversal.
------Where: Useful only in meaty situations.
–Cr. jab to cr. jab o-s sweep
------What: Some players like back dashing on wakeup against Gief because it’s usually an easy and effective way to escape. This removes that option for many characters while still letting Gief try a meaty pressure string, and in some cases it also lets Gief block some reversal attacks in time. Some characters can get hit by Gief’s regular down+rh sweep, while for others you’ll need his down-toward+rh long kick. Other characters are immune to this entirely. Lots of characters have wakeup attacks that make your meaty jab unsafe. This is a modified, simplified version of the option-select shown [media=youtube]vgRnoxom2UM"[/media].
-----------Regular: Down-back+jab, down-back+rh-then-jab, down-back+jab
-----------Down-toward (dt): Down-back+jab, down-toward+rh-then-jab, down-back+jab. Gotta be quick on the stick.
------Where: Only works when you’re right next to your opponent. If you just green handed over after landing a regular spd, you’re too far. BTW, Gief isn’t the only character who can do this… I’m looking at you, Dictator and Blanka.
–Jump attack to cr. jab/short o-s green hand
------What: If your opponent does something to escape your jump attack, your green hand will come out and either chase them down or beat whatever they were doing. If they sit still, you’ll touch them with your air attack and start a block string.
------How: Input air attack and then dp+p timed for just after your air attack hits or would hit your opponent, and then down-back+jab/short once you hit the ground like normal. Choice of green hand strength depends on the situation.
------Where: This is usually best in meaty situations as a safe jump, although it’s also good when jumping at an opponent whose best reversal is a teleport.
–Jump attack to cr. jab/short o-s grab
------What: Just like jump attack o-s hand but useful against opponents whose escapes are vulnerable to throws. Unless you have super/ultra, 360+k is the best grab to use because it puts you in a better post-grab situation than spd while doing about as much damage/stun. You can do this with a normal throw too, but… you’re Zangief.
------How: Input air attack and then 360+pp immediately after, and then down-back+short once you hit the ground like normal. If you want to do jump attack o-s normal throw, you’ll have to jump from a little farther back and then input your attack followed immediately by lp+lk.
------Where: This is really only useful in one situation. Sorry Abel players!
–Jump attack to cr. jab/short o-s lariat
------What: Just like jump attack o-s hand and jump attack o-s spd but useful against characters whose escapes are vulnerable to this o-s instead of those.
------How: Input air attack and then ppp immediately after, and then down-back+jab/short once you hit the ground like normal.
------Where: Useful only in meaty situations.
–Crouching short in block strings
------What: If you start a block string on an opponent and he thinks you’re going to try spd, he’ll sometimes either hold up on the stick to try to jump away or try inputting a revresal attack motion. Unfortunately for him, he can’t both hold up on the stick and block low attacks and it’s difficult to fit an entire dragon punch etc motion into the space of low short’s blockstun; if he tries to jump, he’ll always get hit by the short, and if he tries to do a reversal, he’ll usually get hit by the short. Either always use crouching shorts in block strings (which can be unsafe against some characters, since reversaling out is still possible even if it can be hard) or switch from crouching jab (which is always safe in block strings) to crouching short if you see the opponent standing up or think he’s trying to input a reversal.
------How: Just… press crouching short.
------Where: Whenever you have the opponent in a block string, especially when you see him stand up.
-----What: You can kara cancel your standing roundhouse into green hand (aka banishing flat, aka glove, aka hand). This is sweet because it gives the green hand enough range to punish some things that Gief otherwise can’t punish. Here’s Renegade’s video on it from when he first found it.
-----How: In a quick motion, do toward, down, toward+rh~pp, where the ~ means right after and the pp means two punch buttons. It’s kind of hard to explain the timing for this in words, but, well, do it really quickly after. It’s the same timing as for a kara throw, if you’ve done one of those. Always use ex hand.
-----Where: Useful after blocking or getting hit by a vertical Blanka ball. It turns out you don’t need it to punish standing blocked horizontal Blanka balls, you can just take a step forward and do regular ex hand to punish that, but you do need it to punish crouch blocked horizontal Blanka balls. It also turns out that you don’t need to to punish Chun’s jump back instant overhead roundhouse; whether you get hit by or block that overhead, you can just do regular ex hand at the peak of her jump to knock her out of the air.
-----What: Don’t ignore Gief’s neutral throw just because he has command grabs, his neutral throw is still good. In order to get a little more range on it, you can kara cancel your far standing roundhouse into your throw.
-----How: Just tap rh and immediately after press jab+short. The timing is pretty fast. If you do it right you should see Gief blip forward just a little bit before throwing.
-----Where: Whenever you’re not at point blank and want a normal throw. For example, a useful setup is point blank cr. short cr. short, at which point a regular throw will whiff but a kara throw will still work.
–Command grab after opponent backdashes out of normal throw in the corner
-----What: This isn’t really an option select since you still need to select the best option for yourself, but I’m throwing it in here anyway. This applies when you have the opponent cornered and go for a neutral throw. The opponent can escape by hitting you, teching, backdashing, or jumping. This trick applies to backdashing and jumping. If he backdashes, with some characters that means that you get a free ultra and with some others you get a free spd! If he jumps, against most characters you get a free lariat. You have to wait to see which one he does, but essentially it’s just a really easy hit confirm. By the way, if your throw gets teched, you’re in range for jab spd after the tech, so you get to play another guessing game even if your throw gets teched.
-----How: Buffer a 360 every time after you do a throw in the corner timed so that it happens at almost the end of a whiffed throw. If you see the opponent backdash, press another 360 then p or ppp to get either 720 if you have it or only an spd if you don’t. If you see the opponent jump, do lariat or cr. strong or standing jab or whatever the appropriate antiair is for that character. If the throw connects, neithr your command grab nor your lariat will come out, so you don’t really have to be concerned with that outcome. If something else happens, like you get hit out of your throw or the opponent teleports out, then oh well, don’t do the second 360+ppp or the ppp.
-----Where: When you have the opponent cornered and the opponent has a backdash that lasts at least 26 frames. If you don’t have super or ultra, don’t do this on characters with backdashes of 26 frames, it will only work on characters with backdashes of 27 frames.
-----What: This is Gief’s most useful application for the unthrowable special trick described above. The name describes this move pretty well; it just takes your lariat, which is normally 100% throwable, and makes its startup frames unthrowable. Unfortunately, it also makes your lariat lose to meaty attacks, since you have to press up before pressing lariat.
-----How: Press up and then ppp/kkk. You have to wait a split second between up and the buttons, sorta the same timing as with kara canceling. If you’re doing this on your own wakeup, make sure you press up first, and make sure that the reversal message doesn’t show up, because that means you inputted the ppp/kkk part of the motion too early.
-----Where: This isn’t actually very useful because Gief generally has better ways to predictively escape and punish grabs. The most useful situation is against Fuerte’s run-grabs, but again, it’s not very important.
Handy guides to what works on which characters
–Usefulness of ex spd
EX spd has less range than jab spd and does less damage than fierce spd, and has more startup than Gief’s other command grabs, but its post-grab positioning is much much better. These are the characters against whom ex spd gives a substantially better meaty situation.
-----Yes: Abel, Cammy, Claw, Dan, Dhalsim, Fei, Gen w/o meter, Honda, Rufus, Sakura, Viper, Zangief
-----Arguable (yes but meter might be too important): Akuma, Chun, Guile, Ken, Ryu, Sagat, Seth
-----Arguable (advantage might not be big enough): Boxer (allows safe jump on close side)
-----No: Blanka (don’t get better option), Dictator (don’t get better option), Fuerte (already have best option), Gen w/ meter (he’s just gonna escape anyway), Rose (don’t get better option)
–Characters who get hit by far standing jab when crouching
------Yes: Abel, Dictator, Fei, Fuerte, Gen, Gouken, Rose, Sagat, Sakura, Zangief
------Unreliable: Boxer, Claw, Dan, Guile, Rufus, Ryu, Seth, Viper
------No: Akuma, Blanka, Cammy, Honda, Ken
–Characters who get hit by meaty cr. jab o-s sweepRedo these cause I was clearly wrong?
These are the results of testing point blank cr. jab o-s sweep against opponents’ wakeup backdashes. In cases where characters get hit by both the regular and down-toward sweeps, I only listed them under regular sweeps because regular sweeps are more useful.
-----Point blank range
----------Down-toward sweep: Blanka, Chun, Dhalsim, Fei, Gouken, Guile, Honda, Ken, Ryu, Sagat, Sakura, Viper, Zangief
----------Doesn’t work on: Akuma, Boxer, Cammy, Claw, Dan, Dictator, Fuerte, Gen, Rose, Rufus, Seth
-----Post spd range: Doesn’t work on anyone
-----O-s cr. mk on characters who sweep doesn’t work on: Cammy
–Characters who get hit by throw to command grab when backdashing in the cornerUltra requires opponent’s backdash to be 26 frames or longer and spd requires 27 frames or longer
-----720: Blanka, Dan, Dhalsim, Dictator, Fei, Gen, Guile, Honda, Ken, Rufus, Ryu, Sagat, Sakura, Viper, Zangief
-----720 or spd: Dhalsim, Zangief
-----No: Abel, Akuma, Boxer, Cammy, Chun, Claw, Fuerte, Gouken, Rose, Seth
–Characters who can be mixed up after neutral throw by regular/short jump splash mixup
-----Immediate jump: Abel, Akuma, Blanka, Boxer, Cammy, Chun, Claw, Dan, Dictator, Dhalsim, Fei, Fuerte, Gen, Guile, Ken, Rose, Ryu, Sagat, Sakura, Viper
-----Step toward then jump: Honda
-----Doesn’t work: Rufus, Seth, Zangief
–Characters who can be mixed up after 360k by regular/short jump mixup
-----Immediate jump: Dan, Fei, Rufus, Sakura
-----Step toward then jump: Abel, Akuma, Blanka, Boxer, Cammy, Chun, Claw, Dictator, Dhalsim, Fuerte, Gen, Guile, Honda, Ken, Rose, Ryu, Viper
-----Doesn’t work: Sagat, Seth, Zangief
–Characters whose supers can be beaten on reaction
-----By ex hand: Abel, Boxer, Cammy, Dan, Dictator, Dhalsim, Fei, Fuerte, Gouken, Guile, Rose, Rufus, Ryu, Sakura, Seth, Viper
-----By punch lariat: Gen p, Honda, Rose, Ryu, Seth, Viper
-----By jumping: Boxer, Fei, Honda
-----By command grab: Seth
-----Trades: Dan (ex hand)
-----Can’t: Akuma, Blanka, Chun, Ken, Sagat
–Characters whose ultras can be beaten on reaction
-----By ex hand: Abel, Blanka, Boxer, Cammy, Chun, Dan, Dictator, Dhalsim, Fei, Gouken, Guile, Honda, Rose, Rufus, Ryu, Sagat, Sakura, Seth, Viper
-----By p lariat: Dhalsim, Gen p, Honda, Ryu
-----By k lariat: Viper
-----By jumping: Abel, Akuma, Boxer, Cammy, Dan, Dhalsim, Fei, Fuerte, Gen, Honda, Rose, Ryu, Sagat, Sakura, Viper
-----By command grab: Dhalsim
-----Can’t: Ken, Zangief
–Characters whose dashes after focus canceled special attacks can be punished: Focus attack dash canceling a special move takes at least 3 additional frames, so all such dashes effectively recover at least 3 frames slower than usual (it can take longer if the opponent doesn’t use perfect timing, which is likely in a real match). Dash canceling out of a focus attack, however, actually decreases the recovery of a dash by 1 frame. For the character-specific sections, I’ll denote this by decreasing the listed blockstun of a special move by 3 frames and increasing the listed blockstun of a focus attack by 1 frame. If the blockstun of a move is greater than the recovery of the dash it’s canceled into, then that dash is safe; if the blockstun is smaller, then the dash is punishable. For moves with varying blockstun based on the strength of the button used, I’ll only list the blockstun of the strength that does the greatest stun. Note also that focus dash canceling out of a special move takes a minimum of 3 extra frames but can take longer than that if the opponent doesn’t use perfect timing. Here I’m assuming that they’re using perfect timing, but in reality you’ll probably be able to punish more things than just the ones listed here.
----------By short xx ex hand (-3): Blanka ball, Blanka lv1 focus, Boxer tap, Claw lv1 focus, Dan lv1 focus, Dhalsim flame, Dhalsim lv1 focus, Dhalsim lv2 focus, Gen lv1 focus, Guile lv1 focus, Honda lv1 focus, Rose lv1 focus, Rufus messiah kick lk ender, Rufus tornado, Rufus lv1 focus, Viper lv1 focus, Zangief green hand, Zangief ex green hand, Zangief lv1 focus, Zangief lv2 focus
----------By spd/360k (-2): Blanka ball, Blanka lv1 focus, Boxer tap, Boxer lv1 focus, Cammy lv1 focus, Claw lv1 focus, Dan lv1 focus, Dhalsim flame, Dhalsim lv1 focus, Dhalsim lv2 focus, Gen lv1 focus, Guile flash kick, Guile lv1 focus, Honda hands, Honda headbutt, Honda lv1 focus, Ken lv1 focus, Rose lv1 focus, Rufus messiah kick lk ender, Rufus tornado, Rufus lv1 focus, Ryu lv1 focus, Sagat lv1 focus, Sakura lv1 focus, Seth lv1 focus, Viper knuckle, Viper seismo, Viper lv1 focus, Zangief green hand, Zangief ex green hand, Zangief lv1 focus, Zangief lv2 focus
----------By super/ultra (-1): Akuma dragon punch, Akuma lv1 focus, Blanka ball, Blanka lv1 focus, Boxer dash punch, Boxer tap, Boxer lv1 focus, Cammy lv1 focus, Claw lv1 focus, Dan lv1 focus, Dhalsim flame, Dhalsim lv1 focus, Dhalsim lv2 focus, Dictator lv1 focus, Fei lv1 focus, Gen lv1 focus, Guile flash kick, Guile lv1 focus, Honda hands, Honda headbutt, Honda lv1 focus, Ken dragon punch, Ken lv1 focus, Rose lv1 focus, Rufus messiah kick lk ender, Rufus tornado, Rufus lv1 focus, Ryu dragon punch, Ryu lv1 focus, Sagat uppercut, Sagat tiger knee, Sagat lv1 focus, Sakura lv1 focus, Seth lv1 focus, Viper knuckle, Viper seismo, Viper lv1 focus, Zangief green hand, Zangief ex green hand, Zangief lv1 focus, Zangief lv2 focus