Zangief free for Akuma: The Common Myth



It seems like some of the community here believes that Zangief is a free match-up for Akuma in the sense that he can do a few hits and run away all day. I’m writing my report after fighting some high level Zangiefs, and actually beginning to realize that this is one of Akuma’s hardest match-ups. Allow me to explain.

Any Zangief that knows what they’re doing already has the spacing locked down for proper SPD initiation. Considering the range of SPD, you are at risk of playing the footsie game against Zangief, because if they guess correctly, they can SPD your limb and conduct an okizeme game from there. While some may say teleport, it’s actually becoming risky to use this as a method to get away from Zangief because it can be baited heavily by using green hand > EX green hand to hit upon recovery of the teleport, repeating the process of okizeme if you get knocked down again. A Zangief with proper spacing can follow a teleport on reaction, and if no teleport occurs, Zangief can still apply pressure with his excellent footsie game.

Zangief’s horizontal chop. Not only does this move do ridiculous damage for a normal, but it completely stuffs most of Akuma’s footsie range normals such as his sweep. It hits on standing and it hits on crouch, and is safe on both due to it’s insanely good range. It can also be used as a tick to apply pressure for SPD range or green hand punish.

Zangief’s roundhouse. Another excellent footsie that generates excellent range for SPD/Ultra by zoning in on the crouched opponent. Hard to react to and unless you know it’s coming, you’re at risk of eating an Ultra due to it’s quick recovery while adding the start-up frames of your move if you attempt to punish it late. With Zangief’s Ultra being 0 frame, it’s very deadly for Akuma.

Zangief’s low short. This tick alone stuffs Akuma’s roundhouse, which is his main tool for getting in on Zangief in order to link BnB. Being a safe normal with great range, it can be tossed out as a precaution tool if the opponent is waiting for a roundhouse and even if no roundhouse comes out, it’s okay for Zangief because it recovers quick and cannot be easily punished.

Zangief’s headbutt: the complete answer to demon-flip mixups. Aside from the roundhouse, Akuma’s demon-flip is the main method of closing into Zangief and applying a mix-up on his lariat; if he does the lariat early, you can dive down and get a free BnB. For a while, you can use the demon-flip as a close range mixup option on Zangief to make him switch up the timing of his lariats, and thus bait him out for damage. However, this entire-mix up game is negated due to the ridiculous stun of Zangief’s headbutt. With 600 points of stun, one hit from the headbutt followed by 1-2 easy normals by Zangief after results in a stun on Akuma’s very low stun meter. Free 50% or more damage for Zangief as a result because none of his moves combo much. Very little scaling is applied due to that fact.

The fireball game. Akuma’s keep away on Zangief is nothing like Sagat’s ability. While Sagat can toss them at rapid pace and use standing roundhouse to kick Zangief out of the air, Akuma cannot do such a thing due to his extremely slow fireball speed and punishable air fireball game. Not to mention that due to Zangief’s jump arc, Akuma does not have a reliable way to anti-air Zangief because he hops such a narrow distance. Considering the insanely large amount of health Zangief has, any smart Zangief player won’t mind using up a little bit of his health in order to close in on Akuma. The fireballs themselves practically do nothing on Zangief anyway. Close enough for Zangief to EX green hand through one fireball and you eat Zangief’s okizeme game all over again. You can only run away for so long before Zangief guesses correctly and punishes you heavily for it.

Zangief’s corner game. Once Akuma is in the corner, he’s in a very difficult spot once Zangief spaces himself. He can’t jump out because of headbutt, and with the correct spacing, teleport’s too risky because he can jump back > ultra, or EX green hand on reaction for knockdown. Not to mention Zangief’s excellent footsies mentioned earlier, and even getting out of the corner on Zangief is a mixup in itself.

Zangief’s 0 frame ultra. The only reason regular green hand is even viable. For someone so big, Zangief can move faster across the screen than half the characters on the roster, and due to the really quick recovery on green hand, punishing it on reaction is a 50/50 task because if your timing is slightly off, a skilled Zangief will be buffering ultra during the green hand and catch whatever you attempted to punish with. Considering Zangief’s ultra can do a minimum of about 60% on Akuma, and you have to play extra careful.

The bottom line? While I don’t mind Zangief having the tools necessary to beat Akuma, it’s far from an easy match. My main problem with this match is that there isn’t much Zangief puts himself out with to punish. His lariat is largely invincible for most of it’s active frames, a whiffed SPD is usually outside the range of anything but a roundhouse to punish with, doing a demon-flip is a very risky mixup due to headbutt’s insane stun, and having excellent footsies against Akuma makes the task very hard for Akuma to win this matchup. And to top it off, having such a large amount of health allows him to make a ton of mistakes and still makes it possible for him to come back for a win. Akuma has to guess probably 8 times a round correctly in order to beat a skilled Zangief, whereas Zangief much less. I think if the jab-roundhouse loop existed on Zangief, it would make the match-up easier, but as it stands, it’s a lot of work.

For anyone who feels differently, I strongly encourage any Akuma here to play against Vegeta X (MVC2 Sucks on XBL), or Jan down here in TX. I’m not sure of the other high level Zangief players in the states, but if you know some, try playing against them and see how the match-up goes.


Definitely not one of Akuma’s hardest matchup.

Now it’s certainly not easy, but I would say Gief is around the middle level of match up difficulty for Akuma.


im with you here. a competitive zangief with good range and patience is really tough. all it takes is a baited teleport.

am i gonna set in a corner and eat jabs all day or am i gonna try my luck with a tatsu or a teleport?


zangief is a stall fest. keep dodging and it is easy…
but playin akuma like a wreckless spaz is fun :3


I don’t think anybody with decent comp has ever called Zangief an easy matchup for Akuma, it’s only scrubby Zangief players whining about how they can’t seem to do anything to catch him that think it’s easy from the Akuma end.

But calling him one of Akuma’s hardest? That’s way off base imo. All the problems you listed are problems almost the entire cast has against Zangief. Akuma at least has tools they don’t, like teleport. You say teleport is “too risky” (and what, decide not to use it altogether?), but that’s a tool he has that most people don’t. Yeah he can punish it, but the fact that he has to consider the possibility already has diluted his offensive mixups.

It’s like saying having a shoryuken is no big deal for a char under pressure because it’s “too risky” if they block it. The fact that you have it weakens their offensive mixups.


In Akuma’s case, his dragon punch ends up trading a lot with even Zangief’s normals at times, which is why I don’t use it often.

True, a lot of the characters have the same problem against Zangief and I acknowledge that, this post was simply made to explain why Zangief isn’t free for Akuma, because some people think it is. Granted Akuma has options some of the cast doesn’t, but he compensates by having very low health. Whereas other characters can afford 1 mistake, Akuma cannot afford any. Which is why using some of his options to deal with some of Zangief’s offense becomes very risky to deal with. Yes, Zangief has to consider the fact that I can teleport, but if he guesses wrong once, so what? He has the health to afford making mistakes with and still pull off a comeback. Zangief has the ability to poke you enough to deal 30% damage, play the keep-up game till he gets an ultra, and make the win once he finds the opening.


It’s true, Zangief is one of the most frightening matches for me – because it’s always in the back of my head, that psychic SPD or random lariat. This makes it quite an exciting match though, so I dig it.


I thought normal green hand was punishable on hit? Perhaps you can probably choose better spots to slip out of the corner, if you’re losing to his corner game. You know…like, not until you get fully cornered.


It’s not the hit of the green hand, it’s the spacing it provides. When green hand is used as a spacing tool to provide a set up for an ultra, it’s scary to punish. On hit it’s easily punished, but when whiffed you have to react immediately or back away, with the latter usually being the best option depending on the situation


Well, if you’re getting grabbed that way…hold up/back. Some people have a reaction to press something at a whiffed green hand, but we know that’s bad news. Just get away when you see it coming at you and start up the runaway again :clown:.

edit: If that’s a common sequence they try (emphasis on TRY because you can always react and jump away) to punish you with, that’s a free tatsu/teleport out the corner every time.


Oh, as far as the corner goes, green hand’s not an issue there. It’s an issue for me mid-screen, when they need to close the gap to get within footsie range. The corner problem stems from when I do end up in a corner, Zangief has the ability to keep ticking me with sweep-range normals and react to my attemps to get out. His arm is long enough to be spaced properly in case I try to teleport and punish recovery on reaction. So getting out is a 50/50, with game ending results if I guess wrong. I can tatsu-out, but again a 50/50 with huge risks because if he guesses right and gets a headbutt, that’s 600 points of stun and another lockdown in the corner.


My sparring partner is a Zangief. Here’s my personal experience.

I don’t believe you are utilizing Akuma’s fire ball game in the most efficient manner. I normally avoid playing footsies when I see my friend randomly tossing out those normals that beat out low medium. Regardless I try to stay grounded for the most part unless I do use an air fireball. In any case, I play a midscreen fireball game. I’ll attempt to randomly toss fireballs here and there. This should put the playing field in your hands since your opponent basically has to guess when you toss that fireball. Now if you notice that your opponent jumps over every fireball you toss from full screen, I would limit how many and how frequently you toss fireballs at middle screen since in my opinion, your opponent will be more impatient. Knowing this, you can bait for a jump in and what I do is crouch before I get that dp out since it lowers your hitbox and you can time those invincibility frames with the active frames of whatever normal your opponent throws out. Once you anti air your opponent several times, he’ll be more cautious of jump ins and then you can safely throw out more fireballs.

Now, after Gief gains bar is when he can give you more trouble. You need to be wary of green hand and definitely pay attention to your spacing. Granted, you can still attempt to play that mid screen game, but you need to be much less predictable with your fireball game. If you feel confident enough, you can try it out, bait for that ex green hand, punish him, and make him think twice about trying that again. If you don’t feel confident enough, you can try and space yourself just outside of green hand range and bait for that, or play keep away.

Also, any good player, Gief specifically since you’re addressing him, will know about demon flip. That being said, I wouldn’t do demon flip too often since Gief’s will tend to beat it out. Least this in my case.

I think the key here is to make your opponent impatient. Granted, I have rushed down my friend before, cornered him, and stunned him. However, this is probably once every 20 matches or hell, even more. However, once my friend gets impatient, he uses ex green hand incorrectly and would make bad jump ins.

I have to leave to meet up with friends right now, so I don’t have time to proofread it. If there’s in depth questions, feel free to pm me. I’ll be back late tonight.

Note that I am only giving advice on the fireball game. Everything else, I feel your pain, however, I feel that all you can do in those situations is try to be very cautious.


Gief is not one of Akuma’s hardest matchups. Akuma has no bad matchups. It is 6-4 Akuma. You guys are just playing Akuma wrong.


A good Gief is definitely a tough fight, but Akuma still has the tools to shut Gief down. The deal is that as Akuma your errors are magnified against a Gief.

Zangief has some nasty mix ups even though they are simplistic in nature. Once you let him get on top of you it can be a pain to get out. I usually don’t mind burning a few bars to SRK > FADC back out.


I think now’s the time for me to mention that I don’t believe Zangief is 6-4 Akuma, but rather 5-5. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say. Akuma can beat Zangief and keep him away, but it’s definitely not easy, and I wouldn’t call the matchup 6-4 in Akuma’s favor.


Well to be honest I played some really good zangief aand it depends more on the Akuma player than the gief player in my opinion. Not trying to be rude or disrespect anyone in this forum or any Zangief player but he happens to be my most easiest fighter to beat out of all the SFIV characters with me having a 95% win over Zangief.

Now not saying that I don’t have trouble with him because I would be telling a lie but I faced for the most part some of the best Gief players online and I beat them with atleast half of my health still intact, but I will agree with you Four Wude that a skilled Gief player can cause problems even more so than a Ryu player.


Oh and I don’t mean to post this again(which I should of done this in my previous post) but I do believe that is a 6-4 match up for Akuma but thats my opinion.


The only real downside for Akuma as opposed to any other char trying to go up against 'gief is his low stamina. But his stamina is only 150 lower than the average char. To put things in perspective, that’s less than 1 spd. Teleport alone will probably save you 1 spd per round that you’d have gotten caught by otherwise, to say nothing of all the other nifty tools he has for this matchup.

Gief gets a 50/50 crossup on most chars on wakeup. And then if they guess right, he still gets a second 50/50 after that. And having this is considered part of his balanced game against your average char. Akuma doesn’t have to deal with that, which is huge and by itself imo more than pays for the loss of stamina.

6-4 seems quite accurate to me; it’s just a slight edge to Akuma. Not an easy win.


Zangief rapes everyone bwahahaah


Yo OP, I’ve noticed when skimming over your vids that you don’t have a straight forward time with the level of your local Zangief.

I’ve no doubt they could wipe the floor with me, and don’t want to patronise you. Just some of my thoughts on the match though:

I never play footsies with Zangief myself, nor do I look to set up offense, always considered it a losing battle with the life and crazy Gief priority situations in mind. I only use Dive Kicks when I’ve got him pinned down beneath me during wakeup or at the back end of a lariat so that he has no time to jump above and Headbutt me. I used to lose to Zangief quite lot until I got more used to it and started to focus all of my zoning and actions on just baiting everything.

When I’m not running away, I like to hang outside sweep range, a bit further back at the safe range where a fireball gets uppercut when they jump-in. A fireball or two here can bait the jump for the uppercut, if he lariats or tries to inch into footsie range you can step in and sweep and you can stall to see if he chances a Green Hand to gain ground or catch you out.

Regular Green Hand usually whiffs about here which is an easy whiff punish. He’s vulnerable in the animation right up until his hand comes down into the striking position, only the EX has that invulnerability. Don’t fear the Green Hand, just round house or sweep as soon as you see them go for it. I feel I have a riskier time with it on blcok or hit than I do on whiff.

EX Green Hand here has the range, so it depends on if they have meter sometimes. It’s his main weapon from this range because it’ll beat the fireball unlike his jump-in. If he need provokation, then chance another fireball for a chip and see what happens. You can block it at this range and then punish, or backdash out of this or the regular Green Hand and hit him in the recovery with Roundhouses, or a sweep or Ultra if you have it. I like backdash vs Green Hand coz it lags almost as much as a fireball which gives adequate time to punish.

Because of Akuma’s walk speed, you should have control of whether you want to be in footsie range or not. Additionally, if he scores a knockdown and you want to warp out; as far as I know there is nothing he can do to catch you as long as you’re warping away from him and not through him.

(reversal warping with punch and not kick, as you need the extra distance)

From glimpsing one of your matches vs. a mean Gief I did think that you may have wanted to work a little more with the fireball stalling and baiting to keep him at arms length and frustrate him into errors a bit more. I got better at the match when I threw a fireball for the sake of setting a trap, rather than for the sake of doing a tiddlesworth of chip or whatever. However it may be that you two are already way past that whole stage, so I don’t mean point out the obvious.

I do sometimes find it difficult to AA Zangief in the open jump in because of the huge range of his jumping fierce. This is the same gripe I have with any character with big range air attacks like Ryu, Balrog or Sagat. Unlike other characters, they don’t need to jump deep into it, nor do they have to attack at the low part of their jump in order to pressure you with a jump-in or punish.

Consequently, I can often eat the fierce during the directional motion of the dragon punch, and get combo’d. Hence in these situations I go with cr.MK xx Fireball to evade it and push him back so I can retreat or reset my range.

I’ve personally never found the match as brainless as some had previous lead me to believe; even in any of those I’ve won, I nearly always lose a round or two down to the odd little mis-decision gone wrong.

Take a look at this vid:


A rare example of Itabashi playing the Gouki matchup. Ita is the Zangief animal of course, a guy who can make 3-7 look like 4.5-5.5; and here he seems to know well how to approach the match. He punishes sweep with a short into EX Green Hand and catches pretty much every Teleport or Air Tatsu escape, but the no name Gouki still prevails.

I think the more recent match-up score of 6-4 to Akuma is a fair reflection. When Akuma plays it right Gief can’t do enough, but he can always swat Akuma for 1.5 mistakes.

Help needed: C&C on some videos of tourny losses