I actually stole this idea from another forum, but I think this is important to have. A lot of what will be listed here has been covered at some point in the quick questions & answers thread but usually buried somewhere and as a result we see a lot of the same questions asked repeatedly. I think having all of these compiled into one place will ease the learning curve of this character for new players, help experienced players be even more refined, and reduce the frequency of “WHY U NO…” reactions when watching Zero players on stream (as long as they read this thread anyway).
All of Zero’s normals are really good. This is common knowledge actually but I think we take for granted how good s.L and c.L are on account of holding L to charge the buster at all times. c.L is a 4-frame startup low which is actually the second-fastest low normal in the game (behind only a few characters with 3-frame c.L’s). s.L has a very large hitbox for only having a 5-frame startup. j.L is not especially good but it can be useful as an overhead after a L-Sentsuizan (feint) or just as a tool to fill gaps in awkwardly angled launches (but there are better tools for this). j.M works as an instant overhead on some characters and is a pretty good cancelable poke to use on welcome mixups.
j.2H actually has better frame advantage than j.H. Both have huge frame advantage on block anyway so there’s not much to be gained here, but it does help in combos (more on that later). The reverse spin on j.2H can actually be used to throw people off too; oftentimes someone will think they are getting crossed up by j.2H even when they aren’t just because it is spinning the other way (even though the spin on j.H doesn’t actually change directions on a crossup). j.2H can also be used as an instant overhead on MODOK, Sentinel, Tron, and Hulk, but the only way to combo from it is to cancel the first hit into j.S and cancel that into Sentsuizan (and this combo does not work on Tron).
You can’t charge switch (more on charge switching later) without doing some kind of move when in a neutral position, but you can use a 2-button dash to charge switch or you can charge switch during blockstun if the situation calls for it (some moves like Strider’s Vajra can be punished on block with c.L but not if you are still holding L to charge). Another one of my personal favorite ways to charge switch is to jump, do L-Hienkyaku and switch during the animation; it’s fairly safe if you have some distance to work with and aren’t fighting someone like Hawkeye.
Combos & Hit Confirms
When confirming from the buster most people go straight into L-Raikousen every time. This is not always the best option; you have to do the Raikousen fast enough that you don’t actually get much time to confirm the buster hit, and if it didn’t then the Raikousen is very unsafe (you can be thrown out of it before the lightning becomes active, or if it whiffs you are wide open for a huge punish). Other options are to either:
-Throw out M-Raikousen before the buster to limit the amount of space your opponent has to work with when trying to punish you and to have another hitbox on the screen that might lead into a full combo.
-Do L-Hienkyaku instead of L-Raikousen. It is completely safe after buster and you can confirm from a buster hit by dashing up and doing s.H.
-Or do both of the above.
If you must use L-Raikousen to confirm after the buster I see nearly everyone pass up the exact same opportunity for extra damage. Most people will do:
S, j.MMHS, [assisted combo extension], Super
The reason for this is that if you OTG with H-Sentsuizan xx Buster, L-Raikousen into a relaunch then the combo will drop at the H part of the j.MMHS relaunch - but there is a solution to this! Do L-Hienkyaku instead of L-Raikousen after the OTG, then relaunch. You get an entire extra relaunch worth of damage before doing your assist extension this way.
Buster, L-Raikousen, S, j.MMHS, H-Sentsuizan xx Buster, L-Raikousen, S, j.MMHS will not work
Buster, L-Raikousen, S, j.MMHS, H-Sentsuizan xx Buster, L-Hienkyaku, S, j.MMHS will work
OTG-H-Sentsuizan xx Buster, L-Raikousen does not work midscreen. Stop doing it.
s.H can be used to correct the angle of almost any launch. I don’t understand this fully but seriously try it. Setup a combo so that when you launch the angle is awkward and causes your j.MMHS to drop. Now do the exact same combo but do 1 hit of s.H before the launch and I guarantee it fixes everything.
Ride The Lightning (aka the Lightning Loop) can be setup without assists on every character except Shuma-Gorath and Amaterasu. OTG with H-Sentsuizan, cancel to Buster, then L-Raikousen and cancel to Sougenmu. The Raikousen will whiff on Ammy and Shuma.
As mentioned above OTG-H-Sentsuizan xx Buster, L-Raikousen works on every character except Ammy and Shuma. If you are having trouble with some characters such as Strange or Magneto simply delay the Sentsuizan a bit (the easiest way to get the timing for this is to normal-jump backwards and do the Sentsuizan at the apex of your jump).
You can actually combo from a grounded Buster shot midscreen if you are close enough to the opponent. Just dash and do s.M; it must be done very fast though.
L-Raikousen is an incredible welcome-mixup tool (especially on characters without a double jump or air-dash) but people often seem to have trouble confirming from it. The reason for this is obvious - the position of your opponent depending whether they get hit by or block the Raikousen ends up being very different. The solution is very simple though: As I’ve mentioned before, s.H solves everything. If the Raikousen hits you can easily confirm with s.H and if it is blocked you can cancel into Hienkyaku for an additional mixup.
M-Sentsuizan and H-Sentsuizan only cause a knockdown if they hit while the opponent is in launch-state; meaning you hit them with s.S and they have not touched the ground since.
Another way to get big damage from a buster confirm midscreen (and even carry corner-to-corner) is to employ j.2H. Buster, L-Hienkyaku, s.H, f+H, S, j.2H (start the j.2H almost at the apex of your jump) gives enough time to charge another buster, and the j.2H has enough frame advantage that you can link directly to it, then L-Hienkyaku, quickly dash up and relaunch. This is also my preferred way to convert air-throws into big combos: call an assist after the throw, OTG with H-Sentsuizan, and start the above combo from the “s.H”. If you air-throw too low to the ground and need to land before jumping to OTG with Sentsuizan then you will need to cancel the s.H or f+H (or both) early in order to get the full combo because hitstun deterioration is actually on a timer (also should be common knowledge but isn’t, but also isn’t specific to Zero).
You can TAC after an aerial buster as long as you are already in an air-combo state. An interesting restriction on this is that if you launch and your assist hits the opponent before your own attack after the launcher you will not be able to TAC; this makes this trick very hard to do with an assist like Jam Session, but easy with something like Hidden Missiles.
Zero can TAC-cancel without X-Factor. As long as you are in a neutral state (easily done by releasing buster) you can cancel a TAC with air-dash. To get a feel for this, try launch > j.MM > Buster (lvl 3) > Down+S xx air-dash, Forward+S. This makes Zero one of the most threatening characters against Phoenix teams, especially if your incoming character from the TAC can combo from the TAC into a snap and then run a nasty welcome mixup (Dante is one of the best at this and happens to be one of Zero’s best teammates).
Zero can combo into a Lightning Loop from any direction TAC in the corner. Side TAC requires an assist, but the others do not as long as HSD isn’t so high that you can’t connect OTG Buster > Lightning. For each TAC make sure you are holding the appropriate button to charge Zero’s buster immediately after you enter the TAC input with your first character. Here is what to do for each direction TAC:
Up TAC: Very slight delay after TAC hit, j.2H, S xx H-Sentsuizan, re-jump H-Sentsuizan xx Buster, L-Raikousen xx Sougenmu.
This is possible because of a glitch. When you hit with the j.S part the game doesn’t actually register that the opponent is no longer in launch state until they touch the ground, so when you input H-Sentsuizan at the top of the screen fast enough after j.S, it starts before they touch the ground and will cause a second hard-knockdown when it hits them (even though they are already knocked down, it will greatly extend the knockdown time). This gives you time to normal jump and OTG with another H-Sentsuizan.
Down TAC: Immediate j.2H after TAC hit, link j.M xx L-Sentsuizan (feint), link j.LM xx M-Sentsuizan, re-jump H-Sentsuizan xx Buster, L-Raikousen xx Sougenmu.
This one is the hardest by far as there are multiple tight links in this combo. You will either need to charge your buster with H for most of the combo, or get really good at charge switching (I use the charge switch method and I honestly don’t know why).
Side TAC: Immediate M-Hienkyaku, immediate M-Sentsuizan, jump, call assist, H-Sentsuizan, jump, Buster, L-Raikousen xx Sougenmu.
This requires a long lasting assist that can hit after the OTG Sentsuizan (Jam Session is preferred obviously). The window to release the Buster after they fall out of your assist is very small; too early and it won’t be charged, too late and they will pop out from HSD.
Assisted Combo Extensions
Unless you are comboing from a throw it is best to save any assist(s) you have available until the end of your combo when you can no longer get additional solo damage because of hitstun deterioration. Zero has all of the tools necessary to carry corner-to-corner and confirm from any hit (except a throw) without using assists, so don’t waste your extra damage early.
Nearly every assist in the game allows for some kind of combo extension which with Zero’s tools can mean big damage. Because assists are now affected by HSD you want to focus on using moves that ignore HSD by causing some kind of knockdown (Buster, Raikousen, and launch-state Sentsuizan). As a general rule the more Busters and Raikousens an assist allows you to land, the better it is as a combo extender. Some of the best assists in this regard are:
-Amaterasu Cold Star
-Chun-Li Hyakuretsukyaku (aka Legs)
-Dante Jam Session
-Doctor Doom Hidden Missiles
-Doctor Strange Eye of Agamotto
-Sentinel Sentinel Force (Charge) [aka Drones]
-Super Skrull Tenderizer
-Vergil Rapid Slash
-Wesker Jaguar Kick
[S]1) The buster is the best move in the game.[/S] [This is common knowledge]
The durability of the buster can actually be challenged by some projectiles. Magneto’s H-Disruptor will cancel it out for instance. You can usually get around this by doing H-Hadangeki cancelled into Buster for additional durability, but a few projectiles (Mystic Sword, Bolts of Balthakk, Piercing Bolt) will still cleanly beat both.
A big part of the reason Buster is such a good punishing tool is that it is really only one button. There is no motion involved that you can screw up when put into a high-pressure situation. You see something that you can punish, you let go of a button, and you get a punish from nearly anywhere on screen. No other character can boast something like this (and if you’ve ever played a MM/MMX/MMZ game then looking for these punishes should already be second nature).
You can switch which button you are holding to charge the buster without losing your charge. Its knockdown property, ability to cancel other specials, and high damage make the buster possibly your most important tool for combos, but some combos require the use of every attack button more than once. By holding down a second button before releasing the first button you were charging with you can keep a buster charged at all times. The easiest way to do this is to switch to the button you just used for an attack, or to use the long animation of another move (s.H, 6H, any super flash) to cover the button switch.
You can use Buster cancelling to protect yourself from teleport mixups (especially teleports that are always grounded like Deadpool’s. If you are far from your opponent and expect a teleport (but don’t know which side to expect) you can throw out a Hadangeki (preferably the L version since its slow speed protects the space in front of you longer) and when you see the teleport react with Buster. If they happen to teleport in front of you and the Buster hits them into the Hadangeki then it’s very easy to confirm into a combo.