BBCF/Mai Natsume/Strategy

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Mai Natsume


General Tactics

For More information on Mai, check the Mai Strategy Guide. You can also check out this video by Monarch for a short introduction to Mai:

Special Notation

Uppercase/Lowercase lettering (X/x): Uppercase lettering signifies attacks that hit the opponent and lowercase signify attacks that whiff or are blocked.

236X!: The exclamation point (!) signifies a just frame(Tipper) himeyuri hit

~: The ~ signifies a delayed button press

  • 236~X means Setsuna (236) and then press the attack button.
  • 214~X means to enhance the divekick

Important Moves

5A: Hits crouching, pressure tool, sets up whiffs into other followups
2A: Low profile, fast with long range
5xA: Plus on block, jump cancellable
5x[B]: Mixup stance
5xC: Long range poke, overhead and multihit followups
2C: Anti-air
j.B: Jump-in, great crossup hitbox
j.C: Jump-in button, big range
5D/j.D: Projectile, controls space
5xAC: Low hitting projectile, creates space in blockstrings
236~X: Command dash with advancing followups, neutral and pressure tool
214~X: Command jump/backdash with divekick followups, neutral and defense tool


Mai is a straightforward character with many midrange tools that control the pace of the match until she finds an opening to start her pressure. At midscreen, moves like 5xC and 236A are great pokes, and 2C anti-air prevent the opponent from using IAD to easily gain space. Once she gets her pressure started, 5A, 2A, and 5xA are useful to stagger her pressure. Additionally, Mai's 5x[B] stance and 5xCB allow her to mix the opponent during blockstrings, while 5xC[C] and 5xAC push the opponent out to create space. Mai can cancel any of her normals into 236 and 214 to frame trap, create space, or reset pressure. On defense, 5A/2A can be used to mash out, 214 can be used to escape pressure, and 236D/214D can be used to reversal any large gaps.

Blockstrings

Variable Arts makes Mai's blockstrings very unique. After each normal, the number of followups available and their uses changes greatly. This telegraphs Mai's options to an observant opponent, so it is important to vary your options and keep the opponent on their toes.

Stagger Pressure

Mixing staggered 5A, 2A, and 5xA breaks up the timing of mai's pressure, letting her take advantage of impatient opponents.

5x[B] Stance

Mai's 5x[B] stance is a powerful mixup tool. The stance itself has body invul and from it she has access to a low, an overhead, and a powerful frame trap, all with large reward on hit. 5x[B]5A hits low, 5x[B]8A hits overhead and launches, and 5x[B]6A fatal counters for extended conversions midscreen. This stance can be entered from 5xB by holding [B], or can be directly entered from 5A or 5B by inputting 4[B] during the recovery of the move.

236A! Tippers

One very powerful metered option in blockstrings is using 5xC[C] or 5xAC to push the opponent into range for a 236A! tipper. 236A! is unblockable without barrier and the threat of this move can be used to scare the opponent into respecting your pressure, allowing you to reset it for free. 236A! requires an RC to convert, so it is best to buffer the RC on hit or block, then react to the opponent being hit or barrier blocking and go into a combo/blockstring from there.

If the opponent blocks a 5xAC projectile at far ranges (up to fullscreen), they can be pushed into range for a 236B! tipper, which can start combos meterless.

Kara Barrier

Doing j.214~4A+B on any jump cancel leads to immediate barrier, negating the recovery of the move, giving massive plus frames. 9~214~4A+B on any jump cancellable move. 2C Kara Barrier can be up to +15. Example: https://twitter.com/UriParadise_/status/1575808230869147648

Okizeme

Mai doesn't have many setplay options from oki, but she does have a myriad of safe jumps utilizing a meaty j.C. She also has solid ways to catch rolls and use her low 2A for solid high/low mixups to compliment throw attempts.

Safe Jumps

Enders into safe jump
  • 5AAA > 236 > 214 > 214 > j.6C
    • After Juncture, using Moon Blossom twice in quick succession will cause Mai to flip forward.
  • 236B (Grounded hit) > delay IAD > j.C
  • 236~A (air hit) > IAD > j.C
  • j.214A > neutral jump > j.C
  • 236A! (Air hit) > forward jump > j.C


Catching No Tech/Roll

5AA Ender

Using the 5AAA ender in the corner allows you to catch no tech and rolls with pretty much anything, but the safest options are 2A and a j.C from the safe jump. For hard reads, you can hit 5C. 5B is a good compromise between damage and safety


Stance A/C ender

After this ender in the corner, you have all of the options from the 5AAA ender except for safe jump


236B and 236~A Enders

After these enders, you can catch forward rolls with a short dash into 2B or 5C. Back rolls can be caught with a longer dash into 2B. The safe jumps from these enders can catch some characters’ forward rolls, but never back roll.


j.214A and j.214B Ender

Has about the same options from 236B and 236~A enders

J.214C Ender

Limited to 2A to catch rolls.


Mixups From Knockdown

Most of the following are only effective in the corner:

  • Jump in > j.BA
  • Jump in > empty jump 2A
  • Jump in > j.B > 2A
  • Jump in > Air Dash > j.BC
  • 5AAA (whiff) or 5xC (whiff) > throw

Tips and Tricks

  • You can often use Drive in neutral to play it safe and wait for an opportunity
  • Use 236A to close gaps quickly. The tipper hitbox is especially strong
    • The Blue glow from her spear signifies the tipper hitboxes
  • Use 214X to escape pressure!
  • 5x[B] can guard point EAs and most reversals
  • You can use 5xCC in order to space out an opponent for tipper 236A

Fighting Mai

Learning Mai's Variable Arts structure is key to understand what options she has at any given moment. Being aware of the ranges of her 236X! tippers and the angles of her 214X divekicks is essential to predict her movement. Mai's 236X! tippers occur when a 236X attack connects at its tip on its final active frame. 236X! tippers are unblockable unless barrier blocked.

Neutral

Mai's general strategy in neutral is to control the pace of the match with her large buttons and 236X/214X specials to secure a knockdown and run her offense.

A pre-emptive 5xC or 236A are very effective at stopping ground approaches, but are weak to jump-ins and IADs. A reaction 2C is very effective at stopping air approaches, but has fairly late invul on startup and large recovery on whiff, so baiting 2C by stalling in the air and whiff punishing is a great way to punish the opponent for overrelying on this button.

Learning the distances Mai can connect 236A! or 236B! tippers is crucial to know the ranges you must barrier block a sudden approach.

5DD/j.DD spear redirects are not special cancellable on block. If you block a redirected spear, you do not have to worry about Mai using 236/214 to suddenly change her spacing.

Offense

Mai has no meterless reversal, but does have a few strong defensive options.

Her supers are both exploitable as 236D does not have invul until frame 4, and 214D has guard point but is vunerable to throws or opponents RCing and blocking on reaction.

Mai's 214 command backdash is a powerful defensive option, as it has frame 1 invul to Foot/Throw attribute moves, full invul frames 5~14, and it creates a large amount of space. However, Mai is in a counter-hit state for the duration of the 214 backdash, so catching her in the startup with a body/head attribute move will grant you a counter hit combo.

Defense

The most important part of learning to defend against mai is learning her Variable Arts structure and 236A! tipper spacings.

Mai's mixups are generally telegraphed by her Variable Arts. Her only overheads are from 5x[B] stance or following 5xC. Additionally, Mai only has mids and overheads following 5xC, so if used in pressure, it is usually safe to block high following this attack. Additionally, the followup 5xCB is plus on block, but can be interrupted by mashing out with good timing.

From any normal, Mai can cancel into a 236/214 command dash. From her 236 command dash, Mai can threaten a 236A frame trap, do an empty 236 to reset her pressure, or try to open you up with a 236A! tipper RC if far enough away. 236A is -4 on block, but Mai can space it so your fast pokes will whiff and she can whiff punish. This can be beaten by recognizing the spacing and choosing to either use a longer-range poke or disengage to return back to neutral.

Similarly, Mai can choose to retreat after any normal with a 214 command backdash. From this, she can choose to do an enhanced 214~B/C divekick to reset pressure or counter attempts to mash out. Generally, both retreating with an empty 214 and resetting pressure with 214~X can be beaten by jumping out if your character has good air mobility. Enhanced 214~X divekicks are plus on ground block, so respect them when you block one. However, unenhanced 214X divekicks and enhanced 214~X divekicks on air block are usually minus or punishable on block.

One strategy Mai players will go for is using 5xC[C] or 5xAC to push themselves out into 236A! tipper range. If the opposing Mai has 50% meter and is pushing themselves out with one of these moves, it is advisable to barrier block in case they go for a 236A! > RC guard break. Additionally, if you are forced to block a 5xAC projectile from mid to fullscreen, Mai may be setting up a 236B! tipper, which requires no meter to convert after the guard break.

Video Reference

This video provides tips to fight against Mai for any matchup:

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