Trunks is one of the most agile and versatile characters in DBFZ. His Light Autocombo and all of his non-S special moves give him high mobility and decent mixups for a mid 2L character. This character excels greatly at opening your opponents defence by any means necessary, as combining all of his mixup tools makes him really hard to block. Trunks also has great anti-zoning abilities, as his S specials all beat Ki Blasts in some way or another. His 214S in particular is an excellent anti-projectile move, and it can be also used as a projectile invincible dash if the button is held. It also functions as his fastest crossup out of 5LLL. On top of all this, it's safe on block and can be made plus if it hits meaty.
Trunks has the mixup tools to play point, but his toolset and good assist favors being further back on the team.
This used to be the position to play Trunks. However, he is now fully self-sufficient in the corner with meterless slide knockdowns, making him a viable anchor as well. Often you'll see him in this spot if on a team with a character that is a better anchor than he is.
It's really up to you to play Trunks here or as Mid. He works well in both places because he can usually use meter in place of an assist in neutral, blockstrings, and mixups. Depending on how you use Sparking!, Level 3 Sparking Trunks can legitimately be a nightmare for some opponents to play against, giving this spot a bit more benefit (especially due to the Limit Break buff he gets from being solo, if he is left to it).
Trunks isn't particularly picky when it comes to picking assists, as most of them he can use for his own gain in some capacity. More often than not though, he'll really appreciate high blockstun assists. He can work very well with low blockstun assists that can cover him up somewhat, making his mixup harder to see visually. Some assists may require tighter blockstrings or execution for things like flip mixups though, so you will likely have to lab out what works best for your team.
There are a few characters that work exceptionally well with Trunks on the team though (while he can fit everywhere, these characters can utilize his support very well, and vice versa).
SSB Goku loves the neutral assists in Assists A and B that Trunks provides, as he struggles himself in this area. Likewise, Trunks appreciates assists A and B helping him with his mixup setups, as while they are not particularly high in blockstun, they still get the job done.
Kid Buu enables Trunks very heavily with Assist A, giving him more than enough time to create mixups. While Kid Buu doesn't very much struggle in any areas, he likewise appreciates Trunks helping him out in little ways, and extending his already high damage combos further. This is moreso for Trunks than Kid Buu, but having the extra neutral tools helps Kid Buu in an area he was already strong in.
Bardock and Trunks form a very, very strong shell. Bardock loves having Trunks' assists to allow him to get in and start doing what he does best, while Trunks can utilize both of Bardock's assists, especially assist B, to great effect in blockstrings.
Gotenks gives Trunks another high blockstun assist to play with in assist A. Gotenks is also useful for helping Trunks clean up some air combos due to it's tracking, allowing him to get SKD without having to spend meter.
- 5L > 5LL > 2M > 5M > 5H > 2H...
Safe normals: 5L, 2L and 5S.
- 5L > 5LL > 5LLL...
Sideswitches after 5LLL and pulls the opponent out of the corner for mix-ups.
- 5L (reflected) > 5LL > 2M > 5S (Reflect proof)
214S is generally safest way to end pressure (-5 on block) although there is a big enough gap for vanish, reflect or reversals. Use 214[S] to reset pressure or bait defensive options.
- Sparking 5LLL
Jump canceling 5LLL immediately will cause Trunks to stay same side. 5LLL > jc > 236S (same side) only has a 3f gap in between, while 5LLL > 236S (crossup) has a 4f gap. This means this setup cannot be mashed out or jumped out.
Another setup is 5LLL > jc.S vs 5LLL > delay jc.S. This is slightly harder to do, has a bigger gap than 236S (6f at minimum), but it'd either be a trade in favor of Trunks, and if j.S lands he can cancel to airdash j.M into a meterless rejump.
Standard sliding knockdown, dash up IAD for a safe jump. In the corner Trunks can end the combo with j.H > j.214L > j.L > j.236M for a safe jump. Medium slash is +2 if blocked grounded and +8 if the enemy up techs and blocks it in the air.
Meaty change the future (214S)
When blocking 214S normally Trunks is -5 but because of the insane active frames this move has it can be made plus by having it connect with the opponent meaty. (28-31 frames to be specific) On hit this can be confirmed (All be it very difficult) into j.L. This is also considered a “safe jump.” Using 214[S] feints the energy blast and can make your opponent flinch.
Basic DR mixup off meaty 214S:
- Take your turn (214S > 5L)
- DR on plus frames (214S > DR)
- Reflect bait or catch opponent flinching (214[S] > 5L/5M/2M)
- Feint into DR (214[S] > DR)
- Disrespect (214S/214[S] > IAD j.ML)
In order to get 214S to hit meaty you can either time it manually or use a frame kill. j.H smash can be somewhat inconsistent but using 236X gives Trunks a set frame advantage depending on which strength is used. (Not including delayed tech)
Frame Kill setups:
- 236L/j.236L (+55)
66 > 2L > 214S
- 236M/j.236M (+60)
2LL > 214S
- 236H/j.236H (+65)
5M > 214S
Heat Dome 214L+M
Heat Dome leaves Trunks at +28 on a hard knockdown and this may not seem like much but it’s almost perfect for his kit. Midscreen Trunks can use tiger knee EX flip (2147H) for a left right 50/50, this will require practise to hit consistently and allows Trunks to be very creative, so experiment with your options. Midscreen or in the corner Trunks can perform the meaty 214S mix up explained above. IAD j.H/j.ML for an overhead safe jump. In the corner 6M can hit meaty and on block is plus and on hit can be confirmed into a full combo Don't forget to mix 2M, DR and reflect proof strings in your options to keep them on their toes.
Tips and Tricks
One of the first things to learn when starting to understand Trunks' H Cyclone Buster (often called EX Flip by the community) is controlling it. The control for it is not as daunting as it seems at first; simply tapping the direction you want to go for something like the post-level 3 mix is often enough. Getting a hang of how to maneuver and the general handling of EX Flip requires some lab time, but it isn't too hard to figure out. As long as you're not holding the direction for a very long time when trying to set up mix, you should be okay. A light tap is often more than enough depending on blockstun/pushback on block from certain assists, among other things.
Combo Potential: Can combo off of 5H, 2H, give him a sideswitch and even the ability to combo into Heat Dome from midscreen. This mid-screen level 3 can be done in a basic air string by doing j.S j.214H j.M j.H 214LM (or 214HS) instead of a traditional ender. It can also be used to give more corner carry if you would rather do that instead of getting the level 3, by just doing j.S j.LLL.
MIXUP: Trunks has the ability to create crazy left/right mixups with the ridiculous amount of control it gives. Athough this can be challenged when solo, proper supporting assists make it true and supplement its capability, especially when it is Tiger-Knee'd. Certain assists with high blockstun (such as Bardock B, Gotenks A, or likewise) can enable Trunks to create setups that are completely invulnerable to things like 2H or are even just true blockstrings, making them that much more powerful. Post-level 3 Tiger-Knee flip in particular is a prominent example of how potent 214H can be, as it is a true 50/50 left/right overhead mix-up. Notably, in conjunction with Sparking!, Trunks' mix-ups are elevated into an entirely new level. Combined with 5LLL being jump-cancellable, Trunks can choose which side to be on and also choose again with 214H to continue pressure. Not to mention during all of this, he still retains access to all other air options such as airdash, superdash, Cyclone Buster, Shining Slash, Empty Vanish, as well as all the other traditional options like high/low, tick throw, or also simply choosing to reset the blockstring again; his freedom with this type of movement is unparalleled. Taking all these factors into account, it is almost impossible to anticipate every scenario Trunks can decide to do, making his Sparking! blockstring pressure ultimately unpredictable and truly terrifying.
Even in basic blockstrings, 214H is very strong if you can condition your opponent into defense, without even needing an assist call. It can catch opponents falling asleep easily - and if you start off the ground, you could even go for some really tricky double-flip mixups where you hit one side and then flip to the other. If your opponent starts catching on or you find they simply start mashing 2H from these strings, you can just whiff punish it by landing or just react and snipe them with j.S if you so need to.
NEUTRAL/OTHER: Because of how fast it is, it can be used to zoom over moves such as beams and assists and escape the corner on pressure gaps. Subsequently it can also be used to whiff punish even from afar. It can also be used to bait 2H or another anti-air, then dive down to punish. In disadvantage, it's not a terrible idea to maybe try jumping straight up/up back in the corner into an immediate 214H. Because of the speed and air control, it can be a strong way to get out of the corner easily, though if your opponent starts catching on they can just superdash and beat you clean out of it/still chase you down. A strong option, but don't get reliant on it.
- Understand that a lot of his pressure has huge reflect gaps, and he cannot really safely end blockstrings without assists. If Trunks staggers you, try and use some reversal option - he has options to bait & beat these out, but it can force him to lose his turn, which is obviously a bad thing. Recognize the habits a Trunks player may have when they are putting you in blockstrings, and recognize what is safe and unsafe. Often, he will stagger with 5L and 2L, as these are his safest buttons. Even if he disengages a blockstring with 214M, you can force him to have to play safe for a little bit.
- His 5S is a good full-screen ki blast, but it is somewhat slow and can be predictable. While it beats other ki blasts, making it tricky to play against him full screen, you can close the gap somewhat against him by dash-blocking or superdashing at ranges he may not be able to react and 2H in time.
- Don't just try and mash 2H against EX Flip mixups. While this can be an option against them, Trunks has options to bait this out, and if he knows you're going to start panicking when he has you blocking them, he can use that against you. Keep an eye on the habits and control Trunks players do when they use EX Flip, this can help you understand which way to block before they even hit you. It is not foolproof, but it can be helpful to give you time to react and think.
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