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Real quick rundown (More to come)
There are a lot of long range characters in Guilty Gear, and it's widely believed that Axl is one of them. While Axl does have some fullscreen or close to fullscreen tools, everyone else who has them has better ones. Axl is instead heavily specialized in dominating at midrange. At any given time, Axl wants to be somewhere between the max range of his 5K, and the range where rensengeki will hit even if he FRCs it. For the most part, any given character is only going to have a few fast tools in this range, and Axl has a ton of them. This gives you space to avoid reversals when you're on offense, win footsies at neutral, and some breathing room on defense. As long as you're in basically that range, you have a serious advantage in a lot of matchups.
Your job in the neutral game is to watch where your opponent is, and hit them. If they are in the air, this is pretty easy, because Axl has a zillion good anti-air tools that work at a majority of ranges. If they're on the ground, slightly less so. You should be watching the opponent's position at all times, and be ready to throw out the right move at the right time. For the most part, if you throw out a move and it doesn't connect, you failed. This means if you're dead set on playing zoning games, you will have a hard time. Fortunately, what you can do is approach and stop transparent approaches extremely effectively, and stop a lot of real zoning characters from really setting up on you.
Your job when you're at advantage is to jack up your opponent's guardbar and throw a lot of stuff at them until they crack. Your mixup isn't super fast, but you actually have a lot of different options that have to be guarded differently, and all the new gatlings Axl got in +R make it so that when you have meter, you can basically do any string you want into rensen FRC, rinse and repeat. So you're keeping the opponent in blockstun for quite a long time, and during that time, you have access to few slow but ambiguous crossups, some middling-speed overheads, some ways to make false gaps and bait reversals, and a full-screen command grab that knocks down, looks like rensen, and can be faked. Axl doesn't have the insane unreactable tools some other characters have, but he has enough damage and cranks enough guardbar that getting your opponent to slip up, usually by trying to jump, is very rewarding.
The silver lining of Axl's mixup kit is his throw. Axl has a lot of ways to mess with spacing and keep frame advantage, a lot of tick throw setups, and a throw that converts into reasonable damage without spending meter.
Your job on defense is to block. A lot. Axl doesn't have reversals, but he does have moves that can beat things if you call them out specifically. You have a bad backdash, low profile moves, moves with selective invulnerability, and your 0F throw that you get for being a GG character, and for the most part, you have to make a pretty good guess to abare out. If you're playing someone good, you need to be patient, and wait until there's a real hole in their offense, or at least something predictable enough that you can confidently choose the right move. This is guilty gear, so that means you'll be blocking for a long time in some matchups. Be okay with that.
This is Axl's primary oki and for good reason. Primarily because it is his only chain move that does not have a hurtbox on his actual chain, so you can out-space DPs and other wake-up reversals.
After the opponent learns to respect it and block, it makes a great pressure-starter since it hits low and has gatling routes into highs (6H, 5D), other lows (2H, 2D), crossup (S Raiei Sageki), Rashou Sen, and frame trap/tick throw because its +2.
There are three ranges to consider when using this as an oki, all with different advantages and drawbacks.
The usual range is mid range. (Meaning you want the entire scythe handle to overlap with the opponent's sprite, but you have a little wiggle room on that.) This is best for the aforementioned high/low/crossup/Rashou Sen mixup, but you can still run up and throw them or fish for a counterhit if you like, however there will be more of a gap for them to hit you than at close range if you go for the throw.
Doing this oki at close range (just outside of their wake-up grab range) so that the 2nd hit pulls them close enough to grab them creates a really nasty situation if you option select the throw because of this move's +2 frame advantage. The downside is that they may grab you instead if you mess up and grab during their 5 frame throw invul period, and being that close makes it easier for them to DP and pick up the combo. Because of that, this oki is best done when you're pretty sure they're gonna just block and respect you. Because this is technically a frame trap, it can be a good strategy to do an RC'd or FRC'd S Benten Gari instead of grabbing because that move has throw and strike invul, so it will get them if they try to use their 5 throw invul frames to throw you first.
When done at long range (hitting them with the very tip of 3P) it can be hard for opponents to contest this move. The main purpose of this is to bait a reversal from the opponent. You can tempt them to DP by running at them and making them think you are going to 6H. At this range, 3P is more likely to clash with things, which is great for you because you can block or punish however you want. A sub-technique of this range is to do 3P so far away that it barely misses and you avoid the reversal entirely, or intentionally do it too early so you can finish the move and block.
Tips and Tricks
On defense, an FD can often be more valuable than instant-blocking. Pushing an opponent into Axl's f.S tip range often means their turn is over.
Don't jump. Unless you've got a projectile covering you or lots of frame advantage, very little in the game can contest Axl's anti-air, and he can force you to spend a lot of meter FDing even if you block it. This also means that you should think hard about when you tech or burst a combo, as Axl's tech trap resets are often more dangerous and rewarding than his oki.
Figure out where your character wants to be in relation to Axl. Many characters want to be inside his 2K range, where they have faster buttons, but others are looking for full-screen spacing to get some projectile threats out. With few exceptions, being in Axl's optimal mid-range spacing without frame advantage means you're losing.
Be aggressive when you get advantage. Axl has a hard time breaking out of heavy pressure, and is incredibly vulnerable to throw mixup due to not having a 5F normal. Keep Axl locked down rather than giving him room to breathe.
Use disjointed gap closers, persistent projectile threats, and unpredictable vectors of approach to make it risky for Axl to try to attack you. Characters that have a lot of this kind of tool (Like Jam, Millia, Dizzy, and Venom) are especially strong against Axl
- A.B.A [★]
- Anji Mito [★]
- Axl Low [★]
- Baiken [★]
- Bridget [★]
- Chipp Zanuff [★]
- Dizzy [★]
- Eddie [★]
- Faust [★]
- I-No [★]
- Jam Kuradoberi [★]
- Johnny [★]
- Justice [★]
- Kliff Undersn [★]
- Ky Kiske [★]
- May [★]
- Millia Rage [★]
- Order-Sol [★]
- Potemkin [★]
- Robo-Ky [★]
- Slayer [★]
- Sol Badguy [★]
- Testament [★]
- Venom [★]
- Zappa [★]
Click [★] for character's full frame data