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At the start of the round Zappa's main goal is to successfully use 236P to summon. There are two main ways to do this: you can either combo into it, use it as a counterpoke, or create a situation where you can summon it at neutral without being punished. With this in mind, at round start your goal should be to aim for one of these three things. Some good strategies are:
- Backdash: Zappa's amazing backdash is only 11 total frames, 10 of which are invincible. This is a great tool at round start to put some space between you and the opponent. If they also back up on round start or whiff something with significant recovery it may even buy you enough time to summon immediately afterwards. You can also follow up a roundstart backdash with any of the other options listed here.
- Backdash x2: If you are fighting an opponent with limited mobility backdashing twice or even three times may be enough to guarantee you a free summon at neutral. It also gives you some space to plan out how you want to attack, just be careful not to get yourself cornered.
- 236P: If you predict that the opponent will throw out a normal at round start an immediate 236P can be a good way to start the round off strongly with a summon and hard knockdown. Be very careful though as if you are too predictable you can be punished easily on block or whiff.
- Dash 236P: This is an even riskier start but will beat an opponent jumping forward immediately, backdashing (character dependent), or immediately throwing out a normal.
- 6P/5K/2S: These are some of your better normals to throw out immediately at round start but which one to use is very dependent on the matchup and your read on the opponent. 6P ducks under high hitboxes, 5K floats over low hitboxes, and 2S is good at stuffing opponents running forward or using moves such as Fuujin or Horizontal Dolphin. All three will allow you to follow up with 236P on counterhit.
- Airthrow: Although Zappa generally doesn't want to be in the air, oftentimes the opponent will jump forward to try to take advantage of his lack of anti-airs and punish summon attempts. This can be countered in turn by Zappa if he jumps at round start just after the opponent to attempt an airthrow, which if successful leads to a free summon.
Which summon Zappa produces is partially based on the second digit of the round timer, the ghost summoned can be guaranteed by summoning when the second digit is equal to one of the following 3 values:
- 0 - Sword
- 1 - Dog
- 2 - Triplets
If summon is used on any other digit, or if a summon occurs due to taking damage, then the familiar will be fully random.
Just like at round start should you ever find yourself summonless mid match your immediate goal will be to secure a safe summon. Once again your main choices are either to succeed at summoning in neutral or land a confirm/counterpoke into summon connecting. There are a few main strategies to accomplish these goals:
Strategies for summoning at neutral
- Wait for an opponent to whiff a move: The total duration of summon is only 33 frames, fast enough that you can often get away with it if the opponent is attempting to read you by throwing out pokes from a distance.
- Backdash: Once again backdash is a great option for creating space between yourself and the opponent which may buy you the time for a quick summon.
- Run Under: If the opponent tries to approach you in the air you can often run straight under them with your low profile dash, giving yourself enough time to summon.
- Force the opponent to hesitate: Be on guard for the opponent to slow down their aggression trying to avoid your pokes/counterpokes, if you see that they are hesitating you may get away with an otherwise risky 236P.
Strategies for landing a summon offensively
- Run forward 2P/2K: This is your standard way to start a string on the opponent. Since your dash low profiles many far range pokes it forces the opponent to take more risky countermeasures which opens them up for other approach options.
- Run forward 236P: Since summon has a quite large chunk of invincibility and retains some of your dash momentum it can be a great counterpoke to opponents trying to stuff you when you run at them.
- fS: fS is a great poke to throw out in neutral when there's some space between you and the opponent. Should the opponent get hit by the secondary hitbox (the puddle on the ground) they will be knocked down which allows you to OTG them with a dash 236P. Even should they block this secondary hitbox that may give you the space and frame advantage necessary to cancel it into a summon without being punished.
- 5K/6P counterpoking: similar to at round start these normals can be used to poke while avoiding the hitbox of the opponent's attack. Both moves result in a KD on ground counterhit allowing you to otg afterwards with dash 236P.
- 214D: This forcebreak is a great option should they block your initial 2P/2K, do it after gatling to cS for a frame trap and surprise overhead that nets you 2 orbs and a followup otg 236P should it hit. It's even +3 on block so you can continue pressure or retreat in the event that they block it.
- Throw: Should you land a throw you can either summon immediately or dash to them and otg 236P depending on how close to you they land.
- Airthrow: Landing an airthrow usually guarantees you an OTG summon afterwards with the right timing.
Tips and Tricks
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Click [★] for character's full frame data