This section is still being written. It may be wildly inaccurate or missing significant data.
Please feel free to make edits, but include edit summaries and sources where applicable.
At mid-range, challenge the opponent's ground approach with 5/2P, 2H, and jS, and punish aerial approaches with 5P, 6K, or 2S. j.P and j.K can be used to challenge the opponent's aerial movement as well.
End combos with Snail/Axl Bomber/OTG 2H to force the opponent to long-range, and toss Rensen at them until you think they're ready to approach. Then either preemptively throw out your buttons again or try to react to what they do.
Be prepared to occasionally get close to your opponent and either try to bait them into do something stupid with either IAD back jS or Rainwater, or start your own close range pressure with 2K or throw.
Many of Axl's moves are high-commitment - a wrong guess can put you in an unsafe situation. Pay attention to whether your opponent tends to keep to the ground or take to the air, and cover ground approaches with 5P, 2P, and 2H, and air approaches with 6K and 2S.
j.S is a versatile attack that can be used as a keep-away tool while jumping back, or to keep the opponent locked down while jumping or air dashing forward for more pressure.
6H can be used to preemptively call out jump attempts out of your pressure in the corner. If the opponent blocks this normal correctly instead of trying to jump out, you are screwed due to the opponent at worst, getting a throw and at best, getting a punish combo, (only Sol and Chipp can punish with a combo) It's a very high risk button.
f.S is a strong poke to use if the opponent is conditioned to stay grounded- if they jump or go low-profile, it can be beaten easily, due to its 25 frames of recovery. This move is great on block due to being able to gatling into 2H and start RensenGuard:
-19~-9 zoning from mid-range. This then forces the opponent to start dash blocking to gain space on Axl, which starts his win condition.
Regarding your anti-airs:
- 5P is your "lowest anti air" - it covers a small angle upwards. In some matchups, this button is useful everywhere. In others, it can feel hard to use effectively. On block or hit, cancelling to RensenGuard:
-19~-9 into CherryGuard:
-3 [+10] is almost always safe and can be very rewarding if the confirm lands and you have meter due to being able to confirm into One VisionGuard:
0 even if you did not install it beforehand. Always try to incorporate this into your anti-air game.
- 2S is the anti-air Axl is most infamous for. On CH (sometimes even on non-CH), you gain a massively rewarding combo (for Axl standards), but on block, doesn't lead to much except a lot of RISC gain for the opponent if you cancel into 2H to catch their landing. The weakness of this button is that it tends to trade a LOT, so watch out if you're low on health.
- 6K is a weird one. It covers the middle angle between 5P and 2S, but has no reward on non-CH or block. Use it only occasionally to sniff out opponents trying to be either really predictably aggressive or tricky(trying to bait your 2S/5P)
- 6P is a button most Axl players forget about. Don't be most Axl players. You should use this to catch very fast air buttons that can be hard to 2S, or are scared to trade with 2S because you're low on health. If you need a button to react quickly to a jumping opponent, it should probably be 6P. Just be mindful you get very little reward on hit.
- 5/2K are honorable mentions. Against certain setups, 5K can be a great anti-air that can lead to very rewarding damage, while 2K is secretly the "best" anti-air in terms of potential safety. It low profiles to whiff against or trade with too many air buttons in the game for Axl players to not call this an anti-air.
5K, 2K, and c.S should be your go-to close range starters. Axl is not a mix-up machine so the basic high-low and throw mix-ups apply here - 5K, 2K, or c.S into 5D or 2D, a tick throw such as
2K > Throw. A gatling into 6H can surprise the opponent with an overhead and grants a combo on counterhit, but it can be interrupted and is minus on normal hit and block. Your jump cancellable normals, 5K/c.S, can lead to even more options on block. You can choose to IAD backwards to take the space, RainwaterGuard:
+3 early in the string to cheat out plus frames, or incorporate a high/low mixup. IAD backwards j.S is not a good mixup. Only use it to make space. Ending with RainwaterGuard:
+3 can return you to a mid-range spacing, and also has the opportunity to catch the opponent in a counterhit ex:
RainwaterGuard: If you want to maintain close-range pressure, jump cancel with a forward jump and do j.H for an instant overhead, which can be confirmed with meter, or delay it a bit to make it a true blockstring with j.D. If you delay the j.D, however, you can get even more plus frames. Do it at your own risk.
+3 > 5P > RensenGuard:
Axl has several frame traps with his gatlings. The most common ones are
5K/2K > dl.2D
c.S > dl.f.S (> 5H) , and anything into SnailGuard:
-24. Use these frametraps to threaten your opponent. If they're expecting another button of your blockstring, you can simply try to restart your pressure with the start of your string again. Then you can incorporate some of the pressure described above. If you can read a backdash, confirm with a c.S for an easy BomberGuard:
-22 punish, hopefully leading to huge corner carry or a wallbreak.
c.S > jc > 66BRC can lead to some trickier strings such as
c.S > jc > 66BRC > j.D > 2K, or
c.S 66BRC > crossup j.D (requiring the 66BRC to be performed slightly later to allow air dashing over the opponent). On hit,
c.S > jc > 66BRC > BomberGuard: is great corner carry that can lead to wall combo if close enough.
-22 > c.S > Tiger KneeA method to perform a special move in the air as fast as possible after you leave the ground. Almost always abbreviated to TK. For Example: 2369 for a j.236 input. BomberGuard:
Rensen (8) and Axl Bomber are the two primary methods of creating an okizeme situation.
Rensen (8) knocks the opponent down at point blank range where you can start close range pressure. j.H can be used as a safejump starter, although it requires manual timing. Rensen (8) > c.S > IAD > j.H is a consistent safejump setup that works only against some character's invincible reversals. It is safe against May, Axl, Faust, Ramlethal, I-No's invincible supers, as well as Ky's meterless reversal. It does not work against invincible supers from Ky, Millia, Nagoriyuki, Giovanna, or Anji, or from meterless reversals from Sol, Chipp, or Leo. Video guide on this safejump setup is explained in detail here.
Rensen (8) can also be used as a sideswitch if you're cornered. Even better, it can lead to an ambiguous crossup meaty. The route is [whatever] > rensen(8) > jump over them > land > 2k.
Axl Bomber also causes a knockdown which allows enough time to move in for a setup, which is a reason to use TK Bomber as an ender rather than Snail if you want the okizeme opportunity. For example, c.S > TKB, or with meter, c.S > f.S > 2H > Snail > 66RC > c.S > TKB.
6H or IAD j.H are decent overhead meaties to use on opponent wakeup. On meaty hit, 6H becomes plus and can combo into c.S or 5K for example. 6H meaties can be auto-timed in a variety of ways, such as off a Throw knockdown > microdash > 6H, or far Mantis > double T-Bag > 6H (not joking). Video evidence here. This strategy is very weak to wakeup backdash, so be weary of it.
It should be noted that in general, all situations where you can land a 2H OTG guarantees a meaty rensen from fullscreen. This is insanely powerful since it reliably can reset the opponent back to fullscreen off of any combo that goes into 2D (Yes, even your abare 5/2K!!!). Even after a TKB, you can get a dash 2H > Rensen in. No timing required either! Just cancel the 2H OTG into rensen and enjoy the space.
In some matchups where your primary goal is to get out of the corner, you can safejump from fullscreen using uncharged winter cherry (6S ~ S > run > IAD > jS). You don't get much pressure off of it from that range, but you get good distance from the corner.
Use Yellow Roman Cancel (YRC) to stop opponent pressure. Use Faultless Defense to gain space.
The most important thing to do when cornered is to be patient and block. Make use of Faultless Defense to push the opponent back to find an opening to counterpoke with 5P, to jump and counter with j.H or j.S, or to jump and air dash out. Faultless Defense after jumping if you anticipate being challenged in the air and try again. Challenge the opponent's IAD attacks with 6P. Don't be predictable with how you try to escape corner pressure - you may block several strings before finding an opportunity to escape.
As of the GGST 1.10 balance patch, a new player entered the realm of Axl's defense game: 2K. Axl's 2K is not only Axl's fastest button that puts him on par with all 5F jabs, it is also the most noncommittal low-profile moves in the entire game, while still having a stupid amount of low profile value. Certain setups, jump-in normals, plus special moves can all whiff hard on Axl's 2K, allowing you to either trade with them, or punish with a throw. If you think a move is too strong, but it looks 2K-able, try it! You will be surprised.
Use of Tension
Note: This section is currently based on one Axl's conjecture - please contribute to the topic.
As mentioned in the previous sections, your Tension is best used for Sickle Storm (236236H) and even Yellow Roman Cancel (YRC), as your way of getting out of pressure. Yellow Roman Cancel (YRC) provides more of a positional advantage, while Sickle Storm (236236H) is best used on reaction to punish whiffs in neutral and on wake-up to punish reckless meaty attacks and okizeme setups. At a low level, it might be possible to mash Sickle Storm (236236H) on wake-up without seeing the opponent attempt a meaty, but this is strongly inadvisable, since they could react to the super freeze and block the initial hit instead, which leads to a punish with a full combo. There is a reason why the eternal Axl adage is "Whiff the first hit and hope they don't know about the second.". However, you shouldn't rely on this, as any self-respecting player will adapt after getting hit once.
There is something to be said about raw non-drift Blue Roman Cancel (BRC), Purple Roman Cancel (PRC) and Red Roman Cancel (RRC). Their uses are very situational and most of the time not worth the meter. The reason why they are this way, is mostly due to the nature of Axl's entire kit and his character archetype. Most of Axl's moves are intended to push the enemy character away, which seldom goes along with the new changes to Roman Cancels introduced with Strive. The slowdown and, for example, the follow-up knock-back effect from a Red Roman Cancel require you to be in close proximity to the opponent. In previous games from the Guilty Gear Series, such as AC+R and Xrd Rev2, the slowdown effect was quite long-lasting and also effected the entire screen, regardless of your proximity to the opponent, which meant that moves such as Rensen (6S) could be Roman Cancelled meaningfully even at full range into entire ground-to-air combos. In Strive, however, Rensen (6S) can't be cancelled into anything meaningful without a follow-up like Winter Cherry (6S-S) or Soaring Chain Strike a.k.a. Rensen (6S-8). Realistically, the only combo opportunity from Winter Cherry (6S-S) is what the community affectionately calls The Double Cherry Sundae. As you can probably see, any Rensen (6S) combo, which costs you 50% of your Tension metre only nets you ~95 damage on average, which is almost half of what you would get from a generic starter c.S or 2K combo. The issue is twofold: Use of Roman Cancel as an offensive tool is very limited by range, and the damage proration (net combo damage reduction) from the act of Roman Cancelling only serves to make the use of metre completely and utterly pointless outside of very niche situations where you need just a little bit more damage to close off the round. At max-range, a useful "guard-breaking combo" is a Purple Roman Cancel (PRC) quickly after Rensen (6S), which turns it into a projectile, with useful properties in neutral. The ability to cancel a Roman Cancel with a special move, allows for us to input a Winter Mantis (41236H), which will command grab anyone who blocks the projectile flying towards them, and with proper timing can even grab some attempts to Instant Air Dash (IAD) over the projectile. This is similar to using Xrd's Yellow Roman Cancel to do much the same, but with the added benefit of a command grab that comes from the back, rather than the front.
Drift Roman Cancel
On the other hand, let us consider Roman Cancel as a mid-range option with a move such as Snail (214H). A sample combo would be: 5K > 2D > 214H > 66.RRC > 5P > 6S-8 > c.S or c.S > f.S > 5H > 214H > 66.RRC > 5P > 6S-8 > c.S. Both of these combos only work if one performs a so called Drift Roman Cancel (66RC) (more general info here), in this case a Drift Red Roman Cancel (DRRC) - in this case a 66RC, i.e a dash, towards the opponent, followed immediately by a Roman Cancel. Using a regular Red Roman Cancel (RRC) would result in the combo dropping, as the opponent would not be effected by any of the beneficial elements of a Red Roman Cancel (RRC). The reason why this may be an issue is that doing that after Snail (214H), which finishes in a 4 input, requires a somewhat unintuitive double tap forward (i.e a 466 motion). This may be somewhat alleviated by the use of the Dash macro in tandem with with the Roman Cancel macro, which you can now configure as their own separate buttons, as otherwise you would be forced to press the dash button as well as three other unique buttons to perform the motion. Let me remind you that you also need to begin charging for Rensen (6S) immediately after in order to make the cancel worthwhile, effectively turning the input into 4666. Needless to say, making effective use of metre while also pushing the offensive also requires somewhat good execution and dexterity. Some shorter permutations on the combo starters are possible in order to make use of the benefits of a non-drift Red Roman Cancel (RRC), but result in a net loss of damage, as you are effectively mission out on hits not effected by the Roman Cancel's damage proration, as they are prior to the cancel itself.
There is a route from mid-range which relies on a 66RRC after a successful Snail combo ender, after which a short dash is performed followed by 5P > 6H, which results in a wall bounce. With proper spacing the opponent can be hit with 5K > 6K > Snail, after which they will be stuck to the wall and you have a free choice of moves to wall-break with. The full string can be as follows: 5K > 6K > 214H > 66RRC > 66 > 5P > 6H > 5K > 6K > 214H > 5P (WB). [Video] 6K and onwards can be substituted for a TK Bomber finisher for more damage, if one is confident in their execution.
At close range, the common option is doing a Drift Roman Cancel (DRC) from a j.H safe jump or instant overhead. One uses the 22.RRC variation, resulting in a downwards drift, which allows for any combo starter. The benefit here is that if the hit is blocked, the cancel will most likely result in a Purple Roman Cancel (PRC), which can allow you to get out of the messy situation you've gotten yourself into and try to reset into neutral. On hit, it can result in some of the most highly damaging Axl combos, such as the beginnings of a TK Bomber loop or a simple 5P > 6S ender.
Suffice to say, all of this should generally paint the picture that there are two, if not three, viable situations in which an aspiring Axl can, with great difficulty, utilise a non-drift Roman Cancel to some amount of success. Most other characters, except for perhaps Faust and Nagoriyuki, seem to be spared from such considerations.
Charge Cancel Roman Cancel
Despite the comically long name, it is a rather new piece of tech, which allows charge characters to effectively remove the need for holding a charge in specific combo routes. The inputs allow one to do the equivalent of 5P > RRC > 46S, rather than 6S (the brackets, signifying holding the direction).
For more general system information on the topic, see here.
One Vision vs Roman Cancel
One Vision, to some players, might seem like a tool used over RC because of the unique combos and corner carry that you can get out of it. Others might see it as only really a unique combo tool that can confirm into wallbreaks whenever Axl can. In reality, One VisionGuard:
0 does have its uses outside of combos and within combos that are very useful. The most notable thing about One Vision is the fact that once it hits, the opponent is not allowed to burst. This is really powerful not only to make sure combos land the way you want to, but it can also be used to end a round without the fear of bursts!
Outside of combos, One VisionGuard:
0 can have its uses ever since they allowed us to super cancel into the install. The most notable thing is being able to confirm off of instant overhead j.H as shown in the combo recipe(s) below. However, it can be used to frametrap as well. Remember that One VisionGuard:
0 hits full screen quickly, which means that it can catch IAD attempts, jump startup, and certain characters' dash startups.
That being said, One VisionGuard:
- is not a super to be spammed outside of combos, and even some setups, because there is more risk putting yourself in the install and potentially not being able to cash out versus the instant reward of an RC. One other thing to note though is that with some creativity, not many players can expect what might happen while you're in the one vision install. They might play or act differently, and you can adjust accordingly. Overall, never forget One VisionGuard:
-'s uses outside of combos or try potentially putting it into combos in order to make them even more burst safe! But be careful, because if your One VisionGuard:
0 doesn't hit, it's a wasted super.
Here are just a few examples of using One VisionGuard:
- for a mixup oppourtunity.
|Onevision Instant Overhead Oki||45306||Easy||Axl will do a hard knockdown into Onevision install, a meaty c.S, and then into j.H into a Onevision activate.|
Axl only has a few types frametraps to note:
- Any gatling with a reasonable delay ex:
c.S > f.S
- Most gatlings into SnailGuard:
2D > 214H
+3 into a long range button ex:
214S > 2H
Even after having the opponent block rainwater, most of Axl's buttons at that range can be easily avoided by either ducking or IAD'ing over it.
That means that in order to frametrap, Axl is left at a major risk. What's particularly risky is that SnailGuard:
-24 is horribly negative on block, so choose how deep you want to go in strings wisely.
Axl last patch was given the ability to gatling his j.H into j.D, Axl can use that in order to frametrap, but it's mainly used as a safe blockstring.
The deal with Axl's blockstrings is that he has no true way to safely end a long blockstring. Unlike other characters who can end their pressure with a safe move, Axl can only end his pressure with a safe move with the first hit or two of a true string. As for his special moves that seem like the go-to blockstring cancels:
- Snail (214H) is very risky to end blockstrings with, as most if not all characters can punish it in reaction to blocking it.
- Rainwater(214S) and Rensen(6S) are very weak to the opponent simply IAD'ing towards you.
The key with Axl and his blockstrings, then, is to either end the string early and go for a pressure reset or take a risk at the end of a blockstring with a snail/rainwater/rensen, with an attempt to read a jump, dash, or mash.
If you decide to end a string early, use his jump cancelable normals (5K and cS) to threaten the possibility of jumping backwards to make space. With this threat, you can also let it rock and not jump cancel it in order to mix it up by running in and doing another button or throw them. It should be noted as well that you can perform a blockstring using jump forward jH >jD. It's approximately +8 or so, but leaves you at a distance from the opponent.
If you decide to RPS with his special moves, it can feel like a modified RPS. Here are some of the scenarios:
- You special cancel into snail. Loses to blocking. Wins against mash and jump.
- You special cancel into Rainwater/Rensen. Loses to jumping and some mash moves. "Wins" against blocking and some mash moves.
- You do nothing where you would normally special cancel. Loses to mashing. Wins against blocking and jumping (assuming you can anti-air)
It cannot be stressed enough how much sometimes, doing nothing is the best thing to do when doing strings as Axl. Axl heavily relies on his opponent being threatened by being stuffed out by a long-range move, whether it be an anti-air, snail, rainwater, or anything else. In order to get there, you have to sometimes not do anything and react to what your opponent does.
You can get a fuzzy mixup from j.K in multiple ways shown below.
These mixups are powerful because they are very hard to react to, and have to be blocked based on reads from the opponent.
|BRC Fuzzy Setup High||45307||Normal||Axl will do c.S > 66BRC into the high j.K fuzzy. This version allows for a metered conversion into a full combo or any j.H jump-in combo starter. Can be canceled into j.623H, but only loops in corner. Axl is not able to be punished by 5f normals even if this is blocked.|
|BRC Fuzzy Setup Low||45308||Normal||Axl will do c.S > 66BRC into the low j.K fuzzy. This version allows for a Snail finisher for potential metered conversion at mid-range or Rensen near corner for potential 6-2 oki.|
|BRC Fuzzy Setup Low Max Damage Starter||45309||Normal||Axl will do c.S > 66BRC into the max damage low j.K fuzzy. This version allows for the most damage, as it can be canceled into a TK Bomber. It also allows for a conversion into a j.H safe-jump.|
Getting j.K in the first place can be an unreliable situation to account for, hence most Axls rely on jump cancelling 5K or c.S into a Drift Blue Roman Cancel (66.BRC). This is possible because at the point of jump cancelling a normal, a character is not within a move's active frames (hence no Red Roman Cancel (RRC)) , nor within a move's recovery (hence no Purple Roman Cancel (PRC)).
For most intents and purposes this fuzzy is practically a metered option, but if you somehow get the situation without having to spend the tension, more power to ya. [Video]
Rensen + Its Followups
Rensen's Followups aside from Cherry are VERY SITUATIONAL in neutral.
Rensen 8, if used recklessly, can drag your opponent right to your face, which is not what you want in most matchups.
Rensen 2 can be jumped out of on reaction, has an awkward hitbox, and is pretty minus on block.
Regardless, here are some tips and tricks regarding all of rensen's followups:
- Rensen 8 is your fastest "out of rensen" option from fullscreen, not cherry. You can use it if you need that extra bit of speed.
- All of Rensen's followups can be done even if a projectile consumed the original rensen's hits (e.g. projectile supers, nago clone, ram sword)
- Rensen 2 allows you to hold it to extend the duration. You can also choose to let it end early by letting go of down. This can help recover in time if your opponent decides to do a late jump, maybe even anti-air them!
- Some characters can blow you up for doing delay cherry. You can always choose to not do a followup after any rensen and then throw out other moves in order to force your opponent to mix up their approach.
Your First TK Bomber
If you're having a hard time with TK Bombers try to focus on one thing at a time, be that the initial cancel from c.S/5K, the TK motion itself, the link to c.S/5K after that or the second/third TK Bomber in the sequence. What is important to know is that the whole idea of the TKB is to jump-cancel the c.S/5K normals, so be patient and wait for those to play out a bit, otherwise you're likely to get unwanted Winter Mantises, 2Hs or 6Hs. There is the alternative situation where you might be getting j.H instead, which likely means that you are getting the jump cancel timing somewhat right, but your TK motion is still slow, so speed up those inputs, speciffically, reaching the 2 and 3 earlier. After you've gotten the basic timing down, you should be able to do at least one TKB. Don't rush to TKB loops, their alure also hides madness. Practice just hit-confirming in your matches with c.S/5K > TKB for now, until you get the hang of it. If it helps, you could also do the TK motion raw in training mode. A cool and somewhat practical combo is to use One Vision and then do two raw TK Bombers on the training dummy, as time is stopped. Keep in mind that you will have to change the direction of the input for the second TK Bomber, as you will have crossed up. This should give you a fair amount of practice on both Player 1 and Player 2 side.
Stringing Two TKBs Together
Once you've started feeling yourself and are confident that you have mastered the single TKB, you will likely want to move into the corner, where all glorious Axl twitter clips are forged. The first thing you will need to realise about starting a TKB Loop is that your execution needs to be somewhat on point. Guilty Gear -Strive- has a somewhat generous input buffer, but that can be a blessing and a curse. At the core of a TKB Loop is the necessity for the first TKB to have started as close to the ground as possible. This ultimately means that the timing and the execution need to be tight and tidy, because if Axl jumps a little bit too high, that results in effectively higher recovery on your Axl Bomber, as Axl needs to fall down longer before he can start another c.S/5K, for which he needs to be grounded. Minimising that recovery means that the subsequent TKBs become easier to perform. I will refer to this as a perfect TKB. A simple visual aid is to hit 5K or c.S roughly whenever the opponent is at the level of Axl's headband. Note that depending on which normal you chose, the cancel window for the following TKB will be different. You can read more in the Advanced Combo Theory section in the Combos page, but the gist is c.S is slower but more lenient, while 5K is faster, yet tighter. In time you will learn that different normals are better at certain heights, but that is another topic. Another visual aid may be that Axl has reset to his idle animation for a split second after landing from a TKB, meaning he's ready to press buttons. An audio cue that may help you with your timing is Axl finishing the Axl Bomber voice-line, as the timing in the Japanese dub is pretty close to the link timing from what I've noticed. If you're getting the c.S/5K link, but are struggling to get the Bomber out, refer to the tips at the beginning of the first paragraph. A beginner-friendly technique is to hover your hand (or finger) over the stick (pad, analogue, etc.) until you see the c.S/5K link connect, after which you can start doing the TK motion. This should stop you from rushing to make inputs before you've even confirmed if the normal has connected. The Combos page has a few  Hard difficulty TKB loops, which substitute the third repetition with some other type of finisher. Familiarise yourself with those, until you are comfortable doing two reps of TKBs. They are more than adequate and are often safer in competitive play, as they secure the Positive Bonus from a Wall-Break, while minimising the risk of dropping the TKB loop, at the expense of a less than significant amount of damage.
If you can do two, you can do three. Just practice. The main wall you need to overcome is the fact that now the first two TKBs need to be perfect TKBs, rather than just the first one. Once you have overcome this hurdle, you will have mastered the TKB Loop. The third TKB does not need to be perfect, as it always results in a wall-splat. Once the opponent is gently lounging on the wall, they are at your mercy, and there is but only one thing to do: You guessed it - another TKB. Just do a raw TKB, like the ones in the first paragraph and send the fool through the wall and get you positive bonus for that sweet-sweet Roman Cancel, invincible reversal overdrive and time-stop goodness. We have a plethora of cool combos available for 3x TKBs in the Combo page - check those out. Now all you need to do is figure out how to get yourself into the situation where you can pull those off in a real match. That, however, is a topic for another time. Enjoy youselves, you earned it! I better see those clips on Twitter.
Effects of Weight Class
A side note is that the weight class of your opponent plays a very real factor in the execution of TKB loops. The lighter they are the more lenient your Bomber loops can be; In fact, if you try TKB combos on Millia (for example) in training mode you will notice it is possible to have very sloppy and late TK Bombers and still get double or triple Bombers in a single combo. You will also notice under the Notes section of some combos in the Axl Dustloop Combo page making mention that the combos are more difficult or flat out impossible on heavy opponents (i.e. Potemkin, Nago etc). This is simply because the lighter your opponent the higher they will fly from your TK Bomber, which allows you more leniency to perform your next grounded link (be it c.S or 5K), which in turn gives you more time to perform the TK Bomber input as they don't need to be "perfect" as you have more allowable frames of recovery before your next relink. Using this information is very helpful during real matches; The lighter your opponent's character is the more internal confidence you can give yourself to perform that sweet TKB loop on your opponent so they will be more reliable. That isn't to say you should never attempt TKB loops on heavy characters, but moreso gives you a mental compass as to the risk-reward of performing the additional loop vs the possibility of dropping the combo.
This section is still being written. It may be wildly inaccurate or missing significant data.
Please feel free to make edits, but include edit summaries and sources where applicable.
Axl's 5P is by far the most staple lynchpin move in his arsenal and how well your character gets around it is a large determining factor to how easy the match-up is for you in neutral. Axl loves to use this move in many situations as his fastest long-range interrupt, fairly non-committal poke, pre-emptive anti-air, reactive anti-airing, general zoning, IAD shutdown and the list goes on. If blocked you can immediately attempt an aggressive jump option to dissuade Axl from special cancelling, but he can reactively anti-air should he never commit. A relatively universal option is to run at Axl which is usually enough to low-profile 5P while approaching, whilst risking getting caught by 2P or 2H zoning attempts which in turn loses to jumping and IAD approaches. The risk-reward of beating either 5P or 2H and getting a clean approaching punish is usually relatively higher than Axl's risk-reward so you always have time to guess and brute force it. However if you don't have access to a run mechanic or have bad movement options in general the aforementioned vague strategy will not work.
If your character is on the shorter end of the spectrum ( Millia, Giovanna, Chipp, May etc) almost anything you do grounded will make 5P whiff, thus eliminating a huge part of Axl's zoning RPS. Really leverage this and force Axl to zone with 2H and RensenGuard:
-19~-9 to open Axl up to easy aerial approaches.
Brute-forcing Aerial Approach
Unlike past Guilty Gears, Axl cannot hit you with air-unblockable normals and anti-airs so it does not cost you any resources (except the RISC gauge) to just jump frequently towards Axl whilst blocking Anti-Air attempts. Watch out for blocked 2S into late cancel 2H which will catch you low on landing, and make sure to immediately jump again if Axl does 2S > 2H on air-block to prevent RensenGuard:
-19~-9 or MantisGuard:
- special cancel from connecting. Eventually Axl will miss an anti-air which gives you the free signal to land that counterhit jump-in attack. However, characters with less air options or low mobility in general might struggle to utilise this baseline strategy, and this strategy is highly susceptible to getting air-thrown.
If you ever jump over his projectile and think his Soaring Chain StrikeGuard:
-11 followup will hit you, normal air-blocking will leave Axl incredibly plus to perform guaranteed pressure on you shown here:
But if you FD his Up follow-up you will recover from air-blockstun way faster and be able to put Axl at minus frames as shown here:
This forces the Axl player to always tech the throw in that interaction, backdash or jump.
This is another way to significantly reduce Axl's zoning RPS and "approach" him easily. Video explanation timestamped here.
Spotting Obvious Special-cancel Windows
Jumping frequently is unironically an important part of fighting Axl, which will force Axl to resort to j.S spamming to keep you out. Whenever Axl presses 2D, 2H or 5H he is forced to special cancel if he wants to further his pressure and not forfeit his "turn". However, jumping forwards the moment you recognise those normals will shut down 3 out of 4 of Axl's special cancels (Projectile, Mantis and Rainwater) whilst losing to a delayed-cancel Snail (214H) which puts Axl at -24 if you block this move. If you can consistently block-punish Snail (using moves like Sol Night Raid Vortex, Nago's 214H, Ky Stun Dipper, May S Dolphin, Ino Chemical Love, Axl 2H, Potemkin Hammerfall etc etc) and jump over his other 3 options Axl's risk-reward of performing an offensive special cancel will be so terrible that he will have to resort to stagger pressure or leave himself at mild minus frames and hoping to Antiair you with 2S.
However, whether you can actually get a punish against Axl's Rainwater special cancel off further-spaced 5H and 2H specifically is slightly more character-specific. Refer to this video timestamp here for a detailed visual explanation of the above.
You should also not let Axl get away with special cancelling his 2H ever, especially at further distances. If you jump he cannot catch you with neither his Command Grab nor his Projectile, and 214H will be too far away to connect unless he reads your IAD. If you have a quick forward-advancing Super you can also punish Axl for attempting to 2H special-cancel, and if your super is less than frame18 startup you will punish Axl regardless of him special cancelling or not. Video details timestamped here. Yes, this still applies if you get normal-hit by the long-ranged 2H, you will be able to jump both specials still or reversal Super his special cancel gap, but cannot punish him if he doesn't cancel.
Other Small Knowledge-Checks
- Punish Axl's reversal Super by blocking the first hit and jumping the second, to get a deep jump-in punish.
- Axl's 6H overhead is -3 on block, so blocking it close allows a guaranteed throw punish. It is also approximately +0 on hit and +1 on crouching hit, so you can conceivably always contest Axl with a 5frame normal or mash throw to defeat him if he ever tries to take his turn after pressing 6H. Video demonstration here.
- You can jump over Axl's Rensen Spinning Strike helicopter-looking followup if he does not jail into it from the initial projectile. Don't down-back and block waiting for the vacuum to pull you in, jump and/or airdash and let the vacuum bring you in to punish him!
- Don't be scared if Axl ever installs Time-stop against you in neutral or infront of you immediately. He suffers 22 frames of lag after the install which gives you a sizeable window to contest for pressure and possibly hit him, making him waste 50 meter.
- On the other hand, if Axl does land a time-stop, combo or otherwise, DON'T BURST during the timestop effect. You will burst frame 1 when timestop ends and the majority of the time it will not work.
- When Sol uses Heavy Mob Cemetary, your only recourse is to jump, but there is also a possibility that Sol will PRC and try to air-grab or air-to-air you. You can be ready for this situation by hitting Sol while he is in his INFINITE armour Dragon Install state with j.H as you are over him. If they don't PRC, the j.H leaves you at a decent enough distance for Sol to not have a great follow-up. If they do, the moment you see the PRC, cancel that technically on-hit j.H into Axl Bomber and blow them away. Works like a charm. [Example of this in action at the very end of the round: Video]
- After blocking Bandit Revolver (236K), Sol can be reliably punished with either 5K > 2D (for hard knockdown) or 5K > 2D > 214H (sent fullscreen + slightly more damage). If Sol ends a blockstring with Bandit Revolver, he is often close enough to be thrown.
- After blocking Night Raid Vortex (214S), Sol is -17 & punishable by any of Axl's grounded normals except 5D/6H. A reliable example punish is 5K > 2D > 214H, but Sol is also left close enough for c.S > TKB > ... which leads to a variety of routes for better damage & corner carry.
- If a grounded Bandit Bringer (214K) is blocked & very close (such as during corner pressure), Sol typically lands close enough to be thrown. However, this is not true of a charged Aerial Bandit Bringer (j.214K) or if the grounded version hits meaty.
- Both versions of Volcanic Viper when blocked can be punished with a full counterhit c.S > TKB > ... for potentially huge damage & corner carry.
- Night Raid Vortex can be counterhit by 2H which grants a followup sickle flash (6S). Though this is risky to attempt on reaction unless Sol starts vortex from fullscreen, as Sol is granted a large (200+ damage) combo from anywhere if vortex counterhits.
- The startup of Bandit Bringer can be counterhit by either 6K/2S for a reliable followup of 5P > 6S > (Soaring Chain Strike / Winter Cherry). Though this may be difficult to perform strictly on reaction.
- If you can bait out his DP with a safejump setup, can punish with just as he's landing for a counterhit combo. 5[D] is also usable for huge meterless damage if you're midscreen.
- 5K is good at stuffing Foudre Arc and getting a conversion. 6P, on the other hand, tends to lose against it.
- Ky ending a combo into 214S followed into a 236H fireball is not a true oki situation, be sure to challenge Ky's approach while still being unpredictable.
- Great Yamada Attack from far away can be punished with Winter Mantis on reaction.
- 5P can be used proactively in neutral to punish & discourage Dolphin pressure. 2H will counterhit dolphin, allowing for sickle flash followup, though this may be difficult to perform strictly on reaction at the range where Dolphin is most threatening.
- If May uses Arisugawa Sparkle from about mid/close-range, it is possible to counterhit 2H on reaction, allowing for a sickle flash (6S) followup. The timing is tighter the farther away May is.
- After blocking S. Dolphin, f.S will beat most of May's grounded options & prevent her from immediately jumping, but will trade with May's 2P/5P & outright lose to May's 6P due to lowering her hurtbox.
- May is particularly difficult to anti-air, especially when she is directly above Axl, due to her fast & high jump arc, j.2H & j.D that allow her to alter her jump trajectory, and large hitboxes on j.S & j.H that cover a lot of space.
- Ground Alpha Blade will cross you up if Chipp is close enough, but it can be thrown.
- Senshuu, the overhead rekka followup, is not only unsafe for Chipp on block, but can be interrupted during the startup with 5K (https://twitter.com/nuttacon/status/1363179992977453063).
- Similarly, the Genrou zan command grab can be interrupted with 5K or air throw. Using backdash against it is a heavier risk/reward, but if timed correctly, will allow you to get a bigger punish. Backdash BRC can also give you a huge CH Bomber starter.
- If Chipp is trying to get directly on top of you for j.2K pressure, your best bet is to be on the move and get into a more favourable position. He moves slightly forwards during it, so this can be used to your advantage by running under it, then punishing Chipp. Backdashing to avoid it is possible. Faultless Defense also has uses against it.
Cycling between using normals, rensen and command grab to keep Potemkin out is key in this matchup. Potemkin has clear options to Axl's keepaway tools, but by nature still has to work to get in.
Hammerfall will plow though single normals, but dies to Rensen. Flick can punish rensen from most ranges but can be hit on startup or commandthrown. General movement let's him block and react to Axl's keepout, but blocking normals pushes him back.
- j.s, j.h in neutral is a great option to check occasional hammerfalls. If the j.s get's armoured, j.h will come out and punish the hammerfall. example clip
- j.s > j.214H is a very important tool to threaten Potemkin away from doing Slide head at full screen, especially after he blocks your Rensen as you cannot sneak another one before getting knocked down. Video concept here.
- Keep your 2S and/or 6K antiairs ready as Potemkins may try to jump block against you. If 2S is blocked try to late gatling into 2H as they hit the ground to prevent rejumping and catch them not low-blocking as they land. Then cancel blocked 2S into late Mantis for a meaty grab on their landing. Video concept here
- Throw Hammerfall. If he breaks, he loses armor and you can punish. 2P > 6K can be thrown in-between.
- Watch for 2P into Mega Fist.
- Some of his items can be used against him. The bomb can be hit and knocked back, the food can be eaten, and you can pick up his horn, summoning a crowd of small fausts for you.
- Faust's 41236K Thrust can be countered by 6P.
- His teleport is reactable and can be avoided by mashing/blocking on the correct side, or blocking and punishing the dive version (which hits same side).
- Get good at airthrowing in the cases where she hovers over your head.
- If the Millia is going for an extended air approach, you can dash under to reposition yourself! Don't always be a sitting duck!
- j.K and j.P are excellent air-to-air buttons in the cases you want to try and contest her.
- Always maximize damage with meter when you can. You never know when you can get another hit in on her.
- Zato's dash easily get's hit by Axl's 5P except at tip range, so be sure to abuse that button against him. Visual Example
- Zato's hover can be reacted to easily with any of your anti-airs. Just be patient and press the right button accordingly.
- Rensen/2H can obliterate any fullscreen Eddie setup attempts. Two raw rensens/Rensen 2 can deal with fullscreen Oppose shenanigans.
- A lot of Zato's midrange buttons are beaten out by f.S, even in scramble situations.
- You can use 6P to low-profile her projectiles, as it removes your upper body hitbox. [Video]
- 2P and 2H will avoid Ramlethals high sword toss, making them good options to check her offense. It's also a riskier option after a blocked low sword toss, to shutdown her approach and cancel the explosion.
- Ramlethal doing otg 214H or super after throw in unsafe on hit, make sure to challenge them if they don't secure a kill.
- Be careful about throwing out rensen recklessly. Ram can punish with a sword toss, or even worse, can get a free IAD j.S counterhit (yes, even from fullscreen, and yes, even over rensen 8).
- His crossup and command grab's startups can be thrown.
- Rensen and your ranged normals can poke Leo's recovery after he used his projectiles, destroying them.
- Play around blood gauge. When Nago has low blood, 236S, 236K nullifies rensen and let's Nago close the gap, but at higher blood he will have to respect rensen.
- Bursting early against Nago is a good idea, this will blow him back to neutral with blood, letting you abuse rensen more. Goes without saying that you shouldn't burst predictably.
- Instant FD the second hit of his f.S > S string to push him out of range of throw mixup. If you want to prevent chip damage, it's better to use it against 5H rather than f.S [Video].
- Use Winter Mantis (41236H) to punish the Blood Rage transformation - it leaves them bleeding out on the ground for a massive chunk of their health and forces them to be mindful of their blood gauge at a distance.
- Try and not use Soaring Chain Strike after hitting rensen, since Nago has a hard time closing the gap to Axl, pulling him in might be doing Nago a favour.
- Nago is 0 on block after 214H, and with Axl's fastest normal being 6 frames he has a hard time challenging Nago's options. It's preffered to backdash instead of mashing if you predict a commandgrab after.
- Giovanna's 236K special Trovão will avoid Axl's 5P and 2P on startup and active, and 2H when it's active. Be mindful of throwing out normals.
- Axl's 2K can lowprofile both of Giovanna's reset specials, Trovão (236K) and Sol Poente (214S) when timed accordingly. This allows Axl to punish with a normal starter or a throw.
- Anji's 236K dodge can be thrown. If he ever manages to go through rensen, using the 2 followup will hit him out of his invulnerability frames.
- Each of Fuujin's followups can be countered. P projectile is + but is avoided by jumping. K dash can be mashed out of or jumped to avoid a throw. S low is a true blockstring but ends his pressure, being -7. H overhead can be blocked and punished (-15) or blocked in the air, but doing so will let him reset his pressure. You can cover all 3 non-low options with forward jump and block for low/no reward, cover overhead and dash with late throw or 5K mash, and remember to punish the -7 Low with 5K. Very in-depth analysis of countering all 4 options explained here.
- STBT S can be blocked and punished (-7), but is a frametrap. STBT H can be mashed or thrown, but it's +2 on block.
- I-no's STBT can lowprofile most of your long range normals (yes including 2P) except 2H. Hitting her during the animation will net you a CH 2H starter.
- Her Antidepressant Scale (the note) can be used to force your movement. If she attempts to use it in the air, it's possible to time a Winter Mantis to punish her as she lands.
- Always try to be in range to toss out max range 5P's. Goldlewis's dash startup can't go under it.
- Beware Goldlewis trying to counterpoke your normals. Be sure to vary your normals.
- Be ready to jump on reaction to Skyfish and Rensen the startup of Thunderbird.
- Goldlewis can be a menace at roundstart range. By extension, try not to wallbreak against him unless it will kill.
- Raw Burn It Down (eye laser super) can be punished with Mantis, even at maximum security level.
- If you get touched without burst, the round is over.
Click [★] for character's full frame data