Giovanna's gameplan, while seeming rather straightforward at first, is arguably quite hard to classify in Guilty Gear. She's labelled as a rushdown character, but she doesn't simply loop gapless high/low oki mixups with lockdown projectiles the same way Millia or I-No do, and she isn't the kind of character where you have to constantly keep the opponent locked down else you die, like Chipp. Instead, she offers a more neutral & defense oriented approach to rushdown, where the threat of her strong counterhits, whiff punishes, and strike/throw mixups are what define her pressure. In that sense, you can draw similarities to May or Sol, just with more of a focus on ground speed and evasion rather than pure space control or pressure. The understated yet unique properties of her moves and lack of proper space control causes her gameplan to very strongly vary by matchup compared to most characters—but thankfully, her wide array of tools and strengths allow her to make up for almost any situation with proper foresight and knowledge.
But to elaborate on Giovanna's general design strengths, there's three things that immediately stand out: her amazing step dash, her formidable buttons, and her nuanced special moves.
(It's heavily recommended that you get used to the dash macro, as it will make your life playing Gio much, much easier.)
Much like I-No, Giovanna's dash is what defines her playstyle. But while one is made for ambiguous high/low hover mix-ups, the other is made for fast and reliable grounded approaches. There's no doubting the strength of her dash: it's fast, travels far, and can be instantly cancelled into any other action. Furthermore, any cancelled action retains momentum from the dash, the distance of which depends on how early you cancel it. Canceling early gives less distance for faster startup, and cancelling later gives more distance for the cost of some extra startup. Combining this with her best ranged pokes extends her effective range, combo routes, and overall neutral game drastically.
If you cancel the dash into a block, however...
Step Dash Blocking
When you dash as Gio and then immediately hold back, you will actually be blocking while still dashing forward. This is because her step dash is both cancelable and has no skidding animation when you stop inputting the dash like characters with a run do, causing her to continue moving while simultaneously blocking. This is even doable with Faultless Defense if you press and hold the buttons before you dash, so as to not trigger an FD Brake. Dash macro helps out a lot here especially, as you won't have to hit forward and instead just alternate between going neutral, dash, then back.
Furthermore, if you input FD after you dash to properly do an FD Brake, it retains some dash momentum, but still stops the dash. Since your step dash normally has a fixed distance to travel as opposed to a run, FD Braking allows you to have more control over the distance of your dash without having to throw out a move. While it somewhat resembles a wavedash if done repeatedly, it isn't faster than dashing normally. Instead, think of it as a micro-dash of sorts: useful when you want to close just a bit of distance to get to the right spacing at the right time.
Proper use of these blocking techniques turns safe approach from something Gio struggles with into something she excels at. It's especially important against characters with very fast and long moves that are able to stuff your dash-in attempts, such as Axl or Nago. It's great to use on roundstart so as to react to what the opponent might do without getting counter-hit, and it even allows you to safely close distance during gaps in pressure that are as small as a few frames. The possibilities are virtually endless with such a versatile step dash.
Put simply, Giovanna's offense is focused on combining her moves with her movement. Her grounded moves in particular go hand-in-hand with her dash's momentum, allowing her to pressure, punish, and mixup in a multitude of unique ways.
Though Gio's pressure shines at close range, she isn't the kind of character that strictly specializes in one distance. She has a formidable mid-range poke game, mainly focused around counterhits , whiff punishes, and the topic of this section: pokes. To compensate for her normals not having much range on their own, Giovanna often has to rely on her dash and its transferred momentum to go in and out of striking range in order to poke. The two most reliable moves for it are...
Most notably, 5H is not only longer range, but it's disjointed while active, only losing the disjoint during recovery. This means it can beat certain moves at max range that 5K would get counterhit by. It also gives a solid counterhit combo that can be option selected using this technique. The combined speed and range of this normal makes it a very valuable tool when trying to put pressure and whiff punish from a distance, something Gio can't accomplish too well with the rest of her moveset. It also gives solid counter-hit reward, making it all the more useful in frame traps, and poking as a whole.
This doesn't mean 5K is outclassed by any means, however—it comes out in 6 frames, 4 faster than 5H, and has less recovery by a whopping 9 frames. It also has the massive potential advantage of being both jump cancelable and dash cancelable, allowing you to approach for mixups, bait bursts, and much more.
5K is often better for abare and getting in, whereas 5H fishes for counter-hits while maintaining your distance (unless you cancel it into 236K). These two moves often compliment each other quite well, as 5K into 5H is a 12~ frame gap on their block that can still often beat their abare due to 5H's active disjoint. Both of these moves can still be beaten out and punished on whiff recovery due to the nature of them being forward, hurtbox-extending kicks that lose to 6P and other low profile moves. But there is one more core poking tool that Giovanna has to fill those weaknesses, and that is...
An extremely valuable tool for Giovanna in the right scenarios, 2D allows her to safely cover an area with its very significant disjointed hitbox. Even though it takes a while to start up, the range and recovery surpass quite a few mid range moves in the game. The fact that it hits low can also catch some opponents off guard, as they may not expect to be blocking a low from that range and will instead be trying to adjust their spacing or jump away. This move can be very hard to contest at the right ranges and in the right matchups, but its slow startup causes it to be very risky to throw out against zoners who tend to throw out moves that will outrange it in neutral. It can also be used for reversal safe okizeme, expanded on in this section.
An honorable mention goes to Sepultura—being the multi-purpose tool that it is also lends its use as a poke to pressure jumpers and beat out anyone trying to low profile your other options. Sol Nascente also serves as a risky poke thats usefulness is often matchup-dependent, but in the right scenarios is able to beat out many high/air options with its frame 1 low profile and large vertical hitbox. More on these moves in a later section.
Now, let's assume you have landed a hit with a poke and successfully gained an advantage, probably by comboing into Sepultura for a hard knockdown. Understanding how to pressure the opponent in order to press your advantage is a key to solid Giovanna play. Once again, her dash is key, with a well-placed dash being able to turn much of her mid-screen pressure into up-close offense. And there isn't any better move to reward you for going into close range than...
c.S is one of her most reliable pressure tools: it's +3 on block, has low pushback, and it beats low profiles. With it, you're often able to scare opponents into blocking, and if they continue doing so without Faultless Defense, it can even loop into itself. If they get fed up and try to hit a button, it's likely you'll land a rewarding counter-hit. Its largest weakness is being a proximity-based close slash that requires you to take the risk of actually going close in order to use it. You can make up for this with smartly timed dashes, but that will always create larger pressure gaps that allow for more time to fight back. That's why smart use of this button requires solid conditioning and counterplay, encouraging you to observe your opponent and respond to how they seem to want to get out of pressure accordingly.
As the main weakness of your c.S pressure is its substantial distance requirement, the pushback you receive after they block it is your biggest enemy in being able to pressure freely. Get pushed too far, and your pressure will be given a deadline of sorts, losing access to your safest, most plus tool and instead having to use buttons that can only really safely go into a basic gatling string. Trovão can be a decent way to reset your pressure once you're pushed too far, but it isn't too hard to react to if used carelessly.
Luckily, Giovanna has a trick for this exact thing. By using dash momentum even at point-blank, she is able to continue moving forward to the point where she can significantly resist pushback. This can greatly aid the effectiveness of your c.S pressure, increasing your ability to loop it into itself and overall maintaining your frame advantage to do whatever you'd like. This is especially important against defenders who rely on Faultless Defense, as it causes pushback to increase along with the need to resist it.
Even while as close to the opponent as possible and in the corner, the momentum still serves to fight against the pushback of c.S.
- Basic Frame Traps
- c.S/236K/214S > 5K
- 5K > 214K
- 5K/2K > 2D
- 5K > dash Throw (tick throw, beats normals slower than 5 frame startup)
Outside her built-in frametraps, Giovanna's offense revolves around making frametraps with delays. c.S is naturally plus, but that only really matters when going for a throw or a dash c.S pressure reset. Establishing fear of c.S usually means a delayed gatling. f.S and 2S can gatling into 5H, giving her another opportunity to reset pressure (albeit with more risk as their frame advantage is worse). 5H doesn't naturally have any gatlings, but a slight delay 214K can have the same effect while still leaving Giovanna safe.
- Midscreen BRC
Instead of using a jump cancel, Giovanna can instead use her dash cancelable normals (5K and preferably c.S) to gain access to BRCs. A dash cancelled c.S BRC has enough plus frames to blockstring into 5D while staying plus, and be able to also let her link from 2K to complement said 5D. Video example: https://twitter.com/raynexpress/status/1415526550087294978?s=21
- Corner BRC
Giovanna can get a fuzzy guard mixup off of any of her jump-cancelable normals in the corner if she has 50 tension available. After jumping, an immediate 66.BRC j.S will force the opponent to stand block or get hit by a highly damaging BRC combo. This part is easily reactable so most players will not get hit here. The fuzzy itself is the rising j.H after landing from j.S. This can be linked into a falling j.H to continue a combo thanks to the BRC slowdown. The low option (2K after j.S) can be linked into c.S because of the BRC slowdown as well.
Giovanna has a variety of safejump setups that are done by landing with a properly timed j.H on the opponent's wakeup. However, they vary in their viability based on how fast an opponent's reversal is.
If a reversal is 7 frames or shorter, most safejumps will lose. These will be referred to as "fast reversals" for convenience. Knowing which ones you can use in each scenario is simply a matter of matchup knowledge.
Each OTG move and their respective setups each have their tradeoffs:
- 5K is faster, longer range, beats fast reversals, but its narrow and raised hitbox demands you hit the OTG very early upon them falling on the ground, limiting its use after a long combo.
- c.S is much more forgiving with the timing and is usable in more scenarios, but it will lose to fast reversals.
Making sure you use 214K as high as possible to end your juggle combo is a good way to ensure the 5K safejump's success.
There are also some ways to do the safejump without an OTG:
- After a ground throw, you may simply hold up-forward and do j.H late in your ascent and it will give you a properly timed safejump. Loses to fast reversals.
- Doing a neutral/back jump into an IAD j.H or j.K may work to beat fast reversals after a ground throw, but it demands more precision.
18+10 after landingAdvantage:
+3 variant loses, whereas 5KGuard:
-2's recovers in time to block.
If you wish to safely meaty the opponent, beat reversals, hit low to catch jumpers, and stay at a distance either for matchup or mixup reasons, 2D is a solid option. Because it has such a disjointed and active hitbox, you are often completely uncontestable using it from a distance if you have time to get it out, thus beating many reversals in the game. For more info on which reversals 2D will be able to safely beat, check out this table in the matchups section. Keep in mind that 2D is active for 10 frames, so optimal timing will require you to hit with it on the last couple frames. A properly timed 2D can be up to +6 on block. Off of a throw, Giovanna can help time her meaty 2D by doing Throw > whiff 5P > 2D.
After longer combos ending in a hard knockdown or after a throw, Gio has enough time to dash in and get a meaty c.S. This can turn into a mixup with a slightly delayed throw, dash cancel, backdash to beat reversals/throw techs, Sol Poente, and more. It's usually easier for her to bait throws with a backdash instead of trying to get a frame-perfect meaty or shimmy, but it's also generally less reward and leads to less pressure. If you're able to land meaty c.S, the pressure is highly in your favour, but be wary of trying to land multiple c.S together as the window is very tight and you can easily get grabbed out of it.
For most characters, a counter-hit is a nice thing to get some good damage. For Giovanna, however, it's considerably more integral to her gameplay to land them, and she has several tools to do so, both offensively and defensively.
Tips and Tricks
Counterhit Option Selects
Simply said, you use 5H then do 214K1236K. If 5H gets blocked, it'll do 214K, the safer option. If 5H counter-hits, however, 236K will come out due to the slowdown extending the input buffer time and allowing you to override the previous input, leading into your usual ch 5H > 236K combo.
This OS is similar to the one above, as it uses the counterhit slowdown to your advantage. Pressing c.S and tapping what button you want next (preferably standing normals like f.S, 2S, or 5H) then inputting 5[D] will give you the normal of your choice on hit/block and a fully charged 5D on counter hit, giving a highly damaging launch starter.
Because Giovanna struggles in neutral against certain long/mid-range characters, there are scenarios where you may not want to break the wall in order to avoid returning to neutral. There are two key ways to do this, the first being shortening your combo so that it doesn't touch the wall. This is a fairly simple method: simply try to end combos with 214K or 5K dash cancel before the wall is reached, and you will be able to get an advantageous to continue corner pressure without breaking the wall. This can also net you more damage and meter gain as a whole, as one more confirm in the corner may lead to a wallbreak that may ultimately end the round, especially if you built enough meter to super. This method will always lead to a wallsplat eventually, but the point is to make the most of your corner pressure while you can and then cash out when there's no avoiding it, ideally when it closes out the round. Generally, this is quite practical and pays off in many matchups, unless you are in absolute need of a fast Positive Bonus and don't care about returning to neutral too much.
The second method is to perform corner pressure exclusively with normals that keep the opponent grounded. Each normal is hard coded to either keep the opponent on the ground or to launch them into the air. To do this technique, simply avoid connecting buttons that cause the opponent to be airborne on the same hit that the wallsplat occurs, and then afterward do not hit them. If they are in an air state while on the wall like usual, they will be able to tech out using the very advantageous wall tech positions... but if they are kept on the ground, they will slouch over, unable to tech, as if it were an even longer hard knockdown. This may be a little trickier to do than it sounds. 214K will always cause an airborne wallsplat, even if it doesn't seem like it. When comboing from a hit from c.S, you may delay the gatling so that it connects after their brief airborne period, and it will keep them grounded for the remaining hits of the combo. c.S > delayed 2S > 5H would be a common string to do this, for example. While this technique limits your options quite substantially especially if you don't have meter, it allows you to keep the opponent cornered forever, in theory.
An extra method is to use RRC to un-stick them from the wall, but this uses so much meter for so little damage that you'd probably rather just super, since it gives a knockdown anyway.
Because Giovanna has tools to play both offense and defense in the right scenarios, understanding how to face her on a general level can often require knowledge of that specific Giovanna's playstyle. That being said, though, there's still plenty of general mistakes to look out for to avoid being dominated by basic strategies when facing this character.
Remembering to FD
+3 can create what feels like endless pressure that forces you into dangerous guessing situations from any hit. Fortunately, it only takes a single use of FD to make her pressure much easier to escape from. As highlighted in the "Beating Dash Pressure" section, the more distance Giovanna has to travel to make her normals connect, the more time you'll have to interrupt her. The differences may seem hard to capitalize on at first due to the continued speed of her dash, but try your best to be aware of your openings and time your fast buttons preemptively to catch her in the act of getting back in.
Taking Your Turn With Lows
-15 (623S). Its sheer speed and forgiving counter-hit juggle time allow Giovanna to consistently win trades and beat many common AbareAn attack during the opponent's pressure, intended to interrupt it. pokes. Even though her safest and most common blockstring ender, SepulturaGuard:
-4 (214K) is -4 on block, there is always the potential for this unconventional low profile trap to beat pokes that don't hit low enough. This can cause players to act overly defensive against Giovanna's pressure, uncertain of when to actually press buttons during it.
-4. If Giovanna has no meter, there's especially no reason not to hit a low unless you are one of the two characters with a ~4 frame normal ( Sol 5KGuard:
-14 & 5PGuard:
-2, Chipp 5PGuard:
-2) able to land a punish.
-4 > 623SGuard:
-2 being faster, 2KGuard:
-2 connects due to it beating the low profile.
Beating Dash Pressure
-2 won't reach you at roundstart, but it will if she does a dash right before it, increasing the time it takes by roughly a couple frames. If the dash is cancelled as early as possible, its distance is lowered, making it a "microdash" that you are still often able to get out of range of with proper timing. If she wants to do an even bigger dash to ensure you don't go out of range, she must sacrifice even more speed for it, making her easier to interrupt, and so on.
Low profiles such as 6P will generally win, as well as the lower risk option of walking back.
Below is a list of invincible reversals and parameters detailing the following:
- Whether or not you are able to use a correctly spaced and timed meaty 2D to outrange their reversal and punish, typically determined by the move's range and speed.
- Yes means 2D successfully outranges the reversal and you are able to punish it accordingly (unless stated otherwise with *). This assumes that you are at at ideal range away from the reversal, as moves with 7 frame startup or less will beat out your 2D if you are too close, even with optimal meaty timing.
- Clash means 2D's hitbox may clash with the reversal if the meaty isn't optimally timed, still outranging the move but allowing it to be cancelled into something safe. Repeat clashes would likely make someone catch on and learn how to cancel from it, but it's generally not too bad as you can also cancel into FD to be safe, and as each clash builds 10% Tension.
- No means 2D has to be out of the opponent's body distance to outrange the reversal, or simply cannot outrange it. You may still be able to time a meaty 2D safely (unless it is marked with **), but improper timing will see you getting hit. If a move both cannot be outranged and outspeeds 2D's recovery (No**), 2D absolutely cannot beat it. You're much better off using a safejump, or simply blocking.
- Which safejumps will work against the reversal, typically determined by its speed.
- All means the reversal is slow enough to be safejumped by any conventional setup.
- Fast means the reversal comes out in ~7 frames, requiring a fast setup that recovers earlier to properly safejump the reversal, such as with 5K OTG.
- None means it cannot be safejumped.
|Anji Mito||Kachoufuugetsu Kai||No**||None|
|Axl Low||Sickle Storm||No||All|
|Chipp Zanuff||Beta Blade||Clash||Fast|
|Goldlewis||Down With The System||Clash||All|
|Down With The System (720)||Yes||All|
|Down With The System (1080)||Yes||All|
|Ky Kiske||Vapor Thrust||Yes||All|
|Ride The Lightning||No**||Fast|
|Leidenschaft des Dirigenten||No||All|
|May||The Wonderful and Dynamic Goshogawara||Clash||All|
|Sol Badguy||Volcanic Viper||Clash||Fast|
* Cannot punish.
** Comes out in ~7 frames, meaning it can punish 2D's recovery regardless of meaty timing. Basically, don't 2D this if you can help it.
Click [★] for character's full frame data