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 almost think of her as as more ground-oriented May or Sol that has 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 regardless of that, there's three things that immediately stand out in Giovanna's general design: 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.)
The step dash is no doubt Giovanna's signature gameplay trait. It's fast, travels far, and can be almost instantly cancelled into any other action. Furthermore, if that action is an attack, it retains a very significant amount of the momentum from the dash, even if cancelled as early as possible. Combining this with her best ranged pokes extends her effective range drastically.
If you cancel the dash into a block, however...
Step Dash Blocking
If you dash as Gio and then immediately hold back, you will be blocking very early in the animation 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 still retains a bit of dash momentum. Since a step dash normally has a fixed distance as opposed to a run, this allows you to have more control over the distance of your dash. While it somewhat resembles a wavedash if done repeatedly, it isn't faster than dashing normally. Instead, think of it as a "mini-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 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.
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 solid mid-range poke game, mainly focused around counterhits and whiff punishes. To compensate for her normals not having much range on their own, Giovanna often has to rely on her dash 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.
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. 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 many 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. 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 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.
Giovanna has many, many frametraps which can chain into each other as well as a very strong midscreen presence due to her dash. A lot of her midscreen pressure can directly be turned into up-close offense with a well-placed dash. She also has a variety of moves that are plus on block (c.S, 236K, 214S, j.236236H), giving her safer places to RPS between strike, throw, and throw bait.
- Basic Frame Traps
- c.S/236K/214S > 5K
- 5P > 6P (don't go for this)
- 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 can set up safejumps quite easily by landing with a late j.H. If she has the chance to do a c.S or 5K as an OTG, she can then jump cancel and IAD j.H for a very simple and reliable safejump setup. This can be set up quite easily midscreen at the cost of some damage: a simple combo like c.S > 2H > 214K > dash > c.S will give enough height after 214K to dash up and c.S for the safejump. 5K as OTG is faster and longer range, but it may sometimes whiff due to the narrow and raised hitbox.
There are also 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.
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.
Giovanna does not have a meterless reversal, so she's forced to rely on 632146H. She does, however, have a 4-frame 5P that allows her to mash out of tick throws. It may not lead to much reward but discouraging tick throws helps her establish respect.
Gio also has a great suite of anti-airs. She of course has the universal 6P, but her 2H also has some horizontal reach and her c.S reaches deceptively high and can be useful in a pinch. Outside of just normals, Giovanna has one of the best special move anti-airs in the game with 623S. It gives huge reward on counter-hit, but that is not the main draw. Even though 623S is -15 on the ground, it leaves Gio at advantage when her opponent airblocks it. She can run her strike/throw game from there and make her opponent regret trying to jump at her with relative ease.
Tips and Tricks
5H Counterhit Option Select
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.
c.S Counterhit Option Select
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.
- She keeps using the Spiral Arrow move (236K), how do I get around it?
This move may look scary, but the hurtbox is quite a bit larger than the hitbox (and it's quite slow). Most 6P normals and reactive pokes will stop her dead in her tracks. If you really read one, you can even neutral jump and get a full jump-in combo. Even though the projectile invulnerability only tanks one hit of a fireball, it still allows her to phase through slower fireballs such as H Stun Edge and H Graviert Wurde if she times it correctly. Because slower fireballs are much more likely to be reacted to, faster ones will typically beat her out as she cannot react to them in neutral and would simply have to use prediction to pre-emptively beat them out, allowing you to react to her prediction and 6P.
- She keeps hitting me with the flip kick (214S), what can I do to stop it?
Flip kick can be beaten by moves with upper body invincibility, such as any kind of 6P or DP. The timing is slightly different than 236K, but it's perfectly consistent if Giovanna lacks meter to RC the move. You may also try to react with a neutral jump into an airgrab or air-to-air if you're really going for an optimal punish.
- When am I allowed to take back my turn?
Giovanna's offense is mostly based around blockstrings and frametraps, making her offense scary on the outset. However, most of her special move enders either leave a wide gap or are slightly minus. 6P works pre-emptively against both 236K and 214S. 214K is -4 on block, as well, which basically ends her turn unless the Giovanna player is willing to spend resources to keep the pressure up. As well, strategic use of Faultless Defense, Burst and YRC can end Giovanna pressure, though haphazard use of these defensive mechanics can get you killed, so be cautious.
You cannot outrange his counter super with 2D nor can you safejump it, so performing oki on him while he has meter is inherently a risk. In neutral, however, your safe buttons will serve you well in being very difficult, or impossible, for him to punish after he autoguards them. Irritate him with pokes like 5H, pressure, and try to beat his counter super either by patience or with predictive dash-in throws.
Axl's fantastic air control buttons may often force you to play grounded, as Gio's air game is not very difficult for Axl to deal with. Due to this, the matchup may seem difficult for Gio at first, but with proper mastery of her step dash, Gio can challenge Axl's zoning quite well. Remember to block while dashing so that you don't get hit stuffed by any Rensens he throws out. Stay patient in your approach, and you will eventually outpace his ability to keep you out. When you're in, try your best to keep that advantage with knockdowns and corner pressure. Your 623S will consistently beat his abare 5K, which allows you to pressure him quite fantastically as he really doesn't have many other solid options for mashing out of pressure.
Similar to Sol, Chipp has many fast normals to interrupt your pressure in ways other characters can't. Try your best to stay patient and minimize the gaps in your pressure, but don't be afraid to take some risks, too, since you will generally lose less from a trade than Chipp does due to the nature of his lower health. Contest his air game with 6P, 623S, and j.S confirms.
Similar to Nago and Axl, Faust has many long range pokes that can give Gio a hard time. You'll need to respect his 2H, 6H, and general item shenanigans, but you can easily 6P Thrust. His poor reversal means you can pressure him quite nicely when you actually get the lead, but be wary of his ability to hold 1 in order to low profile both your 236K and 214S. This is especially a threat if the Faust is simply holding downback to block and you attempt to cross them up with 214S, as the crossup will cause him to be holding down forward and unintentionally low profile the move.
Goldlewis loves to play at mid-range and pressure you with Behemoth Typhoon hits on block, so staying right out of his effective range and then using a dash-in 5H to whiff punish is very effective against players who like to throw out Typhoons carelessly. Because his pressure is so good at pushing you back to mid-range and resetting itself, Instant Blocking is very valuable for disrupting it. You want to try and stay close enough so that you can use 5P/5K abare or even throw to interrupt Typhoons, but beware his many ways to vary the timings of his pressure and effortlessly frame trap certain options.
It's probably a good idea to save meter for YRC so that you can avoid her mixups as much as possible. Fortunately, you can often play around I-No's neutral pretty well without meter purely by throwing out lows in expectation of Stroke the Big Tree, 236King through her note, and anti-airing her air approaches. Your 623S is fantastic in this matchup in particular, as it occupies the air space I-No wants to approach you from and Stroke the Big Tree cannot low profile it, meaning it covers basically all her angles of approach outside of the projectile. If you block a wakeup Ultimate Fortissimo, you can punish it with a 2H combo starter right after the first hit.
Not only can you 6P through Ky's 236S fireball, but even his 623S reversal will clash with your 6P due to its hitbox starting rather high up. Instant Blocking allows you to punish many of Ky's strings with 5K > 214K. Be wary of his formidable low pokes that can stuff your dashes and jumps, and try to use as many opportunities as you can to safely dash in to close distance. Although his DP is easy to deal with, Ride the Lightning has a very large hitbox that cannot be outranged with 2D, so be wary when he has meter.
623S can often get solid counter-hits on May's jumping normals that she usually gets away with uncontested. She also has a bit of a blind spot when it comes to being above her, as her 2H is very slow, forcing her to rely on 6P to beat your 214S and general air mixup. You can also throw out quick abare buttons like 5K in neutral to try and stuff an attempt at S dolphin or on reaction to HS dolphin.
While 623S will often net you huge reward against Millias who aren't expecting it, a competent Millia will know how to utilize her plethora of air options in order to misdirect your attempts to anti-air. Beware of her 214P and 2D as they're quite good at stuffing your dash-ins. Besides that, though, neutral can be in your favour if you manage to beat her approaches with your generally superior poke tools, and her being a 6 frame jab character with no meterless reversal makes your frame traps all the more simple and threatening to do.
With Nago's amazing poke buttons, it can be very tricky to approach one who uses his tools effectively. His 2S and 5H are great at stuffing your dash-ins, and his 2H can completely destroy your jump-ins. Avoid blowing meter on Fautless Defense as he can often just use Fukyo to negate the pushback, and instead save it for something that allows you to force your turn like RC or j.236236H. Against Nagos who find your approaches easy to predict, neutral is still an uphill battle, so it's probably a good idea to try and avoid wallbreak as much as you can. When being pressured, exercise patience and try to react to the command grab. Remember that he cannot pressure you with special moves forever, and a reckless Nago will inevitably activate Blood Rage trying to do so and essentially lose the round on his own. When Blood Rage is active and you aren't able to punish the animation, always be on the defensive, as you won't lose anything doing so whereas he will lose a very large chunk of his health.
The multi-hits of your f.S and 2S force Potemkin to be careful when he decides to use his armored moves. Your general speed can be used to play outside of Potemkin's effective range and then dash in for a punish. Avoiding Slide Head by backdashing or using an airborne special (623S, 214S) is also a pretty good way to stop him from approaching you without having to jump and be susceptible to his threatening anti-air tools.
Much like Nagoriyuki, Ram is very formidable at mid-range. This makes her very good at stuffing both your pokes and your attempts at approaching. Since being in neutral against her is so threatening, you should probably opt for not breaking the wall whenever you get a combo and simply go for corner pressure for as long as you can.
Her f.S, 6H, and 236H can all be beaten by a properly timed 6P, but beware of doing it on roundstart as her 2S will catch you and is generally pretty safe for her to attempt. Her j.H is very good at beating Gio's anti-airs even post-nerf, so trying to react to her double jumps with an air-to-air j.S that can then be confirmed into airdash j.D can be a very rewarding and unexpected way to deal with it. Since her anti-air options are pretty limited in range, a back jump is generally a low risk idea in neutral and as a round opener. You cannot outrange her reversal with 2D at all, so be very wary of it. To do oki while she has meter, you may use a safejump setup, but the speed of her reversal demands you be very precise with the timing.
Corner pressure is where Ram excels the most. Fortunately, Giovanna's dash is actually fast enough for you to block the first hit of the |Bajoneto sword throw and then dash forward to avoid the explosion, although Ram may be able to catch you with 5K if she's still in range for it. Her air control is also far stronger while in the corner thanks to S sword throw and j.P spam to keep you locked down until you land again. All in all, her corner pressure is very scary, and saving your meter for YRCing out of it can serve you quite well.
Sol has fast, pressure-interrupting buttons that can make it very tough to do things with Gio that typically work well in other matchups. It's also difficult to give matchup advice against such a well-rounded character because of how few weaknesses he has to exploit... but overall, playing your cards carefully and at the right moments is key. Play it cool and condition him to throw out buttons on your pressure, then try to bait and punish said buttons. Fortunately his reversals are trivial to outrange, but when it comes to neutral, his buttons can be a massive threat. You can 6P most of his pressure if you're at the right distance, now including 6S thanks to the nerf. Your fast normals also come in handy here, as 5P, 5K, and 623S are all solid for abare against Sol's pressure.
You can use 6P to hit Eddie's frog form during neutral, and your 2K/5P pokes to hit Eddie during pressure. The back hitbox of 214S can actually have a very situational use for hitting Eddie behind you, a spot where most Zatos wouldn't expect him to get hit. As it is with facing Zato in general, try to play around Eddie's timer by putting on the pressure when Eddie is down. Your strong dash-throw game also allows you to beat Oppose in neutral better than most characters.
Reversals you can 2D
Below is a list of invincible reversals and whether or not you are able to use a correctly spaced and timed meaty 2D to outrange them and punish.
Yes means 2D successfully outranges the reversal and you are able to punish it accordingly (unless stated otherwise with *). This also 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 clashing 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 (if it is not 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.
|Anji Mito||Kachoufuugetsu Kai||No**|
|Axl Low||Sickle Storm||No|
|Chipp Zanuff||Beta Blade||Clash|
|Goldlewis||Down With The System||Clash|
|Down With The System (720)||Yes|
|Down With The System (1080)||Yes|
|Ky Kiske||Vapor Thrust||Yes|
|Ride the Lightning||No**|
|Leidenschaft des Dirigenten||No|
|May||The Wonderful and Dynamic Goshogawara||Clash|
|Sol Badguy||Volcanic Viper||Clash|
* 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