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How do I block, yo?! Part 1: Anakaris

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Part 1 of the character-specific series is for Anakaris. This was actualyl the first guide in the series I wrote, since it was one of the characters I felt I understood best.


This guide is the product of empirical data, in-game testing, personal match experience, and videos of high-level play. It was checked for consistency by Anakaris players.



How do I block, yo?! Anakaris Edition

1. Neutral Game - Things to watch for when neither opponent has the offensive advantage.

A. Where to stand? Where not to stand?

- Anakaris can play his entire neutral game in mid-air; he can stay in the air for longer than anyone in the game, and can immediately get airborne again if he has enough space. Most characters need to stay as close as they can, without being in range of his air normals (either his punches or kicks, since either one will stop early jump attempts). This is the same range for basically everyone. If your character needs a bit more space to play their neutral game, then you should have no trouble getting that space; Anak isn't going to try and contest it.

- There's a dead zone about 1-2 character lengths in front of him that you don't want to occupy in neutral situations unless you are airborne. An easy way to think of this space is, if you were to jump over his curse projectile, it would be the space between the projectile and Anakaris. Being under Anak at this space allows him to put offensive pressure on you, and doubly so if there *is* a curse projectile behind you. Also, given the stength of his ground dash, this space is also makes it really easy for him to just start up his ground pressure out of nowhere, as well. Thus, you need to make sure you don't enter this space unless you are jumping at him.

B. How to approach?

- If you *are* jumping at him, the best thing to do is to go for a guard break. Most characters can do a full chain, and then do an anti-air/AG option select; just do an AG, leading with S.Lp. If Anak is in range, or he tries a late enough Pyramid, you'll swat him out of the air and have the advantage. If he tries a Pyramid early, you'll get the advancing guard and keep the situation at neutral.

- Common sense tip: Never crouch after air-chaining Anakaris; he'll still be in the air, so he's *ONLY* going to hit you with a high attack!

- Possible ways to botch your approach: Jumping from too close (you'll get hit out of your jump startup by an air attack), jumping from too far (whiffed air attacks are a good way to get hit by curses and coffin drops; he can also jump back to force your attack to whiff, and counterattack), trying to jump while he is landing (also easy to be hit out of jump startup, or he can sometimes just land and anti-air you with S/C.Mp or C.Hp), and air-chaining at the wrong altitudes (if you haven't landed by the time your air chain is over, he will just chicken guard you).

- If you have any frame traps in mid-air, it's also good to mix them up with your air chains. This includes chaining into very slow normals, as well as canceling air normals into special moves with slow enough startups to frame trap. Also, if you have any attacks that quickly cover long distances, you can potentially punish Anak by reading when he's going to throw a Curse.

C. Anything to watch out for?

- Anak's goal here is to either get you to enter his dead zone, or, as a secondary goal, to get you to try something reckless and get hit by any of his special moves - Cobra Blow at close ranges, Coffin Drops, and Curses.

- Cobra Blows, you'll rarely need to worry about, as they are high risk/low reward against most of the cast. Just be aware that if Anak is landing, let him get airborne again before making your approach, and stay out of his dead zone while you do this!

- Coffin Drops and Curses will mainly hit you when you whiff attacks. They are hard to land for Anakaris, and require good reads. However, he can take to the offense without fail almost every time if he lands either one. So, basically, don't whiff attacks!

- As an addendum, Anak players will probably try and gauge your approach in neutral situations by double/triple-jumping back and seeing what you do. If you go for an attack and whiff, they can hit you with an air normal. Do this too often, and they will probably figure out how to set you up for a curse/coffin. If you think you're smart and try to empty jump...well, congratulations - you've empty-jumped into his Dead Zone. Don't be smart - approach with an attack!

2. Anakaris's defense - Their options when you have the offensive advantage - how they will defend against your attacks and okizeme.

A. Can't Advancing Guard...

This is well worth keeping in mind. Not just because you can take advantage of it, but because you can make things harder on yourself by not thinking about it when you mount your offense.

Because Anakaris can't AG, you can try to do attack strings that have the highest amount of frame advantage. As long as they keep you in range, you can cheese a lot of damage this way, although each character's ability to exploit this trait will vary. Some people have virtual infinites, while the only way other people can exploit it with walk-towards Jabs. Obviously not a good idea to do that.

...However, ALSO because Anakaris can't AG, literally ANY offensive technique that you do to punish AG attempts with variable blockstun timing is basically useless. The only exception is if it's something that loops into itself, which is what we discussed in the previous paragraph. If you're just doing one-off mixups to try and blow up AGs, stop doing them to Anakaris (unless you're playing a very mash Anak player). It's much better to just limit his space when you're on the offense, and play it more like you would play a conventional fighting game.

B. Can't Guard Cancel...sort of.

Anakaris can also not Guard Cancel without meter. And, in fact, his Guard Cancel doesn't do a whole hell of a lot. It's frame advantage is so low, that depending on your proximity to Anakaris, you can even throw him before he recovers. That being said, there are still some times that Anakaris will use it. For one, if he's going to get chipped by a close-range attack, it's in his best interest to just Guard Cancel the attack to try and live longer. For two, his Guard Cancel is unblockable, so it's still a good way to mess up your rhythm if you're not expecting it. It's not exactly a huge advantage for Anakaris; but, he needs all the advantages he can get, so remember this!

C. Jab. Jab. Jab. Jab -> Short. Jab.

Anakaris can't AG to get out of trouble, so his options are to either allow you to push him out of your own attack range, or to try and throw light attacks in-between the places where he knows there are holes in your offense. If you have any areas in your attack strings that are long enough for him to throw a S/C.Lp or S.Lk (both 4-frame startup) - or, to put it more simply, at any point where you have to move towards him while attacking to stay in range - you run the risk of getting hit by one of these.

If you're wondering like, "Well, who cares if I get hit by a Jab or Short?" A good Anakaris player will be able to link S/C.Lp, S.Lk, or an Lp -> Lk chain into a combo that knocks down. So, while he may not be able to AG your offense, if you give him something to work with, a good Anakaris player will definitely convert it into damage and a knockdown, also reversing the offensive advantage to his favor. Thus, it's important to know where these holes are and punish him occasionally for attempting to attack in-between the stops, instead of continuing your relentless assault. After all, if your offense is just getting you killed, it's not much of an offense, right?

To further expand upon that idea...if you don't have a super-tight block string that's hard for Anakaris to escape, it's usually best to convert your hits into knockdowns. At least that way, no matter where Anakaris moves to, you can still meaty him, or try to otherwise limit his movement.

D. Through-the-wall!

Similar to his use of Lp/Lk to reverse the offensive advantage, if Anakaris is pinned to a wall, he can simply backdash into it and come out through the other side. Most Anak players already do this when faced with something basic like a jump-in that they don't wanna deal with. However, slick Anak players can also Through-the-wall dash out of very small holes in your offense. If you can bait it while you're still not in close range of him, you can be very close to the other end and punish. The easiest way to do this is to get him to read a jump-in. However, if there are points in your offense where Anak frequently tries to exit, you can intentionally end your string at this point and move to the other side of the screen.

E. Anti-Pursuit

Anakaris doesn't really have that much he can do about your wakeup game. He can't command throw you if you cozy up too close. He can't AG your attacks, so you can safely do any attack as a meaty without fear of being pushed away. He can Guard Cancel you, but again, if you are close enough on wakeup, you'll punish him for it anyways.

The only thing he DOES have going for him is his Anti-Pursuit attack. When knocked down, he can opt to use this attack instead of neutral or rolling wakeup. It's an unblockable attack, and it will nab you out of your pursuit attacks if you're too close. It will also get you if you are trying to corpse hop or walk through him.

The downside (because of course, it's Anakaris, so there is one) is that the normal version is a very high-risk maneuver. There's a large window to punish if he misses the attack. This is still somewhat true with the ES version; however, there are some differences that make it a little easier for Anak to throw out. For one, the window to punish Anakaris is much smaller and more difficult to time. For two, Anak is considered airborne for the entire duration where you can punish him (the normal version is part airborne and part grounded). So, if you are normally punishing Anti-Pursuit with any sort of combo, the first attack will just reset him if you try the same punish on the ES version. Thus, you need to use whatever your strongest single attack is. This doesn't hamper some people (like Talbain, for example, who can just ES Beast Cannon both versions), but depending on who you're using, you may need to have a different punish ready for ES Anti-Pursuit. Since at least part of the normal Anti-Pursuit is airborne, you may opt to use the same punish for both.

F. Offensive Reset (i.e attacking your opponent out of your own range)

Anakaris's Close-Range Offense is very strong. If you knock Anak out of range with most characters, the situation is going to be neutral, or even potentially at his advantage. He can quickly dash in and deal with you trying to jump after an Offensive Reset. He can jump towards you and just try and counter-hit whatever you do on the ground with his Pyramid attack. Or, he can jump backwards and begin his neutral game all over again. If he likes, he can even root himself in place and counter your next offensive maneuver (Lp/Lk your ground dash, AA your jump/air dash).

Granted, if he's in the corner, you have a slightly better situation here, since Anak can't really play his neutral game when cornered. At that point, you can mix him up by either staying in place and trying to zone him on the ground (potentially beat if he tries to trade with a sweep or if he tries a Pyramid atack), or doing a neutral jump (beat by anything Anak can use to punish jump-outs. When cornered, however, you don't have to worry about Anak being too ballsy; as he wants to minimize any damage possible, the odds of him doing something reckless are pretty low.

3. Anakaris's offense - Their options when they have the offensive advantage - how you must defend against his attacks and okizeme.

A. Anak's high/low/"throw", AND pressure game.

Anakaris's offense has a lot of variety and nuance, and, in the hands of someone who knows how to use it, can be legitimately dangerous to handle. I typically refer to characters' offense as being "high/low", which should be pretty self-explanatory, or "pressure-based", which are characters who rely more on constant offensive pressure and frame traps (i.e Rikuo, Bishamon, Lilith, Wolf, etc.). Though he is the worst character in the game, he holds the distinction of being the only character is is extremely excellent at both. (...although L. Rapter is probably the second-best, that dick)

His high/low/"throw" game is pretty straight-forward, and most Anak players will have some level of proficiency at it; it's the typical "I do some lows, and then I use my quick overhead to stay in range" spiel that everyone has. Just like anyone else, he can vary at which point he wants to end his pressure string, he can do multiple overheads at once, he can do an overhead feint by using the Vertical Pyramid instead of the Diagonal, and go right into a low attack. (For that matter, he can feint using the Diagonal Pyramid, too, but it requires some practice and knowing the timing of his opponents' wakeup animations.)

There are two main differences in Anak's high/low game from other characters:

- Instead of moving into an overhead, Anak can try to punish people for trying to jump-out, or even predict an overhead, by just continuing the chain into a sweep. This is because C.Hk's startup is slow enough that it will combo on hit, but not block. Thus, if you block, say, C.Lp -> C.Lk, and he chains the Lk into C.Hk, you'll have enough time in-between those attacks to try an attack or get hit out of an AG attempt. You even have enough time to stand up. Thus, if you can't AG/GC his light attacks, you need to just watch carefully for his next move.

- In lieu of a normal throw, Anak has his command throw. The ES version is a very powerful tool in his high/low mixup game. He can cancel it off of his lows, which will catch you if you're not AG'ing/not watching closely. He can do it immediately after a blocked Pyramid, since he knows only crazy people are going to try and jump out immediately after that (If you don't know why, it's because you literally have no time to jump out before he can do a low. If you're trying to jump out, you'll be standing and eat a full chain). If he knows that you are antsy and like to neutral jump at close range, he can even throw it so that it grabs you as you land, unless you can alter your jump trajectory somehow. About the only way to dodge this is to jump over it, or run far enough away that it misses. The harder part, however, is just being able to react in time. Anakaris will keep you on your toes, so watch out.

As for his pressure game, it too is well-equipped to give anyone some trouble. His light attacks are quick and have long range. He can link most of them, too, which means if he hits with one, you can expect it to be converted into damage and a knockdown. He's also the only character in the game who can choose to do the Standing or Crouching versions of his attacks during a forward dash, so he can try and read people expecting overheads, as well as punish jump-outs effectively from virtually any range.

Speaking of which, if Anakaris has the offensive advantage...you can't Jump. Just, don't even try, really. From close range, he can punish your jump-outs with S.Lp. From farther away? S.Mp. From even farther? S.Hp. And if you somehow get EVEN farther than that, like with an AG? He can either do a Cobra Blow, or, he can throw out a normal version of his Command Throw; if he knows the proper ranges, he can put it right in front of you, so if you did a crouching AG and try to jump afterwards, you'll get grabbed as you're standing up. Don't be dumb - just AG and wait for him to run out of steam! He'll have to go back to his neutral game eventually, if you push him out far enough.

And, finally, make sure you are still trying to AG during his pressure. If Anak closes enough distance, he can just go into his high/low game, which is harder to escape and will net him a lot more damage than a few stray punches. As if that weren't bad enough, Anak's pursuit is quick enough that he can stay on top of you no matter where you roll, so he can hit-confirm his attacks into sweeps and keep playing his high/low game with ALL of his options intact, no matter where you are, until you push him far out of your range. Don't underestimate his offense just because he's the worst character in the game - he's bad because of his DEFENSE, not his offense.

B. LOL it's my EX

When you are cornered, Anakaris can take his surprise throw game to another level. If you aren't successfully AG'ing his attacks, he can cancel a low into his EX attack, "Pit To the Underworld". Since the attack is unblockable, if you don't have a way to jet out of the corner or a long-range attack to hit Anak *immediately*, you're gonna get hit by this attack. Like the ES Command Throw, you just have to be aware that he can do it, and be ready to react accordingly. Watch closely!

C. Surprise Pyramid!

This isn't a pivotal thing, but it's worth knowing. If Anak gets an air reset on you during one of his forward jumps, he can chose to land and start his offense, OR he can Pyramid just before hitting the ground. Thus, if you get reset in this way (shame on you), this is another place where you're going to need to look carefully. Although, it's probably smarter to just stand. Anak's trajectory is very slow, so it's easier to react to him NOT doing the Pyramid, rather than the other way around.

D. tl;dr: AG the Pyramid.

So, dealing with Anakaris's offense is a doozy. Unless you can crouch under half his shit (Bee and Wolf), or you have an unblockable GC and are good at landing it, you're gonna have some fun. However, as long as you play the pressure game intelligently, there is one thing you can do:

AG the Pyramid!

Seriously. If you AG the Pyramid, he can't continue his high/low game. He can't do surprise throws, or Surprise EX attacks, cos you'll be too far away for it to be a smart move. If he's close enough, he can't even reliably feint with the vertical Pyramid, cos you'll just swat him out of it (though, it's always best to AG reactively, so I don't necessarily recommend doing that last one). He'll have to go back to doing his pressure game, and, as long as you're being patient, you will hopefully escape with minimal damage.

4. Anything else? - Stuff that doesn't fit into any of the above categories.

A. I absorb your FOOLISH projectiles into my being

...I don't think this is very important. I feel like I never see Anak players do this at any level. However, if you are playing a character with a projectile, Anakaris can probably eat it, which will allow him to use it on you, as well:

- Rikuo: Sonic Wave
- B.B Hood: Missiles and Mines
- Demitri: Chaos Flare
- Jedah: Dio-Cega
- Hsien-Ko: All projectiles
- Lilith: Soul Flash
- Morrigan: Soul Fist

I'm guessing the reason I never see Anakaris do it, is because it's slow as hell, and easy to punish. Having a fireball also doesn't add very much to his game; he plays his neutral game in the air, where he already has a projectile. But, you know...this being an attempt at a comprehensive guide and all, now you know.

B. Are you right next to him? Good. Throw him.

This isn't something especially reliable as a strategy, but if you ever find yourself adjacent to Anakaris for any reason...you might as well throw him. It's true that you can't simply walk up and throw a good Anakaris player, because the same way that they try to defend against your normal attacks (fish for jabs and convert to a knockdown) is exactly how they are going to defend against walk-up throws. However, at point blank range, there's not much you need to worry about:

- Anakaris doesn't have a conventional normal/command throw, so he can't possibly throw you first or outprioritize you.

- Anakaris has no invulnerable attacks worth using in a situation like this; his only invulnerable maneuver that he can do without blocking/being knocked down is his Dark Force activation, and honestly, he is probably going to take more damage from activating and de-activating that, than he would from being thrown.

- To top it off, Anakaris doesn't have any particularly fast light attacks. Not usually an issue for other characters with no 3-frame lights, because they usually have a worthwhile command throw/Dark Force.

- And, if all those things aren't bad enough, none of Anak's standing mediums and hards (i.e the tech hit normals) are very fast. At best, incorrectly guessing a throw with Anak will see his move get beat, and take a chain combo. At worst, if Anak's tech hit normals are dodged completely, he's wide open for the combo of his opponent's choosing.

So, while I wouldn't reccomend trying to walk up and throw him all day, if you land right next to him? Throw him.

Also, it's worth noting that characters with more intense pressure rushdowns (particularly ground dashers, like Rikuo, Bishamon, Lilith, etc.) have a much easier time bullying their way into that close range. But, character-specific strategies is beyond the scope of this guide.

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