Jack-O’s goal is to get into a position to safely set up her Servants. Once she is able to get at least one Servant out onto the battlefield, she uses her normals in conjunction with the Servants and their attacks to apply immense pressure on her opponents. Her most threatening pressure and mixups come from positioning a Servant behind you, or forcing you into the corner. These are the situations you need to avoid being placed in at all costs.
Servant gauge demonstration
Servants are a crucial part of Jack-O's gameplan and without them she is one of the weakest characters in the game. Because of this, preventing Jack-O' from setting up servants is one of the best way to stop her from establishing momentum. Tied to her servants is the Servant Gauge.
When summoning a servant it takes 1 yellow bar while leaving behind a gray bar which can be used for commands. When Jack-O' performs a command (Attack, Defend, Countdown) it consumes 1 gray bar. If Jack-O' has no gray bar it will consume 1 yellow without leaving behind a gray bar. If Jack-O' has no gauge she cannot summon servants or perform attack commands.
Learn how to punish her 2D, it's essential to a good round start
Jack-O' has a distinctly threatening roundstart. Though the threat of a combo is relatively low, it's easy for Jack-O' to set up a knockdown towards the corner off good hits, which gives her a huge initial lead. The most common moves to play around are 5KGuardAllStartup7Recovery10Advantage-4, 2KGuardLowStartup6Recovery12Advantage-3, f.SGuardAllStartup11Recovery17Advantage-9, and 2DGuardLowStartup10Recovery18Advantage-19. Rarely it can be worth checking 5HGuardAllStartup10Recovery23Advantage-6, and IAD j.SGuardHighStartup11Recovery21Advantage+3 (IAD). Her 2D is especially noteworthy for how aggressively it counters most round start options, beating out many of the strongest, such as Nagoriyuki'sShizuriyukiGuardAllStartup11Recovery21Advantage-7 and Giovanna's5HGuardAllStartup10Recovery19Advantage-5,
5K Long and quick recovering. Challenge with 6P or a well-timed whiff punish
2K Shorter, extremely fast and low-profile. Whiffs if you don't extend into it.
f.S Solid mid-height poke. Counter with a fast attack.
2D The Round Start button you need to play around. Backdash it.
2D is the single most important move to consider (and lab against!). Round start is the exact spacing it needs to hit Frame 10, as a Low will punish attempting to walk back, on Counter Hit gives her a full combo, and on trades almost always gives Jack-O' time to set up okizeme. Universally, backdash and neutral jumping are both punishes thanks to its huge recovery, just be careful of its lingering active frames. Most 2K attacks will counter it on startup, and some 9F mid-height attacks will work, as it is not low profile until Frame 10. You can also simply block the 2D and punish the RPS situation the Jack-O' is likely not anticipating.
f.S is Jack-O's answer to large but slightly slower round starts, such as a lot of 2S attacks. Counter Hit does not change her reward from it, making it less important to commit to countering it. It loses to 6P and can usually be outsped by fast pokes, as it hits Frame 11. In rare situations this option can be substituted with 5H to cover more range, at the cost of hitting slower and losing to fast pokes like 2K and 2D attacks much easier .
5K is a safe check against the most aggressive round starts, such as Sol's6HGuardAllStartup9Recovery43Advantage-27 or Potemkin'skara Potemkin BusterGuardGround ThrowStartup5Recovery37Advantage-. It can lose to 6P and well-timed delayed round starts for a whiff punish, but is difficult to check otherwise. One very bizarre counterplay is to air block, as Jack-O' won't have time to confirm her 2D will whiff. This option is sometimes substituted with a 2K, giving it more speed and low-profile, however this makes it much easier to whiff.
In neutral, your goal is to stay on top of Jack-O’, corner her, and prevent her from getting her Servants out. Without any Servants, Jack-O' is generally outclassed in footsie play due to overall low reward and high commitment with her attacks. Summoning a Servant grants Jack-O' access to new neutral tools, enables zoning, turn pokes into combos, and begin pressure. If Jack-O' is able to get a Servant out, there are two situations that need to be prevented at all costs: letting her position a Servant behind you, and letting her force you into the corner. Both of these situations are her win condition. Prioritize getting in and staying in with this match up.
Don't let her bully you with zoning. Catch it and make her work for that advantage!
Similar to Asuka's cubes and Zato's Eddie, you can hit servants to destroy them, and can even cancel off them similar to hitting Jack-O'. This is absolutely key to slowing down her momentum in neutral, as Jack-O' has finite resources, and sending servants out is much slower than the time it takes to interrupt them.
Best Moves to Hit Servants
Two important rules come into this, speed to give yourself time to react, and the hitstop. When your attack connects on a servant you still receive hitstop, functionally making your attack incredibly active, which also adds to its recovery, quite badly. This only gives only a few practical answers.
5P and 2P Fastest, lowest hitstop. Your best all-around option.
5K Some hit very far to functionally hit faster, while adding Jump Cancel to the mix.
6P Lingers to easily catch multiple servants in a row, at the cost of very bad recovery.
While 6P is by far the easiest for newer players, it is actually the most risky of the options. Most 6P attacks will get 13 additional active frames alongside fairly long recovery that usually forces you to special cancel. If you don't have a good cancel option, this can usually be punished or even Counter Hit by Jack-O' running forward to 2D. Though not unusable, practising the use of faster and safer normals is good.
6P can also work as an incredibly pre-emptive callout to Jack-O' following up with an Air Dash or 5H, as you maintain upper-body invuln for the entire duration of this additional active time.
For players learning the use of 5P and 5K, note that a trade with the servant is still usually a good outcome. Therefore you can afford to be a little more risky with the strategy.
Cancelling Off Servants
Because the hitstop when hitting a servant is very long, you can often be left exposed to Jack-O's approach, or not have time to stop her summoning again. Thanks to servants enabling cancels (especially for Specials), you can often play an RPS with your follow-up.
Below is a general list of good special cancel options.
Long-Range Pokes Easily catches and punishes attempting to repeat the zoning.
Fast Pokes Punish Jack-O' trying to approach after her zoning.
Set-up Moves Exploit the breathing room to get your own neutral established.
Strong Gatlings Don't forget, it's not just Special Cancels.
Your available options will differ heavily by character and largely paints the picture for how you will interact with Jack-O's zoning. Some characters have a slew of extremely good cancel opportunities, such as Baiken or Sol. While others have almost no safe cancels they can rely upon, like Potemkin and ironically Jack-O' herself.
For hitting servants, 6P is particularly good to catch servants if you can pair it with a strong cancel option. If you are not able to use a good cancel, it's almost always better to use 5P, 2P, or 5K instead.
Each of Jack-O's moves sends her servants at a slightly different angle, and the arcing motion means they will be at different heights depending on spacing. This is important, as most moves can only cover specific angles. Attacks like 5P and 6P are said to hit "high" as they cover servants hitting above you, while 2P covers "low" as it hits servants going towards your legs. If a servant goes very high, it can even cross over you entirely, making it hard to hit and will land behind you.
Below is a brief summary of how different moves create different arcs.
Air Throw Servant
6P / f.S / 5H
5P / 5K
Even if a servant normally rests at a high position, after a launch it can briefly end up low, causing attacks to whiff when they should otherwise hit. This can add a kind of 'mix up' to her zoning, as you're forced to respond correctly to the angle of the attack.
Put simply, sometimes it is nessecary to hit low, sometimes the attack will whiff regardless. It is not sustainable to guess correctly every tme, meaning it is always a risk if Jack-O' is allowed to choose her options and continue the zoning.
Punishing j.D Stalling
It might not do a lot of damage, but this will get tiring fast if you don't do something about it.
Jack-O's infamous j.DGuardAllStartup21RecoveryTotal 44Advantage- is a simple stalling tool. It can harass the enemy with occasional minor damage, and disrupt attempts to poke from distance with projectiles or large attacks. While its damage is notably low, and it doesn't even deal chip damage, it is a common knowledge check on how to actually counter and prevent this move from taking up space and allowing Jack-O' to stall the neutral for easier summoning.
Jack-O's j.D is most used to stall for her Servant Gauge to refill while getting enough distance to make Summon Servant safe to use. The true value of this attack is its utility and not the actual attack it presents. It's almost inconsequential if it actually hits or not, simply having the projectile out there achieves its goal.
j.D On-Block Situation
Because it varies based on how late the projectile hits, it can vary dramatically based on your distance. At its most extreme an instant j.D varies from -9 to +15, usually it will be between -3 to +3, giving you a fairly neutral-like position. Thanks to her strong backwards movement, it is very common for her to Summon Servant immediately upon landing. It is extremely hard (or sometimes impossible) to actually punish Summon Servant directly, forcing you to RPS on your approach. However this still gives you time to start an attack before Jack-O' can, sometimes allowing you to threaten pressure without giving her time to respond. j.D on block is a very safe position for her, and the RPS is not especially exploitable if the Jack-O' is more patient.
To get the most out of your block, the best outcome is to run forward and stand block to catch the projectile as early as possible. Do not walk away, this substantially adds to Jack-O's frame advantage, and increases the distance, working against you. Being hit only gives Jack-O' 3 more frames of advantage, this can affect tight interactions but it doesn't even nessecarily mean she is plus, so don't be defensive simply because of a j.D hit.
Unusually despite being a projectile, because it is a normal it deals no chip damage, and the R.I.S.C. Gain is tiny. It is virtually never worth using Faultess Defense here.
For characters with large air normals, it's possible to reactively jump and meet Jack-O' in the air for a clean Counter Hit. Anyone can do this pre-emptively if close enough, but only some have attacks large enough to attack 'over' the projectile reliably from a distance, usually when too far to possibly run under it in time. The larger the attack that can be used, the more lenient spacing and timing is to air-to-air Jack-O's j.D.
It is important not to Air Dash, as this almost always results in flying into the projectle. Instead, a simple forward jump , with a dash before the if you're very far, will much more reliably vault the projectile.
If you're close enough, you can run underneath Jack-O's projectile entirely. This leaves her in a lethal situation when done correctly, as she recovers in a fully Counter Hit state mid-air. The faster your run speed, the closer you are, and the lower your dashing hurtbox, the easier this is to do.
Below is a simplified dash heights chart for reference.
When you do run under, there are two kinds of punish available. You can hit her out of her airborne recovery for Air Counter Hit, for huge damage potential. If you are too late, you can instead punish her landing recovery for a grounded non-Counter Hit punish. There is always a brief window between recovery and landing where Jack-O' can air block. From a low j.D she won't have time to attack before landing, but she can double jump. Making her air block is a significant loss of value. Try to avoid this happening
Some characters have alternative strategies to go under and punish. Notably:
Despite Jack-O' lacking when it comes to playing footsies without Servants, she still brings in unique quirks, and the very threat of footsies is what drives Jack-O's ability to summon and set up. She has varying options at multiple ranges, and what range she plays best at varies heavily by match up.
In the mid range is where Jack-O' struggles most. Her poor movement, poor coverage, low reward on hits, and higher recovery on many options means she does not win from an honest mid-range neutral. It's important to keep in mind that Jack-O' is not safe when she summons a Servant. Summon Servant has 10 frames of start up and 25 frames of recovery, and Jack-O' is in a counter hit state whenever she's holding onto a Servant. She needs either space, a knockdown, or some kind of pressure setup to allow her the opportunity to summon and use the Servant without interruption. If she wants to summon a Servant in this position, she needs to either create a threat to stop you from attacking, or land an attack herself.
Depending on the match up, she may approach you so she can hold on to the favorable range of her low-profiling 2KGuardLowStartup6Recovery12Advantage-3. Otherwise, she'll use her pokes to keep you out. f.S is her largest poke that is mostly safe to whiff, though it still has 17 frames of recovery. She'll vary her pokes with 5KGuardAllStartup7Recovery10Advantage-4 for it's speed and low recovery, dashing in with 2K for its low profile, or using her long-reaching 5H, which can cover your movement and attacks. Jack-O's 5K, f.S, and 5H all hit high enough to be consistently low-profiled, forming a major flaw in Jack-O's neutral game she has to largely compensate for. In particular, they're generally vulnerable to most characters' 2S. However, relying on your 2S exclusively will allow Jack-O' win the interaction indirectly by staying back to summon safely or whiff punish it with 5H. Like Jack-O', you too will need to vary your pokes between your low recovery K normals and your higher recovery 6P and 2S. Below is a chart of every move that can low-profile these three moves.
Avoid being overly aggressive or excessively shimmying with backwalk to out space pokes, as her forward advancing 5H and 2D are strong ways to deal with this. 2D can catch you not crouch-blocking and 5H is one of Jack-O's safest moves on block. Both get huge reward on counter hit. These are dangerous on whiff, and can be easily defeated by low pokes (usually a 2S), but the huge range and fast startup make them a major threat. This threat may slow you down for fear of the attack, therefore giving Jack-O' more time to summon, build space, or approach. It's not feasible to always prevent Jack-O' from ever summoning a Servant. She will eventually get one out, and you'll have to prepared to deal with it when it happens. However, successfully taking advantage of her at the mid range while she doesn't have one summoned can quickly turn the tide in your favor.
She has a few unique options for anti-airing aerial approaches. Her 2SGuardAllStartup9Recovery22Advantage-15 is a vertical disjoint that's used against highly specific attacks/approaches where 6P would fail, particularly against aerial ambiguous crossups, as both sides will usually extend the hurtbox into the 2S. You will likely need to adapt the mixups in these situations. Her 6HGuardAllStartup8,19Recovery14Advantage-6 has two hits to it. From up close, the first hit can catch run-ins, but the second hit can be used as a pre-emptive anti-air. However, the angle makes it unable to hit most mid-range jumps, only functioning from further away. If you're being caught by this, it's almost certainly on prediction, so try to vary your approach. Its reward is low, so this is not a large threat overall, but you want to avoid being carried into the corner by it repeatedly. The second hit always whiffs crouching, and has long recovery due to its huge active time. This normal is very bad in neutral against any crouching approaches. Goldlewis' huge size and committal jumps makes him pretty much the only character that can be reliably anti-aired on reaction with this move.
At close ranges, Jack-O's 2K is too fast, too low, and too safe to really be challenging without some uniquely good low options. This is the largest fast 2K in the game, combined with it's low profile, it's particularly strong. Without Servants, Jack-O's on-block situations are lacking. She needs Servants to be able to enforce threatening pressure (more info in the "Dealing with Servant-less Pressure" section under Defense). Jack-O' is also tied for the fastest recovery of 5 frame-invulnerability backdashes at 18F, making it safer for her to escape this range if she wishes to. Primarily, the difficulty of Jack-O' is not fighting at this range, but getting into it in the first place, as Jack-O' lacks reliable and large pokes, with a mediocre f.S poke and her 5K only covering a little more range than 2K. While her 5H's advancing movement is scary, again, it's easily caught by low pokes. Combined with her poor movement speed, she can struggle to reach this range if you're forcefully controlling space with your own pokes, though, again, make sure you vary them and don't let her take advantage of your higher recovery pokes.
At far ranges, Jack-O' has likely gotten a chance to Summon a Servant unchallenged.
Jack-O' With Servants
At far ranges, Jack-O's gameplan varies heavily by match up. Once she's gotten Servants out, she can use them to control space with the Attack CommandGuardAllStartup12RecoveryTotal 23Advantage+15. She can use this to both prevent your approach, and lock you down and give her an opportunity to approach. Generally, Jack-O' doesn't actually want to maintain long range more than necessary. It is vastly more valuable for her to approach and establish pressure. She can't control space with the Servants forever because of the Servant Gauge. Furthermore, if she chooses to remain at this range, she'll only have extremely low reward options, and the risk of you correctly calling her out is extremely painful.
Against non-zoners, Jack-O' can use the range to summon Servants completely unchallenged. This makes it extremely easy to set up and threaten you. Since even certain long-range characters struggle to hit fullscreen, the only reason Jack-O' would need approach at all is to avoid cornering herself or to intimidate you out of approaching. With dash momentum her 5H travels immensely far, making it a great counter-poke to committal approaching.
Servants can be killed with a single attack and all Servants currently deployed die at once if you manage to land a blow on Jack-O' herself, either on hit or block. This can make advancing attacks (especially when paired with a Roman Cancel) particularly difficult for Jack-O' to handle. Even landing a Burst on Jack-O' will make the Servants disappear. Otherwise, the Servants will disappear after a set amount of time. There is more nuance about Servants that be found here.
Demonstration of destroying servants
From a distance, if Jack-O' is launching her Servants at you with Throw ServantGuardAllStartup12RecoveryTotal 27Advantage+5, Servant Shoot, or by hitting them with her normals, use your low recovery normals, namely 5P, 2P, 5K, or 2K, to swat the Servants away as they’re launched at you. You can also use 6P to swat them away as well, but don’t rely too heavily on it. Whenever a Servant is successfully intercepted, the hitstun will add to the recovery of whatever attack you used to destroy it with. Using a high recovery 6P gives Jack-O’ has enough time to advance and run her offense.
Servants can be hit while idle or while in flight, so if Jack-O' tosses or kicks a Servant, it is possible to hit the Servant before it reaches you. The farther the distance, the lower the height a Servant launched with Throw Servant will hit, which can make it slightly more difficult to hit them with your low recovery normals. Servants are also jump, dash, and special cancellable on hit. This is important for challenging Jack-O' approaching after you jab a Servant. Many characters have ways to play into an RPS against her approach. You can try to dash underneath thrown/launched Servants, but you need to remember that positioning a Servant behind you is part of her win condition. If she's already positioned a Servant in front of her, do not attempt to do this. You'll just put yourself into her sandwich pressure (more information in the "Dealing with Sandwich Pressure" section under Defense). While projectiles can be used to counter-zone, Servants that have been launched with Servant Shoot crush most projectiles, so don't rely too heavily on counter zoning her as a strategy, unless you're a dedicated zoner with tools to get around this.
Jack-O's zoning is very committal, and there are gaps that she can't always cover. Servants do not prevent attacks, meaning so long as an attack can still hit Jack-O', it will kill the Servant. One of Jack-O's biggest weaknesses is low profiles. Moves like Sol's Night Raid Vortex completely invalidate almost any option except staggering the zoning (which gives you more gaps to approach) or using her much weaker close range options like 2K. If you have an advancing low profile special move, it is essential to exploit it to bypass her zoning.
Against dedicated zoners like Axl, Happy Chaos, and sometimes Faust with the right items, Jack-O' has no easy opportunity to summon, and needs to either approach or otherwise utilize specific gaps in their pressure to get that opportunity. It can often be safer for her to just focus on approaching into a range her normals can threaten, as without it, she can't force her opponent to give her safe openings.
Defend CommandGuardStartup4RecoveryTotal 24Advantage+31 makes all Servants currently deployed put up a protective shield, parrying most attacks and destroying projectiles that come into contact with it. If a non-projectile attack comes into contact with the shield, it'll cause you to be Guard Crushed. This is a powerful tool and can be useful to make you second guess hitting the Servants. It can be difficult to punish Jack-O' using Defend Command, but you can run through the Defend Command and throw her. She can't move until she recovers from using this, and this move has 24 frames of recovery. Characters with advancing, low profile attacks can also use them to get around the Defend Command that way as well.
S Cheer Servant OnGuard-Startup3RecoveryTotal 15AdvantageSee Notes is an Overdrive that makes the Servants become invincible for 5 seconds. Once established, Jack-O' is able to approach safely, as it becomes very dangerous to do anything, and even Burst becomes weakened since the Servants will no longer disappear if Jack-O' gets hit or blocks anything. If it’s used from farther away, there’s nothing you can really do about it, but up close, this can be punished by inputting a reversal Overdrive during the super flash. If you’re farther away and you’re a character with a screen traveling Overdrive like Ky’s Sacred Edge, Baiken’s Kenjyu, or Potemkin’s Giganter Kai, you can input it during the super flash and get rid of them this way as well. You wouldn’t necessarily be able to punish Jack-O’, but you could still leave her in a vulnerable position since all of her Servants will have been removed from the battlefield.
For movement, Jack-O’ can cancel into Summon Servant, and while holding a Servant, she can run backwards in an attempt to bait out a punish, or to just put distance between you so that she can zone you out. You’ll have to lab, but you have options to keep her from escaping. If she tries to run away on the ground, far reaching buttons or buttons/special moves that send your character forward will catch her. Remember, she can’t block and is in counter hit state as long as she’s holding a Servant, so this could lead to a massive reward. She could also try to IAD back, which is harder to catch. Again, you’ll have to experiment with your character and see what options you have.
Jack-O's fastest buttons are her 5PGuardAllStartup5Recovery8Advantage-2 and 2PGuardAllStartup5Recovery9Advantage-3 at 5 frames each. She'll likely mash 2P during gaps in your pressure, because her 5P can be low profiled. Otherwise, she has no meterless invincible reversal. You do need to be very wary of her Forever Elysium DriverGuardAllStartup10+1Recovery58Advantage-41, however. You can bait this out with safe jumps or attacks that make you airborn such as Leo’s 2D. This is a notably high damage Overdrive that mitigates the effect of Guts, and is able to take many characters out from 25% health when used raw. You do not want to get hit by this. Jack-O’ can also cancel into this from an unsafe normal in an attempt to bait you out. If you have a reversal Overdrive that’s faster than 11 frames, you can punish it this way. However, if you’re in Faultless Defense, you cannot jump out or input a reversal Overdrive in time to avoid getting hit by this. If she uses this while you’re in Faultless Defense, you CAN actually hit her with a Gold Burst after the super flash. Jack-O’ can gatling into this from 5H, so take care not to get hit by this when she has meter, because it can lead to a lot of life lost.
Forever Elysion Driver
Jack-O's invulnerable Overdrive, Forever Elysion Driver (FED), is very high reward netting high damage and okizeme, with a strong range. However, it suffers a lot of unique weaknesses that many characters can abuse.
Baiting Forever Elysion Driver
Some strong offensive tools can also safely counter Forever Elysion Driver
Its longer startup of 11F allows more attacks to safe meaty or safejump than usual.
The attack hits very far forwards, whiffing on cross-ups entirely.
There is a large deadzone in front of Jack-O' if you are too high for her collision to push you backward, whiffing to high airborne attacks.
Notably, Instant Air Dash and Jump Cancel are universal options in the corner to evade the attack while resetting your offense, and every character (except Axl) has at least one normal they can safe meaty with.
Reversal-Safe Moves (Forever Elysion Driver)
Safe meatiesMoves that can hit meaty and recover in time to block. Any move with 9F or less recovery is safe if hit on the last active frame.
Cross-upsAttacks that cross through Jack-O', causing the attack to whiff.
Corner Jump-overAttacks that can be used in the corner to jump over Jack-O', causing the attack to whiff. Some moves only work under very specific timings or with Dash Cancel karas.
The opportunity for an air hit gives many characters improved punishes.
Unlike most reversal Overdrives, Jack-O' is left airborne on recovery, giving most characters hugely improved punishes on block. However, only if you punish quickly.
Upon blocking the attack, you have 26 frames to punish airborne, 41F to punish grounded. If this is not enough some techniques can help:
Backdashing the attack usually leaves you much closer.
Instant Blocking leaves you much closer.
Do not Faultless Defense, the attack deals zero chip damage.
The attack has zero hitstop, you can buffer punishes much sooner than you might think.
In addition, when you block the attack, Jack-O' very briefly floats upwards even higher. This gives some unique routes only accessible on close-range Instant Block. E.g. Ky can use c.S > dc > c.S as a starter.
In rare situations it can be preferable to punish grounded, such as for Faust and Potemkin. In these cases, simply delay your attack. There is a genorous 15F window where Jack-O' is ground punishable.
Uninterestingly, Jack-O's defensive kit is fairly standard mechanically. She has no outlandishly unique defensive tools, outside the strange behaviours of Forever Elysion Driver. The rest is simple system mechanics where Jack-O' is stronger or weaker in some aspects. Any counterplay is mostly universal to all characters, instead the strategy is about balancing your offense to more often cover her particular strengths, and to not force offense to lock out the weaker aspects she is less likely to use regardless.
Both a 5F 2P and 5P, covering both high and low options with fast abare.
A 6F 2K for fast abare.
2K is 6F and has very long range.
6P has upper-body invuln more quickly than average.
Strong backdash framedata, with 5F invuln and 18F recovery time.
All abare leads to a consistent Hard Knockdown.
6P has a very short invuln time, unlike most.
Floaty jump, leaving her in the air for much longer.
Very slow speed, being weak at dash-blocking.
Almost no abare can lead to a combo.
Very weak pressure off Yellow Roman Cancel.
Below will cover in further depth on some of these topics, to explain their strengths or weaknesses.
Jack-O' shares one of the strongest defesive backdash categories, being 5 Frame invuln, with only 18 Frame recovery. She shares it with Chaos, Testament, and Johnny. Combined with liberal use of Faultless Defense, this is very hard to punish as its short recovery means a lot of moves will fail to punish in time, but 5 Frames of invuln is enough to avoid a significant number of common frametraps.
Jack-O's infamous 2KGuardLowStartup6Recovery12Advantage-3 is very strong, being only 6 frames while having the largest range 2K in the game for that speed. This makes Jack-O' incredibly good at punishing attacks even when spaced. Many options like Anji'sNagihaGuardLowStartup15 (28 with early cancel)Recovery20Advantage-7, Potemkin'sMega Fist ForwardGuardHighStartup25Recovery16Advantage-6, and Leo'sErstes Kaltes GestöberGuardAllStartup12Recovery20Advantage-6 frequently struggle to avoid punishment on block, leaving themselves open more frequently.
In addition, her 2K has low profile for the entire recovery, this means that some moves simply cannot punish her on whiff. This makes some strings much worse with delay cancels, where even if you bait out a whiffing 2K you may not punish Jack-O'. Unlike some low-profiles however it's only low-profile once it's active, on Frame 6. For 5 frames she has the usual hurtbox you can interrupt. Combined with her 5F 2PGuardAllStartup5Recovery9Advantage-3, this makes a very important 5F window of opportunity to prevent her abare.
One of Jack-O's largest issues defensively is the slightly lower gravity on her jumps. This gives her a tall jump, but it also makes her jumps about 10% slower than most, giving a genorous amount of time to see the jump out and react with an anti-air. Furthermore, Air Dashes over the opponent can be caught much easier too. This makes it a lot harderfor her to escape the corner.
While Jack-O' has some useful quirks, like j.DGuardAllStartup21RecoveryTotal 44Advantage-, these are usually relatively minor threats compared to the potential risk of Jack-O' escaping corner pressure by jumping out entirely.
Servant Shoot RPS
Don't be intimidated by her special cancels, this is your moment to change the tide!
One of the most common difficulties for new players facing Jack-O' is understanding how her pressure ends. Unlike most, she never has a move that is minus and cannot cancel. Instead it's about putting herself into an unfavourable RPS with those cancel options. If you do not challenge this RPS, it becomes very easy for her to exploit otherwise risky options and continue pressure freely.
This technically exists off any move Jack-O' wishes. However, Servant ShootGuardAllStartup15Recovery25Advantage-12forces this RPS with no further frametraps available, this makes the most obvious point of ending her pressure, assuming she hasn't got access to Attack CommandGuardAllStartup12RecoveryTotal 23Advantage+15.
While the most common situation to RPS here is from Servant Shoot, Jack-O' may do so from other moves, especially 2D if she feels Servant Shoot is unsafe. RPS from 2D is much stronger for you, as most characters can cover most, or sometimes every option if it's from 2D, and she simply hopes you did not act from the threat of a frametrap. Conversely, moves like 5H are very hard to punish. It's important to not be reckless on situations you can't realistically punish, and to take value where possible on the moves that are vulnerable.
Servant Shoot RPS
This details the 4 core options you will be playing around here. How you handle them is very subjective and these are simplifications of more nuanced adjustments Jack-O' can make, but provides a solid groundwork to understand most options.
BlockEnding pressure to be safe. Very simple situation.
Using Recover ServantGuard-Startup10RecoveryTotal 19Advantage-, Jack-O' can recover out of moves much faster. This is virtually always unpunishable except specifically off 2DGuardLowStartup10Recovery18Advantage-19 which leaves her -6 on block. At best she will be -1 on block.
Fast attacks like an f.S or 2K will interrupt any further attacks from Jack-O'.
Running forward essentially is the same as having a Tick Throw against her.
Summon and Run AwayTries to escape horizontally. Use fast pokes to catch her.
Jack-O' can Summon Servant (Hold)Guard-StartupRecoveryTotal 14Advantage- to recover very fast to give herself time to run away. Don't be fooled by frame data, she can't use normals nor block, this is a defensive measure to evade, not attack.
This is much harder to challenge the further out you are. This is generally why Fautless Defense is ill-advised against her basic blockstrings, and why Instant Block can be very challenging for her.
Most characters have a poke like f.S that can catch Jack-O' attempting to run away.
Running forward can work, and is low risk, but is generally weak as a callout because you give Jack-O' time to react. This is only recommended as a punish for extremely fast characters like Chipp, Millia, and Giovanna.
Simply resetting to neutral with set-up such as Chaos'CurseGuard-Startup41RecoveryTotal 46Advantage- or Faust'sWhat Could This Be?GuardStartup26RecoveryTotal 40Advantage- can be a passive way to get an advantage.
Summon and JumpGetting airborne to avoid punish, at high risk to herself.
Jack-O' can Summon Servant (Hold)Guard-StartupRecoveryTotal 14Advantage- to recover very fast to give herself time to jump over your punishes. Despite how fast it might look, she is in Counter Hit for 30 Frames when doing this, even more if she tries to hit the servant mid-air. This gives every character a huge opportunity for combo potential.
Don't IAD. very few characters can reasonably punish this way if Jack-O' uses j.S.
Don't jump backwards. Doing so actually puts you into a large disadvantage.
Fast pokes like 5K and f.S attacks can hit Jack-O' as she jumps.
Some huge anti-airs like Bridget and Nagoriyuki's2H can score huge reward while blocking out most of Jack-O's air options.
Dash jumping forward with an air-to-air will consistently catch Jack-O', and Counter Hit if she attempted an attack.
Running forward can get underneath Jack-O', potentially threatening anything from Air Throw to anti-air c.S.
Your options are quite diverse. It will depend a lot on your character, execution, and spacing to determine which is best.
Staggered AttackOpens a gap. Interrupt with a fast attack!
Jack-O' can use Recover ServantGuard-Startup10RecoveryTotal 19Advantage- and quickly begin a new attack. The most common are going from 2D to 2K, and going from 5H to 2D. Jack-O' is still minus on block, so any reasonably fast attack should outspeed.
2D > 214P > 2K is a 12F gap.
236K > 214P > 2K is a 9F gap.
5H > 214P > 2D is an 11F gap minimum.
While both have low profile, they only go low profile on the active frames, meaning anything that should interrupt will not be low profiled here.
The large number of options might seem daunting at first glance, but there's an important rule to this a good punish tool covers multiple options at once. Many characters can simultaneously catch jumping, running away, or begin pressure on Recover Servant, while having specific tools that give high reward on a correct callout.
While every character is very distinct, there are several common options that are consistently effective against Jack-O', and it's worth reviewing your character for any of these.
Fast long-reach pokes usually of f.S, 2S, or 5K are very strong, catching both running away and pressuring Recover Servant, and sometimes even anti-airing jumping out.
Jumping forward, especially with a little dash momentum, easily catches jumping out, while leaving you safe if Jack-O' tried to run away or reset into an attack.
Very fast pokes like 2K are excellent for catching Recover Servant, without any particular risk from Jack-O' moving away.
Running forward is a fairly good option if you can react quickly. If she jumped, you will go under her, threatening an anti-air from below. If she ran away, you close the gap quickly. If she did Recover Servant, you can potentially react with a c.S or Throw to catch Jack-O' off-guard.
Any backward moving ability or a Backdash is extremely hard for Jack-O' to punish, if you prefer to be passive.
Invulnerable reversals can potentially challenge almost every option Jack-O' has from 2D RPS, usually only losing to blocking with Recover Servant, or running away if she has the meter to react with Forever Elysion Driver.
There are some common mistakes about how to react to the RPS that should be avoided, usually because these are surrendering some advantage to Jack-O' needlessly, even if they seem reasonable options.
Do not IAD. Most IADs can't even challenge Jack-O' jumping back into j.S, at best you get a weaker and slower punish than jumping forward.
Do not jump back. Ironically this puts you in disadvantage as most of her options suddenly become reactable pressure resets on you jumping away. This quickly leads to turning an RPS into an inescapable loop.
Do not fear an air hit servant. The arc from j.S on a servant is deceptive, it actually can be ran under, and simply walking back would take several seconds before it hits you. You have a lot more time to act than you probably think.
Do not be passive. While the RPS is not risk free, the amount of danger you present to Jack-O' is large by comparison. If you do not threaten this RPS at all, a lot of her strongest moves like 2D suddenly become significantly safer, which cascades into making her neutral, defense, round start, and more a lot easier.
It might not look it, but Jack-O' is in a dangerous position.
Jack-O's 2D is deceptively her most unsafe attack, which is very strange because of its many cancel options. Recognising how to punish and combat this attack is invaluable to limiting Jack-O's utility, as 2D is extremely versatile.
When blocking 2D, it is very similar to the Servant Shoot RPS, with the addition of Servant Shoot itself as a frametrap. It's worth understanding this RPS first, to understand how 2D can be challenged.
Servant Shoot Frametrap
One of the most important parts of 2D is exploiting the flaws in its singular frametrap, Servant Shoot.
5F invuln backdashes autotime to backdash it, scoring a punish in the process. Most other cancels do not punish a backdash in any way.
Invulnerable reversals can attack in the gap, and most cancels out of 2D are not reversal safe.
If Jack-O' had dash momentum, larger Throws will usually interrupt Servant Shoot. This also punishes virtually all other cancel options if Jack-O' is too close.
The below table lists characters with easily applicable tools to punish Servant Shoot without engaging with the RPS on block.
Backdash and PunishBackdashing the 236K, assuming no delay on the backdash or 236K. Characters labeled * do not get an advantage state from their punish.
ThrowInterupt the 236K with Throw. This assumes Jack-O' had some amount of dash momentum.
NoneThe character has no easily applicable punishes and is usually forced to block, IB into Throw, or rely on invuln Overdrives.
While the RPS is very similar to blocking Servant Shoot, it's worth recognising what's different.
Every option has 3F less frame advantage for Jack-O.
2D moves Jack-O' close and has much lower pushback, keeping her closer.
She may use Servant Shoot as a frametrap.
For all non-frametrap options, Jack-O' is significantly weaker, to the extent that many characters have moves that check everything besides a frametrap, such as Faust's5KGuardAllStartup7Recovery8Advantage-2 or May'sf.SGuardAllStartup12Recovery19Advantage-8. This significantly worsens Jack-O's ability to RPS. Many new options open up as well, such as Millia's2DGuardLowStartup12Recovery19Advantage-8 to catch running away.
In addition, being closer increases combo potential off certain confirms, even done with the same moves, such as when hitting Jack-O' with an air-to-air. Additionally Recover Servant is no longer safe on block, being -6. This is bad for Jack-O' as she no longer has a low-commitment option, every option is now punishable directly.
The threat of a frametrap is a significant problem, however it's not a high value frametrap. Jack-O' only gets to throw a servant as okizeme, and only gets combo potential with a Roman Cancel or Counter Hit the corner. This is still a threat, but most punishes you can threaten are significantly more dangerous than a Servant Shoot Counter Hit.
Dealing with Servant-less Pressure
Jack-O's blockstrings without any Servants on screen heavily rely on delays, reads, or lack of knowledge from the opponent to start actual pressure. All of her attacks are unsafe and can easily be punished or low profiled without them.
On block, her 5K's only real follow-up is 2D, leading into an unsafe RPS.
If you block the first two hits of the c.S > f.S > 5H string with Faultless Defense, you can often can punish her 5H with 6P or low profile moves.
If she gets a counter hit with her 6H, there are no combos she can do without prior setup in the corner.
Her 2K can low profile many abare buttons, including certain 2Ps.
Jack-O' players will try to use frame traps to condition you into blocking so that they can safely summon Servants. More often than not, Jack-O' will end her blockstring with Summon Servant (either regular or held), or Recover ServantGuard-Startup10RecoveryTotal 19Advantage- to reset pressure or make blockstrings safe. Most options can be punished by 5P,2P, or 6P but after 5H it can be very difficult or impossible to punish. Here is a small table of the moves Jack-O' is most likely to cancel into:
f.S, 6P, 2D
c.S or 236KGuardAllStartup15Recovery25Advantage-12
5H or 2H
As mentioned previously, her 2D leads to very unfavorable RPS if blocked.
Ramlethal and Nagoriyuki can use their invincible reversal Overdrive and always win. They can only lose if Jack-O' uses a pre-emptive PRC during 2D.
If Jack-O' lacks 50% Tension, Ky, Giovanna, Leo, and Baiken: can use their invincible Overdrive and always win. If Jack-O' has 50% Tension, she has on-reaction routes to punish them.
Dealing with Sandwich Pressure
If you fail to keep the Servants from getting behind you, you’ll be placed under Jack-O’s Sandwich Pressure. This is a difficult position to be in. Try to avoid getting thrown during Sandwich Pressure, because she has way too many oki options with her Servants. Ultimately, the best thing to do in this scenario is use your Burst or YRC to get out of the situation entirely. There are ways to defend against Sandwich Pressure, but Jack-O’ has answers to those defensive options. Still, it’s worth going over them. Block low and be on the look out for two things: a gap in her pressure (since this is where she’ll likely go for a throw) or her 5DGuardHighStartup20Recovery26Advantage-15 since it’s an overhead. Sol's 3 frame 5K and Chipp's 3 frame 5P can be mashed as a reversal to prevent Jack-O' from going for a reset or a throw, but this is risky as these buttons can be frametrapped. Here are a few scenarios that you need to keep an eye out for to keep from getting grabbed:
She may go for a grab immediately after using an Attack Command while the Servant is behind you.
She may go for it after a dash-in > c.SGuardAllStartup7Recovery10Advantage+1. She can do a delayed 2HGuardAllStartup15Recovery18Advantage-5 to catch you if you try to backdash here. If you notice a delay after the c.S, go for a throw. That way you’ll tech her throw if she goes for one, or you’ll interrupt the 2H and take back your advantage if she goes for that instead.
Jack-O’ can also go for aerials during her Sandwich Pressure as well. This looks scarier than it actually is. When blocking, react to her jumping and stand up to block the aerials.
Jack-O’ can also take advantage of hitting the Servants to extend the active frames of her attacks, turning normally fake interactions into ones that can't be mashed out of. For example, she could do c.S > 5D. The c.S's active frames would be extended because of the Servant, so you wouldn't be able to mash on the 5D despite its start up, even if it’s charged. You can only block high in order to avoid getting hit by it. The 5D is still punishable if successfully blocked, however. She can also make it so that c.S > c.S, which would normally be a fake and mashable option, into one that leads to a counter hit if you try to mash in-between both of them.
On a hard knockdown, Jack-O’ will often jump and release the Servant from above. From here, she threaten her Sandwich Pressure by jumping forward and then Instant Air Dashing backwards for a cross up. You will have to guess which direction to block here.
Dealing With Corner Pressure/Kick Loops
The other bad position Jack-O’ can place her opponents in is in the corner. This is where she can apply her most threatening and almost non-stop pressure. Jack-O's corner pressure is incredibly powerful, and getting out of it might prove very challenging. For that reason it might be a good idea to be conservative with your burst, and using it to escape corner pressure, rather than breaking a random midscreen mix or combo. Especially if your character is lacking strong defensive tools.
While in the corner, Jack-O’ will try to frame trap with Servant Shoot. This leads to massive reward, especially on counter hit. She’ll usually try to go into it from either 2H or 2D. Both of these buttons are very unsafe unless she cancels them into Servant Shoot. You can input a reversal after blocking either 2H or 2D to get out of this situation.
Jack-O’ is also capable of using H Cheer Servant OnGuard-Startup3RecoveryTotal 15AdvantageSee Notes to apply massive amounts of pressure that quickly leads to a cranked RISC gauge and immense chip damage. The best counterplay to this is to Burst or YRC after blocking a 236KGuardAllStartup15Recovery25Advantage-12 because it's not possible to bait without spending additional meter. If she doesn’t cancel into H Cheer from 2H or Servant Shoot, you can simply mash 5P and get out of that situation entirely. If you have a reversal Overdrive that has less than 12 frames of start up, you could also input it during the super flash of Cheer Servant On as well and punish her. Everyone has a reversal Overdrive capable of this except for the following characters: Axl, Faust, Happy Chaos, and Testament (Anji would have to use his Parry Overdrive and hope that it worked). You’ll want to save your Tension for this scenario as this could be extremely rewarding. Otherwise, the only thing that can be done is relying on Faultless Defense to prevent the chip damage. Keep an eye out for her 5D or if she tries to do a Dash > Throw to reset pressure. DO. NOT. MASH unless you see that 5D. If you have enough health to take the hit, it can be good to intentionally get hit to force the wallbreak situation to reset neutral and avoid R.I.S.C being maxed out. The reason for this it can be difficult for Jack-O' to not break the wall and the damage she gets with the Servants out is not that high.
H Cheer at best will be +6 from Sevant Shoot + servant or +3 after 5H/2H. However even with that there are ways out of it by blocking with Faultless Defense early on. Most Jack-O' players would try and setup H Cheer by using c.S > 2H > Servant Shoot + servant, but if the first two hits were blocked with Faultless Defense, Jack-O' is out of range for her 2K and her 5K can be hit by 6P.
Long-range Servant Pins
Servants can pin you down just by being there. Not good!
When Jack-O's zoning is successful, you will be 'pinned down' by her servant, which can attack you at any moment into a potential combo. This is a difficult situation but it's not hopeless. In fact, the further away Jack-O' is, the easier it will be to escape.
Servant Pin RPS
Any time you block a servant, Jack-O' can frametrap you with Attack Command. In addition, Attack Command is so plus Jack-O' can delay into another Attack Command to frametrap again. During any such delay, Jack-O' is likely to approach by running forward, therefore the more she can delay the more distance she can close. This creates a few basic options to concern over:
Frametrap with Attack Command Launches and potentially combos. Remember she is still +15.
Delayed Attack Command Opens a gap you can abare or jump. Gives Jack-O' time to summon or run in.
Run in with 2D or 5H Punishes you hitting the servant. The closer she is the quicker she can do it.
Defend Command Allows you to run past the servant, but catches any attempt to hit it.
The crux of this RPS is Jack-O's Servant Gauge. There is virtually never a time it's worth spending the third bar here (unless it kills), as it costs her only means to reasonably combo or pressure. This means Jack-O' only gets a couple Attack Commands before the pressure has effectively stopped. This is why Jack-O' will open gaps, to close the distance and create a new threat, or get a new servant to try and stall with more zoning. Below are some common options.
Running past the servant. If you are fast enough, delayed Attack Command simply whiffs, leaving Jack-O' wide open to counter.
Hit the servant with a P normal. Remember you can special cancel and gatling.
Air Dash. Generally weaker than dashing on the ground, but more lenient for avoiding the servant.
Block. It costs her Servant Gauge to keep you down, this is indirectly a win for you if she's wasting the resources.
When the Servant is Behind You
When the servant is behind you, some aspects about the RPS change a lot:
Jack-O's on-block pressure is now potential Sandwich Pressure. This is a win condition for her.
Blocking Attack Command now pushes you towards Jack-O', meaning she needs less interactions to close distance fully.
Very few abare actually work, besides niche tools like Anji's2SGuardLowStartup10Recovery16Advantage-6.
The servant will whiff much sooner if you begin running forward.
Generally, this is very similar, but you need to play more into the threat of approaching Jack-O'. If you run forward and Jack-O' made a gap, Attack Command will whiff and she will be left open to a Counter Hit.
For characters who can't dash forward quickly, like Potemkin and Goldlewis, this is unfortunately a very difficult position with little counterplay. The only particular option is to call out her approach if she does so with an unsafe gap, or otherwise respect the resources are being spent to gain pressure. Generally, you should try to avoid this happening in the first place if possible.