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Since Yamcha is a rushdown-style character, you will want to keep the basic principle of staying right up in the opponent's face in your mind while playing as Yamcha. Since he only has two long-range attack options, that really isn't his thing. You will also want to remember that Yamcha is also a character that really excels on the ground, not in the air. This is shown in both his normal attacks and his special moves (Wolf Fang Fist, the fact that Yamcha can only use the Kamehameha on the ground, and so on). So try to keep your opponent guessing while also taking advantage of Yamcha's supreme rushdown utility, along with keeping the person you're fighting on the ground. This may seem tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, Yamcha is excellent for mixing up your opponents and pressuring them.
Yamcha is self sufficient and his A and B assists are generally desired by most characters. He generally has to spend bar to win neutral even with assist and this makes him a bad battery character.
When paired with battery characters on point Yamcha can be used as a great meter dump with level 1 into level 3, EX WFF paired with an anti-air assist as a very strong skip neutral option and of course WFF mix-ups. This allows your point to use Yamcha's amazing assists and still gives Yamcha enough bar to work with when he is tagged in.
Yamcha A and B assist are both shinning examples of assist that almost every character benefit from. His A assist having a huge +40 frames of blockstun, a quick 20 frame start up and amazing horizontal reach makes SD into Yamcha A assist a very strong option to force your opponent into blocking. His B assist also being a beam assist means you can slap Yamcha on almost any team. This along with Yamcha being very self sufficient and a great bar dump makes anchor his best team position.
Yamcha can use pop up and DP assist to squeeze damage out of his combos but because his assists are so good almost everyone can benefit from him in some way. In finding teammates for Yamcha characters with good aerial movement can use Yamcha A assist very effectively and the blockstun can be used to setup mix-ups.
- 2L > 5L> 5LL > 2M...
Safe normals: 2L, 5L, 5LL, 5LLL, 2M, 5M, (0 on block) 5H (+4 long startup) and 5S (+2 Whiffs on crouching and tiny characters)
- 5L> 5LL > 5LLL...
Can force a safe raw tag by tagging during 5LLL animation
- 5L > 236L ~ H
Yamcha is surprisingly strong against reflect due to most of his mix-up being left/right
- Mix-up tools:
Cross up fist:
- 236M ~ delayed H
- 236M ~ H (Same side frame trap)
- 236S (Yamcha's beam startup looks similar to cross-up fist)
If the opponent is mashing L cross ups and beam will get stuffed.
5LL pulls opponent out of corner for IAD cross up: (Better in sparking)
- 5LL , IAD j.M
- 5LL , jump foward j.2H > 236L...
Yamcha has really restricted gatling options, however almost every normal has amazing frame data. His gatlings are very weak against reflected but he makes up with for it with 214X, (anti scratch) which can easily beat guard cancel attempts with some practise. WFF pressure can be cancelled into 214X making Yamcha very strong against guard cancel. 5H is an excellent sparking bait that also leaves him +4 on block for pressure resets. Refer to the Overview page for which series have gaps and which don't.
Wolf Fang Fist on wakeup is a reasonable option, as you can catch mashing with 236L->M. You also have the option of using Whiskers mixups, or reverse wolf fang fist straight into wolf fang fist flash.
2M can also be a good option if you've conditioned your opponent into expecting Wolf Fang Fist mixups, as none of them hit low and your opponent may not be expecting the 2M on wakeup.
Tips and Tricks
His 5H can not be used in a generic combo starter like L>M>H because it is so dang slow. What it's really good for is punishing mashing in a blockstring. If it lands, you get a free combo. If it's blocked, you're +4 so it's pretty squarely your turn. Think of it more like an evasive Bardock 236S.
Yamcha's toolset is built around strong close range pressure and crossups. His 236L/M has a dozens of sub-options that are built to crack open your opponent. The main options are: going from a light special to a medium special for a frame trap, using 5S to cross through and continue pressure, using 4S to force a whiff, using 214M to catch Guard Cancel attempt, and converting all of that into a combo with the H follow up.
Since Yamcha's 5LL pulls the opponent closer to him, it's possible to cross the opponent up in the corner by utilizing an IAD j.M. This is especially useful while Yamcha has Sparking activated, since he can jump cancel the 2nd hit of his autocombo.
Instant Wolf Fang Fist (IWFF)
It's possible to cancel some of the startup of the L and M versions of the Wolf Fang Fist by immediately pressing H immediately afterwards.
Wolf Fang Fist Whiskers Mix-Up
If an opponent is blocking and you are having trouble trying to break through their guard, then the Wolf Fang Fist: Whiskers attack is often an excellent choice to confuse your opponent. This move is a follow-up to the normal Wolf Fang Fist, and involves Yamcha jumping back after doing the normal attack. This can be immediately followed up by any other Wolf Fang Fist follow-up. However, it is also a good move for bypassing players with good defense. Once you jump back while doing the Wolf Fang Fist: Whiskers, they will most likely attempt to attack you, which is a perfect time to instantly hit them. However, they might continue to block and not attack, so keep this in mind while using the move.
Be mindful that Yamcha's kit is an unorthodox one. He can be very evasive; if he charges at you do not expect him to stay in front of you for too long. Try to make his fights long ranged ones, so he can't fight back at full strength. His range attacks are somewhat lacking; he can only shot 1 ki blast at the time, and his kamehameha has one of the longest startups in the entire game, which will put him in a very disadvantageous position when trading 236S with his opponents, though be wary of it's faster-than-normal recovery time if he manages to clash beams. Fighting him in the middle of the map will allow him to take advantage of his specific 5H attack, as well his 236L/M/H speed coverage. Cornering him will make unable to use his 5H dodging properties. His 214L/M/H, when done closer to the ground, gives him a somewhat delayed recovery; you should take advantage of it.
Yamcha also has limited air options; his air normals are all pretty good, and his 214X is air-invincible, but outside of that he has even worse ranged options than when he's on the ground (read: none). He will struggle to fight air to air against characters with good air zoning abilities as a result.