A Frame Trap is a way of taking advantage of frame advantage to make retaliating (or anything with startup, like jumping) a riskier defensive option.
What is a Frame Trap?
A basic Frame Trap consists of two parts:
- Make the opponent block an attack
- Typically this is an attack with lots of frame advantage, but is not a requirement
- Let the opponent exit blockstun very briefly, inviting them to attack/jump (anything that is not blocking)
- Time a second attack to hit the opponent during their vulnerable period before the attack becomes active
- Look at what moves opponents like to do after blocking, these are usually fast attacks like 2P or 2A
Once the opponent is conditioned into blocking after the first part of a frame trap (eg: blocking during step 2 instead of attacking), then it's time to take advantage of your opponent's hesitation to mix it up! Throws and slow overheads become options if you can condition the opponent to not move.
Common Types of Frame Traps
Let's look at a few common types of frame traps and an example of each.
A typical frame trap is doing a move that has frame advantage, following it up with a fast strike. If the opponent attempts to attack between your two moves, then they will get hit.
For example, Hazama's 5B in BBCF is a very strong frame trap tool because it is +2 on block and relatively fast with 8 frames of startup. After an opponent blocks Hazama's 5B, the Hazama player can move 2 frames before the opponent can, allowing him to do a dashing 5B without much fear. If the opponent attempts to retaliate with a 5A (average speed 6F), then Hazama's 5B will trade in Hazama's favor since he will be +10F in the exchange. If he's dealing with someone with a 5F move (like Ragna's 5A), then Hazama can use 5A and beat 5 frame moves outright.
In games like BlazBlue and Guilty Gear, characters can often cancel their normals other normals on hit or block (5A > 5B > 5C or 5P > c.S > 5H).
Players can make frame traps by either:
- Delaying the later move to intentionally create a gap, inviting the opponent to attempt a counter
- Doing two moves that naturally have a gap between them that's small enough that most moves would be hit out of their startup
For example, Jin can do multiple 2As in a row with delayed timings to coax the opponent into counter attacking. Jin's 2A is -1 on block, so theoretically the opponent should have a slight advantage. However by delay canceling the second 2A, the window to attack between the two 2As is very tiny, usually less than the time for the opponent's attack to come out.
If the opponent decides to keep blocking, then Jin can choose to restart a new blockstring, they can even start the new blockstring with another 2A, placing the opponent in the same situation yet again!
Most blockstrings actually already have gaps between some moves, however it's hard to consider them frame traps as they don't look like an opening to the opponent, and thus won't elicit a response from them.
Similar to the delayed blockstrings mentioned above, players can do the same thing, but with special/super cancels instead! This is usually much more risky, but follows the same principals as described above.
Some characters can create frame traps by using assists to hit after unsafe moves to create frame traps. The assist is timed to hit the opponent while you are recovering from your attack.
A common case of this is puppet characters like Zato-1 from Guilty Gear or Carl Clover from BlazBlue. Others like Kum Haehyun and Arakune can use delayed projectiles for the same purpose. Almost everyone can do this in team based games where partners can be called in for assist attacks like Dragon Ball FighterZ and BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle.
Escaping Frame Traps
Frame traps are designed to condition you to block so that the opponent can remain in control of the pace of a match.
Instant blocking an attack reduces the amount of blockstun received, which reduces the frame advantage the opponent has and may give you enough time to counterattack in time or to jump/backdash out.
Barrier/Faultless Defense is also an option, since it tends to push you further away, this may push the opponent far away enough to do avoid the opponent's attempt to attack you.
Invincible moves like reversals and backdashes are a strong tool versus frame traps because while they may be the fastest attack, they have invincibility, allowing them to go through the opponent's attack!
All of these options have their own advantages/drawbacks and may not work against certain frame traps. In the middle of a match, you will need to learn what frame traps the opponent likes to use and have a counter prepared to maximize your punishes.