As a point character, Mai has good range, movement, and neutral control, but lacks damage and mixup. A partner with an assist that lets her jump and fully charge j[B]B to combo off of will drastically enhance her damage potential in combos. She also appreciates assists that help cover space that her moves don't so that she can plug up the screen with hitboxes, especially large or fast projectiles. A good anti-air is also a benefit as her 2B invulnerability has a slow startup, even while she has an excellent reversal, not having to commit to it will greatly reduce her risk.
As an anchor character, Mai is excellent because she does not require assists to function with her basic gameplan, they simply enhance her damage output. Her assist kit is very useful, especially her extremely threatening 5P that immediately covers the entire grounded screen and causing a wallbounce on hit, and can be liberally tossed out to force the opponent to respect it. 6P has poor damage scaling, but the tiny gap in her projectiles allows for mixup opportunities, especially helpful in being able to set up her point character for another mixup afterwards. Her 4P still retains its excellent hitbox, and the hitstun allows for easy conversions, making it a very solid anti-air without the problem of having slow invulnerability startup.
Mai can make a functional team with most of the BBTag roster, her best teammate is Yumi.
- Yumi Tier: Yumi
- Very Strong Teams: Vatista, Akihiko, Mitsuru, Seth, Ruby, Adachi
- Strong Teams: Merkava, Yuzuriha, Yu, Akatsuki, Nu-13, Carmine, Naoto K., Nine, Orie
- Good Teams: Ragna, Waldstein, Es, Hyde, Jubei, Azrael, Aegis
- Solid Teams: Makoto, Jin, Teddie, Noel, Izayoi, Weiss, Chie, Celica
- Workable Teams: Blake, Gordeau, Susano'o, Yang, Blitztank, Labrys
- Subpar Teams: Yosuke, Linne, Neo, Rachel, Yukiko, Kanji, Hazama, Tager, Platinum
- Mostly Unexplored: Hakumen, Naoto S., Elizabeth, Mika, Nine, Heart
Mai is a versatile character with long-range disjointed normals, high mobility, and a strong assist set. She primarily makes use of her range to control the neutral game and set the pace of the match, aided by her spear toss that she can redirect at the opponent which is very good at sniping the opponent’s assist calls. Mai can play both aggressively or defensively depending on the opponent’s characters, and even change playstyle mid-match if needed. She can also serve as a team’s point or anchor depending on her teammate. However, her solo mixup game is basic, consisting mostly of simple high/low/throw safejump setups and blockstring staggers and pressure resets, though she can easily help set up sandwich situations for her partner through the use of her excellent reversal, even mid-blockstring, or as the assist character through her 5P if the opponent ever jumps. Mai will typically make use of her strong neutral to force her opponents into uncomfortable situations and punish their commitments.
While Mai doesn’t have the best mixup, she does have a consistent safejump setup on her primary knockdown, ending a combo with Suzuran (214A/B). She can then jump and land with jA while holding back to block a reversal. It won’t cover all techs, but the jA hitbox will let her cover some options:
- Cover midscreen neutral and backwards tech by using an instant airdash jA
- Cover midscreen neutral and forward tech by using a neutral jump jA
- Cover corner neutral and backwards tech by using neutral jump jA
- Cover corner forward tech by using backwards jump jA
She has other safejumps that she can apply to her other forms of knockdown, A+D and 2C.
Corner neutral safejumps with 214A/B or A+D will allow the opponent to tech past Mai, but a backwards jump prevents that, and if you assist call as you jump backwards, the opponent sets themself up in a sandwich for you, assuming your assist will meaty.
If they have a habit of forward teching, you can use Juncture combined with a properly timed Himeyuri to cross under the opponent. You can combine this with assists to setup a crossup meaty, that if done correctly should leave Mai reversal-safe. This also works against both forward and backwards tech if done off of a 2C knockdown, cancelling the 2C directly into 236~B.
Her solo landing mixup is basic, she can land with jA for an overhead, empty jump after a knockdown and go for 2A for a low, or empty jump into a throw as well. This generally is the second layer of mixup once they begin respecting the jA safejump > blockstring.
Using assist meaty with your safejump jA, you can empty jump deep to land cancel jA (so the attack animation starts but Mai doesn't actually attack) with the hope they stand block your assist to set up a fuzzy. You can rejump immediately with jA to open up the opponent, since if they switched to blocking low they would still be stuck in the standing animation, and depending on your assist, use CC to convert the fuzzy into a full combo.
Using the same concept of assist meaty combined with a neutral or backwards safejump in the corner, you can late airdash jAA to help setup a basic delayed overhead.
Continuing blockstring pressure with Juncture can lead to potential options in 236A (the opponent risks a counterhit, which 4A can convert), blockstring resets with 2A or a throw attempt if the opponent respects the 236A, and baiting abare with 236214 to punish.
Note that 2C can only be special cancelled, so there is no option to chain into a jump cancellable normal such as 2B after it.
5AAA can be waited out to measure the distance for a 236A tipper, which leaves Mai safe but not plus.
Tips and Tricks
Mai’s Moon Blossom has throw and foot invulnerability from frame 1, and full invulnerability from frame 6 to 15. Using this in blockstrings or pressure resets to bait an opponent's actions can lead to a big punish from a 214~B starter, or depending on the situation, landing and punishing afterwards if it’s a high commitment option. This does risk getting hit by a reversal if the opponent’s reversal has long active frames. Moon Blossom can also be used to react to and directly solo punish bursts.
Mai’s jAA does have a very interesting property in that it has very little endlag. If the opponent is blocking in the air, she can jAA and airdash for another jAA before landing for more overheads if the opponent decides to switch to a crouching block after the first jAA in anticipation of Mai landing on the ground and going for a low.
If her assist is active, Mai can hold 5B to begin charging her spear and Active Switch. After it, she will continue charging to its maximum duration before throwing it, which can be useful for covering her partner's approach, though using the redirect is not possible.
- Always try to air block Mai's Suzuran to gain better frame advantage against her, she can get punished even on the enhanced ones.
- Empty Juncture (236) is incredibly minus and meant to reset pressure with the threat of DP or 236A, so only respect it with that expectation alone.
- jA is a very good button and is her only overhead outside of 5C, but the entire hitbox is a hurtbox and she'll almost never gain a conversion if she trades.
- Always oki her with attacks that aren't leg attribute or throws, since her Moon Blossom needs 6 frames to gain full invulnerability, and she enters counter state immediately on input. This also means making her frequently block switch could have sloppy switching, resulting in an unintentional 214 input and a free counterhit despite her not actually attacking.
- After Moon Blossom, Mai cannot jump or airdash until she's performed an air normal or recovered from a spear throw.
- Mai can only special cancel spear throws on hit or block, and in the air only into Moon Blossom or air reversal. She can only Moon Blossom up to 2 times and must land before being able to do another, and all Suzurans require a Moon Blossom input except air reversal.
- Only 4A, 4AA, and 2B can be jump cancelled on block, and she can't blockstring any ground normal into 4A.
- 2B on whiff has a lot of recovery and long startup, so it's a poor last minute anti-air.
- jC is a completely disjointed hitbox but isn't an overhead, it just has a lot of blockstun.