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Meaty Options

Zato Basic Knockdown and Meaty Options:

  • 5K is a decent meaty option that hits low.
    • Active for 4f and relatively low range makes this option susceptible to backdash, however it recovers fast enough to still be ~+6 on a 20f backdash and to be safe to some slower reversals. At -2 on block and with no gapless Eddie options afterwards it's not the best pressure button, however as a low it's perfect for targeting an opponent that likes to fuzzy jump on wakeup.
    • On block all Eddie summons other than Oppose are interruptible, so it's generally best to gatling into 2D after using this button unless Eddie is already summoned. Without Eddie, a delayed 2D or 6P can frametrap afterwards, so this can be used as a stagger option. With dash momentum 623S can be a tick throw.
    • On hit 2D gatling leads to a reset into strong oki situation.
  • c.S is the universal meaty option and that's no different for Zato.
    • Active for 6f so if timed perfectly can catch backdash with 5f invul or shorter and meaty on the first frame. +1 on block and with access to dash and jump cancels, this is your standard meaty button.
    • Zato as a lot of cancel options of this move but generally you want to mix between 5H > Summon to begin pressure, delayed 5H to catch mash attempts, 5D to go high if you have meter, 2D to go low, 2K to frametrap an attempt to mash the plus frames, immediate Summon if you opponent respects c.S as this gives you better pressure options, or even dash throw.
    • Getting a hit or CH on c.S doesn't lead to much as Zato generally doesn't have good hitconfirm routes off of it. You get c.S > 5H > 22H which can be extended with meter or a combo into the first hit of "Pierce" which does make your pressure slightly stronger.
  • 5H is an alternative, with different strengths and weaknesses from c.S.
    • Active for 9f and large range makes it fairly easy to meaty and catch backdashes with. At -9 on block with, no gatling options, cancelling into Eddie summons on block or 22H are the only really effective options. Therefore, this move isn't a great option when you cannot summon Eddie as you aren't able to blockstring after it very long to stall.
    • If you have Eddie meter the summon pressure after a meaty 5H, is slightly better than c.S > 5H as you are generally close enough to use a P or K normal to fill the pierce gap.
    • On hit 5H doesn't lead to much for the same reason c.S doesn't but on CH 5H grants a full combo from "Pierce" or "Leap" in the corner as well as a guaranteed Damned Fang if you are close.
  • Invite Hell (22H) is a classic Zato option that is very low risk, low reward.
    • Invite Hell is active for 32f and has an extremely wide hitbox in it's later active frames making it incredibly easy to meaty with and it can be up to +16 if timed perfectly meaty. It is also often safe to reversals due to being able to meaty from outside of the range of their DP / Super and as it only has two frames of recovery after the last active frame. This is the safest and least committal meaty option Zato has without using Eddie and is great when you don't have the ability to summon. The risk you take in meatying with c.S or 5H has very low reward when Eddie isn't able to be summoned.
    • As it is a special it cannot be cancelled but if done properly as oki Zato is very plus, meaning various pressure starters such as 2K, c.S, 5H, 2D, or even "Pierce" can jail or frametrap.
    • On hit the reward is low if you are spaced, but from closer some normals can combo and grant a better knockdown or even small combos.
  • 6H is primarily a throw and backdash bait option, as well as being useful for stalling for time.
    • As 6H is airborne and moves Zato forward it will make throws whiff and catch backdashes after their invul has run out. Generally, you aren't actually meatying with this move because if you did it would lose to backdash. Additionally, due to its 30f startup it can hard to actually time to hit meaty, this makes it susceptible to wakeup mash. However, it doesn't matter that much as you are using this move late enough that your opponent has likely already committed to their wakeup option.
    • When blocked there's a favorable RPS situation for Zato, flight forward > j.K loses to <6f buttons and most 6Ps but leads to a basic pressure on block. Flight downback > 2S will punish mashed <6f buttons and 6Ps allowing you to summon into pressure, delayed 214S can frametrap mash attemps and leads to a full combo in the corner. You can also get tricky with flight upward and RCs.
    • On normal hit you don't get much beyond stronger pressure with a combo'd j.K, however 6H is a large CH so you can combo into 236P / 236K / 236S on hit.

Common Knockdowns

  • The table below lists strong, common knockdowns. These are the scenarios that you want to have strong oki labbed out. For other random knockdowns the options above are good. Going for a more risky option like throw, command throw, etc. is not advisable, at least if you don't have meter. You take a big risk without Eddie or meter backing you up for low reward with the worst defense in the game and nearly the lowest health.

Strong Knockdowns
Move Conditions (Hit, Airborne?, Screen Position) Type
2DGGST Zato-1 2D.pngGuard:
Normal Hit, Grounded, Anywhere HKD
6PGGST Zato-1 6P.pngGuard:
Normal Hit, Both, Anywhere SKD
6PGGST Zato-1 6P.pngGuard:
Counter Hit, Both, Anywhere HKD
6D or 4DGGST Zato-1 Ground Throw.pngGuard:
N/A, Grounded, Anywhere HKD
623SGGST Zato-1 Damned Fang.pngGuard:
Ground Throw
N/A, Grounded, Corner HKD
214SGGST Zato-1 Drunkard Shade.pngGuard:
Normal Hit, Airborne, Anywhere HKD
22HGGST Zato-1 Invite Hell 1.pngGuard:
Both, Both, Corner SKD
236S (2)GGST Zato-1 Leap.pngGuard:
21 [25]
Both, Both, Anywhere HKD
]S[ (2)GGST Zato-1 Leap.pngGuard:
Both, Both, Anywhere HKD
632146HGGST Zato-1 Amorphous.pngGuard:
Total 43
Both, Both, Anywhere HKD
Super Wallbreak N/A, Both, N/A HKD
  • 2D has a large amount of frame advantage and is one of Zato's best knockdowns.
    • With Eddie, 214H is the go to. There is enough time to raw summon Eddie and still meaty with a normal or an Eddie move. There are dozens of oki setups after 214H, all with different strengths and weaknesses the two most common are:
      • Midscreen: 214H > [6] > ]K[ > 214S > delay ]P[ > dash 5P > c.S > .... (following sequence and options in the Blockstrings Section)
      • Anywhere: 214H > [6] > 236[K] > .... (following sequence and options in the Blockstrings Section)
    • Without Eddie, the generic meaty options are good. 214K > 22H gives a ~+15 Invite Hell that is safe to all but very long range reversals.
  • Normal Hit 6P does not lead to a hugely advantageous knockdown but has decent options.
    • With Eddie 236P can meaty after normal hit, if you have trouble confirming normal vs counter hit you can instead opt to 214H in both instances. Raw Summon after normal hit doesn't lead to strong oki but you will have Eddie summoned and in a good position when you opponent recovers.
    • Without Eddie, your options are limited, but you can 22H for a small combo or dash in to gain some screen position.
  • Counter Hit 6P has an extreme amount of frame advantage.
    • With Eddie available you have more or less the same options as 2D but with even more frame advantage. Careful not to accidentally OTG your opponent, you may have to delay your timings form 2D options to avoid doing this on accident.
    • Without Eddie, go for a generic meaty option.
  • 6D/4D (Outside the corner)
    • With Eddie, dash > 214H > ]P[(1) > 2S > .... can lead into strong pressure (following sequence and options in the Blockstrings Section)
    • Without Eddie, choose a generic meaty option.
  • 6D/4D (At the corner)
    • With Eddie, you have a lot of options. The most common and versatile is OTG Normal > 236K. The normal you OTG with will determine how much damage the OTG does and how far you are pushed away. Some are harder to time than others, pick the normal you feel gives you the best trade off of distance to damage to ease of use. c.S is a easy option that.
    • Without Eddie, OTG c.S > 9 > j.S/j.H is a safejump vs slower than 9f reversals and leaves you with your air option to make j.D flight a real threat for a double overhead. Additionally, OTG c.S > dash cancel c.S is an autotimed meaty that is +3 on block.
  • 623S (At the corner)
    • At +7 you have to choose between a variety of options with different risks / rewards to maintain strong oki.
      • 2D beats any wakeup button, hits jump startup, and catches backdashes. It will lose to reversals and has weaker on block summon RPS. Use this if they are likely to try to RPS or disrespect your oki without a reversal.
      • 5H beats any button slower than 5f, forces block on jump, catches backdash, and has higher reward on hit. It can be mashed on by most 5f jabs and characters with very fast jump arcs can jump out. However, the summon RPS afterwards is stronger than 2D due to the higher attack level. Use this when your opponent is respecting the oki.
      • 44 > 236S is a reversal / gold burst bait option. It will punish all DPs and gold burst as they will whiff and is safe to all but the fastest reversals supers. The opponent has ample opportunity to mash or use movement to escape, but they have to commit to pretty risky options to call this out.
  • 214S specifically on normal, airborne hit.
    • The exact frame advantage can vary based on how high the opponent was in the air when this move connects. Generally, from outside the corner you can only get a generic meaty.
    • In the corner you have time for a meaty 236K.
  • 22H is generally done as a combo ender.
    • The frame advantage on this move varies based on how late into the active frames your opponent is hit by it. Generally, the scenario where you are in position to take advantage of this frame advantage is when it is done in a combo (e.g. ... > 2H > 22H) and the move connects fairly early, meaning you aren't at huge advantage on the knockdown. As such you won't be able to dash in and meaty, you are generally forced to meaty with a ranged option like 2S or 2D after microdashing in.
  • 236S specifically when the second hit is able to connect.
    • Midscreen if Eddie meter is not empty you can do an immediate unsummon and generally still have time for a dash up meaty.
      • If the "Leap" uses the last of your meter, you have plenty of time for a run up meaty to stall.
    • In the corner, there is ample time to unsummon and wait to regain Eddie meter before either a meaty or a resummon such as 236K. If Eddie is close to empty when he is unsummoned you won't have enough time to 214H > ]X[, but a 236X summon should work.
  • ]S[ specifically when the second hit is able to connect.
    • As this has no recovery for Zato, most of your oki options are the same as 236S but there is significantly more frame advantage. You can unsummon into essentially anything you want to do, even from fullscreen.
  • 632146H midscreen
    • With Eddie, dash 214H > ]K[ can allow for a sandwich setup or 236K can meaty for corner push.
    • Without Eddie, you can pick any generic meaty option.
  • Super Wallbreak
    • 214H > ]P[ is a reversal safe meaty and spaced at a range where a 236K or 236S cancel on the first hit is hard to contest.
    • Dash up meaty is also a strong option if reversals are not a factor. Spaced 5H is the easiest and safest option here.

Sandwich Oki

2D Sandwich Oki"FIGHT BACK"

2D > 214H, [3], delay ]K[(1), delay 214S, delay ]P[, dash 2K, [6]c.[S] > Mix Option
This string, if done perfectly, can true string all the way into the c.S, however it is fairly difficult to do so as there are several non-bufferable links due to negative edge inputs. Luckily, it's fairly easy to only leave frame-trapped gaps with some practice.

Here are some common issues players experience with this sequence:

  • Make sure that you delay long enough after ]K[(1) to allow the single drill to come out, if you cancel with 214S too early you may not get the hit of the drill and fail to meaty.
  • Delay the ]P[ for a decent period of time, you can true string it after the drill but leaving a gap by delaying too much is not a big deal as it's difficult for the opponent to hit Zato or Eddie in that scenario.
    • If you don't delay the released "Pierce" long enough you will not be plus enough to true string the dash 2K.
  • The c.S after 2K is a link, so be sure to practice making it as tight as possible.

After the c.S the mix begins. In addition to the options with examples listed in the other tabs, you can also attempt to throw or command throw instead of c.S. Delay slightly after dash 2K to allow the opponents throw protection to wear off. Normal throw can be lead to a combo with ]S[.

5D ComboDon't accidentally hold 5D

5D, delay ]P[, 5P, [6]c.S, delay [3]2[S] > [3]2[H], delay ]S[, ]H[, delay 2H > 214K, c.S > 2S > 2H > Ender
A hard to react to high into a full combo, not too shabby. Should be noted that c.S > 5D always has a 4f gap, so 3f normals can mash out.

Delaying the ]P[, isn't strictly necessary to make the combo work. However, it does ensure that you can still close the "Pierce" gap if they block the 5D which allows you to safely continue pressuring. Alternatively, ]S[ can be used to confirm, and is generally higher damage as well as easily ensuring plus frames if the mix is blocked. The downside to this option is that you are out of Eddie meter after, so if they block you do not get another usage of Eddie to convert with.

You can opt to switch sides in this combo by using 2K instead of 5P after "Pierce" release, picking up with c.S into the usual ]S[ sequence for corner carry.

2D ComboHit them trying to fuzzy.

delay 2D, delay ]P[, 5P, [6]c.S, delay [3]2[S] > [3]2[H], delay ]S[, ]H[, delay 2H > 214K, c.S > 2S > 2H > Ender
The less exciting, but equally important, counterpart to 5D. When going low in these mixups, make sure to delay 2D as it normally would hit a lot earlier than 5D. The sweet spot for the amount to delay it is enough that it isn't truestring, but still frametraps any mash attempts. This will put it at about the same speed as 5D making it hard or impossible to fuzzy guard.

The delay before ]P[ is much shorter than for the high option as 2D has less hitstun before it becomes uncombo-able. Same as the high, you can time the "Pierce" release such that the 5P afterwards can cover the "Pierce" gap if they block the low. Also like the high option, ]S[ can be used as the pickup if you want.

You can opt to switch sides in this combo by using 2K instead of 5P after "Pierce" release, picking up with c.S into the usual ]S[ sequence for corner carry.

2D > 214K CrossunderCrossunders are objectively cooler than crossups.

[3]2D, ]P[, 214[K], [1]2S > 22H, ]S[, ]H[, dash 2S > 22H
Best when done with your back to the wall, but more likely to be expected. If done properly, opponents cannot mash out of this setup unless their fast crouching normals happen to hit slightly backwards (some do).

The 2D > 214[K] is a cancel, you just have to tap P to get "Pierce" after 2D but before cancelling into Break the Law. The first hit of "Pierce" gives you time to cross them up, the second is the mix.

With your back to the wall or even just closer than round start distance you can pickup into a stronger combo with Zato's typical corner routing.

2D > 214K Fake CrossunderIncredibly ambigious.

[3]2D, ]P[, [1]214[K], [6]c.S, [3]2[S] > [3]2[H], delay ]S[, ]H[, delay 2H > 214K, c.S > 2S > 2H > Ender
Don't go for this unless you think your opponent is aware of the mix. Since this is an uncommon setup for a mixup, opponents below a certain skill level will generally never block the real crossunder on purpose. It's best to save this option for opponents that you know they know.

Setup is the same, and how you stay sameside is kind of freestyle. Tapping forward then back is generally the most consistent and visually tricky option.

Converts into the usual "Leap" loop for 1 rep.

Corner 236K Oki

There are a few common ways to setup 236K oki and many options for the mix afterwards. First we'll break down setting the oki up, then go over several of the options afterwards.


2K > 2D confirmThis is what we've been waiting for.

2K > 2D > 214H, ]K[
Eddie can be summoned on reaction to 2K > 2D connecting. Completely reversal safe, it's best to delay slightly before jumping or dashing to mix and confirm that they have blocked drills and haven't done a reversal.

Mid-Combo Early UnsummonForgo damage for oki

... > 2[H] > 236S/]S[ > 214H, dash, 236K
This option is useful if you realize you want to unsummon early and are able to start the unsummon immediately after using "Leap". ]S[ has more frame advantage on the knockdown than 236S and so it's very easy to go for slightly greedier oki if Eddie was already out.

The sequences before using this setup generally involve either getting a hit with solo Zato on oki or as a punish or having used 236[K] beforehand to gain an additional Eddie action.

Be sure not to input 236K too early as you want to give time for the Eddie gauge to refill.

Mid-Combo Late UnsummonTricky but well worth learning

... > 2[H], ]K[(1), delay 214H, dash, 236K
This option is for when you don't have enough Eddie meter to use "Leap" and unsummon. Slightly tricker, it's easy to time the sequence incorrectly and fail to meaty or leave yourself open to reversals. Still a valuable route to learn as it can often be used to stop just short of breaking the wall, enabling the following mix to end in wallslump.

Using Clap Cancel 236K

In most instances of corner oki where 236K or ]K[ is used as a meaty, you can opt to clap cancel into 236K to reduce the amount of Eddie meter used by the full sequence of drills. This can save enough meter to allow for an additional Eddie action in the followup sequences.

  • The downside to clap cancelling in these setups is that it is generally less safe to reversals as Zato is vulnerable during the clap animation and is a free point at which the opponent can Burst or YRC successfully on reaction if Zato is in range.
  • Be sure to link the clap cancel as fast as possible after 236K to ensure you only get a single drill before cancelling or you may end up using more Eddie meter on accident.
  • It's possible to clap cancel ]K[ too early not allowing a drill to come out and failing to meaty.
  • Off of some knockdowns you may be able to meaty with 236[K], which uses even less Eddie meter and is generally more reversal safe.

Using OTG before 236K

In most instances where you setup 236K oki with a hard knockdown you can opt to OTG for extra meter and damage.

  • The downside of using an OTG is that you are doing wall damage, which limits the damage of the combo after the following mixup. Additionally, the normal you OTG with will push you out some distance which can be good and bad.
    • The upside is that extra pushback from an OTG c.S or 5H can cause all DPs except Leo's to whiff on Zato and Eddie, this usually means they get punished by the hits of 236K which nets an overall weaker punish. However, as the DP didn't make contact the opponent cannot DP > RC and you have also kept Eddie alive and ready to use.
    • The downside is that at low wall health if the opponent takes the hit on 236K or is hit by the drills after an unsuccessful DP, the wall will likely break from the drills alone, ruining any chance at a wallslump or Super wallbreak. Additionally, the extra pushback can serve to make the mixup afterwards slightly harder to time and possible a little less ambiguous.
  • 5K, 2K, c.S, 2S, 5H, and 2D can all be used to OTG. Generally, if you choose to OTG pick what is the right balance for you of damage vs pushback vs execution.
  • OTG and Clap Cancel 236K can be combined for maximum greed. Generally OTG 5H > 236K(1), 236K is the best option if you want to go for this as it's safe to many lower range reversals.

The Mix

This will only cover layer one of the mixups from 236K oki as there are an extremely large amount of branching options from each of these first round mixups.

IAD j.S > j.DThe go-to

jump, 66, slight delay j.[S] > j.D, ]P[, 2K
The first option, and a very strong one. This is equally effective against opponents who are aware of the mixup as it is against those who are not.

Make sure to delay the j.S a small amount after flying to ensure it both lands as close to same frame as the immediate low as possible and so that you fall slightly before it connects. Additionally, it is important to delay a while after j.D before releasing "Pierce" to ensure you get as much frame advantage as possible. If ]P[ is done too quickly any normal you try after j.D can be mashed or thrown.

IAD j.S, 2KCounterpart to double high.

jump, 66, slight delay j.[S], 2[K], ]P[
This is the most likely option to be blocked against weaker opponents as they will instinctively fuzzy guard low after a falling high. This does not make it a bad option, it is still very important to rotate this into the options you pick.

IAD 2KMix this into your mix to mixup your mixup.

jump, 33, 2[K], ]P[
Low option for the initial high/low mixup. In additon to being a mixup in its own right when paired with j.S this option also has a variety of vary strong secondary mixups afterwards such as tick throw and 5D

IAD 623SCan't let them forget that Zato is a grappler.

jump, 33, slight delay 623S
It's important to introduce options into your mixup that punish the opponent for patient blocking if possible. Additionally, the 623S includes a "Leap" release which can help make your throw safer if they opponent jumps or backdashes. The oki after command throw is generally weaker than 236K oki, but the damage and meter gain are well worth it.

If you delay the 33 IAD you can delay the 623S less or not at all. Whichever you choose it's important to ensure the opponent has left blockstun for at least five frames so throw protection is gone.

Hit conversionThey were scared of the mix.

jump, 66, j.[S], 5[P], ]P[ WS > 214H > 5H
Cowards (and smart opponents) will occasionally take the hit on purpose. This is smart as it can prevent from from getting mixed for more damage, put in a wallslump situation, or potentinally get them out if you aren't ready to convert.

There are a variety of conversion you can do. If you don't jump and instead dash up to confirm you can get slightly higher damage.

Converting the Mixups

The conversion shown in the section above aren't perfectly optimal, but were routed to be similar from any of the options and be able to consistently wallbreak. The route you choose will of course vary with the wallhealth and based on the amount of Eddie meter you have, amount of tension you have, and if you chose to OTG or not. The basic tenets of Zato's combo structure do apply.

  • Use 5P or 2K to fill the gap after the first hit of "Pierce", after which you can do a variety of things while the opponent is getting juggled by the second hit of "Pierce".
  • Most of these options can be routed into wallslump, there will be a section dedicated to this eventually.

Second Layer Mixups and More

As you have at least one "Pierce" and one other Eddie action after meaty 236K you can easily run a second layer of mixups should the first fail to open your opponent up. Generally these set of options overlap with general blockstring pressure and mix but a few ideas are listed below.

  • Any ]P[ can be replaced with ]H[ to enable strike / throw mix between 2K and 623S.
    • Ex: IAD 66 j.[S], 2[K], ]H[, dash 623S vs 2K > 2D
  • After forcing an opponent to stand block a j.D a delayed ]S[ can result in a lot of plus frames, often even enough unsummon and still be plus or to go for a another IAD high / low.
  • The common sequence of ]P[(1), 5P / 2K, ]P[(2) grants enough plus frames to enable a dash c.S or strike / throw.

Midscreen Flight Mix

A harder to block variation of sandwich mix that leaves room for an equally strong follow-up mix on block.


Superjump j.D > Delay > j.D confirmGet used to timing the second j.D on crouchers

2K/c.S > 2D > 214H, ]K[ > j.D > Delay > j.D > ]P[ > 5P
You must superjump/high jump (28) before the first j.D or else Zato will not change directions for the second j.D. This mixup can potentially leave you with enough gauge to go for an unsummon reset so once you're comfortable with the sequence experiment with your combo options afterwards.

Superjump j.D > Land > 2K confirmEasier than the overhead, start with practicing this

2K/c.S > 2D > 214H, ]K[ > j.D > Land > 2K > ]P[ > 2K
The other half of the initial 50/50. If they block the first 2k you can start standard sandwich pressure but keep in mind you're missing 50% of your Eddie gauge. Tick throw 623S is a decent option here as is using the BTL mixup showcased earlier.

Superjump j.D > Delay > j.D > 11 > 2KJust Block It Bro™

2K/c.S > 2D > 214H, ]K[ > j.D > Delay > j.D > 11 > ]P[ > 2K
If your opponent blocks the overhead you have another 50/50 available and this represents the layer two low option. You want to time releasing ]P[ for just a bit after the second j.D connects to give yourself as much frame advantage as possible to cover landing into the 2k low. If they manage to block this too you still have enough gauge left for one more 5D/2D/623S sandwich mixup.

Superjump j.D > Delay > j.D > ]P[ > Hover > j.KJust Block It Bro™ Vers. 2

2K/c.S > 2D > 214H, ]K[ > j.D > Delay > j.D > ]P[ > Hover > j.K > c.S
The double overhead is particularly potent once your opponent is aware of and afraid of the fact that that the overhead > low option exists. For the hover, you want to cancel the j.D into a dash but you want to make sure you stay in place as much as possible rather than actually moving forward. Like with the overhead > low mix, you have enough gauge left for one more three way sandwich mixup so be prepared to keep going if your opponent's defense is on point.


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