Rachel in 2.0 is not as needy in terms of what she wants in a partner, opening up her team choices drastically compared to the other patches. All Rachel really needs is a good fullscreen/projectile assist to cover her deadzone in her zoning. A long blockstun assist or anti-air assist are appreciated, but not needed. However, her partner needs to be able to use her tools and assists properly too. Not a lot of characters can both give to Rachel, and use what Rachel gives them. Thus, her double sided synergy pool is very small, limited to just a small handful of characters.
Rachel excels in matchups where she can easily enforce her gameplan. Rather it be through zoning or running her mixup game, her favorable matchups are against characters who cannot easily stop her movement or zoning patterns. Characters with easy to access projectile invuln, ones who can run under her bats, are able to react to bats and force Rachel to block at any range, or have extreme mobility, are all key factors in deciding a bad matchup for Rachel.
The characters that have the best synergy with Rachel are: Ruby, Susano’o, Hyde, and Vatista. Being able to properly use her assists and active switch points are key in making a good Rachel team. Converting 4P at any height is something limited to Ruby, using 5P properly and creating unpushblockable pressure, and using 6P to catch jumps and fuzzy, as well as reset pressure due to the delayed nature of the projectile are all achieved by Ruby Rose. However, the other characters can all use 4P well enough to convert decent damage, using 6P to layer zoning, using 5P to create hard to pushblock pressure. Susanoo gives Rachel an unblockable with 236B AS and Rachel can give him jB 5P conversions for example. Vatista gets layered zoning from bat AS and 6P angles, with 4P covering jump ins which she needs. Hyde gets unpushblockable chip blockstrings with 5P and bend sinister pressure, as well as letting either character active switch into each other relatively freely due to their AS tools and windows on their assists.
Rachel’s drive is known as Sylpheed, which allows her to manipulate herself, her projectiles, the opponent, and both player’s assists by holding a direction after certain normals or specials. Rachel starts out with four stocks of Sylpheed and regains them slowly.
Using winded lobelias is part of her core gameplan, with 236A6, 236A9, 236A8, 236B6, 236Bdl3 as your main trajectories. Use different angles and timings to catch your opponent off guard by activating bats or calling sword iris to stuff movement options and continue your assault, or tricky movement with options like j/214A6, tk214B6 IAD, j3A IAD, or even just j3A double jump.
Using wind is a core part of her neutral, but you need to manage wind stocks to ensure you get damage off your combos. Delaying the wind off 214A and 214B allows Rachel to pick up stray hits even at the opposite corner of the screen due to how it affects her movement speed after the recovery ends.
The secondary use for wind is allowing her juggles in combos to work, without wind, Rachel’s combos will be cut drastically short, and she needs all the damage she can get. Try to make sure you have at least one wind stock when confirming a low or mid hit for your combo to ensure you’re getting good damage off the confirm, while j2A doesn’t necessarily require two wind stocks to confirm, it’s very useful in making sure she’s getting more than 4053 damage off her mixups. The other use for wind is her deadly mixup game, with the aforementioned j2A, she can threaten overheads as long as she has wind available, requiring very good defensive reads from your opponent to block.
Conserving wind gauge and playing around it properly is key for anyone trying to learn Rachel.
Rachel’s main combo ender is 2C for her hard knockdown, allowing 214A to give meaties with the proper spacing in the corner; she also can end with 2B DP ender to get meaty assist depending on techs, and all techs in the corner.
The safejump setup is 2C 214A 5P j2A, which is a meaty assist safejump with bat oki, although the assist is optional and the setup works without it. Rachel can also do 2C 214A 5P 2A, which is her 50/50 on wakeup. Both setups lead to a full combo and a loop back into the setup.
From a blocked setup, depending on wind meter and if the opponent doesn’t immediately pushblock you, she has several options from here. Rachel can also do DP ender solo for optimal damage but she loses her safejump j2a.
Midscreen Rachel wants to end with either 2C, 236B, or 5BBB6 solo. 2C gives her access to safejump and special cancel bats to continue pressure/zoning, while 236B ender can chase back tech to get meaty high/low and left/right mixups.
5BBB6 is the preferred ender for zoning if you cannot bring them to the corner; although 2C 236B6 is possible, it doesn’t leave as many options as just 5BBB6 does for flexibility. Typical zoning strings after 5BBB6 are 214A>236A6>236B>236A9>214A, 214Adl6 run up, 214A>236C>214A>236A6, etc.
Rachel’s solo pressure is centered around her high/low mixup with j2A and 2A. The way you begin solo pressure is typically from stray hits with bats into blockstring or knockdown if they’ve hit. Her jump cancel points are 5A, 5AA, and 5B for starting your solo mixup. Most people will pushblock Rachel after the first blocked normal, so make your advantage count by limiting useless normals in blockstrings. Do 5A>j2A or 5A>2A immediately, sometimes depending on bat or George blockstun you can even omit the 5A. Rachel is capable of chasing pushblock if she inputs j3A>djA, but it can whiff on crouchers at certain ranges and make it inconsistent. If the opponent has no meter to pushblock, doing 5A first is still recommended as it hit confirms into both mixup options for you and you can route from there.
After a blocked mixup, Rachel’s options expand even further, blocked j2A lets Rachel do up to four potential overheads in a row, with j2AA>djAA, where djA will fuzzy. After j2A Rachel can go low as well, giving her a lot of freedom in how she chooses to open the opponent up. If Rachel starts pressure without any wind gauge, she cannot use j2A, so she’s forced to run a typical strike/throw game and stagger normals, or use her jump cancel point to run away and return to neutral.
The second face to Rachel’s pressure is her zoning. The pressure begins from activating bats and forcing blockstun, or making the opponent block a winded lobelia. From there, Rachel can continue to trap them with mixed winded lobelia timings and bat activations, or run in and begin her mixup game. Certain lobelia patterns give benefits that others will not, such as 236B 236A9 will give fullscreen pole placement, while 236A6 and 236A9 will stuff jump attempts. Always do grounded lobelia solo unless you have the opponent in blockstun from a bat or George.
Zoning pressure functions a lot differently from her mixup pressure, since the opponent is entirely capable of holding down back at full screen and will not get hit, but Rachel can use the blockstun from bats or George to run in and begin her pressure game relatively easily. If the opponent is insistent on pushblocking Rachel when she begins to walk forward, she has more options to close the gap if she chooses. Jumping and calling bats with a delayed forward wind moves Rachel at a very fast speed and can cross the opponent up relatively easily if they aren’t prepared. Even doing something like tk214B delay 6 airdash can close the gap incredibly fast and catch someone who's looking for continued zoning. If the opponent decides to run in on Rachel, she can even use these delayed air wind specials to escape to the top of the screen or opposite side quickly and begin her zoning again.
Rachel’s okizeme with a partner doesn’t vary too much from her solo oki, but she has access to meaty assist setups. Doing a DP ender will let Rachel get meaty assist with all of her good partners, and most of her mediocre ones. Meaty assist functions as a blocked 5A that is reversal safe, letting Rachel begin her mixup game immediately without the threat of pushblock. This is especially deadly in corner, and due to the nature of it being reversal safe Rachel can react to blockstun and start her pressure rather than take unnecessary risks. Even some partners, such as Ruby or Hyde let Rachel get meaty assist on most techs midscreen and chase the back tech if necessary, letting her run her mix game easily and looping the situation.
Due to Rachel’s incredible solo mixup, she doesn’t need to burn Cross Combo to actually keep pressure with meaty assist, since doing j3A after blocked assist will negate pushblock if they delay and pushblock her, letting her keep her turn. Active switching into Rachel also has the same effect, during your partner’s oki, if you use a long blockstun move ( Hyde jC, Ruby 236B, Susano’o 236B, etc.), you cannot pushblock Rachel out and she's free to begin her pressure.
Rachel’s pressure opens up widely with her partner, allowing her to continue mixups even if she’s out of wind gauge due to the blockstun of her assists. Some assists even let her cross over and sandwich freely, and start Cross Combo pressure from there. During sandwich cross combos, Rachel’s best mixups are still her high/low, but she has access to Active Switch 2B which will catch mashing and can be made reversal safe with 5BB 2B buffered AS. If this starts to get pushblocked, Rachel can hitstop buffer 5A 2B AS to stay reversal safe.
If Rachel wants to pressure fullscreen, she can use a projectile assist to cover her gap while she regenerates wind or to stuff an opponent beginning to run at her. The projectile assist can also help cross up and start fullscreen sandwich pressure after she does winded air specials to close the gap. These assists include: Ruby 6P, Susano’o 6P, Vatista 6P, and Hyde 6P, and likely more. Specific team mixups include: Ruby 236B AS into Rachel high/low, Susano’o 5B 236B AS into unblockable setup, Hyde jC fuzzy AS into high/low, Hyde 236C AS into high low, Vatista 236C AS into Rachel zoning or high/low, and Ragna 214B AS into 5A high/low hit confirm.
Most of these mixups work outside of a sandwich situation, but are best applied during one to maximize the chance of opening someone up safely.
Instant Overhead (IOH) j.A Video Tutorial
Tips and Tricks
Against Rachel you’ll want to press your advantage as long as possible, since she struggles to get momentum back after losing it, and does very poorly at disadvantage. Careful with air approaches as she can easily cover the sky with winded lobelias and bats. If you have a quick projectile (Nu 5B, Vatista 236A, Ruby 236A) don’t be afraid to throw it out during her zoning if George is not on screen to make her block and force your way in from there. If your character can run under bats (Carmine, Linne, etc.) react to the barrel lotus activation and do so to close the gap quickly.
If you find yourself blocking against Rachel, pushblock as soon as you can, you cannot react to her mixup and her opportunities to open you up solo only increase the more you respect her. Be careful though, since she can negate predictable pushblock with proper wind usage, or she can start her zoning gameplan from neutral. Be careful of getting too predictable with staggers, since 2B has frame 5 to 23 full guardpoint; while not the best option to mash out of pressure with, it can catch you off guard. If Rachel decides to fly over you, meet her in the air with a normal or run under her and to the opposite side of the screen to prevent yourself getting sandwiched. Remember, she cannot regenerate wind stocks while in the air so she can only do this so many times.
When Rachel is the assist character her assist kit is extremely niche but very good at what it does. Her 6P is a projectile assist that comes out frame 37 with two shots and a weird arc, but most importantly sets up her rods while she's not even on the screen. This enhances her setplay and neutral gameplan for essentially free in some cases, and makes her 4P better as well. Her 6P is active until it lands, is blocked, or Rachel is hit.
Her 5P is a standard blockstun assist with some pushback, coming out relatively early on frame 31, and is her go to burst punish. It does more damage than you think, but due to the nature of it being multi-hit, it cannot easily fuzzy you. 5P has a surprising amount of hitstun and forced down state, so be careful not to get hit by this as you will likely take a full combo.
Rachel’s 4P is her best assist hands down, and one of the better assists in the game when used properly. Coming out on frame 30, the assist is an infinite vertical lightning strike that activates all poles on screen, and tracks up to 3-4 character lengths away relative to Rachel’s location. You can activate Cross Combo before the assist even comes out and it will still activate, and Rachel will be safe due to her being in neutral state during the CC. 4P is one of the better disruption tools and antiair assists due to this property, as well as the verticality of it. The CC tech allows her to get double 4P to easily convert, or force blockstun safely. 4P CC 4P is a true blockstring while 4P CC 5P will catch jump startup, so be careful of this. The main downside is that she is burning an important resource to force a situation, so you can abuse this by calling out predictable assist timings by covering the area with an active assist or button (see: Gordeau 6P or Narukami 5A) and stuffing it that way, or attempting to escape to the other side of the screen. You can still hit Rachel at any point between frames 18 and 29 of the assist call to prevent her from using 4P unless she’s CCed, in which the game is lowered from 18 to roughly 26. If you can stop 4P consistently, you can stop Rachel support consistently.
External Documents and References
Rachel Alucard Primer by Diddly
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