Katalina's gameplan is to control the midrange neutral and push her opponent to the corner where they will have no choice but to take substantial risks to deal with her fireball, pokes and 2H anti air in order to escape. She aims to score a hard knockdown that she can use to begin her offense.
The way Katalina has to approach the neutral varies depending on the opponent. Against characters who lack range or speed on their pokes you can harass them from midrange with far pokes and projectiles. Unless the opponent has a reliable way to deal with these tools they must take a risk to approach Katalina:
Dashing - Loses to pokes and ice blades.
Jumping - Loses to her anti airs. Ch 2H/5H grants the most reward. Ex DP is the most consistent anti air she has and provides great reward in the form of a hard knockdown.
Crossover - Loses to Katalina just waiting at midrange or using 236L. The recovery of crossover is long enough that they cannot punish you if you poke into 236L from tip poke range. It’s possible to be left at plus frames if the opponent does this.
Low profiling - You can bait these options if they are being done during your midrange blockstrings or if people are doing them on anticipation rather than reaction. Block or whiff punish them.
Against characters that can match or slightly exceed her poking range your footsies and whiff punishment become more important. 236M is great to poke with just outside of the range of the opponents farthest reaching normal. Projectiles have to be well placed because their startup puts you at risk of getting counter-poked by far normals. The speed and reach of Katalina’s normals help her here. 2M and 5H in particular are good at counter poking the opponent; The former due to its speed and the latter due to its priority as a heavy normal. Otherwise you can move in and out of poke ranges and whiff punish with 2M or Far 5H.
Against characters that outrange Katalina she must find a way to get into close quarters or a range where she can counter poke the opponent. Katalina’s tools are at their weakest when she is fullscreen. Light wall can help her approach by absorbing pokes and enemy projectiles. 236L is decent to use from far ranges because you will recover fast enough to use it to inch in whether they spot dodge it, neutral jump it, or block it. 214M will grant some mileage at these ranges as well because it becomes a safe poke.
Here is a rundown of Katalina's neutral tools:
236x - Frozen Blade
Light version is a slow moving projectile, medium is a faster version, H is the fastest and multihit. H grants also frame advantage on block.
The light version is good to use as a way to test people and cover some real estate. Chances are if they block this you have frame advantage due to spacing. You can use this to position yourself better and react to how the opponent responds. It's also a nice way to set yourself up for spaced 214x.
The medium version is a fast projectile that is suited to be used as a poke in neutral as well as a cancel option off your far pokes. The speed is so fast that the opponent cannot jump out of strings utilizing this. Since it is not that easy to react to from your poke range the opponent has to do something risky to deal with it.
The heavy version is a high damage combo starter in the corner and is an excellent pressure tool.
214x - Enchanted Lands
This is a thrusting special that is unsafe on block unless spaced. It's main usage in neutral is to poke from long ranges and to hit the opponent during actions that leave them vulnerable such as Percival charging or Ferry using Gee Gee.
214M has massive reward on counter hit and has Katalina take a step back before performing it. This makes it a solid tool to dodge and punish long range normals. 214L can evade to a lesser extent.
Katalina's farthest reaching poke. Due to its reach and safety on block it is one of the go to pokes in neutral. It can be low profiled near tip range however so be careful using it too often.
Another go to poke. It is extremely fast for the range it covers and will likely out prioritize opposing normals. It is also great to defend the space in front of you when people are dashing at you or attempting to use crossover. This move is also good at whiff punishing certain normals that far 5H
This move can crush other normals due to being a heavy attack. The speed and the range it covers make it a great counter poke and whiff punisher alongside 2M.
This is a great anti air that leads to massive damage on counter hit.
The light wall. It is useful to absorb pokes and projectiles from the opponent while closing in.
Off a hard knockdown use a string like cl.5L > 2L > far 5L first. This will allow you to gauge your opponent since cl.5L is a safe meaty. It recovers so quickly that you can bait their reversal options with it. 2L hits low and will tag anyone that is trying to walk out of pressure.
Using blockstrings to create space is an excellent strategy to utilize with Katalina because she excels at midrange. She can easily cause the opponent to whiff normals which she can capitalize on using far 5H. If they choose to grant her respect she can walk or run back to close range and continue pressuring the opponent.
Once the opponent is conditioned to block you can enforce a throw mixup. It is key to take note of how the opponent techs throws in order to capitalize. Essentially throw techs lose to:
-Timed button presses (use cl.5M or cl.5H for this)
-Moving in and out of throw range to cause a whiff that Katalina can punish with cl.5M or cl.5H *Most effective against early techs.
-Jumping to cause the throw to whiff then coming down with a j.U as a punish.
Katalina is dangerous when she has the opponent cornered. Due to the threat of her pokes like far 5H and 2M she can keep an opponent contained and apply good pressure. A good range for her to sit at is within her far 5M tip range. At this distance she can easily move in to poke or cause the opponent to whiff pokes she can punish with far 5H or 2M.
Alternatively she can stay around the tip of 2Ms range. Here she can harass with 2M and far 5M or use far 5H to hit jumps out of their startup and crush pokes. She can utilize the push back of 2M to create whiff punish scenarios as well.
Cl.5L > 2L > far 5L – Leaves you at -5. This string is a strong sequence because it allows you to gather much information about your opponent. Cl.5L recovers so quickly that you can use it as a meaty and be safe from reversals. The rest of the string is designed to frame trap and stop people from walking away or jumping out of pressure.
cl.5H > 236H – Leaves you at +4. Cl.5H > 236H is a true blockstring. cl.5H is our most rewarding frame trap and will juggle the opponent when cancelled into 236H.
2L > cl.5L > 2M – -5. This string is one of Katalina’s best when dashing into point blank range.
2L x1-2 > Far 5L – -5. This string is consistent when dashing in on an opponent from close ranges.
Katalina is equipped with various safe jump J.U and safe meaty cl.5L setups. Here are some of the most common ones:
High jump j.U
9 > cl.5L
Whiff 623L > cl.5L
Whiff cl.5L or 2L > j.U
High jump j.U
6G > cl.5L
66 J.U or J.H
Whiff 5U > cl.5L
Whiff Cl.5M > j.U
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQQCan5oo90 - This video by juicebox is an excellent explanation of what footsies is and what you should be aiming to do during it. The game used to demonstrate is street fighter 4 but everything still applies to Katalina and Granblue versus in general.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSW5Du2c_n0 - This is a quick overview of Katalina done by LordKnight. Good to look at if you are still deciding if Katalina is right for you.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-upmCkqtc9M - This is an in depth guide by jtails containing some good information for those starting out with Katalina.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uYrnBBmvzM - This is a video by Psyken providing a visual on the nuances of Katalina's Light Wall.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmlWX79iH50 - This is a video containing a plethora of safe jump and safe meaty cl.5L setups.
Click [★] for character's full frame data