Ken wants to play grounded footsies focused on bait and punish. Ken should play right at the edge of the opponent’s burst range to then bait the opponent to approach and react to their approach with the appropriate attack to counter them. This includes aerials and Shoryuken to counter full hops, HUTilt, Roundhouse Kick, and LFTilt to counter short hops, and the use of Ken’s fast walk and back dash to make grounded approaches or careless jump-ins whiff. This sets up Ken’s positional pressure. Positional pressure is the pressure Ken puts on the opponent just by being in their burst range or in control of center stage. Properly applying positional pressure will make the opponent fear Ken and his ability to pump out lots of damage and early kills. This will in turn make them act rashly in an attempt to take back control of the game. This is where Ken will punish the opponent’s attempts for control and push his oppressive advantage state. To call out the opponent Ken is able to use his jump-in aerials or dash in tilts. When the opponent plays defensive, Ken has a few tools to quickly advance towards the opponent as well. For example, he can use BAir, Tatsu, pivot LFTilt, or dash walk LDTilt to whiff punish options that are considered safe. Ken does not want to play at long range. To move into mid range it is best to use a slow Hadoken hover then run in behind it. Ken does not really have a good gameplan for platforms in neutral. He has the standard falling UAir into short hop UAir for pressure from underneath. If he can jump onto the platforms he can do full hop UAir then potentially keep up the shield pressure with tilts but it isn’t exactly safe. He can also special cancel the UAir into medium Shoryuken to catch OOS options. Outside of pressure, Ken does not want to be on platforms due to his platform drop animation being 3 frames slower than the rest of the cast. Platforms can help with advantage state as they lead to ladder combos and more deadlier tech chases.
If Ken hits a shield he is able to apply shield pressure with the use of his fast tilts and special cancels into his block strings or frame traps. Ken should prioritize trying to catch the opponent trying to escape pressure. Only once the opponent is conditioned to hold shield should he go for shield breaks, in which he can get very easily. He can do this in a variety of ways.
- Staggering tilts on block
- Cancelling to Focus
- Tick Throws
- Done by pressing a tilt on shield then grabbing the opponent
Once the opponent has been conditioned to stay in shield you can go for shield break strings.
Out of Shield
Out of Shield Ken has a frame 5 heavy USpecial for an easy, strong punish, frame 9 USmash that can be auto-turned by delaying it at least one frame for a slower but safer punish, frame 9 NAir and frame 10 UAir jump callouts, frame 13 shield release auto-turn LDTilt which is good against close range, unsafe attacks, frame 14 auto-turn LUTilt which is good against opponents who tend to jump after hitting an attack on shield, and frame 16 auto-turn DSmash which is good against opponents who try to space tilts on shield. Ken can also jump to try and land an aerial to try and call out defense after the opponent’s pressure.
Out of Parry
Out of parry Ken can do whatever he wants. Ken can use light tilts against safe moves on parry, LFTilt or DSmash against spaced attacks on parry. If Ken gets a proper parry punish, he can get a full combo off.
On hit Ken has frame 1 heavy armor with Focus Attack, but it gets beat by multihits. Ken has a frame 3 air dodge. When being juggled Ken can use B-reverse Focus Attack to change momentum then dash cancel to change momentum again. When launched off stage Ken has Focus and Hado to stall his recovery and Focus can be used to help get Ken out of being edge guarded or to get him closer to the ledge. If Ken is launched far off stage, Tatsu can be used to help Ken model shift away from the blast zone, but it should not be used to go to the ledge because of its slow speed and very high end lag. Ken’s Shoryuken does not snap to ledge but He has 3 different versions that go different heights to help with that. Shoryuken can be used to shark the ledge but it can be two-framed and it will trigger counters. Using input Shoryuken can prevent being 2-framed while sharking because of the arm intangibility. And if the opponent ever goes off stage to try and counter Ken’s USpecial, Ken can use UAir to trigger the counter then special cancel into Shoryuken to then use its intangibility to go through the actual attack. Below is a list of counters that Ken and Ryu’s Shoryuken go through. Although it is inferring to when done on the ground, it also applies to when done in the air.
Data from Lernonad:
Ordered from best at the top to worst at the bottom.
Lots of great stages to pick from. But remember to not go to stages that your opponent's character is good on or what they personally like.
Northern Cavern has the lowest ceiling on the stage list. Its side blast zones are slightly closer than FD and SBF’s side blast zones. Its platforms are low enough to full hop onto them, and they are on the side of the stage, so they don’t affect neutral as much. Ken has everything he wants. No platforms to hinder neutral, but instead to help with advantage state, and a low ceiling to make Shoryuken KO easier.
Final Destination is a completely flat stage with average stage size with average blast zone size. No platforms mean that combos don’t have to be interrupted or changed. They won’t hinder his neutral. And they won’t stop his aerial movement with Focus in disadvantage.
Small battlefield is all around a good stage. It is not big so it’s hard for players to circle camp Ken, and Ken can jump onto the platforms with a full hop to prevent them from circle camping. It has the same blast zones as FD so everything KOs at the same percent, but the platforms can help extend combos and make Shoryuken KO earlier. The platforms do help out with making Shoryuken safer as well.
Lylat does not disadvantage Ken much. It is average stage size with three platforms and slants. It is tied for having the closest side blast zones and it has an average ceiling height. This makes Ken’s side launching kill moves more deadlier, including his Spanish Inquisition DI mix. The small stage size and platform height makes circle camping Ken harder to do. The platforms do hinder Ken from getting out of disadvantage to the bottom of the stage, but they aren’t high up so it is not as bad of a problem as it is on other stages. The best benefit is that it doesn’t hinder Ken against other, smaller characters as his most common combo starter being used is LDTilt. The best advantage of picking this stage is that other people do not like this stage.
Smashville is a really small stage that helps against camping. The platform is high enough that it does not hinder Ken from using full hops in neutral but it will hinder Ken with combos because he will have to use double jumps to get on it. It does have a higher ceiling but that is outweighed by the benefits the stage gives in neutral.
These stages are good for if your opponent's character is not good on them or if your opponent is not comfortable on them.
From here on, stages are mainly just used for matchup advantages. Yoshi’s Story's best benefit is the small stage size and small blast zone size. The high platforms let Ken full hop and not be caught on the platforms but they will benefit players from circle camping him. Although it is difficult to maneuver the platforms on this stage, catching the opponent on them can grant an early KO.
This stage is much like SBF but the center platform being low enough to full hop on allows projectile campers to use it as a roof. Ken’s long platform drop animation makes it hard for him to approach from above the platform so he mostly has to resort to short hopping over projectiles. It still benefits Ken’s platform combo game.
Partly FD, partly NC, partly something else. The side blast zones being close can be good but can also be a detriment. The ceiling being high can affect Ken a little. The platforms on the first phase are spread out to where they aren’t really a problem. The opponent can platform camp on the side platforms but they will eventually go away. The platforms on the first phase are spread out enough and so high up that oftentimes they are beneficial to Ken in disadvantage where most of the time they can be a problem. The other two phases were already described.
These stages aren't necessarily bad but should be avoided due to some minor disadvantage or because the opponent is really comfortable on the stage.
Pokemon Stadium 1 has a much larger stage size than the rest of the stage list. This can make camping Ken easier. The platforms are low enough for Ken to full hop onto allowing for better combos but also protection from above for the opponent to sit under them.
Only significant difference PS2 has from PS1 is the platform heights. PS2’s platforms are higher so Ken cannot full hop onto them. He must double jump.
Like Northern Cavern the platforms are in a position where they don’t affect neutral but can help in disadvantage. Only problem is that Ken cannot full hop onto them and must resort to double jumps to get on them. The blast zones being larger don’t really matter a lot because they are mostly uniformly larger. So, while all his kill moves kill later, so do everyone else's.
Battlefield has the highest ceiling along with Kalos and platforms that are all close together. The platforms make being juggled hurt a lot more, but gives Ken better ladder combos allowing him to get really close to the top platform.
Ken has good ground mobility. His air mobility, although fast, is lacking in acceleration. This means that he cannot use air drift like many other characters can. His aerials are not disjointed. So against a jump-happy Ken, it is very easy to anti-air him. His tools on shield look safe but can be escaped before he starts his block strings by rolling out of them. Tilt mash on shield is not safe against anything frame 4 or faster. And after a few tilts, once it is staled, frame 5 or faster will beat it as well. Try not to spotdodge them though because tilt mash will catch the end lag of the spotdodge. Auto turn around can be a pain but that’s not the real problem people have. The problem they have is the tilt mash in neutral. Ken does a landing aerial into mashing tilts and the opponent rolls through Ken’s first move and gets caught by the tilt spam. Or he is mashing on shield and they roll behind Ken and he catches them with tilts. The most simple counterplay is to not roll behind Ken. The more effective counterplay is to actually counter the tilts he is mashing. Ken is still in lag and if he is mashing LDTilt then the best option would be to hit him from above, with an aerial. If he is mashing LUTilt then the best option would be to hit him from below with a DTilt. LUTilt has less range than LDTilt so the opponent can roll behind Ken to get out. And they are also less safe on shield than LDTilt, so after a few tilts they become stale and easier to escape from. Just be sure to get out after 2-3 LUTilts. Furthermore, when doing an aerial on Ken’s shield with the intent to cross-up, make sure the aerial is safe on shield, so that Ken can’t punish you with an auto turn attack OOS or a b-reverse USpecial. Focus Attack is slow and has heavy armor that goes away after Ken is hit. That means that the opponent can hit him again to break the armor and to launch Ken. And, if he tries it on the ground, it does lose to grabs. On shield it is safe and if fully charged it is unblockable, so it is best to roll away from Focus Attack, but do not roll in as Ken can change the direction of the attack. When Ken is offstage be ready to edge guard his Tatsu back to stage. Otherwise, be ready to two-frame Shoryuken with a disjoint.
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