We start this post not with an image this time, but with a video:
High quality version: Suika Ibuki, bullet cancel framegap traps
Here we see some corner traps done with Suika Ibuki. If you were unfamiliar with the concept you might wonder what the hell is going on since all you really see is a bunch of hits and misses.
Well, the concept is, after using a melee attack the opponent is caught in blockstun, in which time you can toss a bullet which can be grazed by the opponent. However, in order to graze the bullet, the opponent would have to move in some direction. And that's what we're trying to hit; the movement.
However, you can also see in the video what happens when the opponent simply blocks; there's a good chance you can either continue to the pressure or even cause a GC.
But, as we see in the video, there's a correct answer and an incorrect answer for each situation. The reason is because most characters can't cover both forward and upward at the same time, but rather they can only cover either one individually. With Suika Ibuki for example, she can cover upwards movement by highjump canceling the bullet into a jump kick. And she can cover forwards movement either by using an instant air dash or by using her firepunch 236 special move.
If Suika picks the correct option she gets massive damage. And if the opponent picks the correct option they escape the trap. This is very clearly in Suika's favor because guessing right gives quite a chunk of damage as a reward, but guessing wrong when the opponent blocks or moves upwards hardly hurts her much, if at all.
This concept isn't limited to Suika Ibuki though. The Suika video was intended to illustrate how the situation becomes a forward/upward/block situation where there's a right answer and a wrong answer each time. But, most of the cast can utilize this technique as we see in the following video:
High quality version: All Character corner traps and combos
Now, this video was intended only to illustrate correct guesses, rather than going through and showing every single permutation of hit/whiff/block (the whiffs were omitted).
Sadly, there are some characters that simply do not take full advantage of this. Remilia, Yuyuko, and Hong Meirin rely mostly frame-traps rather than bullet-cancel-traps (which in the case of Remilia and Patchouli can actually be airtight blockstun strings). In their case they transition from melee to bullet without a gap, and then back into melee without giving the opponent the opportunity to pass through the bullets at all. So the trap occurs only after the bullet has been blocked.
So, does this apply while midscreen?
Well, the answer is both yes and no. While midscreen the opponent has some additional options such as moving backwards, which they can't do when their back is to the corner. There are three kinds of backwards movement, which is highjump7, backdash, and backwalk. I would say IABD is a separate form of backwards movement, but that hardly applies to this situation since it loses to everything.
A character like Suika can begind the trap midscreen by using 6B stomp canceled into a bullet, then canceling the bullet. The 6B moves her close enough that even if the opponent moves in a HJ7 fasion to get away Suika can smack them out of the sky with j.B explodey-foot. The reward for doing this is decidedly a great deal less than in the corner, but it's still rewarding.
The opponent also has the option of using a well timed backdash, which for all intents and purposes does indeed counter all of Suika's primary options after tossing the bullet.
Yukari Yakumo, however, has no real way to stop HJ7 (highjump7) movement in this situation. The reason is because her fastest HJC (highjump cancel) is with 2C, but 2C has a very very specific range of effect. If Yukari is too close, the bullets will simply whiff. But if Yukari is within the proper range where 2C will connect, she will be out of range to really do anything that can counter HJ7 movement.
So while much of these traps don't "work" midscreen, they still "work" in the sense that even when you fail to gain direct damage you are still awarded with two direct benefits: First, the opponent is moving backwards and therefore closer to the corner. Second, you now have bullets on the screen to cover you and are at a direct strategic-position and frame advantage, which enables you to apply additional bullet and melee attacks to force the opponent further into the corner.
There is actually a way to further discourage the use of movement while still baiting damage. But it's also particularly useful for crushing option selects and people who simply refuse to defend intelligently. The method is either delay chaining or using frame advantage "staggering" (note, staggering in this case is different from normal IaMP staggers). Basically, if you use quite a bit of bullets and goad the opponent into reckless movement, and if they are successful in escaping quite a bit then they might become overly reckless, which you can punish. Since a lot of bullet traps can begin from the first or second hit of a chain, you have a few opportunities to smack them out of a movement option with an additional chained/staggered melee rather than using bullets at all. Which in effect would be considered a bullet-feint, you pretend that you'll throw a bullet but instead hit with a melee that can't be passed through without invulnerability frames.
For example, as we see at the end of the Suika Ibuki video, rather than canceling 2A into a bullet, you can delay the cancel into a 6B which is a melee that can't be passed through. therefore if the opponent recklessly moves, expecting you to throw a bullet, they will be tagged by the 6B. But it doesn't end there either. Suika can also cancel the 6B into another bullet, or cancel that 6B into a 22x melee. In the above image we have Sakuya who blocked a 6B and held HJ8 (D8) expecting to graze a bullet, but Suika instead canceled the 6B into 22A which results in Sakuya getting CH out of Suika's 22A headbutt.
So now you're applying both mixups and mindgames to the opponent, which will really force the opponent to either get their head in the game or be crushed.
The "stagger" that I referred to is using a melee attack that has significant frame advantage or neutrality, followed by another melee attack that isn't normally chainable but very fast or high priority. For this concept I'll use Suika and Sakuya as examples. Both of these characters have moves that are +0 on block, Sakuya's is 6A and Suika's is 6B.
After blocking one of these moves the opponent would normally expect the melee chain to be at the final stages and the following move to either be a bullet or 22x crush mixup. therefore they might be trying to recklessly option select by mashing buttons or trying to jump away. However, since these moves aren't disadvantageous, the aggressor can simply not cancel the attack but follow it up with a well timed quick light attack afterwards while option blocking. If the opponent does something like a late D-bomb or uppercut the aggressor will simply block. But if they are trying to jump or are mashing some laggy high priority move then the aggressor will most likely follow up with that quick light attack and stuff them out of their attempt, such as Sakuya 5A or Suika 2B, both of which are particularly fast and deadly. At which point they can reloop the chain back into their 6A or 6B, respectively.
Doing this is mostly effective against opponents who are really bad at defending against mixups and try to breeze through them by not dealing with them (countering them). But after all, any really predictable action has an answer to it, and if the opponent is predictably trying to escape rather than dealing with it the right way, they will die.
In my next post I'll talk about what effect all this has on the game and more specifically, regarding Mind-Games.
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