Moving Backwards to Win

Moving the opposite direction of your opponent may sound like an odd way to win, but in IaMP it's not a bad idea.

Air Backdashing
Youmu j.A against Yuyuko j.A

In the above image we see that Yuyuko's j.A has a blind spot. What isn't apparent in the image is that Yuyuko's j.A is also incredibly slow with a very laggy 15F startup, while Youmu's j.A has a very quick 6F startup. Adding to that, Yuyuko's forward airdash isn't cancellable until after the 10th frame, whereas her air backdash is cancelable after the 7th frame.

Yuyuko j.D4A against Youmu j.A

So, instead of challenging Youmu in the air by moving forward, Yuyuko can instead move backwards and keep Youmu at her optimal distance, as we see in the above image. The attack box has quite a bit of range, while Youmu's doesn't quite reach. Therefor, moving away from Youmu is really much better for Yuyuko than moving forward.

But it's not limited to just the use of range, it also compensates for a lot of things. Baiting your opponent into trying to attack you in the air leaves them vulnerable when they whiff the attack, which you can capitalize on by using one airdash to first avoid their attack, then quickly using your second airdash to move forward and hit them as they are recovering from their move. Of course, it may be more satisfying to use superior range in order to CH your opponent and send them reeling, but even just forcing your opponent to block on the recovery of a whiffed move can reward you with a crush sequence, which is even better since you get both physical damage and spirit damage as a reward.

Alice IABD trigraze against Sakuya j.236C j.A/B

Here we have another air backdash situation, but this one's a little different. This one involves Alice starting on the ground, and Sakuya using bullets. This is referred to as a trigraze (triangle graze) because it involves a forward ground dash into a quick instant air backdash. Since you transition from a forward dash to a highjump and then immediately into an air backdash you are grazing the whole time, and most characters will continue to graze until they land.

Because Sakuya's knives have a laggy startup you can't really do the j.236C knives at point blank range, nor would you want to do them while on the ground. If Alice simply walks forward into the effective attack range then Sakuya is forced to back off before using the j.236C, or risk being sniped by Alice.

However, once the bullet coverage is set, Alice will not be able to counter it so easily. Pretty much any forward movement from Alice will result in Sakuya's melee attacks connecting. Instead, what Alice can do in this situation is a trigraze. This is because at that specific range Sakuya will attempt to hit Alice with a melee attack, but Alice is quickly moving backwards in the air which both avoids Sakuya's melee and grazes Sakuya's bullets.

Alice D4 against Marisa 22s

Here we have another situation where moving backwards can avoid problematic situations. In the above image we see Alice backdashing through Marisa's 22A and 22B that were canceled off a 6B. This would normally be a high/low mixup that is difficult to react to, but because backdashes contain six to nine frames of melee invulnerability (depending on character) plus grazing frames, they can be used to avoid some things. Now, being invulnerable for only 6F doesn't sound like a lot, and really it isn't, but it's just enough to pass through an attack.

Marisa is a bit special in this case because if she were to instead cancel the 6B into a 5C bullet then Alice would only graze the first two bullets, the third one fired would actually hit Alice for a knockdown. And that can discourage mindless backdash option selecting. But instead of doing mindless backdashing; you'll want to react to the fact that Marisa is doing a melee and not a bullet, or choose to delay your backdash right before an attack comes so that you'll naturally backdash right before a bullet instead of being much too early. But as said before, Marisa is special in that her bullets can cause knockdown on hit, while most bullets actually don't. Therefor even if you do mindlessly backdash out of a lot of situations, the worst that can happen is some minor damage caused from weak little bullets.

Youmu HJ7 away from Yukari bullet trap

In the above image we see Yukari starting with a 6B stopsign followed by a 2C and then cancelling the 2C with something (from top to bottom: hj9.2B, 623A, hj9.2A). This is a really effective bullet trap when used in the corner, since the opponent's movement is limited to either forwards or up. However, while midscreen, the opponent Youmu doesn't have the limitation and can therefor use options such as D4 or HJ7 (high jump 7).

What isn't shown in the image is what happens when Yukari doesn't use a bullet at all and goes straight for a 22x melee. Well, it's really dependent on the opponent and the 22x move used. In the case of Yukari, a 22B would fail since it has quite a low hitbox that can be jumped over, and in the case of 22A it depends on how close Youmu was when it was used. The problem is that 2C's effective firing range happens to have a gap, so it must be used from a bit further away, and from that distance 22A fails. Therefor, Youmu is rather free to simply use a HJ7 out of Yukari's trap while midscreen.

But, that's when the Yukari player will have to start using clever staggered melee, leaving a few frames gaps between a melee chain will cause a move to hit a recklessly HJ7'ing opponent. For example, if Yukari does a few 2A's to push the opponent into the 2C range, and then uses 2C, the opponent can escape with an HJ7 like before. But if Yukari instead does a few 2A's followed by a 6B, the sign will smack the opponent out of an HJ7 attempt. Thus, melee chains are used to discourage mindless option selecting.

Alice walking backwards

There is one other way to move backwards, and that's to simply walk backwards. Pretty simple sounding, isn't it?

Well, once again I'll mention that I come from a Fighting game background, and for many years the concept of walking backwards out of the range of a melee attack has been ingrained in my head. For example, if Ryu were to do a jump-in attack, rather than having to block it and suffer the -F disadvantage, or having to risk anti-airing it when he has options like VC/CC/parry that can potentially punish my anti-air, I can simply push 4 and move backwards our of it's range.

IaMP makes things a little difficult though because of the functionality of an airdash, and moves with gigantic range such as Alice's j.A dolls. When I first began playing I wondered how the hell one was supposed to walk away from Alice's effective range, since even if Alice started with her back to the corner she could cover basically the entire screen with an HJ9 and two forward air dashes.

But, this is when I realized that airdashes are rather limited, and it's in their limitation that you find the answer. Backwalking away from Alice forces her to use an airdash in order to keep you in range. But forward airdashes are laggy and move in a linear and predictable way. Alice's forward airdash requires 10F before it can be canceled, and her j.B and j.A have 10-16F startup (respectively). That gives you time to do things like dash forward under her or anti-air her. You could also choose to walk inward under her j.A or backward away from her j.B, since Alice is moving forward it means the player has lost the ability to use precise control, both the j.B and j.A are only able to hit specific areas which you can avoid. But in many cases, if Alice does use an airdash then the next attack won't be so quick, and the opponent can smack Alice with a well timed and spaced anti-air.

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