PhoeniX has written another great tutorial to help players new and old to the King of Fighters series.
The King of Details #2: Throws
This article will discuss the various aspects of throws that come into play in KOF games. The things I’ll discuss in this article are the Types of throw, throw invincibility, throw teching and Alternate Guard.
Types of throws
Throws can be divided up into two large categories. First there are the normal throws, these are throws that every single character has. The second type are the command throws. Command throws can be further subdivided into two main categories Delayed throws and instant throws. Like in other fighting games, throws cannot be blocked, but if you are in blockstun, you are invincible to throws. During regular hitstun though, you can be hit by command throws. This is different from most other fighting games, and this makes it so that you can in fact combo into throws in KOF.
Normal throws are universally executed by either using f/b+C when close for a forward throw, or f/b+D when close for a backward throw. Normal throws can be teched to avoid the damage and knockdown.
Command throws can never be teched. And thus have to be avoided in different ways. Command throws come in two general varieties, ones that have an 0 frames of startup, and ones that have several frames of startup before connecting.
Instant throws are very effective at punishing moves that would normally be safe on block, because even a move that is -1 on block can be punished. Because instant throws are so fast they can also beat out a lot of moves in their startup, even if they are very fast. Instant throws will even beat meaties on wakeup if used as a reversal.
Delayed throws have a slow startup, which means that they cannot be used as extremely reliable punishes and reversals as easily as instant throws. Very often though, part of the startup, or the complete startup of a delayed throw is invincible. This makes even delayed throws quite effective to beat out opponent’s attacks.
Tick throws are not as effective in The King of Fighters as they are in Street Fighter 2. After hitstun and blockstun a character is invincible to throws for 9 frames. Fighters without throw invincibility allow you to do a throw the instant the opponent comes out of hitstun and blockstun (A.K.A. a perfect tick throw). In The King of Fighters the player that comes out of hitstun or blockstun will always be able to throw out a light attack before he becomes throwable again. Therefore, to successfully hit a tickthrow in KOF, you first have to scare your opponent from pressing any buttons at all.
Another situation when someone has throw invincibility is on wakeup. When you wakeup normally in The King of Fighters, you are invincible to throws for 8 frames. If you reversal with a special, you are invincible to throws for 9 frames. I’ll discuss this increase of throw invincibility for reversals in a later edition of The King of Details. If you recovery roll your knockdown, you forfeit all throw invincibility.
In older Fighting Games like Street Fighter 2, it is possible to grab someone out of jump startup. In KOF the startup of a jump is invincible to throws. In KOF you are also unthrowable on your landing frames. This is an important aspect for baiting out throws. Players can use their delayed invincible throws as reversals to make the opponent whiff their jump-in attack and land to get hit by the grab, but if the jumping player anticipates this, he can jump instantly after the moment he lands, he will not be throwable for a single frame as both landing and jump startup frames are invincible.
As discussed earlier hitstun itself is not unthrowable, unlike most other fighters. Hitstun caused by jump normals is unthrowable, this makes it impossible to combo straight into a throw from a jump attack. Command jump normals do cause throwable hitstun. For example, Iori can combo his j.b+B into his command throw (hcb, f+P) but he cannot combo jump C into his command throw.
Teching of normal throws has a fairly large window in KOF. Depending on the throw and the character it is either 16 frames or 10 frames. For example, Kyo’s b/f+C in KOF2002UM has a 16 frame tech window, but Billy’s b/f+D in KOF2002UM has a 10 frame tech window. Many players have reported that the Tech window in The King of Fighters XIII seems closer to the 10 frames than the 16 frames, this has yet to be tested thoroughly.
The way throws are teched differs from KOF to KOF, but it it the same in KOF2002UM and KOFXIII, so I will use these two games as a basis. Whenever you are thrown and you want to tech, you need to hold any direction and press the button of the corresponding throw. So, if Iori throws you with b/f+C you can hold d/b+C to tech. And if Billy throws you with his b/f+D throw you can hold b+D to tech. This seems to imply that you need to guess which throw your opponent is going to use to tech. But you can option select it easily. Whenever someone throws you, you can quickly tap both C and D in succession and it will tech both throws. The movement needed to do this is a lot like piano-ing or “p-linking” in Street Fighter 4.
In the original KOF2002 you could tech both types of normal throws by simply pressing C and D at the same time and in KOF98 you can tech with any one button regardless which button the opponent used to throw you with.
When you are thrown during a normal move, command normal move, Roll or CD attack, you cannot tech a throw. If you are grabbed during a special move or super you can tech a throw. In KOF98 you can always tech a throw.
As mentioned earlier, you can only attempt tick throws if you have scared your opponent into not pressing buttons. But even when the defending player is too scared to press buttons, he can still defend against tick throws with a technique called Alternate Guard.
If you block an attack, you can continue to stay in block animation, and remain unthrowable, by quickly alternating between standing guard and crouching guard. You know you are doing it correctly if you are not moving backwards when alternate guarding.
To stop an opponent from alternate guarding, you have to exploit the fact that they’re not blocking low for some part of their alternate guard movement, and thus you need to throw out a low to beat the alternate guarding. This can be quite difficult, because the opponent can choose to block high for a very short time, and block low for much longer when alternate guarding.
Below we see an example of Orochi Yashiro doing a tick throw with cr.A to hcf+P on a crouch blocking Mai. The second part of the video the Mai player alternate guards, and this time the tickthrow does not hit Mai. In fact none of Orochi Yashiro’s grabs are able to hit her anymore for as long as the Mai player decides to continue to alternate guard.
Needless to say, alternate guard is an essential technique to defend against grappler type characters.
In the Arcade version of The King of Fighters XIII, Alternate Guard played a much less important role than in older KOFs for several reasons. First of all, it is a lot more difficult to alternate guard in KOFXIII and requires much quicker movement than in older KOFs. Secondly, some characters lack the ability to Alternate Guard altogether. For example, Maxima cannot Alternate Guard at all.
Luckily, all of this has been fixed in the console version. All characters can Alternate Guard now, and it has become significantly easier to do so.
It is possible to alternate guard even without blocking an attack. If someone whiffs an attack at some range away from you you’ll still go into a guarding animation. This can also be extended by alternate guarding.