Whiff cancel tutorial by PhoeniX

The King of Details #4: Whiff and late cancelling cancel buffering trick
By PhoeniX

Today I’ll discuss some special properties of cancels in KOF.

Whiff cancelling
Unlike in most fighting games, if a move is cancellable, it can be cancelled regardless of whether it hits or not. Therefore it is possible for K’ to do cr.D xx qcf+A with or without hitting .

This opens up several strategic possibilities that are not normally available in other fighting games. If you whiff a move that has a good hitbox, but has bad recovery, you can either shorten this recovery or cover the recovery with a safe special.

This allows you to cover several options at once during neutral game. If you whiff cancel a sweep into a special that has a more upward hitbox you are essentially covering the full space in front of you.

Late cancelling
Cancellable normals, and some character’s CD attacks, can be cancelled into command normals. If these command normals have special properties such as hard knockdown, overhead or both, these special properties are lost when you cancel into them. In return, if you cancel into these command normals, they usually become cancellable.

But there is a way to retain these special properties. You do this by cancelling into the command normal late.

Whenever a move connects, either on hit or block, both characters freeze for a short time this is called ‘hitstop or hitfreeze,’ a late cancel is done by inputting the command normal just after this hitstop, just when the opponent starts moving backwards from the knockback.

This is a useful technique, especially for overhead command normals which tend to have a very long startup, which makes them prone to counterpokes. By late cancelling into a command normal, you will at least secure part of the startup to be covered since the opponent will still be in blockstun, essentially creating a frametrap from a normal into a command normal.

Chain cancelling
A chain cancel is a property that some light attacks have. If a light attack has a chain property, it can cancel into any other light attack. This is not true for all light attacks, which explains why you can cancel Whip’s cl.B into a cr.B, but you cannot cancel cr.B into cl.B or another cr.B.

The timing of chain cancels are a bit different from other cancels in the game. This makes chain cancels often a bit awkward to beginners. Essentially all chain cancels are late cancels, thus you cannot input a chain cancel during the hitstop of a move, only afterwards. The timing is much more lenient than it is for late cancels into command normals.

Whiff cancel buffering trick
The Whiff cancel buffering trick is an input trick that I was not aware of until very recently. I was watching the latest KOF98 Duelling the KOF and at 2:27 Mature does cr.BB into Super.

I blinked, rewound, looked again. Yes, that was what was happening. This puzzled me, as cr.B only chain cancels and does not special or super cancel in 98 or 2002. How is this combo possible?

A closer study of the video provides an answer. If you look closely, you can see st.A come out for a few frames after which it gets whiff cancelled into the super. All normals that can be cancelled on hit and block can also be cancelled on whiff, thus st.A can be whiff cancelled.

So the actual combo you see happening is cr.BB st.A (whiff) xx Super. So I wondered, why would someone do a combo so convoluted if you can just dor cr.BBA xx Super?

Research provided me with an answer. As it turns out, you do not need to input the st.A as a move if you cr.BB and then 2xqcf A but continue to hold the A, the st.A will automatically whiff-cancel into super. On a standing opponent and using the same technique, the st.A will connect and cancel into super.

The same input gives two different combos depending on whether your opponent is standing or crouching.

The reason you would want to do this is to simplify execution. If you do the regular combo cr.BBA xx Super, you have to input the 2xqcf+P quite quickly after cr.A. This may lead to cr.A sometimes accidentally coming out as st.A which will whiff on crouching opponents, resulting in missing the combo. With this input trick, it does not matter whether you execute a cr.A or st.A as it will hit a crouching and standing opponent equally.

There are more characters that can use this technique. Joe can use it to hit cr.BB st.A (whiff or not) xx qcf,hcb+A. The timing on this is quite tight, but it gives you a lot more time to buffer qcf,hcb+A than if you would try to do cr.BA xx qcf,hcb+A. Heavy D! can technically do it with cr.BB st.A (whiff or not) qcb,hcf+A as well, but this requires a 1-frame timing so it’s not much of an improvement execution-wise.

There’s one other, pretty difficult to execute application that is quite useful if you can do it. Once I found out about this trick, it suddenly struck me that I now understood what Dune was doing in his Orochi Yashiro tutorial video for KOF2002UM at 8:05.

Dune does a cr.B buffer 2xhcb and presses and holds A. On a standing opponent this will hit as cr.B cl.A xx Super, On a crouching opponent this will hit as cr.B cl.A (whiff) xx Super.

This is obviously a useful tool to learn for Orochi Yashiro, as it allows him to do very good damage off a low attack, automatically making him a lot more threatening.

It is also possible to do the above trick with O. Yashiro’s hcb,f+A throw.

I obviously have not explored all applications of this trick and I am curious to see if any of you guys can come up with other good applications.

I have taken the time to make a small tutorial video that illustrates this buffering trick.

I’ve taken two cases. Mature doing cr.BB st.A xx super, and O. Yashiro doing cr.B cl.A xx hcb,f+P. the split screen shows the combo on a standing opponent on the left, and on a crouching opponent on the right. The second part of the video plays both combos in slow-motion with the specific inputs shown at the bottom.

Link for larger sized video: http://www.youtube.com/embed/BhPcikYSQKA?hd=1


  • Good stuff, PhoeniX. Hadn’t thought of chain cancel>whiff canceling to get around uncancelable cr.Bs. Thanks for sharing!

  • The only time I know this doesn’t work is KoF 2003.

  • That’s why Kyo can do cr.B into ex orochinagi in KOF XIII.

  • No, Kyo can do cr.B into EX Orochinagi because that DM has a 1 frame startup. Similarly, he can link it off just about any move, with the most common easy confirm being from …df.D xx qcf+P, qcb,hcf+AC.

    Most cr.B attacks put the player at a frame advantage on hit if uncanceled, but this advantage is minor and doing true link followups is usually restrictive, i.e. Kyo has a good cl.C and it can be linked after cr.B, and grapplers can link their instant grabs afterward. Most common cr.B cr.A ‘links’ are just odd delayed chain cancels (some of which have stricter timing, as is the case with O.Yashiro’s cr.B cr.A combo).

    I’d suggest trying the whiff cancel technique if conventional buffers don’t feel easy to perform. As with the Joe example, I typically input: 2B2B3632A14A to get cr.B cr.B cr.A xx qcf,hcb+P. It also isn’t necessary to press A a second time since if you hold the button and then finish the DM input fast enough it will come out automatically due to KOF having a BlazBlue-like special input leniency (meaning that there isn’t any SF-style negative edge, but if you keep a button pressed the game registers the input for a few frames). But I’m aware that Joe’s cr.B cr.A timing is stiff in KOF02 so the whiff cancel method may be easier.

  • No, that’s a link. EX orochinagi is incredibly fast (1 frame startup).

  • Yeah it really is a matter of preference.

    I for example, often get cr.B cl.A when trying cr.BA xx 2xqcf+P with mature, which is an issue since cl.A whiffs over crouching opponents. So I’m pretty happy with this trick. But it has its drawback because cr.A actually has slightly bigger range than cr.B, so cr.BA can actually be executed from further away than cr.BB whiff st.A.

  • Oh ok. Thanks.

  • What’s the rocking tune?

  • Mouse on the Keys – Toccatina

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