The King of Fighters XV/Athena Asamiya/Strategy
Athena is a zoner who has it all. An extremely good fireball, an invincible anti air reversal, teleports, and a very strong reflector allow her to deal with just about anything the opponent can throw at her. Athena’s 214A fireball is highly advantageous on block at all ranges besides point blank, making it an excellent tool for starting, maintaining, and resetting pressure. Once you’ve pushed your opponent to the corner, Athena’s pressure becomes even stronger and she gains access to extremely high damage combo routes courtesy of her EX moves.
In neutral Athena can easily play keepaway with her projectiles and movement options until she finds an opening to begin her pressure. Use 5D and 2C to check your opponent on the ground, and use retreating and advancing hop CD to put up a wall and prevent approaches. Your goal in neutral should be making your opponent block a 214A fireball as the plus frames will allow you close in and begin your pressure game.
623A/C/AC can be used to dissuade jump ins, though these specials are very prone to being crossed up and the results are obviously disastrous if this occurs.
A more general purpose anti air can be found in Athena's 214B/D/BD reflector series due to their extremely long active frames. However, do know that these specials are prone to trading with deeper hitting jump in attacks. Other solid anti airs include far D and far A, both of which can interrupt your opponent's hop pressure.
Athena has access to very solid pressure thanks to her advantageous fireballs, long range cancelable normals, and tricky divekicks and command grabs.
Far A, Close A, and 2A are all slightly plus on block, meaning you can use them for stagger pressure and tick throws.
2C > 214A is a staple string in Athena's arsenal, as it sets up a very advantageous situation. When the fireball is blocked, Athena has a variety of options.
- 2C > 214A, 662C allows for you to reset the situation with another 214A fireball, or for you to try and confirm the 2C into damage with 6B.
- 2C > 214A, hop allows you to close the gap to begin pressure again, punish a low poke into a combo, or anti air an opponent trying to jump forward out of the corner.
- 2C > 214A, 214C will catch opponents jumping after blocking the 214A
- 2C > 214C will catch opponents trying to jump after blocking the 2C
- 2C and then just waiting will allow you to punish some risky options that an opponent may use to try and punish your fireball, like a slide or a reflect.
- 2C > 236BD can catch opponents off guard as this EX version of the teleport is extremely fast and is very hard to react to if the opponent is not actively looking out for it. Midscreen this will cross up, in the corner this will put you at the perfect range to reset pressure with a button or go for a throw/command throw. Opponents that are on their game can and will throw you out of this, so be careful.
2C > 6B is a riskier string that can set up some tricky knowledge check style situations and keep your opponents on their toes. This string also has the benefit of beating some armored command grabs that may be used as reversals, so you can use it as a meaty to option select the reversal and punish into big damage.
When a 6B is blocked, there are generally 2 advisable options.
- Do nothing, and fall far away from the opponent, ideally resetting the advantage state to neutral.
- To dissuade your opponent from trying to punish the above option, you can delay cancel the 6B into one of Athena's j214B/D/BD dive kicks. It is recommended to use the B or BD versions of the divekicks for this, as the D version is incredibly unsafe and easy to punish. Knowledgeable opponents can throw the B divekick at specific ranges, but the BD version is completely safe.
- A third, more dubious option, is to immediately cancel the 6B into j214B and reset pressure with a fast button like 2B or use the 214B to set up a tick throw for Athena's 632146A/C/AC command throw. This option is very risky, as j214B is minus on block, but it serves as a knowledge check and wildcard option that you can use to catch opponents who may not be paying close attention.
Of course, as this is KOF, Athena also has access to standard hop pressure that is ever present in the series. Athena's jC, jD, and jCD are all solid jump in buttons, her jA is good for tick throws and the like, and her jB has a decent hitbox for crossups. Her command grab also makes emptyjumps extra dangerous, and helps offset her slightly subpar low confirms. Notably, jA, jC, and jCD can all be canceled into her j214 series divekicks to try and go for some of the risky pressure detailed above, but this generally carries more risk than is worth against a knowledgeable opponent.
Athena has an invincible reversal in her 623C/AC uppercut and has access to a reflect, meaning that she can often take advantage of gaps in pressure and turn the tables. Her fastest button is 4 frames, so she can hang with the rest of the cast in terms of close range scrambles.
The best way to punish an Athena is to take advantage of their fireball habits. Try and trick your opponent into throwing a fireball at an unsafe range and jump in for a big punish, or use moves like Joe's 3D slide to go under a fireball in pressure. Athena also has a hard time dealing with some EX projectiles, and you can definitely punish her for throwing a normal fireball in neutral if you have access to a fast EX projectile or projectile super to blow through it (be sure your timing is sound though, as her reflect can turn your move back against you).
If you notice an Athena player is a little too trigger happy with her reversal uppercut, you can attempt to bait them into whiffing it by using a deep or crossup jump in. If done correctly, you can go right over the top of her slow DP and land in time for a big punish.