Jago is a well-balanced character in that you can approach him with a variety of play styles. In the combat triangle of rushdown, zoner, and grappler, Jago actually tries to fit into the center of the triangle, as he has qualities of each side. If you want to turtle it out and zone your opponent, then Endokuken and Wind Kick will serve you well. If you want to rush in and pressure your opponent, then his command normals, Laser Sword, Light Wind Kick, and Shadow Endokuken become your best friends. If you like to throw your opponent, then Jago is also capable of this, as he gets juggles from his throws as long as he has Shadow Meter.
Jago’s standing Heavy Punch and standing Medium Punch are great ranged normals. Both have longer reach than you would imagine and are useful to combo into a Wind Kick. Mixing standing Heavy Punch with Neck Cutter is very useful as a footsie tool in protecting the ground in front of you. For anti-air purposes, crouching Heavy Punch is the ideal choice. For crossup attempts, Jago should use jumping Medium Kick or jumping Heavy Punch. Additionally all of Jago’s Light Kick variations are all positive on hit and block and useful for pressure.
ZONING WITH JAGO
When zoning with Jago, your primary attack is going to be your Endokuken. As you use it to control the space and direction from which your opponent can approach, you will build meter whenever you get it blocked. If against a zoning character, having meter means you will be able to Shadow Wind Kick on reaction to beat out that character’s projectiles. Additionally, while zoning, if you see your opponent whiff anything from a distance, then Heavy Wind Kick will bring you right in to start your combo. Use the Wind Kick Ender to knock your opponent away after the combo so you can continue to zone. If your opponent jumps in at you to avoid your Endokuken, you can use crouching HP or Tiger Fury to anti-air them. If you have meter available, you may want to use it to get additional damage from your opponent’s jump in attempt and get a small juggle off these options. From a crouching HP anti-air you can combo Wind Kick into Shadow Endokuken to Tiger Fury for decent unbreakable damage as well. Standing Heavy Punch to Wind Kick is also a good option for zoning with a normal. Being the heaviest-weighted normal, your Heavy Punch will beat your opponent’s light and medium attacks on trade and the Wind Kick will start your combo.
RUSHING DOWN WITH JAGO
If playing a rushdown style with Jago, you’ll have to use a wider array of his move set and utilize his fast dash. His Neck Cutter command normal is an overhead with great range that can be canceled into a Light Wind Kick for safe pressure on block. His Double Roundhouse advances forward and is also useful for pressure, as it is positive on block. The way normal attacks are weighted (Limb Priority), these command normals both being heavy attacks will out-prioritize weaker normals, increasing their effectiveness.
To get in on your opponent, an Endokuken followed quickly by a Light or Medium Wind Kick is your best bet. If you land a combo on your opponent, be sure to end with anything except Wind Kick, as it will push your opponent away from you. Once in your opponent’s face, you can set up throws by poking with close standing Light Kick and standing jab, as they are both positive on block. From a little farther out, you’ll want to look for crouching Medium Kick or standing Medium Punch canceled into Light Wind Kick to start your combos. With a little conditioning of your opponent by multiple Neck Cutters, you’ll have him or her eating your crouching Medium Kick and vice versa.
Laser Sword is also effective up close because you have a choice of doing just one hit with light/medium or two hits with heavy. While this may seem insignificant, it will give your opponent pause when you do the one-hit variations, allowing you to follow up with additional pressure. The Heavy Laser Sword is +2 on block, making standing Medium Punch a frame trap if the opponent tries to retaliate. Looping Double Roundhouse canceled into Laser Sword variations will force your opponent into going low to beat the Double Roundhouse. To beat this, instead of looping back to Double Roundhouse just use a Wind Kick to crush your opponent’s low attempts. Keeping your opponent suppressed with overwhelming offense is your goal here. There is only so much pressure one can withstand before cracking, so keep it on and eventually you’ll find an opening.
When it comes to invulnerability, Jago has an option for everything as long as he has Shadow Meter. To beat lows, use regular Wind Kick; to beat throws and lows, use Shadow Wind Kick. If the opponent is using standing jab pressure, you can use Shadow Laser Sword for its upper-body strike invulnerability. And of course, in any situation you feel pressured, whether it be on wakeup or just by constant block strings, Tiger Fury is your answer. Because Tiger Fury has complete invincibility, the only options for your opponent are to block it or trade with it.
USING HARD KNOCKDOWNS
After a hard knockdown, pay attention to the time required for your opponent to get up off the ground. This is particularly useful after sweeps or throws. Moving slightly forward or backward and mixing up your jump timing can lead to cross-up or fake cross-up situations when using jump in Medium Kick or jump in Heavy Punch. Certain characters can wake up with invincibility, so be aware of this. Alternatively, you could go for a ground-based mixup with crouching Medium Kick or Neck Cutter and lead in to full combo. Don’t forget to mix in doing nothing and just blocking as well. This will prevent your opponent from countering your wakeup options with invincibility. With this base established, your opponent will begin to block more, at which point you can try to walk up and throw your opponent to reset the situation.
Jago’s Instinct is very strong, as it allows him to regenerate health while attacking the opponent and by making his rushdown game more effective. His Instinct allows Jago to recover +2 additional frames faster than he normally would. So, for each attack the opponent blocks, Jago will be free to attack again 2 frames faster than normal. For each attack that hits the opponent, Jago has 2 additional frames to follow up with an additional attack. Dig into the provided frame data and look for places where those 2 frames matter! If a move has a 4-frame startup and another move usually has a block advantage of +2, that first move is now uninterruptible after the second on block! This becomes even more useful during combos, as it will be easier to do manuals, and you may be able to fit in heavier hits that were 2 frames too slow before!
One important thing to remember is you will generally get a full bar of Instinct before completely losing your first life bar. This means that you should be using Jago’s Instinct once per each life bar. Jago’s Instinct lasts 15 seconds, so this is a long time to make up your health. If you are low on your first or second life bar and start a combo, Instinct cancel so that your combo helps you regenerate health! This life management/preservation could determine the outcome of the match.
BAITING COMBO-BREAKERS WITH JUGGLES
From Jago’s Laser Sword Ender or throw into Shadow Move, the juggle opportunities afterward are fairly limited, and the manuals in them can be broken on reaction. To bait out a Combo Breaker, one of the better moves to use as a filler here is Double Roundhouse. If your opponent sees the first hit, he or she will eventually try to break the second hit. This is a great place to attempt a Counter Breaker!
In most cases when you use a Counter Breaker, your opponent is on the ground and ready to attack if you whiff a Counter Breaker. In this case, however, your opponent is still falling from the combo when you whiff it, so he or she will still have to get up off the ground to try and punish you, giving you more time to recover! Of course, if the Counter Breaker is successful, you get a whole new combo with the opponent locked out after having just completed a combo! Jago’s “Around the World” combo system also allows for some good Counter Breaker baits, which we will get to in a little bit!