Killer Instinct: Thunder Match-Ups - Prima Games

Killer Instinct: Thunder Match-Ups

by Bryan Dawson

In our previous unofficial Killer Instinct features, we covered the basics of how to play KI, beginner’s tips for all six characters, frame data for Thunder and advanced tips for experienced players. Now we delve into how you should fight against each character in the game. While Thunder has a very specific fighting style, you can’t combat each character the same way. You need to fine-tune your gameplay to cater to each character match-up.

VS. Glacius

The Thunder/Glacius match-up is essentially a series of risks for both characters. Thunder has to use Sammamish, Shadow Sammamish and Shadow Triplax to get in close, while Glacius has to take risks, hoping Thunder won’t use any of those options in order to keep him out.

Thunder can use Sammamish to go through Hail, and Shadow Sammamish to go through almost anything else. The range of Shadow Sammamish drastically limits Glacius’ options. Thunder can go through Ice Lance, Hail and even Shatter with a well-timed Shadow Sammamish. The armor from a Shadow Triplax also goes through every one of those options, and nullifies any attempts Glacius makes to use Hail as a makeshift Combo Breaker.

Once you’re inside, pressure like you have never pressured before. Use Shadow Triplax following a knockdown to stop any wake-up options Glacius has. Use the frame advantage to continue your offense if it’s blocked. If you don’t want to burn or you need to avoid a Shadow Counter, neutral and cross-up jumps also make it difficult for Glacius to use any wake-up options effectively.

VS. Jago

When Thunder has meter, Jago loses. With good reactions, you can Shadow Triplax through a Wind Kick. Even without good reactions, you can Shadow Sammamish through any Endokuken projectiles, and once you’re just inside of mid-screen, you can hit Jago with the attack. With both of those options nullified, Jago doesn’t have much left to start his offense.

The key here is to watch Jago’s meter. When he has meter, you need to be more careful. Stay just outside of his Normal attack range and use Shadow Call of the Earth (CotE) when you see a break in his attacks. You can also punish a blocked heavy Wind Kick with a Shadow CotE.

When Jago doesn’t have meter, use Shadow Triplax frequently. It will blow through Jago’s Laser Sword and Double Roundhouse, and it’s great after a blocked Neck Cutter. Jago has to cancel the Neck Cutter into a special move to make it safe. In many cases, this is a Wind Kick because the Laser Sword tends to miss due to the range of the Neck Cutter. Block the Neck Cutter, then use the armor of the Shadow Triplax to go through the special move that follows.

VS. Orchid

In almost every match-up, Thunder’s Shadow Triplax gives him some sort of advantage, except against Orchid. While you would think that the armor of the Shadow Triplax combined with the virtual armor of a Shadow Counter would completely nullify the Ichi Ni San mix-up, it doesn’t. There’s a 5-frame delay between the execution of a Shadow Counter and the start of the following Shadow attack, so the Shadow Triplax doesn’t activate fast enough to combat Orchid’s two-hit overhead from Ichi Ni San. This means you need good reactions to block Orchid’s options during the Ichi Ni San.

After knocking Orchid down, you can pressure her with jumping cross-up and fake cross-up attempts. While she can use the Air Buster, the angle of the attack makes it susceptible to cross-ups when timed correctly.

For the most part, Thunder can pressure Orchid with ease. The only thing you really need to worry about is the low invincibility of Flick Flack. Start your combos with a standing attack to avoid getting interrupted by a Flick Flack, punish all of her unsafe special moves, Shadow Counter her Flick Flack when blocked and block the Ichi Ni San mix-up to win this match-up.

VS. Sabrewulf

The advantage Thunder has against Sabrewulf is the fact that Sabrewulf has to be close to damage Thunder. He can’t run away and expect to win the match. Use light Normals to interrupt Sabrewulf’s cross-up dash attempts, and let him burn meter on a Shadow Eclipse during wake-up. He has no battery Ender, so he has trouble building meter. Shadow Counter any blocked Ragged Edge and use random Shadow CotE throws from maximum range.

This match boils down to who can block the mix-up better. If you can block Sabrewulf’s Run mix-up and interrupt his cross-up dash, you will win. Likewise, force Sabrewulf to eat CotE after CotE following deliberately dropped combos, broken block strings, and random Shadow CotE throws from maximum range.

VS. Sadira

Shadow CotE is your best friend during this match. It drastically limits Sadira’s aerial options. Because of this, it’s extremely important to end most of your combos with a battery Ender, so you always have meter available. You won’t be able to use random Shadow CotE throws as often because Sadira likes to be in the air, but if you find her trying to play footsies on the ground, use the Shadow CotE from maximum range.

If you find yourself stuck in a corner, Shadow Triplax is very helpful in trying to escape. Use it as Sadira is landing, and if she attacks, you’ll blow through it. If she goes for a double jump or some other air action, you’ll be out of the corner and recovered from the Shadow Triplax before Sadira can do much about it. Despite this fact, it’s important to stay out of the corners. Use Thunder’s throw Linker to reposition yourself so you can avoid the corners at all costs.

When Sadira activates her Instinct, you can counter it by activating your own. Thunder moves very slowly, so he can’t get away from Sadira easily like some other characters. If you’re willing to take risks, you can attempt to interrupt Sadira’s aggression during Instinct mode with a Shadow Sammamish. It’s a risk, but the invincibility of the attack will go through Sadira’s web traps.

VS. Thunder

The Thunder mirror match is just one big mind game. Who’s going to go for which Shadow attacks and when, and when do you need to avoid a CotE or Shadow CotE? The first player to land a knockdown generally has a big advantage because they can setup cross-up mix-ups and provide continued pressure.

Always be ready to jump. Even if a Sammamish or Triplax knocks you out of the air, you won’t take much damage in either situation. You’ll take considerably more damage if you get hit by a Shadow CotE on the ground, or even a normal CotE. Finally, keep in mind back dashes have 7 frames of invincibility. You can get caught by a Triplax, but you’ll avoid a throw setup in many cases.

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