Mortal Kombat X - How to Play Jax: Combos and Strategies - Prima Games

Mortal Kombat X – How to Play Jax: Combos and Strategies

by Bryan Dawson

Jax is a powerhouse character. He has great basic attacks and combos that allow him to switch between overhead and low attacks freely. He’s also relatively safe from punishment if most of his attacks are blocked. Depending on the variation you choose, he can apply heavy offensive pressure, or stand back and zone with a number of projectile attacks.

Notation Key

1 – Square/X
2 – Triangle/Y
3 – X/A
4 – Circle/B

Ground Pound
Notation: Down, Down+4
Enhanced: Yes, but no armor.

Jax’s trademark Ground Pound returns and is very much unchanged from previous games. The special move cannot be blocked, meaning an opponent has to jump to avoid it. You can control where the attack hits by pressing Forward or Back immediately after the notation. The regular version hits about jump distance from Jax, pressing Forward places it on the far side of the screen, and pressing Back makes it hit right in front of Jax.

You can use the Ground Pound to punish opponents who like to use projectiles from across the screen. Some projectiles will even go over Jax during the Ground Pound animation. From mid-screen you can generally follow a Ground Pound with Dash Punch for moderate damage. If you’re close enough you can run in to land a full combo. The enhanced version (Ground Shake) tracks the opponent’s location at the time the special move was executed.

Dash Punch
Notation: Back, Forward+2
Enhanced: Yes, with armor.

The Dash Punch returns and is essentially the same as it’s always been. It almost reaches across the entire length of the screen, stopping just short, and hits high. While the attack can be punished by most characters if it’s blocked, it can also be ducked. Luckily Jax now has the Downward Dash Punch (Back, Forward+2, Down) which is an overhead attack that will hit anyone trying to duck under the normal version.

Both versions of the Dash Punch have armor, making them useful for going through an opponent’s attack. The Downward Dash Punch is especially useful in the corner because you can follow with a juggle combo. Use this to extend combos for additional damage when you’ve got an opponent cornered.

Major Pain
Notation: Back, Forward+4
Enhanced: Yes, with armor.

Major Pain is an anti-air knee attack that works well if you can react quickly to an opponent’s jump. It’s a little slower than some other anti-air attacks in the game, but it still works so long as you have fast reactions. The enhanced version (Major Muscle) adds a punch to the end of the attack that sends the opponent across the screen. It also has armor making it a much better anti-air attack because it will go right through an opponent’s aerial attack. Both versions can be punished if the opponent blocks so save them for anti-air opportunities or to end combos.

Gotcha Grab
Notation: Down, Back+1
Enhanced: Yes, with armor.

Another trademark Jax attack returns in the form of the Gotcha Grab. It’s safe if the opponent blocks, and while it does hit high, you cannot duck under it when used right after a mid, low or overhead attack. For instance, if an opponent blocks Jax’s Ankle Breaker (Down+3) and you cancel it into the Gotcha Grab, the opponent must also block the Gotcha Grab. In most cases a low attack followed by a high attack allows the opponent to duck under the high. However with the Gotcha Grab if you release block to duck under it, you will be hit despite the fact that it’s a high attack. When used by itself you can duck under it though.

The enhanced version (Gotcha Beatdown) adds more hits for additional damage and has armor. This is a great move to use when Jax is being pressured after getting knocked to the ground. A smart opponent can still duck under the attack to punish, but that’s when you can mix in the Downward Dash Fist enhanced attack, which has armor and hits as an overhead. You can also cancel combos and attacks that are not generally safe into the Gotcha Grab if the opponent blocks to keep Jax safe from punishment.

Bring It (X-Ray)

Jax’s X-Ray is one of the few X-Ray attacks in the game that hits as an overhead. That gives Jax a very dangerous 50/50 guessing game anytime your opponent expects a low attack. For example, the Field Grade combo (1,2,3) ends with a low attack. However, if you cancel the second hit into the X-Ray you get an overhead when your opponent is expecting a low. The X-Ray has armor and can go through attacks, but it’s better to combo into it to guarantee it will connect.

Basic Strategy

Jax has quite a bit of versatility in his basic attacks and combos. He can apply heavy pressure at close range, but still zone an opponent with the Ground Pound or some of the special moves that are variation-specific. He has a lot of combos that shift between low and overhead attacks, and he’s safe from punishment more often than not. Even the combos that are not safe when blocked, Jax can end most of them with a Gotcha Grab to make them safe.

Two of Jax’s best combos are the Air Raid (Forward+2,1) and Expendable (Forward+2,1,2). Air Raid leaves Jax at zero, which means he’s even with the opponent. However, Jax’s Quick Fist (1) and Knee Jab (Down+1) are two of the fastest attacks in the game, which means when Jax is even with an opponent, he generally has a slight advantage. For example, you can follow Air Raid with the Knee Jab, then cancel that into a Gotcha Grab. Most characters can’t interrupt that string of attacks, but if they try you can just use the Expendable combo instead to stop them in their tracks.

The Warfighter combo (Back+3, Down+2) should be a staple in your Jax arsenal. It’s a low kick into an overhead elbow, and the elbow is safe if the opponent blocks. This is a great tool to keep an opponent on their toes and works especially well when your opponent doesn’t have meter, forcing them into an overhead/low or Expendable combo mix-up as they get off the ground.

Ground Control is one of Jax’s better combo strings. It starts with a moderately fast high attack, followed by a low, then ending with an overhead that’s safe if the opponent blocks. You can’t follow up with a combo, but it inflicts a solid 12 percent damage if all three hits connect.

All Out Assault (3, Forward+4) is another decent combo string that can lead into some damage if you have good reactions. The first hit is high, but it leads into an overhead. If the opponent blocks, Jax is safe, but if it connects you can follow with a Dash Punch or Run Cancel into a full juggle combo. The easiest way to connect a combo is by immediately running, then using Upward Punch (Forward+2) into a combo. You can use other attacks, but Upward Punch is one of the easiest to connect in this situation.

You can use Armed Forces (3, Back+2) to extend combos. It’s a high kick followed by an uppercut that launches an opponent into the air. When used in the middle of a combo it will help to keep an opponent in the air so you can follow with more attacks and more damage.

The Head Slammer overhead (Back+2) is not safe with the standard notation, but if you hold 2 for the maximum charge it becomes safe and bounces the opponent off the ground so you can follow with a juggle combo. The Outranked combos (Back+1,2,1) is also a solid poking string that is safe if the opponent blocks.

Heavy Weapons Variant

In the Heavy Weapons variant Jax gets to use a machine gun and a rocket launcher. He can shoot both straight ahead or angled upward as an anti-air attack. The L.A.W. Rocket (Down, Back+2) fires a rocket launcher projectile that hits mid and cannot be ducked under. You can delay the attack by holding 2 and even aim it upward by tapping Up. While you’re delaying the attack you can angle it upward, then move it back down to a straight shot by tapping Down. You can even cancel the attack by pressing Forward, Forward or Back, Back.

The L.A.W. Rocket should primarily be used from a distance as a zoning tool. It’s not the fastest projectile in the game, but it hits for 11 percent damage, which is good for a projectile. The ability to quickly aim it upward is also an asset if your opponent tries to jump over the projectile.

The enhanced version (L.A.W. Blast) increases the damage and is safe if the opponent blocks it at close range. However, there aren’t many situations that would warrant using the L.A.W. Blast over another enhanced special move. It inflicts three percent chip damage, so if an opponent has very little health remaining you can use a blocked combo into the L.A.W. Blast to potentially finish them off.

Jax’s Machine Gun (Back, Forward+3) fires a bit faster than the L.A.W. Rocket, but doesn’t hit quite as hard. The Up Machine Gun (Down, Back+3) fires at an upward angle as an anti-air attack, but at close range it will hit a standing opponent. Unlike the L.A.W. Rocket, you can duck under both versions of the Machine Gun. This actually creates a decent mix-up if you’re zoning out an opponent who has low health. Use the Machine Gun until they duck under it, then switch between the Machine Gun and L.A.W. Rocket, mixing in the anti-air versions if you anticipate a jump. This works well against characters who don’t have a good way around projectiles (such as a teleport).

If you want to zone with Jax, this is the variant you should be using. However, against most characters the Pumped Up variant tends to work a bit better overall.

Wrestler Variant

The biggest addition in the Wrestler variant is the Energy Wave projectile attack (Down, Back+2). When it’s blocked Jax has significant advantage and can press his offense hard. This works especially well when paired up with the Air Raid (Forward+2,1) and Expendable (Forward+2,1,2) combos. The mix-up here is whether or not you can end Air Raid with Gotcha Grab, Energy Wave or simply continue the combo into Expendable.

If you end Air Raid with the Energy Wave and the opponent blocks it Jax has enough advantage to allow Jax to follow with another Upward Punch (Forward+2) and start the mix-up all over again. Only the fastest special moves in the game can beat out the Upward Punch in this situation, and it’s a risk to use them because Jax can simply block and punish instead of continuing to pressure.

A smart opponent will attempt to duck under the Energy Wave. It hits high which allows an opponent to punish Jax if they duck at the end of the Air Raid combo. The mix-up is that Jax can finish with the Expendable combo instead, or end the Air Raid combo with the Gotcha Grab, which will hit a ducking opponent. You’ll need to test your opponent to see how good their reactions are. Skilled players will be able to see the Energy Wave and actually duck under it, but most will have to make a guess.

From a zoning perspective you can delay the Energy Wave by holding 2 and the enhanced version (Assault Wave) fires two blasts with the second hitting mid so the opponent can’t duck under it. You can delay the Assault Wave as well, but when used at close range it doesn’t have the same advantage as the Energy Wave.

The Wrestler variant gives Jax two new combo variations and two special moves. The Jammer (Forward+3, 1+3) and Deploy (Forward+4,1+3) combos add a tackle to the end of those attacks. The attacks and the tackles that follow can both be punished if an opponent blocks, but they work well to end combos if you’re going to big damage.

The Quad Grab (Down, Back, Forward+1) is a staple throw for Jax that allows him to perform a series of throws for big damage. The initial notation does one throw, but you can follow with 2,3,4, then 1+2+3+4 to get additional throws. The last few are difficult to time, but try to hit the input just before Jax slams the opponent to the ground with each throw. If you can consistently pull off the entire combo, this is a great way to end combos or just apply pressure at close range.

Jax also gains the Back Breaker (Down+Throw in the air) that can be used after Jump Kicks for decent damage. By itself it’s not the best air-to-air attack as many other aerial attacks will beat it out. However, if you use a combo that knocks an opponent into the air, following with a Jump Kick into a Back Breaker is very good damage.

This is the recommended variation for Jax because of the heavy offensive pressure you can apply with the various Energy Wave options at close range. You also get the Quad Grab, which can be devastating if you learn the timing for the entire attack chain.

Pumped Up Variant

In the Pumped Up variation the Super Gotcha Grab replaces the normal Gotcha Grab and inflicts more damage at the expense of having to press a button for each attack. The Super Gotcha Grab can also be punished if the opponent blocks. Aside from the damage output, the normal Gotcha Grab is superior, but there’s no going back in the Pumped Up variation.

The Ground Pound is also replaced by the Ground Tremor. Instead of choosing one of three places for the Ground Pound to hit, the Ground Tremor covers the entire length of the screen. While it inflicts more damage, the tradeoff is that it does not knock the opponent into the air like the Ground Pound, so you can’t follow it with a juggle combo.

The Energy Wave is also part of this variation, but with the Super Gotcha Grab being punishable if the opponent blocks it, the pressure strategy from the Wrestler variant isn’t nearly as effective. The additional damage from the Super Gotcha Grab and the ease of use from the Ground Tremor make this variation a bit easier to use for newcomers, but you may want to switch to the Wrestler variants if once you get more accustomed to Jax’s arsenal of attacks.

Sample Combos

25 percent  – 3, Back+2, Forward+2,1, 1,1, Forward+2,1, Gotcha Grab
25 percent – Forward+2,1, Downward Dash Fist, Run Cancel, Forward+3, Dash Punch
37 percent – Forward+2,1, Downward Dash Fist, Run Cancel, Forward+2,1, 11, Forward+2,1, Gotcha Grab

Note: The Super Gotcha Grab adds four percent damage to these combos when performed in the Pumped Up variation.


T-Wrecks (Fatality 1) – Forward, Back, Down, 2 (Close)
Jax The Ribber (Fatality 2) – Down, Back, Forward, Forward (Close)


Sledge Hammer – Kill a ducking opponent with Back, Forward+2, Down

Ground Breaking – In the Pumped Up variation, hit three Ground Pounds during a match, then kill the opponent with Down, Down+4+Block (Ground Shake) and hold 4 during the attack.

For more information on Mortal Kombat X, head over to Prima’s free guide or directly to our tips for Jacqui Briggs and Cassie Cage!

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