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

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

by Bryan Dawson

The difference between Kano’s variants is what makes or breaks the character. He doesn’t have a lot of attacks that carry over between variants and that makes his variants all play very differently. Commando is based heavily around command throws, Cutthroat gives him a solid overhead/low mix-up and juggle opportunities, and Cybernetic allows him to extend combos for additional damage.

Notation Key

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

Air Ball
Notation: Back, Forward+3 (in the air)
Enhanced: Yes, but no armor.

The Air Ball has somewhat limited uses. While in the air Kano flies toward the opponent in ball form, then lands with a low kick. If you’re close enough the ball portion of the attack will hit first, then Kano will go right into the low kick. From full screen the kick portion of the attack connects, but the ball portion does not.

This should mainly be used if you’re already in the air and the opponent either jumps or tries to throw a projectile or some other action. Basically you only want to use the Air Ball if you know it will connect, which means you’re punishing the opponent for trying to attack while Kano is in the air. If the attack is blocked, Kano is extremely open for punishment. If it hits, you can press Block as soon as Kano lands to get a tackle instead of the low kick for additional damage.

Kano Ball
Notation: Back, Forward+3
Enhanced: Yes, with armor.

Kano’s trademark attack returns and it hasn’t changed much. Kano flies at the opponent rolled up in a ball. At close range it hits twice, but from a distance you’ll only get one hit. It will reach across the screen and the enhanced version (Black Dragon Ball) not only has armor, but if you hold Block Kano will spin in place for a short time. You can release Block to fly forward or hold it for about six seconds until the attack automatically executes. You can also cancel the Black Dragon Ball by pressing Down, Down during the delay, but you won’t get the meter back.

One big advantage in being able to cancel the Black Dragon Ball is that you can end a combo with it, landing the first hit, then immediately dance the attack and continue your combo. This is easiest to do in the corner, but it can be done at mid-screen if you’re quick. You can Run Cancel right after you cancel the Black Dragon Ball, or use long-reaching attacks such as Side Kick (4).

Just like the Air Ball, this attack is not safe if the opponent blocks. It should be used to end combos or if you have meter to burn, then enhanced version works well to go through attacks. It’s not super fast, but it can punish some attacks that would otherwise be difficult to punish because they push the opponent away.

Up Ball
Notation: Down, Back+2
Enhanced: Yes, with armor.

The Up Ball is Kano’s primary anti-air attack. It’s one of Kano’s fastest attacks, which makes it easy to use as soon as you see the opponent jump into the air. At close range it hits twice, but from a distance you’ll only get one hit from it. The enhanced version (Uprise Ball) has armor, which makes it useful if you’re being pressured after Kano gets knocked down. However, it’s not safe if the opponent blocks so be very careful when using it. You can use it to end combos, but the Kano Ball inflicts slightly more damage.

Blade Throw
Notation: Down, Forward+2
Enhanced: Yes, but no armor.

Kano’s Blade Throw is one of the more interesting projectile attacks in the game. It executes very quickly and can be thrown multiple times in rapid succession making it difficult for many opponents to deal with the pressure. It is possible to duck under it, but if you’re throwing them fast enough, the opponent still won’t have much time to react.

The enhanced version (Blade Toss) throws two knives with the second one hitting mid, which means the opponent can’t duck under it. If that weren’t good enough, it gives Kano advantage if the opponent blocks, meaning he can continue offensive pressure. This is a great way to end blocked combos to make sure you can maintain pressure on the opponent.

Lacerater (X-Ray)

Kano’s X-Ray doesn’t have a lot of range, but it’s fast enough to be used to end almost any combo in his arsenal to guarantee it will connect. Like most other X-Ray attacks, it has armor so it can go through an opponent’s attack, but if you’re going to use all of your meter, it’s best to make sure the X-Ray is going to connect. Start a combo, and if it hits the opponent, finish it with the Lacerater for big damage!

Basic Strategy

Kano doesn’t have a lot to work with that’s universal to all of his variants. Much of his strategy will depend on which variation you’re using. In fact, he doesn’t even have a basic overhead/low mix-up that’s universal across all variations. He does have a solid low attack in the Shin Strike (Back+3). This leads into the Mean Machine combo (Back+3,1,2) which is very difficult for most characters to punish if it’s blocked. Couple this with the overhead of your choice based on the variation you’re using for an easy way to open up an opponent for a combo.

Cutthroat Variant

Kano gains quite a lot in the Cutthroat variant. He gets the Sneaky Blade (Back+1) overhead attack, which leads into the Bloodthirsty combo (Back+1,2,1) which is safe from punishment if the opponent blocks. This is great to mix-up with the Mean Machine combo, which starts with a low attack to give Kano a great overhead/low mix-up.

He also gains the Attitude Problem combo (Forward+2,1,2), which launches an opponent if the last hit connects. While it’s not safe if the opponent blocks, start with the Pay Attention combo (Forward+2,1), then if it connects, finish with 2 for the full Attitude Problem combo, then follow with a juggle combo. If Pay Attention is blocked, Kano cannot be punished by most characters, making it a safe option.

For special moves Kano gains the Blade Slice and Power Up. Blade Slice is best used to extend combos in the corner if an opponent is in the air, but the enhanced version (Bloody Slice) launches the opponent into the air for a juggle combo follow-up. This should be used to extend most of Kano’s combo, just make sure the combo connects before you cancel into Bloody Slice. If the opponent blocks Bloody Slice, Kano can be punished.

The Power Up gives Kano a temporary damage boost to all of his attacks, at the cost of about 15 percent of his health (over time). The enhanced version (Charge Up) has armor and gives Kano a bigger damage boost with damaging himself. This actually works very well as a wakeup option if Kano is being pressured after a knockdown. The armor from Charge Up will eat the first attack, and in most cases you will be able to block the second attack if the opponent was attempting a combo. This also gives you the damage buff killing two birds with one stone.

Cybernetic Variant

Kano gains quite a bit in the Cybernetic variation. His best combo additions are the Black Market combo (Back+2,3,1+3), Burner (Forward+3,1+3) and Big Boom (Forward+3,2+4). All three of these combos are safe if the opponent blocks and even leave Kano with very slight advantage so you can continue offensive pressure with a fast attack such as his Low Kick (Down+3). Power Plant (Back+2), which starts the Black Market combo has deceptive range and can reach nearly halfway across the screen.

The new Stomach Ache combo (Back+1,3,2+4) works well if you’re good at confirming a combo hit before you get to the last attack. The enhanced version of the last attack knocks the opponent into the air allowing you to follow with a juggle combo, but if it’s blocked it can be punished by skilled players. The enhanced version of the Gut Blast (Back+2,3,2+4) and Big Boom work in the same way.

For special moves Kano gains the Eye Burst (Down, Back+1), Upward Laser (Down, Back+3) and Knife Toss (Down, Forward+2). The Eye Burst is essentially a combo extension. It gives Kano enough advantage that you can follow up with another attack as if the Eye Burst was a stun like Scorpion’s Spear. Instead of ending a grounded combo with the Kano Ball or some other special move, use the Eye Burst and then continue your combo anew. The enhanced version (Eye Blast) has armor and inflicts more damage.

The Upward Laser is primarily an anti-air attack. It’s not as fast at the Up Ball, but it inflicts more damage and you can enhance after it hits to get a second laser for even more damage. You can also use it after a combo knocks the opponent into the air, especially after some of Kano’s new combos that he gains in this variant.

Replacing the Blade Throw in this variation is the Knife Toss, which is superior to the Blade Throw in almost every way except speed. In exchange for the speed reduction the Knife Toss hits mid, meaning an opponent cannot duck under it. In addition, the enhanced version (Multi Blades) gives Kano advantage if it’s blocked, just like the Blade Toss. Although it’s not quite as much advantage, it can be used in a similar manner. If Multi Blades hits, Kano can follow with a juggle combo.

Commando Variant

While Kano gains a throw at the end of one of his combos in the Commando variant, it’s the special moves he gets that really make or break Commando. The Wood Chipper combo (3,2,1+3) adds a throw to the end of the Kombat Bots combo (3,2). Unfortunately, the throw can be blocked and is not safe in this situation. It is possible to see that the first two hits connected, then add the throw at the end, but it will take some practice to get that reaction timing down.

For special moves Kano gets Choke (Down, Forward+1), Low Kounter (Down, Back+3), High Kounter (Down, Back+1), Rib Strike (Down, Back, Forward+4) and Power Slam (Down, Forward, Back+4). Choke is not safe if the opponent blocks, which limits its uses to ending combos primarily. The enhanced version (Strangle) adds armor and inflicts more damage, and both options can grab an opponent out of the air.

High Kounter and Low Kounter are exactly what you might expect. High Kounter counters all high and mid attacks, while Low Kounter counters all low attacks. Unlike most other counters and parries in the game, Kano’s will counter special moves in addition to physical attacks. They both activate quickly and have a decent window in which they’ll counter an attack, so use them to maintain your offense after an opponent blocks one of Kano’s safe attacks.

The Rib Strike and Power Slam are both command throws that cannot be blocked. The enhanced versions  have armor. While using them when a combo hits or is blocked will generally cause them to miss, they work well after Low Spike (Down+1). It doesn’t matter if Low Spike hits or the opponent blocks, if you cancel the attack into one of the command throws, it will connect. Both throws also work after the opponent blocks No Escape (Forward+3,3), Toe Kick (Down+4) or Low Kick (Down+3).

If you’re looking for a grappler character, Kano’s Command variant is the closest thing to that in Mortal Kombat X. However, in general his other variants offer a bit more versatility depending on how you wish to play the character.

Sample Combos

33 percent – Back+3,1, Bloody Slice, Forward+2,1,2, Forward+4, Kano Ball

Cybernetic Variant
24 percent – Back+3,1, Eye Burst, Back+2,3, Kano Ball
26 percent – 1,1,2, Eye Burst, Back+3,1, Kano Ball


Head Case – Down, Forward, Down, Back, 3 (Close)
Knife To Meet You – Down, Down, Forward, 1 (Full Screen)


Ballin’ – Kill a blocking opponent with chip damage from an Air Ball (Back, Forward+3+Block in the air).

For more on Mortal Kombat X head over to Prima’s free guide or directly to our Erron Black or Scorpion guides!

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