Sonya plays very differently depending on which variation you decide to go with. Her Special Forces variation gives her a drone that can be used to extend combos and offers great overhead/low mix-ups. Covert Ops gives Sonya her trademark Military Stance from Mortal Kombat 9, which also has an overhead/low mix-up, and the Demolition variation gives Sonya two different grenades she can use to make almost any attack safe from punishment in most situations. She has a little bit of a learning curve, but she has some very interesting setups once you understand how the character plays.
1 – Square/X
2 – Triangle/Y
3 – X/A
4 – Circle/B
Notation: Down+4 (in the air)
The Air Drop is Sonya’s dive kick. It should be used any time your opponent attempts to attack you while in the air. It has deceptive range and can punish projectile attacks from about mid-screen with a well-timed jump. You can follow the Air Drop with a combo just like you would after a jumping punch. However, if the Air Drop is blocked Sonya can be punished, so don’t just throw it out there. Make sure it has a good chance of connecting before you use it.
Notation: Back, Forward+2
Enhanced: Yes, but no armor.
The Energy Ring is Sonya’s standard issue projectile attack. It travels the full length of the screen at a moderate pace and should be used for zoning an opponent from across the screen. At close range it is not safe if the opponent blocks, so make sure you’re at a distance. The enhanced version (Energy Blast) inflicts more damage, but both versions hit high and can be ducked under without the need to block.
Notation: Down, Back+4
Enhanced: Yes, with armor.
Sonya’s Arc Kick travels just short of the full length of the screen and can be used to punish attack from a distance. The arc of the attack allows it to travel over many projectile attacks and even some other basic attacks and special moves. The enhanced version (Flying Kick) travels the full length of the screen and moves a bit faster than the normal version. If either are blocked, Sonya can be punished, so be careful not to use this randomly.
Notation: Back, Forward+4
Enhanced: Yes, with armor.
Sonya’s trademark attack looks a little different in Mortal Kombat X compared to some of the previous games. The range is now about two character lengths. You don’t have to be right next to your opponent, but you need to be pretty close. This is a good attack to end combos with if you’re going for damage. The enhanced version (Leg Slam) adds armor, but use the Flying Kick if you’re being pressured after Sonya gets knocked to the ground. Leg Grab and Leg Slam are much easier to punish compared to the Arc Kick and Flying Kick.
Special Forces (X-Ray)
Sonya’s X-Ray is the only X-Ray in the game that is defensive instead of offensive. You cannot combo into it and there’s no way to guarantee it will connect. Sonya’s X-Ray is a counter, which means that an opponent has to attack her while the X-Ray animation is active. Luckily it will counter just about everything. If Sonya performs her X-Ray and another character starts their X-Ray, Sonya will counter it. While Sonya isn’t heavily reliant on enhanced special moves like some other characters, spending your entire super meter on what is essentially a guess in almost every situation is a big gamble. It can work out, especially against aggressive opponents, but it’s almost always best to save Sonya meter for breakers and the occasional enhanced special move.
Sonya does not have much of an overhead/low mix-up strategy like most other characters. The variation you choose will help to define how she should be played, but she does have a few basic attacks and combos that work more often than not.
Shin Snap (Back+3) is a low attack that leads into a variety of combos. The most notable are the Extraction (Back+3,3,2) and Suppression (Back+3,3,2,1,2) combos. Extraction is safe if the opponent blocks it. If it hits you can continue into the Suppression combo. Even if the opponent blocks, it’s difficult for most characters to punish the Suppression combo. The Armed Forces combo (Back+3,3, Forward+4) leaves Sonya in a similar position in which most characters will have difficulty punishing it if they block.
Downward Slam (Back+1) is an overhead attack that leads into the Play Time combo (Back+1,4,2) which follows the initial overhead attack with a low, then another overhead. Unfortunately, none of these attacks are safe if the opponent blocks, but it forces your opponent to pay attention. If you need an overhead or low to get your opponent to drop their guard, this combo isn’t bad, just don’t rely on it heavily.
Use the Foot Snap (Down+3), Ankle Breaker (Down+4) as quick low poking attacks and the Beat Down (2,1,3,4) and American Way (2,1, Up+4) combos work well to end combos after knocking an opponent into the air. The Power Trip (1,1,1), Drop Zone (1,2,1) and Study This (2,2) combos are all safe if the opponent blocks, making them good to use throughout a match.
Finally, use the Rib Breaker (Forward+2) to attack from a short distance away. It has good range for a basic attack and leads into the Ambush combo (Forward+2, Back+1). While the Rib Breaker is safe from punishment if the opponent blocks, the Ambush combo is not, so don’t use it too much.
Covert Ops Variant
The most important aspect of Sonya’s Covert Ops variation is her Military Stance (Down, Back+2). She can cancel into the Military Stance like any other special move, then use one of three attacks from the stance to continue her combo. Once you’re in Military Stance you can use the Grab (1) as a throw, Rising Kick (3) as a low attack or Double Kick (4) as an overhead. You can also cancel out of the stance with At Ease (2).
With Military Stance Sonya has a built-in overhead/low mix-up anytime she touches an opponent. You can cancel almost any combo into the Military Stance, then mix-up between the Rising Kick and Double Kick. If the Double Kick connects it bounces the opponent off the ground so Sonya can follow with a juggle combo. The Rising Kick knocks the opponent away, but if you have them trapped near the corner you can follow that with a juggle combo as well.
While the Rising Kick and Double Kick can both be punished if your opponent blocks, you can still opt for the Grab option. This works especially well if your opponent likes to block. Use a quick poking attack such as a Single Jab (1) or Low Poke (Down+1), then cancel directly into the Military Stance Grab (Down, Back+2,1). More often than not this will grab the opponent whether they’re blocking or the initial attack hits them. It’s a good way to get your opponent to stop blocking without going for a more telegraphed normal throw.
In addition to Sonya’s Military Stance she also gains the Garrote Parry (Down, Back+1) in this variation. It’s only active for a short time, but it works well after safe combos and basic attacks when most opponents believe it’s their turn to attack. It will parry throws, but not low attacks. Keep this in mind when fighting against an opponent who likes to use a lot of low attacks.
After a successful Garrote Parry you can use the Eagle Strike (2 or 4) or the Freedom Strike (1 or 3). The Eagle Strike knocks the opponent forward and inflicts more damage than the Freedom Strike, but if you’re trapped in the corner you can use the Freedom Strike to reverse the situation and throw your opponent into the corner.
The enhanced version (Garrote Punish) activates a little faster and offers two different options if it’s successful. You can follow with the Stiff Neck (1 or 3) or Justice (2 or 4). Stiff Neck leaves the opponent standing behind you with enough advantage for Sonya to start offensive pressure. Justice bounces the opponent off the ground for a juggle combo. More often than not you should use Justice for maximum damage from the Garrote Punish.
Last but not least, Sonya gains her Air Strike (Down+Throw in the air) air throw in this variation. It works well after a jump kick to an opponent standing or ducking, or after a jump punch to an aerial opponent. It’s a little bit of extra damage than many other characters can’t get after aerial confrontations.
Sonya gains a new combo and several special moves in the Demolition variation. Her new combo is Boomer (1,1,2), which is fairly hard to punish for most characters if it’s blocked, and if it hits Sonya can run to follow with a juggle combo. This is a good way to punish after you block an unsafe attack.
In this variation Sonya gains the ability to use of a Frag Grenade (Down, Back+1). When used Sonya tosses a grenade toward the opponent. After a short time it explodes, launching your opponent into the air. Sonya can throw the Frag Grenade three different distances. The default notation throws the Frag Grenade about one jump distance in front of Sonya. Hold Forward after the command to throw it full screen, and hold Back to throw it directly in front of Sonya. You can also use Detonate (1) to make the Frag Grenade explode prematurely.
When you combo into the Frag Grenade you want to immediately use Detonate so you can extend the combo by running forward into another set of attacks. If your combo is blocked, delay your use of Detonate, or let it explode naturally to keep Sonya safe and allow her to continue offensive pressure. The idea is to make your opponent afraid to attack Sonya in fear that the Frag Grenade will interrupt their attack.
Sonya can only carry three Frag Grenades at a time. Using the enhanced version (Shrapnel) throws all remaining Frag Grenades into the air and detonates them immediately. You can combo into this, then run forward to continue your combo after Shrapnel hits. Once Sonya has used at least one Frag Grenade you can use the Drone Drop (Down, Down+1) to call down a drone that will refill them.
In addition to the Frag Grenade Sonya can also throw a Stun Grenade (Down, Forward+1). This works exactly the same as the Frag Grenade except that it stuns your opponent and holds them in the air for a short time. You can hold Forward or Back to throw the Stun Grenade close to Sonya or full screen, just like the Frag Grenade. The enhanced version (Flashbang) serves the exact same purpose as Shrapnel. Sonya can only hold three grenades total between the Frag Grenades and Stun Grenades. For example, if you use one Frag Grenade you can only use two Stu Grenades before you will need to use the Drone Drop to get more.
Finally, Sonya gains the wakeup attack Bake ‘n’ Wake. To use this technique you need to have at least two grenades available, then after getting knocked to the ground press 1 to explode your grenades and roll away as Sonya gets up. This is a very good way to get up off the ground if you’re opponent is pressuring Sonya.
Special Forces Variant
Sonya gains one basic attack and a set of special moves in the Special Forces variation. The basic attack is Prime Punch (Back+2), which launches an opponent into the air for a juggle combo. It’s a decent way to punish attacks that leave an opponent just outside of Sonya’s Single Jab (1) or Hook (2) range. It’s moderately fast, but it’s not safe if the opponent blocks, which is why it should be used to punish an unsafe attack after blocking, or in the middle of a juggle combo to extend it with additional damage.
The main aspect of this variation is the Drone (Down, Down+1). This calls down a drone that remains active for a short time before disappearing. The lights on the drone will flash just before it’s about to vanish so you have a bit of warning.
While the drone is out Sonya has five different commands she can execute. Normally the drone follows Sonya when she moves. However, if you want it to remain in place so you can move the screen so the drone is no longer visible, you can use Park Drone (Down, Down+1) to leave it in place. Remove Park (Down, Down+1) sets the drone to follow Sonya again.
Heavy Blast (1+Block) fires an overhead blast that covers the area directly in front of Sonya, while Homing Missile (2+Block) fires a slow-moving projectile. You can use Heavy Blast as a mix-up in the Beat Up combo (Back+1,4). The second hit of this combo is a low attack, but if you cancel the first hit into Heavy Blast it gives you an overhead attack instead. You can also combo into the attack like any other special move (so long as the drone is already out), but this is the best use of it.
Homing Missile is best to use at a moderate distance so that you have time to follow it with an attack or simply running in front of it. You want the Homing Missile to cover Sonya and prevent your opponent from attacking her if they block an attack. With proper timing your opponent won’t be able to attack Sonya until after they’ve blocked the Homing Missile. By running ahead of it and attacking the opponent, Sonya has extra protection.
You can use Kamikaze (3+Block) to end combos if you’re going for additional damage. Using this attack causes the drone to fly into the opponent. There’s also a Low Kamikaze (4+Block) option that serves as a low attack and flies the drone into the opponent. You will lose the drone with either attack, but you can call it again after a short time. Any time the drone disappears, there’s a short delay before you can call it back again.
Use the Low Kamikaze in a similar fashion to how you use Heavy Blast. It hits low which means you can mix it up with any overhead attack in Sonya’s combos. This is mainly useful as a mix-up for the last hit in the Play Time (Back+1,4,2) and Beat Down (2,1,3,4) combos. The last hit in these combos are both overhead attacks, but instead of using these attacks, cancel into the Low Kamikaze if you have the drone out. This gives you a low attack instead of the normal overhead. If the Low Kamikaze hits you can run after it to follow with a juggle combo.
Finally, you can use the Park Drone and Remove Park commands to extend combos until the drone disappears. For example, if you have an opponent trapped in the corner you can hit with the Advance Forces combo (1,1) ending with the Park Drone, then immediately use the combo again ending with Remove Park. You can do this repeatedly until the drone disappears and it will all combo with proper timing.
29 percent – Back+3,3,2, Military Stance, 4, Walk Forward Slightly, 2,1, 2,2, Leg Grab
25 percent – 1,2,1, Stun Grenade, Detonate (immediately), Forward+2, Leg Grab
29 percent – (with drone out) Back+3,3,2, Low Kamikaze, Run Forward, 2,1,3,4, Drone (for setup)
Target Marked – Down, Down, Back, Forward+Block (Close)
Head Hunter – Forward, Back, Down, Back, 2 (Mid-Screen)
Thigh Master – With less than 50 percent health, perform a five-hit combo that ends with the Leg Grab (Back, Forward+4) or Leg Slam (Back, Forward+4+Block), killing the opponent with the final hit.