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Fighting Kabal

Interrupting Staggers

A large part of Kabal’s on offense relies on staggering his attacks. At close-range, Kabal may try to stagger attacks such as his 1,1,1,2,2 and Forward+2,2. If you suspect that Kabal will stagger any of these attacks, use a jab to interrupt him. If at mid-range, Kabal will be able to stagger his Back+1 and Forward+2 as well. Due to the range on Kabal’s normals, trying to interrupt with a jab or poke after these moves will not work. Instead, you must use a forward-advancing attack to interrupt. Another option is to walk back after blocking Kabal’s Back+1 or Forward+2, causing Kabal’s follow-up attack to whiff and allowing you to whiff punish him.

Pokes

Many of Kabal’s attacks leave him at a low disadvantage on block. These attacks include Kabal’s 1,1,1,Back+1,2,Down+2,2,2,1,2,3,Forward+2,2,4 and Forward+4,1+3, all of which leave Kabal anywhere from -1 to -5 on block. Because of this, Kabal will have the option to use his 7 frame Down+1 to stop you from mounting an offense.

1,1,1 = -5
Back+1,2,Down+2 = -4
2,2,1 = -2
2,3 = -1
Forward+2,2,4 = -2
Forward+4,1+3 = -5

Depending on which string Kabal uses, you must use a mid attack that has at least a start-up of 9 to 11 frames. For most characters, their fastest mid is their Down+1 poke. If there is enough pushback after the string, you will also be able to walk back and whiff punish Kabal’s poke. This can usually be done after blocking Kabal’s Back+1,2,Down+2 or Forward+2,2,4. If using a character with a fast Up+2, then Flawless Blocking Kabal’s poke is another great option.

Punishing Buzzsaw

At times Kabal may use his Buzzsaw up-close and Amplify it which will grant him a combo. This is usually done after Kabal’s Back+1,2 and Forward+4. If the Amplified Buzzsaw is blocked, Kabal will be safe at -1. However due to being a high projectile, this can be punished by ducking underneath it. If you anticipate an Amplified Buzzsaw, duck then quickly use a jab to punish. Since Kabal’s Buzzsaw has a start-up of 24 frames, it is possible to react to it and duck before it connects, though this can be a bit difficult if you’re not expecting it.

Nomad Dash

One of Kabal’s strongest moves is his Nomad Dash, which allows him to run across the screen granting him a combo if it hits. Due to its quick start-up, Kabal may throw out his Nomad Dash to catch you off guard for not blocking. If you predict that Kabal will use his Nomad Dash, stay in position and block. If the Nomad Dash is blocked, Kabal will be heavily punishable at -29 on block. For an optimal punish, use a move that triggers a Krushing Blow if it hits as a Kounter or Punish.

Punishing Hook Slam

Kabal’s Hook Slam can be done after his pokes as a way to stop you from counterpoking. If done after Kabal’s Down+1, the Hook Slam can be interrupted with any attack that has a start-up of 9 frames or faster. If done after his Down+3, it can be interrupted with any attack that is 6 frames or faster. Interrupting Hook Slam however can be incredibly difficult because you must react quickly, and if late to interrupt then you’ll be hit by the Hook Slam. If Kabal’s Hook Slam hits as a Kounter or Punish, it will trigger a Krushing Blow and launch for a combo so it can be very risky to counterpoke against Kabal. Instead, continue blocking after Kabal’s pokes if you think that he will use his Hook Slam. If blocked, Hook Slam will leave Kabal at -15 allowing for a punish.

Throws

While trying to break Kabal’s throws, it’s best to always use a Throw Escape against his Back Throw. If Kabal’s Back Throw connects, it will leave you close allowing him to apply pressure on knockdown. Because of this, it’s more beneficial to take the Toward Throw as it will send you away. Kabal’s Back Throw will also trigger a Krushing Blow if you failed to Throw Escape the previous throw. By always teching Kabal’s Back Throw, you’ll prevent him from gaining any sort of offense and triggering its Krushing Blow.

Zoning

Make sure to duck underneath Kabal’s Buzzsaw projectiles while trying to approach him as his projectiles are highs. It’s important to not jump because Kabal’s projectiles have a large hitbox and will be able to easily hit you out of the air. While Kabal is airborne, he’ll also be able to throw his buzzsaws downward to stop enemy approaches. Anytime Kabal jumps back, quickly dash forward and then block in case he throws a buzzsaw.

If Kabal has the Rolling Buzzsaw ability equipped, he can throw his buzzsaws across the ground. Kabal’s Rolling Buzzsaw has a slow start-up of 27 frames and is easy to block low on reaction. Similar to Kabal’s Buzzsaw projectile, make sure not to jump over it because if Kabal Amplifies the Rolling Buzzsaw, he will send out another buzzsaw hitting you out of the air. After blocking the initial buzzsaw, you’ll be able to jump over the next buzzsaw if it is Amplified.

Interrupting Nomad Dash Cancels

If Kabal has the Dash Cancel ability equipped, he gains the option to cancel out of his Nomad Dash at the cost of 1 bar of Defensive Meter. Depending on the attack used before the Nomad Dash Cancel, Kabal can be up to +8 on block allowing for him to pressure.

The following lists the block advantage for Kabal’s Nomad Dash Cancel:

1 = -8
1,1 = -8
1,1,1 = 0
Back+1 = +1
Back+1,2 = 0
Down+1 = -15
2 = -2
2,2 = -8
2,3 = +1
Forward+2 = +3
Forward+2,2 = +1
3 = +2
Forward+3 = +8
Down+3 = -12
4 = +3
Forward+4 = +1
Down+4 = -8

It’s important to know which attacks give Kabal the most advantage after a Nomad Dash Cancel. Kabal’s most notable attacks for using a Nomad Dash Cancel after are his Back+1,Back+1,2,Forward+2,Forward+2,2,Forward+3 and Forward+4. Most times it’s possible to interrupt Kabal out of his follow-up attack with a jab or poke. Although Kabal may be at an advantage after a Nomad Dash Cancel, it can still be worth to interrupt because Kabal will only be able to guarantee a poke which deals small damage. However if Kabal is at +3 or greater, then interrupting Nomad Dash Cancel is less viable because he’ll be able to guarantee a Forward+4.

Extended Hook

If Kabal has the Extended Hook ability equipped, he is able to swing his hook swords forward for an attack. Kabal’s Extended Hook can be done after blockstrings, creating a large amount of pushback on block. Although the Extended Hook leaves Kabal at -12 on block, it is usually safe due to pushback. Certain advancing attacks however will be able to punish the Extended Hook on block.

Restand

Kabal’s Extended Hook also allows him to restand his opponent at the end of his combos. After the restand, Kabal will be left at +2 on hit. Depending on the distance, Kabal will be able to guarantee a poke or Forward+4. After the restand, use a 7 frame poke or jab to interrupt Kabal out of his follow-up attack. Since Kabal’s Forward+4,1+3 does not combo, the risk/reward for jabbing will be in your favor. Be careful because if Kabal walks back, your poke or jab will whiff and Kabal will be able to whiff punish you. Another option is to backdash after the restand and whiff punish Kabal’s attack. Alternatively, a well-timed Flawless Block will also counter Kabal’s follow-up attack. If farther away after the restand, then trying to interrupt Kabal becomes more risky because of the range on Kabal’s attacks allowing him to whiff punish you. However, there will be more room to escape Kabal’s follow-up by dashing backwards or jumping away.

Gas Blast Restand

If Kabal has the Gas Blast ability equipped, he’s able to restand his opponent at the end of combos. This is mainly done in the corner, leaving Kabal at +3 on hit allowing him to guarantee a Forward+4. Normally it’s best to block after Kabal’s Gas Blast restand and focus on defending against his next attack. However if you wish to counter Kabal’s Forward+4, you must Flawless Block it which will allow you to punish him with an Up+2. Kabal may also try going for a throw after the restand, which can either be teched using a Throw Escape or ducked under and punished with a Down+2KB. Note that by option selecting the Flawless Block, you will also tech Kabal’s Toward Throw, which makes for a great option after Kabal’s restand.

Mix-ups

The Low Hook Grab ability gives Kabal a variety of mix-ups. Kabal’s Low Hook Grab is a 15 frame low attack which can be used as a mix-up with Kabal’s many overheads, including his Back+1,2,Forward+2,2,4 and Forward+4,1+3. Most of these mix-ups however can be fuzzy guarded by blocking with a specific timing.

1. Forward+2,2,4 / Forward+2,2 Low Hook Grab

The overhead in Kabal’s Forward+2,2,4 has a start-up of 22 frames, which hits 7 frames later than the Low Hook Grab. In order to fuzzy guard this, block low after the first 2 hits then block high right before the final hit of Forward+2,2,4.

2. Forward+4,1+3 / Forward+4 Low Hook Grab

The overhead in Kabal’s Forward+4,1+3 has a start-up of 21 frames, which hits 6 frames later than the Low Hook Grab. Similar to the previous mix-up, this can be fuzzy guarded by blocking low after the 1st hit then blocking high right before the 2nd hit of Forward+4,1+3. Note that this mix-up is more difficult to fuzzy guard because it is done off of Kabal’s Forward+4 which has a start-up of 9 frames and is much harder to react to.

3. Back+1,2 / Back+1 Low Hook Grab

This is Kabal’s strongest mix-up and cannot be fuzzy guarded due to the overhead having a start-up of 16 frames, hitting only 1 frame later than the Low Hook Grab. When defending against this mix-up, it is safer to block high because Kabal cannot combo off of the Low Hook Grab. If Kabal wishes to combo from the overhead, he must use his Buzzsaw and Amplify it or his Nomad Dash, both of which can be punished by ducking underneath the Buzzsaw or blocking the Nomad Dash.

Breakaway

Most times using a Breakaway against Kabal is not advised because by the time you are able to break out of his combo, you will already have taken a decent amount of damage. Additionally, Kabal has the ability to Armor Break with his Hook Slam to counter your Breakaway, which will trigger a Krushing Blow. This is usually done after Kabal has hit you with a 1,1,1,2,3,Down+2KB, Hook Slam KB, Amplified Buzzsaw or Amplified Low Spinner. Since Kabal’s Hook Slam is also his go-to combo ender and can be done at any point in his combos, trying to break out of Kabal’s combos is extremely risky.

Last Updated on March 26, 2021

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