Sub-Zero’s best move to use in footsies is B14. B14 can be hit confirmed into Ice Ball or a combo. The downside to using B14 is that it starts with a high attack so it will lose to ducking opponents. If your opponent is ducking, you can then hit them with Sub-Zero’s B32 or F2.
If blocked, it leaves Sub-Zero at only -4. Since Sub-Zero has a 6 frame poke, using a D1 after B14 will beat out any move that is slower than 10 frames. B143 can also be used to stop opponents from attacking after B14.
B2 has a large hurtbox which can be used to hit airborne opponents. B2 is -2 on block, but can be made -1 depending on the distance. This is very strong as Sub-Zero can freely poke after B2 with his 6 frame D1.
D4 is a safe, long-reaching low attack that can be used up close. If D4 hits, it is +14 and allows Sub-Zero to approach his opponent.
Many of Sub-Zero’s moves leave him at low disadvantage. Sub-Zero also has one of the fastest pokes in the game which makes his pressure very tough to deal with. B321 is the Sub-Zero’s best string to use for pressure.
B3 is only -4 on block which means you can poke with a D1 afterwards and beat out any move that is slower than 10 frames. A lot of times your opponent will be looking for B32, allowing you to stagger B3 and go for a throw.
B32 is -6 on block which means poking with a D1 afterwards will beat out any move that is slower than 12 frames. Since your opponent will be expecting B321, it can be difficult for them to react after B32.
B321 is -5 on block which means poking with a D1 afterwards will beat out any move that is slower than 11 frames.
Between B3, B32 and B321, you will want to mix up all of these attacks to keep your opponent guessing on when you will finish the string.
Another strong tactic to use up close is to backdash after a move is blocked and whiff punish pokes. For example, after a blocked D1 or B32 you will have the option to backdash. Depending on the distance and how your opponent reacts, backdashing will avoid counterpokes and you can then whiff punish the poke with B32.
When going for a throw, you will want to use Sub-Zero’s Forward Throw as it leaves the opponent close to you. If your opponent fails to tech your throw, you will then want to use Sub-Zero’s Back Throw. Sub-Zero’s Back Throw becomes a Krushing Blow if the opponent failed Throw Escape during the previous throw.
Sub-Zero’s F4 is best used at 3/4 screen. On block, F4 is +4 but can be up to +6 when used at farther ranges. This is a great way to set up Sub-Zero’s offense. After F4, you can safely poke with a D1. Once your opponent respects your D1, you can then go for a throw or mixup with B32 and F2.
If F4 is made to be +6 on block, B32 is a good option to use after F4 because it will either trade or beat out any attack that is 7 frames or slower. Be wary when using F4 because it has a slow start-up of 28 frames which can be punished on reaction.
A core part of Sub-Zero’s game plan is to use B32 and F2 for offensive mixups. In Sub-Zero’s Dead of Winter variation, F2 can link into Amplified Ice Ball, or DF1, for a full combo. In Sub-Zero’s Thin Ice variation, cancel F2 into Slide, or BF3.
Due to B3 hitting in 13 frames and F2 hitting in 19 frames, opponents may attempt to fuzzy guard this mixup by blocking low then high. To stop opponents fuzzy guarding, slightly delay Sub-Zero’s B3 so that it hits at the same time as F2.
F24 Krushing Blow
F24 becomes a Krushing Blow when used as a Kounter or Punish. The best way to use this is after knocking the opponent down in the corner with 124 and mixing up your okizeme between F24 and F2 Ice Ball or F2 Slide. Opponents who try to do a Delayed Getup to whiff punish F2 will be hit by the 2nd hit of F24. This will become a Krushing Blow because it will Kounter their attempt at punishing a whiffed F2.
After freezing an opponent, Sub-Zero can opt to keep the opponent standing at the end of the combo. This is done by doing a J2 into Sub-Zero’s 2 after Ice Ball. 2 is +22 on hit which gives a free 50/50 mixup. Make sure to slightly delay Sub-Zero’s B3 so that it hits at the same time as F2.
While this gives up guaranteed damage, it can be useful when your opponent has a huge lifelead and you need to make a comeback.
Utilizing Cold Shoulder & Slide
In Sub-Zero’s Dead of Winter variation he gains access to Cold Shoulder, or BF3. While unsafe, Cold Shoulder can be Amplified at any point to counter opponents trying to go for a punish. Make sure to mix up regular Cold Shoulder and Amplified Cold Shoulder, as well as the timing on when you Amplify the Cold Shoulder, to keep opponents guessing on how to punish it.
Cold Shoulder can be used after F2 for a semi-safe overhead option but for less damage. It can also be thrown out in the neutral as a quick advancing attack to keep opponents’ movement in check.
Cold Shoulder also becomes a Krushing Blow when used as a Kounter or Punish. This can be done by using Cold Shoulder as a reversal to punish unsafe moves. Another way to use this is when whiff punishing a Getup Attack.
Slide becomes a Krushing Blow on the 3rd Amplified Slide, so you will want to Amplify it whenever possible. Once you’ve fulfilled the requirements for the Krushing Blow, save it for when you need huge damage. When Amplifying Slide it will reverse positions with your opponent so make sure to pay attention to where you and your opponent are on the screen.
Slide is also a great way to get opponents to block low. Your opponent must always be ready to block the Slide in neutral. Once your opponent starts to block low, you can then move in and go for an overhead or throw.
Slide can be used as a reversal to punish unsafe moves at a distance. For example, blocking a projectile will allow you to punish with Slide. In some cases, you might need to Flawless Block the projectile.
Sub-Zero has the ability to prevent opponents from using a Breakaway to escape his combos. This is done by doing a J2 into B143 or 4 after freezing the opponent. If you have a Fatal Blow, then doing a J2 into 4 Fatal Blow will yield at least 40% unbreakable damage.
In Sub-Zero’s Thin Ice variation, he has many zoning tools to keep opponents out. From 3/4th to fullscreen, use Frigid Storm, or DF2.
You will want to use (Air) Polar Axe, or DB2, while jumping back to stop opponents from advancing. At closer ranges, (Air) Polar Axe can be used when jumping at the opponent. This will counter opponents trying to anti-air Sub-Zero’s jump. Once your opponent respects the (Air) Polar Axe, you can then jump in without using (Air) Polar Axe.
Death-Cicle Barrage, or DB2, is best used for chipping the opponent out. This deals 4% chip damage and is very useful when your opponent is low on health.
Ice Ball is a great anti-zoning tool as it can trade with many projectiles and will freeze your opponent. In Sub-Zero’s Dead of Winter variation, his anti-zoning becomes even stronger because Ice Ball can be Amplified. The Amplified Ice Ball will absorb projectiles as well as travel faster, making zoning Sub-Zero very risky.