Discussion on Cinder for Competitive Play

Just wanted some perspective on a decision I’m making in regards to getting better and trying to improve versus accepting I may need to make the choice to move to a different character in order to start picking up wins more efficiently and having better coverage against the majority of the cast.

I’ve played mostly Cinder since the moment he launched, and put more hours into him than any other in the cast, with probably second place as Thunder and Rash in third. I’ve been there for the changes, the nerfs, buffs (what few there were), and I just have to say that Cinder is not in the best place. Compared to much of the cast, Cinder is just underpowered IMO, and given I see very little representation of him online, and even the major players who used to rep him have taken up other characters (of particular interest is Bass), the objective conclusion you reach from observing the data is he is just not very good.

I’ve been thinking about it logically for some time now, and considered this problem from a number of different perspectives. First, most of the time, when I come across a situation online where I am out-played, I usually try to recreate the situation when from replays, and then try to counter it. However, it’s not just about countering it, but denying the other player the opportunity to lock you into the position or situation he wants you into. Knowing how to escape it is good, but not being locked into that position would be better. I also try to create my own tech to try and tap into my own characters strengths to outplay, but in trying to create my own stuff and seeing how little other people are using Cinder in training, coming up with brilliant tech, hard to break practical stuff, and powerful options don’t seem to exist for this character.

I’m pretty sure there are a number of people who will say, Cinder’s really good though, just look at what he can do! I have to say to them though, have you tried to use any of the stuff he is capable of on paper? He looks amazing when you write it all down and read it, but when you put it into practical use, Cinder is just underwhelming and most any move he does, there is a character who does it better, and the sum of the parts isn’t very good. I get told he’s really strong all the time by people who haven’t put an ounce of time into playing him online, and it gets infuriating when you are dismissed so quickly by someone who hasn’t ever tried it themselves to see how far you can get with the character. I saw the same arguments made about SF4 Bison (Dictator), and anyone who remembers that game knows Bison was underwhelming and hard to win with, especially in a system where FADC did charge characters no favors.

If anyone wants to know anything more intricate and in depth about any move Cinder has, I’d gladly go into detail and welcome any corrections to the record. Until then, I don’t want to be theory crafted an explanation why he’s better than I think without a realistic expectation of why there is a possible fault in said gameplan. I don’t expect any one character to counter anything and everything, but Cinder seems to have very few, if any favorable matchups. I understand that no matter what character I pick, there is always a counter or fault, and the player is also just as important. It just seems like he’s just not built to handle much at all, despite how fantastic his moveset is described.

Second, while most characters tend to be represented in tournaments and online play, I do believe the frequency with which you encounter them seems to give an indication about how fun and or how/good the character is in the wild. If they aren’t fun or good, fewer people tend to follow or play them. I’m not saying be a trend chaser or counter picker, but reading the room, these characters are usually the least represented for very real reasons, and having a smaller community of the Cinder loyalists versus those who lab Eagle or ARIA or any number of other characters tends to produce less data to build off of and a stagnation for that character’s growth potential. People find new stuff all the time for the popular characters, but when you see a new Cinder tech item tends to be exceedingly rare, even on these forums.

Finally, I have fun with Cinder, I really do, but I’m starting to think, no pun intended, I may be getting a little burnt out of him. I think regardless of the discussion that may come of this thread, I will likely try several other characters for a while to gain perspective, wake up from the funk, and maybe have a little unexpected fun too. When Hisako came out, I had the worst time trying to counter her and fight her, until I tried playing as her, figuring out what she was capable of and using this knowledge to my advantage. In learning new characters, I think I may gain some extra perspective to get better.

I would really like to have a top 32 star at some point, but it seems like a difficult road right now. and I feel like Cinder isn’t going to be the guy I can rely on to effectively get there. I keep wondering if the guys at tournaments make decisions to change characters to win with some of these things in mind, or did they genuinely just find a favorite character that seems to have a lot of strengths to cover the most matchups they’ll encounter?

I know it’s been a while since I discussed much of anything here. For a while I was on and off KI, until I finally managed to upgrade my connection from something other than snail’s pace, and the game has been much more fun with less disconnects and interruptions. So I’m really wanting to get back into it now and harder than ever.

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Firstly, while Cinder isn’t god tier like Aria, Thunder, or Rash, he is far from weak. From what I’ve seen in terms of play and tech, I would still put him in the top ten, top fifteen, at the very least.

For me, much like Sadira and Kan-Ra, Cinder isn’t a character you’re going to be able to easily pick up and get wins with. As you mentioned, it takes a LOT of labbing to get good with him. This is the reality of this character. Cinder is not an easy character to use, and I think that is the only thing, much like Kan-Ra, that is holding him back.

I think we all get that, “Grass is greener on the other side,” feeling especially when we keep hitting brick walls with our favorite characters. Yes, Cinder does have some match ups that are pretty difficult, but nothing near as horrific as Sadira vs Thunder, of which is one of the only 7-3 MUs in the game.

On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with broadening your options. When I first got into KI I was a Sabrewulf main. In fact I purchased the original Xbox One just so that I could play him. I was a part of the original Wolf Pack, and I won a lot of matches with Sabrewulf, but I got to a certain point where I plateaued. I couldn’t get anywhere else. What I found was that I was losing interest in this character. I was trying to force myself to enjoy a character and playstyle that wasn’t me. That is when I started labbing Sadira, and from that moment on, I’ve been a Sadira main, nerfs and all.

If your feeling stagnant, maybe try a different character or two. I don’t know of a single KI player that has stuck with just one character.

In respect to Cinder tech… Soundy44 posts videos all the time on the KI Discord channel. If you aren’t a Discord member, I’d become one, because lots of Cinder stuff gets posted there. While I didn’t see any Cinder usage for the last few tourneys that was posted, I saw quite a bit of Cinder usage last year. I can’t tell you how many times I heard Nicky commentate about a player completely ignoring Cinder’s burn damage, just to have the Cinder player wipe out their entire life bar, due to not staying still.

There is plenty of tech out there for Cinder and as I mentioned, I’ve see stuff posted regularly on the Discord channel.

In terms of what players use in tourneys… Players are there for one purpose, and that is to win. There is always that character of the week. Right now Rash is the “go to” character. Just because your character doesn’t make a presence all the time, doesn’t make them less valid or worth using. As I mentioned earlier, Sadira is the worse character in the game by many standards, and yet she still gets used… Thunder is one of the best characters in the game, and I seldom see a Thunder being used at tourneys…

At the end of the day, its all about you. If you love using Cinder, then use him. If you aren’t having fun and just forcing yourself to use him because you like the character, then yeah, maybe its time to look at somebody else, but the fact is, there is no guarantee that you will be happy.


Most tech and help discussion takes place on the official Discord now, as far as I’m aware. I’d go there if you’re not already familiar.

Getting to the Top 32 will take a pretty significant commitment to the game no matter what character you’re using. I’d recommend considering how comfortable you are with playing Cinder (or complicated characters in general) before switching mains.

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I remember when I set out to get my Top 32 star… It was pretty easy going until the last day… That was such a nightmare, I swore I’d never do that again. :smiley:

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Yeah for me it’s mostly been an issue of dedicating the time to the grind and practicing solid play with my main. I can beat players with stars, but once I reach around rank 150 and put in about 50 matches I’m satisfied for the month.

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You wrote a lot and I’d like to address a few points (probably in two posts, because I think you have two distinct questions/problems), but first things first I think you should play some other characters for a while. Frankly you sound burned out, and that’s always a good reason to take a break. People know me as a Hisako player because that’s who I main and compete with, but I’ve gone very long stretches (I’m talking 4-5 months) without ever touching her. If a character isn’t fun or enjoyable anymore or isn’t bringing you what you’re looking from in the game, then you should swap to someone that will bring you those things. All things get old eventually, so it’s good sometimes to take a break and clear your head or focus on something else for a while.

I think you err however in associating play rate with fun or overall strength. What is “fun” is highly subjective, and can encompass factors such as how “cool” a character is regardless of how good they are (think Baiken in Xrd, who’s played a lot by low level players even though she’s quite bad at that level). What play rate more often measures (to the extent it measures anything), is “ease of strength” - how difficult it is to impose your will and how effective such tactics are. That is a distinctly different measurement than overall character strength. Shago isn’t played incredibly often because he’s super strong per se (though I think he’s actually stronger than many give him credit for), but because he has an incredible amount of agency and his tools are relatively difficult to stop for most players. He gets to do whatever he wants, and “whatever he wants” is really effective at low to high-intermediate play. Similarly, Rash is one of the best characters in the game, but what draws many to him isn’t really that top tier, but that even his low-level options are quite strong and hard to deal with for many opponents.

That distinction is subtle, but because you’re talking specifically about “competive” play, the distinction matters. The people you’re looking to beat are mostly at a level where the simple stuff isn’t going to impress or confound them - they’ve seen that stuff before. The actual upper limit of the character is what will matter most.

Character choices are as varied as the players who make them. I’m a specialist - once I find a character/playstyle I like I enjoy pushing that to its limit. Because I know I’m a specialist however, I also won’t pick obscenely quirky or low tier characters that take inordinate amounts of effort to make work…I’m not trying to work that hard :man_shrugging:t5: Other players like to cover particular bad MU’s or archetypes with a second pick, and will choose a secondary based on that preference. Other players just really like tech or quirkiness or blue suede shoes or whatever and will pick the character that fits their preference and run them into the ground no matter how bad they are or many losing MU’s they have. Other folks have no real main, and will freely rotate 4-5 characters based on what their opponent brings to the table.

I must stress however, that I think @WebNRagnarok 's “Players are there for one purpose, and that is to win” is an over-simplification. The vast majority of character choices in any given tournament isn’t due to people thinking their character is the best the game, but because that is the character that they like and gel and have fun with. There are very, very few players who expressly pick the Top 5 of a game because they just want to win…most just choose whoever they think looks/plays cool and go from there. Nicky plays Fulgore because he thinks the bot looked cool and has good options, and that’s more or less the same reason I picked Hisako or why @SonicDolphin117 picked Kim Wu and Arbiter. How well you mesh with a given character is much more important than where they sit on the tier list, especially in a game with tiers as compressed as KI.

That’s not say that people don’t pick up characters specifically to win (Bass picked up Cinder originally because Spinal/Omen was such a bad fight), but simply to make the point that even these kinds of switches have some chemistry to them. You need to actually like what your secondary or new main does - simply switching to a higher tier does nothing for you if the playstyle doesn’t mesh.

As expected this half of my response was quite long, so I’ll address your plateau/skill question in a second response.


@STORM179 what the f*** why did you tag me here when I haven’t touched this site in years LOL. Well whatever I’ll give my 2c.

Cinder still has a lot of problems that have existed since the beginning between his poor spacing tools, kind of linear pressure game and over-reliance on projectiles. But I do think the character is extremely strong for a few specific reasons.
-Pyrobombs are extremely strong tools for neutral because they are easy to apply and pretty much prevent your opponent from wanting to take a committal action against you. Regardless of the matchup, once a character has a bomb on them they have to now play very reserved or risk getting blown up, which means Cinder has a way easier time bypassing many of the more bs neutral matchups in the game. They also essentially give him free plus frames when starting his pressure.
-Burnouts became so strong after the pd change midway through the season that to me they are borderline unfair. In combination with inferno and pyrobombs, PD is a MASSIVE threat when fighting Cinder and can be nearly impossible to get rid of without lucky breaks. He can one chance you into 40-50% after a typical burnout. Also contributing is how they discourage you from using certain options which I’ll discuss further later.
-This character, similar to Rash, is extremely good at converting into combos from stray hits of virtually any kind.

Now, you probably already know these things already, and are ready to ask me “but is that enough?” I want to emphasize just how strong these factors are together.

You have a character who can easily strap bombs to you that can make any committed action from nearly anywhere turn into a combo conversion. This character can also burn your limbs to discourage you from using any moves attached to them, making your options even riskier. And on top of that this character can easily apply PD to you that will lead to nearly impossible to break 40-50% of any conversion, which as stated above, he’s pretty good at converting. This PD is also close to impossible to get rid of not just because of burnout but also because pyrobomb chip resets the PD recovery delay.

So overall, this is the situation Cinder’s opponent is presented with: you now are a sitting duck with an 40% instant cash out sitting on your back and you have to either throw out a counterattack and risk getting blown up or lay on your butt and allow Cinder to go in at his own pace and use the bomb to safely start pressuring you with frame traps, throws, instant airs and sometimes an overhead. And because of how easily he can inflict PD and stick bombs on, this situation is essentially the norm once Cinder gets any sort of momentum. Many of the strong neutral tools that normally threaten other characters are made much less workable once a bomb is stuck on you, so Cinder can basically get a “just pass GO collect $200” stuation that many characters can’t have. That’s significant.

Of course there is counterplay to this and ways you can disrespect it, but Cinder overall is a character that is good at reversing momentum and even better at keeping it. And from what I’m thinking of off the top of my head I don’t think there are many characters that really shut him down.

As far as your usage argument goes I don’t really think Cinder has decreased in use nowadays really. Bass still plays him a bit, Valoraxe has added Raam to his arsenal but still plays Cinder often, Tyzo is still completely loyal. I don’t know, I’m not particularly worried about where Cinder is. Like others have said in this thread maybe you just need a break or to try something new, new perspective and all that. Best of luck to you.


With regards to the skill plateau you seem to have hit, I think you’re running into a confluence of factors here. Some of that is related to your burnout with Cinder, but at its core the plateau and the burnout are independent of one another. Forgive me for going out of order, but I’m going to try to pull key thoughts from your OP that I think are driving some of your frustration and lack of growth.

I pulled these three quotes because I think they represent probably the most dangerous mental block a player can have. And I get it - it’s really frustrating to have people who don’t play a character tell you a bunch of stuff that feels wildly different than your lived experience!

But frustrating as it is, you have to be able to take and receive feedback from such players. Your only other option, to only accept critique from other Cinders, is wildly limiting and ignores that other players’ perspective on Cinder from having to fight against Cinder are themselves very valid and can teach you things. No, not everything, but certainly some important ones. No, I don’t play Cinder…but I’ve had to play against the best Cinders in the world in Top 8 situations, and that experience does lend perspective that can be useful in your growth or assessment of the character.

Here I think it’s really useful for us to define our terms. You say “powerful options don’t seem to exist”…what powerful options are you looking for? When you say that other characters’ do his moves but better, which moves are you thinking of?

I’d like you to actually answer these here, because once we’ve defined our options/tools we can then interrogate them, both from the standpoint of general strength and how they function within the context of Cinder and/or these other characters you’re referring to. It isn’t enough to say Cinder doesn’t have powerful tools - let’s define the kinds of tools or capabilities you’re looking for (this can also help you find your secondary or new main). Do you want flat damage? Mobility? Difficulty in breaking? These are all different character strengths, and will lead you in wildly different directions of playstyle and archetype depending on which you wish to maximize.

Here I think it’s just important for us to understand what “objective” really means. Bass picked up Cinder as a secondary and still plays him as a secondary depending on MU, so there’s not really a difference there. Off the top of my head S3 Cinder won Combo Breaker and got 3rd at CEO, and Trevor’s Cinder has shown up in online Top 8’s a few times as well. If we’re just going by the goal you said you’re looking for (Top 32 star) Tyzo and MitchIsCinder are running around with multiple S3 stars. If we’re going to be talking character strength and viability, that conversation should be deliberate I think.

Final thing I’ll do is ask you to upload some fights (say, 3) to the Replay and Analysis thread. Based on some of the things you said in your OP I’d like to see how you use the character. We can all use feedback on our play, and a few of your comments make me think that some of your trouble might be less about Cinder himself and more about your own mindset/approach to the character. It’s very possible you’ve simply been too close for too long to the character - when we get like that (it’s happened to me with Hisako plenty of times) it can be hard to see even really obvious gaps in our play.

EDIT: @SonicDolphin117 Lol. Sorry, wasn’t actually trying to get your attention - it’s just a habit to tag folks when I mention them here. I’m more surprised you got the notification…I turned mine off years and years ago! :joy:


Huh. Well whatever may as well keep them on in case someone needs help.


Okay, lot to respond to here. Man, why does it take me forever to post?

I am working on a cogent or at least detailed response, but you guys without a doubt have already given me a great deal to think about, which kinda is what I was originally aiming for, and I’ve also started watching some of Sajam’s “talks”, which gave some other much needed relevant information.

So I guess, for now, my best answer is…I’ll try to post a more comprehensive one later today. Sorry. I do appreciate the effort you guys have already given though, didn’t expect to pull anyone out of retirement either…

But I have read this and I am working on a response.


@STORM179 Yeah my point was a bit oversimplified, but the reality of what I said is that tourney players play to win, but there is a lot of nuance in respect to who they use.

@IronFlame Bass actually used Cinder to counter pick @SamuelDFGC Sadira in a tourney a few weeks ago. While Sam did edge out a victory, it was a fantastic show.

I follow a TON of top KI players and over the last several years, almost ALL of them have said what you’ve said about their respective characters. I think Bass, Nicky, and Wheels are the only ones that have constantly remained positive, but all three are generally very humble and down to earth to begin with.

In short, never feel bad, that you think you’ve plateaued or that your character can’t get you where you want to be. We’ve all been there. I win approximately 75% of my fights online with Sadira (a character that is supposed to be the worse character in the game), and yet people like ITA Masters (with Thunder/ Shago) or Paul B (Sabrewulf) totally curb smash me and make me feel like a noob. Fighting games are sadly good like that. You can win 40 matches in a row and lose one critical fight and suddenly you suck and should stop playing. :smiley:

I see these types of things posted on Twitter after the outcome of almost every tourney.

We tend to over analyze ourselves based upon our losses and not our successes.

The KI community, despite a few bad apples, is largely supportive and thus if you aren’t participating on Twitter and the KI Discord, you’re sorely missing out, because we as a group largely like to lift each other up.

I think @STORM179 mentioned this, but if not, I will… If you are struggling, record some of your matches. We have a thread on this message board where we critique fights and while this BBS isn’t as populated as it used to be, many of us still check in on it from time to time.

Secondly, it’s also great to get involved with casual sets. @Juxtapose13 hosts a causal KI get together every other Sunday afternoon. Our bouts usually last about 1 to 2 hours and in between matches we talk what went well. @Juxtapose13 records all of our sets including audio (I learned the hard way as I was belting out the lyrics to One-Winged Angel during one set), and then posts it here for analysis. You are welcomed to participate. I’m sure the rest of the players would like another Killer to come along and put me in my place, that is if @MoBVertigo doesn’t do it first.


Absolutely we do, and we all do it to some degree. Which is why it’s so great to have such an honest and supportive community to help us through those bumps.

On a tangent, interestingly, when I was playing Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne in tournaments back twenty years ago, it’s actually my losses that to this day I remember the most. And not in a bad way, I remember the ones that were really close and really hype and how much I enjoyed and learned from them. Good times.

Absolutely. In my roughly thirty six years of gaming, no joke that this is one of the most positive and supportive communities I’ve experienced. It really is great.

@IronFlame You’re most welcome to join us if you wish. Let me know and I’ll start tagging you in the thread. The next one is set for 3:00 pm eastern on Sun. Apr. 11th. I play Sadira as well and @WebNRagnarok has been helping me improve for some time now. Just made Gold League not too long ago which I’m proud of, though I have very little Cinder match up experience. Getting bodied by your Cinder would be a good learning experience!

Okay, lot to unpack, so just gonna go down from top to bottom as I can.

Not much disagreement, though the 10-15 range is where I think he mostly tends to fall.

Actually, I feel like the Gargos vs Cinder matchup either matches that or beats it as a spread of 8-2. When Cinder is in, he basically has about most of the same chances as any character in the cast, given Gargos has lackluster defense options placing him on the same level as anyone else. However, getting in is the hard part, as is expected for any good Gargos play, but with Cinder, it’s extra difficult because most options as Cinder to get in are shut down easily due to the nature of Cinder’s specials. I can go into depth on this one, but that’s a side point compared to the main discussion of this particular thread.

I’ve heavily considered getting into Discord, but I’ve just been hesitant for some reason. (Side note: There are rumors MS is trying to buy it, along with multiple other interested parties, something probably worth talking about in off-topic.) At any rate, I do like watching stuff on youtube with him, which I’m subbed to Bass and have watched him and others like YaBoyHotshot play some Cinder matches and try to catch new stuff on there.

The endorsement of Discord gets stronger and stronger, so I guess I know another good avenue to look into.

Burned out on KI, not really. Burned out on Cinder, strong possibility. I have used every character in the game for at least a few hours worth of investment, but I have ones I do gravitate towards more than most.

Well, I always operated under the assumption great players tend to find characters that meet in the middle between being fun to play and offer those options to effectively control the match and impose your will, offering a rewarding experience not just solely for competitive viability or general enjoyment. I tend to have difficulty at times articulating how exactly I feel so maybe this is a big simplification.

Yeah, I tried this approach with Fulgore for a while, and I got destroyed. Doesn’t help I really don’t like Fulgore. However, since Thunder was a favorite of mine in Season 1 and 2, using him again has been like wearing an old pair of good shoes and has worked somewhat well.

Yeah, now this is something I’ve kinda believed for a very long time, and leans into the argument of “tier lists aren’t everything.” I’ve never put much stock in tier lists.


@SonicDolphin117 You really know how to hit the nail on the head dead center.

Personally, I feel like maybe the counterplay is stronger than what is being given credit for, or the strengths of the character are deceptively greater than most see. I do a lot of comparison between Cinder and other characters, and while two characters are never supposed to very similar, I feel like there are some basic principles this character doesn’t follow that are detrimental to his gameplay others don’t suffer from because they do abide by certain core concepts. Then again, it may be more of the “Grass is greener” argument @WebNRagnarok mentioned and I have to discard that way of thinking.

Okay, another instance of poor articulation of my thoughts and that’s on me. I do value other players perspectives, though when I originally wrote that statement, I hadn’t considered advice from others who have extensive knowledge playing against him, which I do consider just as valuable. I more or less just hate having to hear it from guys who have really never put time into either using him at all, or barely against him at all either, but the logistics of that player existing are so small. It could still wield a nugget of information, but the more substantive feedback likely comes from those who either have used him (casually or in-depth) or fought against him enough to give proper insight on a match.

To be clear, I will welcome feedback from anyone. I probably will place more importance on feedback given by those who have used Cinder or played against him, but to main him exclusively is completely unnecessary and too restrictive a standard.

This is a question I could list answers for a mile long. But in asking this, I just realized reading it, maybe I’m wanting Cinder to just be a different character, when I should just pick a different character.

I’ll give a short list of examples for multiple items I have encountered, but the list is quite longer, so for brevity’s sake (which this response is going to be anything but) here’s a few:

  1. Cinder’s DP is probably the weirdest one in the game. It does poor damage, even considering how the character plays with low damage tradeoffs, and combo scaling makes this worse in juggles. Even as a single hit anti-air, the damage is just awful, and really does nothing to make anyone respect him unless he’s fired up. Most opponents will charge in fearlessly as long as he’s not fired up, eating obvious DPs because the damage is so low. I understand this one is more or less for utility, but when your DP can’t even hit for 5% damage, it just feels like nothing.

Yet that’s not the worst part. I’ll take the previous tradeoff if it just meant one thing. Cinder’s DP trades and even loses out completely in situations most other DPs will either trade or win. I’ve tested this myself. While Fireflash has a very generous window of invincible frames, the attack frames are not active until much later than most DPs. Against certain meaty specials, like Glacius cold shoulder (the most common but not only culprit) Cinder’s DP is straight beaten.

My best reasoning: by the time the active frames come out, Cinder is most likely considered airborne, reducing the move’s priority down giving it the same relevance as a grounded heavy, which will always lose to a grounded special. I tested this long ago in multiple scenarios with varied timings. I then tested this against the Shadow Fireflash. Shadow DP has a smaller invincible window, but the attack frames begin much sooner, and using the hitboxes to check, as well as enemy hitstop, Cinder is likely considered to be grounded, and receives full priority. I then tested this against Shadow Cold Shoulder. Done as a meaty or even with a decent reaction, Shadow Fireflash wins, but adjust timing while Cinder is airborne, Shadow Cold Shoulder wins.

There’s a lot of hitbox interaction to consider too, but all in all, this nuance has costed so many missed turns of momentum. All other DPs tend to have some grounded frames, Fireflash seems to be the only one missing grounded frames and is considered fully airbone (unless Shadow) when the active frames come out, creating unusual situations and interactions.

  1. I think Bass gave this a really good nickname one time in a video playing another Cinder player. Cinder’s game has a lot of what you call “fake” pressure. I’ve seen tech from other characters, like Eagle’s incredibly confusing hi-lo, left right game, where upward arrows plus variable timings on lows create a near impossible to block guess setup, or when Glacius positioned correctly uses a heavy Hail and holds in place on your wakeup, and regardless of option, seems to have you, and needs only a guess (educated or mindless, it still rewards fairly well) to continue domination. Backdash, forward trailblazer, forward, backward, neutral jump, DP, most of these options are threatened.

Cinder by comparison doesn’t have powerful oppressive options like this, or anything that seems even mildly controlling, other than burnouts or bombs, and most opponents tend to walk back into the corner and block low, knowing Cinder has no true grounded overhead, and while he does have a special that hits overhead, it’s long startup is easy to react to, and the follow up explosion can easily be shadow countered, leaving you extremely cautious of using it when opponent has meter. With no real threat of an overhead, most opponents only have to block low and anticipate tick throws.

Cinder’s pressure is more or less meant to keep the opponent blocking for a while, and hoping you can just keep adding white damage, but eventually your turn will be up, but nothing overly oppressive or tricky. Oddly enough, I’ve even used pyrobombs in pressure strings, but even though they are stuck to the enemy, the activation on them is not instant, and the few frames of delay has sometimes costed me on the pressure game, and they really don’t help much on Oki.

Basically, there’s not much true threat of pressure from Cinder, only fear, but a good bluff only works if now and again you have a better hand. I think most advanced players know this and shut him down properly if it’s not something that can catch them by surprise.

  1. Keepaway strats tend to work well against him. Gargos, Glacius, S. Hisako, Kilgore, S.Jago, they all either control routes to keep Cinder out or use powerful tools to force him out. I would like to say Shadow Trailblazer is helpful for this, but it tends not to be. It’s range is short for a projectile invincible move, doesn’t go as far as Shadow Wind Kick or others like it, unless it converts off Inferno for combo. Cinder’s biggest mobility tool is rendered almost useless, leaving one of his biggest strengths defeated.

Trailblazer’s low priority is also a factor at times too, and the fact it’s easily punishable on block makes it seem bad as an option too. But Cinder’s other specials in the face of zoners are useless unless you by miracle can get in. Inferno has little reach unless fired up, and even then has a fairly large startup window, being beaten many of the speedier options to counter it. Pyrobombs, depending on the opponent, are more useful, but against Gargos or Kilgore, useless, as portal punches and machine guns are far too fast to allow you to get it through startup. Pyrobombs also have other unique traits that make them less useful, but against certain zoners, they are just bad options. Finally, I can see how Hugo’s clap is pretty good, but Cinder’s Fissure is just so much startup for so little frame advantage, unless fired up, but useless at range.

I’ve got lots of little things from playing him so frequently, little nuances and knowledge about his moveset, I could write walls about these things. This is just three of them.

Much of what you mentioned above this quote is stuff I’m not aware of, and without a doubt leads me to understand I am not as plugged in as I should be. Juggling IRL commitments and keeping up with this stuff is harder than it used to be. I loved watching KI top events, but finding time seems to be getting more difficult. Given the influx of new data regarding this subject I’ll concede then my statement was deeply erroneous and flawed, so I’ll lean less into that particular point of discussion.

I’ll try and see what I can do on this front, but I can’t make any guarantees at the moment.

I’ll cut this off and try to make a part 2 to cover more. This is a wall as it is.

@IronFlame It is quite true that Cinder has the “weakest” DP in the game in respect to raw damage and it does lose and or trade with a lot of other moves, but Cinder gets a whole lot more utility off his DP than others.

Firstly Cinder’s DP is a Down/Up move and when used with the correct timing can auto-correct, making it difficult to cross up Cinder.

When Cinder is fired up, his DP can lead into a full combo w/ recapture for additional damage. The shadow version allows Cinder to cash out.

If you were to look at his DP by itself, yes it’s seems like a weak move, but you’re not adding up all the sum on his parts. Because when you put everything together, Cinder’s DP is stupidly powerful… just not by itself.

As a Cinder player you should be sticking pyro bombs on opponents as soon as the game starts. When in combo you should be ending combos that light the other players up as well. Both options give Cinder free reign to do whatever he wants. Without meter, the other player has no choice but deal with the bombs. During the ignited state, they either tank it out or risk getting comboed by you and lose 40% or more health with a short combo.

This is where Cinder shines. He’s pretty positive on a number of moves and can bully, especially when the player has bombs and is on fire. Cinder forces them to deal with his pressure or disrespect it at their own peril.

When I play against top Cinders, they are using everything at their disposal. Even if Cinder’s pressure isn’t “real” pressure, he can still get some insane conversions off others mistakes.

During one tourney that Nicky was commentator on, a top player lost a match because the refused to respect Cinder’s powers. They got lit up and thought that they could take Cinder out before he could touch them. The Cinder player opened them up and did a one-chance break combo. The alt player guessed wrong and Cinder took 80% of his life bar.

A lot of what you mention is stuff I’m already really aware of, although oddly enough, I’ve had issues with Cinder doing Fireflash and even third degree combos hitting on the incorrect side before, so while it’s a simple down up motion, it’s rare, but autocorrect doesn’t always work.

Seriously, I got a juggle off an air Shadow Trailblazer and when the opponent fell to the ground, he did third degree in the wrong direction, and all I could think was “target is in the other direction Cinder…” One of those moments where you have Guilty Gear Isuka flashbacks…

Don’t get me wrong, I understand Fireflash is more utility based than damage based, though using the Shadow as a damage cashout is BEAST.

However, there are some characters that just shut down a large part of your gameplan, Gargos probably being one of the two worst offenders.

Edit: Also, Cinder’s DP can be low profiled by some characters oddly enough, I don’t know if there are other character’s who DP can also be similarly low-profiled and go straight over the opponent without hitting them, I just know some characters can do that to Cinder. Usually Wulf.

@IronFlame I stopped playing KI after the end of S2, so I can’t provide you with many of the specifics others have, but I can discuss the issue of leveling up with a character. The question I would ask you is, are you maximizing your character? The amount of effort and knowledge to maximize a character like Jago is far less than a character like Cinder, or Sadira, or Kan-Ra, or…, because Jago is Ryu and his game plan is very straight forward. You can get very far with that character with just DP and fireball.

Now, if you look at a character like Sadira (again, can’t speak to Cinder specifically) she is a character that requires more effort to take further. You cannot be a good Sadira player without being able to effectively use her instinct. PERIOD. She isn’t good enough on her own to be viable. I suspect Cinder is the same, where if you aren’t using all the tools and abilities effectively, you’ll come up short because he has to use those to be formidable.

When I read what you wrote about getting farther with another character, I feel that’s you recognizing that maybe you believe you could eaily maximize another character, and thus improve your play, because mentally you see and understand what’s going on in the match, but it isn’t reflective in your play with Cinder.

Okay, for part 2:

Yeah, been there a lot. Still, nice to know other people have been there and done that and got the t-shirt.

I think it’s due to how we reflect. I’m paraphrasing an old proverb I heard long ago, but something like, “One can learn more from a single defeat than a thousand victories.” I think our losses provide us realization into our shortcomings a lot more than victory does.

Still you do provide some very helpful perspective, and it’s nice to know others have shared the sentiment.

As for the bad apples, I usually run into some guys who randomly teabag, taunt and troll online, but I don’t guess anything major. Not fun having a rando dunk on you, I wish everyone would try approach with kindness and humility, but I guess we as humans are an odd bunch, so take the good with the bad.

I will not be able to make that one. I already made a prior commitment to that very weekend. Usually though, my weekends aren’t too packed, and I can try to make the next one likely. The sooner ahead I know the better.

Coincidentally, @Juxtapose13 I think I’ve played you online recently. Not 100% on that, but I think we’ve possibly played lately.

A fresh take to consider, but I can see where you’re coming from. I suppose I am trying to maximize what Cinder’s specials and abilities can do. I feel like if a character is going to have something at their disposable, it’s best to optimize how you use it for best effect.

A strong possibility. The thing is, I feel like I’ve made such a time investment in my current character it almost feels a shame to walk away from that, while at the same time, it may or may not be necessary.

This is one of the reasons why I originally felt it may be a good idea for me to try playing other characters for a bit and gain fresh perspective, or even other fighting games (one step at a time though).

So far, this has been greatly helpful. I’ve got a lot to consider. I’ll see if I can find a way to upload matches, but again, that may take time, and it’s no guarantee.

Again, I’d like you to define this.

As you yourself note, it’s a utility DP. If you’re thinking of it primarily as a “get off me” tool, then you aren’t engaging fully with many of its core properties and applications. You are correct that it is low-profilable, situationally stuffable, and (you didn’t mention it but it’s true) safe jumpable.

Counterpoint however: it’s still a meterless down/up mostly-DP that opponents must play around. If a player is trying to stuff it, then that means they are going for something specific. If they’re trying to make it whiff or come out wrong side, that means they are going for something very specific. The value of an invincible reversal (even putting aside all the extra utility fireflash has) is that it funnels the opponent’s options in predictable ways, and then you can use that narrowing of options to either better defend yourself or implement your own gameplan.

And again it’s important to look at character tools within their full context - for fireflash, consider that it’s paired with probably the best backdash in the game. Don’t just think of the DP as a standalone option…understand the ways it plays with Cinder’s backdash and with fired-up, and exploit those factors to maximize the tool. Players trying to stuff or avoid or even barrel through fireflash provide potential gaps and opportunities for you.

To start with, it’s probably important to correct the idea that Cinder’s pressure is “fake”. It isn’t fake, it’s simply based on frame traps and throws. Cinder isn’t a high/low mix monster like Eagle, and he doesn’t traffic in left/right/maybe I’ll unblockable you shenanigans like hailed up Glacius. That isn’t his game.

But what Cinder does traffic in is really threatening frame traps. His target combo is one of the best frame trap->throw mixes in the entire game, and because the reward off his throw is a free pyrebomb->effed up left/right mixup the opponent is heavily incentivized to flinch. You’re looking at button->button->throw or button->button->(frame trap) button or button->button->button->throw and on and on and on…that’s really strong! Cinder’s options in 3rd degree can punish backdashes, throw techs, and even shadow counters. It might require some thoughtful play on your end (because you have to be intentional about what you want to catch and when), but those are seriously powerful pressure options.

Players blocking low isn’t what you should be thinking about…overhead isn’t how you’re meant to open people up with the character. Your game should be to pyrebomb them (because it forces significant changes to how they approach neutral and lets you steal additional turns on offense) and force strike/throw mixups. That is the offensive game Cinder wants to run, and there’s absolutely nothing fake about it. It might be different and it might not be what you personally want to do as a player, but it’s really incredibly strong.

And worth noting again, pyrebomb mixups on throw are seriously messed up. If you don’t know how to do them, learn.

Kilgore and Shago are one thing, but I want you to seriously consider why Gargos and Shin Hisako keepaway should be difficult for Cinder. What is Shin realistically going to do to you from fullscreen after she’s scurried away? What is Gargos going to do to punish you if you just walk and block?

Something intermediate and even high-level players do waaay too often is run themselves into wildly unnecessary damage trying to catch people. You say trailblazer isn’t good at closing the gap, but why are you trying to trailblaze your way in anyway? Gargos is a crappy zoner…just walk forward and block portal punch on reaction, and after every block you get a free dash. His quadruple jump is indeed annoying, but if you’re walking him down at some point either he’s going to have to try and jump over you or dive at you, and both of those lose to fireflash. Don’t give people free damage chasing them and trying to bully your way in with tools that are expressly designed to not be bully tools.

And now a bit of a lightning round for quotes that caught my eye:

If your trailblazers are punishable then you’re mostly not using them right. Your goal for most trailblazers should be to either only hit once (in which case you’re evenish and in position for strike/throw mix), or to end up airborne so that you can make them hold a jump normal into plus frames (which also sets you up for strike/throw mix).

Think about how and when you use the different fissions, and think about how you can mix and match for better overall effectiveness. Light fission is a bait…can you cancel into it in unique spots to throw the opponent or goad them into pushing a bad button? Heavy fission start-up is indeed high, so where are the places you can reliably expect or train the opponent to respect your pressure and then toss it in to steal an extra turn? You’re playing a frame trap character, so your thought process should be around how to get people to push buttons in bad spots and hold in others where they aren’t strictly forced to.

This isn’t their primary purpose. Pyrebombs can be used to cheat for turns within pressure, but their real utility is for starting your pressure. An opponent with a bomb on them is forced to hold jump-ins and other approaches that they would normally challenge, and your goal should be to never approach in most MU’s unless and until you’ve got one stuck to them. Blow it up mid-3rd degree if you must to reset pressure with some plus frames, but never forget that’s not their main use.

Because I’ve talked so much about how Cinder should play around strike/throw, worth mentioning that you should be developing pressure strings that are explicitly designed to catch tech attempts. Because Cinder’s throw mix doesn’t generally come from big-plus situations (think Wulf overpower), delay tech OSes are much less useful against him, and opponents generally will have to commit to a true throw attempt. That means that you can counterhit them clean, and much of your pressure should be based around that.

Sorry for another super long response, but did want to provide perspective on some of the things you mentioned. I hope it helps. You’ll note that even with all of this we never touched on burnouts and Cinder’s PD conversions, which as Sonic mentioned are super strong and a huge part of his kit. Cinder really is a good character…maybe not Top 10 or anything, but very solidly able to compete with pretty much the entire cast. I suspect some of your struggles might lie in how the way you “want” to play him differ from how he actually excels, but ultimately I’d need to see you play before saying anything like that definitively :man_shrugging:t5:

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No worries man, you’re welcome to join whenever After Apr. 11th, the 25th would be the next one, same time (3:00 pm eastern). Again, I can start tagging you in the thread, as I post reminders there, if you wish.

You do have me confused with someone else, I believe. I record and upload all my matches and just looked, and didn’t see you.

I feel like in designing a character with a DP-style move, the move should hit certain points Fireflash does not. Things like a consistency in what the move can challenge and what it clearly loses to, which Fireflash does not having multiple odd interactions. Usually, similar moves also meet certain minimal damage thresholds which I would say Fireflash just barely meets if it actually does. I’ll also add these assumptions to narrow the scope of things to a certain degree: is usually meterless and has some small window of I-frames.

I tested this and alone, it takes 22 light Fireflash to take down an opponent, which is somewhere around 5% possibly (would say 4%) until you hit danger, where the opponent seemingly receives small buffs to defense and attack. 16 Medium Fireflash and 13 Heavy seem to suggest higher damage amounts at the trade-off of I-Frames, but still have the same odd interactions present.

Comparing to Jago (kinda your typical Ryu-style baseline control), L.Tiger Fury needs only 11 hits for KO, suggesting the damage for Tiger Fury is almost double Cinder’s light, but is fairly consistent in what it challenges and possess do real utility other than serving as a situational juggle and a cashout ender. Feels pretty fair and standard to me.

But then there are other characters with strong DPs that also possess utility to them, and yet remain powerful and consistent.

Starting with S. Jago, Dark Fury has I-Frames on all DPs, but just using light, it takes 20 of them (no-surge) to KO. This suggests a stronger damage output (if only by like 1% over Cinder), but has a utility he can call upon for extra meter (not every 8 seconds or in instinct) and consistently challenges other moves. Surging the move then also gives him extra damage to the move while also providing a window for extra juggle and if you have the meter, a full recap to grounded combo. Granted, this is one advantage Cinder has over others, a meterless recapture move. Unfortunately, crossfire is also easy to break if the opponent is focused, or you’re telegraphing it too much. Dark Fury also requires a certain level of commitment if you intend to surge it, leaving you even more open to counter on block or whiff.

Glacius also has a meterless with limited utility. While all versions have some I-frames, light can be used as a combo opener, as can the teleport versions he acquires in instinct mode. Yet his light Puddle Punch can also down an opponent in 12 hits, while serving as a combo opener, and is also very consistent on what it can challenge as a DP.

Most other characters (with DPs) in the game seem to have good levels of damage, but serve no utility other than some limited juggle capacity. Even Eyedol’s DP truly only has full invincibility on the light, and the launch height and recovery on that move has little ability to allow recapture afterward so no real utility. His recapture DPs either have only upper body invulnerability and require clobber to recap, or have full vulnerability and auto-recap. However, they still are consistent in what they challenge in the most common of situations.

Namely, if there were ever to be continued support for the game I would either ask they buff the damage on Fireflash either 1 or 2 small percent points, or make it to where it wasn’t the most easily stuffed DP style move in the game. Maybe change the priority of it’s first 2 or 3 attack frames to have a grounded priority while giving the rest of it’s attack window airborne properties. Just anything to fix it’s consistency.

But that’s not gonna happen so I’m having to evolve and relearn the move to push its limited effectiveness to its max. I’d be so okay with the current damage it does and the utility it provides if anything on it could be fixed to just not straight lose or trade so frequently to moves any other DP would win. I’d even take the bad of the low profile and safe jump vulnerability, which you mention and I’m aware of, it’s just not a common occurrence I see online anymore, given there’s so much better stuff out there than safe jumps to this game.

Counterpoint taken as I have given this some thought since you have pointed it out, and have started to think about this strategically in certain matchups. Even just over a few matches, this bit of advice seems to have born some fruit. I will explore this further.

I do understand this, but I will admit, I could probably take this one much further. I’ve tried testing multiple scenarios in which I try to bait a button with Cinder’s pressure, but find either online or in training, those moves can be stuffed with correct timing. Inferno → shadow inferno leaves a small frame gap for projectile invincible moves to counterattack, making it less of a true block string, and unless fired up, a number of Cinder’s moves are still negative on block and leave him open to counter with wide enough gaps. Between block strings and frame traps, I probably do need some type of extra guidance on maximizing this one.

Can punish backdashes? Maybe if it’s a simple backdash like Jago’s, but depending on the character, will miss some. Punish shadow counters? I abuse that one online and it never gets old or stops being funny. Combine that with Shadow Trailblazer, which even on block is +4, and I still get people with the third degree followup.

That portal punch is still really strong, and while it may be possible to forward dash after blocking, it requires somewhat of a strict timing. I tried this in practice, and your window is really narrow, and while not requiring perfect timing, you still have to be careful, also being aware that low portal punch isn’t your only variety. While I’ve been exercising different strats against certain characters (If you just sit and wait, Eagle players change it up real quick into territory the aren’t great at), Gargos is one of few zoners with a tracking mechanism to his abilities, and that makes him in some ways more threatening.

Also, while Cinder’s gameplan calls for sticking some pyrobombs at first opportunity to limit their options, portal punch can easily deny Cinder the opportunity to throw one out given how relatively quick the animation is, and how deceptively long the animation for a pyrobomb throw is, or that pyrobomb also doesn’t play by the same mechanics other projectiles do. These factors create a counter to most of Cinder’s best options at time to close space. This lends itself to a more troubling Gargos playstyle of just sitting back and working the clock against you.

For me, the Gargos vs Cinder matchup has ALWAYS been the hardest matchup I’ve had to play. It requires the greatest deal of concentration, thought, and perfect play, as one mistake against snowballs into an avalanche when he gets minions to compound the problems even more, and plays even safer at distance.

I have been every now and again using light fission to see what I can bait from opponents, at the right distance, I’ll catch a Jago on recovery frames of wind kick or any number of other little things. Heavy Fission is a tough one to work in, but I’ll give it a go and try to work it in.

It’s also a situation you don’t find yourself in very often anyway. You’ll sometimes have that random luck of being able to use them in strings, but pyrobombs seem to have better use anyway as a deterrent or as an OTG launcher on throw or juggle.

I’ll also keep in mind what you’ve said about pressure string tech to catch tech OSs. I knew that old SF4 style OS was in there, though less helpful, considering that if you get opened up anyway, the muscle memory to use it leads to accidental light breaks, which has its own unique risks.

Don’t worry about it being long, as it’s usually good stuff to reflect upon, and some of the stuff discussed here has already brought some signs of improvement. It is helping.

Right now, I don’t see anything for that weekend, so I’ll try for that one.

@WebNRagnarok Wanted to say GGs on the ranked match we played the other day again. Would have said it sooner, but I usually like to take my time to respond to these things.