One of the Biggest System Changes? Shadow Counters in S3

Watching the S3 changes again (I really need S3 in my life :sob:), something occurred to me. With all the (justified) hype regarding flip out combo breakers, armor canceling heavies, and flip out resets, it seems to me that one of the most significant system changes is probably one of the least talked about - the changes to shadow counters (SC’s).

To start with, let me just say I think the SC changes are very, very good. The normalization of SC start-up is phenomenal, as it means you don’t have to adjust when and how you use SC’s based on who you’re playing anymore, which was really annoying and kind of nonsensical when you think about it. Maya and Aria basically had no reason to ever use them, while they were some of the best defensive tools in the game for other characters. I shadow counter all the time as Sadira, but with Hisako I learned pretty early on that SC’s were mostly just a good way to waste a bar. Heck, her awful SC is actually one of the primary drivers for why Riptor/Hisako is such a bad fight - it’s why Riptor gets away with degenerate jump+HP pressure that you pretty much have to just sit there and take. In S3 I think the fight will be a heck of a lot better than it is currently, and SC buffs are a big cause of that.

But as I was thinking about it, I’m wondering if the bigger change isn’t actually the expanded SC “catch” window. That change, combined with the speed buff, might have to capacity to change the way we currently play the KI oki game. We saw in the changes presentation that the new SC’s are fast enough to blow up jab strings (or certain ones at least), which is already really big. But if the SC catch window is long enough to also blow up meaty frame trap pressure (think Wulf cr+MK or Jago standing MK strings), then it has the potential to really affect the way you have to approach knockdown pressure on an opponent with meter. If that kind of meaty pressure can now be shadow countered, where before only a DP would get you out of it (or a timely throw tech), then I think it might make for an overall more dynamic game on knockdown. Which I’m all in favor of, and which seems to also let the game flow more naturally back into neutral (which the new breaker system also does).

Whether or not this new meta (sorry @TheKeits) becomes a thing is largely dependent on the exact frame data on how long the SC catch window is and where those great frame trap buttons also fall, but I think there’s potential for SC’s in S3 to force a bit of change in how certain characters manage their vortexes. Would Orchid no longer be able to rely so heavily on low short->low short OS’s, or Wulf on cr+LK frame trap strings? I hope that’s the case - not because those characters shouldn’t have vortexes (they should, and still do even in the above scenario), but because the knockdown vortex should have an element of thought and consideration behind it that it doesn’t have a lot of the time. Currently, the offense kind of gets to just toss out plus frame normals until they get a counter hit into confirm or decide to throw.

What do you guys think? Think I’m putting too much stock in the change, or that maybe I’m on to something? And if you feel like chiming in Keits, please feel free. Is the SC catch window long enough to tag someone on a Wulf cr+LK frame trap string?


Yes please, I tend to use them and they whiff with some characters. When using Jago most people can block before I can reach them =(
Wulf has a better startup, but I agree that this must be equal to all the cast. So…really happy about it =D

As Aganos main, I’m offended to see his SC nerfed by one frame

Now seriously, SC are great defense tools and they are really hype to watch

Either way you look at it, shadow counters are going to be used more often in S3. They were way underused in S1 and S2.

They’re still not completely normalized; a few characters don’t get projectile invulnerability on them. Now, the worst in the game belong to Aganos (from best to worst?), Kan-Ra, and Sabrewulf. Then TJ’s and Thunder’s are better, but still worse than everybody else’s.

That’s still going to be pretty important when fighting against Orchid in Instinct, ARIA bass assist shenanigans, Glacius Hail setups, and mayyybe Kim Wu in Instinct.

Aganos and Kan-Ra recapture.

Its different than being projectile invulnerable, but not worse.

Yeah, but in my opinion, defensive situations that are solved by a projectile invulnerable Shadow Counter are more common than those that are solved by recapture. I haven’t played Season 3, so I don’t know… maybe having faster startups across the board makes it harder to Shadow Counter an aerial attack into combo (instead of juggle)? If so, then yeah, having a recapture (ground bounce for Sabrewulf) definitely becomes more useful.

So any perspective on whether a S3 SC can catch a “standard” frame trap string? Don’t mind labbing it out myself when S3 hits, but wouldn’t mind knowing as I theorycraft ahead of launch. :smile:

Glad somebody else picked up on this. I looked at it a while ago, but didn’t get a chance to write about it.

It’s worth jumping into training mode with Shago to test his shadow counter against some frame traps, since he’s got the closest thing to a season 3 shadow counter. Basically, I’m not sure there’s a button in the game that recovers quickly enough to block an 8-frame shadow counter. Where you can trip a shadow counter against many characters now with a string of jabs and block it, I don’t see anyone getting away with that in season 3.

The thing I’m most interested in is the active window of the catch-counter. Currently you can blow up frame traps with shadow counters (with the caveat of some buttons recovering quickly enough to block a lot of shadow counters in season 2, as noted above), but the timing is delicate and it tends to require you to confidently predict your opponent’s pressure string, and in particular to make a read on the move that put you into blockstun prior to the one your counter would catch. More-or-less a similar read (with trickier execution) is required to invincible-reversal out of pressure, so the fact that you’re getting a combo for a correct read feels like a good balance to me: it incentivizes the aggressor to mix up their frame-trapping and explore the broad variety of their (in KI, generally very good) pressure options, gives the defender a huge payoff for getting the read that changes the stakes significantly if they have meter, but also doesn’t threaten the offense so much that the decision between pressuring and halting their pressure for a bait becomes the primary decision, which would render the choice of pressure string inconsequential. (Mind, even with things as they are now, I’m seeing Jago players mostly refrain from longer strings, which…eh.)

I’m not sure what the implications of the expanded window are. I don’t want to be the person who popularizes a ■■■■■■ idea like “scrubby guess shadow counters”, but I’m wondering, if your read on the offender is “he will keep pressing buttons” (that is, isn’t going to halt and bait) and not specifically “he will do clMK clMK crLK stHP” (so you could e.g. predict a good window between clMK and crLK to catch the crLK), and you just press MP+MK at a random time, with what sort of probability can you expect your shadow counter to catch something in season 3? It’s not going to be anything like SFIV’s reversal window that everyone keeps complaining about, is it? My fear is that if this gets above 50% success rate without a more specific read, then that seriously starts to eat into the value of what is probably my favourite aspect of the game, i.e. protracted frame trap-driven offense.

It’s a wait-and-see thing, though maybe we can actually get a better sense of that random success rate by figuring out more about that catch-counter window and running some numbers.

I still think it’ll go underused a bit. There are already dozens of moves that can be and should be shadow countered all the time (Jago’s roundhouse, Wulf’s ragged edge, Cinder’s overhead trailblazer, Orchid’s Rekka, Riptor’s running flame and far HK, Thunder’s overhead and triple axes, Fulgore’s spin, Omen’s swipes, etc.) yet people don’t do it. It’s not like you have to even spend the whole match looking out for these moves either since they’re very integral to most of these character’s game plans.