Skeleton Issues

Hello Onryo team,

I picked up KI in the new year and I am truly in love with a ghost.

I’m 140 or so ranked games in and have recently (20 games or so ago) made it into gold. I’m starting to settle into the groove of things again (beat my first killer today as well as being at 150 or so points after hitting the wall a little) HOWEVER I keep running into a certain spinal player and the last game we had was nearly a perfect for them. We must have played 5 or 10 games up to this point and I’ve lost every time!

I feel like there must be something obvious to consider because I don’t think any matchup has given me this much grief by a long stretch. Every game I get caught up in the skeleport mixup vortex and can’t seem to find a way out; I don’t even get salty about it anymore just deeply sad… bleak.

anyway! thank you in advance for any advice/tips/condolences and keep on devouring these heauxe!

tl;dr I’m in Skeleton Hell and I can’t get out oh God please help me

Spinal is a momentum based character. If you don’t allow the skeleton to grab many skulls, then he’ll be left without options.
When I play hisako against a spinal, my game plan is command grabs and hard knockdown enders. If you notice spinal going for overhead skulls and you have meter, go for the shadow reka. It reaches nearly half screen and moves pretty quickly.
Another good tip, is while in mid combo, do a light auto double or linker then drop it, then for a light command grab. If you have wrath, it’s set you up for a beautiful east reset, if not, you get a nice surprise hard knockdown.
You have many options when the opponent is on he ground. You can go for a meaty heavy ORZ, so they’ll have to block the opposite way or get comboed/knocked down again. Also, on their wake up, you can go for a light command grab. It’s one of the quickest moves in the game and leaves them only two options. Which are jumping and backdash. When you combine all these tricks, you can give spinal a hard time. Stay clear of spinal’s grab and take note on his teleport setups, and you’ll make it an uphill battle for spinals. Hope this helped!

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Spinal is pretty nigh unstoppable for most of the cast once he gets going, but he’s particularly dangerous against Hisako because his pressure will generally start off with a skull (which obviously can’t be countered). Accordingly, your gameplan against Spinal is largely to never let him play. Sans skulls Hisako beats him in the neutral, as her buttons are better than his and she’s got great options to deal with and punish his various tools. Once you have knocked him down, that’s when the fun begins.

Use the dirtiest knockdown setups you have against him. Command grab him on his wakeup (beats teleport and block), meaty him on his wakeup (beat’s everything else), and just generally do not let him stand back up once he get’s knocked down. Possession is also an option, but only do that when you’ve got the meter to wrath cancel it in case he does teleport->soul sword. I don’t prefer it however, as Spinal also can do teleport->shadow skull if he’s got the meter.

Once he knocks you down, how you fare will largely be a function of how familiar you are with the match-up and how good you are at reading an opponent’s tendencies. If his pressure is tight, your only option really is to block and eventually tech the grab that he will undoubtedly throw at you to reset your knockdown and refill his skull stock. If the pressure is less than airtight, you may also have some success mashing counter through the gaps. In this instance I recommend mashing high counter - Spinal’s overhead is relatively safe and leads to more pressure while his slide is horribly unsafe, so most Spinal’s prefer to use the overhead unless they’ve got an instinct cancel ready to go.

Know it’s not much, but hopefully that helps you out a bit. Spinal isn’t a great MU for Hisako, but I don’t think she really loses it either. She can fight him - it just has to be on her terms and not his.


I played a Spinal yesterday with my Hisako. It started out like your situation, then it became as the others have said.

Her influence ender is really great in this matchup as it gives you a hard knockdown. You can have your own little vortex from that. You can walk back then jump in with an air-ORZ. Depending on your distance and the strength of the ORZ, you can choose whether you cross him up or not. You can also empty jump in front or behind him and go for an influence commandgrab. As your wrath will always be full after the knockdown ender, this will open him up. Empty jump-ins will also make you more able to counter any wake-up stuff he does (shadow skeleport).

One other thing to remember is that when Spinal does a raw teleport, you can interrupt him with a quick punch. Im not sure whether that counts as counterhit or not, so you may not be able to combo off of it.

I would also advice to remember the kinds of setups the Spinal player uses and replicate them in training to learn how to block it. Most of the time they throw an upskull right after a throw, you block that in the ‘same’ direction, regardless of where he teleports after the skull, he can’t teleport fast enough for you to have to reverse your block before the skull hits you.

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Thanks so much for the advice guys! I’ve definitely been thinking about things in terms of ‘how do I defend against this?’ as opposed to ‘how do I stop this from ever happening?’ and I definitely have a bad habit of heavily tending towards damage enders kinda regardless of situation so I will definitely approach this MU in a different way from now on, assuming I ever play a spinal again… seemed like every maya player was online yesterday and no one else!

Lol. Yeah, KI has a lot of really dirty stuff where your best option is simply to never get caught in the situation in the first place. Plenty of characters have consistent mixups that are unreactable - if you are blocking all the time in this game you will get opened up eventually.

I’m amused that you ran into a bunch of Maya players. They’re actually not all that common at higher levels, so I haven’t seen one in a while.

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Just to clarify, off a back throw Spinal can do an overhead skull and then a skeleport and this is a true 50/50 as he will cross you up just before you get up (but not in a reactable time frame). The skull will be very meaty meaning you pretty much have to block (can’t move out of the way at all).


Oh, thanks for the addition. I did not realise that.

ok so since i last posted i’ve probably played somewhere in the region of 100 ranked games and have run into a grand total of two spinal players; here is how the games went:

  1. This guy was at the same level as me at the time (i think it was ‘untouchable’, i’m supreme now though ukno it’s whatever /brag) and I followed the gameplan pretty well and before long this guy was nearly dead and i probably had an 80% health lead. Then i started getting excited and panicking simultaneously because it was going so well and he won with maybe 10% left but i thought ‘hey i nearly had them there this is progress i feel good’ but then…

  2. level 50 killer level 50 spinal and uh… well let’s just say that before this game i’d never been perfected and nor has it happened since… oof

but yeah based on the first game all y’alls advice has been super duper helpful so thank you! i just thought this was amusing and worth sharing haha