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LONG BLOG

Challengers Wanted: Maining Characters with (Almost) Similar Styles

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I am a competitive DOA player. My goal is to focus on the competitive aspects of DOA instead of the fanservice.

I got into DOA when I was about 9 years old. The first DOA game I played was Dead or Alive 2 and I remembered that I enjoyed it because it reminded me so much of Virtua Fighter, another fighting game that I love playing to this day.

Right now, I will be competing at Summer Jam 9 this August for DOA5 Last Round as part of Team Ninja's Battle Royal 2015 series. So I decided to talk about one character that I have stuck with since DOA5 Vanilla, and that is Leifang.

Why Leifang? Why is she the character I choose to play in tournaments in Dead or Alive? She came to me by pure accident, to be honest. When I was playing Dead or Alive 5+ (a Playstation Vita port of DOA5 Vanilla), I tried out Leifang in Combo Challenge mode. Her combos were very easy for me to pull off. That very day, my friend Matt invited me over to his place to try out DOA5+ and I spent some time doing combos with Leifang. It was at that moment that I decided to drop Kokoro (who I used in DOA4, Dimensions, and DOA5 Vanilla) for Leifang. And boy, did I made a great decision!

(Off topic note: Dead or Alive 5+ is the first game where I finally learned about how to use frame data. I will be incorporating frame data in this blog.)

At that day, I was determine to learn more about Leifang. Leifang suited my defensive playstyle, since she is a very defensive character. She, along with Virtua Fighter’s Pai, are both in the cruiserweight class. Let me be the one to say that weight class does matter when it comes to fighting games because it will affect your combos. She has a lot of nasty defensive tools that she can use to her advantage. Also, even though not many people used her in tournaments during the Vanilla era, she was considered S tier along with Christie, Kasumi, Sarah, and Ayane. I’m not joking. Here's the old tier list for DOA5 Vanilla FSD.

In order for me to understand the meta game behind Leifang, I’ve asked Emperor Cow, Blackula, and many other Leifang players for help and guidance. I learned about her expert holds and parries, her spacing tools, her mixups, guaranteed combos, and her sabakis. I had to figure out how to piece them all together.

The Unshu parry is what stood out the most for me, along with her three sabakis. Let’s start with the Unshu first. Leifang was introduced to the Unshu parry back in DOA5 Vanilla, and it only parries High and Mid punches. Unshu is done by pressing 4P+K, and only 4 for some combo strings that allows it. Once the Unshu is used, you can follow up with a jab (P), an offensive hold (T or H+P), a low kick (2K), or an elbow (P+K). Be careful not to abuse the Unshu parry because it counts as a hold. That means you will take Hi-Counter Damage once you get thrown by your opponent. Use Unshus as a way to mix up your opponent.

As for her three sabakis, they were a god-send. For those who don’t know what a sabaki is, it is an attack with reflective properties, i.e. offense and defense combined. 6P+K reflects Mid punches and kicks. For me, it’s my go-to sabaki move when I want to react to mid attacks. Every time I use 6P+K, I would yell “SABAKI!” out loud when it connects. One of my favorite sabaki combos is 6P+K(sabaki), 3KP+K, BT PP6PP. It’s predictable, yet effective. Like I said, be careful when throwing that out because it is unsafe on block (-10), and sabakis also count as holds since it has defensive properties mixed in. 44P is a sabaki with a good spacing tool. It reflects Mid punches and kicks just like 6P+K. I rarely used that move, but I need to use it more often. It’s -7 on block, so it’s semi-safe. That means it’s unsafe against grapple characters, but safe against everyone else. Finally, we have her 236P sabaki, which is also her critical burst. 236P reflects high punches only. I use 236P as a critical burst rather than as a sabaki. Not much to say about that.

I had countless matches with my friends Charles (TatsumaShin, who uses Tina), James (Lithy, who uses Ayane), and Matt (Sorwah, who uses Bass) when using Leifang. Every time I face them in casuals, I learn more about my character. I feel as if I’m leveling up when using Leifang.

In DOA5 Ultimate, Leifang went through some changes that I liked and disliked. For starters, there was a mid-kick variation of the Unshu, and it is as effective as P+K. Most of the moves remained the same, while some have different properties. I was kinda mad that her 4KK move (which I use in combos) gained knockdown properties like in DOA3.1, but I realized that it wasn’t much of a loss. I found out more combos along the way, but I tried her out in my first major tournament: The Fall Classic. Around Day 2 of the event, I got sent to losers by Desjah Rei, a Momiji player, because I didn’t know the matchup against Momiji at the time. That, plus nerves. Of course, I got eliminated from the tournament since I was using Ein (and I didn’t know the matchup against Hayate either). So it wasn’t easy, but I had fun.

Day 3 of the event, I learned more about Leifang while playing casuals against The Professional, a Bayman player, and Carl “Perfect Legend” White. While fighting against The Professional, I learned how to use crouching throws as a way to punish unsafe lows. Once again, I was leveling up even more than before.

Back home, I had to brush up on Leifang again. A month after TFC, me and Matt went to The Filthie Cup, a tournament dedicated to 3D Fighters such as Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Tekken Tag Tournament HD, Soulcalibur V, and DOA5 Ultimate. It was a Big E-hosted event, and we had myself, Katsu, Hubbs, SonicFox, Kwiggle, Matt, and more competing in the tournament. I’ll let you know this: it was my first time playing on stream, let along playing against LightSonic, a Kokoro player. Nerves kicked in, I had no idea what I was doing anymore, I was tired… I lost on stream. I remember LightSonic looking at me and saying, “You really are nervous, aren’t you?” I had to be honest, I really was nervous. This video below me proves it (I'm the one wearing the Hitomi College Hoodie).

Thankfully, Emperor Cow made a lot of combo videos for DOA. What I usually do is watch his videos, and then take notes on each combo that I want to practice in Training mode. It was also at that moment where I learned that I had to learn more than just standard combos. I had to learn about using my stage environments, pay attention to what move is safe and unsafe by reading frame data, and gain muscle memory. Seriously, I can share you some of his works with his combo videos.

I was about to grow stale with Leifang until I found out about Marie-Rose, the first DLC character for DOA5 Ultimate. She reminded me a lot of Leifang, only her defense game is based more on evasiveness. I learned Marie-Rose and added her into the characters I play. Her sidestep is just bullshit to most people because it can bypass almost every non-tracking move you can think of. It’s like Hayate’s Cartwheel in DOA3.1, only not as broken as before. Seriously, in DOA3.1, Hayate’s Cartwheel was so OP, it was banned for use in tournaments. And like Leifang and Bayman, she is one of the three characters that use expert holds. Good god almighty man, you can just taste the salt on these players when they face her.

This girl is full of nightmares. Don't get hit by her mixups.

Summer Jam 8 came, and I was unsure if Marie Rose was tournament ready. I started off with Leifang (on which by the way, I was happy that Team Ninja gave Leifang’s 6H+P wall damage), and I got bodied by Jian, a Tina player. I used Marie Rose in the second match and I got sent to losers. I knew she wasn’t ready, so I stuck with Leifang until I got eliminated. My boy Julian (Luoji Fennu, formerly known as Shuns Fury) told me “You worked a lot on Leifang, but you need to work more on Marie-Rose. Don’t forget she’s also your character to use.” He was right.

Day 2 of the event, me and Alan (XZero264) were playing some causal matches in DOA5 Ultimate. Here’s what happened: I used Leifang while he used Mila. He was about to hit me with the flip kick (3H+K) and it was by pure accident (let me repeat myself in caps: PURE ACCIDENT) and luck that I used 6P+K to reflect the attack. We were both shocked because I didn’t know something like that existed. I won the match, but I was still shocked and laughed it out. I wish I could show you a video of that, but unfortunately there is none.

Because of that, I went to the lab after the tournament (we call training mode the lab because it is a place to do research and study for our characters) and tested that out. I learned that the timing on that reaction between using 6P+K with Leifang against Mila’s 3H+K feels strict. I wouldn’t say it’s too strict, but it’s strict.

And then… we finally come to DOA5 Last Round. Leifang still feels the same as she was back in Ultimate with only minor changes. For example, her 214P was +0 on block and it was super safe on Ultimate and now it does +1 on block on Last Round. I use that during situational times, but I won’t explain much on it.

I remember when the game came out, everyone was fixated on doing Danger Zone combos for their mains. I couldn’t find a damn thing with Marie-Rose at the time, so I stuck with doing DZ combos using Leifang. Doing combos against the blue panels were simple, but the real challenge is when you have to do stage transition combos in which you have to send you character into the all-blue explosive panels where your opponent is launched very high, and you have to use no-timing combos to send your opponent off the ledge back down to the normal green and blue panels. The goal behind it is to find the most damage with your character in the Danger Zone. I found a couple, but it wasn’t easy.

Summer Jam 9 is now coming up soon, and now I’m planning on using both Leifang and Marie-Rose. I’m gonna try something different, such as having Marie-Rose as the main and Leifang as the secondary. I felt like I was slowly losing interest in using Leifang, but I am going to make sure I don’t drop neither her nor Marie-Rose. I have to keep training! I have to keep playing casuals with other people.

See, most people choose characters because they look cool to them (such as using flashy combos, cool character design, etc.). Others choose characters because of personal reasons (such as how a character reflects their personality). That’s cool and all, but for me, it’s more based on what I can do with that character and how comfortable I feel when I’m playing him/her. Leifang and Marie Rose both fit my playstyle and I have won and lost several matches with them.

I’m gonna end write-up with a question: Who do you main in any fighting game that fits your playstyle, and why? Also, here are my list of top Leifang and Marie Rose players in offline tournaments.

Best Leifang players:

  • TeruRock
  • Nykko
  • Requiem
  • Blackmoonrisingx
  • MissMaia
  • Blackula
  • Punishere
  • Emperor Cow

Best Marie-Rose players:

  • SonicFox
  • XCalibur BladeZ
  • FatalxInnocence
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About Virtua Kazamaone of us since 12:55 PM on 07.05.2014

Twitch Affiliate, Let's Player, FGC player, and the host of Virtua Fighter Takeover. I play games: mostly fighters, platformers, beat em' ups, Japanese, Retro, and Modern.

Never miss a livestream! https://twitch.tv/virtuakazama