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VF5FS Pai Strategy

Feb 19, 2021
VF5FS Pai Strategy

  • Introduction(top)

    Pai is more of a "problem creator" rather than a "problem solver" kind of character, she needs to deploy set-play to gain momentum and overwhelm the opponent with her poking game. She doesn't have the tools to sit back, watch the opponent's reactions and punish their mistakes; she has to create the mistakes. She chunks opponent's life away with pokes until it's too late before they realize they have no life left. She's good at stealing the turn with varied defensive tools, she can make opponent think twice before acting thus forcing mistakes, beware though she becomes weaker against more patient opponents that let her "suicide" e.g. when it's their turn to attack, they do no nothing and punish the recovery of her whiffed Reversal. Her vast toolset and her stances allow for plenty of creativity and self-expression.


    - 11f jab
    - 3P+K: fastest mid in the game, pushback on block, knocks down on CH, Wall Stagger on RCH
    - ws4P: tricky input but, especially in Closed, it goes under highs and mids, even special highs up to -9
    - evade into PK punish into Bokutai P+K/K 50/50 mix-up
    - oppressive 50/50 Ukemi pressure
    - 3P/3PK_2: one of the best lows in the game
    - 1P: maybe not the best move at highest levels, but can work as free get out jail card in many situations
    - 33P+K: CH launcher, strong anti-reversal
    - stances, you can't go too crazy but Bokutai is good for its uses
    - good at the wall but who isn't
    - one of most damaging Back Throws in the game, gives her a good options against strings that get double evaded


    - most characters have a 14f Elbow Class mid that puts crouching opponent in Nitaku, Pai is one of the very few characters (alongside Lei-Fei, Shun, Wolf) without one; it's her most glaring weakness
    - no damage from NH launchers
    - low damage in Reverse Nitaku (from -6 to -9)
    - low damage punishment
    - poor whiff punish in spacing, poor spacing arsenal in general
    - weak to evade towards her back
    - worst costumes in the game

    Overall Strategy(top)

    When you build a gameplan with any character you want to look at your character tools against the opponent's.
    You want to make them fight on the ground you're stronger on/are better equipped for, a practical example with Pai is to prefer a slow poking game to a CH fishing game, not because she can't play for CH launch but because that's not where she undoes the opponent.

    Round Openers(top)

    Round start is a very neutral/open situation; it depends a lot on the match-up and what the single opponent prefers doing.

    In general backdash is pretty safe as the usual Sidekick anti-backdash doesn't reach at Round start, backdash into evade into guard (44 8/2 33/66 G) is almost always the safest option; most characters would need to dash > throw or dash > sweep to beat it which is quite risky.

    Pai's 11f jab and 12f mid are good options to deter opponent from getting too loose. Other Pai specific options include:
    - 6K+G beats 2P and reaches backdash, gets launched by backdash into evade
    - 4K+G beats 44 8/2 33/66 G (aka the lamest option) but opens her to damaging options
    - 7K+G is fast at 16f, avoids high (maybe 2P as well? testing required) and is basically safe on whiff, not if evaded though
    - 46P+K also goes under highs and catches backdash
    - 3P beats 2P
    - Jump back into (ascending) K is super evasive and safe, quite annoying to deal with

    Frame Advantage(top)

    Pai's poking game is quite strong, not only because she has good pokes but because her options at low frame disadvantage are also good. You can see the strongest Pai players almost never fishing or using 2_3P+K CH even when it's available frames wise, that's because she doesn't really need the CH; Pai can harass her opponent to death with pokes that, if blocked, give her the option to abare with 11f jab etc.

    Against Backdash

    Backdash is one of the strongest options in the game, it is unsafe but there's plenty of poking situations where it generally can't be safely covered with a fuzzy safe mid.

    The most common situation where you need to take account of backdash is after blocking 2P.

    After blocking 2P:
    - 6_P reaches backdash. Arguably the best option because it's sooo safe and allows you to keep pressure if they block/evade or even if they hit you with 2P out of it (because of Pai's defensive options).
    - 9K reaches backdash if done fast. It doesn't reach Lion's backdash. 9K can be preferred over 6_P against character with punch parries/sabakis or if you don't want to get your 6_P interrupted by high crushing abare.
    - 3K reaches backdash. The most rewarding option against backdash is not good if blocked but not too bad either. You have 3KP follow-up which has decent tracking if opponent evaded 3K.
    - 1K+G reaches backdash and covers evade. It's low but slow enough to be interrupted by launchers and it's also launch punishable if blocked.

    Other situations where you're limited by the presence of backdash option are blocked pushback moves like Jean's 66P, Kage's P+K, Jeffry's K+G etc.
    These are more situational because they have different pushback and frame data. 3K may not reach, 6_P is preferrable because it's (basically) safe even if it whiffs. But in general these are situations where the smart option is to not chase (like opponent wants you to), reset and make it a spacing situation. To beat the safest option off blocked pushback moves (it's backdash cancelled into evade cancelled into guard) you'd have to open yourself like crazy with stuff like dash in > throw that they can tech anyway.

    Low Frame Advantage: +1~+5

    Aside from the general P, 2P which are core options of every character's set-play:

    At +1 Pai has 2 mids that beat 2P: 3P+K and 9K. 3P+K is unsafe if evaded but it's double-handed and knocks down on CH, it's a short ranged attack so it can get backdashed > launched. 9K is safer (against backdash/evade) but it doesn't beat 2P on frames, it jumps over it connecting on RecoveryCH and giving you +1 only.

    At +2 you can add 6P. 6P is preferrable to 9K against crouching opponent as it gives +3 instead of +1, it's also better on CH at +7 instead of +6; this may seem like a minor difference but Pai's throw game is stronger at +7 because opponent can't crouch under 2_6P+G as they technically can at +6 making Pai's strongest 6 throw her 6P+G, it's a minor thing but good to know.

    At +3 you can add 6P+K which has a safe mid follow-up 6P+KP. 6P+K is one of 2 useful moves that can enter Hakkesho, the stance entry is super delayable and it has a built in high/mid punch/elbow parry.

    At +5 (+4 from crouching) you can add 2_3P+K. A double-handed mid that launches on CH.

    Pai also has low throws so opponent can't mindlessly fuzzy.

    Some characters have 11f jabs, DS Vanessa has a 10f jab. Keep in mind if you don't want to get interrupted.

    Because of its animation, even though it's 21f, Pai's 3P won't get interrupted by 2P in these situations: (after)
    - 6P NH but not after 6P CH so make sure to focus on hit-checking it
    - 3PK_2
    - 3KP NH
    - blocked 46K+G
    - blocked P+K
    - breaking most throws
    - opponent breaks your Side Throw
    - Bokutai P blocked ST

    High Frame Advantage: +6~+9

    From +6 opponent can't fuzzy guard to cover throw/mid. Depending on the opponent they're less likely to block your attacks.

    At +6 K+G becomes relevant. K+G is slow at 21f but it's a full-circular ex_high that jumps over lows and puts opponent ST on hit. Evade cancels can block/crouch under K+G but still it's really useful to:
    - beat 2P/heavy launcher abare with good reward
    - beat parries/sabaki/reversals etc.
    - can make throwing safer since opponent needs a to use a faster high/mid to beat it instead of big 17f launcher

    46KK also becomes available at +6. It's mid-mid that beats 2P, (if you're good aka if you have lagless monitor xD) is hit-checkable on NH and the 2nd part has really good tracking if opponent evaded the 1st.

    Anti-Yutori (Guard + Throw Escape)

    Yutori is the strongest defensive option in the game.

    3P / 3PK_2 is one of Pai's core moves. It's slow at 21f but one of the best lows in the game. Inputting 3PK_2 makes it -2 on NH (in-game frame data doesn't list this) but 3P has really short hit-stop so that -2 can be a +1 depending on opponent's reactions/awareness.
    3PP is a high follow-up that combos into 3PP6P on CH. It's not hit-checkable but its presence is a big deterrent. 3PP can also enter Hakkesho. 3PP also has insanely good tracking if opponent evaded the 3P.
    3P4 enters Bokutai. 3P Bokutai (slight delay) P+K avoids 2P into crumple, it also goes under most fast mids.

    Once opponent realises the risk/reward off of 3P / 3PK_2 is in Pai's favor then you can incorporate all kinds of shenanigans.

    2K+G. A slow low at 24f, +2 on NH, launches on CH. Unsafe if blocked or evaded.

    If your opponent doesn't want to guess then make them! 4P+K+G Meishoho P forces a 50/50 between Bokutai P+K and Bokutai K. Only problem with this is that, with very good reactions, opponent can evade after seeing 4P+K+G (Meishoho P is linear), in that case you have 4P+K+G Meishoho K+G or Meishoho K which are circular.

    Against Evade

    1K+G is the straight forward anti-evade, it's slow but it gives a knock down on CH (e.g. if opponent evades) and if opponent interrupts with 2P she recovers crouching so she's not in "Nitaku".

    44K is half-circular that covers Pai's stomach.

    44P is half-circular that covers Pai's back.

    Side Turned(top)

    On opponnet's side all moves have better frames, a few get better properties.
    You get to opponent Side Turned after evading, after breaking some throws, with Offensive Move and with Pai's K+G, 44KK, Meishoho K+G.

    Also, when Side Turned it takes 3 frame to guard or evade. So if you're +8, opponent can't block or (evade, parry, reversal etc.) your P, they can only crouch under it or avoid it with high crushing abare e.g. 2P, Kage's 3P, or high crushing like Brad's Ducking or Slipping.

    Notable moves on ST opponent

    PK Bokutai is really good:
    PK (blocked) Bokutai P beats 2P, blocked Bokutai P is only -1 on ST and it's safe if evaded, even more so with the presence of follow-ups.
    PK (NH) forces a 50/50 between Bokutai P+K and Bokutai K. Some characters can use jumping attacks to avoid the low and reduce Bokutai P+K damage.

    Pai's PP4P is a NH natural combo on the side. You can use it as punisher instead of PK, PP4P is especially good at the wall where it causes a stagger you can follow with BT K for 100+ dmg.

    6P is only -1 on block and causes a stagger on Crouching NH, gives +10 on CH making PK/PP4P unblockable (but opponent can crouch under it).

    On CH, both 6P+K and its follow-up 6P+KP give unblockable PK/PP4P (but opponent can crouch under it).

    3K is +11 on Crouching NH which makes PK/PP4P guaranteed. 3K can be used as crouch punish in situations where you're not sure if 3K+G is fast enough.
    3K causes a Side Crumple on CH which makes it your most important anti abare tool.
    It's only -3 on block and its 3KP follow-up is +8 on CH making PK/PP4P unblockable (but opponent can crouch under it).

    466P+K causes a Side Crumple on NH(!) and it's only -1 on block. It's 17f with perfect input, let's say 18f in actual game which still makes it viable at ST +6.

    K+G is really good after evading or after Offensive Move. It's +1 on block but it leaves you BT and Pai doesn't have any mid to beat 2P in this situation. On CH it guarantees BT K, if you evaded towards Pai's back and K+G hits, BT K is guaranteed even on NH/Recovery CH.

    A common strategy with ST opponent is going for opposite throw direction to what opponent would be holding to escape the side throw. A simple way to implement it is: forward throw if you evaded away from the screen, back throw if you evaded towards the screen.

    Frame Disadvantage(top)

    Aside from the universal options Pai also has access to:

    3P+K stops a lot of shenanigans at -1. It also beats the classic "P > 6P".

    P is 11f instead of the more common 12f, there's lots of situations where 11f P disrupts opponent's offense (since the game is mostly balanced around 12f 2P).

    ws4P is especially good in Closed. It can go under highs (even ex_high), 2P, some mids in ridiculous fashion e.g. it goes under Jean's 66P up to -9 in Closed, it also goes under OS Vanessa and Brad's 6_K up to -9 in Closed etc.

    1P has similar use to ws4P but higher risk/reward. It can neutralize some mid/throw nitakus e.g. you can avoid both Kage's 2_3P/throw forcing him to use 46K instead which can be launched if reversed with 1P+K.

    1P+K is a very strong mid reversal, lots of active frames (which makes it weaker to lows) but quite a bit of recovery if it whiffs.

    1KK high crusher that knocks down mostly useful against P, throws, circular highs.

    2K+G high crusher that gives a combo on CH so mostly useful against P > 6P, strings that start with a high.

    46P+K situational safe high crusher that gives a small combo.

    All of these synergize well together but all are very weak to Offensive Evade (66 8/2 66/33) or delays in general. So once you've scared opponent to immediately retialiate you also need to capitalize off of it.


    Rising Attacks

    Pai's wsK is one of the best moves to crush Rising Attack, it can start a combo (9KK on midweights, P > 3KPP on some lightweights) if it connected in its later frames and it can be timed to be safe on whiff if opponent didn't do Rising Attack.
    7K+G can also be used to crush Rising Attacks.

    Okizeme Pressure

    If opponent doesn't do Rising Attack you have enough frame advantage to use 3P/3PK_2 to beat 2P abare. Another useful move not generally as good at lower advantages is Jump (ascending) K which is a mid that can function as anti evade, knocks down on hit and is only -5 on block.

    624P+G set-ups

    - 3_PK (max charge) crushes Side Roll Rising Attack and hits meaty.


    In VF5FS, there's a 3f window after Tech Roll where G is the only recognized input, this means that the opponent is forced to either block mids or lows if you place them in those 3f, Tech pressure is called Ukemizeme.

    Pai's Ukemi pressure is quite straightforward; her Meaties are 46K+G(mid, NH launcher, + on block), 2K+G(low, + on hit), 3P/3PK_2(low), 66P(mid, wall stagger), 3K(mid), P+K(mid, + on block).

    After most combos she can force a 50/50 between 46K+G/2K+G.
    If opponent stays down she can use OS 3P/3PK_2 down attack if the stay down / meaty if they Tech.

    Ring Position(top)

    Wall Pressure(top)

    These are the tools with increased strenght at the wall.

    - 3P+K! very good abare option with opponent at the wall, don't do it mindlessly, set it up with pokes. 3P+K gives a stagger on RCH (against their throw) and a small combo on CH.

    - 6P+G Wall Slump

    - 66P NH Wall Stagger

    - 6P CH Wall Stagger

    - 1K+G NH Wall Stagger, CH Wall Splat

    - 3PK_2 Wall Stun

    - 46P+K situational high crusher, higher combo damage near wall

    - 46KK NH Wall Slump

    - wsK NH Wall Slump (not against crouch guard)

    - evade > P gives Wall Stagger on Side Turned opponent

    - 2P+KK (Wall Hit) P is a combo

    - ws4P RCH Wall Stagger

    - Bokutai PK Wall Slump

    - 4K+G Wall Splat if Pai's stomach towards the wall

    Wall Side Stun


    Ring Out(top)

    Ideal ways to ring out over half fences

    46KK (PPKK/3PPKK)
    wsP+KP as combo ender




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