How a match begins, the first flurry of strikes, has vehement impact on the outcome of the round. Who will land the first hit? Whose feet will be whipped away first?
Evaluating the personality of your opponent and checking your potential round-openers beforehand can give you the advantage in a match where the first strike, the first draining of the health bars, may act out in your favor.
Goh Hinogami has many good round-openers. But, quite frankly, there’s no all-cure move that works against every opponent in every situation. No character can provide that—Virtua Fighter is too balanced for that. It really depends on the fighting style of your enemy. Is he aggressive, or defensive, opting for the first hit, or evading your initiative to counter back?
Your opponent’s behavior is crucial to the success of a round-opener. Knowing his personality and mood is essential information. Oftentimes, after one round, you can predict to a much better degree against which character type you are up against (aggressive, or passive) and how he will start the next round.
Have in mind: Most players—even good ones—don’t change their tactics for opening the round very often, especially if their opening for the previous round already worked out in their favor. Plan your opening tactics accordingly.
As player behavior is so important, I’ve divided the round-openers into the categories Aggressive and Passive Opponents based on in-game player personality.
Profile: An aggressive opponent tries to hit you first—often to an obsessive degree without taking the high risks into account—while sometimes overrating the real abilities and limits of his character.
Strategy: Let him be aggressive. See it this way: at least it makes him predictable. If he advances, you retreat by evading or back crouch-dashing—and strike back. An riskier, but very rewarding, alternative to that is to intercept him. Wherever aggressive rushers open the match with mid attacks, fast punch strings can put an end to that. Launching rushers out of their moves or combos can net you counter-hits leading to huge combos and major damage. If he rushes in with high punch-strings himself, low attacks are a good counter, too.
- Any combo beginning with a punch is your fastest weapon. Goh has an 11 frames punch. That’s faster than Aoi, Jeffry, DS Vanessa, and Wolf with their 12 frames version. So even if they start up with a punch combo you’ll still win the first hit. Only Eileen, Pai, and Sarah have the fastest punch (10f).
- Once you succeed with you can apply Goh’s backturned mix-ups for even more damage. If you’re up against overly rushy opponents repeat until they get to it.
Try that: Vary between and . Both look similar but have a different hit level. is high-mid, a mid-mid. That even makes up for better nitaku mix-ups if combined with > Throw, > , and > .
- Big launchers together with a back dash or evade instantly punishes rushers. Oftentimes as counter-hit if you manage to catch them in their combo.
- The Karura has additional evasive properties against punch attacks, and is, thus, safer than with a similar damage outcome. For easy comboing follow up with > for 59 or > > for 55 damage. (Damage indicators are always for normal hit.)
Try that: If you want to opt for the highest possible damage, use the less forgiving (but still universal) follow-up > > . This works for both for 65 and for 68 damage points. But: immediate input required!
- A back crouch-dash into Shoulder Ram is another classic example of a retreat feint.
- With the back crouch-dash you evade highs and short mids and counter with a Shoulder Ram opening up plenty of hideously damaging follow-ups on hit such as Dash In > Throw or even a safe Standard Kick (Goh only hits with his toes making it a safe option even on block).
Try that: On Shoulder Ram hit dash in shortly and pull of a Basara. After a Shoulder Ram hit, if your opponent is low-punch happy, punish him with counter-hit combos like , or . If he ducks often try another Shoulder Ram, a combo, or simply do a low throw.
- Intercepting your enemy’s high punch string leads to a counter-hit (CH)—perfect for both low sweeps. Mind that the first one does 70 damage! That’s a hurtful lesson for your opponent and his life bar. It only works against rushy opponents who really have high punch strings such as Brad or Lei-Fei—you get the picture.
Try that: can be a tricky trap on CH. If you’re opponent fails to tech-roll, follow up with > Ground Throw. If he succeeds to tech-roll to either side, punish with the anti-recovery move / > Ground Throw.
- Beginning the round with a sabaki is madman’s guess you think? It has worked too often for me to really rule out this highly rewarding possibility.
- High- and mid-punch sabaki is an all-purpose answer for opponents rushing in with single-handed highs or mids. It’s also a good guess against characters who don’t have much staple kick attacks such as Brad. Follow up with the Tsukami Grab.
- Not only is your opponent’s behavior to be taken into consideration but also the choice of the character he plays. The usual rounder-openers of Akira players? Yep, it’s usually the elbow. is the answer against mid-punches or elbows—with as guaranteed follow-up for closed and open stance (for the latter one, rushing in and throwing is also guaranteed).
Try that: In Tsukami Grab follow up with > as the opponent would have to escape with here, which is quite unusual escape direction throughout the Virtua Fighter series. Never forget to vary, though: sooner or later your opponent may adapt. If you see a ring-out chance, Tsukami > works well and looks really flashy too.
- A fast (14f) high with good range beating every kick, and almost every mid-hitting hand attacks. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sum up to good combo damage—especially against heavy-weights. The universal follow-up is > .
Try that: Versus lightweights combo with > .
- Goh’s standard kick is a powerful weapon. It doesn’t advance him forward but comes with good range. On block, CD fuzzy guard.
Profile: Passive opponents back off lying in wait for you to whiff your round-opener. They can retreat by a back-dash into evade, crouch backdash, or simply by walking backwards. In any case, they make use of a stepping maneuver to back off from you in order to strike back.
Strategy: You can surprise retreating opponents with a long range strike. Unfortunately, compared to other VF characters, Goh’s move arsenal isn’t quite on par for this task. Goh is a close range specialist having a hard time catching up on distance. His long range moves can be either quite risky or not long-range enough. Offensive Movement or his infamous forward roll may be of supportive help, though. If the opponent evades a lot, try circular and chargeable moves, or your most damaging throws or catch-throw. You can also try to delay your attacks slightly to catch him during his failed evade. It’s also no bad idea to use an (allegedly) aggressive stepping pattern () in order to force your opponent to do something apart from retreating.
- Rather than chasing retreaters, a direct strike with good range can be a better threat and leads to real damage.
- Against light-weights follow up with Dash In > > > . Against anyone else use the more universal combo: Dash In / Evade > .
Try that: produces the same crumple than or . If the opponent fails to tech-roll, you can follow up Goh’s Rage Kick with the flashy and hideously damaging combo > > . For the guaranteed, universal follow-ups see under further below.
- Goh’s side kick—despite its weird animation—has good range as Goh can hit with his toes too (the hit boxes aren’t too strict here). On counter-hit, you can easily follow up with against anyone, or with a Shoulder Ram against lightweights. On block, try to crouch fuzzy guard.
- Against evaders this full-circular move can be a good counter—with limited range, though.
- He might not be aware of it but sets up a nitaku trap for your opponent. You can either follow up with the knee-countering hand attack by pressing or dash in and throw your opponent. It may need a few follow-up strikes to force your opponent to realize how hurtful a simple evade can become for him.
Try that: If you follow up with the knee counter (initiated by ), the opponent will crumple. is the universal combo here that works against anyone. For lightweights you can try but you have to buffer it immediately after the knee counter.
- The chargeable Karura can catch opponents inmidst of their failed evade and—on top of that—possessive excellent evasive properties against high, some mids attacks. As you’re attacking, you’re also safe from throws. If fully charged, will stagger the opponent instead of launching him into the air. (For good air-combos look under the same move in the section above.)
Try that: If fully charged, the Karura will force the opponent into a block-breaking stagger on hit. Dashing in and throwing is a good choice here, or opting for another mid or counter-hit attack if the opponent is abare-happy.
- The Tsukami Grab can be used against retreaters and evaders; in some cases, even as Okizeme tool. When performed from a distance with the opponent standing and not attacking, Goh can “magically” teleport forward upon performing into tsukami-grabbing the opponent. Thus, you don’t use to deflect anything, just for entering the Tsukami Grab and abuse the teleport effect that comes with it in VF5. Careful zoning is still required though.
Try that: This way you can even use the Tsukami “teleport” in Okizeme situations where your opponent is about to rise. Carefully launch the grab outside his potential rising attack range in order to spawn successfully into the Tsukami Grab.