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Capcom vs SNK 2/A-Groove
A-Groove is one of the six grooves in Capcom vs. SNK 2. It features a custom combo system that, with a full meter and after activation, allows the player to unleash a flurry of normal and special moves capped off with a Level 1 super finisher. With the right characters, it is a groove that can provide the absolute largest damage potential for the meter, despite being relatively harmless without any meter. A-Groove is inspired by the Street Fighter Alpha series, specifically V-ism in Alpha 3.
A-Groove is a clear top-tier, A+ grade groove in CvS2, rivaled only by K-Groove and its massive meter damage bonuses.
|Main Feature||After meter activation, Custom Combos allow for all normal and special moves to cancel into each other, ending with a Level 1 super|
|Groove System||Custom Combo System|
|Meter Length||144 Units||(72 Units × 2 Sections)|
|Activation Time||72 Time Units||(~7.2 seconds)|
|Guard Bar Length||48 Units||Standard|
See Groove Subsystems for complete technical data on specific subsystems.
The meter in A-Groove is a single bar divided into two equal sections. Upon filling the first section (half the meter), a Level 1 super and meter-equivalent system functions become available. (There is no obvious indication of this, other than a subtle white pulse of that half of the meter.) Any partial use of the meter will only deduct the exact amount needed for the action performed. This means that if you have 70% of the meter filled, and you do a Counter Attack, you will be left with 20% meter.
When completely filled, the meter will show "FULL" and a Custom Combo becomes available upon activation. (Unlike in Street Fighter Alpha, there are no partial-meter Customs in CvS2.) The player can activate the meter and enter the Custom Combo state by pressing + while in neutral.
Activation must take place while the player is in a neutral state. It cannot be cancelled into from any move, or cancelled out of by any move. Activation can take place in the air, but only during a jump where no attack or other action has already taken place.
Upon activation, there is a significant amount of invincibility applied to the initial frames of the Custom Combo state. There is also some input invalidation during this phase to prevent the opponent from easily escaping the activation. The startup process for a Custom Combo activation is as follows:
- Activate by pressing + ; invincibility begins immediately.
- 5 frames later, the flash effect/ping sound effect for Custom activation happens.
- At the first frame after the flash, opponent inputs are invalidated for 1 frame; the player can begin their Custom Combo at this point.
- 14 frames after the flash (19 frames after activation), activation invincibility ends.
After activation, the meter bar turns into a timer that lasts approximately 7.2 seconds. During this time, the player can start, continue, or restart a custom combo until the meter completely drains.
The player can use a Level 1 super at any point during the Custom Combo state. Doing this will cost all your remaining meter. Combo scaling notwithstanding, the damage output of the super is the same regardless of how much meter remains in the "timer," so it is to the player's advantage to use the super as late into a custom combo as possible for maximum damage potential.
You cannot block when activated for a Custom Combo. If hit by the opponent while activated, you will lose half of any meter still in your meter bar at the moment of being hit. That is, if you still had 40% meter remaining, you will be left with 20% meter after getting hit out of activation state.
Meter is shared by the team and persists between characters and rounds. Any meter remaining after a round, win or lose, will carry over to the next round. If the round ends with the winning character (or either character in a Time Over situation) in the Custom Combo activation state, the meter will continue to drain post-KO until the player returns to neutral, after which point the meter will completely empty for the next round.
Unique Groove Abilities
Custom Combos are a special meter ability in A-Groove that, once activated, allow the player to unleash a flurry of normal and special attacks while the custom is still active. This combo can be ended with a Level 1 super, provided it is done while there is still any amount of time remaining in the custom combo timer.
When the meter is full, the player can activate the custom combo state by pressing + . Activation has invincibility properties; see Meter System above for full details. After the activation flash/ping occurs, the player may immediately begin attacking to form a custom combo.
During a custom combo, all normal and special attacks gain the ability to be cancelled into themselves and other normal and special attacks, on hit and on block. This includes moves that could not normally be cancelled out of or into. To cancel a move into another move, simply attack as normal (press the button for the next normal attack or do the regular special move input) just as the previous attack connects with the opponent. If an attack whiffs during a custom combo, it cannot be cancelled out of and is subject to normal recovery times and potential whiff punishes.
During a custom combo, characters with charge special or super moves will not need to hold directions to charge their special moves. They can be executed instantly by doing the required motions, no charge time necessary.
Custom Combos can be started in the air, or against opponents that wind up in the air as a result of a (non-custom) attack. Custom combo activation resets the opponent's juggle potential, allowing them to be juggled during a custom combo. However, any air-to-air attacks that occur during a custom are subject to regular "hitstun" properties, meaning it is possible for the opponent to flip out from an air-based custom combo attack, then land and block safely, if the player's air attack does not cause sufficient stun for the next combo hit to continue the juggle state.
During the activation state, the player will be unable to block any opponent attacks. Getting hit out of a custom combo will end activation and incur a 50% loss of any remaining meter left in the meter timer.
During the activation state, the player character will have a transparent shadow effect, similar to that of a Level 1 super. This effect persists for as long as there is time remaining in the meter timer, and even if the character is not actively attacking.
The player will exit the custom combo state when:
- The meter timer runs out;
- The player performs a (Level 1) super;
- The player is hit;
- The round ends.
Custom Combo Damage Formula
For many characters, an optimized custom combo can do at least the equivalent damage of a Level 3 super. Aside from K-Groove, this is the biggest amount of damage you can get from the shortest amount of meter. This is in spite of custom combo damage being scaled much more severely than normal combos in CvS2.
The simple explanation of this scaling is that for optimal combo damage, begin a custom with a lot of high-damaging moves; then starting with the 10th hit, switch to rapid lights and/or fast multi-hit special moves to get in as many hits as possible before ending the custom with a Level 1 super. The exact formulas for custom combo scaling (as a Ratio 2 character) are as follows:
- For any one of the first nine hits of a Custom Combo:
AttackDamage × (10 - ComboCount) × 0.072
- All further hits starting with the 10th hit of the custom is a flat 100 points of damage.
- All custom combo hits do a minimum of 100 damage, even those in the first nine hits that compute to below 100.
- For the Level 1 super finisher for a Custom Combo, add on separately:
SuperAttackDamage × (10 - SuperComboCount) × 0.08
- Any Level 1 super doing more than 9 hits will have any further hits do 100 damage.
Blocked special moves performed during a custom combo do standard amounts of chip (health) damage and guard crush meter damage, which does not scale. This allows some characters with multi-hit ground-based special moves to do a significant amount of custom combo damage to an opponent, even on block!
A-Groove is a top-tier groove in CvS2, and for good reason. With full meter, the strengths of A-Groove give the player almost full control of the game. Unlike in K-Groove, where this power is passive, in A-Groove it is active and available to the player at the push of a button. Many characters in CvS2 have excellent damage potential in it, but there are a handful of characters (see Character Considerations below) that excel in A-Groove due to their moveset and how well it gels with the properties of custom combos.
We will note here that optimized custom combos have been just about fully discovered for every game situation. David "GunterJPN" Dial has created a compendium of custom combo examples, complete with video, for every character in the game. This information will eventually be rolled into the Wiki's character pages, but for now it can be viewed on his Google Drive page.
A-Groove has many strengths. These individual strengths also play off each other in a way to make each of them even more powerful than they appear on the surface.
Incredible Damage Potential - The vast majority of the cast has an optimized custom combo that can easily match or exceed (and in a few cases, GREATLY exceed) the damage you would get off of a standard Level 3 super. And this doesn't even take into account that the meter in A-Groove is one of the shortest in the game! Although C-Groove is ultimately more meter-efficient due to the ability to use Level 1s and Level 2s when the opportunity presents itself, if an A-Groove player can land a damaging custom combo often, total damage output will tilt to A-Groove's favor.
Many Setup and Conversion Opportunities - Individual characters will be better or worse at some of these situations, but overall there are many, many ways to turn any activation into a decent-to-devastating amount of custom combo damage:
- On the ground;
- After a juggle;
- As an anti-air;
- During a crossup;
- After a command (or regular!) throw;
- Chip damage and guard crush damage on blocking opponent, with setup opportunities after;
- Resetting the custom (after block or hit) with overheads or throws;
- And more!
Knowing when to activate and what do to convert the situation into maximum damage is a key skill to learn in A-Groove.
Invincibility on Activation - On-demand invincible activation is an extremely powerful tool, and not just for the obvious reasons. In fact, it's the key to what makes A-Groove so threatening. Even if the opponent guesses "correctly" in a neutral situation, tech throw situation, air interaction, etc. ... A-Groove still wins once a custom combo activates, that "correct" decision whiffs, and lots of health goes bye-bye.
These three advantages taken together shows just how scary it is to play a good A-Groover with full meter. They can be aggressive and punish an opponent's expected counter attacks. They can stay patient and defensive and wait for a perfect opportunity to launch into a surprise or punish custom. Certain A-Groove character vs. Other-Groove matchups virtually guarantee big damage and KOs even if the custom is blocked from the start. The opponent is required to always be on high alert; every decision and non-decision becomes high risk for them. Compare this to the A-Groove player, who in the worst-case scenario gets hit out of their custom—and gets to keep a chunk of meter to build up for another go—or in the best case scenario, kills you. The scenarios between those two extremes still heavily favor the A-Groove player.
A-Groove has few weaknesses on the system level. The biggest one is near complete reliance on having full meter, the threat of activation, and the landing of a damaging custom combo to use the groove most effectively.
Without full meter, an A-Groove opponent is far less of a threat. But even with meter, going up against a competent opponent that is able to (largely) avoid falling for activation setups and traps or bait bad activations can make A-Groove feel useless at times.
A-Groove players that insist on having full meter for as much of a match as possible may also make themselves vulnerable. Knowing their uselessness without meter, some players may elect to disengage and run away while whiffing attacks—sometimes predictably—to build back up to full meter. With the right character counterpicks and some foresight, it may be possible (and sometimes, necessary) to get in a few hits, knockdowns, and supers on before they can reload their meter.
A-Groove heavily relies on having good synergy with characters that work well in the groove, more than any other groove in CvS2.
A character that is otherwise excellent overall may not necessarily be a perfect fit for A-Groove. Sagat, for example, has extremely basic custom combos and few good conversion opportunities outside of the most straightforward ones. He is one of the two best characters in CvS2, but nowhere near the best character in A-Groove.
On the other hand, even "bad" fits for A-Groove are still extremely capable. That "basic" Sagat custom combo still does upwards of 6000 damage, more than most confirm-into-Level 3 supers Sagat can do in some other grooves. (Plus, the opponent still needs to deal with Sagat, which doesn't count for nothing.) The fact is, 90% of the roster in CvS2 can produce Level 3-like damage, or more, off of their custom combos, even if they aren't a "good" fit for A-Groove.
But there are a few characters CvS2 that have a particular set of skills which help them overachieve in A-Groove due to the many opportunities they have to land a custom combo, and often, the ridiculous amount of damage that comes from it.
There are four categories to consider when building an A-Groove team that can best take advantage of the custom combo system. However, there are two notorious A-Groove characters in CvS2 that are proficient in several of these categories, literally putting them in a class of their own.
Made for A
- Bison (Dictator)
Sak and Dic are absolute monsters in A-Groove. Their custom combos are so iconic in CvS2 that they have special names that describe the rapid repetition of special moves within them: Bison's Paint the Fence and Sakura's Shoshosho. It is somewhat rare to see a competitive A-Groove team without at least one of these two on it. They excel in several categories of what makes a good A-Groove character, as you can read below.
NOTE: The characters listed under each of these categories are not necessarily the only A-Groove characters good in that category. They are just the most notable top characters in it to serve as an example for that category.
- Blanka - Electricity
- Bison - Scissor Kicks
- Yamazaki - Swipes
- Vega (Claw) - Backflip kick
If you play a character the way it was designed to be played, for this category of characters, that means a custom combo opportunity will present itself without even really trying. Bison can get a CC after his bread and butter Scissor Kicks combo knocks the opponent back. Same thing with Blanka after they pop up following Electricity. Yamazaki and Vega have pokes that match with where their special moves leave their opponents, allowing for easy juggle customs. The frustrating thing about facing characters like this is that they can convert off of things in A-Groove that they couldn't convert off of in other grooves, requiring them to be played against in a completely different way.
Rapid Fire Combos
- Bison - Paint the Fence
- Sakura - Shoshosho
- Rolento - Spinning stick attacks
- Akuma - Red fireballs
- Todo - Wave projectiles
- Vice - (Air) Blade Kicks
The math of custom combo scaling makes later hits of them much weaker than the first hits. But what if you have a custom that does many hits, very quickly? These characters can do that. Bison and Sakura are the damage machines they are precisely because of how their specific special moves (Psycho Scrape and HP Shoryuken) have a series of multiple, rapid hits built into them. Cancel one into another several times, and you're looking at 5000-6000 damage from just the middle-most "weak" hits of the custom combo. The other characters listed above have a slightly more difficult time getting into their million-hits-a-minute setups, but if they do it can mean huge damage in a hurry.
- Sakura - Overhead
- Iori - Command grab and overhead
- Hibiki - Overhead and left/right mixups
- Ken - Overhead
If the opponent has blocked a custom combo, characters in this class have many opportunities to open them back up and still get a high level of damage. Ken and Sakura have relatively quick overhead attacks that can catch a crouch-blocking opponent sleeping. Iori also has an overhead but it is much slower; his command grab can be done after a tick attack and is the much greater threat. Hibiki also has a slow overhead, but her very fast crossup running slash can switch sides with the opponent in a hurry, potentially opening up the opponent on account of them blocking the wrong way. All of these characters can potentially use these tools to reset a successful custom combo into another one, potentially scoring extra-big damage.
- Sakura - Shoshosho
- Blanka - Electricity (in the corner)
- Iori - DPs
- Kyo - DPs
If using a character in this class, and the opponent has blocked a custom combo... so what? Keep doing what you're doing and you will do a lot of chip damage, crush their guard, and still do upwards of 50% damage. Because guard and chip damage do not scale the same way that successful combo hits do in a custom combo, big-damage special moves (and even some heavy normals) can whittle away the opponent's defenses in no time, especially against the weaker guard crush meters in K-Groove and P-Groove. Although Blanka usually can't crush guard during a blocked custom combo, the amount of damage blocked electricity can do when the opponent has nowhere to go can add up fast, not to mention leaving them much more vulnerable to a crush after the CC state ends.
The Antithesis of A-Groove: Yun
Finally, a special note about Yun. One would think that a character that already had a kind of "custom combo" with the Genei-Jin in Third Strike, an overhead attack, and a command throw would be a beast in CvS2 A-Groove. As it turns out, Yun is actually one of the weakest A-Groove characters in the game. Even though he can somewhat match his Genei-Jin combo paths from 3S, they are much slower in CvS2 and do less damage to boot. Once the opponent is popped up into the air, Yun has little for damaging options. In fact, he is such a poor fit in A-Groove that it is sometimes more optimal to NOT end his custom combo with a super!
Ultimately, you can have a lot of good tools to start custom combos, reset them, or convert them. But at the end of the day, in order to be damaging in A-Groove with custom combos, you need fast high damaging moves early, followed by many rapid hits toward the end. Yun does both of these things poorly, which is why he's at the bottom of the barrel in A-Groove.
When considering a character to use in A-Groove, remember to consider their performance in all potential custom combo scenarios, not just the ones that seem good on paper. There is a lot of potential for specialist and fun picks in the mid-tier, but be sure to land on a character with actual strengths, not just theoretical ones!
A-Groove Character Tier List
In May 2021, David "GunterJPN" Dial threw together a tier list focusing on characters in A-Groove ("even though I don't believe in tiers"):
Note that this tier list is not universally accepted, but it is definitely good enough of a list to give a general idea of how A-Groove helps or hurts particular characters in relation to each other.
Groove Comparisons and Matchups
The info in this section is for direct comparisons between grooves and generic groove vs groove matchups, which may apply differently to specific characters. For more detail on how a character plays in and plays against the different grooves, refer to their character info page.
Like most matchups, C vs A is a battle of how much damage the C-Groove player can get while the A-Groove player is more vulnerable without full meter; against how many custom combos the A-Groove player can land while avoiding C-Groove's meter-efficient super combos.
Without meter, A-Groove is quite vulnerable to C-Groove due to the fact that if the C-Groove player lands a combo, it's going to turn into the biggest amount of damage possible in that moment. Attempting to run away to build meter is possible, but the C-Groove player can telegraph certain air special moves (jumping tatsu, for example) with air blocking to force the A-Groove player to stay close and be within striking distance.
Once the A-Groove player has full meter, however, the advantage is theirs. They can dictate the pace of the round using the threat of activation. Any aggression on the part of the C-Groove player can be met with activation, as can any air-to-air encounters. If the C-Groove player jumps in fishing to air block an air-to-air attack, with the right characters (and the proper angle of attack) an air activation and rapid air normals will result in them being trapped in "air guardstun" all the way to the ground, resulting in the loss of a tripguard and a free custom combo after landing.
Normally, the A-Groove player with full meter has free reign against the opponent. But what if the opponent is in A-Groove and also has full meter?
A vs. A is bar none the most interesting matchup in CvS2. What will often happen here is that both players will try to outmaneuver and fake out their opponent in the hope that they catch them in a bad activation, allowing a counter-activation and custom combo punish. The chess match/mindgames that can take place during these exchanges in high level play makes for some very unorthodox CvS2.
Characters that can activate after a normal combo (Bison, Blanka, etc.) and continue into a custom combo are at a distinct advantage in this matchup. As the players try to feel each other out during neutral, there will inevitably be normal attacks that land; should a character be able to confirm from these normals into a combo, and ultimately into a custom combo, they will generally have more opportunities to land big damage.
Almost a walk-over for A-Groove, especially for characters that can do big damage if their CCs are blocked. The guard crush meter in P-Groove is incredibly weak, and it doesn't take a lot of big hits to get it into the danger zone. If the P-Groove player is good at parrying—and if they're playing P-Groove, they had better be—many of the big-damage pokes that can wear down the guard bar can be parried away if seen coming. If not, any custom combo from the A-Groove player has a high potential to guard crush. This fact requires the P-Groove player to play extremely cautiously, potentially moreso than any other groove would normally play against A-Groove.
Can be tricky for the A-Groove player. Random activations may be much harder to land given that the S-Groove player can dodge them and immediately come back with a combo punish or knockdown. Ground-based customs also have a smaller margin for error, since the opponent only needs a one-frame window to dodge out of trouble. Additionally, S-Groove gains some meter while being hit or blocking attacks, meaning they will have full meter or close to it—and possibly red health on top of that—after a finished custom. Good S-Groove players will have their meter close to full against a full A-Groove meter to make sure they have options during and after a custom.
N-Groove is a decent matchup against A-Groove. Although A wipes the floor with N when it comes to meter efficiency and sheer damage output, the movement options that N-Groove provides gives it more options in more situations against A-Groove compared to the other grooves. Chief among these is Counter Movement, which can prevent the N-Groove player from being Shoshosho'd to death—and can result in a punish combo the other way.
Of course, that tool hardly matters if the A-Groove player is hitting their custom combos frequently. For the N-Groove player, extracting every bit of bonus damage and super combo potential out of the meter is the key to this matchup, making it a race to out-damage the A-Groove player when they do not have full meter, versus holding on when they do.
A vs. K is the see-saw battle of CvS2. When the A-Groove player has full meter, they are threatening. When they land a custom combo, the K-Groove player will almost certainly fill up their meter and enter a Rage state. When Raged, the A-Groove player will often be without meter, being extremely vulnerable to the whims of the K-Groove player. And so the cycle repeats until there is one player left standing.
K-Groove players have a "consolation" advantage against A-Groove players. The Rage state defensive bonus does a lot to soften the blow of big custom combos. If it doesn't result in a KO, the K-Groove player will recover from a CC with plenty of Rage time remaining, allowing them to be super-aggressive towards a meterless opponent in the hope of getting all that damage back with a Raged Level 3 super.
However, the K-Groove player won't get into this situation unless the A-Groove player has drained them of a significant amount of life; if the CC KOs them outright, then the Rage problem never happens. The K-Groove player can still get into Rage via Just Defends and taking normal damage, which may result in a full-A vs. raged-K situation. This is still generally to A-Groove's advantage, though mostly due to the fact that Rage time is limited. Getting hit with a full on Raged super during that limited time window can flip the script in a round immediately.