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P-Groove is one of the six grooves in Capcom vs. SNK 2. It is a groove that is heavily reliant on its mainstay feature, parrying. It is inspired by the Street Fighter III series, most notably Third Strike.
P-Groove is a low-tier groove in CvS2. Having only a single super meter, many disadvantages compared to other grooves, and no other features of speak of, it is completely dependent on the parrying skill of the user to be effective.
|Groove System||Parrying & Super Combo System|
|Meter Length||192 Units|
|Guard Bar Length||38 Units||80% of Normal|
See Groove Subsystems for complete technical data on specific subsystems.
The meter in P-Groove is the most straightforward one in CvS2. It is a single, long super meter that grants a Level 3 super opportunity when full, denoted by the bar saying "SUPER."
There are no meter bonuses, nor any way to use partial amounts of meter. (There are no EX special moves in P-Groove or in CvS2, unlike in Third Strike.)
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.
Unique Groove Abilities
Parrying (Blocking in Japanese versions) is a special technique that allows the player to deflect an opponent's physical attack, bypassing hitstun, preventing pushback, and avoiding any health loss or guard crush damage.
To perform a parry, use the directional controls to input forward (for mid/high/air attacks) or down (for low attacks) at the moment an opponent's attack connects. (Down-forward simultaneously is not a valid input for a parry and will never result in one.) If successful, there will be a parry flash, sound effect, and a brief time freeze to accentuate the parry.
The player must be in the neutral state (ground or air) to perform a parry, or in some reversal situations. The reversal parry allows the player to parry exactly one frame before they would have normally recovered from performing a move or fully getting up off the ground after being knocked down. (A parry may not be performed in the air if an attack was previously performed in the same jump.) Reversal parries cannot be performed when recovering from hitstun or blockstun. Therefore, it is not possible to parry out of a 1 frame link from the opponent.
A player on the way down from a jump that parries in the air will experience a slight "bounce" effect that moves them slightly forward at the same level as where they parried. Depending on the air attack being parried, this effect may require a change in parry timing for subsequent attacks.
Players cannot parry during a Small Jump.
Parries on the ground (high and low) have a 10 frame detection period if the parry direction is tapped and immediately returned to neutral. If the game detects a parry direction is held, the detection window is reduced to 5 frames. This difference is designed to give a higher margin of success for deliberate parries and reduce the likelihood of accidental parries from regular character movement.
A successful parry has a "lag time" of 23 frames (this includes the brief time freeze) after which the game will not accept another parry input in the same direction. Again, this was designed to make sure multiple parries happen as a result of deliberate actions, not through mashing. This lag can be circumvented by returning to neutral and inputting a direction that is different from the parry direction, then parrying in the same direction again. For example, it is much more effective to parry extremely rapid high attacks by quickly alternating between the forward and back directions.
Once the P-Groove player is put into blockstun, they will be unable to perform a parry until they recover from and completely exit blockstun. It is not possible to cancel out of the blockstun state to parry. This is in contrast to SFIII: Third Strike where the player is able to stop blocking while being attacked (blockstun does not exist in 3S) and immediately parry after a block—also known as a "red parry." CvS2 does not have this technique due to the universal mechanics of blockstun and the need to have the appropriate Groove Subsystem to cancel out of it to act.
Parrying the first hit of an opponent's conditional attack counts as it landing successfully for the purposes of the rest of the opponent's attack. That is, for certain special and super attacks that would normally stop and end if the first hit is blocked, if it is parried instead, the rest of the move will be performed as if it was a hit. Examples of this include Morrigan's Darkness Illusion, Kim's Phoenix Flattener, and Ryo's Ryuko Ranbu supers. In these situations, it is left to the player to decide if blocking the first hits of these supers would be the better option, versus parrying it and having to deal with the continued attacks.
Because a successful parry bypasses any "stun" effects, the player is still vulnerable to opponent throws after a parry. For this to be an issue, this would require the opponent to have buffered a command throw or super throw after a normal attack that they anticipated to be parried; because the player is not in hitstun or blockstun after parrying the initial attack, the follow-up throw will connect unless the parrying player had already jumped out of it.
P-Groove is a low-tier groove in CvS2. Although parrying is a powerful technique when used at the right times, the groove has no other advantages and many disadvantages. P-Groove is completely dependent on the parrying skill of the player, yet even the best parrying players will find themselves in no-win situations due to the superior utility and hard counters of particular groove matchups.
Parrying - That's it. That's literally it.
Not to discount parrying as a strength, of course. The ability to deflect an opponent's attack and getting an opportunity to return the favor into free damage is a very nice ability to have. It's extremely useful against jump-in attacks and crossups, as well as affording a level of safety in the air for jump-ins of your own. A few good air parries can render an opponent's top-tier anti-air buttons useless, greatly opening up attack options.
With full meter, the parry becomes even more problematic for an opponent. If they think about starting an attack string with a "safe" medium or heavy attack, a player parrying that can turn it into a big damage super combo after the fact with relative ease.
Parrying also brings more option select opportunities. Every gap between attacks, in wakeup situations, or during throws is a parry chance. Though the window is smaller if a direction is held (5 frames) instead of tapped (10 frames) that's still enough time to cover holes in your offense with speculative parry attempts. Converting a few of them into combos can make a difference!
Parrying - The groove's biggest strength also comes with some weaknesses. They can summed up by saying that the parry mechanic just does not mesh well with the overall game system of CvS2.
The time freeze off a successful parry is very short, so short that it might as well not exist against some moves. For example, when attempting to parry quick, multi-hit special and super moves. The aforementioned "lag time" between same-direction parries wouldn't be too bad an issue if most of it was eaten up by a significant freeze of action for the parrying player to get a better read of the situation. But because the freeze barely lasts as long as the flash of light on the screen, parries of that nature pretty much have to be rapidly mashed through—something the game actively penalizes. Oof.
If parrying everything usually isn't an option, then the alternative is to parry as much as possible and settle flor blocking the rest. Unfortuately for P-Groove, it has...
The Weakest Guard Meter in CvS2 - Of all the things going against P-Groove, this is probably the worst offender. Any opponent attack that is not parried will result in either health loss or damage to a very flimsy guard meter, which is 80% of normal. That doesn't sound like a big penalty, but 38 points of guard meter (instead of the standard 48) means a lot more trips into the flashing "danger" zone compared to other grooves.
This can be especially frustrating against characters with multi-hit special moves, such as Blanka's Electricity. Sorry, but you will not parry every hit of it, especially if the opponent is clever about it and changes button strength—and therefore, parry timing—mid-mash. Parry it as much as you want, but because there is no pushback while parrying, at some point you will lose health or lose quite a lot of guard meter with absolutely nothing that can be done about it. Once locked into blockstun, the P-Groove player is at the mercy of the opponent's attacks, and they have no choice but to absorb any chip or guard damage that comes their way.
Unavoidable Damage/Certain Death in Bad Matchups - Speaking of which! Against many top A-Groove characters, a Custom Combo is literally free damage on P-Groove players. Though parrying the first hits of a custom may allow for some escape attempts depending on the character doing the parrying—quick DPs or other instant attacks in retaliation—the choices in P-Groove after that point become grim. A-Groovers with heavy-hitting special moves, like Sakura's Shoshosho and other DPing characters, will obliterate whatever is left of the P-Groover's guard meter and basically do the same level of damage as if the Custom wasn't blocked.
Even for characters with weaker blocked Custom combos, or for many of the same characters in other grooves, it is possible to survive a sequence with guard meter remaining. However, it will often put the P-Groove player back into the flashing guard meter state, where one wrong read will result in a guard crush and the penalty that comes with that. It's a bad cycle that can only really be escaped by parrying... but that's how we got to this point in the first place, isn't it?!?
Terrible Meter Efficiency - On the offensive side of the ball, the single Level 3 super meter doesn't do P-Groove many favors. Every other groove—including K-Groove, which doesn't even build meter offensively!—will have built up their meter to be a Level 2/3/Rage/CC threat before the P-Groove player, stuck with the longest single meter bar in the game, can return that super threat in kind. There will be many points during the match where a good parry will have the opponent dead-to-rights, but without meter the best most characters will be able to do is a basic 2- or 3-hitter, or a quick punish combo. Not bad, but with shorter and more efficient meters, all the other grooves are going to be supering in those situations way more often than the P-Groove player will.
This dilemma is encapsulated during the first round of a match. Long as it may be, any competent player will still be able to fill the P-Groove bar with a decent chunk of Round 1 left to play. However, by this time both players are usually very low on health. A Level 3 super will definitely win you the round here, but often it is a horribly inefficient use of the meter. If they have less than 10% health remaining, but you have the meter to do 45% damage... do you "waste" all that meter to ensure the kill? The short answer is yes; definitely KO the opponent when you have the chance to, always. (Meter can be replenished; your own health bar and one of your characters cannot.)
The long answer is... maybe? If you win and make it to Round 2 with a health boost and full meter, that puts you way ahead. On the other hand, if you don't eliminate the opponent's first character when the opportunity presented itself, you may lose Round 1 instead; if you spend your meter anyway to KO them in Round 2, you're starting Round 3 with no meter and likely less health than the other guy. Point being, other grooves basically never have to wrestle with a first-round, potentially match-altering meter usage decision like this, because every other groove—even S-Groove!—has infinitely more meter flexibility.
No Other Options to Round Out Offense or Defense - P-Groove has nothing in the way of Groove Subsystems or other groove gimmicks to give it extra dimensionality. Small Jump and Tactical Recovery are hardly game-changers, but that's all there is to work with outside of parrying. Together the many other weaknesses of P-Groove, this lack of abilities forces the P-Groove player to play very cautiously and carefully. This is frustrating, because good parries often come as a result of aggressive play. Unfortunately, the high level of risk needed to cash in, often for low rewards, makes the very thing P-Groove is good at not worth doing most of the time.
Because it has far fewer super combo opportunities than other grooves, characters that excel in P-Groove absolutely must be able to get maximum damage off of meterless combos, especially after a parry.
Characters with rekka-style combos, such as Kyo, Iori, and Rolento, can do very good damage off a parry, especially those a bit further away from the opponent since their attacks advance them forward and combo into further attacks. Characters that don't have rekkas but have excellent punish combos, like Yamazaki, Ken, Hibiki, and even Sakura are also good options in P-Groove for this reason.
Parrying also gives a big boost to characters with big plus buttons. Cammy (standing HK, +10) and Geese (basically all his lights and mediums) become even more unfair to play against, as they can pad their advantage frames by speculating a parry or even just walking forward—though the parry window will be smaller if doing that. Top-tier characters with punishing blockstrings, including Blanka and Sagat, can make them even more intimidating by covering holes and potential resets with parries.
P-Groove Character Tier List
In June 2022, the CvS2 community in Fukuoka, Japan compiled a quick tier list for the relative strength of characters in P-Groove:
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 P-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.
A very fair matchup for P-Groove players, in that most of the things C-Groove players need to do to try to open up their opponents are most vulnerable to good parries. C-Groove has a large advantage with meter efficiency, however, as the P-Groove player won't be able to take advantage openings to the same degree as the C-Groove player can, having a Level 1 or Level 2 super available before their meter is completely full.
Very tough for P-Groove, which is playing from behind once the A-Groove players fills their meter. Against many top-tier A-Groove characters, there is very little that can be done to avoid significant damage off a custom, hit or blocked. The best strategy for the P-Groove player is to bait activations so they whiff, or to anticipate and parry them and quickly counter or escape. This matchup becomes much more tolerable for P-Groovers by parrying away as many pokes as possible, which will deter the opponent from wailing away on the smaller guard crush meter.
Street Fighter III Third Strike: CvS2 Edition, basically. As close to 3S gameplay as you can get in CvS2. Empty jumps, more air-to-air engagements, and lots of meterless combos and punishes will be the story of this matchup.
Parry vs. Dodge is an interesting (and rare) matchup. Dodges are much easier to perform and can yield the same results as a good parry, but S-Groove players are almost in the same boat as far as not having a lot of super combo chances off those attacks. P-Groove benefits from this more than S-Groove most of the time, however, as once the P-Groove meter is filled, it's there and available any time it's needed. Compare to the S-Groove player, who needs to manually look after their meter and may have nothing to back them up for most of the match.
Things get more interesting when the S-Groove player is in red health and gets access to unlimited Level 1 supers. Depending on the character, and especially for fireball supers, this can cause some problems for the P-Groove player. Although Level 1 supers do not do a lot of guard crush damage, being forced to absorb several of them in a row can start to whittle away the crush meter.
Similar to the C-Groove matchup for the P-Groove player, but with a little extra danger involved when the N-Groove player breaks a stock to enter Power Up state. Attacks do more damage AND more guard crush damage, so it is not uncommon to see the N-Groove player break a stock when their opponent's guard crush meter is flashing, to try to use that momentum to force a mistake or crush guard, into a Level 3 super. P-Groove players can break this momentum with good parrying, which is generally easier when N-Groove players approach or reset pressure with run up; other than jumping, the only way to stop that run is with an attack, which can be parried.
P vs. K is very dangerous for P-Groove players. Everything that P-Groove can do, K-Groove can do just as well or better. Just Defends are much safer than parries and bear similar fruit. The rage meter is much shorter than the P-Groove meter and adds on extra damage to attacks without even having to burn it on a Level 3 super. And it will fill twice or even three times as often as the P-Groove meter will! P-Groove parries need to be on point, especially if the opponent is raged, if P wants to keep things competitive against K.