JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Heritage for the Future/Rubber Soul/Strategy
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For all intents and purposes, Rubber Soul plays like a grappler character okizeme-oriented with a variety of medium and long range tools to help him at longer distances.
He compensates his awful mobility with some meterless defensive options that are unmatched among the cast that can instantly turn the flow of the fight to his favour such as 214+S and his Guard Cancel. These two options alone grant Rubber the ability to nullify most kinds of pressure on him as well as make the opponent hesitant to throw out moves in neutral and give up completely on a rushdown or agressive playstyle against Rubbber. Grabs are extremely powerful options in this game and Rubber happens to have the best of them all. It works as Rubber's primary way of getting okizeme, which means the opponent will avoid fighting at close quarters for too long.
Ultimately, Rubber's gameplan revolves around a very specific situation, his Okizeme/Vortex. Rubber has different ways of starting his Okizeme, as a matter of fact, he is the character with most ways of getting a hard knockdown in the game. The moves are:
-Grab -j.S (against airborne Stand OFF/Passive Stand opponents) -5S (5th hit in a combo onwards) -4S (7th hit in a combo onwards) -2C -214+A/B/C -214+S -Guard Cancel -Backbreaker… sometimes.
Neutral / Footsies
Rubber's gameplan is fairly simple; get a hard knockdown by any means possible. You have such a wide variety of ways of getting one that there's a lot of freedom in the way you decide to go about it.
One of the thing Rubber excels at is Space Control. Disjointed pokes like 5B and 4S are very hard to contest and 236+A serves as cover for different kinds of approaches or to catch the opponent whiffing buttons.
You'll want to use your large hitboxes to control space and become a wall the opponent can't cross, but that doesn't mean that's all you should be doing. Your goal is to condition the opponent into pressing less buttons so you can approach them more easily. Playing keepaway as Rubber is NOT a sustainable strategy. You'll want to switch to the offense eventually. Moves like 4S, 236+A, Counter and GC work great as punishes for bad approaches that you can covert off to and lead to the Vortex in the blink of an eye. Don't miss your chances to convert into big damage by being too focused on zoning.
List of characters who get hit by Rubber's 6S while crouching:
-All Stand ON characters (except Alessi and Devo)
Additionally, some characters' crouching hurtbox (Jotaro's, Black Polnareff's and Midler's) become tall enough for 6S to hit them when they enter preblock state, meaning 6S can still be used for pressure when they're blocking low. However, keep in mind that 6S will whiff if they're just crouching without blocking, and these 3 characters just happen to have extremely powerful reversal moves, so use it at your own risk.
Rubber's 214+S Counter is a fantastic defensive tool but that doesn't mean its uses are limited to defensive scenarios. Reminding the opponent that it still poses a threat even when Rubber seems focused on rushing down will make them extra doubtful on using moves to get him off them.
This isn't stuff you should always aim for but it will make the opponent respect you a great deal more so it ends up making other options like tick grabs and other resets/mix-ups much stronger.
It's so fast that it can catch Guard Cancels before they make contact with Rubber. This can be helpful during okizeme when you feel like they will GC buffer your meaty right away, after they late GC the last bits of your 236+AA super or when going for not-so-subtle jump-ins you think they totally saw coming and they're ready to GC (make sure you're close enough to the ground for this one).
It will also help you catch mashing attempts during your blockstrings or your combos even. If you feel like you will fall out of range after your next jab, you can resort to throwing out a random Counter somewhere and see if they take the bait (assuming they were expecting a tick grab or simply have the bad habit of pressing buttons against Rubber).
If you use your Counter upclose, make it a habit to mash 4C right after like there's no tomorrow to increase your chances of teching a potential grab. You can't do anything else so might as well try to cover one of its weaknesses.
You can also buffer Backbreaker on wakeup as an Option Select; it will keep you safe from late/mistimed meaties and grabs while also pushblocking the opponent away if you block their meaty. When inputting the super, do NOT do 6248 or 4268 as you would usually do when you buffer it. Instead, begin the 270 motion on 8 and end it with 4, so you can block their 50/50 meaty attack if they have one of them. In other words, use 8624+A against overheads and 86241+A against lows. If you have really fast fingers, you can go for an even more powerful advanced version of this Backbreaker OS, which would be 8426231+A/8426234+A: instead of pushblocking the opponent away if you guess right their mixup, you GC them.
Advanced Backbreaker Okizeme
As stated before, Backbreaker can be jumped out of before it connects if done raw, but what if there's a way to keep the opponent grounded before Backbreaker goes active? Well, d.5C can help with that. Rubber's Dashing Stand attacks remain active after being cancelled, so if you time them right, you can make Backbreaker hit at the same time d.5C meaties their wakeup. d.5C's hitstop from being blocked pauses Backbreaker's active frames AND invincibility frames, meaning the 3 frames of command grab invulnerability the opponent possesses will wear off by the time Backbreaker is no longer active. Trying to pushblock Rubber away won't work since pushblock negates their own command grab invulnerability and Guard Cancelling will go through Rubber as he's still covered in i-frames.
To execute it correctly, you need to buffer Backbreaker as you dash, inputting it like this: 6624 [C]8]C[. Make sure you skip 1 cause you'll get 214+C otherwise and that's the last thing you want. d.5C's hitstop pausing what Rubber himself is doing means that Backbreaker needs to be already active by the time d.5C makes contact with the opponent so you ought to be pretty fast with your cancel.
Once you get personal with your opponent, you might want to stick to jabs and 4S, only using other Stand attacks very sparingly; you must keep your eyes open to catch their rolls and you don't want to be waiting on YT to recover to punish them. On a similar note, stop using 5B altogether, especially during blockstrings. If they pushblock your 5B after you cancel it into an S move or 236+A, YT will fall out of range and you will be left vulnerable right in the opponent's face.
After comitting to a grab. don't lower your guard. You already know there are two possible outcomes: they either get grabbed and it triggers the grab animation, or you end up throwing out 5C and potentially leaving yourself wide open. This is why after inputting 6C/4C you should always try to cover yourself up; you can't wait to confirm that the grab worked and act accordingly relying on your reflexes. First prepare for the worse and then check whether the grab actually worked or not. You can use 5S as your fastest cancel after inputting 6C to catch opponents who might have neutral jumped their way out . You can also input 214+S if you feel there's a counterattack coming your way.
Rubber has access to a very oppressive jump approach in his double overhead, j.A/j.B xx j.S. It does a considerable amount of damage, can confirm into a full combo and having to block high twice throws a lot of people off.
The proper way to deal with the double overhead which can't be avoided is to either GC or pushblock both attacks, creating some distance in the process, but this isn't that easy for a Passive Stand/Stand OFF opponent considering there's always the risk of ending up rolling accidentally. In Stand ON mode, however, the opponent can get away with mashing pushblock to deal with j.S pressure since pressing ABC results in a jab; so you can't delay your j.S cancel and if you try to follow up j.S after being pushblocked you will only dash into their buttons.
Thankfully, you have your own countermeasure for this. Pushblocking Rubber's jump-ins will put him at 4S max range. Instead of cancelling into j.S, you can whiff punish their jab attempt with 4S after landing and set up a j.S UB Reset. There's a chance they could respond with a reversal super after pushblocking your j.A but all things considered risk/reward should still be in your favour.
You will be finding yourself launching the opponent constantly with moves like 4S, 5S, Counter and Wrap. Having such disjointed anti-air moves, it comes as no surprise that Rubber is pretty good at tech chasing. For tech-ins, it will be incredibly easy to respond with 5B but you might also like to use 4S. Just remember that those two moves aren't exactly interchangeable; 5B's effective range covers a more vertical area whereas 4S is better suited for horizontal approaches.
You might also opt to jump and meet them in the air after they get launched. Doing so can be pretty risky considering you'll below them and even if you get a follow-up with j.A, you might not be able to confirm your j.S after that, which is extremely unsafe. However, if they weren't ready for your commital approach and you align horizontally enough with them, you'll be highly rewarded with a hard knockdown or a j.S UB Reset if they get it. If they block your j.A, they will be stuck in blockstun for the rest of their airborne time so you can easily anti-air them with 5A xx 4S if you happen to land first or even 4S j.A j.S into once again a hard knockdown or j.S UB Reset if your timing is flawless. If your positioning also happens to be perfect or you're near the corner, you might even be able to use Backbreaker to catch their landing (only if the tech chase originated from one of your launches and not one of their jumps)
It becomes a bit more complex when you bring the opponent's individual options into the equation. Can they double jump? Use an air super as a reversal? Any special attack that staggers their fall? These just give tech chasing another layer of uncertainty you need to consider for a succesful read.
Okizeme / Vortex
The vortex is a term used in fighting games to describe a situation where the opponent is constantly forced to guess your next mixup after getting knocked down and if they guess wrong, they get knocked down again and the situation repeats itself until they either guess right and manage to escape or they die trying.
cannot stress enough how important it is for Rubber to master this aspect of his gameplan. In the vortex, leading to in the long run. They can’t counter all of your options at once so they’re forced to pick one (or two). A good Rubber player will be able to make up a habit for the opponent to get familiar with, only to switch it completely later and bait the move they would use as a response for said habit and punish it, successfully picking an option for them.
Now into the options themselves...
All characters can perform a basic 50/50 oki to a certain extent, jumping towards the opponent as they wakeup and either use a jumping attack before landing or going for a low once they land. In order to make his 50/50 Okizeme as ambiguous as possible, Rubber can time his hop so he lands the moment the opponent is about to wake up and go for either a well-timed j.S before he touches the ground for a delayed overhead option, or 2A/2S after he lands for a low hitting option. Unlike the basic 50/50 okizeme, this cannot be fuzzy blocked by blocking high a certain amount of time and then switching to block low since j.S is slow enough to while still being fast enough to be unreactable. Even though j.S is not an easy move to meaty with because of its relatively slow start-up of 12 frames, it’s incredibly rewarding if it lands, being Rubber’s most damaging combo starter and even if it gets blocked since it leaves the opponent in a very long blockstun. You can try to trick your opponent further by doing j.B/j.C as you fall, which won’t hit them but could throw them off because of their similar startup/sound to j.S, and hit them with 2A/2S as they were ready to block that overhead. 2A/2S as a meaty shouldn’t be underestimated however, as it will help you catch people trying to buffer inputs like 214, 236 or 623 that they would use as reversals or people that try to jump out of the vortex. All of these low/high attacks can lead to wrapless combos or tick grabs/resets that will also lead to hard knockdowns.
Aside from those two big meaty options, you may opt for going for an empty hop and grab if the opponent is being too respectful of your oki and they don’t try to go for a reversal or even to bait buffered GCs. Although mistiming your grab can be fatal as your 5C whiffs against a lot of crouching opponents and there are 3 frames of grab invulnerability where your opponent is free to do any move they want and take that chance to escape the vortex. Depending on the move they chose, you might be able to quickly input 214+S to save yourself from eating a fat reversal, leading once again to another hard knockdown if your counter connects.
In high level play, your opponent might decide to use OS (Option Select: inputting 1AC/4AC on wakeup to cover multiple options at once) as it’s perfect for escaping constant okizeme against characters that like to grab for oki, like Shadow Dio and Rubber himself. Ambiguous 50/50s will still work on them but a raw counter will also get the job done since they end up doing 1A if you "respect" their wakeup and there was no meaty nor grab for them to block or tech respectively. A buffered GC would also do the trick but it’s debatable whether it’s really worth doing over the other options, it would still keep the vortex going though, so there’s that.
For less committal options, if you want to do some chip damage while also having some space with the opponent and wait for their reaction first, you can go for 236+A or 236+AA. Using 236+A will limit your options for mix-ups and it will make your follow-ups quite obvious (either j.A or d.2a), it can still work if you use it to bait GCs (if you chose not to go for a mix-up first and ended up blocking that GC with your face) or they get desperate trying to escape your pressure and they throw out moves, just know that your combo will scale heavily if you manage to hit them with 236+A and you follow it up successfully, it can still work to set up tick grabs if they don’t manage to push block you in time. Everything that applies to 236A also applies to 236+AA, except this one does much more chip damage and you have enough time to roll behind them while they’re blocking the super and try to cross them up, just be careful with their GC.
Rubber doesn't need meter in order to execute his basic gameplan, but it does come in handy to quickly get lifelead at the start of rounds with 236+AA follow-ups or for situational Backbreaker set-ups.
The optimal way to build meter from afar is doing j.C 5C xx 4S over and over; backhopping right after cancelling 5C into 4S and doing j.C right before landing once YT recovers.
Pseudo-Jab Unblockable Reset
After launching an opponent with 4S, Rubber recovers fast enough to follow it up with a jab if he's still in range. If the opponent was already airborne by the time your jab makes contact with them, your jab will cancel out the previous launch and the opponent will start falling and will land on their feet. Just like with any UB Reset, the opponent can't block on the frame they land after getting hit, so if you manage to meaty their landing after that jab follow-up, you can reset your combo and continue from there.
It's worth noting that the setup itself isn't reactable but the opponent can still tech during the small window after getting jabbed and landing. If they manage to tech they either saw it coming or they were mashing pushblock during your pressure (or they got lucky). To account for this you can jab them immediately after they get hit by 4S. If done fast enough they will land on their feet without getting launched in the first place so trying to tech their way out of the setup will only result in a roll you can easily react to with a grab.