In a nutshell
This woman of few words is quite an intense personality. Leona is a character that commands the air space with air option selects, great air-to-air normals, and more or less the best air-to-air and air-to-ground Desperation Move in the game. She is supplemented with good grounded normal attacks for aerial control, but she lacks a really deep jump-in attack for hopping pressure compared to rushdown oriented characters. Thus, she is more optimized for good defensive play as well as offensive play in the manner of controlling the opponent's options rather than trying to break their defenses. But in lieu of hopping pressure, she has some devastating overhead attacks that combo into special attacks and Desperations Moves for the (though unsafe on block if she reads the opponent incorrectly.) Leona is a great character that fits with those that really like to zone and space while having a few aces up their sleeves.
(furthest distance): 60
furthest distance: 180
- Strike Arch (f+B) has faster startup.
- Baltic Launcher (b~f+P) does less guard crush damage.
- Grand Saber (b~f+K) has slower recovery on block. Leona recovers about even when the heavy version is blocked.
- Moon Slasher (d~u+P) has less pushback on block. All versions (light, heavy, EX) are easier for opponents to punish than in Arcade.
- EX X-Calibur (qcb+AC) comes out faster. It still cannot be comboed from a normal or command normal.
- Heavy V-Slasher (qcf hcb+P) has a different angle; light version goes a short range, heavy goes far. EX version is the same as in Arcade.
- Standing Light Punch () - A great chop great for anti-air against hops. It typically whiffs amongst most crouching characters, but it's able to contact a crouching opponent that's already induced with block stun. With this, Leona can extend her pressure game and check the opponent with her Standing Light Punch. So, this is a neat attack to use after using a blocked Crouching Light Kick or two to continue pressure.
- Standing Light Kick () - Leona's low hitting kick from standing. It functions as a fast, low-hitting attack that extends beyond Crouching Light Kick's range. In return, its recovery isn't as fast and Leona lets up a bit of momentum while using it upon block. This attack is really useful during hit confirms because it cancels and combos into Strike Arch ( + ) that could further combo into another attack for the knockdown. So it's important to know and when to commit to this attack, but it generally is safe and quite resourceful.
- Standing Heavy Punch () - A really cool slap that covers good horizontal range. It may be used as a ranged, whiff punish or to simply frame trap an opponent during Leona's attack strings. What makes this move good to use as a punish over her other long ranged attack, such as Crouching Heavy Kick, is that it doesn't knockdown the opponent and the player may choose to go into Hyper Drive mode to finish with a better punish.
- Close Heavy Punch (Close ) - Double-hitting slash attack. The function as a "quick", close, hit-confirm attack is okay, but lacks the speed that Close Heavy Kick has. In lieu for speed, it has a better vertical hitbox to cover a larger area than what Close Heavy Kick could do. So this attack is better for trapping an opponent or luring the opponent into doing a hop or full jump and hitting the opponent from an angle that Leona wouldn't typically cover comfortably. Just note that this attack isn't particularly quick and is very prone to either trading or flat out losing to certain jump-in attacks. Nevertheless, this move still has its utilities and must be taken into consideration.
- Standing Heavy Kick () - A nice vertical and horizontal anti-air kick that doesn't whiff upon crouching opponents. It covers an area where Leona's other standing attacks don't cover and is an essential anti-air attack as part of her strong ground game. In some ways it's very similar to Daimon's Standing Heavy Kick. Either hit of the attack is cancelable.
- Close Heavy Kick (Close ) - Another double-hitting attack. This is the main attack to use up close to really frame trap the opponent and to preemptively stuff out their attacks with a succession of quick, knee strikes. Close Heavy Kick is the party starter and is one of the main ways to punish an opponent and land a full combo. Just to note, either hit of Close Heavy Kick is cancelable. It doesn't have much vertical range, so be wary of those that may try to hop or jump out in anticipation of Leona's Close Heavy Kick.
- Crouching Light Punch ( + ) - A standard Crouching Light Punch attack. Leona does a small chop, similar to her Standing Light Punch. Typically this move is used during pressure or to combo from Crouching Light Kick and combo further afterwards. In regards to ending a hit-confirm, attack string, this move has better frame advantage than Standing Light Kick but lacks the range to ensure that all of Leona's attacks will connect. So it's good to know when to use each move when constructing Leona's pressure game.
- Crouching Light Kick ( + ) - Leona's basic Crouching Light Kick attack. It lacks the range that it had in older games, where it functioned as a low risk, "high priority", long poke that most other characters couldn't contest. For The King of Fighters XIII, the range may be shorter but it's easier for this attack to chain into itself and into other normals that gives her access to knockdown combos without needing to have her store charge, unlike other charge character or "Guile" archetypes.
- Crouching Heavy Punch ( + ) - An arm swipe that covers almost strictly vertical space. Those coming from older KOF games, just note this attack isn't as fast to anti-air with and is very prone to either trading or losing. What this move has gained in this installment is the ability to link from Crouching Light Kick and function more as a horizontal, frame trap attack.
- Crouching Heavy Kick ( + ) - One of the fastest and longest sweeps in the game. This is another attack of Leona's that is hard to keep up with during the "footsie" game. In return for its greatness, it's unable to cancel into other attacks to maintain safety (as opposed to Kim's sweep that both has speed and range while being cancelable.) So this sweep is quite vulnerable to jump-in attacks, but note that some jump-ins that lack deep, vertical hitboxes are susceptible to losing to Leona's sweep anyways.
- Blowback Attack ( + ) - A good pressure attack that moves Leona forward and pushes the opponent away enough on block. As with most Blowback Attacks, this move has a bit of start up so it's not a move to freely use upon a whim. Generally, though, this attack is still a good move to use now and then for safe pressure. Upon counter hit, this move will cause a juggle state on the opponent and Leona could follow up this attack with a Special Move or Desperation Move.
- Jumping Blowback Attack (Air + ) - A Kamen Rider Black/RX reference.
- Moon Slasher ( [charge] + ) -
- Grand Saber ( [charge] + ) -
- Baltic Launcher ( [charge] + ) -
- Earring Bakudan ( + ) -
- X-Calibur ( + ) -
- V-Slasher (Air + ) - A really cool Voltes V reference.
- Slash Saber ( + ) -
- Leona Blade ( + + ) -
Tips and Tricks
- To get the Drive Cancel from d~u+P to b~f+K, input d~u+P as db~ub+P, and then simply hold ub to f+K for b~f+K.
- Leona's cl.D has a longer activation range than cl.C and is marginally faster. As a result, you may end up wanting to use it as a combo starter more than cl.C, which will result in slightly less damage.
- You can add an additional cr.B in the low combos if you are close enough, but it's pretty strict.
- Leona cr.B links into cr.C. You can squeeze some extra damage out with this link, but it's not really that important.
- Instant Overhead (IOH) jA can be done from forward, backward, and neutral hops and hyperhops, lending it more overall versatility and safeness than neutral jump jD as an instant overhead, at the cost of a bit less damage.
- cl.C f+B xx qcb+A - (202, 27)
- cr.B st.B f+B xx qcb+A - (175, 21)
Two easy basic bnbs that will work midscreen.
- IOH j.A xx qcb+A - (97, 11)
- IOH vj.D xx qcb+A - (127, 15)
As previously explained, j.A is overall a safer a more versatile IOH than j.D. Note that air qcb+A does not combo from back hyperhop j.A except in the corner.
- b~f+P, j.CD (190, 25 - Varies)
Leona's Baltic Launcher is a pretty solid neutral move, and can work to anti air if done early, or as a frametrap. Because it has juggle, you should be following it up with something if it hits. The damage can vary a bit on all of the combos involving them if you anti air, as they may not hit the whole projectile, and depending on the version you use.
- (near corner) b~f+P, b~f+K, d~u+C (220, 30 - Varies)
A version can only be followed up with this combo if it hits an airborne opponent.
- (corner only) cl.C f+B xx qcb+C, d~u+C - (250, 33)
- (corner only) cr.B st.B f+B xx qcb+C, d~u+C - (202, 24)
Corner combos for good meterless damage.
- cl.C f+B xx qcf hcb+P - (338, 19)
- cr.B st.B f+B xx qcf hcb+P - (290, 10)
Leona's basic DM combos. This is very important to learn, as her meterless damage is fairly lacklustre and getting used to using the move in combos will help it feel more natural in IOHs or air to airs.
- (near corner) (cr.B) cr.C xx b~f+BD, d~u+C - (304, 15)
Corner carry combo.
- IOH j.A xx qcf hcb+P - (249, 3)
- IOH vj.D xx qcb hcf+P (279, 7)
Now this is why Leona's IOH's are so scary. Learn to utilize these, but try to learn to hitconfirm as well.
- b~f+P, air qcf hcb+P - (280, 20 - Varies)
- (near corner) b~f+P, b~f+K, air qcf hcb+P (300, 30 - Varies)
More damaging juggle followups to Baltic. The A version on the corner combo will only work if it hits an airborne opponent.
- qcb+K, qcb hcf+K - (265, 8)
Leona's Grenade throw is difficult to combo off effectively if it's non EX, so Slash Saber is your best chance if you can react in time.
- qcb+BD, j.CD - (196, 8)
EX Grenade throw comes out extremely fast, so is overall a more useful zoning tool, but if you can't convert the use of it into a super it's not really a good idea to use it.
- cl.C f+B xx qcf hcb+AC - (423, 19)
- cr.B st.B f+B xx qcf hcb+AC - (375, 10)
- b~f+P, qcf hcb+AC - (320, 20 - Varies)
- (near corner) (cr.B) cr.C xx b~f+BD, air qcf hcb+P - (423, 7)
You may prefer this combo for it's corner carry potential.
- qcb+BD, air qcf hcb+P - (329, 0)
EX grenade throw juggles for much longer, meaning you should be using V-Slasher to followup instead if you can.
- (near corner) (cr.B) cr.C xx b~f+BD, air qcf hcb+AC - (508, 7)
Your best possible combo without using drive.
- qcb+BD, air qcf hcb+AC - (426, 0)
This is a LOT of damage for getting hit by a fireball, can help shift the momentum of a match very quickly.
- (near corner) cr.B cr.A xx d~u+C (DC) b~f+D, d~u+C (248, 28)
This combo works at roughly 1/3 of the screen distance to the corner.
- (corner only) cl.C f+B xx qcb+C, d~u+C (DC) b~f+D, d~u+C(344, 45)
- (corner only) cr.B st.B f+B xx qcb+C, d~u+C (DC) b~f+D, d~u+C (296, 36)
These combos are pretty useful but overall it's usually worth just saving the HD if you can't use meter with them too.
- cl.C f+B xx qcb+A (SC) qcf hcb+P - (368, 27)
- cr.B st.B f+B xx qcb+A (SC) qcf hcb+P - (330, 18)
The damage increase on these combos from the non drive ones is fairly insignificant, but if you need the damage midscreen, it's worth knowing.
- cr.B cr.A xx d~u+C (DC) b~f+BD, b~f+D - (325, 20)
This is mostly a corner carry combo, as it will move the opponent a fair distance to the corner. If you are close enough, make sure to use the following combos instead.
- (near corner) (cr.B) cr.C xx b~f+BD d~u+C (DC) b~f+K, d~u+C - (405, 27)
- (near corner) cr.B cr.A xx d~u+C (DC) b~f+K, air qcf hcb+P - (360, 20)
- (corner only) cl.C f+B xx qcb+C, d~u+C (DC) b~f+D, air qcf hcb+P (454, 39)
- (corner only) cr.B st.B f+B xx qcb+C, d~u+C (DC) b~f+D, air qcf hcb+P (408, 30)
These combos are basically Leona's core meter+drive bnbs, and are what you're mostly saving up for. Very important to be able to do. To input the V-Slasher super fast enough, input the qcfhcb while still grounded, in the animation of the charge b~f+D, then roll to up back and press punch. This tiger knees the input, making it much easier.
- IOH j.A xx qcb+A (SC) qcf hcb+P - (300, 11)
- IOH vj.D xx qcb+A (SC) qcb hcf+P (325, 15)
Another instance of only worth using if you are in need of damage desperately.
- cl.C f+B xx qcb+A (SC) qcf hcb+AC - (457, 27)
- cr.B st.B f+B xx qcb+A (SC) qcf hcb+AC - (409, 18)
You know the drill, spend the HD if you really need the damage, otherwise avoid.
- cr.B cr.A xx d~u+C (DC) b~f+BD, qcb hcf+K - (438 14)
A corner carry combo that also does pretty good damage. This is one of the very few practical uses of Leona's Slash Saber DM, as the move does less damage than V-Slasher. Avoid using this if near the corner for this reason.
- (near corner) (cr.B) cr.C xx b~f+BD, d~u+C (DC) b~f+K, air qcf hcb+P - (525, 21)
- (near corner) cr.B cr.A xx d~u+C (DC) b~f+K, air qcf hcb+AC - (439, 20)
- (corner only) cl.C f+B xx qcb+C, d~u+C (DC) b~f+D, air qcf hcb+AC (523, 39)
- (corner only) cr.B st.B f+B xx qcb+C, d~u+C (DC) b~f+D, air qcf hcb+AC (475, 30)
Another set of important combos.
- IOH j.A xx qcb+A (SC) qcf hcb+AC - (391, 11)
- IOH vj.D xx qcb+A (SC) qcb hcf+AC (416, 15)
You guessed it, save the bar if you can.
- (near corner) (cr.B) cr.C xx b~f+BD, d~u+C (DC) b~f+K, air qcf hcb+AC - (598, 21)
- (near corner) cr.B cr.A xx d~u+C (DC) b~f+BD, air qcf hcb+AC - (511, 14)
- (corner only) cl.C f+B xx qcb+C, d~u+AC (DC) b~f+D, air qcf hcb+AC (603, 33)
- (corner only) cr.B st.B f+B xx qcb+C, d~u+AC (DC) b~f+D, air qcf hcb+AC (555, 34)
Leona's core corner combos at their best. This is pretty much the best damage you're going to get without using a HD combo.
- cl.C (HD) cl.C xx qcb hcf+K (MC) qcb hcf+AC (733, 15)