Ask @Infilament:

I have the Comeo Breaker packs so I can't play Cinder yet, but he was released yesterday for Ultra Combo Edition. What is your first impression of Cinder?

He's fun so far! I actually think he's a pretty difficult character to figure out... lots of interesting uses for Trailblazer, he has some good pressure with Fission and shadow Inferno, and his Burnout enders are cool, although they aren't nearly as good as some people think they are.
But in general, I think it will take a lot longer to unlock the true potential of Cinder than most characters in the game. He's good at a lot of things but not amazing at any of them (except doing chip damage and frame traps). His neutral game will take many weeks before anyone can figure it out, I think.

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Good job on the Hisako page. I picked up KI not too long ago, and she's got everything I love in my fighting game characters. However, it seems like you missed some of her mobility options, namely her wall jump and teleport. Or is that still not enough to solve her mobility problem?

Yeah, I didn't mention her wall jump and teleport, partly because I half-forgot about them and partly because sometimes it's fun to leave little pieces for the players to explore on their own. Her wall jump is okay, but it doesn't travel too far horizontally so I don't think it's incredibly useful for corner escapes. Her back+K teleport is very easily punished on reaction, so I would almost never do it in neutral... it might be okay on prediction to certain slower full-screen moves, or trying to cancel the teleport into counter to catch a punish, but most characters can just throw you for 100% success rate so I don't think this is super viable long term. The best way to solve her mobility problem is forward dashing and her not-terrible jump, and she does have On Ryo Zan to move her forward, but these tend to be somewhat risky so they're not all-purpose, and forward dashing means your wrath can't regenerate, which means you'd have to press fewer buttons. It's a tough trade-off.

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Is the netcode of KI at the point that the most successful online tactics are ultimately no different than the most successful tournament strategies?

Pretty close, yeah. There might be some very situational reactions that the best players can do offline that online won't let you do, but on the whole, it's very easy to "play like offline" (with the same combos, footsies, and anti-airs) and have it work 95% of the time. KI's online is best in class, for sure; if you've only experienced SF4 or MKX's online, you'll be shocked at the quality of KI's online play when you first try it.

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Who is most similar to SF4's Juri?

Hard to say... depends how you play Juri. There isn't really any character in the game right now that has a safe dive kick and zoning in the same way Juri does, and there's no character that has the flavor of Feng Shui Engine. Fulgore is a good fireball zoner, but his offense is fairly different from Juri.
The developers showed off Cinder today, though, and it looks like he might have some Juri flavor to him! So stay tuned to that, Cinder comes out at the end of April.

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I enjoy playing characters with high comeback potential like Makoto, Seth, Gouken and even Oni and El Fuerte. Except for Jago, who is easiest to learn for SFIV players? Which character in KI has the most similar to SFIV metagame? (Like how Jago somewhat plays like Ryu.) Thanks!

If you take a look at my character page, you can turn on an "Ease of Use" rating in the first graph, or look at how the characters compare in the "Ease of Use" stat in the bar chart. These are just my opinions of course, but give you a pretty good idea.
Some good suggestions for comeback characters are:
Jago: Probably has the most SF4-esque gameplan in the game. Once you become comfortable with the combo engine and learn a few KI-specific tricks (neutral jump can bait throws, for instance), you'll feel right at home. Instinct mode is a game changer for comebacks, because he will regenerate tons of health and he can hit confirm into it easily off all his good tools.
Fulgore: Most like Seth in the game. Great zoning, some of the trickiest mixups, can play very similar to a strong SF4 character if you learn a few small set plays after enders (meaty fireball, teleport stuff). If Poongko played KI, he'd probably pick Fulgore.
Spinal: Another really strong momentum character that can steal games with overwhelming offense. I'd argue he plays the least like a SF4 character out of all the ones I listed here, though... he has to do some run cancel stuff and his neutral game takes a bit of getting used to.
Thunder: The best raw damage in the game and the best command grab in the game. He struggles to get in sometimes, but he can apply very basic SF4-esque mixups and they all hurt.

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If Jago is looking to make his DP safe, why would he cancel into Shadow Laser Sword (which can be Shadow Countered) when he can cancel into Shadow Endokuken?

Shadow Laser Sword is safe on block (except if your opponent can shadow counter), while shadow Endokuken is actually strictly punishable on block by most characters, and also won't connect if your DP hits. Most people don't try to punish a point blank shadow Endokuken, but it's somewhere in the -6 to -7 range. You just have to push your punish button really early, because there isn't much block stun on the last hit.

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I'm trying to cancel Jago's Tiger Fury into Shadow Laser Sword, but it always comes out as Shadow Endokuken. I'm looking at input display and my inputs seem to be right. What's going on here?

I tried it myself on a pad, and couldn't manage to get shadow laser sword, which really struck me as odd. To verify, I plugged my stick in, which is my preferred method of playing, and I was able to get shadow laser sword every time. Weird!
Turns out what's actually happening, upon further inspection, is if you finish your DP motion with a forward input, it doesn't matter what punch special you try to input (shadow DP or shadow laser sword), you will ALWAYS get fireball. I think it's because the game has "queued up" fireball as the next input you performed (because you went d, df, f at one stage), so it looks at that, rather than where you pressed the punch buttons. If you do your DP motion as a strict f, d, df without ever reaching forward again, then wrap QCB and press two punches, you'll get laser sword every time.
I think this is actually a bug/unintended behavior of the input system, but the devs have stated on other occasions that changing the input system to fix issues is not likely going to happen soon because the possibility for catastrophic bugs to enter the game is too high. So if you're looking to do this (for example, to make a DP safe on block), you'll have to either clean up your inputs so your DP is perfect, or look to another alternative, I'm afraid.

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What happens if you attempt a manual between the auto-double and manual-double timing? If you don't get locked out of the manual, then can't you piano across the buttons and get more than one attempt?

Yep, and this is very cool! You get multiple chances at your manual! It's kind of like SF4's plinking, except if you miss the window and get one of your pianoed buttons, you won't get the highest strength, but rather, the strength of the button that hits the window first. Your inputs are not frozen or locked out because you pressed a button during the "no fly zone".
To clarify what the poster is talking about, during your linker (or opener), there is a large window where you can input an auto-double at the beginning and for most of the duration, and there is a very short window at the end where you can input a manual. In between these two windows is a short-ish window where no inputs are accepted; you won't get an auto-double or a manual (take a look at the gap between the bars in this video: https://vid.me/nTLs).
[-----------------LINKER---------------]
[-----------double---------] [man]
So, let's say that's a heavy linker, and you're trying to hit a heavy manual. If you press HP 1 frame before that manual window, nothing comes out. But what happens if you press HP, MP, and LP in rapid fashion by drumming your fingers across the buttons on an arcade stick (called "piano"ing; you try to press the buttons 1 frame apart)? Well, if the very first button you press (HP) overlaps with the manual window, you'll get a HP manual as expected. However, if you press HP 1 frame too early by accident, then MP will be the first button that hits the window and a MP manual will come out! And if you're 2 frames early, a LP manual will come out!
[-----------------LINKER---------------]
[-----------double---------] [HML]
[-----------double---------] H[ML-]
[-----------double---------] HM[L---]
* If you press a H button too early but you've pianoed M and L, you'll still get a manual to come out.
Since heavy manual after heavy linker is usually around a 2 frame link, doing this pianoing to get a "backup manual" is actually very smart, and turns it into, effectively, a 4 frame link, as long as you're okay with sometimes not getting HP as your manual. Note that, of course, if you're trying to get backup manuals after MP linker, you can only piano MP down to LP, and there's no way to get backup manuals after a light linker (trying to plink LP into LK will get you a throw). And, naturally, if you're really late with your pianoing, your (HP) manual will just be blocked. You have to be slightly early for this technique to work.
After 1 minute of training mode practice, I was getting 100% of my manuals after heavy linker (most of them were HP, but the ones that weren't were either MP or LP). Pretty cool!

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What exactly is Sleep doing throughout this match? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OU92R9uWedA Can you describe in detail everything he's doing here?

You can tell that Sleep knows Kan-Ra's strengths and weaknesses pretty well by this video. There are things he does that other players who are less familiar with Kan-Ra tend not to do (for example, anti-airing Kan-Ra at 0:24 and the exact same situation comes up again at 5:20, 7:52).
But for the most part, he's just really patient. He's willing to block for long stretches, because he knows that Kan-Ra has to take a risk with command grab; since Aganos is so tall, he can't put scarabs above his head and strengthen the mixup, since Aganos will block the scarabs due to his height. The start of the 2nd match at around 2:20 is a good example of his patience. Sleep simply blocks a lot, building a lot of meter, and then picks his spot with either a shadow Ruin or shadow Pulverize and then builds up some more chunks. Kan-Ra actually isn't very much of a threat if he can't set up scarabs above your head, as long as you're able to block the jump fierce shenanigans and make 50%+ correct reads on his command grab (I think Sleep was trying to react to the 20 frame startup of the command grab, which is definitely possible). Remember, KI doesn't have a ton of chip damage, so simply blocking for a long time is actually a pretty good idea. You build a ton of meter for blocking and maybe lose 2-3% life at most, and Aganos is at his most threatening with shadow meter, so this strategy is the best idea in this fight.
For example, take a look at around 3:45-4:10, where Sleep chooses to block a ton of sand spikes + antlions. He's taking virtually no chip, but he quickly gains a bar, and now Kan-Ra has to be nervous. He has similar patience at around 8:10. He knows he has the advantage here with 2 meters and Kan-Ra eventually having to do something with long recovery to get any damage, so he just slowly walks forward, blocking regularly, knowing he doesn't have to throw his face into a bunch of damage.
I think long term people will find that this match is actually quite even, or maybe even favoring Aganos. From full screen, Aganos is actually quite a threat. Not counting his rock zoning, which can be self-sustaining, you can see a sneak peek at 10:58 when Sleep rolls through a spike attempt (but drops the combo). If Aganos does MP natural disaster and presses up, he can avoid both spike and antlion and start a combo, and if he's not willing to take the risk, he can block and get full bar for shadow Ruin later. Meanwhile, Kan's full screen threat is more smoke and mirrors than it seems.

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how would you recommend learning how to break/perform manuals more efficiently?

Performing manuals is a bit tricky, especially if you don't have experience using links from other fighting games. My best advice would be to start by trying to do light manuals after heavy linkers, since this is the largest timing window possible. Since the timing for performing manuals varies depending on which special move you are using as a linker (for example, doing a manual after Jago's wind kick linker is quite late, while doing it after Jago's laser sword linker is earlier), practicing light manual after heavy linker should give you a good sense of when the manual timing window is. After you get decently good at this, do the heavy linker again and simply try pressing a medium button instead of light. If your timing is good, it will just work automatically, because the timing window hasn't changed. If it doesn't work, you know that the medium move's slightly slower startup is the only difference, which means you're probably only 1 or 2 frames off, so try adjusting your timing very very slightly.
As for how to break manuals, it's really difficult to do on reaction, so the best advice I have is to just try to notice your opponent's patterns. If you're able to recognize the linker strength, you can narrow down your choices for guessing, but that might open you up to being locked out because the opponent tries an auto-double. A better idea is to try to break the linker before the manual, since it is usually easier to recognize the strength of linkers. If you notice that your opponent always does a certain manual after a certain linker, though, you can try to break it, although long term the game makes sure that you can't have as much success breaking manuals as you will by trying to break other parts of a combo. Practicing manuals yourself will gain you the same advantage over your opponent when you hit them, so they're definitely worth bringing into your game.

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Your preference in terms of mechanics, season 1 or season 2?

Season 1 is great, and it's the whole reason I got into KI, and while I don't agree with every change Season 2 has made, on the whole I prefer Season 2.
Main reasons are as follows:
- More character variety and diversity
- Single hit damage boost makes it a more skilled game (anti-airing is rewarded, starting a punish with fierce instead of jab matters a lot)
- S1 had more of a focus on short combos and one-chance-breaks. S2 still has quite a bit of that (which is fine), but they are trying to force you into playing the combo breaker game if you want big damage, and I personally find combo breaking a really interesting part of KI. It adds a lot of stress to the match, it's hard, and it frustrates opponents on a psychological level (despite being risky and punishing when you're wrong) more than most other fighting game mechanics I can think of. Not everyone I've talked to loves the combo breaking mechanic, and S2 still lets you play by doing short combos and trying your best to ignore that system, but if your opponent has decided he is going to force you to break combos to survive, I like that aspect of the game. The reward for being right on offense (counter-breaker, lockout) is really fun to me, and I have numerous other games I can play (and have played for 15 years) if I want to play a game without combo breaks, so I like that S2 is trying to bring the focus back on that a bit. S2 is, IMO, a pretty solid mix between unbreakable setups for all your resources, one-chance for small damage into a setup, or going for the big damage but exposing yourself to breaks.
- I think stuff like soft knockdown on combo breakers and less meter overall really impact the flow/decision making of the game in positive ways.

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I'm having trouble on what to do next after frame advantage in KI any tips ?

The first thing to understand is that frame advantage is designed to force your opponent (not you) to take a risk. If you press your fastest button after you have frame advantage, your opponent has only two real options: block, or try to escape using invincibility (a DP, a backdash, etc), and these options are either quite risky, or often predictable. So if you understand that your opponent is more scared of you than you need to be of him, you can start taking appropriate action.
If your opponent blocks (as should be the case a lot of the time), that's when you are able to use buttons other than your fastest button, because suddenly you don't need the super fast startup to interrupt any of his actions. These "bigger" buttons typically are better for mixups (they can sometimes be overheads, etc), but they have to be "earned" in a sense... you have to convince your opponent, who might not even know he is at frame disadvantage, that he needs to sit still, because trying to move around is going to get him killed.
This is why I would advise you, especially in online ranked matches against a random player where you only get one game, to almost always press your fastest button after you earn frame advantage and cancel it into an opener so you can do a combo if it hits. If your opponent tries to jump or press his own button, you'll win... if he tries to block, you'll earn some meter and do some chip damage (which is still a win), and if he tries to hit you with a reversal, you'll probably lose, but you'll gain information that you can use for later. If he tries to backdash, depending on the special move you cancel your move into (Jago's wind kick, for example), you'll probably hit him anyway!
You've probably seen good players "lock opponents down until they get a hit" (Grimmmz is particularly good at this), and this is what you're trying to emulate, but you'll notice that they rarely swing with "big buttons" first... they force the opponent to block small, fast buttons for a while, earning small bits of damage here and there, until the opponent finally gets it through their head that they simply can't press buttons. Once they notice their opponent start to block, they start using better mixups that would otherwise lose to an opponent who is mashing buttons, but they had to *earn* this opportunity first. And if their opponent never learns this lesson, then they win using their fast buttons and move on to the next match.
Lastly, don't be afraid about getting hit by a DP in this game so much. If you notice yourself getting hit by a lot of DPs, then go ahead and try to bait one out after frame advantage (or better yet, do your own invincible DP to interrupt it and instinct cancel), but reversals usually don't lead to huge damage in this game, so you can accept getting hit by one or two. Every time your opponent DPs, he's telling you he's so scared of your pressure he's willing to take The Big Risk. This is good for you long term.

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What is your preferred way to control KI? The Xbox One D-pad, the analog stick, or a fight stick?

I personally use a fight stick for every fighting game I play, including KI (I use a CronusMax adapter and a 360 arcade stick). Years of playing older games in arcades have made it the obvious choice for me. However, if there's a fighting game that needs an arcade stick the least, I'd say it's Killer Instinct. There are no systems like plinking or pianoing that really benefit from an arcade stick layout, and there are no complex joystick motions either, so it's a game that can be easily learned using just a controller if you have no established preference.

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