Thursday, November 9, 2017

Diddy vs. Luigi Matchup Guide

Luigi has always been considered to be one of Diddy Kong's harder matchups. He can combo Diddy for high damage, he can gimp us with cyclone easily, and his low traction makes it difficult to follow up on banana trips. If you go into a match against Luigi without the proper knowledge, he will take your stocks in the blink of an eye. However, if you are well versed in the matchup, I believe that Diddy actually has an advantage against Luigi.

Neutral

The key to fighting Luigi in the neutral is to wall him out so that he can't find any opportunities to land a grab. Diddy is a fast faller, which means that Luigi can get upwards of 70% from each throw combo. You really need to play it slow and carefully in the beginning of the match. Placing a banana on the ground in front of you is a great way to prevent him from closing in on you; he will need to either jump over the banana or pick it up and throw it before he can grab you.

Holding onto banana isn't very useful against Luigi. Even when you do get a trip, he will often slide out of range of a follow up due to his low traction. Holding onto the banana yourself limits your options on the ground, so you would be better off placing the banana down to block his grounded approaches. While it is possible for him to dash attack at you to pick up the banana, this is a very laggy and punishable option that doesn’t give him much damage if it does work. Another reason to not hold banana is that Luigi’s jab is very good at catching the banana. If you throw the banana straight at him, he can catch it and throw it back at you. Of course, you can bait this option, but in general throwing bananas straight at Luigi will be less effective than most other matchups. The exception to this rule is that throwing a banana at Luigi from behind in general will be safer because he won’t be able to catch and throw it back so easily.

If Luigi is sitting back shooting fireballs, don’t rush in at him blindly. Be patient and wait for him, he will eventually have to do something and commit to an approach. Fireballs are easy to perfect shield, so practice the timing on that in training mode. Don’t feel forced to sit in shield when he starts throwing fireballs, that is what he wants you to do. Fireballs are used as a tool to condition you to shield so that he can find grabs to start big combos.

Falling aerials and empty hops are going to be a big part of how you should play the neutral. By combining empty hops and falling aerials, you can bait him to approach and punish anything that he does. From an empty short hop, many things that Luigis will do are punishable on reaction. Whiffed grabs, rolls, and fireballs are all really easy to hit with falling fair or bair. During your empty hops, they will be looking to punish you with RAR bair or up smash, but because of how slow Luigi is on the ground and in the air, this shouldn't be a threat if you are spacing yourself properly.

Outside of that, his most viable approach is a simple roll forward which you are punishing with aerials. Jumping over Luigi and coming at him with a back air from behind is another great way to put safe pressure on him. His out of shield options don't cover his back very well, so if you space a back air on his shield, the worst that he can hit you with is just a jab.

When He Has Banana
When Luigi takes your banana, don't panic. He is looking for you to do an unsafe move so that he can follow up a banana trip with a Shoryuken. In this situation, you can prevent this by using safe back airs. Back air is great at dealing with his banana toss because it is quick, has a good range for catching the banana, and the hitbox is big making it easy to kick the banana out of existence. If you hit his shield with a falling bair at the right timing, you will be able to power shield his attempted banana toss out of shield. Don’t let him catch your landing though: if he throws the banana before you start the bair in such a way that you land on top of it, he can get the trip and follow up.

Advantage
Luigi's biggest flaw in this matchup is that his disadvantaged state is atrocious. Once you learn to keep him at a disadvantage, the matchup becomes infinitely easier. Diddy Kong does a great job at keeping Luigi at disadvantage with his quick speed on the ground, fast aerials, and by using the banana to cut off options.

Combos
When comboing Luigi, you must always be aware of his neutral air. It comes out on frame 3, has a long duration, and is great for breaking him out of untrue combos. At low percents, around 0%-20%, your best combo is forward throw into forward air. This does the most damage, and either puts him closer to the ledge or offstage, both of which are bad situations for him. At around 20%, back air will start to have enough hit stun so that you can combo up throw into two back airs without giving him an opportunity to nair out. After that you'll want to do basic up throw combos until about 80% or so. Luigis can DI your up throw upwards to give themselves the most possible time to sneak in a neutral air to hit you out of your follow up and potentially kill you off the top. Be absolutely sure that you are able to hit him before the nair before committing to your follow up. When in doubt, just throw him offstage. You will often end up getting more damage like this anyways because it will lead into a ledge trapping situation.

Whenever you find a stray fair against him, you can string it for a few more in a row. His fair is slower and much smaller than ours, so if he ever ends up in the air facing towards you, then fairing him is almost completely free. I often find myself stringing 3 or more fairs in a row, which results in him being put off stage or onto the ledge. Hit him in the air once, then you can just spam him with fairs.

Down tilt into down smash is very strong against Luigi. The angle that down smash sends him at makes it difficult for him to recover, and will force him to go to the ledge. The more often you can put him on the ledge the better. Diddy wins this matchup by repeatedly pushing Luigi to the ledge and cutting off all of his options to get back.

Juggling
Despite having a good nair to break out of combos, if you position yourself correctly it is actually really easy to juggle Luigi. He has one of the slowest air speeds in the game, and he doesn't have many good moves to help him land. His aerials are all very punishable, and his down b has a ton of end lag making it a risky way to land if there is no banana to cancel on. When catching his landings, you want to space yourself outside of the range of his aerials so that you can come in from the side with a forward air. Then it just becomes a game of baiting out one of his three landing options and punishing in the air with fair or on the ground with down tilts or a grab to reset the juggle or put him offstage.

Edge guarding
Luigi has a pretty linear recovery that is easy to intercept when you know what to look for. When offstage, he has just a few different options to help him get back - double jump, side b, and cyclone.

Cyclone recovery
One thing that is very important to note is that mashing to get a rise on the cyclone is very hard, and that some Luigi mains physically cannot get a rise without using their double jump. You will want to pay attention in a match if your opponent is capable of getting the full rise or not. If you see that they can't do it, it becomes significantly easier to get a successful edge guard because his options become even more limited.

Cyclone has a ton of end lag on it, so Luigis will usually use the cyclone from a position that you can't hit them from. In that case, just stay up on stage and set up your ledge trapping. You don't want to go offstage too deep to hit a cyclone because if you get caught in it, you can die at 0%. In general, I recommend setting up the ledge trap instead of going offstage if Luigi still has a double jump, but if you hit him offstage without one that is a good opportunity to try to go deeper and take the stock.

Missile/Misfire
Most Luigis will side b to cover horizontal distance to get back to stage, especially if they do not have a double jump. Luigi missile is very laggy at the end, and you can just hit it with a back air or down air to secure kills. However, you must be careful going offstage to punish this in case he gets a misfire, which has a 1/10 chance. Misfires (and Luigi missile in general) will move Luigi along a mostly horizontal path, so if you stay either below or above that line, you will be safe from being hit. Then you can either double jump up to, or fall down to where he is and back air just like punishing a regular missile.


Ledge Trapping
Luigi's options from the ledge are very limited. The most common way for a Luigi to get up from the ledge is with a neutral get up into a jab, but by placing the banana down right at the ledge you can completely eliminate that option. With the banana on the ledge, Luigi's options are now limited to roll, jump, or drop from the ledge and double jump to stage. All of these leave him in a bad position. Roll is slow and reactable, jump puts him in the air where you can chase him with an aerial and hit him back off stage, and dropping off and double jumping puts him at risk of being hit offstage without his double jump. Every time you hit Luigi from reading his ledge get ups, you simply force him back into the position he started at: on the ledge. Ledge trapping Luigi is such an important part of playing the matchup well, so let's take a closer look at how to punish all of his remaining options.

Jump
Cover the jump from the ledge by placing a fair right above the ledge. Fair is active for 11 frames, so timing it is fairly easy. You can also use back air, as that is very spammable and will help you cover his other options as well.

Roll
Luigi's ledge roll does not cover much distance, which makes it pretty simple to follow and punish. With a bit of practice, you can easily react to Luigi's ledge roll and get an up smash, grab, or down tilt combo. If you spam back airs at the ledge, if you see Luigi starting a roll you can usually just drift with him and back air the end of his roll or grab him as you land.

Drop off aerial
Luigis will commonly drop from the ledge then use their double jump into a fair to pick up the banana and potentially hit you back in the process. This option is risky though. With a hard read you can down smash at the ledge right as he double jumps. The angle this will send him at puts him in a terrible position offstage, and because he already used his double jump this will lead directly to a kill or an edge guard situation. A strong mix up that Luigi can do is to down b after his double jump to land on the banana, cancelling it and making him slide off the stage laglessly where he can regrab the ledge with renewed invulnerability. You should still be able to hit him as he’s coming over the ledge though.

Disadvantage

Early Percent Grabs
When you get grabbed at low percents, don’t panic air dodge or mash jump to get out. Instead just take the damage and wait to use an escape until you know that you can. If you end up burning your double jump mid combo or air dodge into the ground, he will be able to extend the combo for even more damage. At 0%, Luigi’s moves don’t have too much potential to link into large sums of damage, so getting grabbed at 0% isn’t too bad. However, around 20% you get into a range where he can follow up on throw combos with down airs which can result in 70%+, or potentially death. The Poke combo, which results in a KO from a grab at low percents, works starting at 20% and goes until 22%. Note that in Smash 4 percent windows change significantly with rage, and that whenever I cite percents I am assuming that there is no rage. With the right amounts of rage, it is possible for Luigi to combo you high from 0%.

At the low percents before down airs start comboing, you will want to DI his throws away from him. If you DI in, he might be able to link down airs on you. When you are in the mid percents, you can try to mix up your DI a little bit to mess with his timing and spacing, but he generally will always have true combos.

Recovering
Possibly Luigi's most feared move against Diddy is the cyclone. Good Luigis will be able to mash the cyclone fast enough so that if they hit you, you will drop out of the bottom without any vertical momentum. When this happens, you are dead if you don't have your double jump because you will be too low to charge your barrels enough. It is easy for Luigi to hover in one place with cyclone in such a way that he can block off a recovery path of your barrels. Recovering horizontally while Luigi is right at the ledge is not advised, as he will drop down and spin you out to your death. Instead, you want to try to go around him. Either go high above him, to a platform, or just recover to the ledge with double jump and side b.

Avoiding his KO options

Jab->Jab->Shoryuken
This is a deadly move, but also a very avoidable one. Simply DI away and mash jump and he will not be able to hit you with this. You can usually DI down and hold shield which will let you power shield the Shoryuken, but I do not advise this because if you accidently air dodge into the ground he will kill you.

Down Throw -> Fair -> Dair -> Cyclone
Luigi’s throw combo into cyclone gimp is something that frustrates a lot of Diddy mains, and I think this alone is why many people will say Luigi destroys Diddy. When you keep calm and know your options to escape, it becomes a lot less scary. The first thing to know is that if you DI away from Luigi, he can’t sweet spot the down air until about 10%. After that is where you risk dying each time from a grab at the ledge. Ideally you want to avoid this situation to begin with, but if it does happen, you do have a few options. Most Luigis just go for the cyclone right away, but those that are really good at the matchup will try to read your reaction to the down air. If he reads any of your attempted escapes, he can place an attack in a way that will still kill you.

You can try to side b away from him, and even recover under the stage to grab the opposite ledge. Sometimes jumping with an air dodge can get you through the cyclone to the stage. If he goes for fairs, he is trying to take your double jump, so you can either try to up air him out of it, or time your jump between the fairs to go over him.

Staying Alive at High Percents
Luigi’s smash attacks all kill fairly early, but he doesn’t have any way to set them up consistently. Once you get into kill percents, you should be able to completely avoid them all by avoiding landing near him at all, and avoiding jumping near him. When you get hit, abuse the speed of monkey flip to move away from Luigi fast enough and reset to neutral. He is not fast enough to chase this in the air or on the ground.

The other popular way to get kills is by grabs with a down throw into down b combo, or a down throw into reverse up air to back air. For the cyclone throw combos, it is essentially a 50/50 that starts around 100% or so. If he reads you trying to jump away, he can reach you with a cyclone and kill, but if he reads your air dodge he can wait and back air or cyclone. It is important to know that in order to reach you with cyclone, he needs to use his double jump. This makes it riskier for him to go for catching your jump, and thus jumping is a slightly safer option. The up air to back air is stronger and can kill you if you are at the ledge as low as 80%, but DI can usually save you. DI away from Luigi for the down throw, and he won’t be able to land the sweet spot bair unless the percents and rage mixes just right.

Other

Stages
There are only two stages that I dislike against Luigi, and those are Lylat Cruise and Dreamland because it is harder to trap Luigi on the ledge there. Dreamland has Wispy to push the banana off the stage, and the tilt on Lylat makes it slightly harder to place the banana in the correct position. I would recommend using your stage ban on one of those two, depending on personal preference. Luigi is also very good on Town and City because he gets a lot of his kills vertically, but I don't mind because Diddy does as well. For the first game, I always strike Lylat and Town. My favorite stage to fight against Luigi on is Final Destination because it does not give him any platforms to land on or to recover to. If they ban FD, I usually counter pick to Smashville.

Common Mistakes
The biggest mistake I see Diddy players make in the Luigi matchup is bad monkey flips. Yes, you could say that about any matchup, but it is especially bad against Luigi. Good Luigi players will be waiting for you to monkey flip at them so that they can catch the end lag with a Shoryuken. When you are at kill percents to Shoryuken, you must be sure that the spacing is right before monkey flipping, or just don't monkey flip at all.

Rising fair in neutral is a bad habit that Diddy mains of all levels tend to have in many matchups. Against some tall characters it can be a good tool, but more often than not it is extremely punishable and gives a small reward for connecting. In the Luigi matchup, spamming rising fair will result in you getting grabbed and taking upwards of 70%. Even if your fair connects you only deal 8-10%. It isn’t worth it, you are better off sticking to landing aerials in this matchup.

Another big mistake is throwing banana at his shield and going for the down tilt mix up. While this works well on many characters, you shouldn't use this mix up at medium-high percents against Luigi. He can punish down tilt on shield with a Shoryuken, so the risk isn't really worth the reward. In general, you do not want to be hitting his shield with any down tilts. The exception to this rule is that you can do it behind Luigi if you are spaced out properly, because he has a much harder time hitting behind him out of shield.

Other Random Things to Know or Learn
  • You can punish whiffed cyclone with an f smash
  • Learn the spacing on plucking and throwing a banana straight to the ledge. This makes ledge trapping much easier.
  • When he has to take a while to recover, throw the banana at the ledge straight up, or hold onto it for a bit, so that it isn't timing out while he recovers.
  • When you don't have a banana at the ledge, he is very likely to neutral get up. You must have the timing down on grabbing this on reaction. If you mistime it, he will Shoryuken you and you will die.
  • When you are ledge trapping him and have banana at the ledge, he can neutral get up onto it as a mix up, and if you aren’t ready for it you might not be fast enough to punish it. Just don’t forget that that is an option and you should be able to still hit him on reaction.