The 101 series is meant to help new players quickly get acclimated to a character and to give them the knowledge and tools to play effectively with a character as fast as possible. This series won’t be covering the complex aspects of each character, rather we will talk about the basic points of the character and what makes them strong. It is our hope that this series serves as a jumping-off point for you to more deeply explore the character.
What is he good at?
Kage is a “Shoryu-archetype” character which means he shares many of the similar tools of Ryu, Ken and/or Sagat. What really separates this character from the others is how strong he is right in the opponents face. SFV is an inherently offensive game and Kage plays to those strengths. His tools far away are rather lack luster, but his tool set up close, can really make the opponent pay for just trying to block
Kage’s footsies are somewhat lackluster compared to rest of the cast. Though he can fight from a far range, your goal during footsies should be to get into your opponents space by knocking them down or by using Kage’s stomps.
Kage’s s.MK might be his best footsie tool as far as range is concerned, but does very little to help put kage in his opponents face. It’s relatively quick, but is not cancelable, so it’s a good idea to use this if you’re testing which range your opponent gets antsy.
Kage’s scariest footsie tool, because it does everything you want to advance your game plan. It moves Kage forward, it has about the same range as s.MK, It’s range can be made relatively safe, and it crush-counters to boot. This is a move you’re going to want to be sure to understand and pull out of your arsenal often.
Kage’s c.MK has less range than his s.MK or f.HP, but it can be canceled into one of his special moves. You can do things like c.MK cancelled into qcf.P or hcf.HK. I say hcf.HK although it doesn’t actually combo, but it does put you into your opponents face at an advantage. Your game plan should be to lure them into a lull using qcf.P and then when you can take a risk, slip the hcf.HK in.
Kage’s fireball. You cannot use his qcf.P, because it has wee-wee dagger range. That being said, you’ll be forced to use the hcb.LP which has considerably more start-up. If I could throw some advice at you here, I would say to only use this when an opponent is out of jump range. Because if they jump when you do this, you’re going to walk away with crutches. You can sue the MP or HP version, but I would only recommend if you’re entering into a fireball war.
Kage’s standard uppercut. This move has good air invincibility, great range, and will 99% of the time, never miss. This should be your go to anti-air.
I only listed this in here in addition to the dp.MP because if you manage to air-to-air Kage’s j.MP, you can then combo into j.qcf.P, or dp.HP. For the best result, learn to hold off on doing the dp.HP as late as possible, so you get all the hits of the Shoryuken for maximum damage.
c.LK, s.LP xx qcb.LK, dp.LP
Your basic combo starter from a light attack. Really practice the link between qcb.LK, dp.LP as it will seem impossible at first and the timing will seem strange. If you are trying to confirm with c.LK, s.LP and you recognize that your opponent is blocking, you can follow up with a qcf.P to stay safe.
c.MP, s.MP xx qcb.MK, dp.LP
This is the lazy version of your basic BNB. I say that because whether the opponent is blocking or getting hit, c.MP, s.MP works. If you’re really going for maximum damage, and you can confirm the c.MP, instead of going for s.MP, you should aim for a s.HP. The combo will then change to c.MP, s.HP xx qcb.HK, dp.HP.
c.HP xx hcf.HK,c.MP xx qcb.MK, dp.LP
Your heavy punish without any resources. Just a quick tip, only c.HP will combo into the hcf.HK. You might think that you can do the same with s.HP, but it’s sadly not possible.
c.MP, s.HP xx qcf.PP, qcb.HK, dp.HP
Your one bar signature punish. This also has the added boon of doing 1/2 stage carry, so if you’re anywhere near the center of the stage when you start, by the end of the combo your opponent will be in the corner.
c.LP, s.LP, c.MP
Your basic block string, which features an uninterruptable beginning in the c.LP, s.LP, and then a small gap between s.LP and c.MP. If you want to tack on one more small frame trap, you can cancel the c.MP into hcb.MK. This string is normally uninterruptable by moves that do not have invincible. If by somehow the c.MP counter-hits your opponent, the hcb.MK will actually combo. If you want to put some more distance between yourself and the opponent, you can also go for qcf.P to end the string.
This is a great blockstring, just because the advantage if your opponent blocks c.MP is very large. You can follow up with c.MP or s.MP
Your opponent will very likely not try to challenge you after they blocked c.MP. You can take advantage of this respect they give you and do c.HP xx hcf.HK. c.MP, c.HP does not normally act as a frame trap but because they won’t challenge, you can so to speak “Steal” a longer turn on offense from your opponent.
After hcf.HK you can continue pressure by doing c.MP again. What’s great here is that hcf.HK, c.MP is a frame trap. Really take a moment and wrap your head around this as being able to exploit your opponent’s respect, will allow you to really extend your offense while also forcing your opponent to take risks to stop you, allowing Kage to really maximize damage in the process.
Okizeme [Knockdown Pressure]
Kage’s pressure after knocking an opponent down is a bit more complex than other characters. In order to force your opponent into truly scary situations, you’ll need to sacrifice some damage. Even then the best you’re doing is guessing your opponent’s wake-up choice, which is inherently risky.
After your dp.LP ender, usually after your qcb.LK [ See the combo section ] you’re oki options if your opponent quick rises, is very good. After the knockdown immediately dash forward once time and then force your opponent to guess between your c.MP or throw. Throw will beat any button they throw out, as well as blocking. c.MP will additionally allow you to create pressure if your opponent doesn’t press a button, otherwise you can go right into a combo. If your opponent back rises, your options are a bit more limited. You can really only forward dash once and then immediately f.HP. If it hits, you can continue into the f.HP > s.HK target combo.
By using qcb.MK and foregoing your dp.LP ender, you gain the ability to make your opponent guess on back rise. If for whatever reason, your opponent does quick rise, you have the option of forward dashing twice and then follow up with a c.MP or throw like the dp.LP ender. If the opponent decides to back-rise, do a single forward dash and then do hcf.HK. This will beat any non-invincible button they throw out and will put you in their face at advantage, where you can do either c.MP or throw.
Kage is one of the rare characters who have the ability to make their Shoryuken’s safe under the right conditions. Of course to break through pressure or steal back turns you’ll be using your EX Shoryuken. Additionally, if you have V-Trigger 1 active, you can cancel any blocked Shoryuken into b.HP+HK. this will have Kage teleport backward. While it is technically still punishable, it’s very difficult to do because of the distance it puts Kage at.
Keep in mind that you cannot cancel Kage’s DP into V-Trigger 1 activation. You will have to already be in V-Trigger to get the effect of the teleport.
Kage’s V-Skill is a single hit super-armor forward moving attack. Great for blowing thru fireballs or slow long-range single hit normals in footsies. Keep in mind that Kage will take the white-damage if the super-armor takes a hit. The V-Skill can be charged, and by all accounts you’ll want to charge it because, if you simply tap it, and the opponent blocks, Kage is left in the opponent’s face and is punishable. If charged, Kage cannot continue pressure, but his opponent cannot normally punish him.
Recommended V-Trigger 1 Combo:
c.MP, s.HP xVT1x s.HP xx hcb.MP xx HP+HK, dp.HP
V-Trigger 1 is probably going to be your go to V-Trigger for a few reasons. First, Kage is a character with very low health. This means you may actually die before you get to use VT2, just because it is 3 bars. V-Trigger 1 being 2 bars really helps to make sure you get to activate it at least once every round. Additionally VT1 allows you to gamble shoryuken’s and back peddle if they don’t hit to get out of pressure. Finally it allows you to set up a little more damage on hits by using simple combos like hcb.LP xx HP+HK, dp.HP. You also gain access to V-Skill after Kage’s f.HP > s.HK for hefty extra damage.
If you’re going to use V-Trigger 2, it’ll likely be for fireball heavy match-ups. Once in V-trigger 2, Kage has the ability to bypass the entire screen and slams down on his opponent simply by pressing HP+HK. This helps to finish off combos getting a hard knockdown. The extra cherry on top is that Kage can perform his special raging demon critical art while V-Trigger 2 is active. Unlike Akuma, this one can be combo’d into.