The day has finally dawned upon us.

Guilty Gear Strive’s Season two patch notes have finally arrived, and there are a ton of changes. There’s a lot of information to cover, so we’ll jump right into it.

I want to emphasize that this is not about what characters I think are better or worse or good or bad. This is very purely who I think benefitted (or didn’t) from this patch and this patch alone, before we get our hands on the patch. This is pure speculation on characters of my choosing, regardless of if they’re actually the most buffed or nerfed.

System mechanic changes

The biggest standouts here are the slow down effects on light counterhits. This will help almost every character get so much more, and open up routes that most characters couldn’t do before. In particular, characters that didn’t have very good conversions off of stray hits or scrambly situations get some serious help with this change alone. The Roman Cancel change is pretty interesting, but I’m going to put this under the “unsure exactly what it means until we get our hands on it.” From reading the changes, being able to fast RC and still get the effects is such a nice boon, even if the effect is slightly lower.

Another change that I feel might go overlooked is being able to dash block much more consistently with the dash macro. Gone are the days where we’ll accidentally get hit when trying to get around zoning characters like Axl and Happy Chaos.

Lastly, every character with a dash can dash cancel their close S. This opens up a ton of options in pressure, especially with characters that have a plus on block c.S. A lot of characters needed a change like this because of how unwieldy pressure was structured. This is very welcome for characters like Jack-O and Millia. The big question that everyone is asking: Can I—no do it?

Now, on to the characters. There’s a lot going on here, but I’m going to cover the most notable changes.

Winner: Ky

To say that Ky came out big this patch is an understatement. All of his sword buttons are now disjointed to an extent, and he got yet another buff to his ranged toolkit. He also received quite a bit of love from the overall system mechanic changes. Additionally, Dragon Install seems to be plus on block now?

Did he really need that?

His fireballs are also buffed once again, seemingly allowing him to spam them even more, especially at fullscreen. It might be possible for him to use one when another is already out, which would be incredible. The only “trade off” he got was Shock State being lost if Ky gets hit, which very likely has a very minimal effect. Lastly. His DP can no longer be randomly low profiled, meaning it should catch a lot more people trying to get away with a low poke.

Winner: Zato

Zato players are eating real good!

He received an overall buff to most of his buttons, with universal c.S recovery and dash canceling, along with 2k buffs. As for Eddie, you can be a lot more liberal with his meter usage when attacking with him. His most common Eddie skills are easier to manage, use less meter, and won’t feel different than before. Lastly, Amorphous is faster overall, in both startup and movement speed. It seems like they really want you to use this super instead of “only” the sword super, which is fine.

Ramlethal got a similar treatment in making both supers have uses. I’m quite frankly surprised he got such nice tweaks to his buttons and Eddie usage. I’m sure it’s very welcomed, and I don’t think any of them are over the top. Expect to see him more represented than he already was in tournaments.

Loser: May

Where do I begin?

Or rather, where do I end?

While I don’t think May got completely useless or unplayable, she definitely drew the short end of the stick this patch. A lot of the things that made her strong were taken away, and one of the biggest reasons to play her, her damage, got scaled back, especially off of her best normals, 6H and 5H.

Her command normal, 3K no longer gives a hard knockdown, which takes a very useful midscreen tool to keep pressure going on wakeup. Her j.HS has more recovery, meaning you likely can’t just flail with it in the air anymore. All of her Dolphins got a weird, yet interesting change as well, where you can control when and where it stops during the animation. I don’t really understand why this is a thing, as I can’t really figure out what the goal is with this mild rework of the moves. This is definitely something that should be labbed and figured out. It’s possible there’s something there that keeps her in the upper echelon of characters.

She does benefit from system changes quite a bit, and she is one of the blessed ones with a 4 frame jab. Her buttons are still gigantic and you’re probably still going to explode off of a heavy counter hit. I’m going to keep an eye on her and see where she ends up. Let’s call it cautiously pessimistic.

Loser: Axl

I want to preface this by saying that I do not think that Axl got nerfed. In fact, he got some really nice quality of life in combos, with his 6K wall bouncing, and his command grab being usable in combos. I think Axl lost out by not really getting that much. He doesn’t benefit as much from system changes compared to other characters, and he also needed a few more tweaks to really solidify his pressure in particular.

I think his zoning is just fine. It has clear weaknesses and enough tools to create different patterns in said zoning game. When a lot of other characters got a lot of improvements to the midrange game, Axl becomes a lot weaker than before when he isn’t in his preferred distance. This isn’t to say that Axl got nothing in the midrange, just that other characters got more.

Winner: Jack-O

I’m definitely not listing Jack-O because she’s probably gonna end up being my main.

(Yes I am.)

Jack-O was the one character on my list of “They really need to be careful if they’re going to buff her.”

They were careful, but they also made her seemingly very strong! Funny enough, the system mechanic changes don’t really give her that much of a benefit. They’re just “fine” for her. I’d say the biggest one is the counterhit change, as this may enable her to do things like counterhit 5k into minion summon into combo.

The big buff is through her minion durability. For most characters, a single projectile will no longer be enough. Her j.D being jump, air dash, and special cancelable is huge, as this enables some incredibly varied zoning and anti zoning patterns. Having more Servant gauge at round start allows her to not only set up much earlier in neutral, but also lets you immediately get a long pressure sequence in if you win neutral early.

Servant Shoot (kick) is now more active and recovers faster, which means she now can end with this every single time and be safe on block. Her commands across the board also have increased recovery, which hopefully means that you can end a string abruptly or in different spaces and be safe-ish. These are incredibly good for her pressure and her setplay, and I really can’t wait to try her out.

This patch is huge for so many characters and even more players. I am excited to grind out this season and learn as much as I can. I have a few characters on my mind, but I’m even more interested to see what everyone else comes up with and how the meta develops!

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