Neutral is when both players can act freely. It makes up most of the game, so learning how to play it is critical. There's no point mastering all the combos and setups if you can't use them in an actual game.
This page contains a brief overview of this character's key neutral tools followed by advice for putting them together.
Midrange poking and wavedash mixups
Bob's wavedash grants him excellent midrange space control.
Just like a Mishima, Bob can wavedash into ws4 to safely poke at midrange. While ws4 is linear, wavedashing allows Bob to realign. Compared to a Mishima ws4, Bob's has worse frames on block and no extensions but deals more damage (20 dmg) and has greater pushback.
ff2 is Bob's Demon's Paw, and can be used just like Jin and Devil Jin's equivalents. It can be done from a wavedash via f,n,d,df,n,f+2. It's a safe, long-ranged mid that knocks down and deals 25 dmg. Unlike the other Demon's Paws, Bob's doesn't need to wallsplat to give him guaranteed followups- simply hitting the move close to the wall will grant a guaranteed d3+4 or b3 from slightly further away. It is weak to sidestep left.
cd4,1+2 is Bob's hellsweep. It lets him mix the opponent up even from a distance. It deals 33 damage and is weak to sidestep right, meaning that cd4,1+2 and ff2 cover each other's weak side.
cd1 (aka the Electric Wind Bob Fist) is a -4 launching high with some pushback on block. It's two frames slower than a true Mishima EWGF, has worse range and tracking, and is much worse on block, but doesn't require a just frame. This is weak to sidestep right, meaning it also covers ff2's weak side. It is a solid whiff punisher and has very low whiff recovery itself, making it strong for keepout.
d2,1 is not a move done from a wavedash, but it is Bob's longest ranged poke string and deserves a mention here. It is -9 on block and only +1 on hit, and does less damage than ff2, but its relatively fast startup for its range (i15) makes it good for keeping people in check from afar- say, after blocking a fairly minus but safe poke with pushback like a Fahkumram 3,4~3.
d2,1,2 is a -13, delayable mid extension useful for making people respect d2,1 on block. It can be stepped if delayed, so definitely be ready to attempt a sidestep here if you're playing against Bob. It has an nc, knd extension, but that extension is jab interruptible if this is blocked, which limits the mindgame potential of this string. Use this sparingly to keep people on their toes.
Midrange whiff punishment
Bob's strong midrange game is cemented by his excellent ranged whiff punishers.
uf1+2 has huge range for a 16 frame mid, making it an essential whiff punisher, especially near the wall. Do note, however, that it has an infamously poor vertical hitbox, and generally cannot be used to whiff punish moves with high evasion or crushing. It has two extensions- one of which is a delayable, launch punishable, knd mid, and the other of which is a -1 on block, ballerina stun high. Both are nc and will wallsplat, although the mid option is not nc if delayed more than a tiny amount. Mixing between these two extensions will make it harder for your opponent to choose the correct option to punish you should your uf1+2 whiff or get blocked. Editor's note: I generally recommend using uf1+2,1+2 over uf1+2,4 as it does 5 more damage.
d2,4 is a frame faster than uf1+2,1+2, gives a knockdown with much better okizeme on hit, and most importantly, has a much better vertical hitbox. However, it deals much less damage. This is most useful in matchups where uf1+2 cannot whiff punish key moves, such as the Zafina matchup.
db1+2 has nearly as much range as uf1+2 with a much better vertical hitbox. Unlike uf1+2, it launches. Bob is very adept at whiff punishing big whiffs from far range; it's hard to use keepout moves from afar vs him compared to other characters. Note that db1+2 does not, under normal circumstances, lead to particularly damaging combos (bnbs range from 59 to 65ish dmg). However, it has much higher damage potential than average when Bob is in rage due to its unique backturned launch state.
f2,3 is one of the longest ranged i12 punishers in the game and is useful for whiff punishment vs relatively small whiffs. Note that the second hit is launch punishable on block, so be careful when using it.
Close range poking and whiff punishment
Up close, Bob's poking game is a mixed bag. While his range and tracking on close-range pokes is generally excellent, he suffers from poor frame advantage and/or startup on many key tools. Most of his options at this range are somewhat situational- however, he has a lot of said options, and can thus cover most situations. This "large toolbelt of situational tools" design brings Bob's close-up poking more in line with that of Jin or Nina rather than a traditional Mishima.
Bob's 1 jab has much better range than average. This gives Bob an advantage vs chars like Zafina, whose ws1 he can punish with much greater consistency compared to most characters. It also makes his poking difficult to backdash out of. Use f1 to add slightly more range to his jab- this is necessary to make certain combos involving his jab work properly. Beware that trying to do f1 immediately after a backdash may cause you to input bf1, Bob's backswing blow.
1,1 is the start of Bob's main i10 punish, 1,1,2- his budget Mishima Flash Punch Combo. 1,1 on its own is only -1 on block and jails, so it's good for poking. Beware that both hits are quite linear.
Unlike the real deal, 1,1,2 is not hit confirmable (although it is twitch confirmable) and does not knock down. In fact, it's only +3 on hit, which means that a df1 check after 1,1,2 on hit is interruptible. The last hit is also a jailing -13 high rather than a -17 mid, which overall makes it much more akin to a Mishima 1,2,2. It's a solid whiff punisher up close.
1,4 is a solid alternative to 1,1,2. It has more frame advantage on hit (+5), which makes df1 and df2 checks much stronger afterwards. It is also safe on block, and while the last hit does not jail, it is fast and thus difficult to duck and punish on reaction. 1,4 is useful versus opponents who like to go for iws moves up close to steal turns, as the second hit will launch on counterhit. It too is a strong whiff punisher up close, especially for situations where you're not fully confident in your punish.
1,d4 is a useful poking string up close, as it's nc and ends in a -12 on block low. This string is inversely useful relative to the frequency at which it is used- it's great until your opponent starts to expect it and low parries you. This string makes for sneaky and effective round ender.
1,2 is a good alternative to 1,1 for poking purposes. It has worse frame advantage on block (-3 instead of -1) but has two perks: the second hit has better tracking and the string has a counterhit launching extension.
1,2,1+2 is not nc from 1,2, which means that 1,2 lacks the twitch confirm utility of 1,1. However, it is a highly delayable, mid, counterhit launching extension that's -13. This is best for dealing with buttonsy opponents, people who see -3 on block and start foaming at the mouth. The last hit should be used judiciously depending on the matchup- some characters like Negan will hurt you very hard if they block it, while others like Anna get much worse punishes on it. It will jail if not delayed, which is almost never a good thing since it isn't nc. Try to confirm that 1,2 was blocked and then occasionally throw this out ONLY if that was the case.
2,1 rounds out Bob's lengthy list of (good) jab strings. 2 doesn't have as much range as 1, so keep that in mind. The extension here, (2),1, is unique- unlike all the extensions from Bob's 1 jab, (2,)1 is a safe mid. It's only -4 on block which means Bob can f1+2 afterwards to beat jab retaliation and bf1 to beat just about anything else.
2,1,4 is another safe mid extension, and a powerful one at that. It knocks down for a guaranteed b3 on hit and is ncc from (2,)1. The kryptonite of this extension is that it can be universally evaded via SSR, leaving Bob launch punishable. It cannot be interrupted, however, and will trade with jabs- a trade that's in Bob's favor. Editor's note: The best way to use this string, imo, is as a counterhit twitch confirm from (2,)1, either against people who are attempting to hit you with an iws move after ducking your 2 jab but are too slow on the draw, or against people who try and fail to whiff punish you after standing 2 whiffs- usually after backdashing their way out of your pressure. (2,1),4 use after a blocked 2 jab should only be done very, very sparingly against competent opponents.
df1 is your primary mid poke. As with many Bob moves, it's slower than usual (i14) with subpar frame advantage on block (-3). What makes this move stand out is its solid range and amazing tracking. While it can technically be stepped to the left, especially by chars like Alisa, it's nearly homing vs most of the cast. This alone gives Bob great space control up close.
df1,2 is a -10 on block, +6 on hit, mid, nc extension. It can be delayed, but is only nc if not delayed. If df1 lands as a counterhit, this extension will still be natural after some delay, making it counterhit twitch confirmable. Use of this is largely matchup dependent- if your opponent has a bad i10 punish, like Asuka or Julia, you can be somewhat liberal with this. On the other hand, vs Gigas or Akuma, you better make sure to ch twitch confirm it or else.
b2 is Bob's main i13 mid poke. While it has better startup than df1, its worse frame advantage on block (-5) is a notable downside. At -5, Bob cannot step most jabs. This is especially useful vs chars with good lateral movement and good high evasion, since it has an extremely low hitbox and catches SSL (which df1 is "weak" to).
b2,2 is a -3 on block, nc high extension. Bob has no other extension from b2, so a sharp opponent can flash duck every time after blocking it and launch punish you. In practice, this will only happen if your b2,2 usage is extremely predictable. The key to using this string properly is to bring it out just often enough that your opponent never sees it coming. Since it's nc, it also has some utility as a punisher vs moves that can recover in crouch or a high crush stance, such as Bears' b1 or Ganryu's ws1,2.
b2,2,4 is a -9, ncc mid extension. The key with this extension is to only ever do it when b2 was blocked- otherwise you're giving up precious frame advantage on hit from b2,2.
b2,2,4,4 is a safe, nc, knd high extension. This has two main purposes outside of combos: first, since (b2),2 does not jail, you can counterhit confirm this extension off of (b2),2,4 for some damage and a knockdown, should you hear your opponent do an attack grunt after they block b2. The second purpose is that the entire b2,2,4,4 string is nc on a backturned opponent, which makes for a nice and easy way to punish people after deep sidestep/sidewalk on linear moves- such as after you sidestep the second hit of Lucky Chloe's Cali Roll.
df4 is another i13 mid poke with better range than b2 and some pushback on block. Its downside is that it has no tracking and no extensions. No, Bob does not have an i12 mid.
db3 is your main low poke as Bob. Considering d4's terrible range and db4's slow speed, db3 is by far the best of his non-launch-punishable standalone lows. In a nutshell, it's a Bob-style stature kick. While many of Bob's moves have worse frame advantage on block than Mishima or generic equivalents, this instead has worse frame advantage on hit- being only +2, worse than every other stature kick. On the bright side, it's only -12 on block and will knock down on counterhit for a guaranteed steel pedal. It is much better with regard to CH properties than Kazuya's -12 stature kick, which only grants a stun on CH. What cements this low as a fantastic poke is its range and tracking, as is often standard for Bob moves. It's very difficult to step and reaches quite far. Editor's note: As far as low risk low pokes go, this and 1,d4 are all you should use. d4 and db4 are not worth it.
While db3 is great, it is a somewhat slow low at i20 and does not high crush. This reinforces Bob's core flaw of having generally slow moves, and also highlights his surprisingly poor crushing- not to be confused with his stellar evasion.
Bob has strong options both up close and in the midrange for controlling space and mixing up the opponent. His plethora of useful pokes and strings with excellent tracking and range make him a very versatile character, but his consistent themes of poor startup and frame advantage mixed with lackluster crushing make it difficult for him to keep up against characters like Katarina and Law who have better frames up close. His motto may be speed and weight, but his weakness is time and his strength is space.