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.
Counter-hit moves are those that give a big payoff when your opponent attacks into them. Lee's tools here are often best in class.
- i10 high counter-hit ("CH") string. Wall splats. Difficult to punish.
- i11 safe CH launch high. Tracks right. 4,4 adds more tracking and better recovery at the cost of combo damage.
- i12 low CH string. Dangerous but tricky on block.
- i16 neutral-hit ("NH") launch high with high crush and mid evasion. Decent frames on block. Tracks right. While not technically a CH move, its core purpose is going under moves as a counter-attack.
- i16 CH launch crouching low. Launch punishable. Tracks right. Good poke damage and situation on hit.
- i20 CH launch mid. Enormous hitbox. Gets bonus damage vs crouchers. Decent frames on block. Near impossible to whiff punish. HMS transition becomes homing if the 3 is input mid animation.
- i21 CH launch homing mid. Recovers crouching with decent frames on block. Travels forwards significantly.
Pokes are fast and/or low risk. Ideally they're both and don't give up your turn. Their purpose is to lock opponents out from doing slow moves (i.e., "keeping them in check") and to chip away at their health.
- i10 high, +1 on block. The main reason to use 1 over 2 is it enhances the tracking of follow ups by misaligning Lee slightly.
- i10 high string with CH extensions, -1 on block. Tracks right.
- i10 high string with CH extensions, -5 on block. Tracks both directions.
- i13 mid, -1 on block. Tracks left.
- i13 mid, -9 on block. Tracks right. Creates massive space between Lee and his opponent, especially with the HMS transition.
- i14 mid, -8 on block. Tracks both directions, but better to the left. The high extension can be situation confirmed, or merely thrown out to interrupt responses. Creates good space between Lee and his opponent with the HMS transition.
- i12 crouching low, -2 on hit, low damage. Tracks both directions.
- See above notes.
- i20 low, +2 on hit. Tracks both directions.
- i23 low, +4 on hit, extra damage on CH, slightly evasive. Tracks left. Travels forwards significantly.
- i10 mid, dangerous but tricky on block. Tracks both directions.
- i11 mid, -6 on block. Tracks right. Creates space between Lee and his opponent with the HMS transition.
- i16 crouching low, extra damage on CH, forces crouch on hit. Tracks both directions. Big range.
Keepout/Approach moves have big range, or create or close space between Lee and his opponent. Their purpose is to be a complement to your movement as you approach or retreat.
- See above notes.
- i14 mid, -10 on block with massive pushback. Huge range.
- i14 mid, +3 on block. +6 on block with the HMS transition. Travels forwards significantly. Tracks left. Dangerously steppable.
- i15 safe NH launch mid. Doesn't launch crouchers.
Mixup moves are those with high payoff on hit. Lee's tools here are risky, but nonetheless essential for dealing with a turtling opponent.
- i16 chunky low. Tracks both directions. Float punishable.
- i14 mid with a mid/high mixup. Wall splats. Tracks both directions. Unsafe, but opponent must guess right. Can be fuzzy guarded.
- i15 NH launch jumping mid. Punishable. Standard hopkick. No tracking.
- i15 NH launch. Dangerous but tricky on block. Big range. Tracks both directions, but more to the right.
- See above notes.
- i12 high throw. Deals good damage. Most people can break it easily as it's his only command throw.
Lee's basic gameplan revolves around his d/f+1, which is -1 on block.
Most opponents have the following as their fastest options:
- i10 high, which gets launched by f,F+4
- i13 mid, which gets launched by 4,4
With you at -1 they have the "advantage", but every fast option can get launched. Even more, both of Lee's options are safe and track well.
Instead they might choose an evasive option, but these mostly lose to another d/f+1.
Together these 3 moves represent a strong threat that must be answered directly and create Lee's most basic gameplan:
Spam d/f+1 until they try to counter-attack, then launch them with f,F+4 or 4,4.
Because Lee has so many good CH tools, being at a slight frame disadvantage isn't as bad for him as it is for other characters. This is why Lee can get away with spamming d/f+1, even though it's -1.
Attacking when you're at frame disadvantage is called stealing a turn, and Lee excels at it. Beyond the moves from his basic gameplan, Lee has many more for stealing turns:
- one of the fastest mids in the game at i10
- i10 CH string, for when the i11 of 4,4 isn't fast enough
- f,F+4 but low instead of high, for when the opponent tries to go under it
- generic hopkick, i15 NH launch jumping mid
- generic dickjab, i10 crouching smid
- generic d+4, i12 crouching low, -2 on hit
That last one might seem strange. How are you stealing a turn with d/b+4 if it's -2 on hit? Isn't it still their turn, even though you "stole it"? Again we have to look at what the opponent's fastest options actually are:
- i10 high, which loses to FC.d/f+4, and gets launched by f,F+4
- i13 mid, which loses to ws3,3
Even more devious, f,F+4 at -2 is the perfect timing to maximize its evasive potential. In this situation it goes under fast mids such as Kazuya's d/f+2 and many d/f+1's. Suddenly it doesn't seem so much like it's their turn just because they're +2.
Dealing with turtles
At some point opponents start respecting Lee's ability to steal turns and just... stop attacking. This poses a bit of a challenge, because Lee's basic gameplan doesn't do much against someone who doesn't attack.
The obvious solution is to keep hitting them. If an opponent isn't attacking at all, you can just chip away with d/b+3 and b+4. They'll die eventually.
Unfortunately, when people ask "How do I deal with turtles?" that's not quite what they mean. They could mean any number of things. All they're really saying is, "My opponent isn't falling for my simple CH flowcharts!" so it's hard to give generic advice that's useful.
No opponent stops attacking completely. If you ever decide, "I'm playing against a turtle, so I better stop using my CH moves!" then you've lost the game. They don't need to be scared anymore. "Oh, you're just going to do some lame mixups with Lee? Welcome to EWGF town."
Nonetheless, there does come a time where you need to put the pressure on, and that's what slide is for.
Lee's slide is his most aggressive tool for opening an opponent up. It's quite different from typical chunky lows for the simple reason that it's done from full crouch.
A common mistake is to think that with a fast enough input, the slide becomes "unseeable". This is nonsense. From standing, the fastest slide you can do is i29. Having a fast, precise slide input is important, but not because it makes it unseeable from standing. The mixup is from crouch, not from standing.
It might seem silly to note, but because the mixup is from crouch we should think about what being in crouch actually does:
- Highs are ducked
- Mids hit
- Lows are blocked
This has a big effect on the value of the opponent's moves. Where usually highs are great at keeping people in check, now they don't work at all; and mids usually get blocked, but now their risk to reward is fantastic.
Being in crouch does one more thing:
- Gives access to ws and FC moves
This is pretty handy, because often ws4 is an i11 mid with good frames. Standing mids with good frames normally start at i13.
For Lee, however, there's an even greater bonus: he gets access to an i10 mid with ws3,3 and an i16 crouching CH low with FC.d/f+4. Both have great tracking.
With all this in mind, we can finally get to the slide itself.
When you enter crouch, your opponent's options are effectively reduced to mids and blocking. Fast highs are out of the question. Movement is not very effective because your options track both sides.
In this situation, it's typical for an opponent to have a default reaction. When they see the crouch, they do something. Probing for and noting this reaction is important before thinking about a mixup. The correct play for them is mix up their response, but people generally have one automatic reaction that they have to consciously override.
Do they crouch back? Do they attack? Do they hold their ground?
The easiest way to test this is with ws4. It's safe and fast, so you don't risk much by testing with it.
Once you've figured out their tendency, exploiting it is simple. Do ws2,3 vs crouchers. Do ws3,3 vs attackers. Do slide if they don't react.
At some point it becomes a raw guessing game. For this, you need a good mid option to complement the slide. There are 3 key choices:
For f,F+3, you want to go from d/f straight to f, then do F+3. This way you're only "doing" one f input.
For u/f+4, you need to do u~u/f+4, otherwise you get FC.u/f+4.
The ws2,3 and ws2,4 mixup can be fuzzy guarded. If your opponent shows they can do this, just stick to ws2,3.
Generally speaking, you want to do u/f+4 if range permits. Thinking of ws2 as lower risk is a losing game—the slide mixup is inherently risky, so you may as well go for the big payoff.
A lot of Lee's key pokes have poor range, most notably 1, d/f+1, and d/b+3.
But he also has moves that are very effective at a distance, most notably b+4 and d/f+2.
In addition, has has moves to create space between him and his opponent, most notably d/f+4. And he has tools to close space, most notably wr3,4 and 1+2,3+4.
Consider 4,4 on hit. The opponent is -6 and left at a distance. If either player tries a jab, d/f+1, or d/f+2, they'll whiff to a backdash, so those options don't look great. But Lee has b+4, which will CH launch any attempt at counter-attacking and is mostly safe on whiff. With that enforced to some degree, it's possible for Lee to move straight into a crouch mixup. In this way b+4 effectively acts as an approach tool, because the threat of it lets you creep in.
Similarly, consider 4,4 on block. The opponent is +5 and left at a distance. Fast moves still whiff. To use their frame advantage, they'll have to run in and attack. You'll mostly be interested in blocking, but it's possible to steal the turn with d/f+2, f,F+4, or b+4 as well. Because they have to run in to attack, they'll lose despite the frame advantage. This can make them interested in attacking without running in, where hopefully you can make them whiff with a backdash (and punish with f+3,3,3,3,3,4).
It's difficult for Lee keep in his opponent's face. An opponent committed to backdashing away will be clear from his pokes after only 2-3 attacks, so his pressure can feel a little a goofy. Instead, his pressure is all about controlling space. His pokes are great up close, and his keepout is great at range. You just need to use the right tool for the job.
HMS gives you access to the stance's moves. If you want to do any of those moves, then HMS transitions enable that.
The key HMS moves are:
- HMS.u~n and HMS.d~n
- HMS sidestep, slightly different from regular sidesteps.
- i12 high mid string, loses turn on block. Tracks both, but more to the right. Can delay the 4 to fish for counter-hits.
- i15 mid mid, loses turn on block. Good range. Tracks both, but more to the left.
- i19 evasive mid launcher, punishable on block.
- i17 powercrush homing high, decent situation on block.
- i20 mid jumping wall bounce, loses turn on block.
The "poking" options HMS.1 and HMS.1+2 lose the turn completely and are slower than Lee's normal pokes, so transitioning to HMS to use these pokes is mostly suspect. The main reason to use them is if the transition has better frames than no transition.
HMS transitions sometimes give better frames than the non-transition version.
Key transitions for this are:
- D+4,4,4,4,3 (+9 frames)
- b+1:1,3+4 (+4 frames)
- f+4,3,4 (+4 frames)
- wr3,4,3+4 (+3 frames)
- 1+2,3+4 (+3 frames)
- d+3,4 (+2 frames)
- FC.d/f+4,3 (+2 frames)
HMS transitions are a way to control space.
Key transitions for this are:
The point of these transitions is the difference in space created by them compared to not doing the transition. By having the transition as an option, the opponent can't be sure if their counter-attack is going to whiff or not.
Getting into crouch
HMS helps you get into crouch. When HMS is cancelled with D/B or D/F, it recovers crouching. This is useful if you're interested in doing slide mixups.
All HMS transitions are useful for this, but a transition with another purpose is preferable.