Siberian Blizzard revised

When Super Street Fighter 4 was released, I committed myself to getting Zangief's new Siberian Blizzard down enough that I could use it consistently when I needed it, and only then would I decide whether it was worthwhile.  It turns out that was time well-spent, as I swear by it in over half the matchups.  Of course, I've had one heck of a journey identifying where it's appropriate and where it's not.  Believe me, it was a journey full of surprises.
UPDATED!  Arcade Edition details follow the other general uses.  Also added Juri... I don't know how I missed her the first time.

For those who don't know, Zangief's second ultra move of Super Street Fighter 4 is an air-to-air grab.  You're completely invincible until you land, so it will beat absolutely anything once it launches.  It also has considerable reach in front and behind you.  It requires a 720 movement with 3x kicks, and it does less damage than his first ultra.  That means if you just jump and do the motion, you'll not find much success landing it.  You're stuck in the air for a while doing nothing.  It's unique to anything else Zangief has though, so it has unique applications.  Though you won't often land it just jumping in trying to catch jumping players, there are some setups for it.

Bait the Shoryuken
Sometimes this works out, sometimes not.  It applies to most characters with shoryuken-like anti-airs.  Zangief is often at a disadvantage while jumping outside of specific ranges, so you can look especially appetizing by jumping in their shoryuken's good ranges.  The thing is you have to predict they'll do it.  You have to initiate it at the point when they commit to the attack, but have not yet hit you.  You won't be able to react to it.  If you're wrong, you're at a terrible disadvantage once you hit the ground.  That means this tactic alone is not usually enough to warrant using it, though it depends on just how good their anti-air moves are.

EX spin kicks
When you've got the opponent knocked down, you normally have control.  That means they're gonna want to get you away to retake control.  Chun Li is a great example of this.  When she does her EX spin kicks as a reversal, it will beat anything that's not invincible, it will push you away, and she'll be safe afterward regardless of hit or block.  Because it's such a powerful move, the existence of Siberian Blizzard threatens this tactic and makes her far less likely to use it.  This is a good enough reason to include U2 most of the time, but you still run a risk of taking big damage if your opponent doesn't go for it like you thought.

Depending on the spacing & timing, Siberian Blizzard will beat certain aerial setups on wakeup.  Just buffer the 720 while you're on the ground.  The trick is that you have to be in the air for a little bit for the move to work.  It's only a few frames, but mistiming it can lead to an EX 360 + kick grab.  Sometimes this works to your advantage, most of the time you'll end up losing life and super meter.  On the plus side, most instances where the timing's too tight to start the ultra allow you to lariat just fine.  Of course, if you've already buffered in the motion by the time you realize this, you're better off blocking.  The 360 you just did would make your PPP result in a grab move, or even worse, the 720 could make you attempt your super and you lose everything.

Crumple combo
It's a little difficult to do until you practice it, and it only works on twelve characters.  Like Hakan, you can combo this anti-air ultra on a crumpling opponent.  Simply land a focus attack so that they crumple, let the recovery happen (DO NOT DASH OUT!!!), buffer in the 720, and get it launched just as their head bobs back.  That's a few frames after you're actually out of recovery; it's not instant.  Most of the time, this is going to happen because you got your opponent dizzy.  The characters vulnerable to this are as follows:
Boxer (Balrog)
E. Honda
Dictator (M. Bison)
T. Hawk
Claw (Vega)
* The focus must not be level 3 for Abel.

Arcade Edition
Arcade Edition brought about a very significant change for the Siberian Blizzard.  It now flies almost full-screen distance forward if you choose for it to do so!  This is at the cost of negligible more recovery frames, so it opens a lot more opportunities for use.
*For characters that like to jump away from Zangief after doing safe blockstrings, Siberian Blizzard will absolutely hit jump-aways.  It just flies way too far not to.  Dhalsim will most likely have time to teleport away when he sees it, Gouken could probably EX spin kick away, anyone else will be helpless.
* Backdashes: This will be discovered on a case-by-case basis.  I've had some success and failures with this.  It depends both on how safe the opponent was and the nature of their backdash.  For someone like Makoto, she probably would get hit easily by this.  I have succeeded against Ken's backdash.  Yun is very unlikely, given the speed and distance of his backdash.  All of this will have to be tested individually in a real-life scenario (Endless only, of course) to really gauge the effectiveness on each character.  1 down, 38 to go...
* Cammy: Cannon Spike is no longer the automatic answer as a reversal against Zangief.  He can catch her in its recovery now that he's granted longer range.
* Blanka: Similarly, Blanka's horizontal roll can be caught, but it's rather iffy.  I have not been able to guarantee a catch in my training, and I'm not really sure why.

Best Candidates
Considering that you are not likely to land Ultimate Atomic Buster at all in these matchups, you may as well go for the extra option here. 

You're not likely to land U1 at all.  No good Akuma player is going to give you the opening you need for it.  At least with this Ultra, you have a little extra defense for the vortex.  The only time you'll land U1 is if you get him dizzy.  Not entirely out of the question, but considering you're already a high-damage character, you should do just fine without that  possibility.

Like Akuma, the standard U1 setups are not likely to work.  Her reversal shoryuken beats any possible crossup position and she's never going to let you approach her standing with it.  Siberian Blizzard still isn't likely to work, but it has a greater chance.  "Bait the shoryuken" has more strength here simply because it's more powerful for her than anyone else.

Blanka's a tricky one that Zangief's always hated, but good luck landing U1 at all.  Blanka has little reason to do anything but reversal Vertical Roll on wakeup.  With U2, you have a couple good options.  "Bait the anti-air" still applies, but less so considering he could just try electricity.  The biggest option is going to be if you can block the Rainbow Roll.  Also, it takes a little practice, but you can respond to his U1 with Siberian Blizzard.  Block the first hit, and you have a very limited time to execute your ultra.  You can more easily land it after blocking the whole thing, but you take no chip damage if you just block the first hit.  That's important to know in case Blanka feels he can guarantee a chip win.

Blizzard > Buster
Either ultra will work against these characters, but Siberian Blizzard is more preferable to me.

El Feurte
Siberian Blizzard is a godsend against this guy.  It gives his run mixup far less power.  If he'd hit you with a jumping move normally (assuming this is on your wakeup), you're going to catch him and turn the game back to your favor.  Sure, you could catch him with U1, but you're going to need something to stop him once he gets his knockdown game going.

Don't rely on this to beat the vortex.  Instead, use this to beat her overhead on your wakeup or catch her super-jump from a blocked target combo.  U1 could still be realistically used, but U2 gives you more good options.

Crimson Viper
This character is just screaming to get hit by whatever you want, but she likes to spend a lot of time in the air, too.  Viper really likes to work her flame kicks, be they crossups or just for transportation with her ground pound > super jump cancel.  This is a big part of her gameplay, and it's wise to make her regret it.  Of course, there's also the old standby of "bait the shoryuken," though I've found it's not practical.

Either one will really work, but if he has to worry about your Siberian Blizzard, it gives his knockdown game significantly more trouble.  He won't be able to just throw out those crossup attempts.

E. Honda
Consider how much time this guy spends in the air.  His headbutt and sumo splash are both moves he's going to want against you.  You're really going to have to feel out how your specific opponent plays to know how to time it, but U2 is more reliable than U1 in this matchup.  Besides, if you dizzy him, you can still land the focus combo into U2.

Chun Li
U2 is preferred just for one thing: EX Spinning Bird Kick.  It's by far her best wakeup option, especially if you're not close to her.  This is better than "bait the shoryuken" because EX spin kicks would put you too far away to retaliate.  With Siberian Blizzard as a threat, she has only that one reason not to use it whenever she has meter.  You could still land U1 against her, but this single threat has a lot of impact.

Dee Jay
Dee Jay's EX Jacknife Maximum is truly an awesome wakeup move, similar in property to Chun Li's EX spin kicks.  That alone makes it worthwhile to use this ultra.  Without it, he can freely use it to get you away from him and you have nothing to say about it.  Having this around makes at least a risk for either of you to pull the trigger.

With U2 threatening Guy, he can't necessarily just approach you when you're knocked down with his flips.  Blizzard will also beat out his reversal EX flip kicks.  That's reason enough for me to go with U2.

Like the others in this group, Siberian Blizzard is around more for the EX spin kicks than anything else, but I recently discovered a little thing.  If Juri follows up the dive kick with the other 2 kicks, that's also another opportunity to land this thing.  Why let an opportunity go to waste?  It's a little tricky on the timing, but if you're looking out for it, it's absolutely helpful.

Dictator (Bison)
Apart from being able to hit him with U2 in a crumple, this guy's going to be in the air a lot for you to hit him.  The trick is identifying when he's actually coming for you and when it's a Devil's reverse he can use to escape.  Similar to Akuma, he will often teleport on wakeup so your usual tricks won't necessarily work on him.  Unlike Akuma, it's still realistic for you to land either ultra.  U2 just gives you more opportunities.

Rufus is very vulnerable to either ultra, but his EX Messiah Kick alone makes U2 preferable.  It gives him one less guarantee.  You can also use it on poorly timed Falcon Kicks and to predict an overhead following a blocked Messiah Kick.  Honestly, I don't really see a reason to use U1 against him given how open he is to U2, but he's just begging to be hit by whatever you want.

Adon likes to spend a lot of time in the air.  All of his special moves make him airborne.  It's reasonable to expect that he's also going to be very cautious of ground grabs.  Adon does an amazingly good job at keeping Zangief away with Jaguar Kicks (the axe kick), his standing heavy kick, and various other little tricks just to be unpredictable.  It's a little difficult to really predict when to use this ultra, as Adon could reasonably try to bait it out of you, but it's more likely to land than U1.

Claw (Vega)
Nobody loves the air more than Claw.  The thing is he can maneuver very well from a wall dive, so you'd have to really time U2 right to work.  That doesn't remove it as an option though; if anything it means he can't spam it so readily.  On the other hand, you could block his Splendid Claw (U2) and buffer in the 720 you need for U1 to work.  That tactic only really works with precise timing on yomi layer 2, though.  Splendid Claw can beat the crossup body splash... unless you predicted he'd try that and actually jumped early enough to make it empty and block the theoretical ultra coming to you.  No, U2 will not get his flips nor will it beat Bloody High Claw (unless you're in the corner and he's coming toward you with it).  All Siberian Blizzard is good for is countering his wall dives... and that's actually a very good reason.  Oh yeah, plus a couple minor ones of beating EX Scarlet Terror and being a crumple combo.

Go with Your Gut
Either ultra is equally strong against these characters.  Often your ultra of choice will depend on your opponent's play style.

Seth is terrified of either one of these ultras, which actually makes even more of an argument for U2.  Either one does tremendous damage to Seth, so much so that you won't even miss the difference.  Zangief is a heavy hitter and Seth is a glass jaw.  All the reduced damage means is you might need one more hit at him.  I use U2 because I don't want him tap-dancing on my head, which is pretty much his go-to option for getting out of the corner.  However, the fact that he can't be hit with U2 out of a crumple combo is a strong argument for U1, as well.  It means that once you stun him, you won't be able to guarantee some ultra damage with the wrong ultra.  You do really want any advantage you can get against Seth, so you have to take your pick.  Play the impenetrable fortress (U2), or make that one key mistake cost him the whole round (U1).

T. Hawk
You're going to find 2 kinds of T. Hawk players against Zangief: those that want to bait & beat lariats with Condor Dive, and those that want to make it a grounded poking game.  Even shoryuken baiting can work!  You're solid no matter which way you go, and can combo out of a crumple regardless.

This is the real meat of it all, isn't it?  The mirror match is a strange one.  My one reason for Siberian Blizzard is to beat the crossup body splash, but it's a bit of a trick knowing when that's actually appropriate.  You can also get either one from a crumple, so you have only 1 key argument each way.  Are you more concerned about the body splash, or do you intend to try landing U1 solo?  Me, I go with the extra option rather than a more powerful version of an existing one, but that's just me.

I know what you're thinking, bait the flash kick.  No.  Crossup body splash will still beat that, and at range, Guile's got grounded normals that beat you, anyway.  Siberian Blizzard is actually here for Guile's zoning trap.  Sonic Boom + air grab threat = a very hard situation.  It's really going to depend on your play style to determine whether you go for this tactic or threaten greater pressure for your knockdown game.

After preferring Siberian Blizzard for a long time, I've finally come to the conclusion that it's not necessarily the best thing.  I had it around because I found Ken players often going for the aerial EX spin kick crossup, but apart from that, it doesn't have much use.  You could bait the shoryuken though, since he's more likely to use it from a longer range.  You can't beat a long-range heavy shoryuken normally, so having it as a threat means he might just let you in.  Just be ready to actually use it and don't make it an empty threat.  U1 is still a very significant threat, though.

Gouken's one of those who can be hit in a U2 focus combo, so you don't have the worry so much about losing out much on a dizzy.  Gouken's vortex isn't as powerful as Akuma or Ibuki, but powerful enough to be threatening to you.  He also has Ryu's potential escape of aerial spin kicks.  Personally, I've settled on U1, but either one is acceptable.

Siberian Blizzard is slightly more likely to land here than against Ryu just because Dan could use his Dan Kicks more realistically.  That's the one extra edge that makes it a really iffy situation.  Personally, I still always go for U1, but it's your call.

Buster > Blizzard
You could land the blizzard here, but you're probably better off working U1.

Ryu continues to be a mystery to me.  I've recently seen Ryu players perform crossup aerial spin kicks in a way that I can't lariat, but I get the feeling I wouldn't be able to catch them with U2, either.  It's still got power, though.  A Ryu with ultra ready is going to even more eager to try landing an anti-air shoryuken, but it's an incredibly risky proposition for either of you.  This could still catch him trying to fly away from the corner, but that option will soon disappear in AE.  This is really going to be a poking matchup more than an aerial fight, so I think U1 should be used more here.

Sakura does a very good job at keeping you zoned out.  Like Boxer, she can safely punch you out of the air and beat any move you have.  However, you still could potentially bait the shoryuken.  EX Shououken is sometimes used as a reversal so that she can get out of the corner, and because she hops while doing it, it does make her vulnerable to U2.  Still, she doesn't have much reason to be airborne overall, so U1 seems more solid.

Fei Long
Similar logic to Ryu here.  Your only reason for U2 is to bait the flame kicks (a meaty chicken wing will hit you before you can execute U2 on wakeup).  The flame kick puts him at a disadvantage if you block it though an empty jump-in, so it's not good enough.

I probably should exclude U2 altogether for this, but I still haven't entirely given up on the theory.  There's only one significant reason to use this U2, and it's the threat of an anti-air Yoga Shangri-La on his wakeup.  That's not really good enough for me.  The other, far rarer option is that you have him cornered, he chooses to jump, expect the lariat, and use teleport tricks + heavy punch (or else maybe the mummy) to get out.  Still, really unlikely.  You're better off sticking with your typical tricks, even though this is already a hard matchup.  If you can land U1, you've got him in a very bad spot.

The one reason to use Siberian Blizzard is for your wakeup game.  If you have him cornered, land SPD, green fist back, you normally have 2 primary options: another grab, or anticipate a jump in yomi layer 2.  If you anticipate a jump, headbutt usually works better than a lariat for the safety on block.  In this case though, Hakan can airgrab you before you get to land the headbutt.  U1 is therefore much more preferable, but that + the ability to combo into U2 doesn't entirely remove the possibility.

In most cases, U1 is going to be the best thing for you to use.  You can hit her with it if you block Abare Tosanami, so no worries about trying to catch it with Siberian Blizzard.  The only reason I can see for U2 is if she uses the instant Tsurugi (axe kick) so you can catch her on wakeup, but even then she's got to be using it with a fair amount of consistency to make this worthwhile.

Ultimate Atomic Buster
You have no good reason to use Siberian Blizzard in these matchups.  Just avoid it altogether and work with your classic setups.

What's Siberian Blizzard going to do, catch a headbutt?  Even if you tried baiting that, Boxer can wait until you're close enough for the ground that your minimal startup will make it whiff, but his headbutt works.  Even better for him though, he can just crouch and punch you out of the air every time.  Siberian Blizzard will only work against a reversal EX headbutt, definitely not a good enough reason to me.  Boxer is terrified of your grabs landing; give him greater reason to fear.

I really wanted Siberian Blizzard to work out, but honestly, you can't even bait the shoryuken against him.  His heavy kick is usually just better.  That means you have no reasonable openings, and U2 just has to get abandoned.  Sorry, this new option doesn't help your matchup.

"Bait the shoryuken" doesn't work, because he's got other, more reliable ways of dealing with you in the air.  If he chooses to come at you with a jumping heavy kick, not even U2 can answer it.  Stick with what you know and hope you can bait out the parry.

Cody has really no reason to jump against you.  Like Abel, you beat his crossups just fine.  The most he'll do is a neutral jumping heavy punch in fear of a wakeup grab.  You have the tools to really control this matchup, and where you have control, you can land U1 just fine.

Rose has just about no reason to ever jump at you unless she's trying to get her Soul Satellite to hit.  That means you really have to rely on your good old tricks.

Abel doesn't have much reason to try crossups against you; your lariat is too good an anti-air for that.  That leaves only his Wheel Kick as a possibility, and it's really not likely for him to try that when you're down.  You're going to have enough trouble just fending off Breathless.


  1. Balrog have some anoying strategy with "instant overhead" you could catch him with u2 if he try to do that.

  2. You can avoid Hakan's U2 with your U2 if you do a stupid jump. I don't know if you're at an advantage afterwards though. You can also get out of the corner if Seth tries to chip you with U2, but not if he does it on your wake-up, or something else that stops you from acting during the start-up. But in AE, you can probably hit him out of it in those situations.


Post a Comment

Comments are very welcome!

Popular posts from this blog

Why I play Heroclix

Super Smash Bros. 4 review

Dragon Ball Z Panini primer