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Combo Theory

With Evo behind us, I’d like to to start a new series of tutorial articles. I’ve had this project on the docket for awhile and I’d like to talk about Killer Instinct. Killer Instinct is a 6 button fighting game from the crew at Iron Galaxy Studios. The game had a rough launch as it struggled under the weight of the negative press surrounding the Xbox One reveal. Killer Instinct’s third season saw the launch of 4 new characters and a solid PC port that has revitalized the community. Today’s topic will scratch the surface on two of TJ’s offensive options. Before we get started, Killer Instinct uses the same inputs as Street Fighter and I’ll have the commands for the moves used in this article listed.

Flying Knee(←→+HK, MP, LP, LK, MK, HK, HP)

Flying Knee →AutoDoubleBarrage(←→+HK, MP, LP, LK, MK, HK, HP)

TJ Combo is Killer Instinct’s boxer character. He has good normal attacks, but his specialty comes from the wide range of uses for his special attacks. TJ also has a unique trait called the Auto Double Barrage that lets him chain together blows for a safe, damaging combo. This is done by starting a combo then doing hitting all three punch and kick buttons in any order. TJ can cancel Tremor(↑↓+Punch), Spin Fist(←→+LP) or Flying Knee(←→+HK). Spin fist is the safest way to start a barrage especially since the player can cancel into it from TJ’s Punching Bag Command Normal(Repeatedly Mash LP).

Auto Double Barrage is TJ’s hardest combo to break and is his best damage ender. If TJ is willing to use shadow meter, he can get up to 60 percent damage off a single combo. Auto Double Barrage can be cancelled by repeating any button in the sequence. This causes TJ to gut check his opponent and TJ can cancel a light kick into his Shoot Toss (←→+MP) command grab to start a new combo.

TC→BSC→TC-> (←→+MP)→ (↑↓+HP)→ ADB
TC → BSC → TC → (←→+MP) → (↑↓+HP) → ADB

The second tool I want to talk about is TJ’s first target combo and back step cancel. Target Combos (TC) are sequences of buttons that can be mashed for certain moves. This lesson revolves around TJ’s first Target Combo, MP→HP. Target Combo 1 is fast, far-reaching and can be used to whiff punish opponents. TJ can also cancel it into any of his specials to lead into Auto Double Barrage. You can also use the first Target Combo as a manual and I recommend using that to practice manual timing as TJ’s auto-linkers are easy to read.

Target Combo isn’t safe on block, but it can be made safe by cancelling it with Back Step (←→+LK). Backstep Cancels (BSC) have a wide variety of uses including extending combos and applying pressure to their opponent. TJ can cancel his first target combo with a backstep then immediately follow it with another target combo up to 3 times before having to special cancel it. You can fake opponents out by whiffing target combo then immediately Backstep canceling to make it safe. This sets up situations where your opponent will attempt to whiff punish and you can counter punish them.

TJ’s ability to combine Target Combos, Backstep Cancels and Auto-Double Barrages make him incredibly dangerous. Don’t be afraid to stay aggressive with your opponents, because Auto Double Barrage is a guaranteed 30 to 40 percent damage if unbroken. TJ players dominate at close range and these tools will compliment that. Auto Double Barrage is a safe way for reliable damage while the Target Combo loop is effective for pressure and mind games. The options listed here are some basic tools for TJ players to start their offense and play footsies with the opponent. Thank you for reading and I hope this helps anyone looking to play TJ. Last but not least, here are some additional resources for people who want to play TJ Combo:


Seth Hall has been playing fighting games for the last four years and writing for the last two. He can be found on twitter @themanseries and will be competing at The Fall Classic in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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