Dragon Rush and Command Grabs
Let’s say we have a patient opponent who is impossible to open up. They’re blocking all the overheads, lows don’t phase them, and they are perfectly content with “Spamming Block”. What are your options? Well as far as universal options go, you might want to look into a Dragon Rush! If you’re familiar with other fighting games, Dragon Rushes are basically this game’s version of a throw, being that it’s an unblockable attack.
Dragon Rushes are performed with L+M, and can be performed in the air or on the ground (Protip: When they hit, they’ll do 20 hits, unless you mash buttons for more hits up to a maximum of 30!). You cannot cancel into a Dragon Rush, but you can combo into them. They are a tad slow on startup, but move forward quite a bit when they are active. Even with the forward momentum granted from a dragon rush however, you’ll have to be fairly close to your opponent to pull off this maneuver. It’s also worth mentioning that they aren’t the swiftest attacks in the world and have no invulnerability, so make sure you’re using Dragon Rush in a situation where your opponent won’t hit you before you make contact with them. A grounded dragon rush will make contact with grounded opponents, but cannot hit airborne opponents. An airborne dragon rush will make contact with airborne opponents, but cannot hit grounded opponents. Most importantly, a dragon rush requires your opponent to be out of blockstun in order for it to be successful.
Upon landing a raw Dragon Rush, you will go into an animation that causes a flurry of hits and launches your opponent in the air. This animation uses up a super dash, so don’t expect to have one once the animation is over until you touch the ground again. A very important thing to remember about Dragon Rushes is that they CANNOT kill the opponent. If you do a Dragon Rush on an opponent, the minimum health it can bring them down to is 1 HP. This doesn’t account for follow-up attacks after the super dash though. Be sure that if you land a Dragon Rush on a low health opponent that you are prepared with some type of follow-up attack after the super dash in order to secure a kill. Raw Dragon Rushes can be escaped by tapping L, M, H, or S slightly before or after a Dragon Rush makes contact. There’s a 9 frame tech window where a dragon rush can be escaped, with 4 of them coming before the Dragon Rush makes contact, 1 of them coming at the same time the Dragon Rush makes contact, and another 4 coming after the Dragon Rush makes contact.
Dragon Rushes landed in combos are a bit different. If you combo into a Dragon Rush, you will knock the opponent down to the ground and will not automatically perform a follow-up attack. This might be useful if you just want a knockdown, however there are usually better ways to achieve a knockdown with the entire cast as opposed to just comboing into dragon rush. The most common way to combo into a Dragon Rush is by implementing a Vanish into your combo, however there are definitely other ways to do so.
Both a raw Dragon Rush and a Dragon Rush performed in a combo have an additional option called a Get Outta Here, or ‘Snapback’. During a Dragon Rush, you can tap A1 or A2, and doing so will knock the active character out of the battle and bring out the enemy character bound to the assist button that you chose. In addition, the character that you snapped out of battle and your other teammate will have a brief cooldown period where they will not be able to be called to assist or Z Change. The incoming character also jumps into the battle, leaving you at a massive advantage to mix them up (However as of the patch in late February, left-right mixups will not be nearly as strong due to added cross-up protection). This strategy is insanely strong for punishing opponents who have an assist character with a bunch of blue health, as bringing an assist character in always erases blue health and replaces it with unrecoverable damage.
Some characters also possess special command grabs that are separate from the dragon rush mechanic. Cell’s “Psycho Crash” (214+S), Android 18’s “Back Grapple” (236+L, M, or H), and Piccolo’s S or 2S are all moves that fall under the command throw category. These grabs cannot be teched out of, and require you to jump (or in the case of air grabs, remain grounded) or counter hit the opponent before they make contact. A key visual difference between Command Throws and Dragon Rush is that there are less visual queues that indicate the throw startup. For Dragon Rushes, there’s the green glow that forms around the character before they charge for the opponent. Command Grabs don’t inherit this green glow, thus making them a bit harder to react to properly, especially when paired with Z Assists, which can easily visually conceal the startup of a command grab.