1 Meter: HP double > light Ankle Breaker > HP double > light Ankle Breaker > LK double > Shadow Ankle Breaker > Scatter Shot ender (47%)
2 Meter: HP double > light Ankle Breaker > MP double > Shadow Ankle Breaker > Shadow Ankle Breaker > Scatter Shot ender (54%)
( Damage calculation notes)
Notes: Eagle's MP and HP auto-doubles are faster than their kick counterparts, but oddly, LK is slightly faster than LP. This is noteworthy because the particular 1-bar combo listed above is the only combination of auto-double strengths that will fit inside the lockout window with a shadow linker at the end. Eagle's no-meter combo is able to reach level 4 just fine, but his linkers kick up the damage scaling pretty quickly, making it difficult for him to build up damage. As such, you should learn that specific 1-bar combo and use it as often as you can. At all costs, avoid using meter for shadow Scatter Shot in these combos. You might think this would be his shadow "damage ender", but it does less damage than the regular Scatter Shot ender.
Eagle's spirit animal, a bird with a robotic twist, fights alongside him in every match. As long as Eagle is on the ground and not blocking, being hit, or knocked down, he can issue one of several commands to the bird, who will immediately take that action without interrupting Eagle's current behavior. After the move completes, the bird goes through a brief cooldown before emitting a spark, which indicates it's ready for the next command. All bird commands are done using three kicks with a direction, which means you may want to consider regularly using the three kick macro button on your controller or arcade stick to play this character more easily. Eagle's bird is multiple Marvel vs. Capcom-style assists wrapped into one entity, and these commands form a large part of Eagle's gameplan on both offense and defense.
The longest range of the bird attacks is Swoop Attack, done with forward + three kicks; Eagle sends the bird in a horizontal direction, attacking the length of the screen fairly quickly. It is useful to cover this space while Eagle is, for example, shooting arrows in an upward direction while zoning, and it is the most useful bird attack when Eagle is at long range, but you should prioritize Eagle's other bird commands from close range.
Divebomb is a fully defensive tool, done with down + three kicks; Eagle sends his bird crashing into the floor, causing a knockdown on hit. The main use for this tool is to try and squeeze a Divebomb between your opponent's pressure, so he gets hit if he continues to attack, or to use it as a preventative move if you're scared that your opponent is going to come close. This move has a few key weaknesses, however. It is the longest cooldown command at 6 seconds, meaning that even if you do manage to reverse the situation, Eagle has to fight on his own for a while. Also, because you will likely use this on defense and not while Eagle is taking some other offensive action, the down + 3K command will also be interpreted as crouching LK, which means Eagle might get counter-hit for trying to command the bird. Very noteworthy, if Eagle gets counter-hit on the first frame, Divebomb will not come out, which means you can't use this as a reversal against true meaties.
The most common use of the bird is Sonic Screech, done with back + three kicks, an excellent close-range attack with a huge hitbox and active for over a full second. This means it's easy to convert hits into combos, but by far the most important use of this move is making Eagle safe at all times. Because this move exists, Eagle's on block frame data is actually pretty deceptively inaccurate; simply do any grounded move and call Sonic Screech near the end of the move. Ankle Breakers, Eagle's normally unsafe on block opener, is now actually hugely plus on block, as long as you can work around the 3.5 second cooldown Sonic Screech leaves the bird in.
Sonic Screech also great at stuffing shadow counters on all sorts of moves, from shadow Ankle Breaker to his beastly 2-hit Tailspin command normal (forward + MP). In fact, using shadow Ankle Breaker as a fast long-range low attack, and then calling Sonic Screech at the end of the sequence to make it safe, is a very strong use of Eagle's shadow meter. Especially as a beginner Eagle player, Sonic Screech should make up the majority of your bird attacks.
Eagle is not limited to only calling the bird on the ground. He can also use Bird Fling by being in the air (either from jumping or using Wingspan) and pressing any direction + three kicks while touching the bird. Bird Fling will then send Eagle a short distance in the direction held, almost like a very small air dash. Its main use is for extra deceptive mixups, such as extra forward momentum to turn a front attack into a crossup, or to reverse your jumping direction and stay in the front. The direction change happens very fast, making it virtually impossible to react to, and the cooldown on Bird Fling is also short at only 3 seconds, so it is not too costly to use.
The last use of the bird is to Retrieve Arrows that are lying on the ground, done by pressing three kicks with no direction. The bird will travel straight ahead of Eagle, pick up the nearest 4 arrows, and return them directly Eagle's supply. As an arrow retrieval tool, this has some weaknesses. For starters, it takes a long time for the bird to come back, especially if the arrows are across the screen, and shadow Arrow Retrieval, which picks up all the arrows quickly at the cost of one shadow bar, might be the best option if you can't go pick them up yourself.
Surprisingly, however, Retrieve Arrows is pretty good for locking your opponent down, because the arrows can do damage as the bird picks them up. If you intentionally launch arrows into the ground over a knocked down opponent, such as after a crouching HK sweep, lock them down with a normal like Tailspin and then call Retrieve Arrows at the same time, they will be stuck blocking the arrows as the bird extracts them from the ground, leading to lots of creative mixup potential. This is a fairly advanced technique, so it's likely best to avoid this bird command entirely while you are starting out, but if you like to discover dirty setups, you should investigate this move more. Here is a sample of some mixups, courtesy of KI veteran Leo Ferreis, that you can perform with Retrieve Arrows to get those creative juices flowing.
It can be a little overwhelming to realize that you can asynchronously control another character to do five different actions, so what's the best way to handle using the bird in real matches? At the start of playing Eagle, you can more or less rely entirely on Sonic Screech. Use it while you are close to your opponent the instant your bird is not in cooldown. Use it after all Ankle Breakers, shadow Ankle Breakers, and Tailspin attacks. Once you feel confident pressing three kicks to control a second character, then you can start to throw in a few Swoop Attacks during zoning, and a few Divebombs if you feel you're being pressured. If you're a training mode master, Eagle is a character for you, because exploring dirty mixups involving Bird Fling and Retrieve Arrows will unlock this character's true potential. But until then, pretending the bird is exclusively a Sonic Screech machine will get you started.
Eagle is also supplied with 12 arrows in his quiver for him to shoot via Arrow Attacks, Scatter Shot, or Rain Shot. Like Maya, Eagle's resources get lodged in the ground once shot, and he must retrieve them to refill his supply. Eagle can simply walk over the arrows to pick them up, which is the most common and easiest way to refill, or he can use a bird command such as Retrieve Arrows or shadow Arrow Retrieval to pick up arrows at a distance.
One of the main ways to fire arrows is to press HP along with a direction. As long as there is at least one arrow in his supply, Eagle has no heavy punch normals; every press whether on the ground or in the air will fire an arrow in a set direction. You can fire them straight ahead by pressing HP with no direction, or fire along the ground by crouching. Hold back to lob them at your opponent's head. Two important directions are down-back, which fires an overhead arrow a short distance in front of Eagle, and down-forward, which fires a fast, low-hitting arrow at your opponent's feet. This low-hitting arrow is particularly good during mid-screen pressure, since you can convince your opponent to not walk backward easily.
Eagle can also hold his HP arrows to charge them up. Holding briefly reaches level 2, which causes the arrow to glow and do a little bit more damage. Holding for three seconds makes it reach level 3, which makes the arrow unblockable. While you are charging, you can change the arrow's direction, and even walk around or jump with Eagle to change the spacing. And, like any offensive move, keep in mind that you can freely control the bird while charging arrows. This includes using Swoop Attack to fire horizontally while you shoot an arrow vertically, or using Sonic Screech for a little bit of close range protection. Note that you can only charge up Eagle's HP arrows, and not the Scatter Shot or Rain Shot special moves.
If you can hold HP arrows, vary the angles drastically, and it only costs you one arrow per shot, why would you want to use Scatter Shot or Rain Shot? The main reason you'd want to use the special moves is because they fire at different speeds and have a larger spread. Scatter Shot will reach full screen much faster than a single HP arrow, and using the HP version fires a spread of 4 arrows that is very hard to jump over. You will also do more damage, since multiple arrows can hit. Rain Shot arrows come down from the top of the screen much slower than the down-back HP arrow, which can lend themselves better to certain setups, and give Eagle more time to move in neutral to threaten with mixups. Experiment with all the various ways Eagle can shoot arrows, but keep tabs on your arrow supply. Spend some meter on shadow Arrow Retrieval if necessary.
Eagle only has one traditional opener, his low-hitting Ankle Breaker slide attack. It's the special move you should use when you're looking to start a punish combo, or play Eagle using some more standard tools. The problem is, it's relatively short range and even the light version is unsafe on block at -5. Fortunately for Eagle, he can rewrite the frame data books almost any time he wants by calling Sonic Screech from his bird amigo. Because Sonic Screech does not mess up any combos and makes moves safe and un-shadow counterable, performing Ankle Breaker and Sonic Screech directly after is a very common tenet of close-range Eagle play.
Shadow Ankle Breaker is your standard 5-hit projectile invincible shadow move, but it goes quite a bit farther than even heavy Ankle Breaker, making it a strong long-range low attack to threaten with. Again, using Sonic Screech at around the 4th hit of this move will protect you from all shadow counters, so you can use this move liberally, unlike most other shadows in the game. Know that this move is technically unsafe on block, though. If your opponent tries to use this move without Sonic Screech (for example, if the bird is in cooldown), you don't have to shadow counter it to punish it. It's important to not use the 3K macro when performing shadow Ankle Breaker, because it will make the bird do Swoop Attack at the same time. This will both mess up your combo and prevent you from using Sonic Screech if the move is blocked. Make sure you only press two kicks instead.
If you are about half screen away and manage to hit with an arrow fired with HP, you can cancel the recovery as a hit confirm into shadow Ankle Breaker and pick up the combo. This is especially useful if you are trying to use the down-forward arrow which hits low, since you will never be out of range if this arrow hits. The shadow follow-up is also a little tough to combo break, because will hit less than all five times and often with a bit of a bizarre rhythm.
While Scatter Shot knocks the opponent down, Rain Shot acts similarly to other projectiles in KI where you are free to manual after they land and pick up the combo. In neutral, Rain Shot is great for covering the vertical screen space, which is important because Eagle lacks strong anti-air. As such, you'll probably spend some time firing Rain Shot pre-emptively to discourage your opponent from jumping. In setups, they are excellent because the arrows hit overhead and delayed, giving Eagle lots of time to fire them after knockdowns and approach for a mixup. If you like to explore tricky mixups in training mode, you will be finding lots of uses for Rain Shot.
Eagle has two linkers, but it's hard to recommend Wingspan over Ankle Breaker in almost any situation. They do the same damage, but Wingspan is much slower and considerably easier to break on reaction than Ankle Breaker. Wingspan does switch sides with your opponent, so on occasion you might want to use to escape the corner, if you want to play a high risk counter breaker game, or if you just want to give your opponent a slightly different look every so often. In general, though, you should prioritize Ankle Breaker as your linker of choice.
Eagle's damage ender, Scatter Shot, is decently strong and sends the opponent a decent ways away, where they will have to contest with Eagle's long-range arrows. If you are unsure of which ender to use, Scatter Shot should be your main go-to. Rain Shot is the other primary mid-screen ender to use, especially if you've spent some time researching mixups. It sends the opponent far away, but causes a hard knockdown and gives Eagle enough time to get close with Wingspan (here is an example shown by KI EVO finalist SeaDragon) and use a meaty. You could also fire a post-ender Rain Shot and then prevent your opponent from moving with Swoop Attack before launching yourself forward for a mixup. If you don't have some mixup planned, though, it is not worth sacrificing the damage from Scatter Shot. In the corner, Eagle has similar options to other characters with a wall splat ender.
Eagle has a flipout on the LK option from his Wingspan command jump. However, because Eagle does not really use juggles too often in his gameplan, it's difficult to plan mixups around flipping your opponent out. Eagle's gameplan is quite dominant on the ground, so you can focus your efforts there instead.
There are some downsides to this instinct, however. The bird auto-attacking makes it somewhat difficult to use the bird's regular commands, like Sonic Screech, after normals (using them after specials, like Ankle Breaker, is unaffected). Also, because Eagle has no reversal attack, you can't easily pop instinct and use the screen freeze to turn the tables on your opponent like many other characters in the game can do. Eagle's instinct doesn't afford him the huge comeback potential of other characters, but considering his strength on the ground and at range, he can still turn the tables in fights with just one knockdown.
Once you pop instinct, try taking the fight to your opponent with a barrage of normal attacks and let the bird do some extra work. Sneak in a throw every so often, which can lead to Eagle's potent offense quite easily. You can also jump and press a normal in the air, which will send the bird downward at the opponent and prevent him from anti-airing, which means Eagle has easier angles of approach. If your opponent is crouching and Eagle is attacking with normals as close as possible, the bird might whiff over the opponent's head, so keep that in mind and make sure you're a half-step away from the opponent while attacking. You may also choose to jump over the opponent and attack with a normal while in the air, which can make the bird hit crossup and lead to a combo.
Other normals to note include close standing HK, Eagle's only heavy attack that can start traditional combos. It does more damage than most heavy attacks, so it is great to use at the start of punishes. Just make sure you get the close version, and not the far version which launches the opponent into the air. Crouching MK, like Kilgore, is not a low attack, but you can use it as a fast mid-range button to keep people still. Eagle's crossup attack is jumping LK, not the more common jumping MK.
One of Eagle's primary weaknesses is poor anti-air. Apart from a pre-emptive jumping attack or Rain Shot to cover the air space, Eagle really only has two options here; the Whipslap command normal (+MP), which is a relatively slow medium attack that hits quite a bit in front of Eagle but not above his head, and crouching MP, a vertical swipe of his bow that is a little stubby and might trade with a heavy jumping attack. The bird can't really help with anti-air either. You could call Divebomb to hit the opponent when they land, but this is finicky and even on success, you will put the bird on cooldown for 6 seconds and only do about 3% damage. If your opponent jumps again, you'll need another solution with your bird unavailable. You're better off avoiding that space and keeping the bird free for offensive purposes.
Despite being able to attack out of Wingspan, its primary use is mobility. The heavy version of Wingspan goes very far forward in much less time than Eagle's regular jump, which means you can close the gap after attacks that send your opponent away from you, like Eagle's throw, or you can very quickly cross your opponent up. For example, if you make your opponent block Sonic Screech, such as after the Tailspin normal, simply perform heavy Wingspan after your normal finishes and the third hit of the Screech attack will hit your opponent as a crossup! You will land in time to pick up the combo with any normal attack, too. This simple but effective mixup is available to Eagle any time Sonic Screech is blocked, which should showcase his a small aspect of his crazy offensive pressure.
Because Eagle is so strong in these ranges, it means he is somewhat lacking in other areas. If you are at mid-range -- roughly the range where an opponent's jumping attack would hit you -- Eagle's relatively poor anti-air and mostly stubby normals mean that he is caught between his two modes and can't do either of them particularly well. You should probably find a way to slither either closer or farther away, or prepare for some very good anti-air reactions or whiff punishes with shadow Ankle Breaker. And if you get caught by your opponent and knocked down here, Eagle's atrocious wakeup game will mean you will take more damage on average than with any other character. But the good outweighs the bad when playing Eagle, since his ranged and pressure games are so strong when used together. He has many chances for creativity between using the bird, his arrows, and his Wingspan command jump, and players who can squeeze the most out of these tools will go far.