1 Meter: HK double > medium Tumble Kick > HK double > light Tumble Kick > Shadow Tumble Kick > Tumble Kick ender (51%)
2 Meter: HK double > Shadow Tumble Kick > Shadow Tumble Kick > Tumble Kick ender (55%)
( Damage calculation notes)
Notes: Maya definitely lacks in the damage department with no meter, since she might not even make ender level 4 if you counter break early enough in the combo. But she does pretty respectable damage with just 1-bar, so you should probably always spend at least one if you have it. Her HK auto-double is faster than her HP auto-double, so use it exclusively in these combos. In instinct, you may choose to use the Leap Kick ender and then tack on additional damage using Dagger Toss followed by Air Mantis.
Maya holds two daggers while fighting, a light one colored yellow, and a dark one colored purple. You can throw these daggers like you would normal projectiles, via and a punch button. While on the ground, they travel horizontally at normal height, but you can also throw them while jumping, which sends them at a downward diagonal angle. While dashing forward, you can also throw the daggers simply by pressing a punch button. LP corresponds to the light dagger, MP corresponds to the dark dagger, and HP will always throw both, if you have them. Once you've thrown a dagger, it will either bounce off your opponent and land on the ground near him (if you're close, you're likely to catch it as it bounces), or it will travel past him and come to rest when it stops traveling, often somewhere entirely off screen.
If you want this dagger back, you have to go get it. You can pick up daggers a few ways; you can press PPP while on top of a dagger to pick it up, you can collect them by dashing forwards or backwards overtop them, and Maya will automatically pick up any dagger she travels over when doing her Tumble Kick special move (including Tumble Kick and Leap Kick linkers). When you're not holding a dagger, the button that would normally correspond to your missing dagger will trigger kick moves instead, which means Maya loses access to certain important normals and anti-airs. If you're missing either dagger, you also lose access to any option that involves the HP button, including Air Mantis and her best anti-air, crouching HP. Your opponent is going to try to prevent you from picking these daggers back up as best he can.
Why are these daggers so good? First of all, on hit, they have a lot of hitstun, which means Maya can easily confirm into a combo using an easy manual. In fact, she can even do this from full screen away, by dashing forward and throwing another dagger, and then dash jumping towards the opponent. However, and this is what's especially unique about the character, blocking the daggers also benefits Maya. When you block a dagger, Maya earns a pip for that color in her unique dagger meter, up to a maximum of 2 pips per color. Each pip earned changes the behavior of the daggers when you throw the dual daggers using HP (and only the dual dagger version), and these unique bonuses stack together. If you block the dagger from very close range, Maya will be at disadvantage, so you will be able to challenge her if she tries to throw more daggers.
The light pips affect the dual dagger's movement. Light level 1 causes the projectile to bounce off the ground, while light level 2 will additionally cause it to track the opponent until it hits them. The dark pips affect the dual dagger's durability. Dark level 1 causes the daggers to crush all other projectiles, while dark level 2 additionally makes the daggers fully unblockable. That means if you're able to get them to block 2 light daggers and 2 dark daggers, you will have access to a one-time-use tracking, bouncing, unblockable projectile which cannot be stopped by other projectiles. If Maya releases this thing, you will get hit, and you must try to mitigate the damage by combo breaking the followup, or jumping and forcing Maya to perform an awkward juggle combo.
But that's not all! Maya can additionally use her dagger levels to power up her Spirit Strike ender. This ender places both daggers above the opponent's head, which attack once every second on their own. The number of times they will attack is dependent on the number of dagger levels you've accumulated; each dagger level adds one more attack sequence before the daggers separate and stop attacking. This means Maya has a choice to use her dagger levels to throw an increasingly strong projectile, or to set up a prolonged sequence of mixups.
Maya's daggers are really unique not only in Killer Instinct, but in fighting games in general. They give her a very unique take on the risk/reward mechanic that doesn't involve lower health values; she must convince you to block or get hit by the daggers, but if you ever manage to avoid one, she'll have to work pretty hard to get it back, and is a much more limited character in the meantime. How Maya chooses to spend her dagger levels will create lots of unique playstyles within the character.
Maya's list of traditional openers is exceptionally short. Tumble Kick is a safe on block pressure string ender that you can use if you don't have daggers, but it always hits twice and can be shadow countered, so be wary. Axe Kick is a slow overhead attack command normal (+HK), but Maya leaps off the ground, avoiding throws and lows, and if Maya holds HK, she can fake the kick and go low instead. Axe Kick also recaptures, which is very important if you're juggling the opponent with daggers and want to start a grounded combo. Shadow Tumble Kick is projectile invincible for the duration.
Most of Maya's combos will start because her opponent did not block a dagger. If Maya is close to her opponent already, she can easily time a manual and start the combo that way instead, and if she's far away, she can keep you pinned with another dagger as she moves closer to you to begin her combo. If you hit with Maya's uppercutting Leap Kick, she can throw a dagger on the way down which will cause a juggle, which leaves enough time for Maya to land and start a juggle combo. You can choose to immediately recapture with Axe Kick if you like, or bounce your opponent around with Tumble Kicks and use shadow Leap Kick to cash the damage out.
Tumble Kick moves Maya forward, while Leap Kick (normally her uppercut) changes into a backwards version of Tumble Kick when used as a linker. These movement options allow Maya to push and pull her opponent towards her missing daggers, so she can go pick them up in the middle of a combo. The shadow versions of each require staggered timing to break, but they're not very difficult. But like the openers, this list isn't the full story. Maya can also apply her combo trait to combo with daggers in the middle of a combo. This is the only time a projectile is combo breakable in the game, and Maya must throw her dagger at you from very close range, but if she hits, she has +16 frame advantage and can land any strength manual afterwards, circumventing the normal manual restrictions after a linker. Note that if you choose to combo break the dagger linkers, the yellow one is always breakable with lights, while the purple one is always breakable with mediums. Use the color to help you out.
Maya has uses for all three of her enders. The hard knockdown version is Maya's most damaging ender, and is particularly useful if you want to throw shadow Spirit Slicer (the dual daggers) on top of an opponent for a mixup, or to force them to block it for some dagger pips. The Leap Kick ender allows Maya to follow up with a juggle combo; typically Maya will do some combination of normals canceled into daggers here, before doing a fast Air Mantis for some unbreakable damage at the end and a knockdown.
Maya has a unique ender called Dagger Assault Activation. It does very little damage by itself, but this ender spends all of Maya's dagger pips and puts both daggers above the opponent's head, which attack every second while Maya is free to move around. The more dagger pips you have, the more times the daggers will strike, up to a maximum of 5 cycles. If Maya is hit, however, Dagger Assault immediately ends and the daggers get separated. Maya can perform mixups while the daggers are threatening to strike. For example, she can do a roll jump over the opponent's head and make the daggers hit ambiguously as a crossup. Or, Maya can do high/low mixups by performing or faking Axe Kick, and the opponent will be hesitant to challenge in case the Dagger Assault hits them. If the opponent is content to try blocking, Maya can also simply throw them between dagger attacks. There's room for creativity here in how Maya attacks an opponent who has Dagger Assault attached to them, so experiment and find some cool tricks!
Leap Kick is Maya's uppercut, and it's a bit of a weird move. Maya travels at three different trajectories depending on the strength used, and she can throw a dagger any time after the apex of the move. However, Maya cannot throw daggers if you block Leap Kick, which means punishing Leap Kick is very easy on block, but more difficult if it whiffs. Light Leap Kick is the most invincible non-shadow version but it runs out of invincibilty one frame before it becomes active, which means well-timed attacks will stuff the move with no trouble. Only shadow Leap Kick is truly invincible. If light Leap Kick is giving you trouble, you can take it to the lab and try to stuff it with a perfect meaty or a deep jumping crossup, or simply just block it and punish.