Style: Rushdown, Hit and Run
Most Similar To: Rashid (SFV), El Fuerte, Dudley (SFIV)
Strengths: Riptor is great at frustrating opponents with several strong tools off her backwards and forwards run (which replace dashes for Riptor), which let her play a pretty irritating hit-and-run style of offense. When your opponent is suitably frustrated, Riptor has exceptionally strong rushdown tools; a unique Predator stance which has several high-low variations, and her Tail Flip special move, which is a fast left-right mixup that can be done from the ground and leads to a combo on hit, perfect for reset situations when canceled off grounded normals. Riptor can also choose numerous safe-on-block options during her pressure to keep the threat level high.
Weaknesses: Solid defense can beat Riptor. While easier said than done, her scariest and fastest mixups are quite unsafe on block, while her slower mixups can be easily shadow countered if you manage to block correctly. Her normals at the mid-range can struggle to compete with some other characters, and characters that are good at closing off the horizontal space in front of them can give Riptor a hard time.
Best Counter-Breaker Combos
0 Meter: HP double > light Talon Rake > HP double > light Talon Rake > HP double > Talon Rake ender (39%)
1 Meter: HP double > Flame Breath linker > HP double > Flame Breath linker > Shadow Shoulder Charge > Talon Rake ender (57%)
2 Meter: HP double > Flame Breath linker > HP double > Shadow Shoulder Charge > Shadow Shoulder Charge > Talon Rake ender (67%)
( Damage calculation notes)
Notes: Shadow Shoulder Charge is the main damage increaser for Riptor. If you counter break early and don't spend the meter, Riptor can't reach a level 4 ender, which is why the damage is considerably lower, although most of the time in regular play, there will be enough potential damage from the combo before the counter break to earn level 4. Flame Breath is Riptor's combo trait; simply press HP again to get a special linker version of her flame attack. Unfortunately for Riptor, Talon Rake tends to end her pressure, so if you're willing to sacrifice around 4-5% damage, you can switch the Talon Rake ender for Tail Flip and keep the heat on.
Unique Mechanic: Predator stance
Riptor is the first character with a stance in Killer Instinct. You enter Predator stance either by pressing all three kick buttons, or by getting your opponent to block a Shoulder Charge special move. While in Predator stance, Riptor has a forward and backward dash instead of a run, cannot block, and cannot do any special moves, but has access to 6 unique normals. Performing one of these special normals or pressing three kicks will exit Predator stance.
Riptor's Predator normals form much of the core of her scary pressure game. Let's take a quick look at them.
- LP: A fast three-hitting, safe-on-block bite attack that will cause a wall splat when close to the corner, but creates some distance if blocked. It's shadow counterable on block, but allows for follow-ups after the wall splat, so it is best used in the corner or when you want some distance.
- LK: A fast twice-hitting leap attack that is +1 on block and leaves Riptor very close. The same amount of startup as LP, but you can't combo after it, so use this to interrupt an opponent's button for small damage and to set up more mixups. This is likely to be your go-to option if you want to maintain pressure without risking a punish.
- MP: A low-hitting bite attack. Riptor's main low threat while in Predator stance, it is also an opener and will directly begin a combo. It is only marginally unsafe at -3, but starts in 17 frames, which might be interrupted by a mash-happy opponent.
- MK: Riptor bends her tail over her head for an overhead attack that hits three times. It also has 17 frames of startup and is -3 on block, but is very easily shadow countered if it's blocked. Like MP, it is an opener.
- HP: Riptor leaps up and blasts fire at her opponent. This overhead attack is very fast at 14 frames, but is unsafe at -9 on block and knocks the opponent down, so it is not a combo starter.
- HK: A fast low-hitting sweep attack that leaves Riptor far away from her opponent. It starts up in 12 frames, the same as her LP and LK Predator normals, and while technically unsafe at -9, it is pretty difficult for most characters to reliably punish. However, it will push Riptor out of range for future pressure.
The Predator normals can be summarized as follows: the light attacks can be blocked both high and low but are good for interrupting your opponent's attempts to escape the pressure and keeping Riptor close for more mixups; they are "stop pressing buttons" options. The medium attacks have a high and low option that are right on the edge of human reaction time and require meter to punish, and lead to combos on hit, but will lose to an opponent who likes to press a lot of buttons; they are "I want a mixup and a combo" options. These two buttons are perhaps the best of her Predator stance arsenal. Finally, the heavy attacks have a high and low option that are too fast to recognize and block, but they are unsafe or otherwise end Riptor's pressure; they are low reward "I bet you can't block this" options. Use the lights to keep your opponent honest and generate frame advantage, use the mediums to test their defense with only marginal unsafety, and use the heavies to create distance or force them to truly guess.
Openers: Shoulder Charge (shadow OK), Talon Rake (shadow OK), Tail Flip (shadow OK), Ankle Bite (MP in Predator), Tail Stings (MK in Predator), Flame (HP during forward run), Flame Breath (hold HP)
Riptor has a few key openers. Tail Flip causes Riptor to somersault at her opponent, landing on her back. It's her main left-right mixup tool and starts a combo, while MP and MK in Predator stance form a strong high-low threat that starts a combo off either attack. Shoulder Charge and Talon Rake are unique special moves in KI because they act differently if the opponent blocks them, so they are mostly used in the neutral game for their on-block options and will conveniently start a combo if the opponent happens to get hit.
As discussed above, Shoulder Charge directly leads to Predator stance when blocked, so it's a great attack to use at around sweep range to force the opponent to handle a surprise mixup. Talon Rake causes Riptor to leap into the air feet first towards her target. When blocked, Riptor bounces off the opponent and, while falling back to the ground, has access to two attacks; press punch to throw a downward fireball towards the opponent at three different angles, or press kick to perform Tail Flip in the air. The fireballs can do some chip and keep Riptor safe at distance, accepting that the move was blocked and reassess the situation, while the Tail Flip can very easily cross-up or stay in front depending on the button pressed at risk of punishment on block, making it more of an all-in attempt. If you press no button after a blocked Talon Rake, Riptor will bounce away from the opponent and land with only trip guard frames. Be warned, however, that some characters can do a reversal attack and catch Riptor out of all possible options (examples include Jago's Tiger Fury and Sabrewulf's shadow Jumping Slash), so a blocked Talon Rake will not always guarantee safety.
Both shadow Shoulder Charge and shadow Talon Rake perform the same on-block behavior as the non-shadow versions, although each can be shadow countered on the fifth hit like other shadow moves. It's also important to note that Riptor can press LP/MP (Shoulder Charge) or LK/MK (Talon Rake) to execute special moves during both her forward and back runs. This allows Riptor to perform these moves while mobile or as cancels off normals, giving her many options to apply offense.Other Combo Starters: Flame Arc & Tail Slap (stagger)
During Predator Stance, if Riptor dashes and presses HP, she will perform Flame Arc, a bottom-to-top flame attack that leaves Riptor advantaged on block and staggers the opponent. It has slow startup, but is useful if your opponent is willing to block some of Riptor's pressure, and leads to an easy combo confirm. Tail Slap is HK during Riptor's forward run. It is negative but not punishable on block and the stagger on hit leads to easy combos as well. Mixing in Tail Slap with Flame (HP during forward run) will give Riptor a new look on offense, as well as a threatening and useful low attack during Run.Linkers: Shoulder Charge (shadow OK), Talon Rake (shadow OK), Shadow Tail Flip, Flame Breath (HP), Tail Zip (HK)
While Riptor has a lot of interesting ways to start a combo or apply pressure, she has fairly standard linkers. Shoulder Charge is her more damaging special move linker, while Talon Rake pushes the opponent faster to the corner. Shadow Tail Flip must be broken using staggered timing; it has a big first strike that launches the opponent into the air, and then 3 more strikes as Riptor jumps up and recaptures them to the ground. Her combo trait allows her to use HP and HK as single button special move linkers, which is great for beginners, but Riptor tends to have better options.
Shadow Linkers: You must take care when breaking Riptor's shadow linkers because Shadow Shoulder Charge starts up very fast after the freeze, while Shadow Talon Rake starts up very slow after the freeze. For Shadow Shoulder Charge, you need to break the first hit almost immediately after the freeze ends. For Shadow Talon Rake, it starts up so slow that you could have broken at least two hits of Shadow Shoulder Charge before the first hit even becomes active. Because of this delay, I recommend you try to break the third, fourth, and fifth hits of this linker so you have time to hear the hits happening, otherwise you will almost certainly lock out by attempting to break the first hit too early. Just don't worry if it looks like Riptor is getting close to the ground, because the break windows will still exist. Shadow Tail Flip is a staggered linker which hits only 4 times against some characters and 5 times against others. The data for the 4-hit version is presented here, because it seems to be more common.
When Riptor performs a shadow linker, it can be difficult to tell which move she has chosen, as the animations during the screen freeze look surprisingly similar. Shadow Tail Flip turns Riptor around and is the easiest to recognize, but you'll have to look more closely for the other two; the only reliable way to tell is to look at her tail. During the freeze for shadow Shoulder Charge, Riptor curls her tail up like a scorpion, while during the freeze for shadow Talon Rake, Riptor's tail is long and straight behind her. Due to the huge difference in timing for the first hit, recognizing this difference during the freeze is very important.
Like Spinal, Talon Rake is a great damage ender but typically only used when it can finish an opponent's health bar, since you will forfeit all of Riptor's valued momentum when you use it. In general, Riptor's momentum is important enough that she prefers other enders. In the corner, the wall splat from Shoulder Charge is very strong, as Riptor gains a lot of potential mixups with her strong jumping normals, multi-way mixups with Tail Flip and Predator stance, and even going the non-risky route and just landing a throw does high damage and leads to a safe mixup with Flame Carpet. Mid-screen, Tail Flip causes a hard knockdown, where Riptor can lay a Flame Carpet and force the opponent into a reversal-or-block scenario, which can lead to extended pressure. The longer Riptor can keep the opponent blocking, the more panicked the defender will become. Clever Girl causes a ground bounce, which works wonders with Riptor's flipout options.
Recapture & Flipout: Tail Flip & Shadow Tail Flip (recapture), Standing LK (flipout)
Riptor doesn't often recapture intentionally with regular Tail Flip; it usually happens if the opponent tries to jump away from Riptor's pressure, because the move itself is very slow and difficult to use in juggles. Shadow Tail Flip has a very fast first strike, making it reliable for recaptures when used as anti-air or after ground bounce enders. Riptor makes fantastic use of flipout, though. She can use standing LK after a ground bounce ender or after Riptor's invincible reversal, Shadow Clever Girl, which means she can turn defense into offense quickly. Standing LK itself can be canceled into Predator stance and then into a very fast high-low mixup which will hit the opponent as soon as they land from the flipout, or directly into Tail Flip to hit as a crossup attack. You can even just use standing LK with no cancel and then throw them.
Normals to watch: Riptor has a couple of very noteworthy normal attacks, many of them involving her flame button (HP). Jumping HP is a 3-hit fire breath that has a great hitbox and is great for keeping opponents in block stun. Flame (HP during forward run) is a lunging flame attack that is also an opener and great for applying surprise pressure from a distance. It's a 3-hit attack, however, which means wary opponents will be ready with a shadow counter if you become predictable with this method of approach. Meanwhile, HP while running back throws a downward projectile that cuts off angles of approach and is great for Riptor's hit-and-run game.
Flame Carpet (+HP) lays a projectile attack on the ground (it's not a high or a low) that has a full second or more of active frames, which can trap knocked down opponents and force them to handle Riptor's up-close pressure at frame disadvantage; use this attack often after throws and any Tail Flip ender to make Riptor's strong mixup game shine. Opponents can jump out of Flame Carpet pressure, but most knockdowns will give you enough time to set up a Flame Carpet and still press your advantage with a normal or special move, forcing your opponent to reversal or block. If you want to be especially tricky, after laying a Flame Carpet, fire out a couple Flame Mortars which will further pin your opponent down as you apply some mixups. Rounding out her flame attacks is crouching HP, which is a low-hitting attack that can be canceled into Predator stance for a good surprise mixup. Canceling into Predator with three kicks, and then leaving Predator by pressing three kicks again, will leave Riptor at roughly even frames on block, keeping her safe from reversals and lending credence to her Predator pressure.
Riptor also has a couple important non-flame normals. Far standing HK hits 3 times (so watch out for shadow counters) and pulls the opponent towards Riptor to make sure they will be in range for a Predator cancel mixup or Tail Flip. It also has a ton of active frames, making it a great meaty attack if you don't have time to lay down a Flame Carpet. Close standing MK has 6 frames of startup, is +1 on block and +7 on hit, and doesn't have much pushback, making it a great move to bully your opponents. Jumping HK is great for air-to-air and ground bounces the opponent on hit; if you have time when you land, you can recapture them with shadow Tail Flip to continue the combo. This move is especially great during instinct. Lastly, HK while running backwards is a giant tail attack that can be used as a pseudo-reversal. Riptor is not truly invincible, but her hitbox is small and hiding behind the tail attack.
Specials to watch: Some of Riptor's special moves are unique in that they have just as much utility on block as they do on hit. As mentioned, blocking Shoulder Charge puts the opponent in a free Predator mixup and blocking Talon Rake can lead to safe fireball pressure or a Tail Flip left-right mixup. Tail Flip can also be performed on the ground or in the air using a quarter circle command, but all versions are very unsafe on block. To effectively punish this move, either use a low-hitting combo starter to hit Riptor as she lays prone on the ground, or wait a half-second until she starts to stand back up again; her hitbox will be in a better position for you to hit with a giant attack like HP or HK. There is no need to rush your Tail Flip punish; you'll have ample time to wait for Riptor to stand up. Clever Girl is an upper body invincible attack that ground bounces the opponent (you can recapture with shadow Tail Flip, but you'll start with high KV). On hit, you can choose to flip out immediately for a fast mixup. Shadow Clever Girl is Riptor's best reversal, as it's fully invincible to the hit, but has a low hitbox, which makes it susceptible to jumping crossups and other attacks that aim for the back of a character's body. Like normal Clever Girl, you must spend a second bar to recapture, or choose to use standing LK for a flipout.
General strategy: Riptor is most effectively played as a frightening rushdown character, sprinkled with some patience and runaway. Characters without projectiles will have a somewhat difficult time breaking through back run HP and Flame Carpet projectiles at a distance, while Riptor approaches cautiously with run forward HP, or run forward into Shoulder Charge or Talon Rake. When the opponent is knocked down or forced to block, Riptor goes to work. The Predator mixups are quite real; Riptor can keep herself in perpetual frame advantage with Predator LK, and do rudimentary throw fakes afterwards (complete with neutral jump HP for throw baits) or perform any number of difficult to defend mixups with Predator high-lows and Tail Flips. If you knock your opponent down, lay a Flame Carpet on top of their body so they must wake up into frame disadvantage. She couples the best parts of SFIV Dudley's high-low offense that always seems to be at plus frames with SFIV El Fuerte's irritating mobility and left-right mixups. You'll just have to watch for shadow counters on her approaching normals (standing HK, run forward HP) and defenders who predict your more deadly mixups.