1 Meter: HP double > MP double > HP double > MP double > Shadow Dark Drift > Dark Fury ender (56%)
2 Meter: HP double > MP double > HP double > MP double > Shadow Dark Drift > Shadow Dark Fury ender (58%)
( Damage calculation notes)
Notes: Shadow Jago uses both directions of his Around the Underworld combo trait to alternate between HP and MP auto-doubles until the lockout window expires. Shadow Dark Drift does more damage and takes less time than shadow Dark Demise as a linker, and is several percent more damaging than using a shadow ender in the 1-meter combo. Interestingly, the 0-meter combo appears to stretch slightly beyond the lockout window when performed on an all-breaking training mode dummy, but human players cannot break it.
Shadow Jago is able to execute a "surge" version of any of his special moves at any strength. Not entirely unlike Cinder's "fired up" ability, a surged special move simply enhances one of Shadow Jago's default special moves to be slightly more powerful; think of it almost like a "mini" shadow move, or like an EX move from a Street Fighter game. On Shadow Jago's shadow meter, you will notice a small segment marked "Surge", denoting that the cost to execute a surge move is 40% of one shadow stock. To execute a surge move, input the special move like normal, but then quickly tap the punch or kick button twice during your move's startup. You must be fast; you cannot wait until you see if the move will hit before you decide to surge.
Surge Shendokuken, both grounded and in the air, fires a second fireball at a diagonal angle. Due to the speed of the fireballs, this is quite useful in zoning, but it is also much safer on block during pressure than regular fireballs. The second fireball will miss against most crouching characters, though, so be careful. Surge Dark Drift slides halfway to the opponent before teleporting behind them and hitting them from the back. This move is safe on block (but disadvantaged at -2) and launches the opponent on hit, allowing Shadow Jago to juggle. It is great to use as a surprise attack, but because the surge version is quite a bit slower than the regular version, it can be interrupted by attacks, can be jumped away from, or blocked by an option select if the opponent is thinking ahead. Because of this, it's best to not use surge Dark Drift from full screen, hoping the defender won't be ready, but rather when your opponent is nervous about a close range throw or overhead attack.
Surge Dark Fury, Shadow Jago's uppercut move, simply does a second uppercut after the first, launching the opponent for a juggle opportunity. There is a gap between the first and second uppercuts that can catch you pressing buttons if you are eager to punish the first uppercut, and there is no visual indication he has surged the move until it's too late, so your best bet is simply to delay your punish slightly while holding back. You will have plenty of time to punish the uppercut if it was not surged, but still block the second uppercut if it happens. Practice this timing in training mode if you are struggling to punish this move. Surge Dark Catastrophe, Shadow Jago's uppercut while dashing, also does a second uppercut wave, launching for a juggle. This move is harder to punish on block, because Shadow Jago will fly far away from you, but if you are quick, you can hit him after the first uppercut but before the second starts. If you have a teleport or long-distance horizontal move, you can also easily punish this move after the second uppercut completes.
Surge Dark Demise, Shadow Jago's dive kick, is perhaps his best surge move. It is faster than normal Dark Demise, hits as many as 5 times depending on the spacing, acts as an opener like a jumping attack would, has very little recovery if it misses, and is only marginally unsafe at -3 on block, leaving Shadow Jago close. Because the attack happens so quickly, defenders will have to be very aware to wrestle control away from Shadow Jago after blocking this move, even though Shadow Jago is negative. The move's multi-hitting nature is perfect for beating armored characters like Aganos with chunks or Glacius in instinct, and Shadow Jago can choose to hit in the front or the back, just like he can with regular Dark Demise. To beat this move, it is possible, though difficult, to anti-air on reaction, and its hitbox is rather narrow, which means it struggles to catch jumping opponents; even if you get hit by surge Dark Demise in the air, it is very hard for Shadow Jago to convert it into bigger damage. Just be careful not to over-rely on this; smart Shadow Jago players will stop your panic jumps by using many of his other tools.
Surge moves are Shadow Jago's best special moves, but they are very costly to use repeatedly. Even with a fully loaded shadow meter, Shadow Jago can only execute 5 total surge moves before he is completely empty, and Shadow Jago relies on this meter to get meaningful damage off his many air juggle opportunities, so there is always a delicate balancing act here. While it is very fun to fire off numerous surge moves in rapid succession, you may find your shadow meter dry when you land a hit and unable to turn your eventual opening into damage.
Shadow Jago's dashes are teleports that can be used for mobility and also for mixups. While he is invisible in the middle of his dash, he is invincible to attacks and can pass through opponents, and at any time, he can cancel his dash into one of three options: press LP+LK to throw, press any punch to do Dark Catastrophe, a diagonally-traveling invincible DP attack, or press any kick to do Dark Demise, Shadow Jago's dive kick. You can surge these options and the different strengths of punch and kick have different effects. If you choose to not cancel a dash into one of these options, Shadow Jago will enter recovery after his dash ends and will be open to counter-attack.
Shadow Jago can also cancel Gate Keeper (+HK), a step kick command normal, into his dash. This lets him turn a blocked mid-range poke into a medium-risk, medium-reward mixup, and is an important part of Shadow Jago's offense.
Shadow Jago often starts combos in unconventional ways. Apart from jumping attacks, he really only has Dark Drift, his slide move, and surge or shadow Dark Demise, his dive kick, as "true" grounded openers. Regular Dark Drift is very fast, but always unsafe; the light version is the safest at -5 on block, meaning it can always be punished with a well-timed light attack to start a combo, and the medium and heavy versions are even worse. This is quite unlike Omen's Demon Slide, a move which feel similar but can be used in more situations because some versions are safe on block. Surge Dark Demise, as mentioned above, is a great move for Shadow Jago, but needs meter for each use. Shadow Dark Demise will try to track the opponent and, additionally, it recaptures if it catches someone airborne. It has uses outside of a combo to try and track down a distant zoning character or pick off someone who is jumping, but be warned that it is hugely negative on block; you can punish shadow Dark Demise without shadow counter.
Shadow Jago often starts his combos in one of two non-traditional ways. The first way is by launching the opponent and juggling them without the use of auto-doubles or linkers. Shadow Jago has numerous ways to begin a launch: both throws, surge Dark Drift (slide), surge Dark Fury (uppercut), and surge Dark Catastrophe (dash uppercut) will all start a juggle opportunity. It is here where Shadow Jago can quickly build up a large amount of potential damage through hard-to-break juggle combos, but he needs at least one full stock of shadow meter to use shadow Dark Fury and cash out the damage. Without a full stock, Shadow Jago's juggles will hover around the 10-15% damage range and are not overly concerning, so hopefully you didn't spend all your meter on surge moves!
The second way Shadow Jago starts combos is by using stagger moves; both regular Dark Demise and his Dark Reckoning overhead command normal (+HK) will cause a stagger state and lead to a grounded combo with an easy manual of your choice. Regular Dark Demise is at least -20 on block, but from close range you can hit from the front or the back by choosing different strengths. In general, though, this move is best avoided unless you do the surge version. Dark Reckoning, a move where Shadow Jago leaps forward and strikes with his heel, is a decently long range overhead attack, and any grounded normal can cancel into it, which makes it almost feel like a special move in application. The overhead is -2 on block, which is the safest non-metered combo starter Shadow Jago has; if you block the overhead, pressing a button will give you control of the match. The lack of safe approaches is one of Shadow Jago's big weaknesses.
While many Shadow Jago combos will be air juggles, he will still find plenty of opportunity to land grounded combos via a stagger move or surprise Dark Drift attack. Shadow Jago cannot surge his linkers, so there is nothing out of the ordinary to discuss here. Dark Drift will switch sides with the opponent, although shadow Dark Drift finishes on the same side it started on; be careful to input your ender move facing the correct side. Dark Demise has a large amount of startup, which makes it fantastic for baiting timing lockouts, since you are not allowed to break linkers during startup. If you notice your opponent has itchy trigger fingers on those combo break buttons, throwing in Dark Demise linkers will force him to be more deliberate with his timing, which works to your advantage. As another bonus, Shadow Jago seems to have an exceedingly large amount of frame advantage after his linkers. While he cannot break the manual restriction rules, he is one of the easier characters to perform manuals with in the game.
Due to Shadow Jago's extreme reliance on shadow meter, it makes sense to use his Shendokuken battery ender early and often, but like all non-shadow enders, you have to put them in a grounded combo in order to use it, which means Shendokuken is not an ender option for Shadow Jago's many juggle combos unless you recapture with shadow Dark Demise first. Dark Fury is his damage ender, and it serves as a strong finisher for grounded combos if your meter situation is fine, but of particular note is that shadow Dark Fury is the only way Shadow Jago can cash out damage from juggles, so you will see this ender used often. Shadow Dark Fury has a rather skinny hitbox, so you will need to practice your positioning at the end of juggles to make sure it does not miss entirely; if you juggle at the wrong height or hit your opponent too far away, this can easily happen. Dark Demise grants a hard knockdown, great for pre-planned mixups involving his dash or neutral jumping into a delayed Dark Demise, which will force your opponent to guess which way to block.
First, Shadow Jago can attach a Dark Tether to his opponent by hitting them with a fireball or dashing through their body, which will stay active until Shadow Jago gets hit or instinct ends. The tether has no passive effect, but it has two uses: pressing HP+HK will instantly generate a stock of shadow meter for both Shadow Jago and his opponent, and all surge and shadow moves cost Shadow Jago half as much meter as they normally would, while draining the other half from his opponent's meter (if his opponent has no meter available to drain, the cost is still halved for Shadow Jago). This means a fully stocked Shadow Jago can actually perform 10 surge moves and 4 shadow moves, double the normal amount, and you can perform long juggle combos or pressure strings that are not normally possible within the meter constraints. It also means that, like Jago, it is often beneficial to activate instinct in the middle of a combo, where attaching a tether with a fireball is guaranteed.
The other important use for Shadow Jago's instinct is Annihilation, a forward-traveling unblockable grab that looks similar to Street Fighter's Raging Demon attack. Annihilation can only be performed in instinct (via LP+LK), consumes all of your remaining instinct meter, and it does a different amount of damage depending on how much instinct time you had remaining. At near maximum instinct, Annihilation does 48% unbreakable damage, which will make defenders with half a life bar nervous. This move is throw invincible but not strike invincible (so it cannot beat attacks), but it starts up in a total of 6 frames, which means it can punish -6 or worse moves from point blank range; important examples of punishable moves include TJ's Tremor and Orchid's high/low Ichi Ni San mixups. This further stresses the point that Shadow Jago's instinct typically is activated as a reaction; either you activate it during a combo to attach a tether, or you wait until your opponent does something unsafe, then activate it and perform Annihilation immediately. Annihilation is best used to finish your opponent's second life bar; if you plan to use Annihilation at another point in the match, make sure they have at least 40% life to lose, or else the cost is probably not worth it. To avoid Annihilation, simply hold up-back during the screen freeze. It does not activate instantly after the freeze ends, so if you are not currently recovering from a move, you will jump over the grab and punish Shadow Jago with any high-damage opener of your choice.
In addition to his surge moves, there are some shadow moves worth using in neutral. Shadow Dark Drift is fast on startup and fully projectile and throw invincible until it hits, useful for punishing long-range whiffs (like Aganos trying to chunk up) and midscreen projectiles. Shadow Shendokuken does a surprising amount of raw damage (14%), leaves some white life on hit, is safe on block and safe from shadow counter, and also does strong chip damage. It's a costly use of meter for Shadow Jago, but if you are looking to apply safe pressure, cancel a reversal Dark Fury for safety, or have a Dark Tether attached and can use meter more liberally, it has some good applications.
But not all offense needs to be safe to be effective. You can take small risks here and there by using the Gate Keeper step kick, a pretty long-range and fast poke in itself, and dash canceling it. Mix up your dash cancels into a throw or surge Dark Catastrophe, which can hit on the left or the right depending on how long you delay the button. Unless your opponent is on point, you likely won't take consistently high damage punishment if these mixups do not hit. To keep your opponent honest, you can also directly cancel Gate Keeper into the Dark Drift slide (or the surge version) for a low-hitting left-right mixup. This forces your opponent to worry about all aspects of mixup after blocking Gate Keeper; you can throw, go overhead with Dark Reckoning, go low with Dark Drift, or cross-up with surge Dark Drift or Dark Catastrophe (which also has invincibility to beat attacks).
In addition to this, Shadow Jago can do Dark Demise from the left or the right after dash canceling Gate Keeper, and the surge version keeps Shadow Jago at plus frames. This illustrates the core of Shadow Jago's mixup game, a fully-optioned wheel but with many situationally unsafe options unless you spend meter. The last factor in playing Shadow Jago is the need to learn juggle combos to get damage, since many of his important mixups will force a juggle if they work, and they can be a little awkward to time for the uninitiated. But with all the pieces in play, Shadow Jago lets you dart around the screen and press buttons with a big smile on your face at all times, and if you win the match without losing your first life bar, perform his Ultimate combo to make the grin even wider.