Welcome to the Jellyfish Pirate Crew!

In this guide we’ll be covering some basic combo routes for May in Guilty Gear Strive.

After pouring hours into playing May, I decided that I wanted to create a resource that could help onboard new players. She’s a fantastic character with great mobility, huge damage, and is cute as a button. My hope with this guide is to help build a foundation for players that are new to Guilty Gear Strive, or fighting games in general. That said, we’ll be discussing a variety of different combos that aim to familiarize you with May’s specific rhythm.

A note before we start: few if any of the combos highlighted here are optimal. My target audience is new players, and the optimal damage routes on May can be quite fiddly, or difficult to execute. That said, the combos highlighted here will help provide the building blocks to eventually learn those optimal routes. I’m looking to teach you to walk, so that you can teach yourself to run when you’re ready.

Table of Contents

Combo Notation

Before we start – some house keeping.

Here is how I’ll be writing the combo notation within this guide. This mirrors the notation that is used by the Guilty Gear wiki Dustloop.

Image illustrating how combo notation will be handled within the guide. It mirrors what is used by Dustloop, which is to copy a keyboard number pad. 8 corresponds to up, 4 is back, 6 is forward, and 2 is down. 7, 9, 1, and 3 represent the options between the 4 cardinal directions, and 5 is a lack of any input.

Following our annotations above, 8 would correspond to up, 4 would be holding back, 6 is pressing forward, and 2 is holding down. 7, 9, 1, and 3 are the diagonal directional inputs between our 4 cardinal directions, and 5 is a lack of any kind of directional input. In this way, forward punch would be written as 6P, while a crouching kick would be 2K. Furthermore, a quarter circle input would be written as 236, which mirrors the rolling motion of the stick with the corresponding numpad values.

In addition, I’ll be copying the Dustloop shorthand for the following:

  • c.S = close slash (when you use S close to the opponent)
  • f.S = far slash (when you use S far from the opponent)
  • j.X = jump attacks
  • [X] = hold this input
  • (ch) = counter hit
  • WS = wall splat
  • RRC = Red Roman Cancel

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Terminology Reference

Here is the list of jargon used throughout this guide. I’ve included links to the applicable definition within the fighting game glossary by Infil. This is an extremely powerful resource that you should keep in mind if you ever run into terminology you don’t understand when it comes to fighting games.

The following are all Guilty Gear specific terms:

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How to Charge

May is what is known as a charge character. This is a distinction provided to characters that use charge inputs for their special moves instead of motion inputs. What differentiates this from other special move inputs is that the player is required to hold the charged input for a short period to “charge” before they can use their special moves. This gives charge characters a much difference cadence compared to more traditionally designed fighters. In practical terms, this means you’ll be holding down, or back throughout your combos, so that your special moves are charged when you’re ready to use them.

Given May is a charge character, both of her Mr. Dolphin special moves require a charge input. The Mr. Dolphin that moves horizontally requires players to charge by holding back, while the one that moves vertically requires the player to charge by holding down. This might prove to be an initial barrier to playing May, but many of her combos naturally provide windows to charge before players need to call upon Mr. Dolphin.

Guilty Gear Strive also features a fairly quick charging time. May players only need to charge for about half a second (30 frames) before they can use their special attacks. This provides plenty of opportunities for May to drown her opponent in a deluge of dolphins.

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Bread N Butter Combos

If you’re only able to learn one thing from this guide, let it be this section. These combos are the backbone of May’s combo structure, and will act as a gateway into May’s huge damage potential.

c.S > 2H > [2]8H

A simple combo where you start with May’s close slash, launch the opponent, and use a Mr. Dolphin special attack. This ends in a hard knockdown, which will allow players to use Arisugawa Sparkle (214P or 214K) to setup dangerous high/low and strike/throw mixups on their opponent.

c.S > 2H > [4]6H > 5H > 5H > [4]6H WS > 6[H]

This is commonly referred to as the corner combo, and is the other important combo that beginners need to learn. Whenever you hit confirm near the corner – do this combo! It does a lot of damage, and is dead simple.

You’ll also notice that I’m charging throughout this combo. I’m holding down-back (1) during 2H, and back during 5H (4) in order to charge Mr. Dolphin. This is how you charge Mr. Dolphin mid-combo. It’ll feel a bit awkward at first, but gets much easier with a bit of practice.

This combo also introduces us to wall splats. This provides May with an opportunity to use the fully charged version of her command normal 6H. In this instance, players will want to press, and hold heavy slash, so 6H can deal more damage. Alternatively, if you have 50 tension then you can opt to use either of May’s powerful overdrives to deal even more damage.

Don’t worry if you initially bungle your wall splats as this mechanic is a little inconsistent. You’ll get a feel for wall splats the more you play, which will allow you to better capitalize on them.

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Close Range Combos

May’s close slash is extremely powerful, but sometimes you’ll need something faster.

5P > 5P > 3K
5P > 5P > 6P

These are your fastest combos, but they’re quite weak. However, there are a number of special moves that May can’t outright punish with her close slash (ex. Potemkin’s Megafist). When punishing these moves, you’ll need to use May’s incredibly quick jab instead.

The 2 listed combos are interchangeable, but accomplish different goals. The former results in a soft knockdown, which can allow May to continue her offense. The latter forces the opponent back to midrange. In the overwhelming majority of cases, you’ll want to use May’s 3K command normal as it helps to maintain your momentum when you’re on offense.

It’s also worth noting that you can use 2P instead of 5P within either of those combos, and they will still work.

2K > 2D > [2]8S OR [2]8H

This is May’s fast low combo. There isn’t much to say here: it’s fast, it hits low, and ends in a hard knockdown. This makes it an incredibly powerful tool for keeping your opponent guessing while they’re on defense. It also converts into a high damage combo when performed in the corner:

2K > 2D > [2]8H > 5H > [4]6H > 5H > 6[H]

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Midrange Combos

Fighting in midrange with May is weird. She has several amazing attacks that work great for poking the opponent from afar. However, she can’t really convert any of her pokes into full combos without using meter (more on that here). As such, most of the combos we’ll touch on here are short, and sweet.

5K > [4]6S
2S > [4]6S
f.S > [4]6S

These 3 combos may look the same, but they all fulfill a different purpose. 5K is May’s fastest poking option, but it isn’t disjoint. This makes it quite effective for mashing when you, or your opponent are trying to take space in neutral. 2S is disjointed meaning it is safer than 5K, but it is also 25% slower. Which of these two options you’ll default to is going to depend on how your opponent is playing. 2S lets you stay safer for scouting, while 5K can help you win in situations where speed matters.

Far slash is the odd one out here. It’s the slowest of May’s pokes, but it can hit opponents that are jumping. It is best used to dissuade your opponent from attempting to jump, so you have an easier time locking them down to the corner.

In all cases, you can choose to follow up landing any of these pokes with a quick horizontal Mr. Dolphin. This will deal additional damage, and, usually, pushes your opponent into the corner.

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Aerial Combos

May has some of the best aerial mobility in the game! There’s a lot of different potential combo routes that you can learn off of her fantastic air normals, but I wanted to provide a few simple routes to get you started.

j.H > 5K > 3K
j.S > 5P > 3K

These are some basic air-to-ground routes. In both cases, you’ll hit a grounded opponent, and link that into a soft knockdown. This will allow you to continue your offensive pressure, or you can opt to use a Roman Cancel to extend the combo further (more on that here).

j.K > j.D

For air-to-air, you’ll want to use May’s jump kick, and link it into jump dust. This doesn’t do a lot of damage, but it is fast and will help to tell your opponent that they’re not allowed to enter your airspace. You can also choose to end this with your Orca overdrive (632146H) if you have 50 tension.

j.H (ch) c.S > 6H > [4]6S

Finally, here is an additional route that opens up if you score a counter hit. This is one of the more complex combos in this guide as you will have to respond to a counter hit, and do a charge immediately following a 6H input. It’s a little bit fiddly to charge after 6H, but that’s a skill you’ll need to do intermediate level May combos. If you can’t get it right immediately – don’t fret. With some practice you’ll be able to do this combo with ease. If you find it too difficult, you can always continue converting with 5K into 3K instead. This route just gives you a bit more damage.

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Charged Dust Combos

In Strive, there is a universal overhead in the dust normal. This can be helpful for scoring high/low mixups against the opponent, but every single dust normal also has a charged variant. This is what’s known as a charged dust, and landing will open your opponent up for a LOT of damage.

5[D] > [8] > j.H > j.D > j.K > j.H > j.D > j.KK
5[D] > [8] > j.H > j.D > j.K > j.H > j.D > j.PP

The idea here is that you want to press, and hold your dust input. When it hits there will be a bit of slowdown, where players can choose to hold up. When you do this, both characters will be launched into the sky, and you can perform the follow up combo.

The version of this combo that ends in 2 uses of jump kick is the more powerful version, and is what you should default to. The only time you’ll have to use the one that ends in jump punch is against Chipp, Jack-O’, and Happy Chaos. I’m not exactly sure why, but the final jump kick will miss against these 3 characters, so you have to use jump punch instead to finish the combo.

This was actually one of the first combos I learned on May. I know it may look intimidating because it is so long, but it is dead simple with a bit of practice.

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Roman Cancel Combos

I’ve referenced Roman Cancels a couple times in this guide, but what are they? This is when you spend 50 tension to cancel the recovery of an attack, and slow down time. When used within a combo this will manifest as a Red Roman Cancel (RRC), which allows you to extend a combo. This can transform your midscreen pokes, or air-to-ground combos into devastating damage dealers.

This video captures a few different examples of how you could use Roman Cancels. There’s no real rule when it comes to using them – they simply allow you to extend a combo, or start a combo from moves that don’t naturally combo into anything like May’s 6K, and 3K.

For the remainder of this section I’ll be using the term hit confirm in all of the combo notation. What this means is that it isn’t super important what you hit your opponent with – all that matters is that you hit them. If you do that, then you can continue the combo with a Roman Cancel, which is what this section is all about!

Hit Confirm > RRC > c.S > 2H > [2]8H

This is a basic route for when you decide to use a RRC midscreen. May’s optimal corner carry combos are rather complex, but this simple combo does okay damage, and leaves the opponent in a hard knockdown. As previously mentioned, hard knockdowns open the opponent up for mixups, so this can help you to maintain your advantage over the opponent.

Hit Confirm > RRC > c.S > 2H > [4]6H > 5H > 5H > [4]6H > 6[H]

If you are anywhere near the corner, however, then you should transition your RRC into the corner combo. This will turn any stray hit from May into an absolutely devastating amount of damage.

Alternatively, if your opponent doesn’t have their psych burst, you can go for this:

Hit Confirm > RRC > 6[H] > [4]6H > 5H > 5H > [4]6H > 6[H]

If you go for a fully charged 6H, you’re giving your opponent a huge freebie to psych burst in your face. That’s why you should only go for this when they’re not able to burst out of your combo. This does a LOT more damage, so it is absolutely worth using when your opponent doesn’t have a get out of jail free card.

Similar to the aerial counter hit combo, you’ll need to charge after landing 6H, albeit this is much easier during a Roman Cancel. During the slow down that is caused by a Roman Cancel, you’ll want to press 6H and hold down heavy slash. Afterward, immediately start charging. May continues to charge 6H as long as the heavy slash button is held (until it is fully charged), which provides you with 40 frames to charge Mr. Dolphin. This will let you use a horizontal Mr. Dolphin immediately after your opponent eats a fully charged 6H. I know this will feel awkward at first, but with a bit of practice you’ll be able to do this with ease.

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Tick Throws

This section doesn’t cover combos, but it does cover something I mentioned earlier in the guide: strike/throw mixups. Throwing your opponent is a big part of playing May successfully. Throwing beats blocking, and forces your opponent to choose riskier options on defence.

c.S | 5P | 2P | 2K > 6D | 623K

To that end, here are a list of normals that setup a tick throw. This is when you use an attack that is either plus, or only a little minus on block before throwing you opponent. This helps to make your throw more ambiguous as you could just keep attacking in these situations.

It’s also worth noting that you can tick throw your opponent after they block a heavy vertical Mr. Dolphin. This would look as follows:

[2]8H > j.P > 6D
[2]8H > j.K > 6D
[2]8H > 623K

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Combo Reference

ComboPositionGuide InfoRecipe (PC Only)
c.S > 2H > [2]8HAnywhereBread N Butter Combos99273
c.S > 2H > [4]6H > 5H > 5H > [4]6H WS > 6[H]CornerBread N Butter Combos99274
c.S > 2H > [4]6H > 5H > 5H > [4]6H WS > 632146HCornerBread N Butter Combos99275
c.S > 2H > [4]6H > 5H > 5H > [4]6H WS > 236236SCornerBread N Butter Combos99277
5P > 5P > 3KAnywhereClose Range Combos99278
2P > 2P > 3KAnywhereClose Range Combos99279
5P > 5P > 6PAnywhereClose Range Combos99280
2P > 2P > 6PAnywhereClose Range Combos99281
2K > 2D > [2]8SAnywhereClose Range Combos99282
2K > 2D > [2]8HAnywhereClose Range Combos99283
2K > 2D > [2]8H > 5H > [4]6H > 5H > 6[H]CornerClose Range Combos99285
2K > 2D > [2]8H > 5H > [4]6H > 5H > 632146HCornerClose Range Combos99286
2K > 2D > [2]8H > 5H > [4]6H > 5H > 236236SCornerClose Range Combos99287
5K > [4]6SAnywhereMidrange Combos99289
2S > [4]6SAnywhereMidrange Combos99290
f.S > [4]6SAnywhereMidrange Combos99291
j.H > 5K > 3KAnywhereAerial Combos99292
j.S > 5P > 3KAnywhereAerial Combos99293
j.K > j.DAnywhereAerial Combos99295
j.K > j.D > 632146HAnywhereAerial Combos99296
j.H (ch) c.S > 6H > [4]6SAnywhereAerial Combos99297
5[D] > [8] > j.H > j.D > j.K > j.H > j.D > j.KKAnywhereCharged Dust Combos99298
5[D] > [8] > j.H > j.D > j.K > j.H > j.D > j.PPAnywhereCharged Dust Combos99299
Hit Confirm > RRC > c.S > 2H > [2]8HAnywhereRoman Cancel Combos99300
Hit Confirm > RRC > c.S > 2H > [4]6H > 5H > 5H > [4]6H > 6[H]CornerRoman Cancel Combos99303
Hit Confirm > RRC > 6[H] > [4]6H > 5H > 5H > [4]6H > 6[H]CornerRoman Cancel Combos99304
c.S > 6DAnywhereTick Throws99305
c.S > 623KAnywhereTick Throws99306
5P > 6DAnywhereTick Throws99309
2P > 6DAnywhereTick Throws99310
2K > 6DAnywhereTick Throws99311
[2]8H > j.P > 6DAnywhereTick Throws99312
[2]8H > j.K > 6DAnywhereTick Throws99313
[2]8H > 623KAnywhereTick Throws99314

Unfortunately, I only have a copy of Guilty Gear Strive on PC, so I was only able to upload combo recipes for the folks on PC.

To load a given recipe from the table, go to the main menu, and selection offline. From the offline menu, go down to combo, and select search. From the search menu, tab over to the last column with the magnifying glass icon, and input the desired recipe code from the above table into the recipe no field within the search criteria in-game. This should allow you to search up any of the combo recipes from the table above to practice while you’re in game.

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Additional References

The scope of this guide was to cover beginner information. As such, I wanted to include a list of resources that you can go to once you’re ready to move to the next step.

The Dominent’s Guide to Playing May

YomiFGC’s Youtube

The Yomicord (Yomi’s Discord)

Dustloop Wiki

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Thank you for reading my beginner combo guide for May. I hope you learned something new, and were able to apply it in game. As I said, this guide is meant for very new players which somewhat limits its scope, but I hope that it gets some new players interested in the game. Maybe I’ll run into you out there?

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them below. I’ll answer them to the best of my abilities.