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    Leona by TWedd

    Version: 0.01 | Updated: 01/11/98 | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    KoF '97 Leona guide v0.00000001
    ===============================  ~O
                                      Tx/  <-- Leona.
    T. Wedd  Jan. 11th, 1998         /^\       My ASCII art rocks with skill!
    Copyright notice: As if this is worth nicking stuff from. However, feel
    free to rip this document off for all it's worth. Cut and paste liberally
    into your own web-pages, and then claim you wrote it. Publish it in
    magazines. I really don't care. The mere fact that anyone considers it
    worth ripping off will be gratification enough for me :)
    Version History
    Urk! Forget it. These things are just annoying and no-one reads them.
    Every time I update it, I'll add an extra zero. How about that? :)
    I won't bore you with a page or so of contents. It's not that long
    really. Hmm, OK, so maybe it is. Basically it's set out as follows:
      Character Background
      Special Moves
      Normal Moves
      Victory Poses
    General Strategy
      The Poke/Running Slash Ground Game
      Walk-in Throws
      V-Slasher Fakes
      Dash-in combos
      Corner Trapping
      Wake-up Game
      Punishing Mistakes
      Meter Management
      Team Selection Issues
      Opening the Round
    The subject of this guide is the KoF'97 version of Leona. She has
    appeared in one game before this - KoF'96 (surprise surprise). However,
    since being a Leona player in KoF'96 carried only slightly less of a
    stigma than being a war criminal, not too many people picked her in '96.
    Therefore, I won't assume too much familiarity with her KoF'96
    techniques. I may mention them in passing, occasionally, but there won't
    be anything that says "just do what you did in KoF'96" and that's it.
    This guide is aimed at players of average level and above. That's not to
    say that beginners won't be able to derive any benefit from it, because
    they will (hopefully), I just mean that I won't explain every little
    thing in exhaustive detail. i.e. there isn't going to be a Glossary at
    the end going like "Aardvark:... Advanced Mode:... Buffering:... ...
    X-Caliber:... Xylophone:..." etc etc. [1] A fair bit of familiarity with
    KoF'97 game mechanics will also be assumed.
    Another thing I should mention is that I play in Advanced Mode almost
    exclusively. Therefore this guide is written from that perspective. So
    you won't find anything in here about the horrors a dodging Leona can
    inflict, and I'll be mentioning POW-exploding [2] and rolling quite
    frequently. There will still be a fair bit of generic stuff applying to
    both modes of course. Who knows, maybe one day I'll take up Extra Mode
    Oh yeah, it should also go without saying that this guide has nothing
    whatsoever to do with that stupid "Orochi" Leona abomination. If you
    actually "play" that character in vs-human fights and came here looking
    for tips and stuff, go away. And, while you're at it, kill yourself :)
    Even better, read on and perhaps you'll be convinced to take up the much
    much cooler and much much much _much_ fairer "normal" Leona.
    Character Background:
    Arrgh! I'm not going to bore you with pages and pages of "plot" stuff,
    nothing puts me to sleep faster than that. Consider this a
    Heidern-replacement, parent-killing, Orochi blood free zone. In truth I
    don't really care about the "plots" of fighting games. I just pick
    characters I think are cool. Sure, I like to see their endings - once -
    since it sometimes gives a bit of insight into their "personality". But
    all that centuries-old battle vs. Orochi stuff, bah, who cares.
    I just thought I'd include this little section and explain why one might
    pick Leona. A lot of people think she's boring, or perhaps haven't gotten
    over her hellish debut (KoF'96) incarnation. I'm not going to argue
    whether her gameplay is "interesting" or not, or whether she's
    overpowered, underpowered, or wombling free, because none of those are
    the main reason I play her. As I said above, I just play her because I
    think she's cool. To try and explain why, and perhaps gain a new convert
    or two in the process, I'll just be lazy and include an extract from a
    post I made on the subject to the Neo-Geo mailing list about two hundred
    years ago (in the KoF'96 era anyway):
    "I think it would be fair to say that I took up KoF because of (Leona). I
    like both her appearance and attitude. Being a Guile player in my early
    Capcom days, the fact that she's a charge character (which seem to be
    getting rarer and rarer these days) added to the attraction. She is one
    of the few females in any fighting game I've seen who looks like she
    would be capable of giving the likes of say Goro Daimon a run for his
    money. Her personality is refreshingly different for a fighting game
    character (especially a female), too. She doesn't flounce around the
    screen, giggle, strike studiedly "cool" poses [Editor's note: Hmm, OK,
    well she sort of does now] or taunt her opponent before or after the
    fight. She doesn't have a cute squeaky voice. She doesn't dress
    flamboyantly, fashionably, or scantily. Nor does she look like she just
    walked out of a salon. Not that there's anything wrong with any of these
    things, you understand, but I find such an understated character cool.
    How many other introverted fighting game characters can you think of?
    She's there to kick ass, pure and simple, nothing else.
    Her fighting style reflects her personality well. Compared to many other
    characters, she fights almost silently. She doesn't do anything for show
    or effect [Editor's note: Hmm, OK, well she sort of does now]. Rather
    than a constant narration of which special move is being employed, the
    most you'll hear from her is a grunt of effort [Editor's note: OK, maybe
    a "Sayonara" or two]. To me, this adds to the impression of deadly
    efficiency she puts across. Her sprite and her move appearances are cool
    too. I especially like the X-Caliber [Editor's note: I meant the '96
    X-Caliber, not the lame '97 one] and her backward-walking animation. Also
    I'm the only person I know who likes the look of the ReasonablyOKBall and
    thinks it fits in with her character. The idea of someone like that who
    has been trained to fight in military special-forces style, but
    hereditarily also has this awesome mysterious inner power and uses that
    as well, that's just so cool."
    I wasn't going to include one of those "bios" of Leona, but after reading
    it, I just have to put it in, you'll see why :)
                        NAME: Leona
              FIGHTING STYLE: Martial Arts & Heidern style Assassin Techniques
                 NATIONALITY: Unknown
                    BIRTHDAY: January 10, 1978
                      HEIGHT: 176 cm
                      WEIGHT: 65 kg
                      3-SIZE: B-84 W-57 H:85
                  BLOOD TYPE: B & Orochi
                     HOBBIES: None
              FAVOURITE FOOD: Vegetables
             FAVOURITE SPORT: None
    "Hobbies: None  Favourite Sport: None"
    Bwahahahah! I love it! That's my girl :)
    On the other hand, what the hell's up with her age? 19? That makes _Yuri_
    older than her, for Christ's sake. Yeah, right. To me, she looks like she
    should be in her late 20s or even 30s.
    Just do what you did in KoF'96.
    <End of document>
    EeehehEheeeQEEE! Just my little joke. Sorry.
    Hmm, by waffling on so much up there, I've risked having the "gameplay"
    section turning out shorter than the "background" section - the sure sign
    of a scrub's guide o_o; I know, I'll start by listing all of her moves
    with a few comments. That's always good to pad out a guide :)
    Special Moves
    1. Cheeseball.
    The actual name of this move is either the Voltaic or Baltic Launcher,
    but you won't hear those terms used very often. Um, yeah, the motion is
    charge back, forward + P. The main use of this move is to get people to
    jump into it and then hit them with the V-Slasher. For all you combo
    freaks, neither of the Cheeseballs combo. Nyahh! :)
    A Version: The most useful version. It comes out quicker than the C
    version (you still have to anticipate jumps rather than doing it on
    reaction though), and Leona stands in place as she throws it. She can be
    hit out of the start of the move if the opponent is close, even for a
    couple of frames after the ball has actually appeared. Mid-size (and
    smaller) opponents can also crouch under it and sweep you if you do it
    from too close. Unlike the C version, it doesn't travel, and you have a
    much shorter time to follow up with a juggle (but it can still be done).
    It can also be used as a sort of defensive shield during a ground game,
    since it can't be jumped or rolled through (once it has fully
    materialised). Some characters (coughKensouYamazakiLeonacough) can
    simply walk up and low D you under it for free though.
    C version: Comes out slower, and Leona leaps forward as she throws it
    (landing _in front_ of the Cheeseball) with huge recovery. Eminently
    avoidable/punishable. The only way you'll juggle someone with this thing
    is if they jump _after_ you've launched it for some reason. So, a Chris
    Finnie advisory: If you ever get hit with this move, you should kill
    yourself. On the bright side, if someone _is_ foolish enough to get stuck
    in the thing, you have two hundred years to line up and whack a big fat
    "V" over the whole mess. This move may also be useful for taking tick
    damage off of people as they get up, if you somehow knock them over right
    next to you and have it charged. Be wary of trying this on Extra Mode
    players though, as they can wake-up dodge it [Anecdote 1].
    2. Running Slash.
    Charge back, forward + K. This move is actually called the Grand/Ground
    Saber or something like that, but I just call it the Running Slash. The
    startup to this move has been in slowed down in '97, so that to date it
    is not known to consistently combo off of anything. However, connecting
    with this move in the corner can set up some nice juggles (see later).
    The move has good priority once the slash part is actually unleashed, but
    a quick opponent can see it coming and poke (or even command throw) you
    out of it beforehand if done from too far away. It can be rolled through
    and dodged - um, yeah, a lot like most other moves, I guess. In
    particular, however, both a back roll (making the slash whiff) and a
    dodge can leave the opponent in a position to punish Leona afterward, so
    you don't want to get too predictable with this move.
    If blocked, it is mostly unpunishable (in fact, sticking out a low D
    right afterward will stuff attempted sweep retaliations from most
    characters; this is a great way to beat scrubs and cheese some CPU
    characters). If you do it from too close into the corner though, you can
    be command-thrown afterwards.
    The D version also has a finisher: fwd + D as the move hits. Leona
    launches herself into the air, juggling the opponent with another slash.
    Obviously, you don't want to do this if the move is blocked. I don't find
    myself using the finisher that much in '97; since you rarely _know_ a
    Running Slash is going to connect (it's no longer comboable), you have to
    do it on reaction, which I find difficult (reflexes ain't what they used
    to be, you young whippersnappers :>).
    The only other difference I can find between the B and D versions is
    the distance she scuttles before slashing. If the "scuttle" doesn't reach
    the opponent, she won't do the slash and it appears identical to her
    forward dash (Advanced Mode). Because of its longer "dash" range, the D
    Running Slash can be used to scuttle under some full screen fireballs
    (Athena's and Kensou's for example, but NOT Iori's obviously) from
    longish range and hit the offender, as long as you start it early. Other
    than this, I rarely do a Running Slash from further than just outside low
    D range, so I tend to stick with the B version. That, the A Cheeseball,
    and the Moon Slashers are the specials I use the most by far (actually,
    pretty much exclusively).
    3. Moon Slasher.
    Charge down, up + P. This thing is a great air defense if done early. If
    you do it too late, you can be hit out of it. Ideally, you want Leona's
    arm to be well out of the way when the opponent's body part arrives,
    leaving the residual slash to hit them. For air defense, use the A
    version if you need it quickly (it comes out faster), and the C version
    if you can do it early.
    It's also got surprising range, speed and priority on the ground. The C
    version has more range and priority, while the A version is quicker to
    start up and recover. The C version, because of its range, is good for
    punishing slightly laggy whiffed/blocked moves from your opponent. Be
    wary of just letting it go during a ground game _hoping_ to hit, however,
    because the recovery has been increased from '96. If it whiffs, you can
    be punished. Basically, only stick it out if you strongly suspect your
    opponent will flinch. If I'm going to stick out a "do it and hope"
    ground-to-ground Moon Slasher, I'll usually use the A version. But I
    don't try that trick much.
    The Moon Slasher is Leona's only comboable special move. Most often
    you'll be comboing it off a low C after a close jumping attack hits, or
    off a low A, possibly linked after a previous low A or even a low B. This
    latter (low A) combo can be used after blocked Running Slashes, walk-ins
    (you'll need to hit them with two linked moves to charge the Moon
    Slasher), dash-ins (same applies), roll-ins, whatever. Any time a low A
    hits, you should be able to combo it into a Moon Slasher if you're quick/
    expecting it. It also helps to be charged of course :) You can also
    juggle with a Moon Slasher after a Running Slash connects in the corner.
    The C version seems to combo just as well as the A version, so in combos
    I tend to go with that.
    Also, if you're really desperate for a wake-up move, a Moon Slasher can
    sometimes work. It's not that reliable, but it's probably the best she
    has along with the Revolver Spark DM. Worth whipping out occasionally as
    a surprise. Generally though, you'll find yourself blocking a fair bit
    with Leona as you get up. She doesn't have really great wake-ups like say
    Ralf's DM.
    Doing repeated A Moon Slashers is Leona's fastest way of charging POW
    meter in Advanced Mode. You tend to get meter in larger chunks from
    charge moves, and you can do A Moon Slashers quite rapidly one after the
    other. So if you get a few spare moments and want to charge some meter,
    that's the way to do it.
    4. I-Slasher.
    The infamous "boomerang". I won't bother including the motion for this
    thing because you should literally never do it, unless you're trying to
    throw the round or make your opponent look like an absolute idiot. The
    only time I get this is sometimes when I'm trying to buffer the Revolver
    Spark during a punch (there's a hint to the motion :) ). Actually, that
    could be why they put it in - as a punishment for buffering screw-ups. If
    you like fighting the CPU, it seems to be moderately useful for turtling
    as most CPU characters will just meekly block on the other side of the
    screen until it's finished. But if a Leona player does this move against
    you and you fail to punish it with your biggest combo (don't worry if you
    get hit, it's pretty sad, but you'll still have time to kill her),
    immediately bring your head down on the machine with great force,
    impaling your eye socket on the joystick and ending your miserable scrub
    5. X-Caliber
    As above. Argh! Why did they do this? In '96 this was a cool-looking,
    fair and useful move. Now it's been changed to some stupid looking air
    fireball type rubbish, and slowed down to the point where it's virtually
    useless. The B version used to be useful up close for hopping over and
    hitting anticipated sweeps. It also comboed off the low C. Now it does
    neither. The D version was useful for punishing mid to full screen
    fireballs. It was your best friend versus Iori. Now it's too slow to
    work. Both versions still have huge recovery. I think I've seen the B
    version act as a crossup from certain ranges, and it is occasionally
    useful in one particular matchup (see the matchups section). The D
    version does have one very specific (but redundant) application which I
    might mention later as well. But overall, don't bother with this move;
    your game certainly won't suffer much.
    That's two of Leona's specials you should never use. If you count the C
    Cheeseball or the D Running Slash as well, that's half of them. Sob. That
    certainly doesn't help add variety to her game.
    Normal Moves
    Her normals are pretty much unchanged from '96.
    Standing A: I don't use either version of this move. She can link a low B
    into a standing A.
    Standing B: This is my move of choice for poking Clark out of Rolling
    Cradler attempts. I'm not sure why but it just is. That's all I really
    use this move for.
    Standing C: The close standing C is a two-hit move, the first of which is
    interruptable. For comboing the Revolver Spark DM though, the close D is
    superior since both its hits are interruptable. As for the far standing
    C, I don't find it useful. Generally I'll only do either standing C by
    accident if a throw attampt whiffs, which leads me to the next point.
    One thing to note about her standing C is that it (or one of them, at
    least) involves a swipe _upwards_, and will actually hit opponents above
    the level of Leona's head. This comes in handy in the fairly common
    situation where you're going for a walk-in C throw on a cornered
    opponent, and they jump upward/backward at the last minute. If this
    happens, obviously your standing C will come out instead, which for
    most characters could lead to trouble. But in Leona's case, the standing
    C will _hit the opponent if they jump upward/backward just as you go for
    the throw attempt_. I've seen this happen a lot. Handy.
    Standing D (Far): Leona leaves the ground in sort of a splits/scissor
    kick, moving quite a way forward as she does so. I like this move. It's
    her longest ranged normal (edging out her low B by just a couple of
    pixels), so you can sometimes just do it from longish range and catch
    your opponent twiddling their thumbs. Make sure you connect though,
    because there is a bit of recovery if it completely whiffs. You can also
    use it in an anticipatory fashion within the opponent's sweep range to
    step over their low poke and hit them (although used in this fashion it
    will whiff against a lot of characters). Finally, since this move steps
    forward so far, it's a good way to advance while maintaining the charge
    for a Running Slash or a Cheeseball. Some people might see you standing
    and think it's a good time to jump, so a Cheeseball after one or two of
    these from longish range can be a good idea. But remember the game
    engine quirk whereby if you go from crouching to standing you lose your
    back-charge, even if you keep the stick in the back position. Oh yeah, I
    should mention that this move isn't an overhead even though it might
    look like one.
    Standing D (close): A sort of double knee, both hits of which are
    interruptable. The Revolver Spark DM comboes off this as well. One trick
    is to dash in from close-medium range and execute a standing close D;
    since both hits can be interrupted, you have time to react and buffer
    the Revolver Spark if the D connected. This same dashing combo can also
    be used to punish laggy whiffed moves from your opponent. You can do
    the same sort of thing after a blocked Running Slash in the corner;
    execute a close standing D, and you will have time to react to it
    hitting and interrupt it into the Revolver Spark DM.
    You can also use this as a followup to a jumping attack when attempting a
    jump-in Revolver Spark DM combo. As noted earlier, it's better than the
    close C because it can be interrupted of either hit. If your jumping
    attack was blocked you'll get the far standing D instead, which you won't
    be able to interrupt, so there is a safety factor in your favour there as
    well. Whether you use this or the low C is a matter of personal
    preference I guess.
    Standing CD: I find this too slow coming out to be useful. One thing
    about it is that it does move Leona forward, so it can be used for
    advancing while back-charged in the same manner as the far standing D.
    Although it doesn't move as far forward as the D, it has the advantage of
    being interruptable (even when whiffed).
    Low A: This is the button you mash like crazy when a grappler gets in on
    you :) It's your all purpose "too close for comfort" move. Although not
    as long as the low B, it's faster (both to come out and retract), and
    best of all it's interruptable. The Moon Slasher combos nicely off this
    move. You can also link it after a low B.
    You should adopt doing a low A after a blocked Running Slash as SOP,
    since it beats almost everything in such a situation, and it's too fast
    to successfully roll through and punish without being hit by the next
    one. If your low A hits, be ready to interrupt it into a C Moon Slasher.
    Low B: This is your best all-purpose poke. Leona has one of the longest
    low Bs in the game, and it's fast enough that you can usually at least
    block if your opponent happens to jump right as you do it. Be warned
    though that a grappler can roll through it and command throw you if they
    time it just right (usually a matter of luck). The low B links into both
    itself and the low A. It is not interruptable, however.
    Low C: I could never quite understand what Leona was doing in this move.
    It looks sort of like an uppercut done from a crouch, but she seems to do
    it with her whole upper body. Weird. Anyway, the main use for this move
    is in jump-in combos. Both the Moon Slasher and the Revolver Spark DM
    will combo from this (careful you don't get a boomerang :) ). Jump C, low
    C, C Moon Slasher and jump C, low C, D Revolver Spark DM are two of my
    favourite combos. If the jump C is blocked, though, I might try to follow
    up with a low light attack or two (low A or low B, low A; again if a low
    A hits be ready with the Moon Slasher), after which numerous options to
    continue the offense (or pause to tempt the opponent to jump/whiff) are
    The low C is fairly short-ranged, so make sure you jump in nice and close
    or it will whiff (a buffered Moon Slasher will still reach the opponent,
    but will be blocked). Another thing that can happen if you jump just a
    bit closer than the above case (but still from marginally too far away)
    is that the low C will connect (barely) but will push the opponent out of
    range of the Moon Slasher, which will whiff completely. This is probably
    the worst case. If in doubt about your jump spacing, it's probably better
    to go for a low A followup.
    Oh yeah, the low C can also occasionally work as a sort of half-assed air
    defense. When it works it usually trades, but that's better than letting
    a grappler get a clear jump-in on you :)
    Low D: Leona has one of the better low D sweeps in the game. Stick it out
    basically whenever you feel like it if they're just outside low B range,
    or if you're just outside their sweep range. Of course, you're vulnerable
    to a roll or even a coincidentally timed jump, but that's true of most
    low Ds. Curiously, the low D doesn't seem to combo after a jump attack,
    but that shouldn't matter since you should be going for a standing D, low
    C or low A followup.
    The low D makes an OK followup to a blocked Running Slash, as it will
    beat most sweep retaliation attempts (even that of another Leona, but
    Kensou is a notable exception). Don't do this if you think they'll be
    expecting it though, as it's roll-bait if they are. Generally, if you're
    going to follow up a blocked Running Slash with an attack (which you will
    often be doing), I recommend the low A. It's the only way to be sure.
    One more thing, remember that in '96 her low D worked as sort of an air
    defense? In '97 it still does. It only works against certain attacks
    though. For example, a low D will beat the jumping D of an enemy Leona,
    but will be hit cleanly by an enemy Leona's jump C. You'll need to
    experiment to find out what particular moves it beats if you want to use
    this much.
    A word of warning: since Leona's low D is angled slightly upward, it
    tends to trigger mid-counter moves, for example Yamazaki's Sado-Maso.
    So, er, avoid using it in such circumstances.
    Lastly, the low D isn't interruptable.
    Jumping A: I don't use it. However, I have seen it trade with Iori's
    infamous Maiden Masher DM used as air defense. So if you stupidly jump
    in on a stocked/MAXed Iori and he fires up his DM, stick this out as a
    token gesture of defiance.
    Jumping B: This is a good thing to stick out in an air-to-air battle.
    It's large, angled slightly upward, and has good priority. It will beat
    Clark and Ralf's normal air-to-air, for example.
    Vertical jumping B: I didn't enumerate all her vertical jump attacks
    separately, because I don't specifically use them that much. But this
    deserves an honourable mention because it looks so weird :)  She turns
    completely upside down in mid-air and sticks her foot down past her
    head for a hit. As you might imagine, it hits down a long way. So for
    style points, you might try getting a few hits by using this as a
    vertical hop jump overhead. Careful you don't get an X-Caliber though
    Jumping C: This is my jumping move of choice for air-to-ground. It has
    a fairly broad "hit zone," and huge priority against anything under it.
    It also option-selects with the air throw if the opponent leaves the
    ground at the last minute, muhahaha. But again, what the hell is she
    doing during the jump C? It looks like she's pecking them or something
    [Useless fact 1].
    Jumping D: Fairly long range, angled slightly down. You can get an air
    throw from this as well. I tend to use the jumping C for combo-range
    jumps, and the jumping D if I'm jumping from further out, or jumping
    as a buffered V-Slasher fake (see later). Personal preference I guess.
    For jump-in combos they're pretty much interchangeable.
    Jumping CD: What can I say, I don't use this much. Haven't quite gotten
    over my revulsion at the jump/hop CD-fest that was '96 I guess. Plus I
    prefer to go for Ko0L kOm8oZ d00D2!!! However, the jumping CD is still
    (almost) as fast as in '96, and has almost as much priority. Her foot
    glows as she does it, that's kind of cool :)
    Command attack: She doesn't have one. This seems to be the exception
    rather than the rule in '97. Poor girl. Ah well, at least it... um...
    makes writing this guide easier. Yeah, that's the ticket. Always look on
    the bright side.
    Leona has both C and D throws. I really like the C throw - she takes a
    lunging step into the opponent with her shoulder lowered as if she's
    going to ram them, but you hear a stabbing sound instead. Then for a
    couple of frames she turns her face toward the camera and it's spattered
    with blood, hehehe. Unless you're playing a blood-free home version, in
    which case it looks like she's sneezed all over herself :) [3]. Anyway,
    it's much better than that lame bite from '96. [Useless Fact 2]
    As mentioned earlier, the C throw is especially good to use when you're
    walking in to throw a cornered opponent. If they jump up/back at the
    last second, the standing C will come out and hit them.
    Her D throw cannot be AB recovery rolled afterward. She also tosses them
    to the opposite side from which they were thrown, so it is useful for
    keeping your opponent cornered if they manage to roll past you.
    She also has an air throw (dir + C or D in the air). Really useful.
    Beats just about any other air attack if you (fluke out and) time it
    She doesn't have a command throw.
    1. V-Slasher (QCF, HCB + P in air).
    This is the DM she had in '96. It seems mostly unchanged, except for
    perhaps a bit more recovery when it's blocked. God I love this move.
    There's nothing I like better than jumping up in pseudo slow-motion
    (caused by Cheeseball-juggle slowdown) and finishing someone off with
    this. The SDM is even better to kill someone with because there's a huge
    pause at the bottom of the "V". The slash also looks gorier (and the "V"
    has _serifs_, ouch!). And let's not forget that it also does absolutely
    massive damage, of course :)
    So, a fairly important use for the move is hitting Cheeseball victims.
    However, for me the major, major, _major_ use of the move is air-to-air.
    I don't know how to emphasize this enough. Because of this DM, once you
    have stock, Leona becomes Queen of the Air (TM). Jump whenever you damn
    well like - forwards, backwards, straight up, it doesn't matter much -
    and buffer the motion. If your opponent leaves the ground, whack the
    appropriate punch button and teach them a lesson (don't worry, the
    V-Slasher isn't air-blockable). If they don't, simply don't do anything,
    or stick out a D or CD as you're landing if they're nearby. This is the
    "buffered V-Slasher fake" I mentioned earlier. You can even catch people
    doing moves with any sort of lag _on the ground_. Candidates include low
    Ds and standing strong pokes (Ralf's standing C, for example). If you
    jump just as your opponent does something like this, the V-Slasher can
    probably nail them if done quickly [Anecdote 2].
    Just to repeat, since it's so important, once you have stock, you can
    basically jump at will, buffering the V-Slasher motion as you do. Your
    opponent, on the other hand, doesn't dare jump or even use their air
    defense (if you can react to it) too freely. If they don't understand or
    appreciate this concept, you'll find yourself winning rounds very
    quickly :) Some moves (like the Shingo Kick and Iori's jump D) can trade
    with the V-Slasher, meaning you get hit and lose a stock, while they get
    away with very little damage. But I stress the _sometimes_; I don't know
    of any move which will _consistently_ trade with it. Which means it's
    _always_ worth trying.
    A word about targeting the V-Slasher. The C version is the version
    you'll be using most often - it will track and hit the opponent if
    they're anywhere but above your horizontal level, or almost directly
    below you. For the latter case (opponent directly below you, or almost
    so), use the A V-Slasher (it has a much steeper descent angle). For the
    former case (opponent above your horizontal level), you're probably out
    of luck. Actually, you can sometimes even miss with the C version if
    the opponent is close to the ground (after being juggled late by a
    Cheeseball, for example) and you do it too early; as shallow as the
    trajectory is, it does have its limits and you might find yourself
    landing before reaching the opponent. There can be a _bit_ of timing
    involved in hitting with it. Don't always do it ASAP if the opponent is
    close to the ground, wait until you're a bit higher (only if you think
    there's time, of course). This mainly applies to Cheeseball juggles.
    For completeness I'll mention that, as in '96, you can do this move
    virtually straight from the ground by going down, half circle back,
    up-back, and then hit C (or A). But now that Leona has a (comboable)
    ground DM, there's not much point to it.
    One final thing for absolute completeness: If you're absolutely
    desperate to get out of the corner and can manage to get a vertical
    jump off, the C V-Slasher can be used in a pinch to propel you safely
    across to the other side of the screen. Particularly useful when
    there's about three seconds to go in the round, and you're ahead on
    Buffered V-Slasher fake. Just thought I'd mention it again.
    Her best DM by far.
    2. Revolver Spark (QCB, HCF + K).
    I love this move too, it looks so awesome [Useless Fact 3]. It combos
    off the low and close standing Cs and the close standing D anywhere on
    the screen. Pick whichever of these combos you find easiest and learn it
    well, both from jump-ins and from the ground. You'll (hopefully) be using
    it a lot.
    You can juggle with the Revolver Spark after a connected Running Slash in
    the corner. It's also great for punishing laggy whiffed moves from your
    opponent from reasonable distances away, since it starts up reasonably
    quickly and the lunge is damn fast. It's readily punishable if blocked,
    but I don't consider that a bad thing; remember there are Extra Mode
    Leona players out there :)
    It can even be used to catch people out of jumps in a way analogous to
    Iori's infamous Maiden Masher. It's not anywhere near as reliable though.
    It works best if you do it late in the opponent's jump. As a guide, you
    want the top half of Leona's body level with the bottom half of the
    opponent's body during the "flash" animation. For that reason, it's
    easiest to do against straight up or backward jumps. Even then you can be
    hit out of it, but it's worth trying occasionally.
    As a wake-up DM I find it rather average. There are _some_ invincible
    frames in there, but I've been hit out of it very frequently. I think
    that the startup "flash" animation is invulnerable (to attacks), but the
    lunge isn't. The thing that really kills it though is that she can be
    thrown out of the "flash' animation bit, so it's absolutely terrible
    against grapplers. Lots of other DMs are like this too, so if your
    opponent has one charged and you suspect they'll wake up with it, walk up
    and toss them as they get up. It's pretty funny, if a bit risky :) This
    tactic worked better in '96 where just about all DMs were great wake-ups
    (unlike '97). Getting back to the subject at hand, try pulling out a
    wake-up Revolver Spark only if you're desperate, definitely not as SOP.
    One final note: in the fairly common situation where you're a bit behind
    on energy and the timer is ticking away, the Revolver Spark is _not_ the
    move to pull out for a miracle last second comeback. It takes forever for
    this move to go off, and all the damage happens at the end. If this
    occurs after the timer hits zero, you won't get credit for it.
    3. Gravity Storm (QCF, QCF + P).
    This DM is mostly redundant. It's also not as cool-looking as the others
    IMHO. The thing that hampers it is the absolutely tiny range. It seems
    to connect only if your opponent is crammed right up against you - for
    example, after a blocked Ryuuko Ranbu-type DM. It comes out slightly
    quicker than the Revolver Spark, so it might be useful in situations
    where your DM absolutely, positively has to be there overnight (and your
    opponent is right on top of you). In particular, its one redeeming
    feature is that, unlike her other DMs, it will combo off a low A (even
    after a jumping attack, but not after a blocked Running Slash unless
    done into the corner).
    Other than that, and the fact that is usually unpunishable if whiffed
    or blocked (since it both recovers quickly and leaves you a long way
    from your opponent), there's not much more to be said. It is not useful
    for air defense, nor is it a particularly good wake-up move, at least
    against jumping attacks.
    As with the Revolver Spark, you can juggle this after a connected Running
    Slash in the corner. If you like variety then you might always want to
    use the Gravity Storm in this situation, just so you get to see it
    occasionally :) [4].
    She hasn't got that many. This list may not contain every single obscure
    little combo, but these are the ones I find most useful:
    Jumping combos:
    Jump C/D, low C, C Moon Slasher
    Jump C/D, low A, C Moon Slasher
    Jump C/D, low B, low A, C Moon Slasher
    Jump C/D, low C, Revolver Spark DM
    Jump C/D, standing (close) D, Revolver Spark DM
    Jump C/D, low A, Gravity Storm DM
    Jump D, V-Slasher DM (actually I don't find this one useful, I just put
    it in because people kept mentioning it :P)
    Ground combos:
    [Low A or low B], low A, C Moon Slasher
    Low C, Revolver Spark DM
    Standing (close) D, Revolver Spark DM
    Low A, Gravity Storm DM
    Corner combos:
    Running Slash, C Moon Slasher
    Running Slash, Revolver Spark DM
    Running Slash, Gravity Storm DM
    Running Slash, V-Slasher DM
    Rolls (Advanced Mode)
    I preferred Leona's '96 roll. Now, for the forward roll, she sort of
    slides around like she's trying to do SFA Bison impressions or something.
    And for some reason, that makes her briefly invulnerable to attacks.
    Whatever. The backward roll is a more traditional tumble. It looks almost
    identical to the startup of the I-Slasher, which has fooled me a couple
    of times (God knows why I was expecting them to throw a boomerang).
    Her taunt is OK, nothing great. There's no reason to taunt in '97 anyway.
    I sometimes taunt out of resigned frustration when I know I'm about to
    lose to a timeout.
    Victory Poses
    Ahah! The important bit :)
    A button: The old "hair adjusting" pose from '96. Use it if it was a good
    B button: The old "shoe adjusting" pose from '96. This seems to show a
    bit of contempt for the opponent, so use it if the fight was a
    cheesefest, or your opponent cursed and swore, or abused the joystick or
    buttons, or played Orochi characters or Benimaru or <insert personal hate
    here>. Of course these kinds of players usually skip past all poses
    anyway :P
    C button: I think this pose is absolutely classic. It's sort of similar
    to the hair adjusting one, except Leona takes a brief sidelong
    bemused/contemptuous peek at the fallen opponent, as if she's sharing a
    private joke with the player at how weak/stupid/whatever they were. At
    least, that's how I interpret it :) So use this if you absolutely walked
    over your opponent, or if they did something really unfortunate/stupid/
    weird that lead to their death :) (like, oh... threw a boomerang,
    General Strategy
    There are a number of things you can do when playing Leona. You might go
    for a straight poke/Running Slash based ground game. You might focus on
    trying to land a jump-in combo or two. You might spend your time on
    jumping fakes, hoping to land the V-Slasher air-to-air (or
    air-to-ground). You might throw A Cheeseballs liberally, looking for the
    V-Slasher juggle. You might want to try for a dash-in close standing D +
    Revolver Spark combo. Or, for the most variety, fun, and arguably
    effectiveness, you might mix up all of the above.
    The Poke/Running Slash Ground Game
    Leona's ground game is based around the low A and B pokes and the B
    Running Slash. In a nutshell, you want to be poking away at your opponent
    with low As and low Bs, mixing in Running Slashes (often from
    interrupted low As) to keep yourself in range and possibly hit them. Mix
    up the low B/low A sequence, and vary the point at which the Running
    Slash comes. Occasionally insert a brief pause in case the opponent wants
    to whiff something. Watch for a connected low A and combo it into the C
    Moon Slasher. If they jump, use a Moon Slasher if you have it charged,
    otherwise roll out of the way, or possibly just block. Watch out for
    grapplers who like to jump or hop in without attacking and command/DM
    throw though. The low C (or even low D against certain attacks) can be
    used as a surprise air defense to deter such tactics.
    Unless you're doing it into the corner, a blocked Running Slash will
    leave you spaced such that you can do one blocked low A (which will push
    you out of low A range), followed by one blocked low B (which will push
    you out of low B range). So naturally the two patterns that spring to
    mind are Running Slash-low A-Running Slash (you can use this to push your
    opponent all the way across the screen if they don't do anything about
    it), and Running Slash-low A-low B (after which a Running Slash can be
    used to get yourself back in close). The first one can be used if you
    want to keep constant pressure on your opponent, the second if you want
    to push them back and give yourself some breathing space. Before doing
    another Running Slash from outside low B range it's sometimes a good
    idea to do a whiffed low A or two as a fake, in case your opponent has
    an uppercut or something else nasty ready. This might even get them to
    jump at you :)
    You should _not_ let the above patterns and variations of them constitute
    your entire game, however. If you do this, your opponent will start to
    counter and punish your neccessarily predictable Running Slashes, or even
    start uppercutting/whatevering your low As. Furthermore, if you're behind
    on energy and your opponent is turtling, this is a fairly slow way to
    inflict damage and you'll probably lose. The low A/Running Slash pattern
    should be considered as the very basic core of your game, something to
    fall back on when you're not trying anything else. To both avoid being
    consistently countered by your opponent, and to inflict any appreciable
    damage, you will need to vary what you do at various points in this
    Some examples of how you might go about this are given in the following
    sections. First, here's a slightly more systematic summary of the ground
    game described above, as well as the various ways of mixing it up. Each
    set of dashes, asterisks, etc. signify the alternatives available at
    various ranges.
    Blocked Running Slash.
      (possible pause) then...
      - low A, interrupt into Running Slash.
      - low A, interrupt into C Moon Slasher if it connects.
      - low A, (possible pause) then...
          * Walk-in throw attempt or fake (see later).
          * Hop jump combo attempt (see later).
          * Low B, (possible pause) then...
              # Running Slash.
              # Low A fake.
              # Jump-in combo attempt (see later).
              # A Cheeseball (see later).
              # Jump V-Slasher fake (see later).
              # Dash-in combo attempt or fake (see later).
              # MAX yourself, if desired.
    I find one of the best ways to mix up the ground game is to suddenly jump
    or hop in at some point in the poke sequence. Leona has some excellent
    jump-in combos, and jumping from A/B poke distance gives you an excellent
    shot at landing them. After a blocked low A followup to a blocked Running
    Slash you are well spaced for a hop jump combo attempt, especially since
    your opponent may be likely to stick out a sweep at an inopportune
    moment. Similarly, after a low A + low B followup to a Running Slash, you
    will be at a good distance to jump in with a regular jump.
    The basic idea is that the opponent hopefully can't have their full
    attention on the ground game and be watching for jump-ins at the same
    time. It will vary from opponent to opponent how much of their attention
    they'll have on each, and thus how often you'll be able to jump.
    Combos to look for are jumping C, low C, C Moon Slasher and jumping C,
    (your choice of strong hit), Revolver Spark. If your jumping attack is
    blocked you'll be left at about the same spacing as after a blocked
    Running Slash, so follow up with a low A or low B and go from there.
    Walk-in Throws
    To further mix up the ground/air game dichotomy I tend to make liberal
    use of throws. A lot of players will go into "block mode" after one or
    two low A/Bs, prepared to just block the rest of the sequence and take it
    from there. Well, the _second_ you think someone is doing this, walk in
    and throw them. Don't let them take a breather. Advanced Mode players will
    probably escape such throw attempts, but at least they'll think twice
    before mindlessly blocking your poke sequence next time, and that is to
    your advantage as well.
    If your opponent is on their toes it's unlikely that you'll get too many
    walk-in throws without being hit or command thrown yourself. So to mix
    _that_ up you can take a step or two forward (or even just stand up for a
    moment) and then do some attack of your own to try and beat their
    anti-walk-in-throw attack. It's all very complicated isn't it :)  Low A or
    low B are reasonable choices as they are both fast and high priority
    attacks (if you walk in a bit first, ideally you would do a low B + low A
    + conditional C Moon Slasher link). If you've got stock then a standing D
    is also not a bad idea; if you got in close enough the close standing D
    might come out and we all know what you can do if that hits. If they get
    uppercut happy when you approach like this, next time just walk in a bit
    and then block.
    Once you've got stock, as well as being ready to substitute the Revolver
    Spark in your combos, you should be on the lookout for V-Slasher
    opportunities. These will come in the form of Cheeseball juggles and
    jumping buffered V-Slasher fakes.
    As far as Cheeseball throwing goes, clearly you can't do this from close
    poke-war sort of ranges or it is likely to be stuffed. So what I like to
    do is either go through with a full poke sequence out to extreme range,
    or roll or even dash backward right in the middle of a poke sequence, and
    then launch an A Cheeseball. Suddenly given a bit of breathing space, the
    opponent will hopefully be tempted to mount an offense of his own, for
    example by jumping. You know what to do if he does :) You can pretty much
    jump with impunity from behind an A Cheeseball, and it's usually a good
    idea to do so in preparation for a possible V-Slasher juggle. Although
    sometimes sticking out your long low D from behind an A Cheeseball can
    catch people off guard as well.
    V-Slasher Fakes
    These I more or less discussed to death in the V-Slasher section.
    Basically, you can do them anytime you can get off the ground safely. Try
    not to jump over your opponent in doing so, or things can get confusing
    :) Actually, I like to keep out of range of their air defense when doing
    such a fake, since it makes them more likely to want to jump at you. So
    generally if I do it from close to my opponent I'll jump back, and if I'm
    a reasonable distance away I'll jump forward. A vertical jump is an
    acceptable and common substitute in both cases too.
    Dash-in Combos
    Again, there's not much more to say here. These are a stylish and
    sometimes effective way to mix up your game. The most important dashing
    combo Leona has is dash-in close standing D, Revolver Spark. Another one
    you can try is dash-in low B, low A, C Moon Slasher. Fakes are
    accomplished by simply dashing at the opponent and stopping short to try
    and get them to whiff something.
    Corner Trapping
    On a cornered opponent, the poke/Running Slash game really comes into
    its own. Or disappears entirely, if your opponent's character has a
    command throw. Let's consider the second case first, since it's the
    Simply put, characters with command throws (who make up about a third
    of the total roster) can command throw Leona after a blocked Running
    Slash done into the corner. Even 'kick dance' type moves (Andy, Ryo,
    Robert) can nab her before she can do anything. So you should probably
    never Running Slash into the corner against these characters, I guess
    it's that simple.
    For the more interesting case where the opponent's character doesn't
    have a command throw or equivalent, cornering them will give you
    multiple chances of landing a DM with the poke/Running Slash game. Let
    me count the ways...
    1. As described earlier, Leona can juggle with _any_ of her DMs after a
       Running Slash connects in the corner. If you don't have stock, the
       best juggle is probably her C Moon Slasher.
    2. You can follow up a blocked Running Slash with a (close) standing D,
       and then buffer the Revolver Spark on reaction if it hits.
    3. If you follow up a blocked Running Slash with a low A and it hits,
       you can combo in the Gravity Storm DM! IMHO it's quite tricky, but
       there you go. Note that you cannot do this off the second or third
       such low As (see below) as the DM will whiff.
    4. Additionally, you still have all the other ways (jump-in combos,
       Cheeseball juggles, buffered V-Slasher fakes).
    Clearly, it's nice to have your non-command-throw-endowed opponent in
    the corner.
    After a blocked Running Slash done into the corner, you can do up to
    _three_ blocked low As or Bs before being pushed out of low A range (to
    the 'asterisked' range in the summary above). From there you can still
    follow up with _another_ low B which will push you out of poke range
    (to the 'hashed' range in the summary above). So you have a lot more
    scope to vary your Running Slash pattern. Mix this up with walk-in
    throws and hop jump combo attempts and it becomes quite nasty for the
    Certain characters with quick uppercut-like low Cs (eg. Yuri, Leona)
    can beat or trade with the usual low A followup to a Running Slash when
    cornered if they time it right. However, a low B followup to the Running
    Slash will beat such low Cs. So if you've cornered a character like this
    and you think they might try and exploit the aforementioned fact, it
    might be a good idea to follow up your Running Slash with a low B
    instead (you could attempt the low B, low A, C Moon Slasher link combo,
    for example). If you hit their low C a couple of times, they
    should be sufficiently cowed (if they're not, keep hitting 'em :) ) and
    you can start mixing in low As again.
    Wake-up Game
    Every character faces the dilemma of what to do to your opponents as
    they get up from a knockdown. Leona hasn't got a particularly deadly
    wake-up game. I tend to mix up the following:
    1. Low B + low A, then Moon Slasher if it hits or maybe a Running Slash
    (or tick throw attempt) if it's blocked. This will give you a nice combo
    if it beats their rising attack, and will at least give you the
    initiative without any undue risk if they block. If I can't get close
    enough for a nice low poke barrage (or I don't want to, since my opponent
    is a grappler), I often just do a low D.
    This option can be countered by a roll/dodge/good wakeup move.
    2. Throw. This will get them if they block, roll or dodge. Best of all,
    you can throw some DMs during their opening frames :) It will be
    countered by a quick wake-up move or a counter throw. I'd advise against
    trying this on grapplers. Generally you'll get a pretty good idea how
    well this will work on a particular opponent after a couple of attempts.
    3. Just block (from outside their grab range, naturally). This allows you
    to punish them if they try a laggy wake-up move. If you're quick, you can
    still grab them if they roll/dodge. If they block as well, you haven't
    gained anything and it's a standoff. If they do anything else, they've
    got the initiative. Watch out if they try for a step-forward throw.
    On the receiving end of things, again Leona hasn't got any particularly
    good wake up moves. I tend to just block if I can get away with it. If
    you must try something, either a Moon Slasher or a Revolver Spark are
    probably the best options. For characters with really nasty wake-up
    games (coughYashirocough), don't forget about wake-up rolls either.
    Punishing Mistakes
    Here's a list of good things to do if your opponent screws something up.
    There's four basic situations that could arise, depending on whether you
    can get to them before they recover from their whiff, and on whether you
    have stock or not.
    If you can get (walk/dash) to them and have stock:
    Strong hit (low C or close D) + Revolver Spark DM.
    If you can get to them but don't have stock:
    low B, low A + C Moon Slasher.
    If you can't get to them and have stock:
    D Revolver Spark DM, this will reach almost anything.
    If you can't get to them and don't have stock:
    Um... D Running Slash + finisher might work, if you're charged, but only
    do the finisher if you're sure it will hit.
    Alternatively, try sticking out a standing D, it has surprising reach.
    If they're absolutely miles away, just do something to charge some meter
    (like a few A Moon Slashers), or possibly MAX yourself. Maybe even taunt
    Obviously, if they're actually _dizzy_, go for a jump-in combo.
    Meter Management
    This little bit applies to Advanced Mode only. Extra Mode players avert
    your eyes :)
    It's extremely important to have a stock in the bank as Leona. The
    difference that one stock makes to the threat she poses is huge, most
    notably due to the various V-Slasher set-ups that become available.
    The poke/Running Slash ground game will tend to charge your meter at a
    reasonable rate. As mentioned earlier, if you get a bit of breathing
    space Leona can charge meter extremely quickly with repeated A Moon
    Slashers. This is a good thing to pull if your opponent is hanging out
    on the other side of the screen (unless they have some super-fast
    rushing attack), especially to get you to your first stock.
    Since Leona has a multitude of ways to land DMs, I prefer to wait for the
    third stock before MAXing myself. Against an extremely conservative,
    turtly opponent I _may_ do it after two if I'm behind and not really
    getting anywhere. I usually go out to at least Cheeseball range to MAX
    myself, as there is a bit of a delay on it (yes I have been hit by DMs
    while POW-exploding :P).
    It's difficult to state the case for CD counters and MAX rolls because
    their use is fairly opponent-character dependent. In general, I'm loath
    to use them because Leona's DMs are so useful. But against characters
    with great corner trapping potential (eg. Kyo, Joe, Robert), I won't
    hesitate to whip out a MAX roll or CD counter to get out of the corner.
    Also, if you're forced to block a particularly nasty recovery-free
    tick-damage move (eg. Benimaru's Shinkuu Katategoma, Mai's Fan Dance,
    and I should mention Yashiro's SDM even though it _has_ recovery, the
    tick damage on that thing is just insane) it might be a good idea to do
    the same rather than take umpteen gazillion points of tick damage,
    depending on the circumstances. It should go without saying that I would
    rather pull my own guts out than use my _last_ stock for a non-DM, unless
    it will win me the round (by KO or even by timeout - CD counters become
    very potent weapons in the closing seconds of close matches) or save me
    from a tick-damage-induced fatality.
    Team Selection Issues
    Again this section is relevant to Advanced Mode only.
    Being the Leona-o-phile that I am, you may find it surprising that I
    generally tend not to open matches with her [5]. It's not that I hate her
    first round intro pose (though I liked her KoF'96 one better :P), it's
    more to do with the importance of having that first stock ready to go.
    IMHO Leona gains a bigger advantage than most characters when she gets
    her first stock, so why not have some other schmuck to who whom it
    doesn't matter as much charge it up for her? With this in mind, to get
    the most out of Leona I suggest putting her second or third, behind
    someone who will pass stocks to her. No-one actually likes her (sniff),
    but most characters are neutral to her (the only exceptions being the
    New Face team, Iori, and the Orochis) so you have a fair amount of
    flexibility there.
    As far as the other side of the coin goes, Leona will give bonus stocks
    to Ralf, Clark, and Benimaru, and is neutral to everyone else except the
    NFT, Yamazaki, Iori, and the Orochis.
    So to spell out the blindingly obvious, stock-optimised Leona-containing
    teams will generally have one of the following formats (where X is any
    character neutral to Leona):
    X - Leona - Clark/Ralf/Benimaru (eg. Yuri - Leona - Ralf)
    Someone who likes X - X - Leona (eg. Shermie - Choi - Leona)
    Opening the Round
    Finally, just a quick note about the start of the round. As you may know,
    in KoF you cannot begin charging a move before the round starts - you
    have to charge from scratch once you're off and running. This is
    unfortunate for Leona because her only useful specials are charge moves.
    You can't open the round with a Running Slash or Cheeseball straight
    away, which is a pity because the start-of-round spacing is more or less
    identical to that achieved after a low A, low B followup to a blocked
    Running Slash (which is a convenient point to do either of the
    aforementioned moves). So you'll have to think of something else to do
    for a couple of seconds. A jumping buffered V-Slasher fake is an ideal
    choice, but not always possible due to stock availability or your
    knowledge of it. Alternatively you could walk/jump/dash in to poke range
    and poke while charging, or maybe charge during a vertical or back jump.
    Or you could of course just sit there like a rock :)  Whatever takes your
    Neither can you have your standard air defense ready immediately. Keep
    this in mind and don't try whipping out a Moon Slasher when Blue Mary
    does her jumping D first thing :)
    Another thing to note for Advanced Mode players is that between rounds,
    you won't see how many stocks you have until the next round actually
    _starts_. So (as hinted at above) it's fairly important that you take
    note of how many stocks you have at the end of a round leading to the
    (re)appearance of your Leona, and remember. That way you know if you have
    the luxury of being able to open the round with a jumping buffered
    V-Slasher fake. It's especially important in Leona vs. Leona matches :)
    Here are some random notes on Leona vs. a few selected characters. As a
    preliminary, I find Leona has an easier time fighting Advanced Mode
    players than she does against Extra Mode players. The fairly simple
    reason for this is that the dodge is a _very_ good counter to a Running
    Slash (allowing virtually guaranteed punishment). When fighting Extra
    Mode players, I tend to cut down considerably on the Running Slashes, and
    try and discourage rampant dodging by using a _lot_ of throws (they can't
    escape them, either :) ). The same thing can also help against roll-happy
    opponents, but they're not generally as big of a problem (unless they've
    got a command throw).
    This is a tough fight for Leona. With autoguards streaming out of every
    bodily orifice, Kyo's firefists are very effective at snuffing Leona's
    close poking game. Not only that, but the firefists will stuff jump-ins
    from Leona's ideal range. You'll probably find yourself having to stay on
    the defensive most of the time, and take your opportunities where you
    can. I tend to try and roll more than usual in this fight, hoping to get
    behind the firefist barrage at an opportune moment. If you get really
    desperate try jumping from further away, and mix up jump D with no attack
    to try and get him to whiff an uppercut. Alternatively, hyper-jump from
    just outside of Firefist range, and if he starts one you'll land behind
    This guy is God. Who doesn't have trouble fighting him? From the ground,
    you can't do much about his jump drills. Just try and roll or dash out of
    the way. Throwing A Cheeseballs liberally can discourage him from jumping
    around too much, as can lots of buffered V-Slasher fakes. Your usual
    close poking game doesn't work too well because of his spinning kick and
    near-instant Raijinkens (without even mentioning his Raijinken DM). Try
    to stay a bit further away (hanging out just outside his Raijinken range
    is good) and attack with low D or Running Slash + poke followup. Punish
    whiffed Raijinkens with a standing D or (if you can time it) a Revolver
    Spark DM. Try and save a stock to MAX roll out of a spinning kick.
    Dash/roll back a lot from close range - if you can make him whiff a
    spinning kick, then you can D X-Caliber him at your leisure (woohoo, an
    opportunity to actually use that move), or wait for him to bounce away
    and time either a D Revolver Spark DM or a hyper-hop combo to hit him as
    he recovers.
    Be very careful once he gets stock. If you knock him down, try and sit
    just outside the DM fireball range as he gets up - don't even think about
    attacking him. And don't EVER jump in when he's got stock. Just don't do
    Argh! Leona dies in this fight. I hate to say it, but it's true. His QCB
    + B roll seems made for getting past her low B. You can't jump in much at
    all because the Cloud Tosser and even the down-forward + C will both take
    you out of the air perfectly. Extra Mode Goro is even worse. The only
    advice I can offer is try to stay away from the damn guy, and throw lots
    of A Cheeseballs (watch out for the A minelayer, which will knock
    you out of A Cheeseball attempts; for this reason it's best not to try
    the Cheeseballs from too far away where he's likely to do the minelayer).
    Be cautious when trying wake-up Moon Slashers (hmm, I guess what I'm
    saying is "don't" try wake-up Moon Slashers :P) as both his stand CD and
    a well-timed jump D will stuff them. If he gets too roll happy go for a
    walk-up throw out of the blue, but _don't_ try this twice in a row.
    Generally if he rolls in and you're not otherwise occupied it's a good
    idea to get off the ground, or start up a scrubby low A barrage :P
    Again, it might be a good idea to save a stock for MAX rolling out of the
    HSK corner trap. Do vertical jumps sporadically to discourage random
    HSKing. Always try and counter his jump-ins (low C if necessary) because
    of the danger of the big-damage kick dance if you don't.
    Just a couple of notes on this fight. After you have blocked a Running
    Slash, an A Moon Slasher will beat an attempted low A followup from the
    opposing Leona, unless you are in the corner. In the corner, the low A
    followup will beat the A Moon Slasher, but can in turn be beaten by a
    well timed low C (but a low B followup beats this). Clear as mud? Good.
    Another fairly important fact to note is that the V-Slasher will go
    through an A Cheeseball cleanly. As you might guess, it's pretty
    important to get a stock first in this matchup.
    Your Moon Slasher will take everything he can throw at you out of the air
    (including the Ralf Kick). Jump D will also stop pretty much everything he
    can counter with from the ground (yes, including the Ralf Kick again).
    His legendary stand C poke is very vulnerable to you-know-what fakes if
    you happen to jump just at the right time. Remember his near-perfect
    wake-up punch DM and be cautious about attacking him as he gets up (ie.
    don't :P). I'd say the fight is definitely in Leona's favour.
    This guy is still top tier in '97 IMHO. Use standing B against the
    Rolling Cradler. Jumping B is a good move to use air-to-air against him.
    And I'll risk sounding like a broken record and mention buffered
    V-Slasher fakes again :) On the ground, use A Cheeseballs a lot from
    mid-range to keep him away from you. Make sure you counter all his
    jump-ins somehow. Trades are OK. Trades are great. Just don't let him
    land next to you :P
    Punish a blocked C Phoenix Arrow with a C Moon Slasher. You can do an
    early D Running Slash to go under her Psycho Balls and hit her. A hyper
    jump can also punish a Psycho Ball on reaction from almost anywhere on
    the screen. Of course, good Athenas won't throw a lot of Psycho Balls, or
    indeed do many blocked Phoenix Arrows :) If you're up against a poke-poke-
    poke-teleport throw type, counter with your own low poke game, which
    should be more than up to the task. Watch out for her fwd+B hop, though
    (the one with autoguard).
    You've got to watch this guy, because his low D is better than yours.
    Sheesh, the nerve of some people! :) Go easy on the A Cheeseball
    because he can trivially low D you under it. His low D also beats yours
    after a blocked Running Slash. Again, your early D Running Slash can
    go under his fireballs. He has slightly better recovery on his FBs than
    Athena, so to hyper-jump and punish you need to be quicker, or
    If you time it right, you can hit King with your Revolver Spark DM
    between the second-to-last and last hits of a blocked D Trap Shot.
    Yes, you do come out of block stun for a brief instant there, so
    practise that timing :)
    This fight can be surprisingly tough, as he can keep you out of range
    of your poking/Running Slash game (Leona's strength) with his low A
    pokes. One thing to note is that an anticipatory Running Slash will go
    under/through his Pole Extend move and hit him.
    A Yamazaki turtling behind Snake Arms can be tough to get in on for
    Leona, because his Snake Arms will hit her cleanly out of any Running
    Slash or jump. What has worked for me before is sitting just outside
    his Snake Arm range, and when he starts charging one, do a _B
    X-Caliber_. Yes, you heard correctly, do not adjust your monitor.
    That's the one and only use for that move I can think of [6]. It will
    actually hit him if he unleashes the Snake Arm. If he blocks he will be
    unable to retaliate from that particular range, and you will be in close
    enough to start mounting some kind of offense.
    Oh yeah, don't low D if you see him Sado-Masoing either, because it will
    trigger the counter.
    Your jumping D and B will work reasonably well air-to-air in this fight.
    But, as with Benimaru, once he gets stock or MAX it's time to whip out
    your sonic screwdriver and disable the up-forward direction on your
    joystick, because you won't be needing it. If you're fighting the
    garden variety fireball trapping, Maiden Masher-as-air-defense type,
    _don't_ try the X-Caliber over his FBs. Roll through them or _vertical_
    jump over them and advance. If you do stupidly jump forward at the
    MAXed Iori and he fires up his Maiden Masher, stick out a jumping A,
    I've seen it trade before.
    His Shingo Kick can sometimes trade with your V-Slasher. But don't let
    a little thing like that stop you :) You won't be able to jump forward
    much before you have stock though.
    Play your ground game more cautiously than usual, because his
    Shingofists are blindingly fast and have almost unquestionable priority.
    Finally, watch out for his power-cancellable SDM. Always try and jump,
    either up or back, away from it. Or CD cancel it. Especially if he can
    follow it with another DM.
    Actually, if you'd like to read such a document, EX Andy has written
    a fine example of that very thing. You can find it here:
    OK, so I didn't mention POW-exploding much at all.
    Thanks to KoF MLer Chris Hammond for this observation :)
    Personally, I also find this DM to be the easiest to connect with in
    this situation.
    There are exceptions, of course. For example, when playing the unedited
    Ikari team you gain the maximum number of bonus stocks by putting Leona
    out first.
    BTW thanks to KoF MLer YuriMai for that particular label. I'll take
    that as a compliment :)
    Hmm, since the X-Caliber may have a use I suppose I should actually
    include the motion for it now, shouldn't I? Charge down, up + K.
    [Anecdote 1]
    I was once playing Leona against an Extra Mode Iori. It was both of our
    last characters. I had knocked him down in the corner on about 4 ticks,
    while I was still on 70-80%. I decided to finish him off with a C
    Cheeseball. So what happened? He did a perfectly timed wake-up dodge, a C
    into Scum Gale to put me in the corner, another C into Scum Gale to rip
    me out again, then an SDM Maiden Masher and _I_ died. Argh! But I was
    pretty impressed.
    [Anecdote 2]
    Just to illustrate how deadly this can be, consider the following tale
    of woe: I was Ralf up against a Leona player who had just jumped
    backward. I was looking to MAX myself, and thought this would be a
    good opportunity. Should be safe enough, right? Wrong :P
    [Useless Fact 1]
    Here's the story behind the jumping C: It's a double handed "poke/chop."
    She places the palm of one hand on the back of the other hand and leans
    forward during the jump. It's based on Heidern's corresponding move, as
    is her close D, close C, and low A (which is based on his slower and
    non-interruptable low C). Thanks to EX Andy for clearing that up :)
    [Useless Fact 2]
    Apparently in the C throw, she's _stabbing the opponent in the face with
    her fingertips_. Ouch! Cool or what? Again thanks to EX Andy for the
    [Useless Fact 3]
    The Revolver Spark DM might look strangely familiar if you've played KoF
    '96 on the Neo-CD or Saturn. You know how, after Leona has stuck the
    bomb or whatever into the opponent and is waiting for it to go off in
    sort of a half-crouch with her arm raised? That's the loading picture
    you got when playing her on the left hand side in the CD version of '96.
    Similarly, the pose after the bomb goes off, where she straightens up
    and brings her arm down, is the loading picture from the right hand side.
    Believe it... or not (cue Twilight Zone theme).
    That's about it for the Leona guide. I hope you enjoyed reading and/or
    got something useful out of it. Please feel free to send any comments,
    corrections, additions, typo disocveries, whatever, to me at
    Tony W.
    Thanks go to the following individuals/collective entities:
    - The membership of the KoF ML, where I've picked up lots of useful info.
    - Nene, ex-KoF ML member and fellow Leona player, for a couple of
      suggestions and for helping me test out various things.
    - EX Andy, current KoF ML member, for a _lot_ of useful info and
      suggestions. He is also a Kim expert, and you can find his Kim guide,
      as well as numerous other KoF'97 FAQs and character guides he has
      collected, at his KoF help page:
    - Ranma-chan, ex-KoF ML member, for a couple of corrections and
    - Olivier, current KoF ML member, for some corrections and suggestions.
    - Chika, owner of Chika's King of Fighters Zone, from whence I copied
      Leona's profile data.
      "Hobbies: None." Hehehe, I still love it.
    - Chris Hammond, current KoF ML member, for a couple of combos and
      other comments.
    - K. Megura, author of a very comprehensive KoF'97 FAQ from whence I
      nicked a bit of character relationship info. You can find his FAQ on
      EX Andy's KoF help page.

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