New character releases for any game tend to be fill the playerbase with a sense of excitement, uncertainty and dread. Excitement at the prospect of new content. The existence of a new character in a fighting game means hours of new content to either learn to use, or contend against. Uncertainty about how balanced they’re going to be, especially in a game with rampant balance issues, such as having a wide gulf between high and low tier characters, or an entire roster suffering from power creep or power seep. Finally, dread in those people who know they won’t be playing the new character, but can see from whatever limited footage or prior knowledge that they won’t be a character they like to play against.

Kolin, a new character in Street Fighter V has evoked all of these emotions in the games playerbase, and as the game with what is likely the largest consistent playerbase out of every fighting game on the planet, there’s good reason for it. The skill levels of players vary wildly from being Nuckledu, to being below bronze, and as a result, not everyone was going to be able to handle a new and unique character coming into the game like Kolin, especially not when Street Fighter tends to bring in characters that are pretty tame in comparison to other games. Kolin is completely outside of their usual pattern of behavior, and she’s forcing players to work really hard to adapt to her unique playstyle and mixups. Luckily, I’m here to help you do that.

The first thing you have to do is throw out any preconceptions that you have about Kolin as a character based on her gender. Stop looking at me like that, I’m not going all social justice on you, I’m letting you know that unlike the other female characters in the game, she boasts high health, and as a result, high stun. You’re not going to bring her down with a few mixups and then a guessing game, at least not consistently. Especially not with the tools she has access to, when it comes to playing the neutral. Once you do this, you’ll want to ensure that you use your moves with the fastest startup against her. That’s to say, your fast moves. It’s alright to sacrifice active frames for startup speed here, since the faster your move, the lower the chance that Kolin is going to parry you and knock your teeth loose.

One of the most important things about facing Kolin is remembering to space yourself correctly. What you cannot do is allow yourself to be pressured by her Hailstorm with no answer, and the best way to avoid that is to simply space yourself correctly. Make sure that you’re ready to answer with something when the hailstorm misses, and punish her for it. You can cause her to be too scared to use it again, and if you do that, it’ll eventually stop being something that’s even necessary for you to deal with. Being that Hailstorm is her only projectile, causing her to not want to use it, frees up much of the screen for you to work with, and hamstrings her pretty badly.

A particularly mobile Kolin is someone you’ll want to handle with caution, and pressure. Most of Street Fighter V is based around being the aggressor in most situations. If you’re aggressively in the drivers seat, you’re winning, so you need to ensure that this is the case whenever you can manage it. Also, realize that when Kolin starts slipping and sliding, that she’s likely going to come towards you for a grab. Be ready for that, when she gets close, lean on your fastest buttons, like we talked about. Force her to rethink her approach, and to make a decision she isn’t familiar with. When you’ve done that, you’ll be on the path to victory.

Lastly we have just a general tip. Watch for her slow, negative moves and punish them. Hard. Like every other character in the game, her sweep is negative. Her crouching heavy punch is -3 on block as well, so a two frame jab, or equally fast button can check her for using it. Little checks go a long way in most fighting games, so be sure to keep that in mind the next time you decide to forget about your reaction normals to focus on combos.

Did you learn anything from this mini guide? Let me know in the comments and for more on Street Fighter V and Kolin, stick with us at FGCNow.