A New Challenger: Cammy

By Mr. Saint

Cammy, as a character in the Street Fighter universe, has enjoyed enduring appeal.  Despite being consistently ranked as one of the worst characters in her debut game (Super Street Fighter II), she quickly garnered a fanbase that solidified her status as a recurring character in the franchise.  To date, Cammy has appeared in most of the major iterations of Street Fighter (as well as having many crossover appearances, such as in CvS2).  She is currently enjoying a tenure in Street Fighter V as one of the game’s high tier characters.  Opinions are split on her relative strength in Exceed, with some players thinking she is weak, while others feel she is underrated.  But I can confidently say she is very fun!

One of the first things that struck me when playing as Cammy is her interesting interactions with the opponent’s Sweeps.  In general, Sweep is at its best as an attack in a couple of different situations (there are others, but these two are the most common in my opinion).  The first situation is when you know the opponent is trying to move into close range from Range 4 or greater, such as with Dive.  Here, playing a “defensive” Sweep ensures you trade up against the opponent, most likely doing more damage than the opponent’s attack and putting you up on cards (thanks to Sweep’s “knockdown” clause – Hit: the opponent discards a card at random) in exchange for positioning that is assumedly more favorable to the opponent (otherwise, they wouldn’t have chosen to move in).  Before she has resources to burn, Cammy is more vulnerable to this type of Sweep than most, as the majority of her attacks move her into Sweep’s 1-3 Range from midrange.  

The other typical Sweep play is what I think of as the “offensive” Sweep (note: it usually doesn’t actually matter who initiated the Strike for this play, and the “offensive” Sweep is often done in response to an opponent initiating a Strike if positioning is favorable).  Here, Sweep is typically used at Range 1, ideally with a board state that invalidates Cross as an escape option, such as near the edge of the arena with the opponent retreating towards the corner.  This is usually done to convert your attack to raw damage, or further a resource disparity while setting up for your next play.  Thanks to her character ability (UA), Cammy is uniquely suited to disarming the “offensive” Sweep, with only Dive Kick and Razor’s Edge Slicer failing to cleanly beat it at Range 1 (and Dive Kick may be able to beat Sweep at R1 given certain positions).  Even better, Dive, which would normally cause a double whiff at Range 1 against “offensive” Sweep, still fully confirms for 5 damage here thanks to Cammy’s UA.  This interaction is part of what makes Cammy a powerful Range 1 combatant.

 More than just the above-mentioned synergy with Dive, Cammy’s UA allows her to present mix-ups at Ranges 1 to 5.  If you initiate a Strike and Critical your attack at Range 4, the opponent has to guess whether they think they’ll be trading with Spiral Arrow (in which case they should play something like Sweep) or whether you just played Cannonball (which crushes Sweep and Focus, but would lose to Dive).  Because of Cammy’s UA, this mix-up is actually viable at Ranges 2 and 3 as well, giving Cammy flexibility with her attacks that most other characters can only dream of.  Because of this relatively positioning insensitivity, the Cammy player is able to instead focus on parsing the  opponent’s remaining options in an attempt to tilt Cammy’s coinflip mix-ups in her favor.  

A couple pieces of Cammy’s mix-up game.

Cammy is a gauge hungry character.  This is due in no small part to her great Critical triggers, such as those on the above-mentioned Cannonball and Spiral Arrow.  Without gauge, her attacks are a lot more telegraphed and her mix-ups in most ranges become significantly less threatening.  As such Cammy often has to rely on Normals and trading in the early game until she can bank a couple of gauge to fuel her attacks.  

In addition to needing gauge to threaten her Critical attacks, there are three gauge thresholds that Cammy can reach which fundamentally change the gamestate.  At two gauge, Gyro Drive Smasher (GDS for short) comes online.  Similar to Razor’s Edge Slicer, GDS makes attacking Cammy at Range 4 or 5 a losing prospect, thanks to its dodge clause.  But while Razor’s Edge Slicer has 4 Power, GDS starts at 5 printed Power and scales accordingly depending on positioning (+1 Power per a space you pull the opponent to a maximum of 12 Power).  An opponent might chance things against the weaker attack, but if they suspect you of having GDS, they are unlikely to risk a Strike that would lose against the Ultra. 

As such, if an opponent does initiate a Strike at Range 4 or 5 while Cammy has two or more gauge, it is very likely that they will be changing their positioning with in-Strike movement, such as via Dive.  As was discussed in our article about Mix-ups and Represented Attacks, there is a lot of value in the fear of one of your live threats making the opponent behave more predictably.  If they initiate with confidence at Range 4, maybe it’s a good time to play a Sweep of your own to check their Dive!  GDS also strongly incentivizes the opponent to avoid the corners of the arena, as getting hit with GDS while in the corner ensures that they will take maximum damage from the attack, further limiting the positioning options of zoner characters.

Once Cammy obtains three gauge, her second Ultra, CQC, comes online.  Befitting an attack that shares an acronym with a US Special Forces training program, CQC turns Cammy from a strong Range 1 fighter into a dominant one.  Thanks to the dodge effect on CQC, it becomes very difficult for opponents to Strike into Cammy when she has three gauge at Range 1.  This is additive to the previous gauge threshold, further restricting positions where an opponent can mount an offense.  CQC also has a sort of pseudo-Advantage as a defensive tool, letting you pick the positioning for the next Strike on your turn if CQC hits.  And the power of CQC is not necessarily limited to Range 1.  With a little predictive work on your side, it’s a totally reasonable defensive play at Range 2 or 3.  CQC is just as good at stuffing Assault as it is at stopping a Grasp.  Look for opportunities to play CQC against things like Ken’s Axe Kick, Sagat’s Tiger Knee, King Knight’s Scepter Slam, and other attacks that end their movement at Range 1.

The final threshold is reached when Cammy has four gauge.  With this amount of resources, Cammy can use both her ultras back to back for a potential 18 damage, threatening to end the game in the blink of an eye!  Here’s how it works: you respond to the opponent’s initiated Strike with CQC. When CQC hits, you put the opponent in one of the arena’s corners (pick whichever one makes sense depending on whether you can outrange all the opponent’s options or need to use GDS’s dodge clause).  On your turn, you Strike with GDS and pull the opponent through Cammy to the opposite edge of the arena for max damage.  If the opponent is hit by the CQC, the only real counterplay is to respond to GDS with Focus (or a similar “opponents cannot move you” attack) to avoid being pulled.  They can also Dive or Assault to reduce the damage the GDS will do, but this is less effective than defending with Focus.  Because of the raw strength of this combo, opponents will often try to Parry one of Cammy’s Ultras to shut down this line of play.  The strength of the implied threat of Cammy’s Ultras means that I almost never use her Exceed mode.

Because Cammy relies on dodge effects and her mobility for her main defensive options, she can have difficulty against opponents who are as or more mobile than she is.  As an example, Luciya’s varied movement tools make it much more difficult to confirm CQC than it is against most other characters.  Even if Luciya ends up at Range 1, it’s likely that Cammy will first be stunned by Luciya’s UA (such as by crossing over Cammy with Bug Zapper), negating CQC’s hit effect and damage.  Cammy also has to take extra care against opponents with additional cards with “opponents cannot move you” clauses.  She can usually play around the two copies of Focus that all characters have, but things can get difficult against opponents with additional access to similar effects.

In this game, I was significantly behind. I gambled on Luciya striking with her second Assault and was met with Downburst instead. Even though Downburst didn’t hit, I was still stunned by Luciya’s UA and received no value from my Ultra. It took a few more turns for Luciya to put me out of my misery, but this is the play that lost me this game.

One of my favorite things about Cammy’s kit is the Slide boost (on Dive Kick).  Combined with Cammy’s UA, this simple, unassuming boost completely changes the way the Normals interact.  Would you like your Grasp to hit at Range 2 and beat Sweep?  Slide allows for this.  How about a Sweep or Focus that will chase the opponent’s Cross to hit confirm?  Sure, no problem.  Or maybe you’d like a Spike that beats every other normal except Dive at Range 2?  Best of all, if you don’t play a Normal, Slide will sustain itself.  Because Cammy changes board positions with virtually every Strike, you can safely boost Slide, then rely on her Specials until you are in a position to most effectively capitalize on a boosted Normal.  

Cammy is an incredibly mobile, evasive fighter.  She is ideal for players who love to evaluate new positions with every play, and she benefits greatly from the ability to think a few turns ahead.  As she gains resources, she restricts the opponent’s potential options with her powerful Ultras, leading to the opportunity for powerful predictive reads.  Whether she stands with the most powerful characters Exceed has to offer is largely irrelevant.  What matters is that Cammy is a blast to play!

As a reminder, I’m an Exceed enthusiast, not an Exceed expert, so I welcome discussion and constructive criticism on this post. Let me know if you enjoyed it, or if there is something specific you would like to see covered in the future!

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