Working at max range with Kung Lao (Tempest)
I want to talk about something I haven’t seen enough of with Kung Lao (I've only seen a few players do this) and I feel it’s necessary for me to demonstrate it. Many characters in the cast gain a lot of leverage by spacing their normals at max range, it is a fundamental part of fighting games to understand when and how you should work at your characters max range.
Kung Lao especially gains a lot of leverage from this. By spacing his B2 or F2 at max range and cancelling into DB1 it will cause his DB1 to whiff. There are already many mind games without working at max range, so adding this on really improves Kung Laos offence. Especially in the corner.
These are pretty generic situations but you can still apply them with most of the cast. Nevertheless, you will still have to do some lab work in order to understand how to enforce these situations. I will be demonstrating this against Commando Kano to help represent a generic move set.
B2/F2 DB1: The opponent is able to press a button but Lao is still able to block and walk back, in some circumstances he is able to whiff punish at this range with 11212.
B2/F2 DB1, walk back: If the opponent throws a normal Lao is able to get a full combo whiff punish, this is very important.
B2/F2 DB1, grab: Once you realise your opponent is afraid of taking a combo, an opportunity to grab arises. The blockstun from the DB1 may make it awkward to tech or crouch the grab but the opponent is still able to make either of these reads and get a punish. Kung Lao is still able to maintain his shimmy game during all this.
B2 DB1, 11212 (B321): There is either an opportunity to grab or an opportunity to check with a normal. So much like with how you condition in order to gain a grab, the same applies for a normal. You are able to get a combo depending on how you manage your timing but sometimes you have to live with the advantage 11212 and B321 will provide you.
Conditioning your opponent to reach the max range of B2/F2
It may seem awkward to reach this range but there are ways of enforcing this.
Staggers, 11, 11212, B3, B32, B321: Convince your opponent that you are going to commit to a certain option (staggers) this will allow you to reach the max range of B2/F2.
D4: Kung Laos D4 behaves differently depending on how you space it and if it’s blocked or not. Based on these variable will determine how you reach max range.
D4 (spaced): If you were to do this it does leave you at a range a step away from max range, however the opponent is still able to prevent you from simply walking back with a well timed button. If you were to block their button you’ll have enough momentum to walk back.
D4 (hit): The hit advantage on Kung Laos D4 leaves him at +17 so you are able to simply backdash after and be at range while you’re still at advantage. It's up to you how you choose to spend your advantage.
These are the only real viable options to reach max range from D4. Other than that you will have to accept that you have truly lost momentum.
Opportunities to grab
Almost everything I’ve mentioned creates an opportunity to grab. It is not essential to commit to generic offence. Condition your opponent to think you’re trying to reach B2 range for instance, maybe grab them instead of spending time on walking back.
If you feel your opponent is prepared for a grab commit to a normal, check them with a D4. The foundation of Kung Laos offence is based on how you enforce your normals and grabs. Naturally your opponent will be getting hit by basic mids because of them trying to evade a grab. Play around with what I’ve mentioned. All this does require you to experiment.