The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match

From SuperCombo Wiki


In 2009 SNK Playmore reworked KOF '02 and transformed the previous Eolith psuedo-mess into a work of art. With 58 characters, reworked game speed, complete overhauls for existing characters, plus a slick aesthetic makeover, KOF '02 UM is the definitive King of Fighters. While XI offers extreme speed and switching and '98 UM revitalized Extra mode and side steps, KOF '02 UM brings an enormous roster and fun mechanics that keep the game fast, frequently weaving between pressing offense and solid defense.

Game Overview

KOF '02 UM has one main system that resembles closely to KOF '98's Advanced Mode, as was KOF '02 system was based off of. Those coming from Capcom vs. SNK 2 background, for example, should be familiar with the "Groove Systems" that Capcom vs. SNK 2 has. Those familiar with "N Groove" from CVS2 should feel right at home with KOF '02 UM's system mechanics. Those coming from a KOF XIII background should notice that the overall subsystems and Hyper Drive mode are based around KOF '02 and KOF '02 UM's systems. So to those coming from KOF XIII should also feel welcome and already familiar with most of the system KOF '02 UM has to offer.


  • Run - Tap forward twice quickly. Hold the second tap to keep running. In KOF '02 UM, when you simply tap "f., f." to run, you will run a certain distance before you stop. This particular initial distance can be canceled by jumping or attacking, but not by blocking or crouching. You can use this period to buffer moves such as command throws. For example with Ralf or Clark, you can tap "f., f.", then do the hcf motion for their command grab while you are moving forward, without having to keep holding forward over that first couple character spaces.
  • After this set distance the character is forced to run, the player could continue to hold "f." or "df." to keep running and letting go to neutral, to crouch, or whatever else would stop any further running.
  • Also, there is a small recovery when you release f. to stop a run. When running in to attack, keep holding forward if you're going to do a standing attack, or move to df. for a crouching attack. This makes attacking from a run seamless. You can also hold d/f to keep charge a charge-down special move while running.
  • Roll Forward - Press A and B simultaneously. Rolls are invulnerable from the very start, and vulnerable at the end. You can be thrown out of rolls at any point during the duration of the roll. Since they are invincible at startup, you can use rolls as a reversal. Good players are able to anticipate, react to, and punish rolls accordingly so don't be overzealous with this option.
  • Roll Backward - Press back and A and B simultaneously. It shares the same properties as rolling forward except it, of course, moves backwards. Good players that predict it should be able to run, catch up to, and punish backward rolls anyways so be careful.
  • Recovery Roll (Tech Roll) - Press A and B simultaneously as you are touching the ground from getting knocked down. Some moves/knockdowns are not rollable. You can mix this up with staying on the ground to mess with your opponents' setups on wakeup.
  • Short Hop - Performed by quickly pressing up-back, up-forward, or simply just up and then inputting a neutral or any non-upward motion. Performing a short hop can be difficult at first but being able to select from any jump option at a moment's notice is absolutely vital to KOF. One trick is to quickly move from an upward direction to down in order to avoid holding up for too long and causing a jump. Short hops are fast and possibly the least vulnerable of all jump types (the hopping player moves forward under 1/3 of the screen's length) which make them difficult to react to when under pressure. Using air-to-ground attacks from short hops is a quick way to keep the opponent blocking while gaining frame advantage afterward. Once used to seeing short hops, they become easier to anti-air when an opening presents itself. Short hops are great for baiting and then punishing sweeps. This forms part of the basic RPS system of KOF where hops beat low attacks, standing attacks defeat hops, and low attacks win against standing attacks.
  • Hyper Hop - Performed by first pressing any downward direction, quickly pressing up-back or up-forward, and then releasing to a non-upward directional input. They can also be done by running and inputting a short hop. Note that hyper hops cannot be done neutrally upward. Hyper hops are even faster and travel further than normal "Short Hops."
  • Jump - The option that should be the most familiar with most fighting game players. Jumps in KOF are performed the same way as in any game: just hold up-back, up, or up-forward. Jumps reach a high vertical height which suits them for maneuvering over large specials or challenging the other player in the air. Jumping carries a longer aerial hang time which gives the other player more substantial time to anti-air or air-to-air. Additionally, a normal jump covers the same horizontal distance as a hyper hop. Jumps end up getting punished more often than either hop, and so much like in any fighting game the player should have a set reason or strategy in mind before jumping heedlessly.
  • Super Jump - Super jumps are done by pressing any downward direction and followed by up-back or up-forward. Players cannot super jump neutrally upward. A super jump travels a bit further than 1/2 of the screen length. Combined with the widescreen ratio this creates more safety from fullscreen against being jumped on. A super jump travels faster and further than a standard jump although tall vertical height of the jump arc makes this the easiest of all air options to anti-air.
  • Back Dash or Back Step - Tap back twice quickly. During a back dash, you can perform air command normals and air special moves. Using a command normal will cause the trajectory and recovery period of the back dash to change.
  • Guard Cancel Strike (CD Counter) - Press C and D simultaneously while guarding a move. This uses one power stock. This works as a type of "Alpha Counter".
  • Guard Cancel Roll (Emergency Roll) - Press A and B simultaneously or while guarding a move (hold back to roll backwards or return to neutral/hold forward to roll forward). This uses one power stock. It's a great tool for punishing specific block strings as you roll and recover before the opponent recovers from the attack that was canceled into. Also a great way for avoiding defeat by chip damage by guard rolling on the normals that cancel into the chip attacks.
  • Attack Cancel Roll - Press A and B Simultaneously with attacking with a Normal Move. This type of roll has similar properties as a normal roll as it has recovery that could be punished and could be thrown as well. The main reason to use this roll is to extend combos with characters such as Maxima or Daimon as it reduces the recovery of their attacks that causes a juggle state and also moves them forward putting them into position to combo. Otherwise is a decent way to bait out Guard Cancel Strikes and punishing their recoveries. Generally, one almost never sees Attack Cancel Rolls for the latter though.
  • Throw Break - Press back/forward with the corresponding button immediately after you are thrown. To tech a normal throw, the player has to tech with the same button that the opponent used to initiate the normal throw. To tech a throw the opponent used with the C button, the receiver of the throw would also have to tech with the C button and using any other button to tech will end up in failure. There is an option select to cover both C and D throws and it's done by simply teching while pianoing both C and D buttons in which ever order.
  • Max Mode Activation - Press B and C simultaneously. This will use one power stock and give you a meter that shows you how much time you have left in Max mode. While in MAX mode you get "free cancels", the ability to cancel normals into other attacks when normally those normal attacks could not cancel. The player also gains the ability to cancel special attacks into other specials with certain limitations and could create extended combos. This led to inspire the combo system that exists in KOF XIII. Also characters gain access to Max Desperation Moves for one addition meter, also known as Super Desperation Moves and function like "Level 2 Supers." When the character is at "Red Health", going into MAX mode unlocks the ability to do a Max 2 a.k.a. Hidden Super Desperation Move, also just for one more spent meter during Max mode. Outside of Max mode, Max Desperation Moves and Max 2 costs 3 stocks which is 1 more than spending 1 for Max mode and 1 for "MDM" or a Max 2. One last thing to note is that using a Desperation Move during Max mode will only consume the remainder of the timed Max mode bar rather than using another stock.
  • Max Mode Cancel Activation - Press B and C simultaneously during a normal move. This produces the KOF equivalent of Guilty Gear's "Roman Cancel" although it's just limited to canceling normal moves. Most players use this to cancel a Close C/D attack on hit to return to the neutral state and run forward to combo again. The ability to do a combo such as cl.C xx BC > run forward cl.C requires timing and practice but is well worth it in the long run for characters such as Nameless, Kyo, Iori, and among other characters. Another purpose of using max mode cancel activation is to go back to neutral to block after attacking with a normal attack. Since the character can block instantly after canceling, a player could bait out a Guard Cancel Strike and punish it after blocking. Doing a Max mode cancel activation requires 2 meters and could be a hefty amount to pay, but it's well worth it for characters that can capitalize well with it.
  • Super Canceling - The super cancel function works similar to Street Fighter 3: Third Strike in which the player is able to cancel specific special moves directly into supers, or in this case: Desperation Moves and Max Desperation Moves. Unlike Third Strike, the act of super canceling eats up an addition stock of meter. So canceling a special move into a Desperation Move eats up a total of 2 stocks. Since doing a Max Desperation Move outside of Max mode takes 3 stocks, super canceling into a Max Desperation Move eats up a total of 4 stocks. While in Max mode, super canceling only eats the remainder of your time Max mode bar instead of an additional stock, new in KOF '02 UM and unlike KOF' 02. So for super canceling during Max mode, it takes 1 stock to manually activate Max mode and the remainder of the timed Max mode bar to use a Desperation move, with or without a super cancel, so the meter spent is just 1 stock; but for using a Max mode cancel activation during a combo and finishing with a Desperation move (again with or without a super cancel) consumes 2 stocks. Max Desperation Moves during Max mode with a super cancel is reduced to 2 stocks with a manual activation and to 3 stocks during a Max mode cancel activation combo.
  • Reversals - Reversals in KOF '02 UM work mostly the same as in other games. There isn't a reversal message, but the window is very large (about 5 frames). The main difference between this game and others is that most 'invincible' moves aren't completely invincible. A lot of the time they are only invincible up to the hit, in which case they will trade with meaties. You will have to refer to the character-specific sections concerning which moves do what. Universally speaking, rolls, instant command throws, and super instant command throws can be used as reversals.
  • Alternate Guard - This is a technique to avoid being thrown while blocking. First, you must block an attack or be put in block stun by an attack (i.e. by it being whiffed close to you). Then you must alternate between back and down-back very quickly. This will keep you in perpetual block stun and unable to be thrown by any throws, including proximity unblockables. To beat alternate guard, you must be able to hit the opponent by using fast lows/overhead mix ups etc. to break their defense. Tactics like repeated/delayed cr.Bs can be hard to alternate guard without thinking.
  • Another side effect of KOF 02 UM's blocking system that you need to be aware of is whiffing jumping attacks into a throw. When you are performing an empty jump, then landing and throwing, you should not perform any attack during the jump. If you do and you're close enough, it will put the opponent into block stun and your throw will whiff. It is possible for this to work though, if your opponent tries to attack or roll after they are put into block stun but before the throw, or if they do not attempt to block at all.
  • Proximity Unblockables - This is a special type of throw that is exclusive to KOF. Some examples of proximity unblockables are Robert's hcf+K throw, Shingo's dp+K throw, or O.Chris's hcf+K throw. Unlike command throws, they can only be performed when close to an opponent who is in a throw-able state (i.e. in hit stun or not in block stun). Because of this, it is usually impossible to whiff a proximity unblockable, making them safer in some situations than command throws. You will simply get a normal move if the opponent is not in a throw-able state, or a different command normal/special if you tried to combo into one. On the other hand, they do have startup, and it is possible to trade hits instead of simply throwing. It is also possible to whiff a proximity unblockable if you combo into one in such a way that it pushes the opponent out of range after the proximity unblockable has started. As for rolls, in most cases they will be stopped by a proximity unblockable as if you were a wall.
  • Counter Hits - Whenever you interrupt a jumping attack, special move, or super move, you score a counter hit. This causes a screen flash and a "counter-hit" message to appear. The hit gets a 25% (usually) damage bonus, pushes back further (ala MAX mode hits), and allows you to juggle with another hit if the attack knocks down. For example, if you score a jump CD counter-hit, you can hit the opponent while they are in the air. Other examples are Chang's Ball Swing or Athena's Shining Crystal Bit hitting multiple times thanks to the first hit being a counter hit.
  • Counterwire - Certain moves have this property, and will activate if the opponent is counter hit by the move. So upon counter hit, the recipient would shoot to the other side of the screen and wall bounce regardless of how close to the corner the characters are. During the wall bounce, the character that took the counterwired hit will fall with a juggle state, allowing the other character to continue to juggle.
  • Corner Cross-ups - You might have seen in a video or something, someone crossing up another player in the corner after a knockdown. This true corner cross-up ability is only available on the 2P side (i.e. only available to the player who's life/super bars are on the 2P side).
  • Although this may seem like an unfair advantage, the 1P side also has it's own corner cross-up ability. Whenever the opponent is knocked down in a back turned state (i.e. face up, head toward or face down, feet toward), you can perform a pseudo cross-up. Simply jump toward (super jump preferred) their head and time/position a move that has some cross-up ability the same way you would normally perform a cross-up. This must be blocked in the direction away from the corner. In some ways this is more difficult to block than the 2P side bug, because you remain on the same side no matter which direction the move has to be blocked.
  • Taunt - Press Start to do something cool.

Cancel System

A normal if cancelable, can be canceled into command normal or a special move. The command normal can be canceled to a special move or Desperation Move, if cancelable and canceled into from a normal. The general rule in KOF is, if you do a command normal without canceling into it, it is not cancelable. Command normals have certain properties associated with them, such as hard knockdown, overhead, etc. Most command normals lose these properties when they are canceled into. For example, Takuma's f.B is an overhead if executed on it's own, but if you cancel it from say, a Crouch B, then it loses the overhead property. Command normals can also gain some properties if canceled into. For example, Yashiro's f.A comes out much faster if canceled into than if done by itself.
There are exceptions to the above rules. Mary's b./f.A is cancelable to Desperation Moves even if not canceled into. Her b./f.B is cancelable to special moves and Desperation Moves, even if not canceled into. In addition, even if you cancel into it, the move still hits low on the second hit.
General Flow of Attack Strings:
  • Normal > Special
  • Just like any other fighting game
  • Normal > Command Normal > Special
  • It's here that Command Normals "generally" lose their specific properties such overheads or knockdown but gain the ability to cancel into a special move.
  • Normal > Command Normal > Desperation Move
  • Instead of canceling into a special, one cancels into a Desperation Move
  • Command Normal
  • Generally command normals can not cancel into specials and Desperation moves, there are exceptions but that requires experimentation and discovery by the player.
  • Normal > Command Normal
  • This could be used as a string just to bait out a Guard Cancel Roll or just to pressure and leave it at this point in the string to set up for something else. Another reason to end at the command normal is "delay cancel" into the command normal from the normal move. This still cancels the initial normal move while preserving the special properties of the command normal at the cost of being able to cancel out of it. Further explained below:
  • Delayed Command Normals: As mentioned before, most command normals have different properties depending on whether they have been canceled into or not. If you cancel a normal in the last cancelable frames, into a command normal, it will come out as if it wasn't canceled into at all. Characters that have command normals that can be late canceled and have practical uses would be Kim's f.B (retains the overhead property, and can be Max mode canceled into run up combo), Kusanagi's f.B (the properties of this move when not canceled into it are much better than if canceled), Ryo's f.A (high priority and retains the overhead property). Generally if it isn't an overhead, then the delayed cancel technique isn't really of value.

Practical Tricks & Glitches

  • Fuzzy Defense: In 2D FTGs, blocking patterns can be useful when dealing with standard high/low strings off a jump in. The hop > high/throw/low mixup might appear overwhelming at first, but we can deal with a majority of these with one simple pattern. When defending against a hop first hold Back in anticipation of a jumping attack, then press Back C~D late or as they're landing, then hold Down Back. When done correctly, you'll enter blockstun against a jumping attack, throw or tech if they did an empty hop into a throw, and if you blocked their jump-in you switch to low blocking.
  • Fuzzy Breaking: Fuzzy Defense in KOF isn't perfect. Empty hopping into a command grab demolishes the technique. Another method is to land a deep jump in and then go into an overhead immediately: K's f.B is unsafe on block, but it's practically unblockable from this setup. Mature's j.B is a monster for high/low 50/50s since it can be timed to hit once or twice before she goes for a low. A final option exists for every character: space a hop so that it lands just outside of throw range so that they must correctly react to an empty hop into a low.
  • Advanced CD Counters I - Option Select Tech: CD Counters are often difficult to punish, but when C+D is pressed in anticipation it's likely you'll whiff an attack. When standing, this results in whiffing a (usually) slow CD attack, and when crouching a cr.C comes out. Empty hopping into a throw is a common solution to bait panicked turtles, but by always inputting C+D > b.C~D both throw techs are buffered in case a whiffed counter attempt is thrown. Normal throws are only untechable as a roll punish, so it's definitely always worth reducing the risk of being thrown, even while attacking.
  • Advanced CD Counters II - Anti-Air: Some characters have difficulty anti-airing while in the corner, especially when dealing with deep full jumps. While jumps can be read and escaped by running forward, rolling (high risk, low reward), walking under and DPing or meatying with a low (high risk, high reward), one particularly advantageous strategy is to walk out of the corner, forcibly causing a cross up, then CD Countering as an anti-air. For one meter, this can safely net a knockdown plus corner spacing.
  • Advanced CD Counters III - Counter Hits: If you know that your Guard Cancel Strike/CD (GCCD) is going to counter hit, you can cancel the GCCD into Max mode (BC), and follow up with whatever counter hit combo you'd like. Canceling a CD counter into Max mode will already waste 3 stocks. The most common thing to do after canceling to Max mode is a DM or MDM, so this will require 3-4 stocks overall, or maybe even 5 stocks if you can super cancel a move into the Max Desperation Move. The sheer amount of stocks required for using this technique is pretty large, so it probably isn't very practical. However, it can become useful if the attack string you are trying to block cannot be punished on block or after a guard roll.
  • Although to note, there is one character in KOF '02 UM that most consistently benefits from this. Bao naturally has huge hit stop on his GCCD, giving enough time for the player to confirm if the hit was counter hit or not. After confirming, Bao could BC cancel his GCCD and go directly into his qcb+C xx qcb+D ball loops. Mid-screen he could land about 1 loop while do two loops in the corner, either finishing into qcbqcb+K. Being able to get two ball loops into super from a counter hit GCCD near the corner yields about 55% damage from 3 stocks. Depending on the situation, this could be very well worth it.
  • A CD counter will counter hit under the following circumstances:
  • When you CD countered the move, it did not finish executing all of it's hits. For example, CD countering a move that does 4 hits, on any hits before the fourth, will result in a counter hit. For some moves, CD countering even on the last hit will result in a counter hit, although it will require experimentation to see which moves counter hit when.
  • Not verified yet - If the opponent is using an attack string, even if all moves are one hit each, and the opponent CD counters a move when the player had already input the next move in the attack string, a counter hit will result.
  • Max Mode Cancel Activation Tips: Canceling a normal such as a strong attack (Close C) into Max mode and then continuing the combo should not be a problem but there are some issues with canceling a weak attack such as Crouch B, into Max mode and then immediately doing another normal.
  • An example would be Choi's Crouch B x2, BC, Crouch C, Max Desperation Move combo. If the combo is input as cr.B, cr.B, BC, cr.C xx MDM, the result will be a Crouch/Standing B coming out after the BC activation. Instead, this combo should be input as cr.B, cr.B, C~B, SDM. C~B means to roll your fingers from C to B. For whatever reason, this will activate Max mode and do a Crouch C one frame after that, making the combo work.
  • Some other examples where this is applicable would be:
  • Athena's crouch B, crouch A, BC, crouch C xx Max 2
  • Kim's crouch B, crouch A, BC, close C xx Max 2
  • Vice's crouch Bx2, crouch A, BC, far C xx hcf+B
  • Another technique, called Max mode bypass, refers to executing special moves/Desperation Moves immediately after the Max mode activation. Suppose you wanted to combo Kensou's f.+A overhead into his qcf hcb+B. You can input this combo as f.+A, qcf hcb+BC. What happens is that the Max mode activation occurs followed immediately by the super.
  • Running Instant Throws: There are a few tricks that can be used to be able to execute running grabs with no delay and twitching. The first thing to note is that, when you hit ff to run, even if you just tap it and then try to stop yourself (either by holding back or trying to crouch), your character will still move a small distance forward. You can use this time to buffer part of the throw motion and then hold forward after it such that you do not lose your running stance.
  • hcb f.+P/K - Start your run with f.f. and immediately input hcb then forward again. If done right, you will store the hcb f+P motion and continue running with no twitching. Then when in range, hit the attack button. Doing it this way will allow you to run up about 3/4 screen and grab your opponent with no flinch.
  • hcbx2+P/K - Input hcb, then start your run with f.f. and input hcb+P when you are in range. Generally you will not be able to run as far as if you were using the hcb f shortcut, because the game has to store the initial hcb motion before the run as well.
  • hcf+P/K - This one is fairly easy but one thing to remember is to let go of the directions momentarily during your run, and then inputting hcf+P/K, or else you will get a dp+P/K coming out. With enough practice, you can input it such that there is no noticeable pause right before throwing.
  • f. or b.+C/D - These are tricky but pretty useful once you get them down. You can't actually do a normal throw if you are in running animation. Therefore, you have to hit b.+C/D during your run in such a way that you throw the moment your character stops running. Do it too fast and you'll just get a Standing C or D because your character might still be in the very small recovery state from stopping the run. Do it too slow and there will be a noticeable pause after your run, which you would like to minimize. Practice this a lot.
  • Negating Pushback: Multi-hitting Close Normals only cause pushback on the second hit. Most often, these attacks can cancel on the first hit, which can minutely affect combo and blockstring spacing. Clark can utilize this for a simple BC combo: cl.C(1) > BC > cl.C(2) > hcbhcb+P. The initial hit has minimal pushback when canceled, which lets him easily link another cl.C without having to run forward, plus he gains more time to buffer into super because cl.C becomes free cancelable on the second hit in Max mode.
  • Wakeup Crouching/Standing "Glitch": It is harder to hop/jump over a standing character than a crouching character, for obvious reasons, and some characters simply cannot hop over standing characters. The strange thing is, if the opponent was knocked down while standing, and even before the opponent gets up, you try to hop over them, the game won't allow you to. It's as if there is an invisible wall (precisely the height of what the opponent's height is if he were standing up) that is blocking you from doing so, even though the opponent hasn't stood up yet. However, if you knocked down the opponent while they were crouching, and then tried to hop over them before they would get up, you would be able to do so.
  • Therefore, the state of the opponent right before they were knocked down, has an effect on whether you would be able to hop/jump over them right before they get up. This can lead to some very dangerous setups with certain characters that score knockdowns, and the player that is getting knocked down needs to pay attention to what their state was right before they got knocked down.
  • An example of such a setup is Orochi Yashiro's hcf+K. If the opponent is standing when they get hit by it, and Yashiro super jumps immediately from that position, he will not switch sides. If the opponent was crouching and Yashiro super jumps the same way as before, he will switch sides. So, the dangerous setup would be to do close D into combo, after landing from the super jump.
  • Not many characters have the ability to do this reliably. The character will need a move that cannot be recovery rolled, and gives you enough time to be able to time a jump over them such that you land just as they get up.
  • Jump Facing the Wrong Way Glitch: There is a glitch that allows your character to jump facing the wrong way (for example, jumping forwards towards the opponent, while facing away from them. After rolling through/jumping over the opponent, hold down for a moment, then immediately jump into whatever jump attack.
  • Instant Grabs While Back is Turned Glitch: If a character wakes up with a reversal one-frame grab while their back is facing the wrong way, it will always whiff. This also applies if a grappler is jumping over you (to switch sides) and does a one-frame grab immediately upon landing. The glitch doesn't work with delayed grabs such as Daimon's dp + K.


  • Controls and basic notation of KOF in general.

Joystick Notation

                    .- up (u)
  up-back (u/b) - 7 8 9 - up-forward (u/f)

       back (b) - 4 5 6 - forward (f)

down-back (d/b) - 1 2 3 - down-forward (d/f)
                    `- down (d)

Primary Note: These numbers can be easily referenced by looking at your keyboard numpad. Think of it as a joystick/controller that is facing to the right. "5" is used to signify "neutral".

Secondary Note: These notations are based on the assumption that the character is on the "Player 1" side of the playing field. These notations remain relative to the character based upon this assumption.

Motion Abbreviations

  • qcf - 236 - Quarter circle forward/Hadouken/Fireball motion - In one smooth motion move to down -> down-forward -> forward.
  • qcb - 214 - Quarter circle backward - In one smooth motion move to down -> down-back -> back.
  • hcf - 41236 - Half circle forward - In one smooth motion move to back -> down-back -> down -> down-forward -> forward.
  • hcb - 63214 - Half circle backward - In one smooth motion move to forward -> down-forward -> down -> down-back -> back.
  • dp - 623 - Dragon Punch motion - In one smooth motion move to forward -> down -> down-forward.
  • rdp - 421 - Reverse Dragon Punch motion - In one smooth motion move to back -> down -> down-back.
  • [x] - Charge - Hold the given direction (usually back/down) for around 1 second, before moving to the next command (usually forward or up with a button input.) Another form of charging is holding down a button or buttons and releasing the button/s after a period of time to do a specific attack. The x in the example is the input of a direction or button that needs to be charged.
  • tk - 2369 - Tiger Knee Motion - qcf, then move to up-forward.

Attack Notation

  • A - LP - Light Punch
  • B - LK - Light Kick
  • C - HP - Hard Punch
  • D - HK - Hard Kick
  • CD - Blow back attack, press C and D simultaneously.
  • P - Any punch
  • K - Any kick

Other common abbreviations

  • j. - Jump/jumping - Press up-back, up, or up-forward.
  • nj. - Neutral jump - Referencing specifically for directly upward jump, especially for specific attacks that only occur in this state.
  • sj. - Super jump - Tap down, down-back, or down-forward, then quickly press up-back or up-forward.
  • sh. - Short hop - Lightly tap up-back, up, or up-forward.
  • hh. - Hyper hop - Tap down, down-back, or down-forward, then quickly and lightly tap up-back or up-forward.
  • cl. - Close, as in a close normal attack.
  • cr. - Crouching, as in a crouching normal attack.
  • st. - Standing, as in a far standing normal attack.
  • f. - Forward, and relative to the direction the character is facing.
  • b. - Back, and relative to the direction the character is facing.
  • DM - Desperation Move, a.k.a. Chinese for Super.
  • MDM - Max Desperation Move, a.k.a. Super Desperation Move which is a.k.a SDM.
  • HSDM - An archaic way of saying Max 2.

General Character Info

  • Crouching Hitboxes
It's important to know the height of each character's hitbox because not all normals/special moves will connect on all crouching opponents. Generally the hit box heights can be put into four groups - tiny, low, medium, high. In almost all cases, if a move whiffs against someone that is in the low hit box group, it will whiff against all other characters in the low group.
Also keep in mind that just because a character is really tall when standing, doesn't mean they have a tall crouching hit box. Yamazaki and Yashiro are good examples of this - both have a tall standing hit box but actually a low crouching hit box.
In the character specific pages, it is noted if a certain move whiffs against a certain group of characters. Some examples would be Daimon's close A whiffing against low crouchers but not medium or high, and Whip's whiffing against low and medium crouchers.
  • Some examples with an incomplete list:
  • Tiny: Chin, Choi, Bao
  • Low: K', Andy, Joe, Athena, Kensou, Benimaru, Mai, Yuri, Yashiro, Iori, Mature, Vice, Yamazaki, Billy, Leona, Kim, Kula, Angel
  • Medium: Ryo, Robert, Takuma, Terry, Kyo, May Lee, Shermie, Chris, Mary, Ralf, Clark, Vanessa, Ramon, Kusanagi
  • High: Maxima, Whip, Daimon, Chang, Seth
Note that in the context of characters' move sets, there are attacks that work on some or most of a height class while there are other attacks that strictly follow the height classification in regards to if the attack connects or not. There could be nuances such as medium-high or low-medium height classes because of the inconsistencies and this doesn't even include the width of a crouching character's hit box and how that factors in how other characters' attacks connect with the said hit box. The above classifications are still just qualitative measurements made to help discern whether or not attacks will hit certain characters based on generalizations.

The Characters

Welcome to the 58 playable, tournament viable characters:

Japan Team Yagami Team Fatal Fury Team Art of Fighting Team Psycho Soldier Team Agent Team Ikari Warriors Team
New Faces Team K' Team NESTS Team Korea Team Asian Triple Alliance Team '97 Special Team '02 Masters Team
Pretty Girl Fighters Team Women Fighters Team Clone Team Orochi Unleashed Team EX/Ura Characters Single Entry

Tier List

Banned Characters: Krizalid, Nightmare Geese, Igniz, Clone Zero, Original Zero, Omega Rugal, Goenitz, Geese

S: K', Nameless, Kasumi

A: King, Kula, Andy, EX Robert, Orochi Chris, Benimaru, Yuri, Hinako, Heidern

B: Bao, Jhun, Mature, Lin, Chris, Ryo, Kusanagi, Foxy, Daimon

C: Iori, Orochi Shermie, Choi, Yamazaki, EX Takuma, Mai, Seth, Leona, Clark, Kyo, Terry, Blue Mary, Kyo-2, Kim, Xiangfei, Joe

D: Shingo, Kensou, EX Kensou, Takuma, Ralf, Robert, Billy, Yashiro, Orochi Yashiro, Chin, Angel, Shermie, Vice, Athena, Ramon, Whip 

E: May Lee, Maxima, Chang, Kyo-1, Vanessa

Korea Tier List

Korea Tier List KOF 2002UM.jpg

Banned Characters: Krizalid, Nightmare Geese, Igniz, Clone Zero, Original Zero, Omega Rugal, Goenitz, Geese

Tougeki Edition Fixes

  • Hinako inifnite is gone ( no more link of C, f + A )
  • Daimon roll qcb + K isn't invincible and unthrowable anymore
  • Heidern (d) u charge as a slower startup
  • Ramon bug crossover sprite
  • Kyo air d + C attack as been fixed (no more double hit)
  • Kasumi bugs with K', Maylee, Yuri etc... are gone
  • Whip qcfx2 P damage scaling on billy as been fixed (full damage now)
  • no more bug while mirroring fireball with Athena, Vanessa, Chin, Seth (break CD damage don t change now after mirroring a fireball)
  • Yuri slash a longer recovery
  • Chris MAX2 bug has been fixed

Changes from KOF2K2 (Short list)


  • Now, during Max Mode, all "free cancellable out" moves/hits may be supercancelled into DM/SDM, and the supercancel is free. This includes normal attacks and command attacks that are uncancellable out of Max Mode, but are "free cancellable out".
    • Because of that, "Max Mode cancel combo + supercancel into DM/SDM" is the best way to spend 2/3 stocks.
    • In some rare combinations you will get a normal free cancel into a special instead of a supercancel. Not sure if its intentional (so you don't do a super by mistake because of the command overlapping - which would end the Max Mode earlier) or a bug. Some examples:
      • Mature: qcb + P (1st input) >> DM qcb hcf + K will result in her hcf + K instead.

  • SDM and HSDM may be done out of the Max Mode for the cost of 3 stocks.

  • HSDMs may be used if you have 30% or less life now. And now there is a visual indication that you life is 30% or less: the lifebar color changes from yellow to orange. It helps too that the lifebar has marks "splitting" it into 10 equals parts, so you know that if you have 3 or less parts, you will have 30% or less ;).

  • All "input button" HSDM commands (except for Chang's) are changed to a "normal super command" like: qcf qcf, hcf hcf, qcf hcb, (b) f b f, etc.

  • No more random factor on the damage.

  • Many moves with some startup invincibility/autoguard (like many "shoryuken") have a longer "counter hit" window (an attack that hit during the first part of recovery will still result in a Counter Hit).
    • Examples: K's and Kyo dp + P.
    • Because of that, in some matches, you are acctually able to block some attacks and still punish with a "counter combo"
      • Example: Daimon is able to block Kyo's dp and punish with: CD (Counter.) > qcb + B > df + C, hcf + A

  • Many characters now have moves that may OTG (hit an opponent falling on the ground) and those moves in general do a good damage as an OTG (sometimes more than a "hard attack"). So it's important to know what move may OTG and their setups, to get and extra free damage in your combos ;).

  • Almost all characters gains new moves. In many cases they gain moves from other incarnation of the character.

  • Many old moves changed a little. In special, more moves now are supercancellable and free cancellable.



  • New moves:
    • DM qcf qcf + P (May charge. Unblockable if fully charged. His old super from KOF99.) (A: comboable from weak/hard attacks.) (C: comboable from hard attacks.)

  • Changed moves:
    • dp + C (Knockdown on 1st hit.)


  • New moves:
    • dp + K (His old move from KOF98. Comboable from weak/hard attacks.)

  • Changed moves:
    • qcf + K > d u + K (Last hit may OTG.)
    • hcb f + P > qcf + K (It has a new followup. Followup is FCO, but the only thing that will combo is qcf + K > d u + K last hit as OTG.)


  • Changed moves:
    • HSDM hcb hcb + BD (Command changed. New animation. Does considerable less damage than before.)
    • qcb + K (May be cancelled on other special or command attacks. May be used on his "OTG bug")
    • dp + A is FCO. Which enable him to loop into his "OTG bug":
      • ... (dp + A (OTG) >> qcb + B / qcf + B) x N
    • j.CD is a counter wire, and hard knockdown if not hit in counter (in that can be easy followed with hcf + C (OTG.)).


  • New moves:
    • DM qcf qcf + K (Overhead. His old super from KOF99.) (A: Comboable from hard attacks if very close (will not combo from cl.C > f + A).)

  • Changed moves:
    • HSDM qcb hcf + AC (Command changed. Slower now, so it is not comboable anymore.)


  • Changed moves:
    • hcf + B (SC now. Cancelable into other specials. Effect change, now pull the opponent close to you and revert him to stand - similar to Whimp's hcb + B)
    • HSDM qcb hcf + AC (Command changed. Faster now, so it is comboable from hard attacks.)
    • st.C does 2 hits and is cancellable on both.
    • qcf + P (May be done in the air too. Better recovery.)


  • New moves:
    • HSDM qcf hcb + AC (Counter vs: any)

  • Changed moves:
    • qcb + K (SC now.) (D: First hits do not cause push back. (S)DM qcf qcf + C/AC will combo from it.)
    • DM air db qcf uf u d + P (It was a HSDM before.)