No one has proved their kung fu is stronger yet
Even before Guilty Gear -Strive- was released, Giovanna had been a lot of love from the players. During the beta surveys, she was consistently in the Top 5 for both usage and popularity across multiple regions, and it’s easy to see why. From her appealing design to the practical and straightforward toolkit, she has a lot to offer to both new and old players.
Learning the character
We will break things down into multiple steps to simplify things, going from the simplest things to more nuanced aspects of Giovanna’s gameplay. When you start playing Giovanna, focus on learning during your matches more than winning. This way, you will discover good and bad habits and get a better overall understanding of how to improve further.
Step 1 - Basics
First, we will need to get a feel for her buttons, specials, supers, and movement to begin learning Giovanna. Despite being the easiest step, it’s also highly beneficial. Being aware of how far and how late your moves can hit will allow you to poke from the relative safety and gain better frames if the opponent blocks your attack. This is especially important for Giovanna, as many of her moves become much stronger if you utilize dash momentum.
You generally want to land your pokes at tip range and hit your jumps buttons low to the ground for better frame advantage. Practice combining dash with 5K and 5H for situations where you need to approach within a small opening.
Step 2 - Intermediate
Once you have a feel for how the character controls and her range, you can move on to how those moves should be utilized. Most of Giovanna’s moveset has a specific purpose, like poking, anti-airing, or restarting her pressure. You can find the movelist breakdown below to learn more about that.
Knowing the use cases for each tool you have is crucial, and this knowledge will provide you with answers when facing new and challenging situations.
You should also start looking into some bread and butter combos at this stage. If you feel someone is too difficult or situational, save it for later. Right now, your main goal is to see which hits you land most often and to learn how to convert them into real damage through combos.
Step 3 - Advanced
Now it’s time to get a bit further into specifics of Giovanna’s gameplay, with a big focus on her pressure. Much of Gio’s playstyle revolves around frustrating your opponents and locking them down. The ambiguous delays and resets will frustrate and confuse opponents, forcing them to take risks or make mistakes, often allowing Gio to score a big counter.
Some of your main options for starting and looping pressure will be c.S, Trovao, and Sol Poente. You generally want to start most of your blockstrings by landing c.S, which gives you a pass to do almost anything, from 5D if opponents commit to crouching or 2S if they try to jump out. Meanwhile, a sudden Trovao or Sol Poente will catch opponents off guard and grant you enough plus frame to extend your blockstring or go for a mixup.
At the start of matches, try to avoid taking any unnecessary risks and get a feel for how your opponent attempts to deal with your pressure. If they try to mash, delaying your hits and creating frame traps will quickly convince them to block instead. If they stay patient and block, you can afford to ramp up your aggression and mix them up with the classic strike/throw mixup.
5P: One of the fastest 5Ps in the game at i4. You can use this for a quick anti-air or to mash out in certain situations. However, keep its short range in mind. Gatlings into - 5P, 2P, 6P, 6H.
5K: Quick poke that gains extra benefit from dash momentum. If spaced out to hit late will be plus on block, but it’s generally safe unless you get into throw range. Outside of poking, it’s a key to some combo routes cause you can either special cancel or jump cancel for an air combo. Gatlings into - 6P, 6H, 5D, 2D.
c.S: One of Giovanna’s main pressure tools, at +3, you have a lot of options to continue your pressure and condition your opponents. Gatlings into - 6P, f.S, 2S, 5H, 2H, 6H, 5D, 2D.
f.S: Multi-hit attack mostly used in combos and block strings. Most players will punish you for whiffing it, but against mash-happy opponents, it can score CHs with surprising frequency. Gatlings into - 5H, 2H.
5H: Disjointed poke with decent range. This kick synergizes well with the rest of her buttons as the threat of CH forces opponents to block.
5D: Standard Dust overhead. It has a bit of forward momentum and hits rather high, enabling certain combo routes.
2P: Your go-to for mashing out of pressure in most situations. Gatlings into - 2P, 5P, 6P, 6H.
2K: Swift and strong low poke that gains a lot of benefit from dash momentum. Gatlings into - 6P, 6H, 5D, 2D.
2S: Probably the best low Gio has overall. It hits multiple times, catching opponents who try to jump out of pressure, gain benefit from dash momentum, and still threatens opponents with possible gatlings. Gatlings into - 5H, 2H.
2H: One of Giovanna’s worst normals. You have little reason to use it outside of c.S starter combos.
2D: Low sweep with insane range and very generous disjointed hitbox. A fairly slow startup means it’s not safe to use up close, but it’s a great poke with the right spacing. When used as a meaty, it can also grant generous plus frames.
6P: Universal anti-air and counter poke. While start-up is slightly slower than average, the recovery is one of the fastest at only 15 frames.
6H: Target combo/Rekka style move. You can press HS up to 3 times for the full string, which is a decent meterless combo that leads to a hard knockdown and more pressure. You will occasionally need to delay it for all hits to connect. First two hits can also be canceled into Tempestade if done very quickly.
j.P: Standard air jab that gatlings into itself. It can lead to a combo if it connects low to the ground, but it’s highly inconsistent.
j.K: Great cross-up and a decent air-to-air, can be airdash and jump canceled. Gatlings into j.D.
j.S: Decent anti-air for when you need to hit opponents above you, can be airdash and jump canceled. Gatlings into - j.H, j.D.
j.H: One of the best air combo tools and a solid anti-air. Gatlings into j.D.
j.D: It hits twice and is mostly used in air combos. However, switching up the timings can confuse opponents and create a high-low mixup. If used early, then opponents need to block both hits standing. If used late, you can quickly go into a low after the first hit.
Ground Throw: Standard ground throw, needs to be RCd late into the animation for RRC.
Air Throw: Standard air throw. If you combine it with Gio’s dash, it can surprise your opponents.
Sepultura: Your safest special move and go-to blockstring ender. You can also use this after plus on block moves to fish for a CH.
Trovao: Travels a great distance, eats projectiles, and grants decent plus frames, allowing Gio to maintain pressure. The main downside of this special is the extremely slow start-up which opponents can often react to, and 6P.
Sol Nascente: Unorthodox DP that you will primarily use as an anti-air. It avoids highs during early frames and goes above lows after that. It does not have invulnerability like many other DPs but recovers way faster.
Sol Poente: One of Giovanna’s main pressure tools. This flip kick does many things at once. If close to the opponent, it will cross up. If blocked, it grants plus frames, and it will go under many low-profile pokes. It has a lengthy start-up, so don’t get too predictable if you don’t want opponents to beat it on reaction.
Ventania: Giovanna’s sole reversal. It should never be used by itself as it is -37 on block. However, confirming into it will often lead to a wallbreak or getting the opponent close to the corner.
Tempestade: Divekick super. If used by itself, it grants plus frames with proper spacing. Outside of that, you can quickly confirm into it with c.S > 6H or 6HH.
Here’s a list of basic combos for most situations to get you started
Normal hit combos
|5P||5P > 5P > 6P or 623S|
|2P||2P > 2P > 6P or 623S|
6P > 214K > dash > 214K
|5K||5K > 214K|
|2K||2K > 214K|
|c.S||c.S > 2H > 214K > 5K > 214K|
|[at the wall] c.S > 2H > 214K > 5K > 6HH > Charged D|
|f.S||f.S > 5H > 214K|
|2S||2S > 5H > 214K|
|5H||5H > 214K|
|2H||2H > 214K|
|2D||2D > 214K > 214K|
Counter hit combos
|6P||[at the wall] 6P > 214K > 5K > 6HHH > Charged D|
|c.S||[midscreen] c.S > Charged D > 5K > 6HHH|
|c.S||[at the wall] c.S > j.S > j.H > j.D > c.S > 2H > 214K > Charged D|
|5H||5H > 5H > 214K|
|6H||6H > dash > c.S > j.H > j.D > jump cancel > j.H > j.D > 5H > Charged D|
|2H||[at the wall] 2H > 623S > j.S > j.H > jump cancel > j.H > j.D > dash 5K > Charged D|
|2D||2D > 214K > dash 5K > j.S > j.H > j.D > dash 5K > 214K|
|214K||[at the wall] 214K > 214K|
|214S||214S > 214K|
Special counter hit
|236K||236K > f.S > 5H > 214K|
|214K||[close to opponent] 214K > 5K > 214K|
|214S||214S > 214K|
|623S||[midscreen] 623S > dash 5K > j.H > j.D > c.S > 5H > 214K > Charged D|
|Charged D||Charged D > Homing Jump > j.S > Jump cancel > j.H > j.S > j.H > j.S > j.H > j.H|
|214S||214S > RRC > Charged D > microdash 5K > 6HHH|
|236K||[midscreen or corner] 236K > RRC > early dash 5K > jump cancel > j.S > j.H > j.D > 5K > 214K > Charged D|
|6HHH||[midscreen or corner] 6HHH > RRC > c.S > jump cancel > j.S >j.H > jump cancel > j.S > j.H > 214S|
|Throw||Throw > RRC > microdash Charged D > c.S > 2H > 214K|
Tips against Giovanna
- Don't mash: Gio has an assortment of frame traps and delays to bait you into pressing buttons, scoring her a huge counter hit. While some of them will require experience and awareness, you should still lookout for the most obvious ones. If you blocked the c.S, Trovao, or Sol Poente then it's now Giovanna's turn.
- 6P: Many of Gio's attempts at poking and using + on block specials will lose to 6P. However, that doesn't mean that you can press it with impunity, as Gio can use 6P's recovery to get in on you if it's too predictable.
- Take your turn: If you manage to interrupt Gio's offense, or she ended her blockstring with Sepultura, it's essential to take your turn and not allow her to start pressuring you again.
- Faultless Defense: FD can be a real pain for Gio as it destroys the spacing necessary for her to keep you locked down.
Giovanna is a very beginner-friendly character. While her strength lies in dominating opponents at close to mid-range, her versatile toolkit allows players to switch towards whichever playstyle they prefer comfortably. She's an excellent fit for anyone who likes fast and solid characters but doesn't enjoy Millia's setplay-oriented gameplay or Chipp's reliance on tight pressure and mixups.
- High speed: Gio is one of the fastest and most mobile characters in the game, rivaled only by Millia and Chipp. This mobility, combined with dash momentum, allows her to capitalize on openings and compensate for her poor range.
- Great damage: Combining powerful counter-hit conversions, strike/throw mix, and the unique possession mechanic, Gio has many opportunities to deal serious damage.
- Well-rounded: Giovanna’s versatile movelist allows her to adapt to the situation and do well in most scenarios.
- Potent offense: The combination of the above makes Gio very oppressive, especially in the corner where she can force the opponent to either react or take risks.
- Limited range: Most of Giovanna’s key moves are focused on close to mid range, forcing her to get up close if she wants to run her offense. While her dash is excellent at enabling this, she still has to take risks.
Good Giovanna players to check out:
Daze - One of the best Giovanna players in the west, he has produced various tutorials for the character in the bast and regularly streams his matches. You can find Daze on Twitter, Youtube, and Twitch.