What makes Dragunov, Dragunov (pt. 2)
Now that I've discussed Dragunov's size/height, I'll continue my series "What makes Dragunov, Dragunov" in regards to his class of fighter, namely being a "grappler" type character.
What does it mean to be a Grappler?
Unlike falling under the size of tall (Dragunov) or big (Kuma), being a grappler has no drawbacks and actually is a major benefit, when compared to rest of the cast. The major attribute to being a grappler type is that not only does the character have a command ultimate tackle but also has the ability to input a command other than punches, such as arm and leg bars. Grappler characters also tend to have additional throws (when compared to a non-grappler) or throws extension follow ups that must be escaped to mitigate additional damage. True grappler characters also have the ability to reverse ground tackle attacks as well as arm bar/leg lock attempts.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa... I understand what a 'grappler' is, but what is a 'true grappler'?" Now similarly to size characteristics, a grappler character covers a fairly broad spectrum of requirements. For instance Nina has the ability to leg bar during a tackle, but can not punch reversal if she is tackled. Julia has many throws, including crouching throws, but no reversal ability common to most grapplers.
Here are the common characteristic traits of "grappler" class characters. Pesudo-Grapplers tend to have most of these traits while True Grapplers tend to have nearly all of the traits described below.
Ultimate tackle with arm/leg bar or command options
Ability to punch reversal while tackled
Ability to reverse arm bars while tackled
Ability to reverse leg locks while tackled
Attack reversal (not including parries)
More than one instant throw
Command grabs (chain/extension throws)
Attack throws with command options
Ability to ground Marduk during his VTS 1+2 tackle
Pseudo-grapplers are characters that have above average throws, possibly basic command grabs, and usually have crouch grabs to round out their options. They tend to have multiple 1+2 break throws with special properties, such as ground break and wall splat.
The pseudo-grapplers are Nina, Julia, Anna, Christie/Eddy, and Jack.
True Grapplers are characters who have throw options coming out the ying yang. Whether your standing normally, crouch, in the air, or knocked down on the ground they have the ability to throw you. Paul is the only exception to this rule as he has no ground/air grab, but he has ultimate tackle extensions (similar to King) which vaults him into the true grappler category.
The true grapplers are Marduk, Paul, King, and Armor King.
Where does Dragunov fit in?
This is an interesting question as Dragunov has more options than a pseudo-grappler, but isn't quite as well rounded as a true grappler. Using the conditions/traits above, Dragunov is only missing a command grab, an airborne throw, a grounded throw, and the ability to arm bar/leg lock while tackling (but I'll get more to this later). Now this would tend to move Dragunov more to the side of "pseudo-grappler" but he has a couple of things that are distinct to the true grapplers that would tend to keep him out of the pseudo category.
What makes Dragunov special?
It's a fair question, what are the "couple of things" moving him out of the pseudo-grappler category?
Near zero risk tackle
Attack cancel/throw transition
Near zero risk tackle - Dragunov's d/b+1+2 tackle, more specifically his options out of tackle, are incredibly unique. Similarly to Marduk's VTS 1+2 tackle, Dragunov's options out of tackle are only escapable, not reversable. The only risk Dragunov takes is during the actual tackle where, unlike with Marduk, Dragunov can be reversed by a well timed 1+2 flip over. Unlike Marduk though, Dragunov has a punch reversal out of tackle, on top of arm bar and leg lock reversal. If you watch high level Tekken and if you see Dragunov get flipped over while performing his tackle, you'll see the peculiar occurrence of the opponent doing nothing. It's amazing, I really can't think of another character in which happens, they know it's simply not worth the risk and they opt to do thing at all.
Low reversal - There aren't many characters in the game with a low reversal, now granted nearly all the cast has a consistent low crush, but there's only three (AFAIK) with low reversals: Asuka, Armor King, and Dragunov. Asuka's low reversal launches, AK's sets up a tackle, and Dragunov's causes position switch.
Attack cancel/throw transition - A fairly unique feature of Dragunov is his ability to cancel certain attacks or transition them into a throw. While the throw applications are slightly limited, they are pretty strong when used in certain situations. Of his two (unique) throw transitions, d/b+3~1+2 is his most practical and most damaging, but also cannot be canceled. f,f+2~1+2 (and all it's versions) can be canceled setting up 50/50s such as d/b+3 and u/f+4, but due to the slightly slow animation isn't best used at range 0.
b+2,1,3~1+2 (PLEASE DO NOT USE THIS)
Going back to part 1 of "What makes Dragunov, Dragunov", one of the benefits of playing a big is that they have unique ways of getting off the ground, whether to mitigate additional damage or knockdown the opponent to start their own offense. For instance Kuma can 1+2 (from both FDFA and FUFA) to interrupt ground pressure, Dragunov similarly has FCD 1+2 as both an offensive and defensive tool. In FDFT, Dragunov can use 1+2 to gain space leaving him in BT where he can throw out quick panic moves such as BT 4 or BT d+3 to KND the opponent. In FDFA, Dragunov can use 1+2~1+2 to shift his crawl into a grounded tackle setting up offensive pressure. This further solidifies Dragunov's classification as grappler, as he's the only grappler than can tackle the opponent while recovering from knockdown. As with most of Dragunov's set ups, they're best when not abused or used frequently.
Continued in: What makes Dragunov, Dragunov (pt. 3)