Trainer’s School: Machamp Character Guide

The musclebound Pokémon is proud of his strength

This is part of a series of written guides on Pokkén Tournament Deluxe for Nintendo Switch. I’ve always loved this game and I’ve wanted to give back to the community and generate more interest in it. I’ll be creating more guides like this in the future and I hope this gets new players invested in the fighting game that taught me about fighting games. These character guides are meant as surface-level breakdowns of each of the playable Pokémon in the cast. If you would like to try out Pokkén Tournament Deluxe, and learn more information about the game, be sure to check out the community Discord! Access to the character-specific Discords will help you find any information that isn’t listed in this guide, and you can also ask the players there for specific advice.

The tenth Trainer’s School character guide is all about Machamp, the iconic Superpower Pokémon. It’s said that Machamp and its brethren wear the belts around their waist to limit their boundless might. The specimen that appears in Pokkén is certainly proud of this fact, and flexing his muscles using Bulk Up is even a key component of his gameplan. The four-armed Fighting-type is a massive grappler who takes cues from characters like Juggernaut and Zangief, using his several armored moves to get in close before landing a grab or a huge swing on his opponent. While approaching some characters might be difficult, all Machamp needs is a single Submission or Close Combat to turn an entire game around in his favor.

Machamp: Overview

Playstyle: A powerful grappler who thrives in Duel Phase and does a ton of damage.

Values: 660 Hit Points, 600 Shield Health, 200cc Synergy Gauge

Poké Moves: Bulk Up (Duel 5A, Field n.A,) Cross Chop (Duel 5A, Field n.A, only when Bulked Up,) Submission (Duel 6A, Field f.A,) Karate Chop (Duel 4A, Field b.A,) Wake-Up Slap (Duel j.A, Field j.n.A,) Scary Face (]A[,) Close Combat (Duel only, 1A/2A,) Heavy Slam (Duel only, 8A.) Bulk Up enhances all Poké Moves- for the sake of clarity, I will refer to such moves as EX moves in this document.

High Stance: Red armors against high-hitting moves on frame 5.

Low Stance: Counter armors against low-hitting moves on frame 5. Does not crouch highs.

Unique Features: Machamp has an air grab (j.Y+B.) When pressing back while executing this air grab, Machamp will do an aerial roll forward before the grab hitbox (j.4Y+B or j.b.Y+B.) Machamp has a ]X[ move with three stages: Level 1 (2 second charge,) Level 2 (5 seconds) and Level 3 (a whopping 20 seconds.) 2X can be cancelled with R before the hitbox into a roll (2X~R.) This roll can itself be cancelled into a unique move, RX (2X~RX.) Submission can be cancelled with block or jump- this allows Machamp to Perfect Block in Duel Phase. Scary Face leaves a Speed debuff on the opponent for 6.5sec.

Remember as always to consult the frame data sheet for specific moves and their properties.

Machamp is a simple, slow, hard-hitting powerhouse. He relies on a combination of system options such as CADC, Homing Attack, and Perfect Blocking in order to close the distance and dish out massive damage. Machamp also has several armored moves- Field f.Y, Duel j.X, 4X, 2X~RX, 6YY…X, Scary Face, and EX Submission- along with high-committal movement options like 2X~R, Submission, and Air Grab Roll, which can let him push on through his opponent’s defensive walls. Once he’s finally in his opponent’s face, he can put the fear of the strike or throw mixup into them and toss- or punch- them into oblivion. Bulk Up is also a key element of his gameplan as he relies heavily on Cross Chop and his EX moves for additional damage and safe frame data. Competent Machamp play involves practice with these different movement options and mixing it up so that they’re less predictable, as well as being patient enough to stay in the game until you’ve reached close-range.

Field Phase

Machamp often has to exercise more patience than his opponent when approaching in the Field Phase neutral.

Frankly, Machamp’s main goal is to get out of Field as soon as humanly possible. While he has several Y-button projectiles that he can use during Field, they’re likely not going to contest the zoning and traps that other characters have access to. B.Y and J.Y are powerful but slow and high committal and should be used sparingly. Your main approach in neutral will likely be sidestepping with s.Y into f.Y instead, since the s.Y projectile is very fast and f.Y provides you with armor to stuff your opponent’s projectiles or even a bad approach. Once you’ve made it in close, you can exert pressure with Homing Attack or a throw to secure the Phase. Any time you score a knockdown or force your opponent away from you, remember to Bulk Up. Cross Chop will make you fly towards your opponent and will also avoid low-hitting moves, a rare property in Field Phase when characters normally can’t use High or Low Stance.

Remember that you have several approach options in Field: Homing Attack, CADC, standard walking/dashing, Submission and EX Submission, Air Grab Roll, and Cross Chop. The key with Machamp is recognizing which of these you should be using at any given time. Since the armor for EX Submission is only on startup, it’s best if you use that at a close-to-midrange to punish a badly mashed out option from your opponent. If your opponent has bad antiair options or has committed to block or an armored option, you can likewise grab them in the air with Air Grab Roll. Otherwise, CADC and Perfect Blocking out of Homing Attack and Submission are probably the most safe and reliable approaches. Furthermore, Karate Chop can even eradicate projectiles starting on frame 3, making it a great tool to clear the screen of traps. EX Karate Chop is also +4, which allows you to use it as an even safer poke while negating zoning.

Pause! A tip when using Scary Face

In both Phases, Scary Face is a very useful tool and is probably the release move you’ll favor more instead of the impractical ]X[, due to its armor and Speed debuff. If you’re having difficulty using it, try this: After a CADC or successful CA, let go of only the X button and continue to hold down A. This should give you enough time to charge Scary Face- remember that release moves are primed when you see the glowing ring around your character. Scary Face can mainly be used either as a parry or as an okizeme option (with proper spacing, as it is still -8.) In Duel Phase, it also crumples the opponent on crit, leaving them open for a big combo.

Duel Phase

Machamp wants to begin Duel Phase by laying on the pressure thick, especially if he earned the Shift. As soon as the Phase begins, and on every subsequently won knockdown, remember to continue Bulking Up. This will not only enhance your special moves’ damage, but it will make your newly accessible Heavy Slam much safer on block- a whipping +8. Your main goal is to condition your opponent into blocking against you forever or at least attempt a bad reversal through your blockstring- this is when they eat a huge punish against Submission. It helps that Machamp has pretty decent frame data on his light moves, most of which are either majorly plus or at least -8. The 6Y… blockstring is a perfect example of this. Players trying to mash through the second 6YY will eat the 6YYX command counter and be opened up. If they’re too terrified to mash through and continue blocking, you can just grab them after since 6YY…X is +8 on block. Since 6Y is i11, it’s also one of your fastest pokes and a viable throw crush, more so than the universal 2Y throw crush.

Submission’s lack of PSP allows you to continue dealing major damage in Duel.

Whenever you have the opportunity for a grab, either after block pressure or as a punish, always try to go for your air grab or Submission if you can. In Duel Phase, both of these grabs have the unique property of dealing 0 PSP, which means that unlike your standard grab, it won’t cause a Phase Shift. This means you can continue your Duel Phase pressure forever if you go for your command grabs, or at least keep your opponent in Duel a little bit longer to squeeze out some additional damage. On the other hand, some moves like Close Combat, 5X[X], and 8X will instantly cause a Shift in exchange for huge damage. This is often why Close Combat is used as a combo ender after a juggle- more on that in the relevant section.

Some of your more useful moves, namely your launchers and combo starters, have a lot of startup, which is why you simply don’t use them up close. 6[X] is an example of one such move- start it up from a mid-range position when your opponent is charging at you or trying to retreat. If they block, you’re still even, and if it lands, you get a juggle combo. Other useful moves with long startups in Machamp’s kit include 4X, 2X~XR, and j.X- all of which are also command counters. On hit, 4X can be a useful reversal where the 4XX followup will let you follow up with a juggle combo- on block, 4XY will at least leave you +4. 2X~RX does a forward roll with a downward punch that is i21 and +4 on block, and will launch on crit. J.X in Duel can likewise punish bad options your opponent is trying on the ground and will still leave you +8 on block. However, remember that command counters can be pierced or even leave you open to being grabbed, ironically enough. 2X~XR should be used as an approach through projectiles- the roll is projectile invulnerable- and the other command counter options should mainly be used to punish aggressive play.

Synergy Burst

Machamp’s Burst Mode is extraordinarily straightforward. His Synergy Gauge is 200cc and his Burst lasts for 12 seconds- you will likely be able to access it frequently if you’ve been playing the Attack Triangle properly, given your plethora of command counters and command grabs. There is only one major buff that Burst Machamp receives, apart from the standard Burst Mode enhancements:

  • Machamp will always be Bulked Up. This means that Pokémon Moves are always enhanced and Cross Chop will always be on deck.
The first hit of Dynamic Fury must connect in order for it to cut to the cinematic and full damage.

Your gameplan is more or less exactly the same as it was before. You will mainly use Burst either to escape your opponent’s pressure, cling to life, or to even the odds when they also Burst. Having access to moves like Cross Chop and Ex Submission repeatedly during the 12 second duration is also very useful, since it increases your options without reducing your main okizeme option to just Bulk Up on knockdown. Of course, you can also now rely on Karate Chop and Heavy Slam more frequently since they will be much harder to punish. Machamp’s Burst Attack, Dynamic Fury, is an i19 series of rock pillars that is invincible on frame 6 and counter pierces. It’s zero on block, but if your opponent blocks it all the way, they’re forced onto the other side of the screen by each subsequent pillar, completely resetting the situation. The Burst Attack animation will only trigger if the first pillar successfully hits.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Machamp is a very traditional, heavy-hitting grappler. Fragile characters with poor, predictable reversals or an inability to deal with block pressure will get opened up by your armor or by a throw. Likewise, Machamp will have an incredibly hard time dealing with zoners due to his large body and slow movement. Still, any matchup can essentially go in Machamp’s favor because all he really wants to do is fish for that one big launcher or throw. This doesn’t mean that you won’t struggle against characters like Gardevoir and Chandelure, because you likely will. In these matchups, utilizing moves like 2X~RX, EX Submission, and system options like Perfect Blocking is especially important in order to perform more effectively at a higher level. Machamp is incredibly powerful and satisfying to use at a low-to-midrange skill level, but requires a lot of practice in order to do well against better players.

Support and Cheer Pairings

Enhance Supports and other Sets that allow Machamp to use projectiles are very useful. Frogadier-Eevee is a decent Set to rely on for this reason, since the Water Pulse bullets will cover your approaches very effectively and you can always rely on Helping Hand for healing and additional damage. I have personally been using Emolga-Fennekin mainly for the counter-piercing Shock Wave and the Speed debuff in order to lock my opponent down. Cubone is also very useful in order to pressure zoners and bring them close to you when the Bonemerang returns. Pachirisu-Magikarp can also be helpful as Follow Me will negate projectiles and Magikarp will make your up-close pressure even scarier to retaliate against. If you especially rely on your Support Set, you can run Support Cheer, but otherwise Standard and Special provide a healthy mix of both meters.

Target Combos

These are some easy combos that you can get started with right away- they are bread-and-butter combos, not necessarily the most difficult or the most optimal. If you want to learn more about what your character has to offer, I suggest exploring the longer combo guides found in the Pokkén character Discords, as they will often be the most up-to-date with the current version of the game. The sample combos in the tutorial mode are also very good at helping you figure out your character’s combo theory.

Machamp’s main long combos come after he launches an opponent, and are fairly simple to land. After a launcher, go for j.Y in the air, then juggle them again with 2XX. You can then end with Close Combat. (In my demonstration clip, I go straight into Close Combat, but it’s best to actually hit a 5Y and then special cancel it into Close Combat for the confirm so you don’t accidentally drop the combo and leave yourself open after.) If you can’t jump in time after the launcher for the j.Y, just go for the 2XX first, then the j.Y, then end with the 5Y Close Combat.

Pretending you’re a Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure character is one of the highlights of playing Machamp.

2XX j.Y 2XX 5Y1A

6[X] j.Y 2XX 5Y1A

4XX 2XX j.Y 5Y1A

2X~RX (on crit) j.Y 5Y1A

The main risk involved comes from the fact that Machamp’s launchers are fairly unsafe, so you will likely only earn big combos like these off a punish. 2XX is especially unsafe, being -16 on block, so it’s usually used in the middle of a juggle combo rather than as a starter.


Machamp is a through-and-through grappler with powerful single hits who can do a ton of damage as soon as he gets his hands on his opponent. In Field, Machamp has to mostly rely both on system approach options as well as his own high-committal tools in order to win the Phase. Once he’s entered Duel, he can lock his opponent into the Phase with zero-PSP command grabs such as Submission and his air grab. Using his character-specific movement options is key in order to close in on opponents who may otherwise be difficult to deal with. Bulk Up will enhance Machamp’s already-powerful moves, allowing him to dish out more damage or to make them safer. Burst Machamp will be permanently Bulked Up throughout the duration, which grants him access to these EX special moves the entire time. The Superpower Pokémon has the same volatile matchup spread as traditional grapplers, which can be a boon or a curse depending on the experience of the player. Machamp benefits greatly from Supports that enhance his damage output or that grant him a projectile to use in Duel.

That wraps up the Machamp guide. We’re slowly approaching the halfway point for the entire roster, and we’re one-third of the way through the Power Pokémon. The next character guide will focus on Blastoise, the Shellfish Pokémon and one of the two DLC characters introduced in DX post-release!

Nathan “Lite the Iron Man” Dhami can be found on Twitter (@LiteTheIronMan,) on Twitch (,) and at your local.

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