Kabal is far and beyond the #1 character in UMK3, and for that reason, I will get into a bit of counter Kabal strategies as well. He defines the top tier. There are many specific tactics that need to be used against him to stand a chance, and these tactics can be spilled over into general gameplay as well. He essentially dictates the match and really the only way to beat Kabal is to frustrate him and force mistakes. You really have to take advantage of jab canceling with block, in which you bait spins out of the Kabal player, and the result will either be a snuff, a block, or a throw. You should try to stay on the ground against him as much as possible because the spin dash will get you everytime, particularly in cross ups. Teleporting Ninjas Ermac, Human Smoke, and Scorpion can give Kabal a lot of trouble, with Scorpion having the least chance due to his low damage combos, also Sub-zero seems to be a good counter for him as well as Nightwolf. What makes Kabal even more dangerous is he can turtle as well as rush down, to both extremes, and mix it up in game constantly. Expert Kabal players can place jump away kick to fireball traps low enough to the ground to not be hit by teleport punches. He has ok damage combos starting from a knee lift, and good damage basic juggles off a simple spin. Serious damage can be dealt in the corner with multiple JK air fireball juggles. His rub jab pressure is unparalleled because of the Spin Dash always lurking around, even though his damage was slightly reduced from UMK3, the ease of him getting 3 combos becomes very apparent when you just don't feel like being stuck under run jab pressure and a spin plows through your ducking LK. Counter run jabbing Kabal will usually result in you being thrown because of some awkward throw priority in that situation. When a Kabal player begins his rush down specifically run jabbing like crazy, you might want throw out an uppercut before the first run jab even comes out, also try uppercut him when he lands after a JK and watch when he does his 5 hit combo because if it is even slightly slow the uppercut will miss and you can capitalize on him.
What you want to do as Kabal is run jab pressure as much as possible. Stick in knee lifts every now and then, watch for guard breaks and spin, or combo, if you spin, make sure you add a jump punch or jump kick to his autocombo. You can play keep away by doing low air fireballs and watching for spin opportunities if they leave the ground. His game pretty much revolves around the run jabs and spin set ups. Corner runjab pressure should be in the form of double run jabs (LP,LP run, LP,LP run as fast as possible) and occasionally stick in a knee lift for his combo, but don't do the pop up combo, do the 4 hit kick combo, as it does 24% vs 15% for the 5 hit, and the same rule applies if you get a spin in the corner, and cannot push them out to set up a multiple JK air fireball juggle, except you should add a jump kick starter. You can stick a ducking LK in after the 4 hit kick combo in the corner, and if they attempt to rush out after the stun of the kick, this is a good chance to get a spin, or a RH to a spin in the corner, which can hit certain characters and make them end up standing and not in the air, and it is unblockable. Jump Kicks also can cause this scenario, so watch for it and make sure that they are not actually on the ground before trying a juggle combo when you will get his hook swords instead.
Kabal's run jabs are excellent, and compliment his rush down very well. His standing HK and uppercut are very good and useful. His standing LK has about average range as does his sweep. His JK and JP and excellent in many situations, and his roundhouse is fantastic for long range anti air, keeping him out of snuff range. It's up there with Kung Lao but not quite as good as Liu Kang's which has height and distance. His ducking LK is a bit short on range, but on occasion you might want to stick a random ducking LK inbetween run jabs to entice your opponent to attack, and wake them up with a spin. Take advantage of his own cross up ability, as Kabal often times will land next to someone without getting hit by a counter uppercut, and in from there you can sneak in a JP to combo.
The Spin Dash is probably Kabal's most important special move. It's collision box and collision start up are very large/fast and ultimately broken. The only things that can beat it out are usually accidentally timed jump kicks, or intentional run jabs that turn into accidental throws. There are a few other moves here and there that can beat the spin, but generally not timable. You can throw Kabal out of the spin from any distance with perfect timing, but expert Kabal players will not do random spins if they know it has a chance to be blocked. Expert Kabal players also tend to have a "Psychic Spin" ability in which they know exactly when you let off your guard. Utilize the spin on cross ups by performing the motion (B,F LK) backwards, as (F,B) and hit LK as soon as they cross Kabal's axis. The spin has a limit of 1 usage per combo, and 1 hit before it is locked, breakable to 2, for example (aaHPHPgc) Spin after a teleport punch on male ninjas. In MK3 he could spin twice in a row for no particular reason but that was removed. The Saw Blade is disabled while the spin, wobble, or drop out duration of the Spin Dash is active, this was also changed from MK3. Use the spin after an anti air HP, or a high contact air fireball to set up big damage mid screen juggles. After an anti air spin, it is easy to get 42% on just about everyone except Shang Tsung with aaHPHP, JK air fireball. If you spin on the ground, a generally good damage combo is jump punch starter, 5 hit pop up, JK air fireball. If you decide to go for tactics over damage, you can do a deep bleeding JK instead of the fireball, and go back into run jabs, even if it is late and gets blocked and this sets up more chances to get another spin. If you spin someone in the air who has an air move, like Sindel, or an air throw, once they drop out of the spin they can escape the drop with that air move, so don't waste time and let them drop if they are too high or they will be able to surprise counter you. When you do a pop up combo with Kabal, sometimes the combo lags slightly depending on where they are when the first hit happens, and it looks as if the uppercut isn't going to come out. If your opponent releases block to capitalize the uppercut will hit. Spin them as they are falling, but do it somewhat low to the ground since you only have one hit in memory for the combo. Let them drop out and then do aaHPHP, JK air fireball, but make sure they will not be able to drop-counter. The point of doing this is because the remainer of the combo will now do full damage, and the Spin will also have done a whopping 1 pixel of damage, for a total of 45%. This also works in a much simpler scenario, after a grounded JK. When it connects, immediately do a spin when you touch the ground and spin them before the hit the ground, afterwards you can do his aaHPHP, JK, air fireball for 59%, vs 36% with the damage protection. Use the spin on occasion as wake up, but players with counter Kabal knowledge know to bait that wake up spin with a fake run jab, canceled to block. The spin can plow through a standing HK or LK after Kabal is knocked down, so watch for that, and you can also counter just about anything with the spin after you block. You can also break out of the wobble frames (not the spinning frames) with any special move, but Kabal players should never allow this to happen.
The Fireball (Eye Laser) is another integral move in Kabal's arsenal. You can use it to zone because Kabal can instantly touch the ground after a low one, or you can use a high one to knock a jumper down, in which case you should watch for a free air spin, setting up and easy 56% combo. You can use the air fireball to bait an uppercut counter on a jump in and avoid the contact, enabling you to then run jab pressure. Nightwolf can give Kabal trouble at times, but if you notice they are reflecting your low air fireballs, intentionally do one that will go over, or through Nightwolf's head and spin him. Use the air fireball in corner juggles to extend them up to 3 times on anyone with the right timing, being high JK contact, low air fireball contact, rejump, repeat. You should never use the ground version of this move except to extend a combo, but only use it if it's going to finish them because the recovery is long.
The Saw Blade is generally useless. If you do happen to catch someone with it on the ground, you can't do anything after it anyway because they can block. If you get someone with the saw in the air as they leave the ground to jump over it, you can spin them and do his bread and butter combo for 53%. The Saw Blade has a limit of 2 hits before it is locked and has no useful comboing scenarios. If Kabal is hit at anytime while the Saw Blade is out, it will disappear and not connect on the opponent.
Kabal can relaunch combo the Robots, Sheeva, Sub, Nightwolf, Jax, Kung Lao, Sonya, Kabal.
Basic Juggles 1. Spin, jump kick starter, HK, LK, HP, HP, D HP, JK, air fireball, 9 hits 41% 2. aa spin, aa(HP,HP), JK, air fireball 5 hits 42% 3. aaHP, spin, aa(HP,HP), JK, air fireball 6 hits 49%
1. near corner, spin, jump kick starter, HK, LK, HP, HP, D HP, JK at peak, pause and fireball just before you hit the ground, then JK immediately again, pause slightly, air fireball, JK, airfireball (you should be able to get at least 2 JK airfireballs on every character) 2 volleys is 11 hits 56%. 3 is 13 hits 70% and you can stick an unblockable sweep at the end on some characters resulting in a maximum of 14 hits 76% 2. aa spin near corner, aa(HP,HP just out of corner pushback range) JK, airfireball 2 or 3X depending, can result in 72-100%, on 2X, stick in a running HK at the end, for 86%. 3. Spin, jump kick starter, HK, LK, HP, HP, D HP, R, aaHP, JK, air fireball 10 hits 44% (works on male ninjas, jax, Stryker, and Sub-zero, add a second aaHP on Jax for 11 hits 47%) 4. aaspin, JK, aaLP, JK, airfireball (on male ninjas, Jax, Sub, Stryker) 5 hits 50% 5. aa air fireball, spin, aaHPHP, JK, airfireball (on male ninjas, Jax, Sub, Stryker) 6 hits 61% 6. aaSUJK or aa air fireball, spin, JK, aaLP, JK, airfireball (on male ninjas, Jax, Sub, Stryker) 6 hits 61% 7. aaHP,HP (glitch/just frame cancel to spin), aaHPHP, aaHP, JK, airfireball (on Scorpion, Smoke, and Ermac block teleport punch especially easy, hit them before they fall out of the spin because they can escape) 8 hits 62% 8. JK (grounded) spin, wait till they fall out of the spin, HP, HP, JK, air fireball 6 hits 59%