In Guilty Gear Strive, Zato-1 is a difficult character to control but is also difficult to fight. Together with his shadow, Eddie, he can attack in tandem which allows him to go for setups that trap the foe in a 2-vs-1 fight. However, his offence does have its weaknesses that you can use to survive matches against him in this fighting game.
Read More: Guilty Gear Strive Tier List
Zato-1 And Eddie
As a puppet character, Zato-1 barely functions as a character when alone. However, his shadow, Eddie, can provide with complimentary attacks to help Zato-1 get in and open up the enemy's block. Once Zato makes the hit, Eddie can instead continue the combo which sends Zato-1's combo potential through the roof as long as the player can grasp controlling both Zato-1 and Eddie.
Optimally, Zato-1 and Eddie can attack in complete synergy to break their opponent's guard. As Zato-1's opponent, try to make your every hit count if you manage to land one on him. As a tradeoff for his overwhelming offensive potential, he has subpar tools to use defensively which makes him struggle to escape even moderately difficult situations.
Snowball your momentum on Zato-1 whenever you get the chance.
Hit Eddie If Possible
Similar to his previous appearances in Guilty Gear, Zato-1's Eddie summons also operate on a timer gauge. When that gauge runs out, Zato-1 will be locked out of his Eddie special moves until the gauge refills.
If you see Zato-1's Eddie meter emptied out and slowly regenerating a red bar, it is time for you to push an offensive. Zato-1 often has relied on his Eddie specials to fill the screen with attacks that discourage his foes from moving forward freely. Whenever he doesn't have Eddie, he has to work with his other moves which are subpar but workable defensive tools.
Forcing Zato-1 to overuse his Eddie meter can be done in two ways. Zato-1 can lose control of Eddie if his timer runs out and can run out faster with every Eddie special move he does. However, Zato-1 can also unsummon Eddie to quickly recover the Eddie gauge faster. Try to make Zato-1 overextend his Eddie use and punish him when he tries to use vulnerable animation of unsummoning Eddie in front of you.
Meanwhile, hitting Eddie cleanly once during his attacks will immediately unsummon him and force the Eddie meter to go on cooldown. Punishing Eddie can be difficult as Zato-1 can still back him up and prevent you from punishing him. However, keep this in mind if the enemy Zato-1 manages to be careless and Eddie gets hit out of the blue during his attacks.
Lastly, be wary of the Eddie shield move as it'll cleanly punish you on hit as it works like a disjointed parry move from Zato-1. The shield move quickly drains Zato-1 of all his Eddie meter but he can push the advantage here and put you in a difficult situation that can get harder once Eddie is ready to help again.
Use Defensive Roman Cancels
If you have at least 50 Tension and the enemy Zato-1's pressure gets unbearable, it's wise to use the defensive Yellow Roman Cancel on block to escape the sandwich situations that Zato-1 and Eddie set up. If Zato-1 gets caught in the Roman Cancel's blast, he stops all his pressure and Eddie stops along with him. Most successful Yellow Roman Cancels give the turn immediately to the defender so take it as your chance to return the pressure and find a way to give yourself some breathing room in the match.
Alternatively, using Red Roman Cancel when he uses his parry can also help if he tries to interrupt while Eddie takes the hit. The Red Roman Cancel takes the priority over any of Zato-1 attacks and will pop him up if he doesn't block it. Use the Red Roman Cancel if boldly contesting Eddie's shield parry and if Zato-1 likes to hit buttons during the parry's return attack.
Overall, the Zato-1 matchup gets easier if you keep denying him of his Eddie setups as he is severely weaker than the rest of the cast when trying to fight alone.