By Jon ‘Catalyst’ Grey
Street Fighter 6 has seen a myriad of opinions about the strength of the 8 playable characters who were available to play in the closed beta test. Taking more of a data-driven approach with my list, I took a close look at who the most frequently played characters were in the top 100 along with the high level players who were using them.
The list below you’ll find factors in those stats heavily, coupled with my own opinions of watching footage and playing the game. The list gets started with the most popular character in the franchise and goes from there.
At the top of my list is Ryu, partly due to the stats which had him as the top character in the best 100 players in the closed beta, but also because of the history of the character.
Ryu is traditionally a beast in vanilla versions of games, look no further than Street Fighter 4, Street Fighter 5 and Street Fighter X Tekken, but he also won his fair share of tournaments in the SF2 series. While not the best character in the initial release of Street Fighter 3, he still had his moments in New Generation.
The Street Fighter 6 version of Ryu feels very strong, good at neutral and pretty much everything else. In the past, Ryu was the character most other fighters were designed around, and I imagine that’s still true to some degree. Maybe it’s because or in spite of this, that Ryu tends to be quite strong in the first releases of new Street Fighter games, and right now it feels to me like history is repeating itself.
Ken is a master of combos in Street Fighter 6 currently, as it felt like everything he did would set you up for a juggle, or lead into more combo possibilities. I think there’s a solid case to be made that he might be the overall best character in the closed beta, even though I have Ryu at #1.
If you look at only the top 20 players online, Ken was head and shoulders above with the field with 7 people playing him in there, and Ryu was next with 4.
All of Ken’s options seem really solid, and he just did a ton of damage when he connected with his attacks. I actually think he’s the most likely candidate for nerfs already, because he felt really too good on a base level compared with the other cast members — an early lead for easy to play and very strong, which is often a top tier combination.
I have Jamie 3rd overall, because his core stuff felt daunting to deal with, and a number of strong players were using him in the beta like Punk, JB, Brian_F, and maybe most importantly, Kazunoko.
Kazunoko practically never plays anyone unless they’re top tier, and if Jamie stays intact with how he is now, I think we’ll see him rise up the tier charts upon release. His drink level up system is really good, and his core cancels and move sets were all quite effective.
Perhaps him having a higher execution ceiling could make room for some user error in the future and he won’t rise up as heavily in the tiers, but he felt really good all around, and was one of the characters who pro players were flocking to.
Kimberly feels A LOT like the Street Fighter 4 version of Guy — but on steroids, I couldn’t believe it. Some of his pressure setups and tactics were all right there and accessible from the get-go, but Kimberly also has a bunch of new tricks as well.
Her mix ups felt really tricky to handle, and that could have simply been my inexperience and lack of knowledge, but they felt solid and like it’s a true pain to deal with all of them. The best defense is likely not being at those spots on screen where she can mix you up.
She’s a pretty interesting character and will likely lead to the most frustration right now among the player base, because she feels fairly capable of robbery. She also finished 3rd in the top 100, for a newcomer, that’s a big deal.
This is the character I mained throughout the beta and his anti-air and zoning game felt really good. What I struggled with was piecing it all together to consistently keep people out, but it was clear to me early on that zoning is WAY better in Street Fighter 6 than it was in the previous game.
This version of Guile reminds me more of his SF4 counterpart, where he’s pretty darn good at controlling numerous spots on screen, and doesn’t seem to want to get or stay up in people’s faces throughout the match.
I remember SF4 Guile generally not being top tier in most versions (with the exception of Super Street Fighter 4), but still being a pain in the butt to fight consistently, because his core zoning and anti air game was so strong. I feel like SF6 Guile will be a similar callback to this.
To me, Juri has been the most overrated character I’ve seen online. Perhaps I’m missing a lot of stuff she can do, but there wasn’t a single person who used this character in the top 20 players, and she didn’t really make an impact in the stats we posted until you factor in players after the top 50.
Juri is also a VERY popular character, so the lack of a showing, much like Shania Twain, didn’t impress me much. Perhaps I’m missing a lot with Juri, but I still have her as the most overhyped character of the 8 we got to play.
Time will tell here, but what she was doing didn’t stand out to me, nor were her statistics particularly favorable.
I barely saw anyone playing Chun-Li, and I only picked her up on the final day of the beta and messed around with her for a few hours. Her anti-air game felt incomplete, and nothing about her really stood out, but she’s probably the most technical character in the game, so there’s quite a bit of potential to unlock.
She’s got her instant air lightning legs back, but they don’t seem to be heavily advantaged on block or hit, working similarly to how they currently do in Street Fighter 5.
Her fireball and all around game just never stood out to me as being heavily impactful, hence me listing her as 2nd to last overall. Might be a ton of hidden potential here, but it looked like very few people even came remotely close to unlocking her in the closed beta. Chun-Li is usually good too, but her track record is a bit worse than Ryu’s in terms of overall strength, usually.
This was perhaps the biggest shock of the closed beta coming from SF5. Luke is the best character in that game, and I figured he’d pick up right where he left off, but messing around with him a bit, he just felt very weak.
Perhaps Capcom is tired of this guy kicking everyone’s butts and decided to nerf him pretty hard in SF6. This would match up with the Alex disease that character had in SF3, when he was also made the co-protagonist with Ryu, and was generally balls.
I want to say Luke felt incomplete, like the stuff that would make him a good character to pick in tournament just wasn’t there, or had recently been nerfed. That’s OK in my opinion, because I’m not a really big fan of his play style. It seems like they took all of Luke’s mojo away and gave it to Ryu instead. That’s not a bad thing in my eyes.
Source: Event Hubs