From Ryu and Nash in Season One, to Cammy and Abigail in Season Three, a range of characters have dominated Street Fighter V’s top tier list. Now, in Season Four, SFV pro Marcus ‘Packz’ Parker has chosen the five best characters to play as.
This is vital knowledge if you're competing in a Street Fighter V tournament, such as the one at the Red Bull Gaming Sphere London on Sunday, 19 May. Win this upcoming battle and you'll get an all-expenses paid trip to Japan, where you can train at the Gaming Sphere in Tokyo. So you'll need to make sure you pick the right character to give you the best chance of victory.
Check out Packz's selections below.
My number one pick, which for me is the best character in the game is definitely Rashid. He has pretty much every tool in his arsenal – mobility, great corner carry, exceptional pressure, solid air and ground buttons, two versatile V-Triggers, and good defensive options. As a result of his versatile kit, he can be played in a variety of styles such as rushdown, defensive, runaway, zoning and so on. This also makes him unpredictable and difficult to deal with.
Rashid’s ability to mix up his approach and pressure while simultaneously preventing his opponent from doing so is one of his biggest strengths. His jump normal makes it hard to anti-air him, and his long-range pokes along with his active ground buttons and whirlwind prevent other characters from getting too close. And if they do happen to get in and corner him, his V-Skill and wall jump allow him to escape. His only real weakness is his lack of easily accessible high damage output.
Pro players who use Rashid: Gachikun, OilKing, BigBird, John Takeuchi
The second spot goes to the demon Akuma, whose design is so fundamentally flawless that he’s considered a strong character in almost every fight game he has appeared in.
Similar to Rashid, Akuma has access to every tool. He also has the best anti-air button in the game, a very flexible V-Skill, an absurdly active crush counter button and one of the strongest V-Triggers.
Akuma’s strength comes from his fast walk speed, great counter-poke normals, ability to corner his opponents from anywhere onscreen, bypass the neutral, and a traditional fireball-dragon punch game plan.
Once he activates his V-Trigger 1, everything leads to more damage and oppressive okizeme. He also has an easier time approaching and applying pressure – if he has Critical Art available then his pressure becomes a complete guess.
Akuma weaknesses are low health and stun, and reliance on V-Trigger 1.
Pro players who use Akuma: Tokido, Haitani, Takamura, NL
Ranked third in my top five is the character I main – Karin Kanzuki. Karin’s design is based around the neutral, using her fast walk speed to poke and counter-poke the opponent as well as dealing borderline childish damage in the process. She has the highest easily accessible damage output in the game, and some of the best counter-poke normal to get it, Standing Heavy Punch and Standing Medium Punk to name a few.
As well as her extremely high damage output, Karin can also confirm her Crouching Medium Kick. This makes it risky to stand against Karin – she forces you to crouch, allowing her to apply pressure with throws, shimmys and frame traps. Having clutch confirms also makes her pressure very low risk.
Another one of Karin’s strengths is that she is able to freely use V-Reversal without much sacrifice because she doesn’t rely on V-Trigger.
Karin’s weaknesses are situational anti-airs and weak V-Triggers.
Pro players who uses Karin: Punk, Bonchan, Justin Wong
Ibuki comes in at fourth place because she is the epitome of safe mix ups. Her 50/50 situations are mostly safe and low risk for her, while being the complete opposite for her opponents. Her game plan revoles around building V-Trigger using her ridiculous V-Skill and pressuring the opponent with jump mix ups and advantageous blockstrings using her unique kunai mechanics.
A vast majority of Ibuki gameplay comes from her Kunai usage. Kunai allows her to extend her pressure, mix up her approach, force her way in, set up 50/50s in the corner, maximise damage and confirm into Critical Art. You could say Ibuki is as threatening as the amount of Kunai she has left.
Her V-Skill is a big part of her strength. The versatility of it allows her to constantly build V-Trigger throughout the game. It can be used on offence, defence and in neutral and combos into V-Trigger.
Her V-Trigger 2 completes her list of devastating strengths, giving her a lot of variations. Akin to Karin, when Ibuki gets access to V-Trigger 2, she’s able to confirm her crouching medium kick, making it risky to stand against her in a similar fashion.
Ibuki’s weaknesses lie in her limited kunai and reliance on successful mix ups.
Pro players who use Ibuki: Fujimura, Xian
Birdie is the last character that makes up my top five. If the top four characters are seen as the current meta of Season Four, then Birdie would be the direct counter to that. He is frequently used as a good matchup against the top four characters I’ve listed.
Birdie outright beats most characters in the neutral and outranges a good 60% of the cast. His strength lies in his defensive capabilities. He does this by keeping opponents at arm’s length with his range, anti-airing with crouching medium punch, counter-poking with standing medium punch, blowing through projectiles with bullhorn, and forcing guesses with his command grab once the opponent is cornered.
Donuts, bananas and beer cans are a part of the foundation that makes up Birdie’s defensive gameplay. His V-Skill breaks combos, creates space, builds V-Trigger and forces the opponent to act. All of these perfectly complement what Birdie is trying to achieve. On top of that, he’s a big body character with above average health and can also surprise opponents with a quick, long-range command grab.
Both of his V-Triggers increase the reward of his gameplay while maintaining the same risk. V-Trigger 1 gives him extra armour, defensive options and faster walk speed. V-Trigger 2 improves his damage and okizeme.
Birdie’s weaknesses are a lack of defensive options and difficulty against defensive playstyles.