What are the best Street Fighter V characters? Packz reveals his top 5

© Capcom
Competing in a Street Fighter V tournament soon? UK player Packz recommends picking one of these characters for a great chance of scoring a victory.
Written by Marcus 'Packz' ParkerPublished on
After an incredible Red Bull Kumite 2019, you might be wondering what it's like to compete in a Street Fighter V tournament yourself. It's not an easy journey to the top, of course, and turning pro requires hard work and serious dedication.
One player who'd know is UK pro Packz, who, prior to his professional days, would save up money and take holidays from his job to attend tournaments and watch the elite up close in the hope that some of their gameplay would rub off.
"It's about how much you want it and how hard you're willing to work," says Packz. But even when you do make it into the upper echelons of esports fighting games, choosing the right character is key. Here, Packz, who earlier this spring won Red Bull UK's Street Fighter tournament, reveals what he believes are the five best characters to use in the game. Take note.
1. Rashid
Image of the Street Fighter V character Rashid.
Rashid in Street Fighter V
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 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 and John Takeuchi.
2. Akuma
Image of the Street Fighter V character Akuma.
Akuma relies on his V-trigger 1
The second spot goes to the demon Akuma. His design is so fundamentally flawless that he's considered a strong character in almost every fight game he's 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 and NL
3. Karin
Image of the Street Fighter V character Karin.
Packz has used Karin extensively in the past
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, with Standing Heavy Punch and Standing Medium Punk to name but 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's able to freely use V-Reversal without much sacrifice, because she doesn't rely on V-Trigger. Her weaknesses are situational anti-airs and weak V-Triggers.
4. Ibuki
Image of Street Fighter V character Ibuki.
Ibuki's V-Trigger 2 is devastating
Ibuki comes in at fourth place, because she's the epitome of safe mix-ups. Her 50/50 situations are mostly safe and low-risk for her, but 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 block strings, using her unique mechanics.
A vast majority of Ibuki gameplay comes from her Kunai usage. Kunai allows her to extend her pressure, mix 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 lies in her limited kunai and reliance on successful mix-ups.
Pro players who use Ibuki: Fujimura and Xian
5. Birdie
Image of the Street Fighter V character Birdie.
Birdie is the great defender
Birdie completes my top five. If the top four characters are seen as the meta of Season Four, then Birdie would be the direct counter to that. He's 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 percent 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.