Last time, we promised to further break down our data by comparing the periods before and after the biggest patch of Season 1, October 15th's balance patch. This move included some universal changes, including general buffs to projectiles and anti-airs, as well as significant changes to numerous character attributes and moves.
To take a look at just how this update changed the meta, let's take a look at two variables: a character's share of results (for this case, we'll look at Top 8 finishes at brackets of at least 24 players) and a character's share of individual players attaining results. That is: does a character get lots of results because a ton of people are playing them? Or do they win because a small group of players continue to dominate brackets. Let's take a look:
On the horizontal axis we have the size of the character's player base, and on the vertical axis we have their share of total Top 8 finishes. Characters above the line pick up more results than expected given the size of their player base and characters below the line pick up fewer results than expected given the number of players placing in Top 8s with them.
The lines connecting the characters show their movement between the seasons. Characters with a red line picked up more results in the first half of Season 1, whereas characters with a blue line connecting their dots picked up more results after the October patch.
First, let's analyze result share changes:
The October patch had three clear losers: May, Potemkin and Chipp. Giovanna and Millia saw heavy drops as well. May's signature dolphin attacks were nerfed in the October patch, and Chipp saw startup added to one of his biggest mixup tools, grounded Alpha Blade. Giovanna and Millia didn't suffer major nerfs, but didn't receive the buffs many were hoping would elevate them to the next level.
Potemkin's fall can more easily be attributed to the rise of two characters in the post-October meta: Happy Chaos and Ramlethal, both of whom possess the zoning tools to lock down Potemkin for entire rounds. Happy Chaos was a newcomer, coming out a couple months after the balance patch, and Ramlethal was already the most powerful zoner in the game. While some aspects of her game (like her pressure with swords) were nerfed, she was given a plethora of new options to take the opponent into the corner from midscreen and exploit her biggest advantages.
Ramlethal was a different character post-October patch, but arguably better. This might explain why only May saw a bigger drop to her player base. Despite the exodus, the players who stuck with Ram were constantly making deep runs in bracket. Other than the obvious gain for newcomer Happy Chaos, whose rise we'll cover in more detail next time, players flocked to Zato-1 and Faust. The latter didn't convert to a gain in results for -Strive-’s unfortunate doctor, but Zato-1 was the only character to see at least a 2% growth in both player base share and result share from the pre-October patch to the post-October patch, making him arguably the biggest beneficiary on paper from the changes.
Zato-1 also was by far the character with the most representation at COMBO BREAKER compared to what these trends showed. Despite appearing in just 5% of Top 8s even in his relatively strong post-October patch period, Zato-1 made up 7 of the Top 64 at COMBO BREAKER -- nearly 11% of all characters represented, doubling his post-patch result share.
Was COMBO BREAKER a sign of the Zato-1 renaissance to come? We'll examine that question and more raised by the biggest offline event -Strive- has seen soon, as well as dive deeper into the data surrounding Happy Chaos and the rest of -Strive- ’s DLC fighters.