Guile, Sonic Boom and Rainbow Mika dropkicked the end of 2016, the first year of Street Fighter V Season 1, which brought in a collection of surprise contenders for metagame characters. Now, with the second season of Street Fighter V underway, impressions from gamers, professional or casual, are beginning to take shape. It may be early, but there's no harm in theorycrafting character tier lists.
Who will dominate the competitive landscape in the upcoming year? Team Razer's Kun "Xian" Ho, Eduardo "PR Balrog" Perez and Team Liquid's Du "NuckleDu" Dang weighed in on the changes to their favorite characters:
Xian is one of the best fighting game players in the world; he's known for perfect execution and immaculate ground game, elevating low-tier characters to higher ranks. Xian's signature character in Street Fighter V, F.A.N.G., is a rarely played charge-character with a long list of shortcomings. So why did Xian pick him? Well, it's because the character looked remarkably similar to Street Fighter IV character Gen.
For Xian, a Singaporean prodigy, this year will be about what he can do to escape the hole that his character automatically puts him in.
"I felt F.A.N.G. was nerfed a bit and some of his bad matchups are even harder now," Xian said. "Season 2 is less footsies-based with more situations for vortexes. The downloadable characters are really fun now. They can now do more and it provides creativity for training mode. There are a lot of stronger characters, but they're more set-up and mix-up based. I personally think the game is more fun now, but it's definitely not a balanced game."
For PR Balrog, his signature Balrog is stronger and may be a contender for one of the best metagame characters in the game. In Season 1, PR Balrog started with Necalli because of his rush-down qualities and likeness to Marvel character Wolverine; but, with the buffs to Balrog, this could be the year of PR Balrog.
"I'll try and play whatever character counters my bad matchups [Guile, Cammy and Urien], but I will always play Balrog until I know that I can't win or it's an impossible matchup," he said. "In Season 1, Balrog's main problems were the lack of damage on crush-counters and his defense. Season 2 fixed the [damage] issue. Balrog without v-trigger is now a complete character. Now that he has excellent offense, I don't think I need a reversal anymore."
For an offensive player like PR Balrog, Season 2 changes the metagame to an aggressive pace that suits his strengths. He does, however, think that the changes may be too excessive. While the offensive changes fit his play style, it may have been a more balanced decision for an addition of a defensive option.
NuckleDu crushed the latter half of 2016. He was the player who fully embodied the new age of Street Fighter: a wide variety of characters and perfect utilization of the game's mechanics. Simply put, NuckleDu was the best player in Season 1. He entered unfavorable matchups with his versatile collection of characters (Nash, Guile, and Rainbow Mika).
"Although I agree Rainbow Mika was extremely powerful, I think they should've buffed the weaker characters so they could stand up to the higher tiers," NuckleDu said. "Instead, for Nash, Rainbow Mika and a couple other characters, players have to relearn the frame date and come up with entirely new strategy. It reset the whole meta and made a whole year's worth of training disappear."