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Evolution of the tiers: A look back at how the Street Fighter 4 series tier rankings have changed over time

Posted by Jonathan 'Catalyst' Grey • September 17, 2013 at 12:16 a.m. PDT • Comments: 130

Tiers are an intensely discussed subject in the fighting game community. Opinions differ wildly from character to character, from match up to match up, as far as how strong — or weak — each individual fighter is.


We thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the various tier rankings we'll compiled for the Street Fighter 4 series through the years, starting from vanilla, and working our way up to the current release, SSF4 AE v2012.

The perception here is probably more interesting than any presumed reality, because tier lists are of course known to change — considerably — over time.

As such, one could easily make a sound argument that character XYZ wasn't rated correctly. Instead it's more interesting to see the perceptions that people had about these characters when these lists were made.

Some fighters have actually seen drops in the tier listings in every version they've been in, and one particular fighter has seen an increase in his tier rankings in every release. To see all of these details and more, hit the jump.

Tier listings for the Street Fighter 4 series


Fighters are ranked from 1 (best) to a max of 39 (worst). See the "Total characters" area for a breakdown of how many fighters were in each title. For example, SF4 had 25 fighters in its last version, so 25 would be the worst ranking in that game, while 39 would be the worst in SSF4 AE v2012.

NAME S
F
4
S
S
F
4
S
S
F
4
A
E
A
E
2
0
1
2
Total characters 25 35 39 39
Abel 12 8 21 10
Adon - 20 17 6
Akuma 3 13 5 1
Balrog (Boxer) 4 5 7 20
Blanka 9 17 23 26
Cammy 19 6 13 2
Chun-Li 7 4 9 36
Cody - 23 24 20
C. Viper 11 23 4 6
Dan 25 33 25 39
Dee Jay - 19 22 32
Dhalsim 17 8 14 20
Dudley - 26 26 32
E. Honda 12 1 16 26
El Fuerte 21 23 28 26
Evil Ryu - - - 32
Fei Long 18 13 1 2
Gen 23 32 29 10
Gouken 12 27 30 15
Guile 21 3 27 20
Guy - 31 32 15
Hakan - 33 33 32
Ibuki - 21 34 6
Juri - 28 35 15
Ken 12 15 6 26
Makoto - 35 8 10
M. Bison (Dictator) 10 2 9 15
Oni - - - 15
Rose 16 16 36 26
Rufus 4 8 19 10
Ryu 2 7 15 10
Sagat 1 8 12 20
Sakura 20 30 17 2
Seth 7 8 31 2
T. Hawk - 28 37 36
Vega (Claw) 24 21 20 36
Yang - - 3 26
Yun - - 2 6
Zangief 6 18 9 20
Total characters 25 35 39 39

Notes


• Only going up: Adon is the only character who has improved in the tier rankings in every version he's been in.

• Steady decline: These characters have had their tier ranking progressively drop in every version they've been in: Balrog, Blanka, Dee Jay and Sagat.

• Low tier heroes: These characters have never been rated 18th or better overall: Cody, Dan, Dee Jay, Dudley, El Fuerte, Hakan, T. Hawk and Vega.

• Guile was considered strong in only one game, SSF4, tier ranking wise. In every other game he's been ranked in the 20s.

• Zangief fluxuates in tier rankings in every version of the game, going from good to mediocre, to good to mediocre again.

*Because we only have rankings for Evil Ryu and Oni one time, they weren't factored into these notes.

These tiers were built off of the following links:
SF4: February 2010 rankings.
SSF4: October 2010 rankings.
SSF4 AE January 2011 rankings by Daigo, Mago and Tokido.
SSF4 AE v2012 May 2013 rankings by EG|Justin Wong.

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