Real talk, is Rashid the best character in Street Fighter 5 right now?

Just how hard are those turbulent winds blowing?

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • November 26, 2017 at 3:07 p.m. PST

I'm going to start this as candidly as possible and state that I don't think I know the answer to this. I can make a case based on a few facts, but I suppose my goal here is to get a general idea of Rashid from the public, and then go from there.

Especially in North America, Rashid hasn't seen a ton of playtime in the strongest regions of the competitive realm. It felt as though the West saw him as "probably pretty decent," but wasn't as interested as the East in playing him.

For this reason, I think he may have slipped under our radar a bit in terms of understanding and unlocking his potential. Asia, on the other hand, apparently thought the character was pretty great from the beginning.

Players like Gachikun, John Takeuchi, Ponos|Moke and ZW|OilKing have clearly shown that Rashid can hang with the best of them, and it's actually to the point that we're starting to ask whether or not this character could be the absolute best in the game.

The start of Season 2 highlighted Laura, Balrog and Urien as candidates for strongest in the game, specifically because of their potential to rob rounds away with their powerful V-Triggers.

As general understanding of the game went on (along with a few nerfs from Capcom) these characters weren't seen in as strong a light. Balrog still remains a contender for top dog, but we more often hear about Ibuki and Akuma nowadays.

RZR|Xian kicked off the Capcom Pro Tour with an extremely flashy Ibuki win at Final Round. This got the hype train started, and soon thereafter we saw players picking up the young ninja left and right, exploring potential in her bomb mix ups and placing her at the heart of the communal tier discussion.

We saw potential in Akuma when he was first announced just over a year ago, but once FOX|Tokido won EVO with his precise and meticulous style, people couldn't deny the demonic fighter's candidacy for SF5's best.

These characters are in the discussion because of some pretty clear, overwhelming strengths, but they also have fairly obvious weaknesses. Balrog lacks defensive options, Akuma's low health and relatively technical nature make him a glass cannon in a game that's already unforgiving, and Ibuki is also fairly on the squishy side.

When I look at Rashid's arsenal in this game, I find myself hard-pressed to find weaknesses. First and foremost, he has a constant command of the neutral with his incredible horizontal mobility via attacks like Spinning Mixer and Eagle Spike.

Opponents must constantly be wary that Rashid can spring onto the attack at any moment with the safe Spinning Mixer, giving him an advantageous tool at further distances. His far-reaching Crush Counter normals are amongst the best footsie tools in the game, making him a huge threat at mid ranges as well.

Rashid's rush down pressure is also amongst the best in the game, as he can lock down foes for seemingly ever. In a recent EventHubs interview with Gachikun, the Japanese player noted of Rashid, "he can keep his opponents locked down in the corner. Against characters who don't have any invincible moves, he forces them to keep blocking and they have no choice but to do something crazy to try and get out of there."

When a character is finally able to lock Rashid down, he has better escape tools than most. An invincible reversal keeps aggressors second guessing, but because of his strength in the neutral and his ability to flee, failing to apply pressure on a locked down Rashid can sometimes feel like a greater failure than getting smacked with a wake up DP.

Rashid has very strong anti airs via both normal and special moves, and has some of the most effective jump-ins in all of Street Fighter 5. While not the absolute best in the game, Rashid's V-Trigger does allow him to further control the horizontal space on top of giving him extra mobility and mix ups.

Pepper in the smaller facts like that he has a projectile and is capable of more chip damage than perhaps anyone else on the roster, and again I find myself asking "where are his weaknesses?"

When questioned about Rashid's rank in SF5 right now, Moke told us, "I think that Akuma, Ibuki and Rashid are the top characters in this game." Gachikun also noted during his interview, "He's a character that can easily put himself at an advantage but is never at that much of a disadvantage."

At 950, he does have lower than average health, but his abilities in the neutral, on offense, on defense and in the air hardly seem to balance that out. It's usually much easier to see a character's weaknesses when you play them, and I concede that I do not use the Middle Eastern warrior.

To those that do, can you let the rest of us in on good strategies against Rashid? I feel as though we in the West don't have a great understanding of him, and if he's as good as he appears to be, that needs to change quickly.

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