Cammy is probably the best, but is she overpowered? A historical look at Street Fighter 5's most oppressive characters, and where we are now

Have we finally reached a healthy place in terms of the top of the roster?

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • April 26, 2018 at 7:45 p.m. PDT | Comments: 118

The tiers of Street Fighter 5 have seen a good deal of shift and shake since the game's initial release back in 2016.

We've had three seasons now with multiple re-balancings both major and minor, and have actually had about five significant periods in terms of specific top tier characters dominating the SF5 landscape.

Of course it's true that there will always be a top tier, and there's nothing wrong with that. A character or two can be the best, it's just when they're so far ahead of the pack that they demoralize and cause people to stop enjoying the experience that it becomes a problem.

I'd like to look back to identify the characters that were perceived by the community as too strong for the game's good, and with that history lesson fresh in our minds, go on to examine our current state of affairs here in Season 3.5.

Season 1

This was the inaugural run for Street Fighter 5, and as is almost always the case with the "vanilla" versions of fighters, you're going to see some characters emerge as overpowered.

Nash got quite a bit of flack (especially after PG|Infiltration started winning everything with him) mainly because of his ability to dash so freely given the combination of his hidden pre-dash frames and the game's infamous eight frames of initial input lag.

Perhaps not the absolute strongest, Nash was viewed as a major problem by a good portion of the community and was eventually nerfed into the ground.

Chun-Li and Ryu were probably the strongest two fighters in Season 1. A major part of this came from their damage output and ability to access said damage through incredibly strong V-Triggers and V-Trigger activation potential. They were also both nerfed very heavily.

R. Mika may have been the cause of the most grief during this season, as she was more or less the game's original "robbery character." Mika's ability to enter set play from a single hit anywhere on screen meant players could never be comfortable against her even if they were at an extreme life advantage.

She was toned down from one of the game's best to perhaps lower mid-tier in Season 2.

Season 2

Season 2's problem children actually inspired wider spread use of the term "robbery characters" amongst the community. This was because, like R. Mika the year before, Urien, Laura and Balrog could melt a life bar right quick if they accessed their V-Triggers.

FOX|Tokido once said of Balrog, that the match doesn't really begin until he got to his V-Trigger. It all was boiled down to whether or not he was able to score the hit and obliterate his foe's health or not. Kind of like this:


Click image to view the clip

Urien saw some similar abilities with his Aegis V-Trigger, and also had some incredibly strong normal buttons for neutral play.

The same was true for Laura's vortex V-Trigger sequences, which were often entered via the deceptively deadly hitbox/push back combination found in her standing medium kick.

Urien got the worst of early nerfs, and Laura and Balrog would follow in future patches. All three of these characters are now in the viable tier, but none are likely in the top five.

Season 2.5

While this season had its fair share of balance issues, the top tiers didn't necessarily overwhelm like in others. Characters like Akuma, Guile and Ibuki were certainly amongst the best, but we didn't hear quite as much community cries of unrest and frustration about them.

One exception to this was Ibuki's V-Trigger, which was a bomb that created an explosion that would completely obscure the characters.

This was often done right in the middle of mix up and resets, leaving many players exceptionally salty.

I personally believe Rashid was the strongest character in this season, but he continued to fly under the radar in terms of community perception until maybe the very end of the year. This would change come Season 3.

Season 3

There were two names that were overwhelmingly complained about (rightfully so) during the three months of Season 3: Abigail and Rashid.

When people discovered Rashid's true potential toward the end of Season 2.5, they expected to see him nerfed. He lost a few frames of advantage on his heavy punch, which was a start, but not enough. He otherwise received damage and meter gain buffs.

Rashid was already strong virtually anywhere on the screen, and had ample tools in every category.

Abigail's damage output was unmatched in a game that was already known for incredible levels of damage. What's more, he was now able to enter his insanely offensive sequences through even more avenues.

He also received a new V-Trigger that was very scrub-friendly in that it allowed players to safely use it with virtually no caution. The community began to figure out counters to it, but Capcom also quickly patched it because of all the outcry.

Both characters had a laundry list of nerfs going into the current iteration of the game, and are both regarded as mid-upper mid tier at the moment.

Season 3.5

So here we are, five iterations into Street Fighter 5. Before this current patch even dropped, changes on paper told us that Cammy (one of the game's top characters) would be getting buffs while other top tiers were either left alone or heavily nerfed.

Communal pitch forks came out for the blonde haired Street Fighter early on, but tournament results and general play don't seem to highlight her as an oppressive force that takes all enjoyment out of the game.

She's almost certainly the best character, but perhaps still falls in that "best but not broken" place. She certainly hasn't felt like a Season 1 Mika or a Season 2 Balrog yet. We'll observe as the 2018 Capcom Pro Tour continues on, and perhaps that sentiment will change as results come in and players discover her full potential.

It may be, though, that Season 3.5 is the best version of Street Fighter 5 in terms of ridding the roster of oppressive top tiers. I say this with a grain of salt implied, as the Killer Bee could very well be too strong and Menat still threatens from the shadows.

What do you think? Is the top of the SF5 roster an issue right now, or has the battle shifted to more exclusively concern the lower tiers and how to get them into the realm of viability? Let us know in the comments below.

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