Zangief is part of eight out of the ten worst match ups in Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition — the losing part

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Posted by Steven 'Dreamking23' Chavez • September 24, 2018 at 8 p.m. PDT

Zangief hasn't been having the best time in Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition.

Unfortunately for the giant, bear-wrestling Russian fighter who debuted back in 1991 as part of the original eight-character roster in Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior, he just can't seem to rise up in the Street Fighter 5 ranks and consistently do well in higher-level play.

The general consensus on Zangief has typically been that he is not very strong in comparison to the rest of the roster — which reflects in his tier ranking. Zangief currently sits at dead last (34th) in our Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition tier section.

As such, Zangief actually falls on the losing end of eight out of the ten worst match ups in Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition right now. In our tiers section, we have the top ten best and worst match ups generated from the community-voted rankings for each character on the roster.

Looking at the list of worst match ups below, we see that the hairy grappler not only occupies eight of the ten worst match ups, but is also involved in what has been voted the worst match up in the game: Guile vs. Zangief.

For those unaware, the numerical aspect of match ups on a tier list is determined like this: if two players of identical skill were to play ten matches against each other using the two characters being looked at, the number for each character indicates how many games they would win on average based on their strength against that specific fighter. For example, if Guile vs. Zangief was a 5-5 match up, that would mean that, on average, both characters would win five out of the ten games played each time — making it an even match up.

This means that any character who sees a higher or lower number than five in a match up is considered either advantaged or disadvantaged in that bout. Guile vs. Zangief is a 6.4 - 3.6 in Guile's favor.

Zangief worst match ups / tier chart in Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition image #1 Zangief worst match ups / tier chart in Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition image #2
Click images for larger versions

Unfortunately for Zangief and Zangief plyers, the character's personal tier chart doesn't look much better (as you can see in the second image above). As he stands in our Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition tiers right now, Zangief only has one match up in which he has the advantage — against Street Fighter 2 boxer Balrog.

Falling into the category of match ups that are mostly even for Zangief, we have Alex, Juri, Sakura, and Ryu — who are often considered low tier as well. Laura is also considered fairly even and finds herself quite a bit higher on the tier list (currently #20) than the other four fighters.

The remaining 27 characters on the Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition roster make up Zangfief's unfavorable match ups. Of those 27, Menat, Nash, Akuma, Abigail, Urien, Dhalsim, and F.A.N.G. comprise the remainder of the top 10 worst match ups in the game that involve Gief.

Within the list of worst Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition match ups that include Zangief we see a pattern. Zangief appears to struggle most against characters that can effectively keep him away — or "zone" him out, as it's referred to in fighting game lingo — whether it be by way of projectiles or strong, long-range normal attacks that prevent him from getting close.

When it comes to having moves that effectively get through fireballs, Zangief is lacking pretty heavily. His V-Skill sees him slowly walking forward as he absorbs oncoming attacks, which does work to an extent, but is still lacking.

"When Zangief can get in close, he is able to tack on big damage pretty quickly. However, he ultimately loses to characters that can zone him out and those that can pressure him with a rushdown playstyle."

Zangief also has his headbutt (forward + heavy punch) that will collide with single hit fireballs and destroy them, but much like V-Skill this attack is more about stopping the fireballs than allowing Zangief to get in once he does. Zangief's V-Trigger 1 is his best tool for dealing with projectiles as it allows Zangief to spin through them and vacuum the opponent toward him. It's certainly effective, but with it being a three-bar V-Trigger (meaning Zangief is getting it later in the match), there just isn't enough juice there to make up for the other lacking areas in his design.

It's also worth noting that some of the tools Zangief is currently equipped with don't work quite as they once did back in the Street Fighter 4 series. A move like his EX Spinning Pile Driver (command throw) does not retain the ability to plow through attacks in Street Fighter 5, making it almost entirely useless as a reversal on wake up — it does have throw invincibility, at least. His Double Lariat doesn't have strike invincibility anymore either, so though it still works fairly well as an anti-air, Zangief players really can't use the threat of this move when the opponent is pressuring him.

When Zangief can get in close, he is able to tack on big damage pretty quickly. However, he ultimately loses to characters that can zone him out and those that can pressure him with a rushdown playstyle.

Things have gotten so rough for Zangief in Street Fighter 5 that one of Japan's top-level competitors, DNG|Itabashi Zangief, hardly uses him in tournament play anymore. Itazan — who's handle literally has "Zangief" in it — has since switched over to playing Street Fighter 5 Season 2 newcomer Abigail due to him being equipped with more powerful tools and the ability to harness a similar grappler playstyle that Zangief players are familiar with.

It's hard to say how to improve Zangief in Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition. One thing that fans have been clamoring for since day one of Street Fighter 5 is the return of Zangief's Banishing Flat (green hand) which would likely help him better deal with projectile-heavy characters — based on how effective the special move was back in previous Street Fighter titles.

Zangief has been deemed unworthy of competing with the top tier characters for a while now, though we have seen scattered examples of the Russian wrestler doing well in tournament over the course of the game's lifespan. A Zangief player named Yuripaddle won first place at the Street Fighter 5 tournament ran by the U.S. ARMY back in July, and during that same month AB|Kichipa-mu scored 3rd place at Abuget Cup 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia with a devastating Zangief of his own, defeating powerhouse competitors such as DouyuTV|Xiao Hai and UYU|OilKing along the way.

Despite his troubles in high-level tournament play, Zangief actually gets quite a bit of playtime online. Capcom's official monthly Street Fighter 5 stats show that Zangief was the 11th most-played character for the month of August 2018 and the 10th most-played in July.

Last month, Zangief also had the 14th highest win average online — which definitely isn't bad in a game with 34 characters in it. It seems that he's seeing a decent amount of representation online, and those players are raking in solid wins.

We're nearing the end of the year and Capcom has officially wrapped up Street Fighter 5's third season with the release of G and Sagat in Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition back in early August. Based on past experience, there's a good chance we'll see another large set of balance changes when Season 4 begins — it hasn't been confirmed by Capcom yet, but fans are definitely expecting it — likely sometime in the beginning of 2019.

If we do get another season of Street Fighter 5 and more balance changes, we can't help but wonder if Zangief will finally get the buffs he needs to make him a consistent threat at higher levels of competitive play.

Be sure to check out our Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition tiers section here on EventHubs. If you'd like to vote for your character's match ups, you can do so by registering an account with us (which won't take you long to do at all!).

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