Why is G evoking such emotional responses from the Street Fighter 5 community, and how much of it is actually justified?

A closer look at this very polarizing character

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • April 15, 2019 at 7:49 p.m. PDT

Along with the comparison of fast food chain tier charts, one of the more prominent narratives in the fighting game community at the moment surrounds the relatively new G and how he's coming across as such a polarizing character. You don't have to search too far or wide to start hearing arguments about him being over vs. underpowered, broken vs. misunderstood, or high vs. mid vs. low in terms of his true home on the tier charts.

The community is having a hard time coming to agreement about G, and I think a major motivator in this discussion is the emotional response players are feeling after encountering G in game. I'd like to take a closer look at why many of us are concluding matches against the President of the World with such a feeling of frustration and distaste, explore how valid or not these reactions are, and try to figure out where to go from there.

We'll start by getting some of the lower hanging issues out of the way. First off, initial flare up with regards to a character being too powerful is almost always larger than what the underlying problem ultimately warrants. It's happened countless times before, will happen countless times in the future, and is surely happening now with G.

We do have to do our homework before heading to social media to pour our immediate emotions out as if they were well researched and peer-reviewed facts. You'd better be able to articulate the properties of the moves that are giving you a hard time, and be aware of all possible counters to them before you start passing public judgements.

We can put G's low rush punch on the table as a first example to examine here as it incites a lot of frustration. This move is quick, it hits low, and it translates into some very favorable outcomes for G. Most everyone has felt the pain of being tagged by a random EX low rush punch and felt infuriated by it, but getting hit by random Hail Mary attempts is ultimately on you (save for V-Trigger 1 situations that we'll get to later).

Both Vega and M. Bison's sweep moves are very similar to this, and complaining about those merely makes you sound inexperienced. Like low rush, they carry a ton of risk as they are easily and heavily punished when they're blocked, and so the simple answer is "block low more often in anticipation." You do that, you'll beat players that toss these kinds of moves out carelessly 99 times out of 100.

So what about G's flip kick, which is -5 on block but can be spaced safely and used in the neutral? It can counter fireballs, randomly clip normals, (it removes G's lower hurtboxes for a short while) and can convert to a good 200+ damage, corner carry, and follow up okizeme (a process we'll refer to as "the business" from here on out).

There's a little bit to be upset with here as it really does suck to try to punish a -5 move only to be hit yourself because your foe is spaced too far away, but that's not uncommon and has come to be a fairly routine part of the SF5 experience. If it's far enough away, it's safe – accept that and play accordingly.

It's also pretty disheartening to be hit by this move when you're trying to play footsies and it seems to just so happen to arc over a normal you've extended with. This hurts because the G player was likely doing this attack in such an instance with more of a hope than an intention, (can space it to be safe on block, so why not?) and wound up getting their reward without much risk.

All that said, this move does have decently long start up and recovery frames, meaning it can be dealt with if you spend a bit of extra focus looking for it. It's probably not the best-designed technique in the game, but it also sees diminishing returns once you understand the frame data particulars.

Thus far we've dealt with two fairly common moves/scenarios, completely extinguished one, and brought the other down to a fairly tolerable level of frustration-incitement. This brings us to G's normals, which begin to murk the waters a bit more.

Mr. President has long and lanky limbs that offer him some pretty far-reaching neutral tools (that are especially effective when combined with the threat of the aforementioned specials) that he can confirm into the business. This is great for his neutral game, but it especially shines in a department where G is considered exceptionally weak: defense.

G's lack of an invincible reversal and a three frame normal is often cited as proof that his defense is poor enough to contrast his exceptional offense. Those two truths are not insignificant, but they also don't paint the entire defensive picture when it comes to SF5.

This point was recently articulated by EQNX|Brian_F when he stated on Twitter that "People still have an antiquated, non-SF5 idea of what a "defensive option" is. In SF5, if you have a normal that shifts your hurtbox to avoid common strings, or a longer range faster normal that will beat these strings, that's a defensive option. G has these things. G's 4 frame jabs are such far range that your normal pressure strings end after 3 hits. Over extend and you're dead."

Yes, the character does have to hold more offensive pressure on his wake up than those that have an invincible reversal to threaten with. No, he does not get to interrupt any three frame gaps in pressure, but G shines in a situation that happens in nearly every single round of SF5.

Most characters are able to pressure with strike/grab offense for a few attacks, and will be pushed out of range for further pressure if those attacks are blocked. From here they are able to either walk forward and reclaim that advantageous situation, or stick out a final heavy button that can crush any attempts by the defender at stopping that forward walk.

G's far-reaching, 4-frame normals go a long way when he's the defender here, as a successful interrupt not only stops pressure, it (like so much else in his arsenal) leads into the business. This is probably the biggest source of emotional reaction and frustration for those facing off against the World President.

The reason this feels so bad is because players feel like they're still on offense when they're suddenly hit and the entire match turns around. An unnuanced view of this essentially says "my reward for earning offense was to get hit for massive damage, corner carry, and oki," which is obviously going to spark some flames.

The answer to this is, again, learn what you're allowed and not allowed to do against this character in this situation. Know when that standing light kick or crouching jab becomes a real threat during your offense, and adjust your approach to mitigate that threat. That adjustment will ultimately translate to G having to deal with a bit less pressure than the average character, which itself translates to a positive in G's defensive tool kit.

With everything we've addressed thus far, I'd say that (shaving off the emotionally-charged fat of initial reactions and having done our research) G does have some questionably strong tools that could probably use some developer tweaking, but it's really not enough to justify the amount of hate the character has been getting.

Now let's look at his potential when V-Trigger 1 is in play. This VT immediately puts G at his highest level, turning all his moves into their strongest versions regardless of if he's been knocked down. It also turns low rush punch into an absolute monstrosity of an attack.

G can cancel his EX low rush into V-Trigger to make it not only safe, but +4 on block. From here he can potentially get four more safe low rushes as his V-Trigger meter allows him to cancel this move into a safe fireball, and if any of these hit, it's into the business. What's more, this sequence is a true block string and so it cannot be interrupted by any invincible attacks.

He can also toss his V-Skill orb across the screen whilst in Trigger, and the opponent doing almost anything beyond blocking it (trying to jump over or dash under) often results in the business regardless of how far away G happens to be upon impact. With blocking being the best option, it means that G gets to, at the very least, optimally position himself while you are forced to sit still.

When VT1 is active, the optimal answer tends to be "just block until the storm is over," but a command grab that (you guessed it) leads into the business gives G an equally devastating answer even to your blocking. The character's options here do appear imbalanced in the risk vs. reward realm, and it probably does call for some adjustment by developers.

While I do conclude that there is a bit of a problem with G, it's certainly not as bad as the general "G is too strong" camp on social media is making it out to be. His offense is great, and that's not an issue in and of itself, but I do think he has a few too many ways into that offense, especially considering how little risk many of them carry.

It's when players get a sense that their opponent is performing attacks without intent that they tend to get frustrated. It saps away from the real time contest of skill between minds that makes fighting games so enticing on a competitive level. G is surely guilty of this to an extent, but I wouldn't go as far as to say he's breaking the game as a result of it.

He isn't winning tournaments (at least not yet) and there are answers to a lot of the kinds of complaints people are putting forth. He does take some fun out of the experience with his defensive turnovers and his V-Trigger 1, and I do hope those are eventually addressed by Capcom, but if not I don't think this character's presidency will ultimately run the world of SF5 into the ground.

Load comments (54)