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Nearly every complaint I've had about Ryu's design in Street Fighter 5 has seemingly been addressed in the new patch

Posted by Justin 'AdaptiveTrigger' Gordon • February 22, 2021 at 7:39 p.m. PST • Comments: 70

It's been a rough road for Ryu users in Street Fighter 5. Though Ryu was considered to be a serious contender in Season 1 of Street Fighter 5, the nerfs that he suffered from Season 2 has resulted in Street Fighter 5's Ryu being the butt of jokes for about four years now. Looking back, Ryu was mostly only a top tier in Season 1 thanks to the existence of his now removed throw loop, anti-air jab and his meterless, fully-invincible Dragon Punches — tools that no character should have in Street Fighter 5 at this point.

For the longest time, it felt like Ryu was designed differently from the rest of the cast. "Ryu is balanced, but he exists in a broken world," was basically the universal analysis about Ryu. It felt like Ryu was suffering from some major design problems that were being actively ignored for years. To my astonishment, Capcom has seemingly addressed nearly every gripe I've had about Ryu in Street Fighter 5 with the latest balance update.

My biggest complaint about Ryu in Street Fighter 5 was his inability to hit crouching opponents with certain moves. In previous versions of Street Fighter 5, Ryu's meterless Hurricane Kick specials and target combo would whiff against a crouching character.

Of course, reacting to whether or not the enemy is crouching or standing during your combo tended to be a staple element of previous Street Fighter entries, but it seemed like only Ryu was stricken with this design philosophy in Street Fighter 5.

Even other "Shoto" characters like Ken and Akuma were now suddenly gifted with Hurricane Kick specials that didn't care if the opponent was standing or crouching. Ryu was "unique" in that he didn't get this benefit.

While Ryu could instead choose to end his combo with the Joudan Sokutogeri — also known as the "Donkey Kick" — instead, the Hurricane Kick was naturally better for maintaining Okizeme pressure for Ryu.

Players could just simply work around this shortcoming and easily react to the opponent either standing or crouching, but the question remained: "Why bother?"

There were plenty of fighters that were simply better than Street Fighter's poster boy that didn't have to put any extra thought about the enemy's status of standing or crouching when performing their combos.

Allowing Ryu to hit crouching opponents with the Hurricane Kick and use a variation of his target combo that also works against crouching not only makes Ryu easier to play, but allows him to more reliably mount Okizeme pressure — an absolute must for any character to see any sort of success at a competitive level in Street Fighter 5.

Another great change for Ryu was the additional frame advantage on block for his standing medium punch. It went from being +1 on block to +2 on block.

Against certain characters, Ryu wasn't really able to frame trap using his standing medium punch despite being +1 on block. He'd instead have to use the crouching medium punch.

At first, it might have seemed like a fair trade off since Ryu's stand medium punch only required 5 frames of start up, but this again didn't compare well to characters like Ibuki or Necalli who had 5 frame medium buttons that were +2 on block.

The patch also made a considerable effort to undo the damage done to Ryu's mid-range game from Season 2 when his crouching medium kick and crouching heavy kick both received an additional frame of start up. Capcom even went a step further by finally making his standing heavy punch special cancellable outside of his V-Trigger 1.

Ryu's V-Triggers have also seen considerable buffs that make both of them useful in different ways. V-Trigger 1 gives his punches additional frames of hitstun while V-Trigger 2 allows him to tack on extra damage at the end of specials for the cost of V-Gauge. Before this patch, Ryu's V-Trigger 1 only gave niche benefits while V-Trigger 2 was almost useless for competitive play.

The only thing about Ryu that went unaddressed in my mind is how he still has one of the worst 3-frame light punches in the game. Since Ryu doesn't bother to fully extend his arm, it has awful reach. Still, with all these other insane buffs, I can't help but think that this minor thing might not matter.

It's still very early into the new update, but I can't help but feel very optimistic about Ryu's potential. Capcom finally gave exactly what Street Fighter's poster boy needed to be potentially be a competitive challenger in high level Street Fighter 5 gameplay. I for one am looking forward to (hopefully) seeing players compete with Ryu.

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