You're not logged in | Login / Register | News Filter | Submit News

The best fighting game characters of 2022 so far

Posted by Steven 'Dreamking23' Chavez • March 24, 2022 at 10:31 a.m. PDT • Comments: 18

We're a quarter of the way through 2022 and the fighting game space has already seen some great action here in the early part of the year. We're at a spot where mainstay fighting titles that have been on the scene for several years now have run their course for content support and are holding the line on the competitive side, while new titles have just launched and are already making a splash.

No matter a fighting game's age, these titles always have characters who are better (or worse) than others at any given time, and beyond that there are often contenders who stick out above the pack and see tons of usage until they are either nerfed or a better warrior comes along. Let's take a look at the best characters of 2022 (so far).

The idea here isn't to just talk about the characters that are good across all modern fighting games being played competitively right now. Instead, we're focusing on the best characters in fighting games at this point in time, which means fighters that are clearly a step above the rest, are popping up across the internet and in tournament in droves, and are likely in desperate need of nerfs.

March 2022

Street Fighter 5: Luke

Despite being brand new and a character we haven't known for very long, Luke is a significant figure in the world of Street Fighter and in the fighting game community. The newcomer acts as Street Fighter 5's and Season 5's final DLC fighter, he is the protagonist and first confirmed playable character outside of Ryu in Street Fighter 6, and Capcom is molding him to play a big role in the future of the franchise.

As luck would have it, the powerful puncher is also a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. Luke's playstyle adds a very different flavor into the mix of colorful Street Fighter 5 world warriors, and that style also happens to be really strong at this point in time.

Hard-hitting combos, effective V-Triggers and V-Skills, great normals and options for whiff punishing, and a unique trait that has his V-Trigger timer continually refill and only deplete when he uses V-Moves or is hit make for a top tier contender that is often considered top 10 and even top 5 in the entire game.

While he's not usually considered the hands down best on the tier list, Luke has seen an incredible amount of play both in high-level tournaments and in online modes, littering top 8s and top 16s and seeing the fighter as #3 in the online usage stats for several consecutive months now.

At the time of writing this, Capcom is a week away from releasing their final major balance update for Street Fighter 5, and you can rest assured that players have been calling for Luke nerfs since shortly after his release back in November 2021. Right now, Luke is definitely one of the best characters on the scene, and we'll just have to wait until our next check in here to see if that has changed or not.

King of Fighters 15: Vanessa

In King of Fighters 15, the ideal point character is one who can not only handle themselves when they don't have any resources, but can also tack on solid meterless damage. When it comes to Vanessa, she not only ticks the aforementioned boxes, but what makes her incredible is that her ability to deal meterless damage is not just solid, but really strong and potentially better than anyone else in the game.

Her damage output with no resources is so good that it just doesn't make sense to have her in any other position other than at the front of the team and the first in battle. She's so good, however, that you could use her in any position on the team and she wouldn't break a sweat.

Those who have been putting time into KOF15 since it launched last month have definitely noticed Vanessa's strength as this swift puncher is being used all over the place in competitive play. In the King of Fighters 15 Online Tournament Japan Finals, there were 12 different players using her among the top 32.

With early tier lists, Vanessa has been placed multiple times at the top of the heap. She is often #2 in the rankings, and only second to the next character on our list here.

King of Fighters 15: Ralf Jones

The King of Fighters 15 Online Tournament Japan Finals was one of the first major events for SNK's big fighting title, and as such, this tournament was a great indicator of how popular and effective certain characters on the roster currently are. While Vanessa was represented 12 times in the top 32, Ralf appeared on 50% of the teams in that same player pool, securing his spot as the most-played character in the final stages of that event.

What makes Ralf so good right now is his exceptionally good far normals in neutral and their very fast recovery. His buttons are massive and cover significant space in front of him, making it so that he is able to more effectively mount offense in the footsies game, and this is further bolstered by things like standing heavy kick recovering so fast that there's virtually no risk for throwing it out there.

In addition to this, Ralf also has a toolset that equips him for any position on any team. He can essentially be slotted into any squad and meld well, giving players a strong, top tier option for whatever need they might be looking to fill.

Couple his powerful normal attacks with Ralf's ability to effectively occupy any spot on any team and you have a fighter that is largely being considered the best character in King of Fighters 15 right now.

Dragon Ball FighterZ: Lab Coat Android 21

When the Lab Coat version of Android 21 was first unveiled as a playable DLC character, fans were worried that she wouldn't differ much from her Majin counterpart and might be more of a palette swap than anything. That certainly didn't end up being the case, and at this point, players are probably wishing she was a simple palette swap instead of the demon she actually is.

It didn't take long after launch for the community to deem Lab Coat 21 an insanely powerful character who is in dire need of nerfs. Her abilities are so strong, in fact, that some tournament organizers went as far as to ban her from being used at their events.

One of the traits that makes Lab Coat 21 so strong is her command grab super. This beast of an attack only requires one bar of ki gauge to perform, and what it brings to the table is truly remarkable.

For starters, this super deals 1000 damage to the opponent outright, and it also heals Lab Coat 21 by 500 health. In addition to health regeneration, this attack — which is called Photon Pulse — also debuffs the opponent and buffs the user.

Landing Photon Pulse permanently increases her damage output by 21% while permanently decreasing the opponent's damage output by 21%. It acts as a traditional command grab making it unblockable, but it can also be comboed into fairly easily.

Lab Coat 21 is one of those characters that players have to build completely different gameplans around as she can alter the match in ways that other fighters can't. At this point in time, she definitely stands above the rest of the characters on the roster.

Load comments (18)