I've said it so much in the past but now I actually mean it. I'm dropping Vega and picking up a new main. This is going to be a long article, so be ready to read it. A couple of days ago I saw this video:
15 seconds in my worst fear for Arcade edition was realised, Vega couldn't use Cosmic Heel as he could before. Cosmic heel was very important for closing space (relatively) safely and beating cr.tech or throw attempts, if it hit, you could combo, if it was blocked you could mix up with a throw , neutral jump or other options. Seeing that you could punish it with Lariat, meant that it was upto -4 outside of tip range which means you could eat a fat punish for trying to close space.
With that option gone from Vega's game I don't think I'll enjoy / be able to get anywhere playing him, so I've decided to pick up a new character, which brings me to the main point of this article.
In SF4 and all of its iterations, all the characters are "good" but some characters are more "good" than others.
Being "good" means different things to different people but to me it means whether a character can get top 8 at a major offline tournament, so now that I'm picking a character , if I want to do well at tournaments in future, I need to pick a character who is common in top 8's at tournaments and hasn't been nerfed too badly in Arcade Edition, so I'm going to analyse the top 8's from the last few major North American tournaments to help me whittle down the list before I start saying who I like and don't like.
First, I'll start with Hadocon, SoCal tournament earlier this month, the top 8 looked like this:
1st: EG Ricky Ortiz [Rufus]4th: Tatsu [Vega]
2nd: BLG Filipino Champ [Dhalsim/Seth]
3rd: BLG Vangief [Zangief]
2nd: BLG Filipino Champ [Dhalsim/Seth]
3rd: BLG Vangief [Zangief]
5th: LPN [Adon, Akuma, Abel]
5th: Warahk [Guile]
7th: Combofiend [Guy]
7th: Grimmmz [Ryu]
Already looking at that list I'm discounting Adon , Abel and Akuma because LPN did a lot of counter picking throughout the tournament (from what I watched at least) and really , Adon and Akuma take far too much thought and skill for someone like me to play effectively. I wouldn't play Rufus , and I doubt Combofiend's Guy placing this high was anything more than a one-off. Vega, I couldn't play in Arcade Edition when it eventually lands over here , and I don't like Seth. So from Hadocon, I'm left with Gief, Guile , Dhalsim, Zangief and Ryu.
Now, NEC XI. This was an East Coast Tournament where I think the level of play was higher, so the results mean more to me. Here's what the top 8 looked like:
1. EG.Justin Wong (Rufus, Cammy)
2. TFA.Wolfkrone (C. Viper)
3. DMG.PR Rog (Balrog)
4. EG.Marn (Dudley)
5. DMG.WeakSauce (Sagat)
5. EMP.Sanford Kelly (Sagat, C. Viper, Ryu)
7. FYC.MarlinPie (Cammy)
7. DMG.Lud (Chun-Li)
I can automatically cross off Cammy and Dudley, since Cammy got nerfed badly and I don't think I'd be able to do what Marn does with Dudley. That leaves me with everyone else on the list : Viper, Rog , Sagat and Chun, in addition to Gief , Sim and Ryu from the previous list.
Finally , I had a look at the top 8 from NCR , a NorCal tournament:
1. EG.Ricky Ortiz (Chun-Li)
2. BLG.Vangief (Zangief)
3. BLG.Filipino Champ (Dhalsim)
4. Daigo Umehara (Ryu)
5. Alex Valle (Ryu)
5. Crizzle (C. Viper)
7. Warahk (Guile)
7. Mike Ross (E. Honda)
7 of the characters who got top 8 were ones that I'd picked which strengthened my theory that in high-level SF4 , only a handful of characters are tournament viable, with the odd exception here and there. I added Honda to my list , which left me with:
Viper, Balrog , Guile , Honda , Ryu , Dhalsim , Sagat , Chun Li and Zangief.
So now I'm going to write a little bit on each character's strengths and weaknesses and my own personal view on them in the hope that after I've written it I can arrive at a sensible and rock solid decision.
In my opinion, behind Rufus and Cammy she is probably the most broken character in the game. I don't think theres another character thats more exciting to watch , and she can mindfuck you easily and effectively If the execution's there. She does a lot of damage in short bursts but has very very weak footsies and she needs good execution to play at a high level. Plus she has a few unwinnable (pretty much) matchups , so I'll probably need a second of some sort to cover her bad matchups (I still cant believe I don't have one) and I won't be able to play her on PSN. I started learning her , but in truth it was too much. I play about with her alot in training mode and I've tried to start learning some of her more advanced stuff so she's definitely a good choice , plus I know 3 decent Viper players who are all willing to help me out. All in all it's likely I'll play her in some shape or form down the line.
Balrog is easily my favourite character to play in the game. He doesn't appear to have any glaring weakness, and has cheap stuff like Headbutt > Ultra and his jabs. I could definitely see myself playing him , however I've never actually been able to work out for myself why he actually does what he does on offense/defense. I'd need to play with him quite a lot to get anywhere close to the level I'd like to be at. He'd definitely be a strong choice.
Guile is just a fantastic character. Even in SF4 when he was supposedly a bad character I thought he was good, just through his character design. It does look like I'd see fast results with him if I put in a bit of time and effort and learnt my matchups with him. PLUS, he has good matchups with most of the people Viper has bad matchups with, except Abel (in which I'd probably play Vega since I don't really use Cosmic Heel at all in that matchup).
Honda got nerfed quite badly, plus dies to fireball characters. To be frank , I don't think I could see myself playing him, he doesn't appeal to me and I don't really think I'd be bothered to play the game if I played him. That said , he would be extremely easy to learn should you pick him up , and you'd probably experience instant results
Ryu is like Rog to me. I'd love to play him, but I can't figure out exactly what he does. He has so many links/options/setups for every situation it would require a lot of practice/experience to get anywhere close to a decent level. To be honest aswell, I don't really like his game plan , I used to think that all he really had was cr.mk and fireball but I read an interview earlier with Mago and he said the same thing. I doubt very much I'd play Ryu against anyone semi-decent.
Dhalsim, from what I've read actually got nerfed pretty badly. I wouldn't mind playing Dhalsim , he seems like a character that rewards thought and careful play (which I'd really like to improve on) so he would be a learning experience. To be truthful though I wouldn't really want to play him, but he's not discounted.
Sagat is sick. He probably has one of the best fireball games and a great DP. His damage got buffed again , and so did st.lk. Plus he beats Viper's bad matchups quite well. However, his slow walk speed is a bit much for me, and he doesn't have that good poke like Ryu's cr.mk. Definitely a strong choice should I choose to pick him up.
8) Chun Li.
Chun Li is like, a female Vega. They play the same , poke and punish , and Chun Li has a poor fireball aswell. I very much doubt I would play her, she's boring.
I do respect Zangief. And there's only like one good one I know of who plays offline in London. However he just seems a bit overwhelming. I've never played a grappler in any other game , and from the ones I've played he loses to straight turtling (which is prevalent in this game). I doubt I would be able to make any moves with him.
From writing this, I've realised that A) I want to main Viper and B) I want someone who deals with her bad matchups in Abel, Rufus (U2 nerf may make it easier) , Cammy (although I doubt this matchup will be as bad) ,Bison , Boxer , Honda (Nerfed).
So I'll main Viper and second either Guile or Sagat. Probably Guile. Thanks for reading, this was a nice article to write as it made me think about who I'm going to pick up and why. PLEASE comment and feedback on this one, because it will help a lot in picking a character.