Things have been kind of quiet in the KI community lately so I though I’d shake things up a bit with another one of my controversial forum posts. It’s probably also important to note that there will probably be some more balances changes coming in patch 3.5 but this is where I believe everything is sitting at for now in 3.4. This top/bottom 5 list will be in order listed from strongest to weakest.
SEASON 3 PATCH 3.4 TOP-5
1 - Fulgore
Where Fulgore truly sits on the tier list has always been widely debated about for a long time now mostly in S2 and S3 however at this point undoubtedly I believe most people would unanimously agree that he is probably the best character in the game. Keits once described to us that every character has weaknesses and strengths but with Fulgore you could argue that he in fact doesn’t have any weaknesses at all. He could be described as the “Perfect Killing Machine”.
Fulgore has access to every tool imaginable while having some of the best offense in the game but also some of the best defense due to him having two invincible reversals which can potentially be made safe. His ability to keep players out with fantastic zoning capabilities is second to none which is enhanced even further by his trait which I will talk about in a moment. Fulgore’s only flaw comes into play at the hands of the player, not the design of the character because is there no matchup where he finds himself saying…“what do I do against this?”
What seals the deal for me and why he is #1 is his pip cancel combo trait which I personally believe to be one of if not the best trait in the game which is the ability to cancel specials into specials, something Tusk has to spend an entire instinct to achieve just for reference. Having to spend only one pip to cancel into another special is extremely strong especially in a game like Killer Instinct. Take Orchid for example who struggles to approach a zoner character like Fulgore; she sometimes has to take a risk to get in like getting a perfect jumpin read on a fireball but that doesn’t matter because his bad fireball just became his advantage. Even if you want to try and relieve some his amazing pressure and Shadow Counter, he can avoid this as well. Could you imagine Ryu or Guile being able to cancel their bad fireballs into a DP in SFV? Spending a single pip I believe made sense in S1 because his difficult ability to build meter back then but now in S2/S3 he “always” has meter; a powerful mechanic like this should be more costly don’t you think? Most likely not an oversight on the part of IG but probably could use a re-evaluation in the future.
2 - Jago
The original shoto himself has always been great in this game no matter which season you choose to look at. He has progressively improved as time has gone on however receiving very few negative lasting effects. Similar to Fulgore you would hard pressed for time trying to figure out what this characters weakness is which really just comes down to the player again and not the character.
For me personally what made Jago an S-tier character in S3 is his fireball shenanigans they added. Being able to trick his opponent into thinking he will throw a fireball allows him to get away with a ton of free high/low mixups resulting in big damage at the cost of no resource. For those who have ever played Thompxson or seen him play know that he loves to use these as his main source of offense because why not right; it’s extremely powerful.
What makes Jago truly so great since season2 even is his Instinct. Underneath it seems like a pretty simple activation but deep down there is so much more underlying strengths that some may not even think about. On top of getting access to double fireballs and the ability to get health regen, we also have to think about everything else that is happening on top of that:
- Frame Advantage
- Chip Damage
- Building Meter
- Health Gain
- Block Pressure
Because of the extra blockstun on bigger fireballs and the additional frame advantage during instinct activation you are essentially in an infinite frame trap during this time and if you’re a character without a real reversal then GG. This allows him to go for even crazier pressure than he was capable of before getting in as many resets as possible during this time with high/low mixups which also during this time is building tons and tons of meter on block. STOP THE MADNESS!
3 - Aria
It should be a shock to no one that Aria is making my top5 list and obvious as to why. Aria is three characters in one which gives her access to amazing tools that she can call to at any point during a match as she sees fit. Are you way ahead and want to play lame, then switch to base body. Do you want to pressure with ambiguous high/lows while simultaneously stopping pressure, switch to blade body. Do you want play Orchid style and take a visit to Vortex City, switch to booster body.
Even with the few Aria players their are, it’s easy to understand why she is such a strong character; this coupled with all her other added benefits which don’t often get taken advantage of. These being things such as having very fast and ambiguous linkers/doubles, having the ability to avoid death by switching bodies, and last but not least having guaranteed throw setups.
Aria’s weakness are very apparent however her lengthy number of strengths heavily outweigh the ladder.
4 - Thunder
Probably one of the most underrated characters in KI’s history has always been the Chief himself. Thunder has always gotten progressively better as the seasons went on and only recently in S3 seeing his share of adjustments. Being a hybrid grappler his weakness to zoners is obvious although getting in on keep-away characters hasn’t seemed to be much of problem lately for him.
Thunder has always been a very scary character for most simply due to his constant mixup game he places you in, you never know what hes going to do. Will he wakeup Ankle Slicer? Will he dash command grab? Will he go for DP instead of a normal? Will he Skyfall or Dropkick or let it rock? You never know whats going to happen with Thunder which is the reason he will always be a great character. His ability to dominate the mind game between players is outstanding that coupled with his great set of long range normals makes anyone want to turn off their PC or throw their Xbox out the window.
Undoubtedly for most and correct me if I’m wrong here, that makes Thunder so scary is his Instinct which at first glance is just a dash but like Jago he can do so much more with. This instinct allows his to basically go nuts getting in for free with DP into Skyfall which can be made safe via dash cancel. This is extremely fast and can even cross you up which most often get hit by. Thunder is amazing to me and I’m sure I’m not alone.
5 - Sako
The most perfectly and well thought out character design in the history of fighting games is awarded to…(drum roll) Sako! Thank you IG for a brilliant addition.
What else can I say about this character other than she is amazing! During season2 there weren’t very many Sako players and most didn’t really grasp the concept of the character but going into season3 that all kind of changed. There were many more players who picked her up an as a result more tekk was being found and the concept was being better grasped. The end result has been the creation of an unstoppable vortex monster (pun intended) that is very hard to shake off.
Sako is making my top5 list based on her amazing ability to play neutral, having some of the best long range buttons in the game, and her innate ability to keep you guessing. She can be played as a grappler or as a long ranged poke character that can do big damage when needed. Some of the things I’ve seen still haunt me at night to this day.
Also never forget that LCD is the OG Sako
SEASON 3 PATCH 3.4 BOTTOM-5
(This list was much harder than the last and was carefully calculated with much time devoted. In a game like Killer Instinct it can be tough times trying to narrow everything down to the wire because every character can win. It really just comes down to who is worth playing from a competitive standpoint. Sorted again strongest to weakest.)
5 - Kimberly Wu
To the absolute shock of no one Kim Poo is making my bottom5 list.
I was engorged with joy when people were telling me I inspired them to learn Kim Wu after my placements at Northwest Majors and Combo Breaker 2016. Not much later though I decided I inadvertently encouraged the play of one of the worst characters in the game. Aside from being one of the worst visually looking designed female characters in the history of fighting games, I’ve gone on record many times now saying that I don’t believe Kimberly is a very well designed character in this version of Killer Instinct.
“Kim Wu is good, but she is not as good as the rest of the cast.” I’ll explain this in a moment.
Mentioned in the early beginnings of this original post, I mentioned Keits explaining that every character is designed to have weaknesses and strengths but I think this is the complete opposite when it comes to Kim. She has her weakness but then she has her “strengths” which also double as secondary weaknesses. There isn’t anything that Kim does that she doesn’t inherently get punished for later. Want to whiff punish that S.HP with light Dragon Kick, well you better sit in the corner now afterwards and give up all that space you fought for earlier. Want to get a dragon to start some offense, well you better sacrifice upwards of 50% damage to do dragon ender. Want to try and stop pressure with Shadow Dragon Kick, well you better hope they aren’t standing an inch away from you. Want to parry Tusks normals on reaction, you better be ready to get punished afterwards. Need I go on? Okay I will. Below is a list of all her other “normal” weaknesses.
- Floaty jump
- Stubby limbs
- Weak defensive options
- Easily shadow countered
- No real reversal
- Builds ender levels slowly
- Easily breakable
- Terrible shadow counter
…okay I’ll stop
Kim Wu is the only character I know of that gets punished for doing what she is suppose to do. Does Orchid’s damage ender put her into the corner? Does Sako get punished for landing a successful parry? Don’t get it twisted though because this was a very hard decision to put her as bottom five because she can undoubtedly win if the player wants to work very hard for it. The amount of effort that is required of Kim is very daunting and doesn’t make quite much sense especially since she is a semi-clone archetype of similar characters like Jago and Orchid who are clearly higher up on the echelon of tiers. She may seem like a simple basic character but she has so many random tools that she becomes very unmanageable and doesn’t make her feel cohesive. Like what is the point of reflecting fireballs with firecracker, to give Fuglore or Spinal a reason to freely teleport behind her? Make Mira bait me and instant-air dash mist in front of her?
My biggest problem with Kim since day 1 is that she doesn’t have anything that makes her unique or gives incentives to a player to choose her over other characters some whom don’t have to work nearly as hard for the same result while Kim has to play perfectly to receive results. When I picked up Kim at the begining of the season it was simply due to my history with her in KI2, I didn’t really know what to expect going in. I don’t really see ‘putting yourself into the corner constantly’ and ‘dashing forward’ as great selling points. Some of Orchid selling points include having the best walk speed in the game, some of the best normals in the game, a real reversal…okay that’s already too much.
People keep telling me that Kim Wu is good and that shes underrated, yet they refuse to show me proof. How can you watch a top level Kim get 10-0ed then babble on about her being good? Has she ever made consistent top16s let alone top 8s? Do you frequently see this character win in online battles? Show me some evidence to back up your claims. Take Ibuki in SFV for example, people insist on saying she has potential and is viable but where is the evidence to back that up when not a single person plays her in tournament. Sako one of the gods of fighting games dropped her after the first week even though she was his main in SF4 and went back to Chun-Li…cuz why would you ever play Ibuki when Chun is in the game. Why would you ever play Kim when Orchid is in the game…so I can watch my Shadow Dragon kick wiff 100 times and waste a dragon to dash cancel into nothing?
Even through the constant string of buffs during this season she still stays in the same rut, why you ask? Because the problem is not her strengths under-performing but because she is fundamentally flawed from the ground up…at least in my humble opinion.
One thing I will say is that Kim Wu is fun to play and I’ve definitely heard IG express the same sentiment on their weekly streams. Unfortunately however sometimes fun doesn’t always translate to others in the same ways.
4 - Aganos
Things started out rough for the rock man but over time I feel he has gotten a lot better, but was it enough? Similar to Kim Wu I would describe Aganos as a “word hard” (pun intended) character. Even if you enjoy playing him it means wins won’t come so easy to him.
While we’ve seen a few notable players such as ZergKiller, Mr.J, and LetalisVenator among others do work with him, it’s hard to argue that this characters suffers from few extreme notable weaknesses. Aside from being a big body hes an amazing character with chunks and otherwise a walking target without chunks. I feel being able to circumvent chunks using standing heavy attacks severely hurt Aganos in the long run this season as his entire design is based around using armored moves. If you can out footsie Aganos in the neutral (as most characters can) he virtually becomes useless in most matchups.
I love watching this character do work but at what cost? I sure hope he sees love in the future or perhaps mechanics changes may help him out in the future who knows but as of 3.4 he is definitely one of the overall weaker characters.
3 - Eyedol
This is a strange pick for me and in all honestly it doesn’t really have anything to do with Eyedol being considered weak but more to do with the fact his pick rate is in obscurity. I have not seen a single Eyedol in tournament, ranked, or in a YouTube video since his first week of release when J.HP was broken. Therefore there is not enough data to determine where he falls if over or under in the tiers.
One thing I will say is that I feel the random switching of heads can be quite cumbersome although this is an intentional design decision to balance out the character. Before the last round of fixes and nerfs in 3.4 I would of considered Eyedol one of the stronger characters probably higher mid-tier, but now he isn’t really wroth the effort of playing. Most players like to lock into one style of play when they choose what characters they want to play and having to change play styles on the fly most likely just ins’t clicking for most although the design of the character is brilliant in itself.
2 - Mira
Vampire girl being the second worst character in the game is probably going to be widely refuted by most of you here, but please hear me out before doing so.
For me Mira just isn’t worth playing…like at all. People see Mira and say “OMG big damage” but they don’t really realize where the big damage comes from and why it doesn’t really matter. To this day since her inception I have never lost a set to a Mira player whether it be PaulB, Amenty, Draman, Bass with any of my characters. This isn’t the meat and potatoes of my argument but it does certainly matter in terms of theorizing why she isn’t very good.
Everything Mira does isn’t real. This dawned on me when I finally decided to take her into the lab which is when I realized that her entire kit has holes around it. Arguably her only real offense comes from instant-air dash cross-up which can definitely be a pain to block but everything else surrounding it is not hard to deal with. No matter how hard she works or what she does to me I will always be at advantage because she can’t simultaneously gain health back and deal damage at the same time, she has to choose. She can control the entire first round of the match, then I hit her with one auto-double and shes dead. You could argue that as a glass cannon character health management is key, but is it really? Predictability with command grab is apparent based on her missing health and you seldom if ever get hit by it.
Arguably her biggest weakness is combo breakers. She spends chunks of health to open you up but then you instantly get guess broken effectively killing yourself just simply due to the nature of the game.
Another one of her struggles is her easy ability to break, thus resulting in the “counter break” style of play where you are willing to take giant risks because of her potential damage output. For me personally I’ve never been a fan of characters that are designed with counter breakers in mind as it should be an option and not a mandatory style of play just because of the characters damage ouput. Kim Wu is the same way, she does absoultely no damage unless she has a lockout therefore it encourage even more so the use of counter breakers. Am I wrong, or does Mira still need more time to be fleshed out? Can she be played in tournament?
1 - Shadow Jago
I actually feel sorry for Shadow Jago because I feel he is probably the weakest character in the game. He started out very strong but received nerf after nerf which I believe went a little to far. Shadow Jago is already a risky character due to his being unsafe on a lot of his ■■■■■■■ but on top of that does some of the worst damage in the game. Where is the balance there? The design goal here is that he can open you up easily but as a result can’t cash out well; but is that still the case?
I feel Shadow Jago is working just a tad too hard for very little result right now and could benefit from receiving a slight damage buff or restoring some of his original frame data. He needs more than just dash up grab, dash up dp.
There you have it folks, that is my controversial posting on who I think are the best/worst characters right now in the game. I seriously doubt there will be much agreement in the replies to this posting but that’s what makes this so fun and spicy.
It would of been easy to just post 10 names but I felt it was important to give my reasoning behind the list.