Who is top tier in a theoretical KI Edition Select?

I see this conversation on twitter often for other games, so I thought it’d be fun to talk about who would be top tier if KI had an edition select version. By “edition select”, I mean you can pick any fighter from any official patch of the game. It doesn’t just have to be the character ended up at the end of a season, it could be some mid-season patch as well. Keep in mind more than just the character’s toolset, but also how the game engine itself was during that season.

If you can, try to decide on who your top 4 characters are. It’s easy to say “X character is strong”, but can you pick just 4?

Here are my picks:

1. S2 Maya (launch patch)

IMO, the best character in any version of KI. Might have met some resistance from Eyedol if they had been in the same version, but I think Maya was slightly better. Here’s a reminder of what she had, in addition to all the stuff she still has:

  • All DPs were invincible
  • All DPs, on hit, led to 30% unbreakable cashout with dagger juggles and mantis
  • All DPs on block were incredibly hard to punish in real matches, due to the difference in launch trajectories between L, M, and H, and how Maya could delay dagger toss on block. It was possible you might get a grounded punish, but it was very risky. You could take an air trade if you were super on point (even slightly slow means you get hit by dagger) for maybe 10%, but considering Maya gets 30% on every hit for no meter spent, this is way not in your favor.
  • Mantis cashed out + 14% raw damage even if it hit outside of a combo
  • Shadow dagger linker left the opponent grounded for unbreakable combo extension
  • Still had dagger ender for cashouts
  • Still had long dagger juggle combos in regular situations

I think if she was still in the game, people would have been forced to learn proper punishes for DP, but it would still be really difficult in matches, and I think this volatility on her wakeup, leading to huge damage on hit, reward on block, and only marginal unsafety is what makes her so good. Her neutral being super hard to stop means that she is just never in a bad place anywhere on the screen.

2. S3 Eyedol (launch patch)

We’ll likely never know just how good this character was, because he got patched and I think most of the community realized he would be patched and didn’t put 100% effort into exploring him. But I think he would have contested Maya for best in the game.

He’s fresh in our minds so I don’t have to remind you too much about what he has. I think jump HP, by itself, literally shuts down about half the cast entirely. And that’s not counting how amazing warrior and mage bodies are for general purpose things (warrior rushdown kills people who have weak up-close game, and mage zoning murders characters like Raam, and yet both bodies are still pretty good at overcoming their weaknesses). I think we’ll learn in due time just how crazy good warrior body is, so we’ll look back at launch Eyedol and think about him in the same way we think about launch Maya now.

3. S1 Sadira

It’s hard for me to pick from the S1 characters, but I’m going with Sadira just because of her instinct and her spin to win loops. I think she hung really well with the other S1 top tiers (Wulf, Jago) and destroyed a lot of other characters in that game. She also had very high throw damage (because it was always jump canceled into a combo for around 18% that couldn’t be broken in S1), and her ground game was really good. I think she is a far cry away from the two characters above her, though.

4. S2 TJ Combo (launch)

A character that we didn’t fully understand at the time because S2 was so new, but I think would have been an absolute nightmare if we had a year to develop him. He has all the scariness of modern TJ’s rushdown, as well as the following:

  • Light Tremor safe on block (-2 only), the other Tremors incredibly difficult to punish (-4 for M, -6 for H).
  • Roll still invincible to strikes
  • Old auto-barrage lets him end with any linker at any time
  • Tremor crossed up if it hit behind you
  • Tremor had no visual trails so it was a pure guess to break in the corner
  • Powerline only -2 on block instead of -3
  • Spin Fist was +1 instead of 0, so TJ could loop pressure unless you shadow countered or DPed
  • Flying Knee had no block stun so it was virtually safe from all spacings

Here are my honorable mentions, knowing full well that someone will have them in their top 4 and that they would still be good picks:

S1 Jago

Super strong character that was very difficult to break due to being able to manual anything after all linkers, built a ton of meter (way more than now), and had full screen shadow wind kick. He also had better frames on several buttons (fwd+HK was a frame faster, stand HP was quite a bit faster; these things were reduced in S2 to enforce the manual rules). The reason he’s not in my top 4, just barely, is because he doesn’t have a lot of the modern affordances we associate with Jago. He doesn’t have double fireball combos (which I think is quite a bit better than his S1 instinct), he doesn’t have the raw DP damage (that was added to S2, so DPs in S1 hurt only for about 6%), and he couldn’t cash out juggles for damage. The other stuff is super strong, but unlike some other characters, it’s not just “take what we know about current Jago and add a bunch of extra nonsense to him”. Going back to S1 is a give and take for him. It’s also entirely possible a different version of Jago is actually better (when compared strictly, and not just vs. other characters in their season).

S2 Kan-Ra (launch)

Can you imagine telling people after Kan-Ra’s launch patch that he might have been one of the best characters in the history of the game? Again, it’s really hard to know how good he actually was, but we can try to extrapolate a bit from what we saw Kan-Ra mains doing at the end of S2. He had all that stuff, and more (maybe Kan-Ra mains can help me with this list, I don’t remember everything he had):

  • You could trick the game into always giving you a hard knockdown by whiffing sweep, so you always got set play
  • Explosion was way harder to punish and had a giant hitbox
  • Shadow scarab was 10 seconds long
  • More attacks were unbreakable (like jump HK)
  • All of Kan’s S2 frame data (so back+MP was +7 on block, scarabs were + on block, etc)
  • What I feel like are tons more inescapable setups, and they hurt a lot more
  • Spike built a TON of meter

S1 Sabrewulf

Really strong character with great ground control, a backdash that was basically an Akuma teleport, way better normals (crouching LP that didn’t push back), and dash through eclipse was unblockable after the freeze. I think if he was in a true edition select version his value would be diminished a bit vs. all the other broken characters, and he had a bad matchup (Glacius) even in the limited S1 roster. He also didn’t have feral cancels and had weaker damage (no level 5 shadow cashouts, etc). But his complete dominance of the ground, with infallible (if low damage) anti-air, is really strong.

Who do you have as your best 4 characters in a KI edition select? Who do you think is the worst character to ever be in any version of KI?


S2 Launch Kan-Ra would make players salty all over again. I will never forget how he could just spam sand spikes, keep you away, chip you out and build meter simultaneously.

Pretty much same list, though I’d throw an honorable mention to launch riptor with the predator stance loops and the mountain of blockstun cr.hp created.

Aganos when he was launched.

-Close MP didn’t hit overhead.
-Jumping Natural Disaster didn’t hit overhead.
-Shadow Natural Disaster didn’t recapture.
-No back+LP anti-air.
-Jumping Natural Disaster anti-air was punishable on hit.
-Combo breakers destroyed walls.
-Did much less damage than now.
-Instinct didn’t fuel long term play like it does now.

He was also riddled with bugs that went against him. I remember that I could name at least one bug for every one of his matchups (some of which still exist), in addition to bugs that applied just to Aganos.


Interesting thread. I think launch Aganos was probably pretty unambiguously the worst character in the game across all editions - he’s one of the few characters to ever get an almost-hotfix buff to his kit, and a lot of his best tools now weren’t even in the game.

I’ll chime in on who I think was the best when I’ve got a bit more time, but I’d basically go with your list.

I’m no professional but I feel like season one Spinal was pretty beastly.

Season 2 Maya used to wreck me, I hated her.

Season 1 Spinal was dumb. Had a glitch that broke the game. lol

Season 1 gave me a special hatred of Jago. Since I was inexperienced at the time (both in Killer Instinct and fighting games in general) he felt like he was just too good at everything. And then as I got to know the game better, he really WAS good at everything.
Even now a lot of his shenanigans are really difficult to deal with. But at least he doesn’t have the Full Screen, Safe Shadow Windkick. That got under my skin.
Jago as a character is just fundamentally good because he’s so flexible, but I agree S1 Jago was a nightmare.

And of course there was ol’ Kan-Ra, how he could put up a swarm and keep adding more pressure that couldn’t be shadow countered if done right. He can still be frightening, but it nearly the god of the game he was for a while.

I only wish I could’ve taken advantage S1 Wulf more thoroughly. Back then I just new “easy commands, good damage, only character I’m interested in visually”. I didn’t know about the tele-dash, I only heard of the Unblockable Eclipse crossup. I still miss his damage, though… And the Instinct power boost.
I actually wager early S2 Wulf might be on par with Vanilla Wulf, because Feral Cancels AND the Omega damage AND a recapture? Spooky.

Season 1 Fulgore was a pretty beastly character if I had to say so. Between him being able to charge his own meter, and have all those ridiculous powers, like a super reaching anti air laser, and a raw 40% hype beam damage unscaled. Super zoning potential or incredible rushdown, it was your choice of gameplay style, and if you were Thunder, it was SUPER hard to get in on him.

S2 TJ was also a nightmare, which is pretty much elaborated on by Infil, but the biggest thing to me about TJ in that list was Tremor, with no trails to tell which strength to break, ground pounding hitbox hit BEHIND as well, could be used as a crossup, safe on block mostly, with the heavier versions being pretty hard to punish, big hitbox to catch EVERYTHING, recapture, list goes on. It was the MIDA Multitool of KI.

S3 Eyedol…j.HP…I don’t care to say more.

And I honestly can’t think of two others to really place on this list without some internal debate.

Uh, that Infil guy seems to know what he’s talking about. I’ll go with that.

(Seriously, I agree with this list.)

I think you are missing some things. I recall, after several rounds of nerfs, prominent community figure CStyles jumping on stream after a recent patch (for one of his “beat my Kan-Ra with the new character, win the prize pot” challenges I think) and discovering live on stream that one of his recap confirms off of command grab/scarabs no longer worked. He handled it pretty well for having discovered it on stream. :stuck_out_tongue:

ftr, launch Kan-Ra would be the only character I’d be likely to consider putting on the top 4 list, outside those who made the cut. I think he could even be better than S1 Sadira, since they nerfed so much from his launch state and he still steamrolled in S2. Or he might not be, I don’t know, so I’ll leave him at number 5.

Also S1 Wulf > S1 Jago. 8th place to S2 Fulgore before the damage/laser nerfs. (Maybe that belongs to S1 Fulgore, but I suspect the difference in meter mechanics gave S1 fulgore more lopsided matchups whereas S2 Fulgore was likely more consistent. I don’t remember enough about the S1 -> S2 changes outside of meter and beam to really say, though.)

Can someone please explain to me how S1 Wulf is better than S2 Wulf? He was completely unbreakable in instinct and guaranteed 70-80% off a level 5 ender. The only thing S1 wulf had that was so op was his absurd backdash and 0 frame shadow eclipse.

For a strange reason I always assumed Glacius and Fulgore being strong at some point in time but never top tier like the names already mentioned.

I was fantasizing about this a few days ago. I had lots of fun switching between SF3, double impact and 3rd strike or the various SFIV versions. It would be great if KI had a feature like this. I have no doubt SL will be fun be too but I wouldn’t mind being able to select edition versions of characters in SL too (for fun) or for doing tournament ladders.

He also had a cr.LP that had no pushback whatsoever, which meant once he got next to you he could poke you with it with frame trap timing until you blinked and tried to press a button (bad idea!) or until he got bored and tagged you with an unreactable overhead. Infinite pressure is always good.

I got salty just reading your post. Good pick.

Not much to add here:
-Maya s2 launch
-Eyedol when launched
-Kan-Ra when launched
-Sadira s1
-Tj s2 launch
-Jago on s1
-Wulf on S1

Worst character

Aganos when he was released

Even though I just started playing near the end of S2, I did like how Spinal was back then a lot. Ill take S2 Spinal lol

Good post. As ussual.

but i think TJ is a little over S1 Sadira. We saw more develop sadiras than Tjs. With the rest i agree.

It was shadow-counterable sooooo yea still not as strong as his ridiculous instinct damage AND he didn’t have feral cancels.

Many shadow counters used to lose, hard, to jab ressure in seasons 1 and 2 - so no, shadow counter was not a valid response to this type of Wulf pressure. S1 Wulf also did more base damage in instinct than S2 Wulf, he just wasn’t nigh impossible to break. But yeah, locking out against S1 Wulf with instinct was extremely damaging.

I think S2 feral cancel and shadow cashout damage can have a good case made that this was the best version of the character, but it isn’t nearly the cut-and-dry case you seem to think it is. S1 Wulf had better defense in general due to his ridiculous backdash, and his non-instinct offensive pressure was quite a bit stronger.

I don’t really care enough to keep arguing this… IMO S2 Wulf > S1 Wulf