SKD’s (incomplete) BBCF Tier List Article!! Whoah!!

Top(S+/S/S-): Izayoi > Nine, Rachel > Carl, Arakune, Izanami

Great(A+/A): Tsubaki Jin > Valk, Azrael, Mu, Litchi

Good(A-,B): Amane, Makoto, Celica, Naoto, Relius > Ragna, Hibiki, Platinum, Hakumen, Kokonoe, Mai

OK(B-): Lambda, Nu, Terumi, Es, Tager, Hazama, Tao

Bad(C,C-): Bullet, Bang, Noel > Kagura, Susanoo

Not ordered within “>”.

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LONG ASS DISCLAIMER: Hi. I’m aware people will have trouble buying a lot of things I say. I have no idea if I think about FG’s the right way, but I can tell you I sure as hell can play it out and at least, what I’ve thought has been bounced back and forth and verified pretty thoroughly in that. I wrote this pretty casually, and it’s not quite done, so be nice!

I’m usually willing to explain my reasoning behind placements, but I’d also like to say, I am actually quite experienced! Please! Usually when I post something like this a lot of people who question me don’t quite understand very much, and I am very, very aware of both what I do, and do not know. I make no assumptions except where specified, and I try to be conservative with that even when explicit.

I already got a lot of messages (I’m sorry, I def cant reply to all of them) re: some older versions I posted in some obscure spots, but I’ve slightly changed it a bit to reflect a more modest approach universally.

Don’t kid yourself and think I haven’t considered that extra hot fire bumper mixup you figured out in training mode the other day that probably isn’t real. Being able to come up with conclusions like this involves knowing character >>constraints<< very closely, so.

I am sorry if you’re offended that (I think) your favorite character is hot, steaming garbage. You have to hold that. I gain nothing by being anything less than as objective as I can be, and I try to be really careful with this.

Another thing I want to say: Tiers are a reflection of characters applied at a high level of play. I actually want to say it again.

Tiers are a reflection of characters applied at a high level of play.

One thing to take away from this is that character performance at varying levels of play is NOT LINEAR. Characters do not just get better as the level of play increases, characters that rely on easily abusable dynamics at lower levels tend to run into trouble for even /trying/ that stuff at higher levels. I often see people having trouble with something, thinking it’s broken. No, it’s not broken. You just have NO IDEA how to deal with it, or think about it as efficiently as you should.

>>This does not define the character’s strength on a tierlist, which is a reflection of high level implementation, in any way.<<

That honestly like really, really needed to be said.

I do want to apologize for that, I don’t want to come off like flaunting or like super self confident or that you should just BELIEVE ME BECAUSE IT’S ME (one thing you can believe me on, or by anyone who really knows me, I’m not very confident) but too often do I run into people who just don’t get the objective weight behind my stances. I’m pretty sick of it, so I’m gonna be a little imposing about that. Please, second guess yourself, we’ll talk (maybe).

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HOW I THOUGHT (AND DIDNT) ABOUT TIER LETTERING(AND A BIT ON BALANCE IN THIS VERSION):

I guess a bit of an aside that I think people need to understand: IMO, Characters can become nigh invalid in this game (in specific matchups). This kind of chat applies mostly to weaker characters, but I think appears in more matchups than people are willing to swallow.

This is because this game doesn’t universally offer characters fundamentally stable ways to win through offense and neutral. This is almost always relevant to the idea of “reward” be it threat of direct damage reward or offensive potential from a conversion. Threat is a BIG deal in this game, and I’ll put it very concisely, and in caps: MANY CHARACTERS DO NOT HAVE THREATENING OR SAFE ENOUGH OPTIONS FOR A STABLE PRESSURE DYNAMIC, AND ALSO FAIL TO PULL BIG ENOUGH REWARD FROM NEUTRAL OR OFFENSE TO ALLOW FOR INHERENTLY GOOD RISK/REWARD. These characters are fundamentally flawed, and are all B- or below.

Wow, SKD, you’re telling me. that if I just try to open my opponent up with Es’ overhead. or even go for a drive move. they can. ACTUALLY REMOVE UP TO 70% OF MY LIFEBAR. ON REACTION?

Yeah, welcome to real blazblue. There can be REAL weight to just going for an overhead, or even trying to throw your opponent. Even just going for something like dead spike. Usually these tools are very demanding to justify the risk of in developed play, but the implicit threat still exists, but thats a discussion for another day. The takeaway is, it’s very difficult, and sometimes not feasible.

Yes, this includes your favorite character, Terumi, or your home girl Es. In my list, the characters who are ideally matchup specialized are B tier and lower, IMO. This is because they rely more on character flaws to win, so they aren’t fundamentally stable!!!

I’ll go into individual character analysis later, but you can think of B tier as “most matchups are OK” and it getting gradually less frequently okay or less okay in severity (lol) as you go down the list.

B tier IMO is the cutoff for characters I’d say you could play and enjoy the game properly. They have a good enough matchup spread and their fundamental play is stable enough in some regard to rely on even in their disadvantage matchups. That second part is CRUCIAL to understand.

Example! I put Hibiki in B tier, which is the bare minimum for a tournament viable character, IMO.

I think offensively Hibiki is really weak (mixup is simply not enough, frame trap game is OK but delay cancel windows are too restrictive and plausibly reactable imo, no real tight + safe special cancel RPS options to keep it tricky w/ truly solid risk/reward), but one thing he does really well is convert certain neutral hits with resource which is IMO his saving grace. So even though pressure dynamic isn’t that scary, the conversion potential CAN be.

Despite offense not being scary, it IS solid, so that safety aspect is important, and also places him in a position to retain advantage while generating meter. Damage / carry is high off certain resourced conversions, especially with overdrive. So regardless of MIXUP lacking in his offense, the dynamic isn’t very bad, and he hardly NEEDS to overextend to establish decent pressure.

To put it frankly, he can’t really rely on offense like that. But he has other good points of contention. Converting into damage DIRECTLY is nice. Positioning is ok, fast run and good, threatening air control with Izuna drop. Decent buttons, whiff cancel threat on some characters is nice to have, solid DP, etc.

He can out maneuver most characters and can reasonably create advantage situations through movement into fairly non commital pressure, which is good baseline estalbishment (something most weaker characters either don’t have, or can’t take advanatage of).

If you play someone really good (in a not netplay environment) I assure you with certain characters, you will STRUGGLE to get a hit on pressure, and usually this entails taking a big risk, comparative to the reward you get if you do luckily manage that hit. Isn’t that kinda…fucked up?

These are the kinds of situations that Hibiki is going to struggle with, where he just can’t keep up with the overall reward (in the form of damage or pressure) that other characters can put out from similar, or lower risk guesses (Izayoi comes to mind).

This is the kind of dynamic you find a lot of the B tier characters in. They have enough to fight, and have /strong enough dynamics created by their overall toolsets/ that they can fight on those grounds decently enough. The problem with him in that match is less how he wins, but moreso the fact that it /isnt enough/.

So, yeah, he can win games, but it’s weighted against him. The means by which he’d win is stable.

However, for certain characters, the specific means of winning (that they can pursue) open up in some matchups but not others, so this is actually quite a big point to keep in mind when evaluating characters.

This ends up giving the game kinda…matchup valid characters, IMO.

While characters I ranked in B tier suffer from this in varying degrees (in various matchups, but some have an overall more EVEN matchup spread), I think they’re all fundamentally stable enough to be valid despite disadvantage numbers. Hakumen can still kill you in one mistake, even if his chance of getting that mistake is extremely low. Kokonoe setplay is fairly good off a good neutral footsie, etc.

However, B- and below, I believe either need character flaws to exploit in order to win, or get greatly bullied by characters that have better risk/reward than they do in the areas they specialize in.

So the rift between B and B- tier, is kinda “the straw that breaks the camel’s back”, these characters lean more on the matchup specialized side. I would not pick these characters exclusively, but some DO function well in certain matches if you want to play them.

C and C-, I think are just, comparative to the rest of the cast, fairly weak in every sense, lol.

RE: Balance, castwide, I think this version of BB has the most valid characters, but the differences between the characters is staggering.

So, less comparative balance between top and bottom, but larger pool of viable characters. However, the comparative balance between say, top 12 is closer than the top 12 of prior games by a good margin, but the range in viable characters is bigger so you get greater disparity between the top and the lower threshold of viable.

I’d prefer that to having only a few IMO viable characters (CP1.1, CPEX), though, so idk lol.

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HOW I THOUGHT (AND DIDNT) ABOUT MAKING THIS FUCKING LIST, AND A BIT ABOUT PICKING A CHARACTER BASED ON TIER:

Anyways that aside…first, I’ll talk about “specific means of winning” and then give an example where that’s problematic, but also how this factors into tiering the weaker characters, and a bit on what my lower tiering letters generally indiciate.

Expanding on that lack of threat, there are (probably) two kinds of “weak” in BB that cause this.

There are situations where characters are stable but are ranked lower because they-

1) can’t keep up based on raw reward (simple, right, lol)

2) rely on situations where characters with specific types of hits/exploitations they need (which becomes so difficult to get as play develops, or certain matchups can deny them) while at the same time, reward doesn’t match the effort as the difficulty in getting these hits scales.

Going back to earlier, Hibiki is stable enough despite the first point, but it IS why he is weak/er/. He is also susceptible to the second point, where his mixup dynamic is almost irrelevant to his application at high level. This is important to understand, because he doesn’t RELY on it to be solid.

Another example (so sorry for drawing this out), bullet is considered really weak, but she can definitely kill you if you make a wrong guess against her. But she’s considered weak because of the probability behind her overall success. Still, if you roll the dice enough times, you might win? If your opponent makes a mistake, even though your chances are low because your rps chances suck, you CAN win off that despite its’ instability etc.

It’s important to recognize that a character like bullet can kill you based on /her/ aspects being adequate when given a chance. Despite her sub B- placement. This is because she has a few absolutes in her play that remain absolute in most matchups: command throw offense, some very strong hitboxes, damage with resource. Usually the game becomes “avoid these strong points” (which is fairly easy, which is why she is weak).

But IMO, there are other, “stronger” characters where that counterplay really isn’t the case. Instead, to best fight them, it becomes “invalidate their points of contention” more directly. These are characters who fall into the camp of the 2nd point from earlier, those who RELY heavily on certain things. But still, it feels right to call them stronger, because their overall matchup spread might be more favorable, right?

On paper, being 5-5 vs more characters and having a small handful of cripplingly bad matchups is “better” than being slight disadv in every matchup because your RPS chances suck. At least, that’s how certain people think tier lists should be structured (I don’t).

At least, I don’t think it should be entirely, because you end up missing a lot of information anyways. A low ranked character who has very strong matchups against certain characters, but does terrible against most others, you don’t really get a sense of their potency when they CAN be played to their points if they’re ranked so low.

High tier characters suffer from the same thing in most rankings I’ve seen. Many high tiers in this version DO have some bad matchups, but are still ranked so high based on their strong points being strong, even if those strong points are not necessarily applicable in every matchup, just because maybe those strong points are still leveragable.

It’s still a strength to be recognized, though. So for these less stable picks, I think this is a pretty common situation in BB, where given a specific matchup, there are bad characters and then there are decent characters who IMO, can’t win because of a bad matchup dynamic.

But understanding WHY these matchups are bad is important too, and referencing the earlier idea of kinds of weakness, it gives you a better idea of your experience playing the character.

Nu is a good example. Given certain matchups, she doesn’t really offer diceroll situations with substantial enough weight. Sometimes, she >>>can’t properly create any good risk/reward dynamic in neutral<<<, due to how she works and how the opponent works. But if she CAN (say for example, she is fighting a character who NEEDS setup to win, then she has leverage), then she’s substantially stronger?

But tbh, I think in matches where she gets hurt the most, even if your opponent makes a mistake, it doesn’t quite matter unless your opponent makes way more mistakes than you do.

This is where it gets subjective, but here goes:

This kind of “instability” that Nu experiences is not quite the same as bullet’s general instability, and bullet’s instability actually sounds /better/ to me than Nu’s, however, it feels wrong to say Bullet is stronger in the /overall scheme of the game/, esp because of Nu having a better overall MU spread.

I would be very hard pressed to rate Bullet as “stronger” than Nu, but I still have that inclination towards matchup stability, so I would personally suggest playing a character with less reliance on character flaws, or is stable enough in other ways to circumvent reliance on certain flaws.

This is kinda how I arrive to my conclusions on character placement, those outlier super damaging matchups that potentially make a character an invalid pick in the meta / practical tournament terms dont necessarily reflect on this list too drastically.

But I do believe that you CAN (if you really want to) make a derivative list after considering matchup instability being that bad for characters, because IMO, matchup instability is more damaging to /meta presence/ than weak RPS. So TBH, to me, at the end of the day I’d rather play a character like Bullet.

But some of these characters like Nu have a place, esp fighting against some of the top tier characters. >>So, I think that information should still be visible<<.

Ultimately, my favor of stability is personal, I mean, between Bullet and Nu, entering a tournament full of arakune players with Nu is probably not a bad choice lol.

But in the interest of players who look to tier lists for information about characters, this is something that I want to convey with such a broad piece of information.

This is why I don’t have Jin or Tsubaki as S tier characters, despite actually feeling like extremely high priority picks. The top tiers in this game generally have a handful of rough matchups anyways, so.

I can’t quite convey how these dynamics really affect characters on a case by case basis in a list without explanation (not everyone is going to read this), but for those looking to pick a character off my list, general rule of thumb for chars B- or lower is that they either suffer from 1)poor RPS or 2)reliance on bad dynamics with no way to circumvent that.

It’s not quite so black and white, like I can’t just really say THIS IS WHAT THIS CHARACTER SUFFERS FROM because it’s always a mix of both in some degree (if you see what I said about Hibiki earlier, kinda lke that) but I feel like for these characters I can generalize their problems, especially due to common traits and styles that cause these issues. Because it’s a rather small pool, I’ll just type em out here with no real explanation:

1) – POOR RPS BOYS: Tager, Hazama, Tao > Bullet, Bang > Kagura

2) – UNSTABLE DESIGN: Lambda, Nu, Terumi, Es > Noel > Susanoo

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HOW I TALK ABOUT “STABILITY”:

I think it’s a relatively problematic aspect of char design in BB, that great general system application & strong defense go an extremely long way in severely damaging certain dynamics that are CENTRAL for characters to actually play a /fighting game/ against some other characters. This doesnt only affect character in lower tiers, definitely changes why some characters aren’t placed higher.

There are words like “well rounded” or “has flaws” that I think encompass this somewhat well, and it’s a bit of a tangent but for the sake of clarity I am talking more of matchups than playstyle. Some people see this stuff and misconstrue it, so I’ll just be clear on what I think, and am trying to represent.

For example, you can have a character who forces super guessy situations very often at high reward – I wouldn’t be inclined to call this character “well rounded” for that reason, but if they can create this kind of volatile scenario quite often in most matchups, then they /are/, IMO, stable in that sense (which is more encompassing, I believe it to be a more useful analysis, and will be how I address characters as well rounded, or stable).

This is kinda what I mean by character “stability” if you’ve heard me mention it in the context of BB, and sometimes people talk about the kind of playstyle instability which is why all this explanation is necessary.

Well, anyways, play develops, and usually those bad-Nu-matchup esque constraints we talked about earlier are so crippling that you get some /very/ tough walls with your characters.

There are many characters who rely on /unstable dynamics/ far too much in certain matchups, and it’s pretty bad…

I feel like recognizing characters in this sense is something that a lot of people sleep on, so it’s worth keeping in mind. I think, overall, this ends up making some characters just not worth picking, but again, that is a discussion for later.

Ofc, it’s not just camps of black and white either, characters arent just shitty in one way and one way only. Just aspects of weakness in characters to understand, blah blah.
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WRAPPING UP:

So to return that earlier point – I’ll try to keep it layer 1 for now – thinking about potency and overall matchups together, but before going for a tierlist that calls out characters for more viable meta picks. I’ll still identify which characters I think have a lot of problems and why, or characters who I think are extremely solid.

So, I do weigh “strength” along with general matchup spread.

Also, I’d definitely like people to understand I play on console! My tier list reflects console standard! My ideas are around /developed console play/. Jp usually ends up playing with delay b/c of Arcade! Yes, those frames of delay do make a big difference!! So, yeah, it makes sense that i’d rate some chars lower or higher than what you normally see, lol.

My list isn’t going to reflect the dynamic you experience online playing in underwater delay, it’s not going to reflect the results of your local anime con tournament (unless i’m there, ha ha!!). Tier lists reflect high level play with the characters. Like, actual high level play.

Anyways, enough repeating myself, on to contextual discussion!

TIER DISCUSSION
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Top(S+/S/S-): Izayoi > Nine, Rachel > Carl, Arakune, Izanami

First, I got a question on why I placed nine over carl. Tbh, I think Carl’s neutral weaknesses are too significant, where Nine has a few rough spots vs some characters (that are more annoying to play through than numerically bad) and absolutely dominates others. She gets (and escapes) pressure situations much more easily, and safely than he does in most matchups. He has more disadv neutral matchups than nine does, and her pressure can be just as rewarding and extremely hard to mitigate (I’m sure you don’t believe me, but please do), especially considering increased frequency / ease in creating these situations, so that does warrant a step above to me.

Though, that’s more of a justification of why he’s below the top 3 rather than simply just nine. Rachel has much better matchups overall as well, better time creating advantage situations that snowball just as well. I think rather highly of Nine when played really well, the same goes for Rachel. I do think Carl gets away with relying on reward on Nesica (lmfao), sloppier neutral + stronger mixup and momentum = ??? Izayoi, UHHHHH.

Anyways, above I have Izayoi as S+, I actually think she has positive matchups across the board in this game and some are extremely skewed. Char is legit insane lol. No, I don’t think it’s because I play her, I think most people who play with me regularly can see why I think she’s crazy. I think she has slightly adv matchups against Nine and Rachel as well, which I think is a p big deal! Carl, Arakune get kinda blown back by her in neutral if played well, Izanami as well but less so, but still Izayoi favor. She can bully Izanami in a lot of situations and really challenge a lot of her tools, on basis of reward AND option cover, so that’s a tough MU if applied well.

I don’t really want to go into the whole justification for why I think she is so strong, it’s actually a ton of information and in a nutshell she is beyond strong in almost every aspect. Strong dyanmic, what she can force, how well she can disrespect, extremely strong neutral reactions / neutral options, movement, offense, pressure, damage, safety, she literally just DOES IT BETTER. I dunno why it’s so hard for people to see this in her, it’s not easy to perform but I feel like i’ve explained myself a lot of times, so it’s pretty pointless, lol.

Anyways, quick TL;DR character evaluation!

Izayoi: Well rounded and super strong all around, some extremely strong points. Prob best matchup spread in the game. I think she’s definably the best character, but w/e im tired of defending myself over this lol.

Nine: Amazing point and click play, most characters can’t deal with this well. Strong, hard to disrespect pressure and decent mixup (guys, she WANTS you to block rock). Her strength comes more from gradually increasing pressure threat than it does from the actual mixups, so she plays a pressure / frame trap game fundamentally well. Low risk, high advantage situations, neutral buttons demolish some characters, some chars just cant deal with step lol. But due to restrictive movement she has trouble sometimes! Usually, this isn’t so disastrous but I think in the case of some MU’s like carl it makes it very difficult, esp considering how threatening he is. So, I could see some of those matchups being volatile despite maybe not being so bad on paper, but the potential for those very bad situations exists even though getting into those situations may take a mistake or two. However, her inherently strong fundamental play is really nice. Despite some tolerable flaws, they generally don’t matter to her too much so that generally earns her this high tiering. She gets a lot of mileage out of character specific tool interaction as well, usually in her favor quite strongly.

Rachel: Similar, I think she has great point and click play and control with wind. Nice, detatched ways to establish pressure from safe situations with barrel lotus and wind. And when she does get in, it’s simple, and it’s effective, and it snowballs very well. I think it’s quite obvious why she’s strong. Good risk/reward in general. Quite a stable matchup spread overall!

Carl: Ahh, the talk of the town. I think he’s a bit overrated, but still really really strong. I don’t think I’d say he’s the best character, neutral approach weaknesses are pretty significant, especially with characters who have much safer and threatening space control and great ease in creating pressure situations and comparatively rewarding situations. I mean, some chars can straight wall him out while destroying the doll, lol. These are pretty rare situations, but when this comes up he relies a lot on his strengths to make these difficulties worthwhile, but theyre still ultimately difficulties, and I think while that’s the only way he can FIGHT those situations, it isn’t necessarily risk/reward in his favor. But, if you’re bad at defending against him or circumventing his pressure, then you’re in for a bad time, and that is difficult, i know! Ultimately though, he has flaws that will be exploited, and circumventing his reward as much as possible will let you take better neutral risks as well. Still, not to say he can’t just kill you. He is S tier, after all. I guess my list’s tiering is more like potential threat level, lol.

Arakune: Interesting, I think he kinda ends up like Carl. Neutral can be really rough in some MU’s. However, reward and explosive potential, oh my god. He is the char for that. You pretty much play against him on eggshells. While it’s easier to bully him and stuff, if you fuck up, you’re done for lol. Overdrive also exists, you really have to tiptoe and pick your spots super well. So he’s another character that really really capitalizes off mistakes, so uh. Try not to make mistakes. Similar idea to carl, honestly.

Izanami: I feel like sometimes neutral is too reliant on high risk high reward, and she can sometimes get messed up for that, if a character has better option cover, huge buttons, better damage, etc. Out of the chars in this tier (S-), I think she could potentially move up if developed better, but mainly this is around her neutral risk/reward. Pressure and mixup is very strong and stable, but again, high risk/potentially not high enough reward vs the best characters, but more than high enough vs almost everyone else. Otherwise, she has some strange tool interactions vs some characters but generally wins out on reward TBH? Kinda gorilla, lol. Some funky matchups, really, but to me they seem more “annoying to play” than bad. I dont feel she quite has any awful matches anyways.

Well, that’s about it for the top tiers. tl;dr, matchups fuck Carl and Arakune. I can see Izanami moving up.

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Great(A+/A): Tsubaki Jin > Valk, Azrael, Mu, Litchi

im stopping here for now, fuck

About Jachin Harte