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The biggest fighting game franchise around, Street Fighter is back with its 6th installment now in the wild. With every new iteration comes new blood to the digital halls of combat. So we figured why not give our fledgling fighter friends some tips on how they can master their character of choice? We begin this series with the poster boy for all things Street Fighter 6 — Ryu.

(Moves are described through the “classic” control scheme)

Overview & Lore

As the prototypical wandering warrior, Ryu represents the purity of fighting and, by proxy, fighting games. His ethos as a character is centered around getting better with each fight and learning more about yourself through battle. Basically, everything you want to learn about SF6, you'll get a taste of Ryu.

Ryu’s story is one of personal struggle and the search inward. In the Alpha series of games, which served as prequels to Street Fighter 2, Ryu was a young student along with his friend, Ken. Because of his strength and dedication, Ryu is susceptible to a malevolent energy known as the “Satsui no Hadou” or “Surge of Killing Intent”. Akuma, another practitioner of the same style as Ryu, constantly pushes him to embrace the Satsui no Hadou and become more powerful. 

This begins to manifest as a character known as Evil Ryu. Eventually, in the Street Fighter 2 and IV series, Ryu shuns the evil force and embraces the “Power of Nothingness”. Through this, he can empty his mind of all emotion and focus solely on the fight with no malicious intent or urge to kill. By the time SF6 rolls around, he’s seemingly become a master of his art. This is evidenced by him dressing more like his old sensei, Gouken.

In terms of gameplay, Ryu is all about balance. He’s designed to have a tool for nearly any situation, but those tools are simple and straightforward. Unlike some of his contemporaries, he’s only got two new moves and one of them just buffs other moves. He’s got certain combos that have been the same since 1999. He is the pepperoni pizza, the Big Mac, the Coca-Cola of Street Fighter. Classic, familiar and nostalgic.

Strengths of Ryu in SF6

Ryu firing hadoken at Chun Li

When you’re playing as Ryu the first thing you want to do is keep your opponent mid-range which is between 1-2 character lengths away. Mostly because this is where Ryu can take advantage of all of his tools. His Hadoken is his primary zoning tool and is one of the fastest projectiles in the game. But that’s not what you should focus on. Those fireballs are only a means to get your opponent to try to jump in, where you can punish them with a Shoryuken. Once you’re in close, you can start peppering in Ryu’s super simple combos. A combo like medium punch —> crouch medium punch —> Hadoken is ultra easy to pull off.

After getting the hang of some of the most basic combos, you can start planning around them and even extending them. If you press two attack buttons instead of one, you get a powered-up version of all your special moves. Generally, these are called EX moves and they cost one drive stock. Ryu’s EX Hurricane Kick is a fantastic way to extend combos and deal tons of damage.

Ryu in SF6 hits like a truck, so you should focus on connecting with well-timed attacks. Simple 3- or 4-hit combos and keeping your approach grounded. Ryu can be effective from nearly anywhere on the screen, so practice those fireballs and you’ll be on your way.

Weaknesses of Ryu in SF6

Ryu in Street Fighter 6

As Ryu, you want to avoid missing your attacks. While this is true of all attacks, many of Ryu’s special moves put him at a significant disadvantage if he whiffs on them. So when you’re thinking of using the Shoryuken try to only use it if you’re stopping an airborne attack (anti-air) or in a combo. Just throwing it out would mean you are going to get punished hard.

Also, because of his strong projectiles, Ryu isn’t the fastest character. He’s going to take a minute to get across the screen even with Drive Rush. He’s got a few options in the air like jumping MP and air Hurricane Kick, but these pale in comparison to many other fighters. Mostly, Ryu wants to knock others out of the air as opposed to taking to the skies himself.

Lastly, because Ryu is who he is, almost everyone is used to playing against him. Like Ken, he’s ever present online and has a kit that’s somewhat predictable. So if having interesting approach vectors or moves that mix-up people is more your jam, Ryu ain’t for you.

Ryu’s Most Important Moves/Buttons (for beginners)

Shoryuken (all strengths)

High Blade Kick

Hadoken (all strengths)

Standing MP

Solar Plexus Punch (forward + HP)

EX Hurricane Kick