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The Big 3 of Street Fighter 6 — End of Year Tier List

Street Fighter 6's meta has steadily evolved since its launch in mid-2023. We ranked all characters in the game to create the official ESI end of Year Tier List

Street Fighter 6’s could easily serve as a flashpoint for the fighting game community. It garnered rave reviews upon its release, broke records for registration at major tournaments and has been already lauded as one of the best entries of the series. So with half a year since its release and 2024 on the horizon, we decided to take a look at the state of the characters in SF6. We’ll discuss which characters need work and who’s currently dominating the tiers. So here’s the ESI version of the Street Fighter 6 tier list to end 2023.


The State Of SF6’s Tiers

  • Ken, Luke and JP are runaway top characters
  • There’s a big number of characters in the middle which bodes well for long-term balance
  • Grapplers and A.K.I. currently struggle in the meta

The Best Of The Best

JP outfit 2
  • Ken
  • JP
  • Luke

Without too much debate, most high-ranking and pro players would say that Ken, JP and Luke represent the S+ top tier of Street Fighter 6. These are characters that are devastating from multiple ranges, have great normals and specials that allow you to control the screen and moves that are easy to link into big damage.

In the case of Luke and Ken they are great for very similar reasons. Luke’s crouching medium punch and Ken’s crouching medium kick are some of (if not the best) buttons in the game. They confirm into nearly all of their basic combos, are relatively safe to use, and help you control your space. Ken, in particular, has a number of combos that have massive corner carry potential. And in SF6, where you have wall splat and wall stun, it means Ken has some of the quickest ways to push his opponents into terrible positions.

With JP, his zoning control is incredible. And he’s got normals that stuff any attempts to jump in on him. Also, his Amnesia super move allows him to counter any attack that touches him. Meaning that if you’re too aggressive up close JP can snuff out your offense. Add this on top of being able to confirm into his level 3/critical art from full screen and you’ve got arguably the most deadly zoner in SF history.

Just Below The Mountain Top

In the first month of SF6, alongside Ken and Luke, people also considered Juri and Cammy to be top tier as well. But with more games in the can, it’s clear that they lack some of the strengths of the other top characters but are still very strong. Throw in Dee Jay, Guile, Chun-Li, Marisa and Blanka and you already have nearly half the roster that’s considered “strong”.

Juri’s standing medium punch is contending with Luke and Ken’s normals as the best single button in the game. It’s super safe and leads into almost all of her strings. However, here Feng Shui Engine super is complicated to use and keeps her out of the running for top tier. Cammy and Dee Jay offer much different strengths. Cammy’s overwhelming rushdown offense makes her hard to deal with but her low health and damage keeps her more measured. Dee Jay has the best drive rush in the game, which means he’s able to keep pressure up at nearly all times. Marisa on the other hand is a pressure monster through her positive frames. Meaning many of her moves give her the advantage, even if you block. So stopping her, if you’re not familiar with her moves and frame data, can be difficult.

Chun-Li and Blanka offer some pretty great mix-up and 50/50 options which make them a bit more difficult to use compared to the rest of the cast. But that means that they’re also hard to predict and fight against. Rounding the top tier out is Guile, who remains the defensive master of SF with clear anti-air and zoning tools that keep his opponents at an arm's length.

Needing Some Help

Rashid dodging a kick in World Tour mode

The middle of the pack is typified by characters with some decent tools but might lack the ability to complete their game plan or push past the strengths of other characters. Fighters like E. Honda, Dhalsim, Rashid and Kimberly are plopped down in this category.

Honda and Dhalsim/Rashid are opposite sides of this coin. Honda is almost too straightforward for his own good. His Flying Headbutt move can be easily parried or dodged and many of his specials are risky. He dominates at the lower levels, but beyond platinum rank, you’ll start to get exposed if you’re using rookie strats.

Dhalsim and Rashid can be very complicated for new players to grasp. Dhalsim has a floaty jump that leaves him exposed and extended hurtboxes on all his limbs which means you can hit his attacks if they whiff. And Rashid might be more effective in the air, but he’s a VERY unsafe character to use. He’s got to confirm almost everything to work because if you block him, he’s in trouble. But at least Rashid has his Ysaar super to help him control the screen.

Lastly, Kimberly would easily be much higher on the list, but because she doesn’t have any invincibility on her anti-air and can be hit out of her teleport she’s a bit lower than what she probably should be.

Please Help Me

Jamie arcade mod3

Near the bottom are AKI, Ryu, Jamie and Manon. Ryu does a ton of damage but lacks the combo potential of his castmates. But the other three are rough because of the actual mechanics built into the character.

Manon and Jamie are struggling for similar reasons. Jamie does not have access to his entire moveset until he reaches 5 drinks. And getting to those drinks requires cutting certain combos short, spending meter or exposing yourself to counter-attack. His only saving grace is that he becomes a monster when he’s sauced up. Manon is similar, her throws don’t do their max damage until she’s at 5 metals which require you to complete 5 of her command throws. This is especially risky considering she has the worst drive rush in the game and has to spend meter to get in close to more defensive characters. Tack on her lack of an invincible reversal (like a Shoryuken) and she’s really hard to climb the ladder with.

A.K.I. is arguably the most unique character in SF6 and she suffers for it. Not only does she need to apply her poison to do max damage, you’ve also got to know two separate combo paths for if your opponent is poisoned or not. Even if you do get that down, she lacks strong normals outside of standing medium kick, which doesn’t combo into anything.

The Basement

Zangief super

Lily and Zangief need help. ASAP. Like Manon, Zangief has trouble getting close to other characters and starting his offense. At least Manon can twirl past projectiles with Rond-Point. Zangief has no such move. He’s totally exposed to zoners and this game happens to have some strong ones.

And Lily, like Manon and Jamie, needs to install her Condor Wind stocks to have advantage on her Condor Spire dash moves. Without this, almost none of her moves are safe to do without spending Drive gauge. This means to do anything with minimal risk, you have to first get stacks…which is unsafe. Lily needs some help.