What do people call the 'tiers' for characters in Street Fighter 4 and what are the reasons for some characters for being in higher tiers?

  • 3
    This isn't asking for opinion, it's asking for a pretty standard analysis tool that is developed by the tourney community for pro games. Jul 17, 2013 at 16:33
  • @SevenSidedDie Can you provide links to some examples of this standard analysis?
    – Sadly Not
    Jul 17, 2013 at 22:20
  • @SadlyNot Perhaps I should have said "concept" (but the concept is a tool). The answer below has already done that for me. Jul 17, 2013 at 22:38
  • @SadlyNot But I'll be a good sport: TV Tropes has a good article on tiers, mentioning SSF4 by name and including a lot of examples and links to people taking tiers very seriously. This isn't some waffley idea the OP dreamed up. It's just a super-niche but (more or less) objective analysis method, comparable in niche-ness to frame counting. Jul 17, 2013 at 22:54
  • 1
    @SadlyNot Oh! Yeah, that's always annoyed me. Sometimes I get a hint there's more investigating needed and I open the full thing in another tab, but that almost defeats the purpose of the review queue. I'll keep that in mind for next time I should put more info in a contrary comment though, thanks! Jul 18, 2013 at 0:09

2 Answers 2


Character tiers are used to describe the strength of every character in comparison the rest of the cast. Basically someone (or a community of players) rates or defines the outcome of every possible matchup between two equivalent opponents.

This is usually done with the best players of the world in mind. This means the rating assumes you know your character by heart, you know how to play every matchup and your execution is top notch.

Then these ratings are entered into a matrix and the sum of all matchups for a specific character is their overall "strength". The characters are ordered by their strength. Then different groups are defined, based on their strength. If there are big gaps, then this is considered the border form one tier to the other. Otherwise the border is arbitrary.

In SF the tiers are usually S, A, B, C, D,... S being the highest. Sometimes people even differentiate within a tier and the best within a tier are considered for example A+ and the worst A-.

A tier only tells you how good a character is on average against the whole cast at top level.

Here is an example of a tier list for SSFIVAE2012 taken from Eventhubs. It is not considered completely accurate anymore, as new "tech" was developed that changed the ratings.


As already stated only the ratings of specific matchups are relevant for the tiers, still here are a few important attributes that most of the top tier characters have in common.

  • Very good mixup game
  • A lot of ambiguous mixups
  • Many unblockables against the most common characters

One more thing: Tiers are only important for tournament players, as they cannot choose their opponents and 1 or 2 losses mean elimination. Average Joe that plays against his buddies and online is not concerned by these. Online you can always choose not to play against your opponents. Say you are T.Hawk, you can select your opponents only to be Balrog, Ibuki and Adon then you would even have the advantage.

Just to put this in perspective: While the result for a best of one is stated in the table, the results of longer set are way more extreme. Most tournaments play best of 3 up for qualifications, then switch for best of 5 or best of 7 in the finals (or round of 8).

  • Matchup 7:3 Best of 3 chances are 78.4% that player 1 wins.
  • Matchup 7:3 Best of 7 chances are 87.4% that player 1 wins.
  • Matchup 8:2 Best of 3 chances are 89.6% that player 1 wins.
  • Matchup 8:2 Best of 7 chances are 96.7% that player 1 wins.
  • This list is a bit odd, in that it doesn't show the total for Dan (not that it matter though, just saying)
    – Nolonar
    Jul 17, 2013 at 12:47
  • Yeah, i made a screenshot and it did not fit :(
    – ayckoster
    Jul 17, 2013 at 13:09
  • 1
    @Nolonar Fixed it.
    – Decency
    Jul 18, 2013 at 4:08
  • An updated tiers list for Ultra SFIV is here: eventhubs.com/tiers/sf4 Sep 12, 2014 at 12:36

These lists are all wrong and no character can be scientifically proven to be better than others. Hakan is amazing and can beat Seth easy. Hakan should be near the top

  • I agree with the first half, at least.
    – Cloudy
    May 10, 2014 at 3:40

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