I have just started getting into Super Street Fighter 4 Arcade Edition and have been playing it fine on a 360 controller, but I'm wondering if it is holding me back from pulling off moves.

Specifically, are there any professional players who prefer to play with a controller?

  • I saw one guy actually using a keyboard during this year's EVO stream. And of course there are hitboxes, which are a cross between a stick and a keyboard.
    – Decency
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 4:02
  • 2
    I would still go with an Arcade Stick, as nearly 99% of all professional players use them. This way you KNOW it is you and not your stick, because they are very reliable. And if it is just for the money, you will spend less money on an Arcade Stick on the long run than on pads, as the later break all the time.
    – ayckoster
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 22:18

4 Answers 4


Up until a few years ago, when playing almost any variation from the Street Fighter series on a console system, there was a slight to severe bias against players who didn't play on stick.

They weren't considered "real players" because it was felt that pads didn't provide an arcade-like experience. Also, Evo rules (the standard for most tournaments in North America) state that you are allowed to use macro maps (e.g. map one button to 3 x K).

Both Xbox and PS3 controllers have eight buttons (not including L3, R3, Select or Start). These controllers allow players access to all of the buttons that are on an arcade stick (I'm using arcade here to indicate six-buttons as most sticks produced now have eight), as well as have two other readily-accessible buttons which can be mapped to macros which register more than one button press when pressed.

When I competed at Evo 2009 in vanilla (note, I am in no way pro), I mained Sagat and used a PS3 pad. When I set up my button macros, I set up my L2 button to be a MP + MK, which allowed me to more easily execute Tiger Uppercut -> FADC -> F + HK -> Ultra:

At the time, the MadCatz TE sticks (thank you Mark Julio) weren't as prevalent as they are today (the sticks were introduced when the Street Fighter series was rebooted with Street Fighter IV). These sticks include an eight-button layout in Street Fighter four mapped the extra buttons to PPP and KKK by default.

Before then, sticks from Hori were pretty much the norm, and they only provided the standard six-button layout, so it was seen that pad players had the advantage because of the ability to (legally) assign macros to the extra buttons.

There are players who that claim that they actually have better responses on a stick due to being able to use multiple fingers to hit buttons (whereas on a pad, you typically use your thumb to hit multiple buttons, sliding it over them).

Most importantly, there are some fighting games which contained glitches at various points which allowed input from the D-pad and the analog sticks at the same time. This allowed for things such as a walking Spinning Pile Driver from Zangief (although it is possible to do without dual directional controls). When these glitches were known, it was something that had to be watched out for in tournament play.

Then there was East Coast Throwdown 2.

At ECT2, DMG Inthul took third in Super Street Fighter 4 using a PS3 pad (as well as the tournament MVP), earning him the nickname "pad-long". Note that in his bracket he had to beat Sanford "Santhrax" Kelly and Arturo "Sabin" Sanchez (not exactly newbies) to do this.

It was after this point that I feel that acceptance for pad players grew and you started to see the focus on more pad players to the point where you now see them in the top of the brackets at major tournaments. Shissa and Vangief made splashes at Evo 2010 while recently Wolfkrone (who plays a very technical character, C. Viper) has been very visible at major fighting game tournaments lately (although it should be noted that he's played Street Fighter X Tekken from day one on stick).

To that end, I believe that the answer was always "no", that to play at the professional level (defining professional as consistently placing highly at majors), it's just only within the last few years that it's become more accepted as a matter of choice (although beware, Evo rules state that you can't use wireless controllers, so always bring the wire!).

It should also be noted that this mentality doesn't really exist in the Marvel community. For the longest time, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (which kept the fighting game community on life support for more than a decade) was played on consoles competitively on the Sega Dreamcast (due to it being the most faithful port of the game).

During that time, one of Marvel's most famous players, Fanatiq was involved in two of the biggest money matches ever, playing on pad. The first one being vs Toan with $50K total:

And the second as part of Team Cali against Sanford Kelly with $24K total:

Fanatiq gives specific insight into his decision to play on pad here:

Final note:

With the standardization you see across most sticks nowadays, the one major advantage that you get with playing on a stick is consistency. If you play on a pad and are used to a specific vendor/system pad, then you are limited in your options when playing in tournaments with other systems, or in the event you don't have your equipment or it breaks.

Since most arcade sticks follow the MadCatz TE design (which in itself, is very similar to the layout in Vewlix cabs), you'll find that if you go to any tournament, you can play on pretty much any system (including arcade) consistently given the familiarity with stick without worry about damage or loss of yours (or, as happens often, you can bum a stick off anyone hanging around and not be impacted).

If you're still looking to play on a pad, then you have some options, each with pros and cons:

Getting an adapter for your preferred pad to the target system


  • You will always be comfortable with the type of pad
  • If your pad breaks, you can get a new pad and use the adapter


  • Adapters introduce lag, which is tricky when timing and execution are everything
  • Cannot use on arcade cabs (for games which are in the arcades. BTW, you haven't played until you play in Japan, it's so choice)

Installing a secondary PCB in the pad of your choice


  • Always be comfortable with the type of pad


  • No lag, as it's a real PCB for the target system
  • If it breaks, unless you have a second pad with the same dual PCB
  • Cannot use on arcade cabs

Buying a Mad Catz/PDP or other brand pad


  • Styled the same for both systems, consistent feel no matter the platform
  • Have a better chance of finding someone with something similar if you can't use yours for some reason


  • Cannot use on arcade cabs
  • 1
    Nice answer. It's also worth noting that MadCatz produces a FightPad, for people who don't like playing on sticks, but don't like the console pad's either: amazon.com/Mad-Catz-Street-Fighter-Tekken-FightPad/dp/…
    – Wilerson
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 1:49
  • @Wilerson Yes, they do, if you look at Fanatiq's pad, he uses a PDP pad which is nothing like the MadCatz produced pads (it's more like the console pads). I've not seen a lot of people love the MadCatz pads, people have a preference for the general shape of the X-Box and PS3 console pads.
    – casperOne
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 2:27
  • Thanks for the in-depth answer! I think I will stick to an XBox 360 pad for now. Great answer.
    – Tanner
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 7:23
  • 1
    @Tanner Here's the thing, after Evo 2009, I stopped playing pad and went to stick. I won't say it's better, but the majority of local (and some regional) tournaments are on X-Box, which is fine for you. However, if you go to Evo, or any of the majors, they are run on PS3 devices, so you have to get a converter. This can lead to lag issues, which will impact your play. Your best bet if you prefer a 360 controller is a dual-mod controller with a native PS3 board (which you can switch between). Here, the consistency is a huge plus for me.
    – casperOne
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 11:51

Yes, I believe so.

I'm not a professional SSFIV player. In fact, I'm barely any good at all, BUT I did decide to buy a Xbox 360 MadCatz Street Fighter Tournament Stick (Round 2) for use with MAME and SSFIV and I can tell you that it made a world of difference.

My XBox 360 Controller is so imprecise by comparison, it's a joke. Once you've spent a few hours with a proper high-quality stick, going back to a normal controller is like playing with heavy gardening gloves on.

Now I have to be honest: I can't say that it has improved my game, but that's down to my poor tactics. I can tell you that I can pull off the moves I want to with FAR greater consistency than I could before.

Using the 360 Controller, there would be a 30-40% chance that I would perform a Shinku Hadoken when I wanted to. With a stick that's upped dramatically to something like 80-90%. And when I don't pull it off, I know it's MY fault, rather than the controller's.

So, IMHO, even as a novice, using a stick is the ONLY way to play Super Street Fighter IV. It won't guarantee you'll win more (that's down to the moves you choose), but it will guarantee that you can perform the moves you want to far more reliably.

To answer your question: I don't know for a fact, but I can't understand why ANY pro player would use something as imprecise as standard controller, in the same way I'm pretty sure nobody plays wearing gardening gloves. There just wouldn't be any advantage to it.


I prefer a stick to the xbox pad, and pretty much will not play at all if xbox pads are all that is available, because the dpad is utterly useless. I love the playstation pad however. I really can't say whether there is any particular preference between stick and ps pad, however the only people I have ever played in person that can beat me have all used stick, regardless of what platform we're playing on. I grew up on ps pad, so it's really just preference. I don't think it really matters at all which you use, but sticks do allow you to do more complicated keying more quickly and efficiently. This is not really a necessity for most games through. You can win with a very simple straightforward strategy as long as you have very good timing and distance control.

  • I've also always had bigger lag issues on stick than pad. This is probably because my stick is wireless though.
    – mopsyd
    Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 4:12
  • Lag issues are going to be because of wireless; also, wireless controllers are banned in most tournaments (as I've stated in my answer regarding Evo rules).
    – casperOne
    Commented Feb 28, 2013 at 13:30
  • I disagree with the statement that more complicated keying doesn't matter in most games. For fighting games, it's extremely important, as you get massive advantages for being able to perform these moves (e.g. see what Sirlin says about Street Fighter 4 and one frame links, which are king in that game).
    – casperOne
    Commented Feb 28, 2013 at 13:34
  • Well honestly I play way more Tekken than SF, but I've never had any issues with keying manually on stick, and only minor difficulties on pad (except the xbox pad, which is horrible). That includes just-frame inputs, wave dash, all of King, Nina and Annas chain throws, etc.
    – mopsyd
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 7:12

what you want to check out is Luffy, who won the Evo Tournament of Street Fighter in 2014. on a PS1 joystick. So no, you don't need a professional arcade stick to play at a professional level. Many players have it due to that the fightin games originated in Asian Countries where arcade machines is the main platform to play on. Unlike US, where home console is the dominate platform and I've rarely even seen a arcade console with games beyond 2010. Because Japan won many of the major fighting games earlier, foreign players started to copying what they've used to accomplish victory.

In short, if you look at Luffy or the professional Super Smash Bro. all players use the joystick available on a home console.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .