Street Fighter V Season 2 changes brings welcome adaptation to competition

Ryu, Street Fighter V
Ryu, Street Fighter V (Capcom)

Street Fighter V Season 2 brings sweeping changes to the competitive scene and so far I’m happy with what I’ve seen.

Capcom waited for 2016 to play out before making any major balance changes, which you can read about in a whopping 92-page PDF in this update. After hitting Gold rank a few weeks ago, I decided to hold off touching the game until the release of Season 2. With the gameplay changes Capcom wanted to make, I was concerned I might have to go back to square one with Street Fighter V.

For a day and a half, I played around with my main, Ryu, whose high damage output, 3-frame jab, and meterless invincible reversal (Dragon Punch) made him one of the top five characters in the game.

Every character is different. Some have been tweaked to close the gap between the tiers (like Ryu) while others received questionable changes that make you wonder what exactly Capcom was thinking (like FANG seemingly being downgraded when he’s already one of the worst characters in the game.)

I’m happy to say I don’t have to relearn the entire game.

Three changes to Ryu stood out the most. I no longer have the option of a meterless invincible DP on wake-up. Remembering not to DP when I shouldn’t is a hard habit to break but not insurmountable, and in the long run it should make me a better defensive player. It means I have to block more.

Ryu gains Critical Art meter slower in Season 2 than in Season 1, meaning I must be more aware of my meter usage in a match. Again, this should force me to make better decisions, including when to use an EX Dragon Punch if I need to due to the lack of an invincible reversal.

Lastly, I no longer have as much advantage after a forward throw as I did in Season 1. The objective here was to remove throw loops from the game. Something tells me this won’t completely wipe them out as there are allegedly some examples of characters using throw loops in the corner, but for me, this might be the biggest change to which I have to adapt. I like throwing because I hope to condition players to tech or anticipate a throw so I can hit them with something else. Removing the advantage on throws means I can’t mix them up as much, and I need to find other ways to get in offensively.

Quite a few players I have played against in the last couple of days either don’t understand the throw changes or just don’t know about them. Instead of quick rising after a throw, they stay on the ground, giving me an opportunity to move in for a meaty attack. I’m sure that will change over time as people grow accustomed to Season 2.

It is extremely early for me to guess how my match-ups will change. Of the people I played online, I fared a lot better than I expected against match-ups I have traditionally struggled against (Nash and M. Bison), while one Laura player wiped the floor with me.

Ryu’s damage output is lower, but it isn’t a dealbreaker for me. In the matches I’ve played, it feels like I don’t need to work that much harder to close them out. It might take one more offensive opening than it did before. I was also never a fan of using standing jab as an anti-air since I practiced so hard on reacting to jump-ins with Dragon Punch. The nerf to standing jab AAs doesn’t bother me in the least. Other than that, I’m happy other characters can’t use them on me.

I need more time against a lot more competition, but I’m confident my Ryu can remain as strong as he has been, which means I can scrub out the online Silver and low Gold ranks.

When Street Fighter V launched, I didn’t expect I’d be playing Ryu the entire first year. I thought I’d change up when Guile and Balrog launched, especially as the latter is my old character from vanilla Street Fighter IV. Yet here I am, still loyal to the Capcom icon. But the Raging Demon, Akuma, is back, and I might finally consider a change, right?

Not today. The last time I played Akuma somewhat seriously was Street Fighter Alpha 2. I’ve never really been an Akuma guy. I tried him out for a bit but, like most characters in the game, didn’t feel an immediate attraction to him. That could change, but for now, Ryu appeals to me most still and I’m excited to see how I learn from the changes and apply them in order to fulfill one of my goals for 2017, becoming a better competitor. I still feel like Ryu like he gives me the best opportunity to do that and I haven’t come close to maxing out the potential of the character.

In 2016, players had the opportunity to maximize their characters and I think for the most part, we saw that at the end. I’m not sure how much more competitors could have squeezed out of the game by the time Capcom Cup rolled around. I welcome Season 2 changes because it forces everyone to reevaluate themselves in Street Fighter V and I’m looking forward to see how I evolve as I take competition more serious in 2017.

Michael Martin wants to become an even better fighting game player in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @Bizarro_Mike to see if that actually happens.