I have had a strong opinion surrounding tier lists in games such as Ultra Street Fighter 4 for some time. This is mainly because so many players put so much stock into them that they forget to really explore the game and characters true potential in the right hands.
I want to emphasize right hands because it’s important to note that tier lists do not consider the human factor. In Justin Wong’s case, that may even be the Wong Factor when he steps up to the plate.
Human Factor Changes Everything
Regardless, the point I have consistently made is that although tier lists give you an idea of where a character may fall on a quality scale, it’s not the entire picture of said characters. Many other factors play into the potential of a character that can dramatically change in the right hands.
To make my case from a tournament a few weeks ago, take the recent NISHIKIN (Blanka) vs Bonchan (Sagat) grand finals match during the Isshuu Sengeki Cup 2014. Blanka is said to have somewhere between a 4/6 matchup in favor of Sagat to an even 5/5 matchup.
Bonchan is by a good amount of peoples opinions, one of the best Sagat players in the world. Even if the matchup was 6/4 in Blanka’s favor, you could argue that Sagat in the hands of someone like Bonchan, the tides will sway.
Winning Despite Tier Lists
However, that’s just it, the matchup changes in the right hands. NISHIKIN (spoiler alert) wins against Bonchan with his Blanka (3-2 win). He won with a character that is considered bottom tier, even a joke character by some opinion. NISHIKIN has and is currently continuing to achieve good wins with Blanka even though the character is bottom tier if not one of the worst characters in the game.
Does that still make Blanka bottom tier? To many, it surely does. And because of that, many will not continue to play low tier characters despite what others do with the character in tournament. But for me, I think I will continue to play low tier characters like Blanka. It’s not because of where he falls on the tier chart. It’s because I feel that in my hands, he is my best character regardless of the matchup. I feel that my experience and continued growth in skill will always be the determining factor of the match. Not some list that exist on the internet.