Now that the 30th anniversary Street Fighter compilation has been announced for the Nintendo Switch, now would be a good time to take a final look at how the tiers in Ultra Street Fighter II have evolved, based on the highest BPs (battle points) achieved by each character online. How did your favorite character do? Let’s break it down.
S-Tier: #1 Violent Ken (24,566 BPs)
Well, I’ve denied it for months because the data didn’t support it, but now the results are clear: Violent Ken broke Ultra Street Fighter II and Nintendo Switch gamers will flock to the 30th Anniversary Street Fighter compilation because of it. With a 2,700+ BP lead over every other character in the game, Violent Ken has too many dirty tricks! Violent Ken is also a brilliant counterpick against Akuma. The best character to use against him is Ryu or Evil Ryu, which may be the only reason Ryu is ranking as high as he is.
A-Tier: #2 Ryu (21,807 BPs)
Ryu is the only other Street Fighter in this list to reach S-tier status during the measuring process, which was great because it also happened around the time Ryu got nerfed hard in Street Fighter V. Since then, he has never left the top tier, securing Ultra Street Fighter II’s status as a shoto’s game.
#3 Chun Li (21,647 BPs)
It would appear that the best way to play Chun Li in Ultra Street Fighter II’s meta is to embrace her keepaway poking style, instead of using her as a combo machine. I feel like her rise to the top of the charts is caused by a lack of knowledge of how to deal with her tools.
#4 Balrog (21,016 BPs)
Balrog struck fear into the hearts of Super Turbo players, and he’s just as menacing in Ultra Street Fighter II. Players who love to rush down and hit hard should play Balrog exclusively in this game. I’d even argue that he’s the most fun to play.
B-Tier: #5 Dhalsim (19,830 BPs)
Pima, who is also a great Ryu and Balrog player, has the most success with Dhalsim’s keepaway style. It’s his efforts that have pushed Dhalsim to top 5 status in Ultra Street Fighter II, and speaks again to the value of zoning your opponents out.
#6 Vega (19,561 BPs)
Having the Spanish ninja rank this high surprises me. You can easily counter his Flying Barcelona attack by picking the Spain stage, yet he stands proudly with the best characters in Ultra Street Fighter II. I’m guessing it’s because he does so well against Chun Li and Dhalsim in this game.
#7 Zangief (19,089 BPs)
Also surprising to me is Zangief, who almost always ranks higher than Akuma whenever I check the latest online statistics. Much of it is because there is a Russian player online who is incredibly patient, who uses his MenaRD like defense to anticipate unsafe attacks. And while his style is difficult to emulate, you can’t argue with the results.
#8 Akuma (18,952 BPs)
Sorry Zangief players. As lopsided as the Akuma-Zangief matchup is in the Street Fighter II series, the raging demon’s road to the top of the Ultra Street Fighter II ladder is actually more difficult than yours. His fragile body, which dizzies quicker than anyone else in the game, makes him far less intimidating than he originally was. Besides, players who want to cheese their way to victory are probably playing Violent Ken instead.
C-Tier: #9 Dee Jay (17,698 BPs)
Dee Jay is the highest ranking character I main in Ultra Street Fighter II, so I can speak the most from experience regarding him. Balrog, Dhalsim and Vega are the top tier characters that give the Jamaican the most trouble. He does well against shoto characters but has problems with characters who can teleport backwards, like Akuma and Evil Ryu. His gameplan against Violent Ken isn’t spectacular either. But the rest of the cast? Life’s a party when you’re playing Dee Jay.
#10 Guile (17,231 BPs)
No matter how many months pass, Guile can’t seem to pass the shadow that Dee Jay casts over him in Ultra Street Fighter II. You might prefer Guile’s projectile heavy style, but all the characters above him in this list have the tools to deal with that. Because of this, Guile ends his journey sitting at the middle of the pack in Ultra Street Fighter II.
#11 Ken (16,697 BPs)
My favorite USF2 Ken player is TelMarine, who plays a very Momochi-style Ken. I think if more Ken players stopped whining that Ken isn’t as good as Violent Ken and concentrated on what made the original model difficult to fight against instead, Ken would be having even more success in Ultra Street Fighter II. In my opinion, he’s the character with the most untapped potential.
#12 M. Bison (16,149 BPs)
After bouncing around from the bottom of the list to the mid-tier and back again, the evil dictator now has more BPs than he has ever had. I’m guessing more time is needed to distance M. Bison from E. Honda in the online rankings. On paper they have similar tools but these two characters are hardly similar at all.
#13 E. Honda (16,004 BPs)
Who knows how much better E. Honda would do in the online rankings if x64 (who also happens to be the best USF2 Balrog player in the world) played E. Honda exclusively? The world may never know, but the struggle E. Honda has against projectile characters like Ken, Guile and Dee Jay is still very real.
D-Tier: #14 Fei Long (14,480 BPs)
Sitting at the top of the list of characters you would purposely main if you’re trying to handicap yourself is the character with the most unorthodox style of play in Ultra Street Fighter II. You need to be beaten by someone who understands Fei Long’s playstyle before you can level up. Is David Sirlin in the house? He always seems to be the answer whenever the question is Fei Long.
#15 Sagat (14,818 BPs)
After celebrating a brief run as a mid-tier character, Sagat ends as one of the bottom five characters in Ultra Street Fighter II. Throughout his journey, the best online Sagat player in the world has changed the most times. It’s as if the world is trying to figure out how to make Sagat as unstoppable as he was in Super Street Fighter II Turbo. This isn’t going to happen before the 30th anniversary compilation comes out, though.
#16 T. Hawk (14,124 BPs)
One of the best surprises in Ultra Street Fighter II is T. Hawk, who usually ranks as the worst character in Ultra Street Fighter II. Even with all the nerfs that T. Hawk has in this version of the game, he finishes his journey in the bottom four of Ultra Street Fighter II. This is big news coming from a character who used to have half the maximum BPs he does now.
#17 Cammy (13,475 BPs)
Cammy is my favorite character to play in Ultra Street Fighter II, so I can speak from experience here. Ryu, Ken and Akuma are Cammy’s hardest matchups here, and she doesn’t have many good matchups compared to the characters above her. But she’s still an effective character against Balrog and Dhalsim, and characters with low vitality, like Violent Ken and Evil Ryu, eat a ton of damage if you can get in close. While she’s very close to the bottom of the barrel, I’m happy that Cammy has done as well as she has.
#18 Blanka (13,074 BPs)
I abandoned Blanka as my main when I realized that no one was cracking 10,000 BPs in the online charts, and I still believe that was the right decision because it forced me to study characters like Dee Jay and Cammy a lot more. If you include Blanka as a main, you should probably keep some other characters in your portfolio as well. His bad matchups are just too lopsided to deal with any other way.
#19 Evil Ryu (12,543 BPs)
I’ve posted many times that Evil Ryu is not a good character in Ultra Street Fighter II in the shoryuken forums. What surprised me is that he’s actually the worst character in the game! People don’t realize how much a 20 percent health nerf and the lack of an invulnerable dragon punch works in Ultra Street Fighter II until you try it yourself. And when you do exceptionally well with Evil Ryu, don’t forget to pat yourself in the back. Remember, you’re playing the worst “overpowered” character in the game.