The Street Fighter offseason is almost over, which means the scene's top players have spent a long time training, and an even longer time examining how the Season 2 patch shifted the Street Fighter V meta.
For Ricki Ortiz, the offseason brought nerfs to her signature character, Chun-Li, and gave her a chance to square off against some of the game's new OP picks.
theScore esports got a chance to chat with the Capcom Cup grand finalist about what buffs Chun-Li would need to return to her former glory, the SFV ELEAGUE invitational and why Season 2 Urien is completely broken.
So, you were one of the strongest, if not the strongest Chun-Li player in the world in Season 1. Do you think you still hold that title?
I definitely think so at the moment yes. I think Chun-Li as a character is a little harder to play now, so I think that a lot of the previous Chun-Li players might switch and not play her.
I'm still going to play her in certain matchups, and I'm also thinking of picking up Cammy on the side for the matchups that got a little bit harder for Chun-Li. I used to think that she didn't have any bad matches, but now she has quite a few because of all the nerfs she got, and a bunch of other characters got buffed. So, yeah, but I think I'll still continue to play her, and hopefully I'll still be the best with her.
What do you think of the new CPT format?
I definitely like the new format, because I definitely think it's more simple, and awards more points for people who are consistent. Ultimately, you should award the most consistent players overall.
I think that even if the points system isn't always a little askew, people complain about regional qualifiers and how you get regional points and global points, I think ultimately, the same 32 people will still make it. other than maybe one or two. I think the only players who wouldn't have made it last year if the points system was only global points — I think it was only Sako who wouldn't make it unfortunately. But everyone else would. It's pretty much the same, but I definitely like the awarding system overall now, and I think that's pretty good.
How do you feel about the SFV ELEAGUE Invitational?
So that is actually something that's new to me. I've never done an event like that. I think it's pretty awesome and it's pretty fresh, it's something new and I think it's going to be a success. The one they did for Mortal Kombat was extremely good, and hopefully this one will be just as good if not better and it's also a great prize with great competition. It should be fun.
Is it a good idea to keep trying to put Street Fighter on TV?
I definitely consider it good, I think Street Fighter, to me personally, it's a beautiful game. Once you understand it and understand all the little nuances of the game, I think everyone will love the game. It's extremely fun and so exciting to watch, especially Street Fighter V. It's one of the most exciting Street Fighters for sure, because it's a very explosive game. It's hard to stay consistent at it, and it makes every player have to play extra hard to stay at their best and win an event.
I think the more that Street Fighter will be televised on national TV will only make it more successful. It will only do good to have it on TV, so hopefully it catapults it somewhere to A-tier, somewhere like Dota or League of Legends hopefully.
A lot of people have been pegging a few characters as the strongest right now, namely Urien, Laura, Balrog — do you think that's the case?
Yeah. But you don't see too many players switching characters because I feel like in the newer Street Fighter games it's harder to jump around between characters because you have to learn so many matchups and I think that's something that players definitely don't want to learn.
A lot of players are sticking to the same characters they're playing. personally, I think Urien is the best character in the game, but you don't really see a lot of Urien players, you see the Urien players who played him before are still playing him, and there's only a couple who switched over, like Nemo, who won the Topanga league. he played Vega before, but Vega isn't too great, so I can understand the switch. Definitely just because the character is top tier, it's not going to make me want to switch. Even in Season 1, I still played Cammy on the side a little bit, and I will continue to play her a little bit, she was good, but I played her regardless.
Which characters do you think might be hidden top tiers right now? Who are the strong characters that are flying under the radar?
Rashid is extremely strong. He's the main one. And I also think Chun-Li is really strong in this game too right now. I think they nerfed her quite a bit, but I also think that within time, and with knowledge of the game, the new characters, the matchups, I definitely think once the game is developed a little bit more, I think she'll be top tier again. She has everything to be a top tier character, she has movement, she has speed, she has normals, she has decent damage, she has a great super, high damaging air-to-airs and her anti-air might not be so great any more but if you're playing consistently, if you're extremely sharp and you have all the matchups down, anti-airing shouldn't a problem for you.
What do you think is the most important talent or skill that a player needs to have in order to play competitively?
I definitely think it's adapting and understanding what your opponent is doing. Pretty much when you play in a match in a tournament, you're only playing best two out of three. Anyone can lose two out of three. It doesn't matter how good or how bad you are, especially in Street Fighter V, anyone can win. So you have to be able to adapt to your opponent within one round. This game only allows that window, because if you get knocked down, it could culminate in the death of your character. So you have to be able to be on your toes and adapt to situations like that.
What would you want to see in a new balance patch?
I would definitely like to see them give a little bit of stuff back to Chun-Li. I'm not asking for too much, just a little bit. Give me a little bit of damage. I said previously if they were going to nerf her, they could nerf her anti-air, because that was extremely good. Her standing heavy punch was extremely good and her TK-legs was extremely good. I'd say you could take away one or two of those things, but if you take away all three of them, then you kind of limit her, those three moves are what made her good. I'd say that V-Reversal is extremely cheap, so they can leave that the way it is. But I definitely think she should still have TK-legs. Because, the way she worked before, she had a too strong defense and a too strong offense.
The way she is now, they took away her defense by taking away her anti-air, and they took away her offense by taking away TK-legs. So she has no real way to open a player up, so she's kind of stuck in Street Fighter limbo, where she kind of like, is trying to attack but not really, and trying to be defensive but I can't be that defensive because I can't anti-air too well, so I have to be like super, super sharp.
So if they could give her just one tool back, I think she'd be the perfect character. You don't have to giver her everything, but you don't got to take everything as well. I just think with the way they're nerfing and buffing characters, it's a little unforgiving. If they're going to take something away from a character, they might as well take it away from all of them. Or, if anything, make all the characters extremely good instead of making some really bad and some extremely amazing.
You’ve mentioned anti-air a few times — do you think that's what they might need to buff in order to bring Chun Li back where she should be?
I definitely even think just a simple anti-air buff would make her better. With everything the way it is right now, they could just buff her anti-air and she'd be a more complete character. Right now, she's a little incomplete, playing her is just — you don't feel extremely comfortable playing her because you never know what's in store for you because you never know if you're too close or too far, or if you're opponent jumps if you can anti-air them. It's like you miss anti-air, right?
But since the hitbox is so small now, it misses and you end up losing the round because of that, because you get knocked down and they get you with like set play and then you die. It's kind of like ugh, well, I did the right thing but I wasn't spaced properly I guess. It's very fickle, the anti-air.
Do you think that they have to nerf characters like Urien and Rashid at all?
I definitely think they won't nerf Rashid just because a lot of players don't play him so I don't think — they don't understand him or can't see it yet. But I definitely think characters like Urien are kind of like Mika and Chun Li in Season 1. It's almost like, why? Why are they so strong? There's no reason for them to be that strong, you know? They're just too good for their own good and I would figure that, from Season 1, they would have learned their lesson but I think that what happened was the same thing with Rashid. Like I said, Rashid is really good, but Capcom won't know because no one really plays him. Same thing with Urien, he came out rather late in the season. No one really played him, no one really knew whether he was good or not.
And the people who played him, they didn't play him enough so they complained about him and they said, "What is up with this? We keep losing with him." Well, that's because you haven't had enough time with the character yet. So what they did was, they didn't take anything from him and they just gave him a bunch of stuff that he didn't need. I always thought the character was great to begin with, he didn't need more stuff on top of that, so they gave him a bunch of extra stuff that he didn't need. Like he's a niche character, he’s a fancy character. If you had a dream for Urien, what would you want? And someone was listing off everything they wanted for the character, you know? Let's give him this, let's give him this, let's give him this. That's what I feel that character is, so he definitely needs a little bit of nerfing for sure. But not too much because you don't want to make the character unplayable and I think that is key, especially to gaining more access and gaining more players for Street Fighter.
If a new player is going to play Street Fighter, you don't want to have them play the game and learn a character and feel accomplished just for the next season to have their character be completely demolished. They're kind of up in arms, kind of like, "Well, I learned this character and it took me a lot of time, a lot of dedication, and now my character is stuck and I can't perform that well any more." It's just very disheartening for a new player, I feel, so they should definitely keep that in mind, that they should nerf and buff characters in a fair extent I feel.
Kristine "Vaalia" Hutter is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find her on Twitter.
Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.