Hello everyone. I was hoping somebody could provide a simple explanation on what the term ‘Tier’ means and its purpose?
Tiers are a shorthand for trying to assess how good a character is. The higher the tier the better the character, generally a break to the next the tier signifies that that character or group is significantly better than the one below. Sometimes they are based around how well rounded a character is, sometimes it’s based on tools that can be abused. Some tier systems are more scientific than others but generally they’re based off of how a best of 10 set in a match-up would go when played by two highly skilled players.
The match-up chart is kind of pseudo scientific, because there’s a lot of subjective arguments to be made.
Detailed explanation of one of the more scientific tier lists I’ve come across here. It’s less based on the S, A, B, C style and about a plus minus ratio for match ups. You can see here that different players have different opinions on the same match-ups.
A tier list is just a way of representing the opinion of a player (or group of players) on which characters in a game are better than others.
Generally, tiers are rated from S (the highest) to A, B, C, D, etc. You might see individual levels within a certain tier (example: A+ tier, characters that are stronger than those in A tier but not as strong as S tier characters)
The use of these tier rankings can vary by players, but usually you will see S used for the best characters. If someone uses A tier as the highest tier they may be trying to imply that the game is more balanced and there are no characters that stand out as being so strong as to merit an S tier rating, but the use of S tier does not automatically imply that the game is not balanced, it may simply be the letter that the tier list creator chose to represent the highest tier. An S+ or S++ rating may imply a stronger imbalance toward the top tier characters, but it also may not depending on the list creator’s preferences. Primarily, the focus of a tier list is to rank the characters by their potential strength. If a game is ranked from S+++ or something down to E or lower it probably means there is a very large power gap between the strongest and weakest characters.
The traditional way for a tier list to be made is by first making a matchup chart (Random example from google image search: ). Matchup charts are made by comparing every character in the game against every other character in the game individually and assigning them a win ratio for each specific matchup, which is based on how many matches (on average) out of 10 a player might expect to win with that character vs the opponent’s character. So if character A has a 6.0 ratio against character B, then they can expect to win 6 out of 10 matches, assuming that both players are of equal skill and are highly skilled overall. In this case, that matchup would be considered 6-4 in favor of character A.
After the matchup chart is filled out, you can mathematically go through and add up all the win ratios for each character. Naturally, the characters with the most favorable matchups will have higher scores, and you can divide them into tiers based on that number as you like. Note that this means that an S tier character does not automatically have a favorable matchup against a lower tier character. The low tier character could have a favorable matchup against the high tier character, but poor matchups against every other character in the game. For purposes of the tier list, that low tier character would be considered weak, but in a match against the high tier character they could actually be at an advantage.
So what good is a tier list? Well, it gives you a general idea of which characters usually have the most favorable matchups. Not having bad matchups = less likely to lose matches in tournament play due to bad matchups = more likely to win tournaments, in theory anyway. That said, it is extremely important to note that playing as a higher tier character does not automatically mean you will have more success. There are many factors that determine your success, such as your own skill level, your opponent’s skill level, your personal playstyle, how hard it is to use character, the popularity of your character’s bad matchups (being disadvantaged against a certain character doesn’t matter as much if hardly anyone actually plays that character), and so on.
Generally speaking, you should pick characters based on your own preferences. Tier lists are just a tool, and one primarily geared toward higher level players. They are also heavily based on opinion, and opinions can vary a lot. For a lower or mid-level player a matchup chart is a lot more useful than a basic tier list, but even then it is still just an opinion. Take any matchup chart or tier list with a grain of salt, and always consider your own experiences and preferences before you try to change characters just to gain some theoretical advantage, and never trust a tier list without a source.
Thank you guys for the very informative responses!!! Great information!