Definition of "Tier" vs. "Good"


A friend and I were playing SCV last night and we got into a very philosophical conversation about Fighting Games so I thought I would bring it up here.

There is so much talk of “this character is Top Tier,” etc. that it seems that the definition of “Tier” is muddied in how “cool” it sounds to to throw around as lingo.

Our discussion initially surrounded Mitsurugi/Astaroth vs. Natsu/Viola, so you might need to know a bit about SCV to follow, but this idea spreads out to all games.

Mitsu, Astaroth, Natsu and Viola are probably some of the most “complained” about characters in SCV. My friend mains Mitsu/Asty and I main Natsu/Viola, and what it boils down to is this:

Characters like Mitsurugi and Astaroth can do a LOT of damage for minimal effort, while characters like Natsu and Viola can do less damage for a LOT of effort.

What is effort? Good question, and I’m glad you asked it.

“Effort” in fighting games can be summed up like this:

Button Presses + Timing Requirements + Size of Move List = Effort

… once you see how much effort you have to put out for a character, all you have left is Damage and Mix-Up ability.

Now from here we have two schools of thought.

  1. You have to now factor in Damage Output, Mix Up ability, and factor in the “effort” calculation and you have your “Tier”; these people would say that Mitsu, Astaroth etc. are High Tier (or Wesker in MvC3, etc.) because of their low effort to Damage Output ratio.

  2. You can ignore “effort” entirely and look at the end potential for a character; i.e. stuns, combos, mind game potential, mix up, ability to keep opponent 90% defense, speed, etc. and call them the high tier characters regardless of how “hard” they are to use.

My friend is a #1, I’m more of #2.

PS, Mitsu and Astaroth are OP’d bitches… just sayin’.


there is only one school of thought that matters when defining a real tier list

if the character tools help him win more against the rest of the cast, he is then top tier
for example:

you have characters a,b,

a has an advantage over the rest of the cast of 7:3 in all his matchups and is actually very difficult to use
b has the same advantages, but he is actually easy to use, some would say braindead

both are top tier, you dont measure them because how much effort the player puts in order to win, but how consistent are they at winning with said characters, simple as that

also tier lists evolve with the time
a perceived top tier on the beginning of the life span of a game can go down with time when players learn how to deal with his/her stuff, for example


That completely negates the skill of the player though… if most of the wins came from skilled players that selected “random”, does that make Random the top tier? You’re taking it to a further step… the measurement you’re talking about comes FROM the measurement I’m talking about.

i.e. When a game comes out, if a character like Mitsurugi takes less “effort” to master and people can get better with him faster, he’s going to climb the ranks of the “Tier” system you’re talking about, even though he might not have the potential of a Viola, Ivy or Natsu.

You’re talking about “popularity” which is completely different; as there is no data to back up an “advantage” a character has over another character…


are you fucking serious???


That’s the point.


And how are you collecting that data? How can you tell the Queen vs. the Pawn? In chess it’s easy, in a game that’s supposed to be “balanced” you have a board full of queens that you have to decide which is the best queen.

Yeah, try answering now… thanks.



every respectable tier list is always done with data to backup it, tournament results and similars

not done by randoms that come with stuff like, lololol this character wrecks my shit, so he must be top tier, lololol

of course that a character that its easy to use can be perceived as a top tier at the beginning of the life span of a game, but that can change as the game evolves and players find new strategies on how to deal with the matchups
a rl example
eddie is one of the most difficult characters to use on GG, despite of that he is Top Tier

go and see the different tier lists that mvc2 had with the years, and you would know what im talking about


Tier lists are either based on aggregated data from tournament finishings or the opinions of top players of certain characters.

The most useful type of tier list is the matchup chart, which is more common in japan thanks to arcadia magazine. These have a combination of aggregate data which shows you the various matchups of all the characters in the game and a cumulative score representing their overall difference from the median score; those characters with the highest mean difference are the better characters. Simple statistics based tiers.

The other type is the literal tier list broken into [GOD] S A B C D etc. These are generally 100% opinion based and are a representation of how strong overall people feel that the characters are in a general sense.


I don’t even understand what your question is. A tier list is a rough guide to how good each character is compared to all the other characters. Assuming equally skilled, expert level players, a higher tier character will tend to win more games than a lower tier character. “Effort” (which isn’t something you can make a simple calculation to determine) doesn’t factor into it. It is assumed that expert players have put in the work, and are able to relatively effortlessly and reliably use whatever tools they need. This is basically the position you take in your second bullet point, and it’s basically the same thing Hecatom said in his first post.

Yes, this means tier lists tend to shift over time as new things are discovered. Accepted tier lists are the average consensus opinion of the top players of that game.

Nobody in SCV is definitively OP yet, and wantonly throwing that term around is just as stupid as calling everything “top tier.”


its important to add that top players opinion are considered valuable over any random because in theory they know the game, the characters and how the matchups work, so their opinions have weight, it that set on stone, not necesarily, but is a good start point



Some characters are better than others, but the gap between them is closer than you might think. A character can be strong and good without being overpowers, and a character can be weaker but not underpowered. those extreme terms, over and under powered means they are broken, as in they break the game or the game is unplayable becuase those character either always win or always lose. and SCV has nothing like that.

Although Dampeirre is closer to being underpowered and useless as any other character is to being overpowered.


In certain games but not not all, the top tiers are usually the most popular.
[]4 gods in MvC2
]A-Sakura / A-Bison / Blanka / Sagat / Cammy in CvS2
[]Ken / Chun / Yun in 3S
]Kyo / Goro / Iori / Chizuru / O. Chris in KOF '98
Go look up high level match videos for these games and these characters are usually the ones that pop up the most frequently.


jesus christ youre WAY over complicating this!!

high tier = strong character
low tier = weak character

thats really all there is too it. anything else and you’re just reading too much into it. tier lists are not a science


i wouldnt say chizuru is very popular for a top tier character


They’re popular because they are the best characters in the game, not the other way around.


QFT. A character is considered ‘high tier’ or ‘good’ because of the very fact that a majority of their matches are favorable or even.

That being said, it is possible that a ‘weak’ character can beat a ‘strong’ character due to the matchup being in their favor. Most tiers are also designed with high-level players in mind. So there could be a completely tier for beginners, intermediate, and expert players. However, since tiers are best applied to define how the meta-game is going to develop, people design tier lists for high-level players.


popularity is determined by some equation integrating tiering, how easy they are to play, how fun they are to play and how cool they look.


Meh, tiers are overrated. Besides the fact they can be wrong/out of date, if you’re posting a thread on here to ask about tiers, it just proves they are not relevant to you. Whisper it - tiers only apply to a few dozen players in the world - they don’t apply to the vast, vast majority of people on here, simply because you have ot be at a high level.

Besides, arguably, the best player is the one who can use a wide range of characters. A tournament with forced random selection would not only prove this, but it would also be more fun to watch. How boring are the 3S vids, just because the same 3 characters come up all the time?


tierlists involve statistics, wich is a science
tierlists are science :smokin:


The correct application of Tiers is closer to your number 2. It assumes the highest level of play of each character possible within human boundaries. I.E Full use of all their tools and as close to perfect application of their game plan as is humanly possible.