Is Mastering Ken Masters the most difficult out of all SFV characters? Discuss

Want to debate this topic REALLY bad, so making thread to keep the topic flowing to entertain myself.

Is Ken the hardest character to play in the game? - not from an execution standpoint, or a “I need to learn this tech!” standpoint - from an honest, traditional Street Fighter standpoint.

Are Ken’s footsies the hardest to master? Are Ken’s confirms the hardest to learn and react to? Is Ken’s gameplan the hardest to understand and apply? Is Ken’s pressure the hardest to sustain? Are Ken’s mindgames the hardest to embed into the players brain? Is Ken’s spacing the hardest to maintain in the game?

In my opinion, yes. Yes to all of the above and more. Ken is fucking difficult to play efficiently in this game on a lot of levels, let’s completely wipe USFIV Ken out of our memory banks and think solely about SFV’s version of Ken. Out of any character I’ve played in this game(All of them now, with a good chunk of research and play time) the only character that has struck me as genuinely difficult to be able to master has been Ken. There isn’t any other character with such high learning curves in this game other than Ken. Let me just make a list that goes over why I think this.

  • Hit confirming
  • Spacing
  • Pressure
  • Shimmying/baiting
  • Adaptation
  • Reactions

All of those points I’ve listed are ones I feel Ken requires the utmost levels of to be able to excel with the character. I think at this point Ken is top 5 with a little bit of leeway and conjecture. Looking over his ability to do the things listed above and factoring in his toolset I seriously feel he is one of the top contenders in this game.

But why isn’t Ken winning tournament, or getting exposure with a higher playerbase?


I think the reason Ken hasn’t “been exposed” or had the spotlight on him yet is due to difficulty barrier, he isn’t a week one pick up and play monster like some characters can be; e.g Bison in the first month of the game. If we fast forward into September, or just early next year I’d like to bet a lot of Japanese tier lists and players(Momochi hopefully) will have Ken in their top 5 overall.

I’d like to expand upon my points with discussion between the sub-forum, and see what everybody thinks. Opinions?

if a ken player places 2nd at evo do we give him the 1st place prize because his character is the hardest?

He gets a big “you tried!” medal and 1/3rd of the community backing him up saying “You should have won that man, you’re 1st place to us!!”

Flashbacks to Gamerbee vs Momochi.

He’ll yeah. His neutral game sucks. But when I play Ryu the exact same way, I rack up some wins. Bullshit.

I do feel theres a steep learning curve here.
He definitely isn’t a typical Shoto
This is my third day straight with him and I’m still struggling on the basics of how to play Ken, what his optimal ranges are, when to zone, when to rush down…
And how to effectively play him just seems off to me…his kit is designed around rush down yet you rush down with him and everyone elses buttons are better than yours, his frames are negative on most if not all good buttons and his frame trap game is none existent.

It’s really annoying but I feel as though if your not playing a Rashid risk heavy syle that he plays the most effective as a whiff punishing character.

I agree that Ken requires whiff punishing and counter poking in his footsie game to be able to fight a lot of characters in neutral, but I don’t feel like he’s a risk heavy character.

Everything you do is a reaction, or in anticipation of something. The options you use are all safe to do these things, the only super risk heavy thing Ken has is a -2 normal into a 50/50 Shoryuken. Run cancels on block also pose a considerable risk, but there isn’t ever a need to run cancel on block.

Not really. The biggest problem is that people are too scared to fight up close still.

Yes he is. Fireball at long range, anti-air with DP, use tatsu in combos.

Third day? Game’s been out nearly two months.

Most of his normals are the same speed as Ryu’s. Learn to counter-poke, not to poke.

Jab and are + on block, and also happen to be his best normals.

No frame traps? Total horseshit. Jab or into b+MP beats 3 framers, as does into The first is confirmable into max damage. Any jab into beats 4 framers and will hit throw techers low.

No shit. Ken is better as a counterpoker, hitting limbs before they hit you. Literally any knockdown gives you meaty opportunities against 3 framers as well.

I’ve given Ryu a test drive this week and his ease of play blows my mind. All of his pressure normals are safe, come out fast, and have good range. His dp also does it’s damage in 1 hit instead of 4-7 like Ken’s, so there is no partial hit weirdness into crush counter.

What does Ken have that Ryu doesn’t is the important thing to ask. I’d say corner carry, better shimmy game, better pressure game, including air tatsu options. Most of all Ken is more challenging and fun in general, be prepared to lose a lot while learning though.

The hardest I don’t know but he is pretty hard yes.

I feel like if you can master Ken you will have actually improved your hit confirm skills by a lot. He has a lot of confirm and if you can do them all he is really beast mode.

I concur. Been using Ken quite a bit lately and man its nothing like Sf IV Ken

st.lp to is certainly a good frame trap and possible to confirm it to st.hp (though I still find that hard). However, once is blocked, that’s the end of his frame traps as that’s -2. to is not even consistent because of the push back on and short range on
About to, there’s not followup at all, so that’s a weak frame trap
About Jab to, is punishable on block and doesn’t lead to anything on hit. Again, a weak (and unsafe) frame trap.

Not against quick get ups. Most of the time, the guy getting up is at an advantage when you forward dash (which is what ken needs to do to stay close after a knockdown)

“Learn to counter-poke” - any character can counter poke. The point is that ken is meant to be a rush down character where he is supposed to have the advantage up close, but disadvantage in the neutral game. That’s not the case if most of his normal are negative on block (lp and being the exceptions) and every other character has the same or better normals.

I don’t think he’s that bad, but I feel his normals should be better on block to keep the pressure going.

I don’t think he’s that hard to play either, it’s just hard to transition from sf4 and shake off those habits. Having said that, I do have difficulties doing his one-hit confirms (unless I see a whiff throw)

The gameplan is rather simple and the combos are rather simple.

What’s hard is really neutral and having hit confirms with every single button more or less, at least for me. Maybe it’s because I am a beginner but having to think about all the confirm I can do with each button I press is hard. I don’t feel all other characters have this much confirm options.

His blockstrings can be godlike in the corner, and can corner carry in one combo.

CR.MP, TC1, ex hado, (mixup) or TC1, hado, vtrigger, (+ double digits) (mixup) or another TC1

If someone blocks all of that they deserve the fucking punish, but they’ll probably be too scared to press anything right away so you can St HP fish

The claim was that Ken has no frame traps. This is demonstrably false. He is not Cammy, but he has options.

No, you V-skill on knockdown instead. HP SRK, V-Skill c.MP blows up 3 framers on a quick recovery, as an example. So does forward throw, dash, You can also get HK crush counter setups off of either HP SRK or MK Tatsu, I can’t remember which. Spme setups require you to cancel the run, some require you to let him fun the full distance.

Any character can poke or counter poke. Ken’s up close advantage comes in mobility, not in raw frame advantage.

I agree with this section.

Hmm, will give them a try. Thanks

I’m a Ken fan and tried playing him in the beta as well as release.
Gave up on that shit since you need on point hit confirm skills and movement to make that character work with his low range normals and tons of shit that’s minus on block.

Which is kinda weird that this character who has been a uppercut mashing scrub fan favorite since SF2, was made one of the most difficult to use in the new SF.

Most characters have stuff that’s minus on block.

Ken isn’t really that complex. In a nutshell, he wants a knockdown, and then wants to literally stay on top of people like SF4 Akuma, in his jab or b+MP range. With his dash, shimmy, run and air tatsus, he can stay in that range for a long time.

Ken has always been the same. He is a rush down character.
The problem also has always been the same, getting and staying in!

LOL NA. Vega is the hardest in my opinion. It takes time to master claw, and clawless. Vega is my main and Ken is my secondary. I started off with Ken the moved to Vega and boy was it difficult at first, but very rewarding.

For those interested by it for theory talk, this is the tier list by Nemo and Koichi. They consider Ken top 5 in strenght and top 5 in hard to play. I don’t agree with everything on this but I feel Ken is pretty accurate, I wouldn’t put him top 5 but that might be just me being biased because I play him.