SF 5 - Help me pick the right character!

Not a complete newbie but need your help! Thanks for reading through.
I played loads of SF2 (mostly on the SNES) back in the day when I was boy. My favourite was Claw. There was no tech at the time, just what our v/ small community figured out. My tactics were mid-screen pokes, and then mix-ups on wake-up using empty jumps leading to throw or rolling crystal flash. I was pretty good at figuring out range during the mid-screen game for my cr HP. Like pretty good, down to the pixel.
(no fighting games for many years)
Then I picked up SF4 around 2010 but it was incredibly complex to figure out. Didn’t enjoy it at the time.
At the beginning of this year I started getting interested in SF again and started reading lots about USF4, watching all the Pro Tour matches, reading tech and even playing a little bit.
I’m mostly playing Dictator, around 50% win rate with a lot of limitations on practice time and using a keyboard that doesn’t allow multiple key inputs (no FADC!). I’ve seen Dictator in SF5 and he doesn’t seem to be for me: his walk speed seems really slow.
In short:

  • I like having good neutral game, and good normals, standing mid-screen and whiff punishing. Then forcing advantageous setups in the corner.
  • I have pretty good reflexes, in USF4 I can easily do Bison’s Ultra 1 on reaction. Played a lot of ice hockey as a goalie, etc.
  • I’ll be using a hitbox and I play guitar to a very good level. It sounds unrelated, but it’s all about finger independence and coordination which is not hard for me at all. Playing on the hitbox is super easy compared to a stick. Doing a DP motion is (on P1 side) just a imi fingering (to use guitar notation terms), a QCF is m(mi)i fingering. Easy peasy.
  • Using the hitbox makes me very aware of jumping and I think that’s generally a good thing, i.e. to jump less.
  • I have no character loyalty at all, I’ll even play goofy FANG if he’s got the right playstyle for me.
  • I can dedicate easily 1 hour per day for SF 5 practice every day of the week, occasionally 2, 3 hours.
  • I have v/ little character knowledge apart from Bison and missed Alpha, SF3, etc.
  • I live in London, UK but haven’t really connected with the local FGC, although I plan on doing that. It’s okay but it’s not Tokyo or California or NYC.
  • I’m terrible at long combos and short links. Perhaps practice makes perfect, but I’m not good at them. I’d prefer simpler combos and only having to keep in memory 3, 4 combos at most but doing them really well.

My ambition is to be a 50% win rate tourney player by the end of next summer. Perhaps it’s a bit ambitious but it’s nice to have goals. The only way I’ll do this is if I dedicate myself to just one character and really study it. Can you help me?

If it helps, from the players in the finals recently, these are the ones I like to watch play:

  • Poongko because of the virtuosity with relentless mix-ups and pressure. I’ve never played SF like that, but it could be an option as I’m kind of starting from scratch.
  • Fuudo with his Fei Long standing at that mid-screen position which I like and then waiting for mistakes.
  • Valmaster and his impeccable Chun Li always going for the right option.
  • Luffy is similar to my playstyle/mentality, but a bit more defensive than I usually would play.

FANG sounds best for you.

Assuming you’re not being sarcastic, thanks!

Imo, reading your post no character sticks out as a fit in particular.

You don’t like slow characters so Nash, Bison and Necalli are probably out. No mention of grapplers and you say Luffy is more defensive than you’d enjoy, so I’d also scrap Mika, Gief, FANG and Dhalsim, maybe Ryu too.

So the leftover characters are sort of the same and play a midrange/up close pressure game, either one that you enjoy should work fine. But from this line:

I’d recommend Chun-li, Cammy, Karin or Vega.

I second that: Chun, Cammy, Karin, and Vega might be interesting to you.

People with good reactions will benefit greatly from recognizing counter hits in this game.

Also, Birdie might benefit from the finger independence you talked about, because his Bull Horn is done by holding one button and then releasing it. Because of this, there are some combos he has that sorta of reming me of playing a guitar:

Jump press LP+MP together (jump MP hits) > land and release MP while pressing pressing LK (stand LK hits) > press down+MP while still holding LP (down MP hits) > release LP (Bull Horn hits)

Thanks a lot for all the tips. Based on previous experience I’ll start with Chun. If she doesn’t fit, then I’ll try Cammy and Karin. Birdie has too many options at this point of my development and some of the things he does is like a zoner, which is not my thing.

Birdie is nothing like a zoner. If anything, what he does is anti-zoning. His options pretty much exist to force you to play close to him, or he’ll just jump on you from long range, or peg your poke/dash with the chain.

You may well be right. I might end up playing Bison anyway, can’t seem to escape his purple glowing grasp after all these years of servitude.