The difference between Ken and Ryu

I’m going through a bit of a character identity ‘crisis’ lately since I can’t seem to choose between Ken and Ryu. This isn’t a ‘pick my character thread’, it’s more a thread to distinguish between the benefits and drawbacks of these two characters. I generally find Ken more fun to play as just because he’s more flashy, but Ryu to me seems so much more solid. In fact, I’d go far as to say Ryu is just a straight up better character. Ryu’s low forward is better, his anti-airing is MILES better (seriously Capcom what is up with that), has a much better ultra game and his moves are more powerful/damaging. What does Ken have as advantage that Ryu doesn’t? Kara abilities I guess. A better mix up game. His full ultra 1 is beast though not nearly as reliable. I honestly can’t think of much more than that. A faster forward dash? Meh. And I hate that Ken’s tatsu combo has negligible advantage on hit, people either mash dp or throw, it’s a 50/50 situation, lame. Ryu on the other hand can combo into a hard knockdown sweep or knockdown via ex hadoken, lovely.

And yet if you look at recent aggregated tier lists people generally list Ken as higher than Ryu. How can this be? I want to use Ken but he just seems so soft and unreliable to me, yet recent tier lists appear to disagree with me. Am I missing something important about Ken? Ken players, teach me, tell me the ways!

I know you said this isn’t a “Pick my character” thread but I’m just going to say, why choose? Play both. They may be able to help you with different aspects of the game.

Anyway back to business, I’m not on the level of some of the Ken players here yet but I’d like to think you’ve listed Ken’s advantages pretty much. Don’t forget about his Ultra 2 though, it’s a damn good Ultra in my opinion anyway.

I’d also like to think that Ken has/can make use of frame traps better than Ryu thanks to his Kara throw.

Ken also has what I like to think are better pokes with his faster, step kick, st.rh, sweep. Albeit some of them can be punished depending on spacing and your opponents match-up knowledge.

Ken also has a great for stuffing opponents pokes. His is a great frame trap tool/poke and if you’re good enough with your reactions you can get an untechable knockdown with sweep or even Ultra 2. It’s also great for stuffing normals just like

Ken’s sweep is also a lot safer than Ryu’s, but it’s slower and still punishable. Just not as badly as Ryu’s.

Oh and Ken can Kara Hurricane out of the corner to the other side of the screen which isn’t too shabby if I say so myself.

There’s a lot more to say/I wanted to say but it’s all slipped my mind.

Hopefully other Ken’s can give you a much better analysis than I can but I hope I helped somewhat, I’ve sent you a friend request anyway so we can get some mirror matches in and we can go from there.

Do you really want to doubt ken?!

A couple things perhaps overlooked: Ken’s far roundhouse is a pretty great tool. This game hates fireballs, so having long-reaching physical pokes is pretty kickass.

The sweep is big, too. Ryu’s is a brilliant punish tool, but Ken’s can be used in footsies much more reliably.
His back overhead is also faster than Ryu’s, for what it’s worth.
The main thing Ken seems to lack are easy two-hit footsies.

Awesome that sounds great. I’d say Ken is definitely harder to use than Ryu, just things like kara shoryu’s, kara throws without messing up the inputs etc, I feel like you have to be more on point with Ken. But that’s fine by me because Ken is just so much more fun to use than Ryu.

Michael Tan, imo, is the best Ken player out there, he’s incredible.

You’ll get Kara stuff down with practice, execution stuff is just muscle memory.

A few of Ken’s normal attacks are also Focus bait, like roundhouse for example.

Although if someone is abusing Focus you could simply Kara Throw if in range or buffer a Tatsu/fireball off of cr.forward. There will be more stuff you can do I suppose.

It depends on your reactions really and how you read the opponent. Heck for some people that are Focus happy, you can just sit there and buffer your Ultra (But that depends on range, especially if it’s Ultra 1)

The thing is though, quite a few people who are focus happy tend to backdash if they don’t think it’ll hit which leads to them cornering themselves, Chun Li players tend to have a habit of doing this. If people dash forward after charging a focus then they’re going to get smacked if you’re ready for it.

Yeah Ken’s overhead is faster and if you’re good with your spacing, you can nail them from just outside the range of a crouch tech (Tested on Ryu) whereas Ryu would most likely get hit out of his overhead if he didn’t do it meaty. Heck Ken even has an advancing overhead too!

yo farhannius…you’re welcome bro lol

I know people love to compare these two characters because they were indentical in Vanilla SF2 but I don’t think any of their buttons are identical in SF4 at all. Either the frame data is different or the hitbox is different. There are more similarities between Ryu and Akuma than Ryu and Ken

You can’t even play these two characters remotely alike and there are match ups were Ryu gets beaten (Dhalsim, Cammy) where Ken does better. Then there are match ups where Ken does bad (Zangief, Guile) where Ryu does better.

I’m mainly a Dudley user but have played Ryu since vanilla. I’m switching to Ken. He’s so much more fun!

That’s the thing with sf4 Ken, he is so fun to use. 3rd strike Ken was a monster, but he wasn’t half as fun as he is now. And that’s why i don’t like Ryu, he might be more reliable and effective, but he is also boring me to tears.

he is fun but once you start competing at comps and having to put yourself in risky situations he stops becoming fun haha

That depends on your definition of fun ;). Unfortunately SF4 gameplay revolves too much around hard knock downs followed by 50/50 or unblockable setups. The fact that Ken has no easy way to land that knockdown is what makes him fun to play. You have to read your opponent’s play and not his character in order to get the upper hand. You also have to find ways to keep applying pressure since Ken’s damage output isn’t that great. So sure, you have to take risks, but this results in exciting, organic and adrenaline pumping gaming sessions.

I get what you are saying about Tournaments, but in those situations winning comes first and enjoyment of the game takes a back sit anyway. So why not pick a more reliable character like Ryu, Cammy, Fei, Gouki etc in those situations? Having a good secondary character to cover Ken’s bad matchups is also a realistic solution for the Ken loyalists out there ;).

i do but my argument is ken shouldn’t be the worst shoto on the game bar dan…how is sakura better than ken?!! lol and how is ryu more rushdown than ken…if you need an explanation of what i mean, i posted a ryu vs ken article on

I am not that sure that Sakura is better than Ken, sure she is better at some things like keeping up pressure, dealing damage etc but she is also fragile, she needs ex bars to deal that damage and requires a high level of execution to be consistently effective. I also don’t think that Oni or Evil Ryu are better than Ken. The only 2 shots that are clearly better are Gouki and Ryu.

I won’t argue that Ryu is a better shoto than Ken. Most of his normals are better than Ken’s. His zoning abilities are excellent. His shoryuken is ridiculously better than Ken’s. He builds ex meter just by breathing. His combo enders (fireball, tatsu) are allot safer on block than Ken’s shoryuken. His damage output is sick. And when he has Ultra… If you jump, you are dead. if he has two ex meters and he simply lands a jab you are dead, if he has 3 meters and he lands a down mk you are dead. He is a better rushdown character because he can combo into sweep by landing a jab or a down mp.

What annoys me the most though is that he gets to do all that without requiring any serious effort or skill from the player. His execution is the easiest in the game. Even his one frame links are easy for crying out loud. Some will argue that execution is muscle memory and doesn’t really matter if you’ve practised allot, but even high level pros drop combos during important matches.

Despite all that, i don’t think that Ken needs significant buffs to be effective in tournaments. His gameplay revolves around smart spacing, faints, frame traps, and karas so he has all the tools to allow you to trick your opponent and actually earn your victory. His damage output and antiair could be better, but those things are easily rectified with an improved hitbox of down hp, reordering the damage division between hits in his hp shoryuken and a 3 frame mp shoryuken. Adding one more active frame to his down mk wouldn’t hurt either :).

Giving him a combo into sweep, a better “fake” U1, an easier to link U2 etc would make him to much like Ryu, and Ken is there to offer an alternative to those gamers that don’t like Ryu’s gameplay.

Actually in this game Ken is a better shoto. The only people you see wining with Ryu are those that have been playing him since Vanilla and are clearly better than their competition (Daigo) it has nothing to do with the character.

The main problem right now with Ken, is that there is no reason to use him in this metagame because of Akuma.

Right now vortex dominates the game with mixups being second. Akuma has both, Ken has the latter, Ryu doesn’t have either.

You are over dramatizing things, vortex is a hard knockdown, followed by mixups that lead to another knockdown. Ryu has easy access to kd, Ken has mixups. If Ryu also had mixups, he would be by far the best character in the game. He would have a vortex alongside his excellent antiair, damage output, zoning, health, stun and Ultra.

Ryu doesn’t need mixups because he has one of the most reliable damage outputs in the game. Make 3 mistakes against him and you are dead. Ken’s damage output is highly situational. Sure, he can wreck havoc in the corner, but his bnbs are weak. The same thing goes for his Ultras. There aren’t allot of opportunities to get good damage out of them. So while Ryu needs to zone you out till you make a mistake, Ken has to be able to get in and create openings himself in order to deal the extra damage that he needs to win the round. That’s why he has those mixups.

The problem with Ken is that most of his tricks are VERY unsafe, so if your opponent is good, he will adapt after a few rounds and start punishing you. That’s why you don’t see Ken used on high level Tourneys, he is unreliable. Even Momochi, one of the smartest pros around, uses him as a trump card, staying with Cody most of the time.

Ryu’s biggest problem is his popularity. He is so easy to use and so well rounded that everyone and their mom is picking him. When half of your matchups are against a Ryu player, you will eventually learn how to deal with the character. This doesn’t make Ryu inferior to Ken, it’s just the price of fame ;).

You don’t see Ken’s at tournaments because they get knocked out early along with several Ryus (going back to your statement on how easy Ryu is to play, he is you will see him a lot in pools). I know this. I enter tournaments. Also this year alone Ken has been in the top 32 more often than Ryu starting with SCR where there wasn’t a single Ryu in the top 32.

It isn’t about popularity or which one of these characters is considered stronger. Ken is a better character in the current metagame but the reason he is not getting tournament representation now is because of Akuma, the similarity between Ryu and Akuma is closer than Akuma and Ken. You see how infiltration uses Ryu? He plays him just as boring as he would his Akuma, where you have Momochi destroying Ricky Ortiz with Ken just as bad if not worse.

Someone said Ken shouldn’t be the worst shoto? Oni has that coverered. Evil Ryu isn’t exactly the best either, he requires an additional character to deal with bad match ups.

I don’t have tournament experience and i am certainly more inexperienced in the game than you. Still, allot of pros don’t agree with you about Ken’s superiority.

As for Ryu being similar to Gouki, i agree, but i don’t see why this would affect Ken’s representation. I would think that it would mostly affect Ryu’s representation since Gouki is a better tournament character (less bad match ups) and easier to transition from Ryu.

Infiltration plays a boring Ryu and Gouki because he can. Both those characters can win games without taking many risks. Ken can’t do that. Momochi destroyed Ortiz because he took him by surprise. Most of the stuff he did were very unsafe but Ortiz didn’t expect them so they worked. If Momochi used Ken throughout the Tournament his opponents would expect his frametraps and punish them accordingly. If Ken was so great wouldn’t he keep using him instead of Cody?

ken is not better than Ryu.
but i wont sit on my high horse and say my opinion is more valid than yours because then we’d argue till the cows came home.
instead lets just use results as the absolute truth because you cannot argue with results no matter how you spin it.
number of times Ken made it to Top 16 in a major in 2012 - 11
number of times Ryu made it to Top 16 in a major in 2012 - 41
and there are just as many high level Ken players as there are Ryu players.