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Why Zangief is the worst character in Street Fighter 5

Capcom, pls.

Zangief, Street Fighter's famous muscle-bound wrestler, has never been considered one of the best characters in the game. But he's never been this bad.

Now Street Fighter 5 has been out for a few months, players are starting to settle on a tier list.

Street Fighter 5 character tier list, according to EventHubs.

At the top are characters such as Chun-Li, Nash, Karin and Ryu. The debate over the order of the tier list is ongoing.

But there's one character the fighting game community agrees on: Zangief.

The Iron Cyclone is considered the worst character in Street Fighter 5 - and by quite some distance.

One of the reasons is developer Capcom removed one of his best special moves: the Green Hand. The Green Hand would let Zangief move in quickly on his opponent, closing the gap and, potentially, carving out the chance to land a devastating, high damage Spinning Piledriver.

In Street Fighter 5, Zangief does not have the Green Hand special move, and so his mobility had taken a hit.

Some counter the complaints by pointing to Zangief's V-Skill move, called Iron Muscle. This sees the Russian beast flex his muscles, absorbing attacks while slowly moving forward. While spectacular to watch when used successfully, the V-Skill is not considered a decent-enough compensation for the lack of the Green Hand. Really, it's an elaborate parry.

The V-Trigger, Cyclone Lariat, sees Zangief turns into a whirlwind and sucks the opponent in. Again, you can see what Capcom was going for here: an alternative to the Green Hand that would help close the gap. But, again, his V-Trigger is not useful enough to compensate.

Zangief doesn't have much going on in the way of combos, either, which means he's overly reliant on his Spinning Piledriver.

And it doesn't help that Street Fighter 5 suffers more input lag on PlayStation 4 than Street Fighter 4. Zangief is considered a "reaction" character - that is, he excels in the hands on someone who reacts extremely quickly to their opponent's moves. Street Fighter 5 on PS4 has eight frames of input lag, nearly twice as many as Street Fighter 4, making it harder to react in time to counter your opponent. Couple this with Zangief's reaction-based design, and perhaps it's unsurprising he's ended up on the bottom of many people's tier list.

Zangief's V-Trigger is useful, but it's no Green Hand.

The upshot is that Zangief, one of the largest and slowest characters in the game, now plays like you're moving an oil tanker. It's excruciatingly difficult to get close to your opponent, particularly those with projectiles. Zangief players face an uphill struggle.

Even Darryl "SnakeEyez" Lewis, perhaps the best Zangief player in the world, is having a hard time.

SnakeEyez, who terrorised his opponents using Zangief in Street Fighter 4, has struggled in Street Fighter 5 tournaments while using Zangief, often losing early and thus having to soldier through losers brackets.

In an interview with The Daily Dot, which you can see in the video below, SnakeEyez declared Zangief "kinda dead".

"It's not working out at all," he said. "To be honest with you, the character has a lot of problems. I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, but the character is kinda dead. Outside of about two matches out of 15 characters, he's pretty bad. I'm not really looking forward to matchups from the new characters that are coming.

"It's kinda hard when you release a brand new game and it's on a Pro Tour and you have characters that are just coming out. You're not familiar with the characters. It takes time to learn what's going on."

The situation is so bad that SnakeEyez has been forced to explore other characters - much to the disappointment of his fans who enjoy his dramatic, high-skill Zangief play.

So, what happens next? Many Zangief players are hoping Capcom moves to buff the character in a balance update. But will it go as far as to reinstate the Green Hand?

If it doesn't, Zangief may be consigned to the Street Fighter 5 doldrums for years to come.

Cover image for YouTube videoDarryl "SnakeEyez" Lewis – "Zangief is not working out at all right now."