In the sixth installment of the game meta series, the game meta itself will be our focus. The answers were kindly provided by 575, AkeoPo, D3xus, Habaduba, Linkorz, Shennou, Shen Yuan, and Xephukai who are our respondees today!

As last time, we have got four main regions represented!



Shen Yuan

Latin America:

And here are today’s questions:

In your opinion, what is your definition of ‘Current Tournament Meta’ in SCVI?

575: My definition would be:
1) well-rounded techniques to deal with various kinds of situations
2) low risk either by over-tuned playstyle or the characters themselves are just stable/balanced
3) overall high damage, which will cause MORE mental pressure
4) consistent, efficient mixup

So far the overall tier is well-balanced, but I will still put NM, Astaroth, Cervantes, Setsuka, Tira, Azwel in ‘Current Tournament Meta’. Not sure about the rest of the characters.
To be more specified in 1. , every character can actually deal with various kinds of situations but differ from the difficulties to implement some techniques.
For example, if Grøh had had decent tech-crouches and WR/WC moves, he could have been a typical ‘Current Tournament Meta’, but unfortunately he doesn’t – the fact that his 236B is a high really sucks.
Although NM is lacking a real i12, he has armor to resist and can deal more damage by keeping in TC state, which is quite easy to perform; aside from lacking i12 and safe horizontal mid within i20, NM is a perfect character in every aspect, so I will put him in the meta.

AkeoPo: Guard crush, ring out, low risk, high return.

D3xus: In general I don’t think there’s really a “tournament meta” playstyle wise at least, it seems like most tournaments are just won by the best players of each region (on average). Character wise there is some homogeneity amongst tournaments but even here I think the lack of just players in general (especially at the very top top) kinda prevents a “meta” from setting in anyways. If SC had like 100x the players I think certain top tier characters like Hilde and Nightmare would start to be wildly overrepresented, but since in present a lot of characters only have a few players who play them, their representation is highly limited by which players can attend each tournament.

Habaduba: I don’t think there has ever been a very distinct META since so many different playstyles and characters are competitive and we see almost all of them frequently. It’s worth noting however that soul attacks and soulcharges are really powerful this patch making a lot of people hoard meter untill the opponent uses their own offensively so that they can soulcharge them away and RI, while I believe the soul attacks are quite often too strong, I still love how RI makes most soulcharges way more manageable and interactive. With the vertical changes I believe we also switched a little bit to characters with really good horizontals and knockdowns as well as high damage output.

linkorz: It’s hard to succinctly fit such a definition into a few words, and even in just NA there’s only been 2-3 majors since they started back up. One thing I can say is that I think preparedness is a defining factor for predicting a player’s success. It’s been about a year since we had a major balance patch (the most amount of time we’ve had to sit down and get comfortable with the game), so it’s becoming much harder to surprise someone with something they’ve never seen before. Making sure that your strategy is cohesive and complex to counterplay is really important, as well as being prepared to exploit holes in less cohesive strategies. This is obviously important in any game, but given how complex SC6 is and how explosive it can be, it’s especially important to keep your opponent as honest as possible.

Shennou: I believe that nowadays meta is defined in characters who have more safety and rewards (damage, positioning, oki, ring out, et cetera…) than risk (how I can be punished, how strong is this punishment and how risky is for my opponent to try punish me). Characters with strong resources no matter who is your opponent or opponent’s character. Of course, it isn’t a decisive factor in a high level match but it helps. Gimmicks are less effective when we compare it to game’s launch because the community knowledge gets matured. So, gimmick based characters usually will get below on competitive meta game. Difficulty and frequency to use the character’s strongest resources is a variable too as how strong the resources are for the game.

Shen Yuan: Wow good question. 3 components are absolutely essential:

  1. Attacks in neutral that are 
    – MOSTLY horizontals BUT deal well with crouching (either mid horizontals, or highs that are hard to punish).
    – verticals that are very difficult to whiff punish because of fast recovery.
    – fast.
    – very hard to block punish and whiff punish.
  2. Block and whiff punishment that scores simple knockdown into mixup.
  3. CE punish endgame.

Xephukai: Well, I think that stratagem of movement control is big. Being able to control movement with pressure and/or movement is a big part of the game and how to go about producing successful results.
SCVI specifically also rewards big reads and momentum play. Every character seems to have ‘something’ that nets big damage for a good read. Better characters have easier ways of applying this with factors such as risk/reward ratios and momentum in this title can be hard to deal with. This is why it’s hard to “count out” anyone character.
I also think that the faster characters have a slight edge. Especially when said characters are enabled with either good or damaging i10’s-i12’s.
Also in comparison to previous Calibur titles, there are tactics/moves that were fleshed out and made adequate and/or stronger. Things like Raphael’s shadow evade are actually good and net good utility in VI than ever before.
There seems to be answers and counter play to a lot of situations in this game, but just because there is counter play doesn’t make something necessarily bad.

How do you feel the meta has evolved since the release of SCVI?

575: (Based on my memory, Errors & Omissions are possible)
At the first half patches in season 1, most players tended to assume Ivy, Azwel, Mina, Zas, NM to be the top 5 characters. However, NM and Azwel got some nerfs, so their tiers were getting lower. After EVOJP 2019, Siegfried gained several huge buffs, such as CH anti-vertical, CE on hit gaining 6 bars of Dark Legacy, 3B(hold) LH cancellation etc, and Azwel also got some buffs too. In addition, undergoing a whole season of developments, some characters also seemed to be good. At the end of season 1, my top 6 are Ivy, Mina, Zas, Azwel, Sieg, Raph.
In the beginning of season 2, the meta was not confirmed/stable due to RI and some new moves, but after a few big patches on the system and characters, the overall tier is now well-balanced. In my opinion, the meta will be focusing more on how players use the characters and the extent that the players suit them. The rest would be detailed MUs.

AkeoPo: After the release, it was a 50/50 battle. Forcing your opponent 50/50 with only a few effective moves. Then, until season 2, strong 50/50 characters were adjusted, and their influence was lower than before. Now, most characters have a 50/50 chance, and they can pressure opponents with safe options. Characters I think are strong are low risk high return. They also have a 50/50 but press the opponent with safe moves. Of course, there is a way to reverse the situation in which they are losing. Conversely, the existing 50/50 strong characters have a lower return due to adjustments made without solving the chronic problem, so the return for risk does not follow as expected. And it’s because the characters who are still in the top tier of them are usually compensated for their weaknesses and given safe moves.

D3xus: Honestly not too much, a lot of the large changes were just due to character balance patches such as Azwel and Ivy getting shafted and Nightmare ascending to a god. Stepping 2G has always been strong, some strings and slow attacks are still knowledge checking people, 2A is still oppressive as hell, yada yada. I like the addition of RI and SA however I feel SA just suck for some characters and is broken for others but has def changed how aggressive you can play. RI is a cool callout for SC but I really wish they didn’t make it so incredibly weak so you would actually see RI’s being used more than once every 20 games for a SC callout. Also nice that they fixed RE tracking.

Habaduba: Well I believe its mostly the characters we play, a lot of easy characters were extremely strong so they naturally dominated tournaments, characters such as Geralt, Azwel, Mitsurugi, Cervantes were outstanding, and even harder ones like Ivy, Nightmare, Yoshimitsu, and Xianghua were played very simplistically and abused for their quite absurd strengths at the time. While many of them are still powerful, I’m glad to see the balance changes were often very brave, letting other characters shine now. Thank god we are past the point where getting sidestepped and punished or parried meant you got rung out pretty much anywhere on the stage due to absurd carry in early SC6 and just how open and small the stages were at the time.

linkorz: SC6 is pretty much a different game from when it was released. Patches are obviously the driving force behind this, but on a more abstract level I think the way people use movement has changed a lot. Step duck has become a pillar of the meta, since it can beat a huge portion of someone’s options while being relatively safe. It’s strong offensively and defensively, in setplay and in neutral, and can lead to huge damage rewards, so I think a lot of people weigh how powerful a strategy is on how well it deals with step duck.

Shennou: It’s a hard question but I think that I can’t run away from my previous answer. When we speak about meta, I always think about factors like in game risk X reward and those two are developed as the community gets knowledge about the game and how it works better. With this, we get which is easy to use and how many times we can use a resource in the game. This is how I see a resource’s strength. How many strong resources and how strong are my characters resources? This is how meta works on fighting games in my vision. And it changes when we have patches on game, mainly when we compare seasons.
SoulCalibur VI gets two seasons and some characters gets a considerable rework from Season 1 to Season 2 and it changed what had made some characters top tiers in Season 1. Soul Attack and Resist Impact, two new mechanics from Season 2, has made the game more dynamic for all character, doing the offensive and “turn steal or revert”, respectively, more “fluid”. Also the game is better balanced in nowadays than it was in Season 1, in my opinion.

Shen Yuan: Over time, people realised movement is too strong, and mixups in neutral are a lot less reliable unless you play certain characters.
Stance games have gradually become much weaker also, with the discovery of step 2G… and the fact that whiff/duck punishing is extremely painful in this game.

Xephukai: The meta has evolved a lot in different ways since release. Things like new seasons, new characters, patches, mechanical game changes has affected this.
Overall I have always thought since release that high risk but high reward was a thing. Big damage output for specific things (in example, the lethal hit mechanic) come to mind.
Also playtime, experience with the game and discovering new tech or realization of specifics has evolved the meta. I think one would be willingly ignorant if they didn’t agree with this.

Do you feel the meta differs across other regions? And if so, what do you feel they do differently and how does it compare against another’s meta?

575: Yes. Especially on Azwel and Amy, in Asian regions, Azwel is consistently assumed top tier, and Amy is usually ranked as mid/low tier, but in the USA or other western regions, the condition is opposite. Since my information about meta is not complete, some omissions may be noticed.

AkeoPo: I feel that North America is aggressive and specializes in the play of forcing one’s thoughts on the other. It is optimized for tournaments because it is the type that can struggle if you have no experience with them or lack of tournament experience.
Japan has a lot of defensive players in general, but there are also some players who play aggressively in the case of players who are often seen in tournaments. The rest of the countries do not focus on defense or attack, but rather play with balance.

D3xus: Here I actually do feel there’s quite a big difference, in broad strokes I think EU plays very aggressive compared to the other regions, NA plays very step heavy and Asia tends lean more to defensive and neutral play (from what I’ve seen at least, I don’t follow the Asia scene very much so I could be wrong).
Going up against each other I think the NA and Asia meta’s do better in longer sets such as FT5 or FT10 while EU’s is generally more tailored to FT2 or FT3.
I also find the differences in playstyles highly impacts how each region rates the characters. From what I’ve seen NA and EU tends to generally agree which characters are strong and not, but Asia has a completely different set of values putting characters such as Kilik in S tier. I can’t really tell if this is just cuz of TheKura slapping everyone up with him or not but I’m assuming it’s cuz he’s a very solid neutral character with powerful anti-neutral moves such as MO and just good all around tools (movement, pokes, launchers, RO, etc).

Habaduba: Yeah for sure, I don’t know enough about other regions so I may be wrong but from my perspective
EU: We have a very aggressive approach, with the exception of Aelz most players are very much up each other’s faces pressing a lot. We have a tendency for picking very safe characters who can close the gap and keep throwing out high reward low risk horizontals or verticals with outstanding tracking – characters such as Hilde, Xianghua, Groh, Yoshimitsu, Talim or Tira are more common. It’s a minor tendency however, most of the roster is played.
NA: They have more slow players who poke a lot, I also believe they play a lot riskier, opting for moves that can be punished, due to that I believe they are better at punishing altogether and I do believe it shows they value punishment in their character choices. Xianghua is extremely common in NA and it’s not rare you see Sophitia or Setsuka either.
Asia: I believe they rely on big damage output and strong mix, every time I see an Asian tournament it’s filled with characters such as Nightmare, Ivy, Yoshimitsu.

linkorz: Metas definitely differs across regions. The distinctions can be subtle, but if you look at Japanese play for example you might notice they are very conservative with their meter usage. Asia in general tends to have a much more methodical approach to the game than other regions. NA seems to be much more aggressive, with some of its strongest players frequently disrespecting frame advantage on being heavily mixup oriented (lolo, Bluegod, Woahhzz). I think EU probably lies somewhere in between. It’s hard to speak with certainty on other metas though since the last open international major (Evo Japan) was almost two years ago.

Shennou: Yes, I believe on it. Each region play fighting games and adapts different to the game. Each region have players who put some characters, resources, fundamentals and game mechanics on evidence. I’m not saying that have a right way to play or there is a region stronger than other but I’m saying each region develop a proper style to improve in a fighting game. As an example, one region prefer to play based on neutral game, positioning and oki. Other prefer to get a massive damage and resets. Another prefer gimmicks. And I think it’s good. The most fantastic is the knowledge exchange, in my opinion.

Shen Yuan: Initially, yes there were differences. But over time it becomes more similar. Especially at the highest levels. 

Xephukai: I definitely believe that the “meta” as whole differs from regions. Which makes sense to me. Not being exposed to certain MU’s or characters on a personal experience alters regions opinions and ideas about certain characters or the game in general. Opinions varying between a characters viability is a direct reflection of specific regions talent/skill pool and community.
Even in my own region, my opinion on the “meta” of scvi seems to differ from others. Hard to distinguish specifics on the meta varying from regions because I’m not there, but the general idea of how this game is “meant to be played” and what’s “good or bad” seems to depend on the talent in said region and what characters they are using.
As for comparing, of course I’m going to fall in line with the idea that the States has the best idea of how the games meta functions. But even so, I think there’s stellar players in every region that have a better understanding than most or all of their peers, and that just boils down to skill and fundamentals more so than where or who they’re playing.

BONUS: How would you like the meta to develop in the future? What changes would you employ?

575: The recent meta is good already. #BUFF_GROH #BUFF_SIEG

AkeoPo: As for the future meta… It would be better if the game could focus on tense gameplay through movement and psychology rather than a game where you die if you get hit by one mistake. I don’t think the current SCVI is bad, but I’m tired of the nonsense that comes up frequently.
There are many moments when I wonder what the hell I did wrong. Dribbling, reverse ring-out, abnormal damage. SCVI is fun, but I think there will be players who feel tired of it.

D3xus: Unfortunately I don’t think there will be too many large meta shifts in the future due to no more patches to push them forward. I think the only change that could happen is one of the regions starts steamrolling the other ones and that region’s meta is shown to be superior and all other regions adapt it as their meta as well.
In my dream patch I guess I’d like:
– Step 2G to be less problematic
– Fix the tracking on a lot of characters such as Tira, Groh, NM, etc
– 2A and 2K to be more homogenised between all characters in terms of range and being vert/hori. They don’t need to be all the same but the difference is too big atm.
– The RE clash to be removed, I think RE is fine as a “long GI” with more risk but more reward but the clash doesn’t need to be there, just bonk the opponent instead.
– Some SC’s to be tuned down
– Not gameplay related but rollback netcode so people could play against other regions online
– RI buffed, I don’t even care how at this point, just make it not shit
– GI changed to +12/+16/+20 for lvl 1/2/3
– General character balancing. I think most people agree that the balancing is quite good already, just feel there’s like a handful of characters that are a bit problematic atm, if they just got tuned down slightly the game would be really even.

Habaduba: I would like to see horizontals, as well as fast verticals, being a bit better across the board, at the moment movement is really powerful and the advantage off of hitting pokes became considerably weaker. I love this patch due to the rarity of big launchers randomly tracking and making people miserable and I believe a lot of characters finally have to be played well and smart to perform well but at the same time big launchers are powerful for different reasons now and horizontals mids are a bit too strong. Would love to see pokes to be more advantageous or for some non-launcher i16 verticals to retain strong tracking, it would hopefully mean the games are faster and more dynamic despite movement staying powerful.

linkorz: This is a hard question. I would like to see more ways to control your opponent after hitting them, but that’s more of a balance change than a meta change. Overall, I think the meta is going in an appropriate direction given the system mechanics at least in NA. But I do hope for more international competition in the future. I’d be very interested to see how the various metas stack up against each other.

Shennou: In my opinion and experience, the meta is the personification of which opinion the competitive players have about how the game has been made. As a competitive fighting games player, I wish that all characters be able to do a little of everything in the game but without disrespecting their game style (as an example, I don’t wish that Taki can be able to do an oppressive zoning or Astaroth have a lot of i12 moves but I would like they have resources to deal with all in game situations and with risk and reward according to their style). I’m not trying to transform a striker martial artist in a grappler or a grappler in a striker. It’s most like “give some good throws to the striker and some good strikes to the grappler and they can deal with all situations in a real fight. Also make strikers real specialist in strikes and grapplers real specialists in throws.” I don’t feel this freedom playing SoulCalibur VI. I think it reflects the competitive meta. In SoulCalibur VI, characters’ weaknesses are more apparent than their strengths, in my opinion. I wish a better risk X reward balancement too. I would like risk and reward to be directly proportional and never inversely proportional and, in my opinion, this is exactly what do a SoulCalibur VI character be a top tier in competitive meta in nowadays. I think that this balancement can be made while respect the characters’ martial arts. I believe that would be make closer potential for all chararcters even they have a lot of differences on their styles, the game would be better balanced and the competitive meta difference would be closer and different. Also, the game would be more fun than it already is. This all is just my opinion, of course.

Shen Yuan: I think being this far into the game, it is unlikely the meta would develop further. And it’s a great meta to play with because it rewards effort and high level play.

Xephukai: I don’t really have a specific want to change the development of the meta. I think something like the competitive meta for a fighting games changes and grows organically. Myself making expectations of how a game “should” work would be unfair and bias because I believe I myself have so much to learn with what’s already offered, even 3yrs after the games release. I’m not qualified to offer any balance changes to the game as a whole.
But to play along… I would definitely buff some stuff for Sophitia and Xianghua. Nerf Nightmare to oblivion and also give all my characters i12 CEs 🙂