What does the tier list look like?
Tier Lists are a very debatable thing - its impossible to create one that is "truely accurate" or one that everyone completely agrees with. Between countries, platforms and time periods, you will find very different metas, where very different playstyles and characters find success.
It's why it's generally good for newcomers to not pay attention to the tier list as much. To gain a rough idea of the meta, though, note that:
- The top tiers are regarded to be Chun li, Yun, Makoto, Dudley and Ken and (generally in that order).
- The very bottom tier universally consist of Sean and Twelve. Almost every other character can be competitive when played well, however both Sean and Twelve have flaws that are hard to overcome.
- The middle tier is very open. Characters like Ryu, Yang and Akuma are generally more well rounded than characters like Hugo, Necro and Q.
- Even difficult matchups can be overcome by patient play. There are few matchups that are more bias than 6:4 - even more reason to ignore tiers and play a character you enjoy.
The tier list for 3s is generally considered quite flat in 2023. A present Twelve will beat any medicore Chun-Li or Dudley, however from competitive circles in Europe, Japan and the USA, the tier list looks something like this.
Which character should I pick?
It is honestly best if you pick a character that you enjoy playing, seems cool to watch or has a design you like, regardless of playstyle. This will make learning the game (and losing) more enjoyable. However, I'll assume you are asking this question if you don't have a specific preferance. In this case, there are a few choices:
- Ken is a strong character, very versitile, with tools for every situation, and a lot of strong options. With ken, you can play a patient poking game, a pseudo-zoning game, or a rushdown game. The ways he utilizes his super art 3 is straightforward, but very effective, with many routes to land it. Ken uses a lot of the game's fundamental mechanics or understanding his game, becuase he doesn't have any specific quirk that makes him as good as he is. He is honestly the best bet.
- Gouki is generally a high tier, and also a very versitile one. Like with Ken, Gouki can be a legitimate zoner or a scary rushdown character. He's still straightforward, but is not as linear as Ken if you are looking for a more "crazy" character to play. The main downside of picking gouki is that his low life and stun means players can afford to do less mistakes and that he dies quickly, which may turn down players, as well as the fact that he has not EX moves.
- Ryu is usually a middle tier, but is not bad or less viable by any means. He's still well rounded and straightforward, but while he lacks some of ken's strenghts, he is still very versitile. He has other quirks that make him interesting to pick, like his SA3 setups and incredibly high damage from an EX move.
- Yang has a low health pool, which may be challenging for newcomers, however his combos are very easy to learn and confirm. He has a number of target combos that are easy to input. Ex-slashes are extremely easy to use and win many situations in neutral.
- Dudley has damaging combos, great supers, good hp and stun bars. He has combos of every difficult level, making him ideal for players to lab and practice their skills.
Which characters are bad for beginners?
- Chun-Li will earn a new player wins with her strong buttons and super, however unless they focus on also learning the core mechanics of 3rd strike they may struggle to go beyond a low skill level.
- Twelve is frustrating for numerous reasons. New players may alienate other players by picking Twelve.
How should I approach learning a character?
While each character is different, there are a few questions you should be asking universally. Learning combos is important, but they are only useful if you can understand their context. Once you have a character you like, get into training mode and work your way through this list:
- Which buttons earn a knockdown?
- What buttons are particularly plus?
- What are my meter building buttons?
- Which buttons start up the fastest?
- Which buttons push away, which keep closer?
- Which buttons are the most damaging?
- Which buttons do the most stun?
- Which buttons are overhead?
- Which moves corner carry?
- What is my best kara button?
- What are my pokes?
- Are my character’s EX moves good?
- What moves can be kara’d?
- Do I have any 1 frame startup supers?
- What does my taunt do?
- How does my character's size affect their vulnerability?
- What ranges do characters land at after throw or super?
- What are my anti-airs?
- How can I land super?
- What is my corner spacing?
- Are my dashes airbourne?
- Do I have moves that close distance, where am I spaced afterwards?
- What are my chip options?
- Do I have wakeup reversals?
- At what ranges are parries most valuable?
- What are my jump attacks?
- How can I earn meter on block safely?
- How do I best escape the corner?
- How does my character set up tick throws and throw baits?
- What are my “outside” options against panicking opponents?
- What are my gimmicks and bait?
- What is my game plan?
A video guide explaining these points in more detail can be found below:
What general advice should a beginner follow? What general strategy?
It's important to develop a learning strategy to play FGs with the most excitement and effectiveness if you want to improve. He are a few, universal tips:
- Don't rush and try to parry - learn to block first. Blocking is safer, even if the reward is not immidiate, its worse than parrying all the time and either getting baited or missing the parry completely. Don't mash when you don't know what to do as well - you *will* get punished a lot if you do. Blocking is great, learn to love it.
- When you do start to parry, - start with fireballs, then ex-fireballs, then tatsus and shoryus. Fireball parries are essential. Many moves share similar timings.
- Have routes to super - which are reliable and repeatable. Example: Ken can mixup overhead into sa3, or clk, clk into sa3. If he has oki, he can almost always enforce this. How does your character enforce a mixup that leads to super?
- Play people who are (only a bit) better than you, and expect to lose many of your first matches, for a differing period of time. Losing is normal, you shouldn't blame yourself, nor the game or the opponent for it. Nobody is going to shame you for losing, and if you can learn from your losses you will only be respected. Learning from loses is exactly what pro player do.
- Talk with People! The best part of FGs is the community, learning, discussing and playing together is the fun. If you play on Fightcade, join the 3rd Strike servers and community events pointed out in the room for the game.
- Always remember to have fun. If you're not enjoying yourself or finding yourself getting frustrated, take a walk, touch grass.
-  Official Arcade Page
-  Japanese Wiki
- Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Forums on Shoryuken
- C-Royd Teaches 3rd Strike - In-depth 3rd Strike tutorials
- The Shend's YouTube Channel - Thousands of 3rd Strike matches and miscellaneous videos
- Thongboy presents 3rd Strike Basics - The seminal 3rd Strike tutorial
- Street Fighter III Third Strike Frame Data - Frame data courtesy of ESN
- 3rd Strike Junkies Podcast - Strategy podcast
- 3rd Strike Resources Spreadsheet - Lots of General Tutorials, Info, Videos, and Resources, along with plenty of character specific resources
- 3S Sprite Viewer - Extensive Sprites/Animations for every 3S character