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What Makes a Patch Part 2: Biggest Winners From Patch 1.18

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12 Jul 2022

By the time you're reading this patch notes day has come and gone for Guilty Gear: Strive update 1.18. As is always the case with balance updates, FGC discourse is set ablaze with early predictions of character strength. “So and so character is broken!”, “this character is unplayable!”, “this patch is amazing!”, “this patch sucks!”. These are the kinds of nuanced discussions you’ll find if you browse through FGC twitter following any release. It can feel confusing to look at the whirlwind of discussion online; Should you be excited or worried for this upcoming iteration? 

The truth is, until players get the update in their hands all discussion surrounding the patch is mere speculation. However, speculation is not entirely without value; it's just a matter of wading through the muck to find it. Below you’ll find my list of the biggest winners following the most recent update. 

Only time will tell how the competitive meta will unfold, and it’s important to remember that every character is viable at the casual level. So, unless your goal is to win tournaments, don’t worry too much about these changes and just play who you love. Take any opinions in here with a grain of salt and let's have a little fun!

Link to the full list of changes here: 

If your interested in some opinions or breakdowns of the patch by top level pros check out these FGC content creators:

Hotashi: 

LordKnight: 

Romolla: 

Sajam:

General System Changes

Along with individual Character balance, we’ll be seeing some general changes that‘ll affect the cast across the board. Essentially, Arcsystem Works is introducing some more options to increase player freedom and expressiveness. Dash cancels and expanded combo routes on counter hits are some examples of this. 

Check out in-game examples from Arc System Works official twitter:

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Biggest Winners

These are the characters who have received changes that will increase their strength in a way that is significant. Hopefully, for previously underrepresented characters this means more representation in competitive play.

1. Ky Kiske

Ky came into patch 1.18 already in a strong position seeing representation amongst many notable players. Although he was never considered a top tier character, he was competitive. After the patch, Ky is competing for a spot with the best of them. In 1.18 he saw nothing but buffs, improving his already strong neutral game and reversal while giving him easier conversions for big damage. His previously weak super “Dragon Install” now forces a hard knockdown putting the player in an advantageous position to continue their offense. If you are a Ky fan rejoice, your time has come!

Interested in Ky check out PAR|Flash Metroid: 

2. Faust

Historically always a top tier character, Faust has been riding the struggle bus so far in GG:ST. Commonly considered among the bottom 3, Faust is not a viable tournament threat. However, this may change in patch 1.18, as he has received notable buffs to many of his special items and large ground based normals. The system changes also benefit Faust, giving him more options to convert into damage. The days of top tier Faust had been long lost but Season 2 might see a return to Guilty Gear tradition. 

Interested in Faust? Check out bc|Apologyman: 

3. Baiken

A fan favorite and one of the most recognizable characters amongst the FGC, Baiken was in a solid spot heading into the patch. Although only seeing some representation competitively, Baiken was able to win Canada Cup via the hands of Canadian Baiken veteran Memokarp. It’s a good time to be a Baiken player as she saw major buffs in patch 1.18. Previously, she struggled with consistency and safe pressure due to poor special-move cancels and wonky combo interactions. Both these problems were solved, and in addition she received increased advantage after her tether allowing her to maintain her offense. Her normal moves were also made faster and less vulnerable, improving her mid-range game. It’s still early but it appears our favorite one eyed samurai is ready to make a statement in Season 2. 

Interested in Baiken? Check out Memokarp:

4. Millia Rage

Millia is an interesting character when it comes to competitive GG:ST. Commonly considered a weak character she doesn't see a lot of play at the highest levels of competition. Mostly, this is due to her low health, poor meter gain and inability to convert key interactions. Despite this, it’s impossible to argue that Millia doesn't have a strong win condition in her diverse mix up game. Worry not however, as Millia is getting help across the board. Many of her normal attacks are receiving buffs that will allow her to access her win condition more easily. Changes to her “Tandem Top” special move also make her mix up even more deadly. Strive is still a big damage game, so low health characters are always a risk, but Millia fans should be optimistic as these are changes in the right direction for her. 

Interested in Millia Rage? Check out bc|LordKnight: 

5. Goldlewis Dickenson

I hate this character… why did they buff him… why!?! Personal vendettas aside, Goldlewis was honestly struggling in the previous version of the game. An all or nothing character design coupled with slow movement, a big body and poor buttons meant that Goldlewis was a non-factor in the competitive scene. Once again Arc Sys. waved their magic wand and buffed many of Goldlewis’ normals allowing him to have a more substantial presence in the neutral game. Special moves dependent on his resource “security meter” also received some buffs. Whether or not these buffs are enough to make Goldlewis a tournament viable character remains to be seen but he is definitely scarier than he was before…. and I hate it.

Interested in Goldlewis Dickenson (why…)? Check out Darkrai: 

6. Jack-O

Jack-O is a complex character dependent on management of her servants to perform optimal combos and pressure. While not a weak character, Jack-O suffered from being overshadowed by the top tiers who have much simpler and more consistent gameplans. Buffs to her “servant gauge” allow her more flexibility early in rounds. The servants themselves have also been buffed, making them harder to remove. As Jack-O continues to receive buffs look out. This character can be a serious threat with a little work, and thanks to her eclectic playstyle nobody is familiar with the matchup.

Interested in Jack-O? Check out NotPichu:

7. Testament

As the final DLC character of Season 1, Testament came onto the scene with a mixed response. With time, consensus placed them around the middle of the pack in terms of character strength. Testament saw almost no tournament representation, but that's not necessarily a reflection of the character's quality. The lack of play is more a result of how new they are, their vicinity to a balance patch, and the dominance of pre-established top tiers. Testament received a similar treatment to Baiken with buffs to the speed and vulnerability of their normals, as well as more consistency with key special moves. Testament is a character that will benefit from the normalization of top tiers as they can now settle into their niche as a midrange control specialist with the normals and stability to back it up. 

 

Interested in Testament? Check out Romolla:

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Honorable Mentions

In addition to what I covered here there are many more changes coming for the rest of the cast in version 1.18. Although these seven are the biggest winners in my opinion, characters like: Axl, Chipp, Giovanna and I-no all received a mix of buffs and nerfs that landed them in the net positive. 

More or Less the Same

Characters like: Nagoriyuki, Happy Chaos, Anji and Ramlethal are all more or less unchanged. This is good news for Nago, Chaos and Ram as they will remain strong. Bad news for Anji however as his stay at the bottom of the tier list seems like it’ll last a little longer. 

The Losers

Leo, Sol, May and Potemkin are our losers from this patch. In one way or another these characters have all been weakened from their previous iteration.

Once again all of this is merely speculation, and we’ll have to wait and see how the new competitive meta unfolds in the months to come. I also want to reiterate that every character is viable at the casual level so don’t fret any changes too much. Change always begets controversy in the FGC, but one thing I can guarantee is that we’re in for some great competition in the coming months as top players redefine the meta in Season 2 of Guilty Gear: Strive. 

By: Simon Mancuso

12 Jul 2022
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