SFV Best Shoto Characters (All Shoto Characters Ranked Weakest To Strongest)

SFV Best Shoto Characters
Because everyone loves a shoto.

What are the best shotos in Street Fighter V?

Street Fighter is known for presenting a huge variety of different characters with different playing styles, and the interaction between distinct fighters is part of the game’s appeal.

However, all of this versatile fighting style and gameplays take root in Street Fighter’s original playable character, Ryu. The Japanese vagabond has cemented his spot as one of the most recognizable faces in all of gaming and the way he played was based on 3 types of special moves: the Hadoken, meaning a fireball; the Shoryuken, an uppercut or DP (short for Dragon Punch); and the Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, the hurricane forward-moving kick. 

Ever since, characters with the same type of moveset have been known in fighting games as “shotos”, a word derived from the term Shotokan Karate. So for this list, we’ll be considering any character with a fireball, an uppercut, and a forward-moving kick for special moves as a shoto, regardless of their own specific playstyle fitting in other categories such as zoners or rushdowns.


10. Ed

Yep, Ed technically counts as a shoto. He has a polemic design where no motion inputs are required to perform his moves. Instead, all you have to do is press buttons in certain ways to use his specials, which is certainly something unheard of for Street Fighter. Sure, you always had button mash specials like Honda’s Hundred Hand Slap or Blanka’s Electric Thunder, but Ed’s entire moveset is built upon this concept.

He has a fireball with Psycho Shoot, a DP with Psycho Rising, and the forward-moving Pyscho Knuckle in his arsenal. Psycho Shoot can work as a good tool to handle fireball wars and for specific situations, but most of Ed’s game plan is all about getting the opponent close to him. That’s why he is equipped with his V-Skill I and V-Trigger II, which are snatcher moves that can easily grab the distanced opponent and get them close so Ed can start his combos.

He has an interesting playing design in which many of his moves can only be used as follow-ups to others in his arsenal, kind of like a snowball effect. Ed notably lacks any sort of unique attacks, but he has more tools in his shed such as the capability to initiate dangerous set-ups after the opponent is knocked down, especially with his Psycho Cannon.

What Makes Ed Great:

  • Easy execution due to the lack of motion inputs
  • Many effective anti-air options
  • Really good at dealing with zoning tactics


9. Lucia

SFV FINAL update Lucia balance changes (MEGA BUFFS)

Lucia Morgan is an orginal Final Fight 3 character and she is a police detective in Metro City. She is technically a rushdown and mix-up character, but since she meets the requirements for this list, we will be considering her a shoto.

Unfortunately, Lucia has been a low tier and underused character ever since she first appeared in the game, but that seems to be possible to change due to her recent new buffs, which might allow some players to try to unlock her hidden potential.

Lucia is equipped with skills that should allow her to get close to her opponent, including command runs and command jump-ins, but she was too easily punishable and her special moves had low pay-off. With the buffs she recently got, players are already starting to find some new loops and pseudo-infinite combos, and maybe we will see some good Lucia players in the upcoming Capcom Pro Tour 2022.

What Makes Lucia Great:

  • Fireball with unorthodox trajectory can catch opponents off-guard
  • Her uppercut is a hurricane kick, granting it a wide hitbox, especially during V-Trigger 1
  • Long rushdown combos


8. Sakura

Uryo (Sakura) is awesome ! Street Fighter V Champion Edition SFV CE

Debuting in Street Fighter Alpha 2, Sakura has been one of the more popular shotos in fighting games.

Sakura excels when it comes to footsies, with a good variety of great normals that are extremely useful for whiff punishes. Particularly, her standing light kick serves as a great tool in neutral and is able to combo into her Shohoken. Sakura is also the fastest of the shotos when it comes to walking speed which only helps accentuate how good she is on the ground game.

However, Sakura’s fireball is slow and does not even travel full screen if not fully charged, and her EX Shohoken is not completely invincible on wake-up, like the rest of the game’s shoto’s DPs. In any case, Sakura is definitely a fun character to play with a lot of juggling potential for those who want to use the opponent’s body as a volleyball.

What Makes Sakura Great:

  • Excellent at whiff punishing
  • Fast walk speed and overall mobility
  • Proper juggling potential


7. Sagat


Next up, we have Thailand’s own, Sagat. Former martial arts champion and the original boss in Street Fighter (1987), turned into one of the 4 Kings of Shadaloo under M. Bison, turned respectful and honorable fighter in search of self-improvement, this character has gone through one of the most impactful character developments in the whole series.

Sagat has been a zoner since day one, and although he is not as powerful as his Street Fighter II iteration, he is definitely still relevant at his game. Tiger Shot is a fireball that can be thrown high or low, and with recovery so fast that with good execution Sagat can keep shooting these fireballs like an automatic rifle. And if the opponent tries to jump in, Sagat can throw his Tiger Uppercut, which is an excellent anti-air, capable of scaring his opponents into not jumping at all.

If his Tiger Uppercut is enhanced with his V-Skill 1, Angry Charge, it will deal more damage and stun, increase his V-Meter, add juggling properties to the move that allow him to follow up with new combos, and best of all, it will knock the opponent far away, at a perfect range for Sagat to keep doing what he does best, and that is zoning.

What Makes Sagat Great:

  • Terrifying DP in Tiger Uppercut
  • Has a total of 7 different types of fireballs, counting different speeds, sizes, and height
  • Has extremely long limbs that make his normals great at poking, albeit slow


6. Ryu

JustfogQ16 (Ryu) Final Patch Street Fighter V Champion Edition  SFV CE

Ryu has been the main poster child for Street Fighter and pretty much its main character throughout all these years. He remains extremely popular and he is definitely the most used character in the entire game. He remains the prototype shoto character, with a few tricks prepared to use.

He has simple and easy-to-execute combos that allow Ryu players to focus more on decision-making during a match, and he recently got relevant buffs that allow him to do double wall-bouncing combos and fire the heavy Hadoken tremendously fast. Ryu has one of the best air-to-air moves in the game in the shape of his jumping medium kick and he has multiple ways to cross-up the opponent after a knockdown. His offense becomes much more powerful when he activates his V-Trigger I, Denjin Renki, but players can also opt for a more defensive style by choosing the counter-attacking V-Trigger II.

Ryu is an all-rounded, perfectly balanced character, having access to a skillset prepared to face multiple situations, although not particularly amazing in any of the aspects of the game. A true Jack of all trades, master of none.

What Makes Ryu Great:

  • Comfortable with fighting at multiple ranges
  • Dynamic gameplay adaptable to opponents with different playstyles
  • No particular strengths, but no particular weaknesses either


5. Dan

SFV CE Best of Moruto Dan

Dan started off as a joke character directly aimed at rival company SNK back in the Street Fighter Alpha days. He is known for being weak and for using too many taunts, but he has always been a fan favorite due to his charismatic personality and hilariously funny demeanor.

In Street Fighter V, Dan’s iconic taunts are incorporated in his moveset in a fun and clever way, as you can cancel his special moves into taunts and link the taunts into other moves, essentially transforming Dan’s taunts in combo extenders. His V-Skill 1 taunts can render any of his unsafe specials suddenly safe on block, working as a pseudo-FADC mechanic from Street Fighter IV, and his V-Skill 2 taunts can be canceled from any of Dan’s normals, and when in the hands of a skilled player, can then be kara-canceled into the next move. This allows the master of Saikyo-Style to surprise his opponents with unorthodox combos and strategies.

Dan also notably has a 1-bar V-Trigger that can be used to guard break and extend his combos even further and having the cost of a V-Shift or V-Reversal, it can be used multiple times in the same match. Capcom has decisively done an amazing job in boosting Dan’s potential to that of an actual competitive character, and the fans are living for it.

What Makes Dan Great:

  • Has a 1-bar V-Trigger
  • Nigh-unlimited combo potential due to his unusual V-Skills
  • Can easily be underestimated by the opponent


4. Kage

Daigo (Kage) Definitive Update Street Fighter V Champion Edition SFV CE

Kage is a primarily offensive character, whose game plan is to get close to the opponent and start overwhelming them with absurd, non-stop pressure and blockstrings intercalated with punishes and counter-hits that will lead to long technical combos with high damage output.

He has had a tough run in SFV, mostly due to his normals being too stubby and his subsequent inability to play a solid neutral game. However, since the definitive patch update, Kage has grown ridiculously popular, as he gained several buffs.

Kage’s Hadoken has been buffed exponentially as all versions gained a bigger hitbox, the air version will explode on the opponent and during V-Trigger II, the heavy Hadoken will actually be a distance-traveling fireball, improving Kage’s zoning and poking game. Kage also gained more combos and overall, his moves opened the way for newer and funner combo routes. His signature Ryusokyaku is now also much harder to whiff punish, and his Shoryuken can now be canceled into Critical Art. So if you run into a Kage, you better be ready to handle his aggression, as his approach is frighteningly more dangerous than before.

What Makes Kage Great:

  • Great pressure
  • Complex and decimating combos
  • One of the best V-Triggers in V-Trigger II, Rikudo Osatsu


3. Akuma

The BEST Akuma's Definitive Guide to the New Patch (V-Skill 2 is BROKEN!) - Street Fighter V Update

Akuma is the quintessential glass cannon. He has an above-average damage output, combined with below-average health and stun. With Akuma, you destroy or get destroyed.

He’s equipped with many different tools, not only in offensive terms but also when talking about mobility. Akuma’s dangerous from all angles and all distances and his standing medium kick is a scary weapon to face in neutral, as it has tremendous range and speed, and it can be canceled into most of his special moves.

His Demon Flip allows for exclusive mix-ups and his V-System pushes his gameplay limits even further, with the inclusion of parries, the ability to cancel special moves into special moves, combo extenders, and even greater damage output. As if all this wasn’t enough, his classic unblockable super Shun Goku Satsu (or Raging Demon) is ever-present with his V-Trigger 1, remaining as one of the most damaging moves in the game, if you can land it. Messatsu!

What Makes Akuma Great:

  • High damage output
  • Fantastic mix-up game 
  • Incredibly vast arsenal 


2. Ken

SFV update - Ken Combo Compilation

Ken Masters is designed to take an offensive, rushdown approach, and his moves are best applied when in close range. He has multiple combos that seem they never end, and all of them with great corner carry. In fact, Ken’s corner-carry potential is probably only second to G in the whole game, as even his back throw can leave the opponent on the other side of the planet.

What makes him stand out among other shotos is that Ken has virtually no setbacks or hindrances incorporated in his design. His normals are great and can all be converted into dynamic combos, his fireball has great frame data, and he almost always gets oki after his Shoryuken and its variants. His heavy Shoryuken has a deceptively enormous hitbox and works as one of the best punishing tools in the game, and his V-Trigger II Shinryuken has an even bigger hitbox, capable of sucking in any opponent reckless enough to whiff a move.

Ken’s gameplay is explosive and his matches are fast-paced, as Ken relies on the speed and versatility of his movement and attacks to mix the opponent up and keep an offensive loop going strong. He also has a lot of tricky frame traps that he can use to easily win any fight if the opponent is not familiar enough with the match-up. No wonder Ken is so popular among players of all skill levels.

What Makes Ken Great:

  • Beautiful combo versatility
  • Great corner carry
  • Consistent self-rewarding gameplay


1. Luke


Luke will likely be presented as the main character for Street Fighter 6, and Capcom has been making sure we understand that. Luke was released as undoubtedly one the strongest characters in the roster, and now that the definitive patch was released, all of the meta top tiers were severely nerfed, most notably Cammy and Urien. All of the top tiers were nerfed, except Luke.

His normals are great, they’re hard to punish and they move Luke forward, his fireball, the Sand Blaster is so fast it’s hard to react to, he has a great uppercut and he has multiple forward-moving special moves that can be used in different situations. His meterless Flash Knuckle has 3 variants, each with different combo routes, and each one can be charged to have a different effect. The best part is that you don’t even need to charge for too long, and even if you don’t want to bother with timing your charge, you can stock it by using V-Skill 1.

Luke is also equipped with a grab parry, and his V-Trigger mechanics are different than anyone else in the entire roster, as his V-Timer increases with time, rather than decreasing, forcing opponents to attack Luke and be very cautious when he has his V-Trigger activated. Adding all of this to great combos and juggles and you have a recipe for disaster for anyone willing to take Luke on a match. He is not only the best shoto by definition, he also stands above head and shoulders of everyone else as the strongest character in Street Fighter V.

What Makes Luke Great:

  • Fantastic neutral game thanks to high-quality normal attacks
  • Super easy to hit-confirm into damaging combos from short to mid-range
  • He has unique advantageous mechanics like his V-Trigger and forward-moving normals that make him stand out from everyone else


The term “shoto” can be highly controversial and that is why we clearly stated what we would take into consideration as valid entries for this list. The truth is that every single one of these characters has a forward-moving special, a DP, and a fireball, and even if they all have completely different styles and strategies, their moveset remains that of what makes a shoto.

We are yet to witness the full extent of all the changes that occurred with the latest definitive balance patch in March, but with the upcoming Capcom Pro Tour 2022, we can all start fastening our seatbelts to what will be an exciting trip as we see the best pros in the world unlock the true hidden potential among all these characters.


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Andre walks the path of a fighting warrior to pursue self-improvement and to break his limits. His amazing power of creative writing and his unwavering love for games are the source of his willpower.
Gamer Since: 2003
Favorite Genre: PVP
Currently Playing: Street Fighter V: Champion Edition
Top 3 Favorite Games:Street Fighter X Tekken, Grand Theft Auto V, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

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