I am not satisfied until I have the world's strongest title again!
Season 3 of Street Fighter 5 came to a close with the release of Sagat and G. While Sagat was a high tier fighter in all flavors of Street Fighter 4 before Ultra Street Fighter IV, he was released to mixed reviews for SFV. Sagat plays a hard hitting zoning game. The problem with this is that Guile does it better. His uppercuts are hard to connect; and that is if you do not get interrupted first. His punish game is pretty good with easy hit confirms and links. Every fighter has a bit of ying and yang to balance them out, but it would appear Sagat is an afterthought compared to what he once was.
Return of the Sagat
Historically, the force has been strong with Sagat. He used to be a feared competitor with a powerful mid-range Tiger Knee that could go over fireballs, fast double-hitting kicks, long reach with good power and speed, and a somewhat dependable anti-air Tiger Uppercut. These trademarks gave Sagat a strong zoning game. In the days of Street Fighter 4 I would sometimes pick Sagat and fool around a bit in my matches. I would try to win only using Fierce Punches, Ducking Fierce Punches, and Jump Fierce Punches. Then I would try to finish off my opponent with a single Fierce Tiger Uppercut. This worked surprisingly well, even in competitive ranked matches. While some things carried over to SFV, a lot of Sagat's signature abilities seem to have been lost in translation.
Strengths of SFV Sagat
Here is what Sagat does well in Street Fighter 5:
Easy Hit Confirm Combinations
One of the most satisfying moves to land with Sagat is his double-hitting Standing Heavy Kick. It sets up many hits handsomely. Some of his other pokes can be canceled to combos as well. His V-Triggers greatly increase his combo potential as well by canceling almost any of his normal moves to a powerful attack.
Long Reaching Attacks
His Standing Fierce Punch and Ducking Strong Punch ( D + LP ) can punish or interupt enemies that are trying to enter midrange with an attack, dash, or jump. The caveat is that he is too slow to make this effective in a lot of situations. Use these two often and you will have dragon punches, flash kicks, and other punishes taking you out.
Extended High Damaging Combos
While it takes a high degree of execution, there is potential for great damage output. His EX moves are decent.
Weaknesses of Sagat
With the combination of low priority, slow speed, and vulnerability during a lot of his moves, Sagat is bound to take a ton of hits that render him dumbfoundedly open for combos. Sometimes, you will just be happy if you can trade hits. Quite often, you will hear Sagat say "Tiger Uppercut" during his stun animation or while he is getting thrown. His moves feel ineffective overall.
Jump-In Attacks Connect On Sagat Easily
Your mission should you choose to accept it is to zone your opponents. Not getting hit while Sagat extends his arms a great distance to toss his projectiles is hard to do successfully. While his Tiger Shots are good at catching really long distance jumpers, they are scary to use in mid-range. You will try to mix up your fireballs with Tiger Uppercuts, and the occasional use of Kara Canceling to extend your range. The problem with this is that you need to be perfect at your execution, anticipation, timing, and mind games. You will be punished most of the times you get one of these concepts wrong, even if only for an instant.
Whiffing Against Jumpers
Sagat is vulnerable against opponents crossing him over with jump attacks. Some characters can queue up a counter during a block, Sagat seems to slow to do pretty much anythingHis big stature and late hit frames may push a jumping opponent over him and away from an attempt at an anti-air Tiger Uppercut. Using the EX version of Tiger Uppercuts is a necessity in a lot of cases. Even then it is not reliable in a lot of scenarios.
Enemy's Fireball Evasion
You will need to be creative and lucky with enemies that negate your arsenal. Especially ones that can do it without jumping.
Characters that play a good poking game will suck the life out of Sagat bit by bit. You will be hoping that your opponent is trying to throw you just so you know that your throw attempt will not end up with you getting punished into submission.
The Good, The Bad, and the Sagat
Sagat should be your main if you do not like easy wins. He is near the bottom of a lot of tier lists. While any character is effective in the right hands, mistakes with Sagat are amplified because every move needs to be precise with timing and spacing. A lot of his game is going to be spent trying to not over extend and getting combo'd to death. Landing his hard hits are very rewarding. Hopefully, rebalancing will fix a lot of these issues. This is not your dad's Sagat.
by Garry Gordon