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Let’s Talk What Capcom Did To Luke In Street Fighter 5’s Definitive Balance Update

Let's Talk What Capcom Did To Luke In Street Fighter 5's Definitive Balance Update

Luke was clearly designed to make a splash as an exceptionally important character not just for Street Fighter 5, but for the entire franchise as the protagonist of the upcoming Street Fighter 6. As such, the developers seem to have him intentionally over-tuned in an effort. to ensure he has enough playing time and fully familiarizes himself with the community.

Seemingly masterful in most areas, Luke quickly frustrated a lot of people during his first few months. The release this week of Final SF5 Balance Update naturally drew many nerve-wracking eyes to Luke’s section, but do the changes seem to balance out the power of MMA? In short, almost certainly not.

Luke has been hit by a relatively high amount of nerfs, but how big will they be in the areas where he’s proven to be the most overpowered?


Reducing his health and stun is surely a good place to start (he now has 1000 health and 1000 stuns instead of 1025 and 1050) although it doesn’t really have much of an effect on the how the character will be played and what he will be able to do in the game.

Capcom’s change to Luke’s jump forward animation (which was both misleading and shoddy) is also nice, but more of a quality-of-life joke as opposed to meaningful help for those who have it. fight.


What about nerfing his mid squat kick? Having more recovery and a bigger punch box is a very decent change as it directly hits Luke in the neutral arena/footsies (one of the many places he excels) and so we’re on a good departure.

Thing is, while it was one of Luke’s amazing normals, it wasn’t even his best (you can argue between a standing medium punch and a crouching punch, though more Luke’s normals are incredibly useful).

Otherwise, in the normals department, Luke actually got a buff to his standing light kick so he has an extra edge on the hit, and a quality of life buff to his crouching medium punch so that works a little better in combos.

That’s it. Nothing to his jabs, nothing to his standing mid kick, nothing to his ferocious attacker. Capcom clearly wants Luke to excel in the neutral and that players who use him have a relatively easier time scoring loose shots and confirming shots than most other players.


Capcom has taken care of Sand Blaster in this update, but not in terms of frame data. Luke’s projectiles now do 10 less damage on hit, 2 less damage on block, and have a bit less knockback (so he can’t knock you away as effectively and if he lands them too close he ends up in a situation quite non-advantageous place).

The damage nerf isn’t nothing, but it’s only just beginning to fix the issue most players have been having with Luke’s fireballs.

When he wasn’t hitting you with incredible pars last season, Luke was probably a screen length away throwing Sand Blasters. His fireballs are very different from those of most other SF5 characters in that they functioned more as rapid, spreading blows, as opposed to additional hazards that linger on screen for a short time.

Players faced with the initial version of Luke often expressed frustration at how difficult it was to try to walk and block against him simply because his Sand Blasters (especially the light and VT versions) started up so fast.

Also, it’s largely the end of his nerves.


Luke has a unique trait in that his triggers recharge over time or when he successfully attacks, but deplete if hit. The devs haven’t really nerfed this trait, but changed it to focus more on landing/hit dodging than timing. (He now recovers half as fast via time and twice as efficiently via hits.)

The traditionally preferred combo of VS1 and VT1 is still about as useful as before as there were no nerfs to either (fireball nerfs indirectly affect VT1), but Capcom is clearly trying to encourage users to explore VS2 and VT2 as they decided to deploy a handful of buffs for both.

While the SF5 community might not have as much trouble with Luke’s fireballs now, they may have an even harder time dealing with the closer, personal approach that comes with VS2 and VT2.


Luke’s EX Impaler race track apparently wasn’t used enough, so Capcom added some utility to it. Players can now more effectively use the EX version at the end of combos for better positioning for enemy oki (wake up) situations.

EX Impale now does more damage, has better hitboxes, and drops Luke closer after successfully landing. Finally, Luke’s Critical Art used to sometimes smell when he canceled it from an anti-aircraft DP, and so the developers made the hitbox reach higher to make his quality of life much better.


It’s clear that Capcom wants to keep Luke’s status as one of the best characters in gaming (if not the undisputed number one). Fair enough. Strategically making certain characters more alluring isn’t at all uncommon in the modern era of gaming, and at least he’s a new face at the top of the tier list mountain.

Time will tell if this ends up being a kick in the sand for Capcom, as there’s a good chance the young MMA fighter will become heavily overrepresented in competitive play this year.

In effect, TSB | Daigo “The Beast” Umehara recently expressed a less than enthusiastic take on the new SF5 update, noting that he imagines he may be playing Luke factually due to how powerful he is.

Another professional player, Darryl “Snake Eyez” Lewis, shared some of his concern on Twitter this morning:

Time will tell a lot more than these first days of definitive update impressions, and the pressure of finding the perfect balance seems somewhat lifted in Capcom’s approach to SF5’s final year. That’s not to say they’re not trying to make the playing field relatively even, but you could say that this update prioritizes fun over balance in many ways. (Seeing Capcom give Ibuki his VT2 mix and R. Mika his mid-screen bounce are some of the biggest proofs of that.)

With some major nerfs to his fellow (former?) upper tiers, Luke has a real shot at being the best character in SF5’s later chapters. The real question we’re looking forward to is whether or not the community widely accepts it.

This matters because Capcom seems to be making Luke the face of Street Fighter 6, and if a ton of your fans hate him because of their experiences in SF5, that could be a major issue. He could dominate the competitive landscape, he could make other characters play obsolete, or he could just be a fun high level in a game that we take a little less seriously in his finale.

What do you think?