Tier lists in fighting games exist because they’re a good indicator of characters who are either used the most, have the best tools and skillset for most of their good matchups, and whether they suffer in the long game.
Here’s one according to the folks at Airdasher SG, the de facto group for Guilty Gear and anime fighter tournaments. Keep in mind that all tier lists are subjective and will definitely evolve over time, probably 3 months or so.
Ramlethal, May, Sol Badguy, Chipp
No surprises with the top picks, if we’re being frank. In a neutral play-savvy Guilty Gear entry where matches can end in seconds, the person with the best poking and footsie tools, not to mention follow-ups, will kick your ass and have the least bad matchups. Ramlethal basically has that in spades and an instant Super move.
Ditto May thanks to her goddamn dolphins. Sol Badguy’s normals are the equivalent of Street Fighter 5 Laura’s standing MK in Season 1: the go-to move to fish counters in a game where counterattacks can swing matches to your favour. Plus, his poster boy status means he’s the best character to play if you’re starting out in Guilty Gear.
Chipp can die super-quick if he gets hit because of his low health, but his damage output and speed are second to none.
Nagoriyuki, Ky Kiske, Potemkin, Giovanna, Zato-1
The characters here are used the most in online and high-level play because they have great kits and moves for their matchups. Nagoriyuki’s “one shot” play is pretty damaging though his Blood Gauge requires skill to manage; one mistimed Blood Rage means a free round for your opponent. Ky Kiske is the go-to “shoto” character alongside Sol.
Potemkin is arguably the game’s best grappler archetype; he hits really hard but is obviously slow against the majority of the cast, thus needs to rely on footsies, defense, and patience to succeed. Giovanna is the game’s easiest rushdown character to use, even for Guilty Gear standards.
Zato-1 is tricky to use, but his toolset will kill off newbies who can’t figure out his gameplay, which is putting stuff on screen (Eddie) and planning a follow-up attack to trap you.
Millia has mobility and mixups, but her damage output needs work when compared to the rest of the S and A rank cast. Leo is a handful for new players due to his Brynhildr Stance mixups, but once you figure it out (via a well-timed throw and reactions), you just have to watch telltale signs and punish when appropriate.
Then again, pros like SonicFox may prove the meta wrong.
Axel has the best keepaway and zoning tools among the cast, but you need to play him perfectly lest you get overwhelmed by the top tier rushdown and footsie characters. Plus, he has a number of moves that opponents can punish compared to the S and A rank cast.
As for I-No, she’s a mixed bag for many high-level players; some say she’s good because of her fast airdash mixups and Super command grab, but she pales in comparison with folks like Millia and Chip.
Anji has great matchups against slow folks like Potemkin, but he requires high execution to make this dance dodge/Fuujin setplay work. Faust has good zoning tools and a nice mixup game with his scarecrows, but the stuff he throws are random AF and mostly work against him.
Guilty Gear Strive is out right now; check out our review here.