Highlights The Gamers 8 Street Fighter 6 invitational had a $1,000,000 prize pool, with Kakeru emerging as the grand champion, defeating Angry Bird. Kakeru and other top players use JP, a zoner character in Street Fighter 6 known for his complex kit and defensive playstyle. To counter JP’s zoning, players can react to his projectiles, punish his Level 1 Super and command grab with a jump, and utilize the parry mechanic to close the distance.
The Gamers 8 Street Fighter 6 invitational was the biggest tournament so far in 2023 because of its $1,000,000 prize pool, with $400,000 of it going to the grand champion Kakeru. He beat out the recently-crowned SF6 EVO 2023 champion Angry Bird in a hectic grand final match. This competitor has been a standout since the latter years of Street Fighter 5 and recently won the Red Bull Kumite Last Chance Qualifiers and placed fifth at EVO 2023. While he was a Ryu main in SF5, he shelved the shoto in favor of SF6’s premier zoner at the moment: JP.
Kakeru isn’t the only high-ranked player on the JP train, as over 11 other players in the top 64 of EVO’s Street Fighter 6 tournament used him. Pro players like Brian_F and SonicFox also main him in their ranked streams and competitions. While JP isn’t a popular pick in ranked because of his complex kit and defensive playstyle, he’s a nuisance for the same reasons. Players, especially newer ones, just have a rough time dealing with JP.Why JP is One of the Strongest Zoners in Street Fighter 6
JP is classified as a zoner, in fighting game terms. This means that he primarily fights far away, using projectiles to keep away or “zone out” his opponent. He shares this same playstyle with other Street Fighter 6 characters like Guile and Dhalsim. What’s great about JP is that his Triglav and Torbalan special move projectiles. Triglav summons spikes from below at varying distances, depending on the punch strength the player inputs. Torbalan, on the other hand, summons a clone that can hit high, mid, and low, which can keep opponents on their toes even when they’re blocking.
If other fighters try to throw out their projectiles, JP will just use Triglav to punish them, wherever they may be standing. JP’s Embrace special move allows him to do a command grab from far away, which can help stop stubborn enemies from advancing. Both his Triglav and Torbalan projectiles can be canceled into his Level 3 Super Art, letting him deal some nasty damage without even getting close. His defensive playstyle is further amplified by his Overdrive Amnesia special move, which acts as a reversal for hits and throws. JP players can also mix things up by going on the offensive using Drive Rush or Departure teleport to get close and ending their combos with Stribog to push their opponents back again.
Zoners in fighting games are notoriously difficult for new players to defeat. After all, a match can feel hopeless if one can’t even get close to the enemy. Even defending against characters like JP is hard because his projectiles can hit from anywhere on the screen. It can be overwhelming to deal with this character, but players can use different strategies to break down his defenses and get some round-winning damage in.
One way to counter JP is to learn to react to his Torbalan in Street Fighter 6’s training mode. Keen players will see that JP spawns the projectile at a different height, depending on the input. They can then react to this by blocking high or low. His Level 1 Super and command grab are also easily punishable with a jump. One should also take advantage of the parry mechanic when dealing with zoners like JP. A well-timed parry can give the player additional frames to get close to him and even get a combo off.
JP is one of the best characters in Street Fighter 6 because of his zoning specials that can hit at varying distances and heights. Even pros have a difficult time dealing with players like Kakeru, who have mastered JP’s diverse kit to great success. While he may be dominating the upper echelons of tournament and ranked play, JP can still be defeated by players who practice their reactions against his projectiles and hone their parry timings.
Street Fighter 6 is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.