Balrog, or Boxer as many know him, is a Street Fighter stalwart who has been in practically every iteration of the game. His playstyle has always been interesting as he is a charge character with some really heavy hits that can do a lot of damage. The addition of his V-Skill has also added a new side to his game, and he is much better at dealing with projectile characters than he once was.
Balrog is a weird character from a professional standpoint. He's never a popular character, but there's usually a handful of players that define Balrog for a particular era. For a while, PR Balrog was the undisputed go-to man. In more recent times, we have seen some interesting playstyles with Balrog, including Pugera, who has been doing some serious damage with the character. In our guide today, we have another prodigious Balrog talent teaching us a lesson on this character. xNightMareEffecT is a player that most people should be familiar with. He certainly has the credentials as a top-tier Balrog player. He took top spot at South Louisiana Major 2019 and is a regular competitor at NLBC and Red Bull Conquest.
xNightMareEffecT is also a streamer and content creator, so check him out on Twitch
So, let's talk Balrog buttons. As a charge character and boxer, Balrog has a bunch of heavy blows to throw at the opponent, which he can unleash and cause damage. Arguably all of Balrog's buttons are great, but we'll highlight the most important ones for the sake of this guide.
st. HP- This is a powerful button. While it's -3 on block, the pushback makes it so that it is generally safe to use and isn't easy to whiff punish
st. HK- This is another great button. It is +2 on block and keeps the opponent under intense pressure.
cr. MP- This is also plus on block and is a safe move to use as a poking option
cr. MK- This is also negative on block, but it also enables you to attack the opponent's legs. So, if they aren't paying attention or spending too much time pressing '←' you can attack their feet.
st. LP- This is plus on block and could lead to an easy tick throw
Generally speaking, most of Balrog's buttons are safe and are great to use to control space and play the neutral game. The only button you could classify as a 'bad' button is cr. HK which is -14 on block and is the most likely of Balrog's buttons to be punished with ease. So, you can play the neutral game with relative peace of mind; just note that you need to space Balrog properly to ensure that you aren't punished unless you're using one of his lights which can lead to throws.
Balrog has one of the best anti-airs in the game. With his options, you can easily catch whenever your opponent wants to take to the skies.
st. MP- This is his default anti-air and is useful for most ranges. Also, it can lead to a cross-up combo if timed right.
cr. HP- This is useful from certain ranges (mid to far), and it helps to extend the hurt box and catch your opponent.
Balrog's specials are pretty straightforward. As mentioned earlier, he is a charge character so that means that his specials have to be timed smartly and you need to almost always have your hand on the '←' button.
Dash Straight (EX)- (← charge → P)
Dash Grand Blow (EX)- (← charge → K)
These are both great moves as they are advancing moves that enable you to close the gap quickly and punish the opponent. On the other hand, with the EX versions of these moves, you will have plus frames which enables you to keep your offense going for as long as possible.
V-Skill 1- KKB
V-Skill 2- FFB
V-Skill 1 is a spin that gets you past projectiles. This is an incredibly useful skill that Balrog hasn't always had. With V-Skill 1, you can now punish people when they throw a fireball wastefully. This does not mean Balrog can deal with every projectile (Guile's baby booms are so fast they are almost impossible to get past with Balrog's V-Skill). But, once you can get past it, you are presented with access to a significant amount of damage.
V-Skill 2 is interesting as it is a Dempsey roll. Once performed, Balrog can now pull off his Dash Straight without charging which allows for more footsies and neutral game.
V-Trigger 1- Crazy Rush
V-Trigger 2- No Mercy
The damage potential on V-Trigger 1 is insane and once you get going, you can cancel easily and carry the opponent to the corner with ease. You can also make use of several high-low mix-ups and tick throws which leave your opponent helpless. Mixed with V-Skill 1, VT1 is quite deadly and can give you the game.
V-Trigger 2 is a command grab that is also really useful. You force the opponent to guess as they aren't sure if you are coming for a command grab or a full combo. If they guess wrong, you can really unleash a world of pain.
xNightMareEffecT reckons that his best set-up is probably V-Skill 1/V-Trigger 2. This allows you to get through fireballs and force the opponent to guess what you are going to do
Balrog's Best Strings
Strings are an interesting mechanic in Street Fighter V and they are generally used to create frame traps that allow you to continue your pressure for as long as possible uninterrupted since the opponent can't press a button. Here are some of Balrog's best strings:
cr. LP+ st. MK
cr. LP+ cr. LK+ st. LP
cr. LP+ st. MK+ st. LP
st. HK+ st. MK
st. HK+ cr. MP
st. HK+ cr. LK
st. HK+ st. LP
Balrog's Bread and Butter Combos
Street Fighter V isn't a very combo-heavy game, so pokes and grabs are incredibly important. It isn't uncommon to see players win games doing 4-hit combos for the entire round. A few characters have combos with numerous hits like Seth and Menat, but Balrog isn't such. That said, combos are also an essential part of the game. In this section, xNightMareEffecT takes us through his favorite combos.
st. HK, st. MK, MP (Target Combo), V-Skill(MK+MP) P
FJ HK, cr. HP, ↓ → HK (Start Charging), EX Dash Straight, V-Skill(MK+MP) Turn P, EX Dash Straight
cr. LK, LK, MK, HK (3F Target Combo)
cr. LP, Ccr. LP, EX Dash Straight
st. MK, st. MP, ↓ → LK (Screw Smash)
cr. LP, cr. LK, Standing Jab, Ex Dash Straight
All of Balrog's gameplan borders around bullying you into submission. Because he is a charge character with a lot of plus frames, he revels in forcing the opponent to guess how he's going to get beaten up. He can make use of his Dash Straight with reckless abandon, and if you aren't careful and check your toes, he has the Dash Low to cause a knockdown, which leads to more pressure. So, if you are using Balrog, your best bet is to slowly cut off your opponent's options and drown them mentally till they are relying on instinct or hard reads, which are easy enough to punish.
Balrog does really well against most people on the roster, but he has a really hard time dealing with grapplers. So, Zangief and Abigail are bad news for Balrog. This is because the close combat that Balrog is so adept at isn't as effective against grapplers who also seek to close the space and deliver devastating damage via throws and combos. Also, Balrog's lack of a DP means that he doesn't have many options to zone someone out if he needs to. Therefore, he is forced to spend resources which, in turn, means that he will not have access to V-Trigger, which is essential for his game. Without resources, Balrog is much less of a threat.
Balrog Guide Conclusion
We hope you've enjoyed this Balrog guide. Please check out some of our other videos and text guides here. Now that you have the lowdown on Balrog, you are ready to be unleashed on a world that is not ready.