No one has proved their kung fu is stronger yet
Sakura first appeared in Street Fighter Alpha 2 as another shoto character with moves comparable to Ryu and Ken even if a bit more watered down. She returned in Street Fighter IV and V and has become a popular character in the game. Nowadays, she is one of those more niche characters to play and is somewhere in the middle of the Street Fighter tier list, but is being played by some notable players including ChrisCCH, Nauman, and Space boy.
Lore-wise, little is known about Sakura’s childhood and background save for her status as a high school student and one with enough resources to travel around the world searching for her mentor, Ryu. Her fixation on the game’s main character is almost obsessive as she mirrors all her fighting style and philosophies on him.
As at Street Fighter V, Sakura was seen as an older character now in college and questioning the path of a Street Fighter. In one of her interactions with Ryu, she asks whether the life of fighting is ideal and if Ryu would consider a family to which Ryu responded that he considered that as another type of strength. Sakura is a great character with great buttons and nimble footing.
Sakura is a character for players who love an aggressive style of play and enjoy the 50/50 guessing game that frustrates so many people. Sakura’s speed is one of her biggest advantages and it also forms the basis of her playstyle. Sakura’s walk speed enables her to get across the screen with ease and she’s able to hit opponents and cause them to panic. She has a long-reaching normal (stand short) that is a nightmare for many players. She is able to confirm into a range of combos thanks to this move and also cause some decent damage. Sakura’s fireball game is not as strong, therefore, she isn’t as well-suited for a long-range game like Guile.
Using Sakura, your aim will be to get your opponent in the corner and play the strike/throw mental game with them until they break. Her speed also means she has potent shimmies that can lead to very high-damaging combos. Her variety of safe buttons make her a favorite for players who love to press buttons and smother opponents leaving them with little to no room to move or play. You might have to get creative when getting in on an opponent especially one with good fireballs, but her nimble nature makes this a surmountable problem.
Sakura’s Best Buttons
One of the things that you could consider a weakness with Sakura is her lack of rangy normals. But, she does have some incredible buttons and we’ll be looking at some of them.
s.LK: Many Sakura fans literally worship this button. Sakura’s standing LK is one of the very best in the game with just how far it is able to reach. Due to the range, it isn’t as easy to punish, and since it’s -2 on block you can say it is a safe button to press. Also, it can be confirmed into a special, critical art, or any of the V-Skills. It is a possible activation point for V-Trigger, but might not be the best one. Sakura gets a lot of mileage with this normal and it is one that every Sakura main must be well acquainted with.
s.HK: This is another normal from Sakura that has a bit of range on it. It also hits hard and is an entrance point for a lot of damage. If you can land a HK from Sakura, it’ll crush counter and let you get in on the opponent to continue dealing damage. When you hit an opponent with HK, you can use Sakura’s V-Skill to land another hit and cancel into a DP. As with most heavy moves, it isn’t so safe especially on block, so you cannot throw it out willy nilly.
c.MK: This button is mostly useful as a whiff punish tool. It is one of the faster buttons she has in her arsenal and if a player is throwing out faster normals, you can punish it with c.MK and combo into something. You can also use it in the ground game as you can simply walk up and confirm he c.MK into a Tatsu or some other combo. You’ll get a lot of mileage out of this move if used properly.
s.HP: This was buffed a bit in one of the recent patches making it reach a little further. Now she can land the punch and then buffer her V-Skill and then go into a Tatsu. This has created more combo routes for Sakura and created another weapon to terrorise opponents with. The move is also not particularly safe on block, but if well-timed you’ll totally enjoy making use of it.
Hadoken: Like Ryu and Ken, Sakura also has a hadoken. However, as has always been the case, Sakura’s is a lot weaker than the others and doesn’t travel too far. Also, it’s smaller and can be avoided much easier than others. That said, it is still a possible zoning tool like with any projectile. On the bright side, Sakura’s hadoken in Street Fighter V is better than it has ever been in any iteration of the game, and that makes it a pretty useful move for any player. Furthermore, you can charge it for greater impact, which is a useful tool when switching up the timing of your projectiles to confuse the enemy.
Tengyo Hadoken: This is like the Hadoken, but it is fired at a 45-degree angle which makes it a decent anti-air. Unfortunately, it has a long startup; therefore, it is better as an anticipatory move than a reactionary move. If you do it on reaction, odds are your opponent will get the jump in.
Shouoken: This is Sakura’s DP and is usually her combo ender. It is best used within a combo as a raw execution could lead to some damaging counter-attacks as it is unsafe on block.
Shunpukyaku: This is Sakura’s Tatsu and is typically used as her activation point. Both her light and heavy Shunpukyaku are -2 on block, meaning they are basically safe, and this allows her to go into her V-Trigger. You can use it in combos, too, and it is a very good move all in all.
V-Skill I: Haru Kaze - Sakura’s V-Skill I has different names depending on how you use it. But in simple terms, it is a jumping move that can be canceled into a plethora of moves. It can be used as a dive kick or even an overhead. It can be used as a grab, and the punch variant can hit up to three times. As a move, it works quite well with either V-Trigger, and since it isn’t well known, it can be a handy move in certain matchups. Unfortunately, it has a fair few flaws and can be very situational. Therefore, it is advised that you use it as a combo ender or at least part of a combo. It can be hit out of the air with most anti-airs and hasn’t proven to be a better option for air-to-air scenarios.
V-Skill II: Haru Hayate - Sakura’s second V-Skill is a gut kick with such good corner carry that it is the default V-Skill for most Sakura players. It is a great combo extender and creates juggle potential for the player. You can throw a hadoken and then go into the V-Skill and then use a DP, and boom; the opponent is in the corner. In certain situations, it can also be used to escape the corner.
V-Trigger I: Haru Arashi - This gives Sakura access to improved hadokens, and the extra power allows for her to juggle opponents and score extra combos. For instance, you can use the V-Trigger and then make use of V-Skill II and then throw out a DP. For the anti-air version, it gives more juggle potential. However, you must be careful as it will whiff if the opponent is crouching.
V-Trigger II: Sakura Senpu - This enhances Sakura’s DP and Tatsu. It is great as it can be canceled into her critical art. This makes it a great option as a round ender.
Sakura’s critical art is called Sakura Rain, and in it, she does a flurry of moves, first hitting the opponent with a charged hadoken, then hitting with a grounded Tatsu, before finishing off with a powerful DP, which usually kills the opponent. As mentioned earlier, you can cancel into it in V-Trigger II, and there are also several scenarios where you can put it into good use.
Sakura’s Pros and Cons
In this section, we’ll examine the advantages and disadvantages of using Sakura and what she can bring to the table.
Sakura’s walk speed is remarkable and is one of the fastest in the game. This makes it easy for her to move into ranges favorable to her while also being able to get out of sticky situations a little easier.
Her corner carry game is solid, and once she locks the opponent in the corner, she can oppress them and stop them from getting out.
Her damage output is underrated. Since she isn’t held back as much by scaling, she is able to really tear away an opponent’s health bar.
Sakura doesn’t really have a comeback mechanic and has to rely on very solid gameplay to win matches.
Her midscreen oki off her lights could use some work
How to Fight Sakura
Sakura thrives on offensive pressure and will look to blow opponents out of the water. This means she isn’t as adept at patient play and can be chipped to death if not careful. Fighting against Sakura means you’ll need to stay out of her preferred ranges, which could be difficult because she has some far-reaching normals, but once you get the hang of it, you should be able to stay away from her favorite spots more efficiently and easily.
Sakura can also be overwhelmed by good projectiles because her projectile isn’t the strongest or fastest, so fighting against the likes of Guile and Luke, who have great fireballs, might be a hassle for her.
Players Who Use Sakura
|c.LP, LP, LK xx M.Shouoken|
|LP, LP, LK xx M.Shouoken|
|c.LK, c.LP xx M.Shouoken|
|c.LP, LP, LK xx EX Shouoken|
|LP, LP, LK xx EX Shouoken|
|c.LK, c.LP xx EX Shouoken|
|c.LP, LP, LK xx M.Shouoken xx CA|
|LP, LP, LK xx M.Shouoken xx CA|
|c.LK, c.LP xx M.Shouoken xx CA|
|MP, HP xx H.Shouoken|
|MP, HP xx H.Shunpukyaku|
|MP, c.MK xx H.Shouoken|
|MP, LK xx M.Shouoken|
|MP, b.HP xx EX Tengyo Hadoken, H.Shouoken|
|MP, b.HP xx EX Shunpukyaku, L.Shouoken|
|MP, c.MK xx EX Shunpukyaku, L.Shouoken|
|MP, b.HP xx EX Tengyo Hadoken, EX Shouken|
|MP, b.HP xxEX Shunpukyaku, EX Shouken|
|MP, c.MK xx EX Shunpukyaku, EX Shouken|
|MP, b.HP xx H.Shouken xx CA|
|MP, c.MK xx H.Shouken xx CA|
|c.LP xx M.Shouken|
|LK xx M.Shouken|
|MP, b.HP xx H.Shouken|
|MP, c.MK xx H.Shouken|
|c.MK xx H.Shouken|
|b.HP xx H.Shouken|
|c.HP xx M.Shunpukyaku, c.LP xx M.Shouken|
|HP xx H.Shouken|
|nj.HK, MP, b.HP xx H.Shouken|