Ever since I started playing fighting games way back in the early 90’s, I’ve always gravitated towards characters who’s fighting style is centered around a command grab. The first and most prominent character of this type was Street Fighter II’s Zangief. Zangief was slow, wasn’t blessed with a projectile and had the most difficult special move to pull off in the game, the Screw Pile-driver. As a trade off, Capcom ensured that despite requiring the most complex input (a 360 degree spin of the arcade stick), the “SPD” (a term that is used to refer to all inputs of this type) is the most damaging special in the entire game. In later years, grapplers would gain other archetype specific characteristics such as higher health and stun thresholds, but one thing remains unchanged – the reliance on the command grab.
There are a number reasons as to why this particular character archetype would appeal to players. Firstly, the intimidation factor; if the opponent is not used to the matchup they really don’t know how to approach the fight and this can lead to mistakes. Related to that is the play-style. I enjoy forcing the opponent into the corner, biding my time, taking risks and absorbing the damage. Once you have closed down that space and restricted the opponents movement, this is when the grappler can strike and this is where they are at their most devastating.
Pictured: Abigail (Street Fighter V)