If you are a gamer, you must have seen an e-sports tournament online. Whether you are into Tekken 7, Street Fighter V, or Dragon Ball FighterZ, they all use fight sticks. These are the same ones that you must have seen in an arcade growing up. Just these are portable enough for you to carry and plug and play into any PC or console. Most of these have support for both PC and console, but there are a few that are specific to one console.
There are a few major players out there in the E-Sports scene. In Tekken 7 you will hear the name Qudans, JDCR, Noroma, Lil Majin, and Arsalan Ash a lot. In Street Fighter V Daigo Umehara is undoubtedly famous since his past Street Fighter IV days. But he is not even in the top 10 list of players anymore. There are Punk, Phenom, and Mago as one of the noticeable names in the game these days. The reason we are mentioning the pros here, they all have one thing in common, fight sticks.
Fight sticks allow for easier gameplay in fighting games. These give you a bit more handle to grab on so you do not miss a move. They also give you the advantage of being able to firmly press a button. So there is almost no chance of making a mistake when you do not want to press any button. The advantage can be significant and they help you in the learning curve. So if you really want to up the ante and make your way to the pros, fight sticks can do the job for you.
Buyer’s Guide for Fight Sticks
Now before heading into the world of fight sticks, there are a few things we want you to help out with. This will undeniably make choosing your fight stick a bit easier for you. Usually, the main thing to look out for is switches. There are also some brands that have a better build quality than most. But switches and the stick matter the most. Because these will be the ones that will take the most beating.
Switches and Sticks
So an arcade stick is compromised of a body, switches, and a stick. Of course, there is also the machinery that will connect these to your PC or console. But the main component that will send the signal of your attack to the PC are the switches and stick. So the quality of these switches matters a lot. There are 3 famous switches available in the market and they belong to a different region.
The most famous of them all is the Sanwa Denshi switch and stick. These are pre-installed in almost all good quality fight sticks. The majority in our list also have these. The second one is the Korean counterpart of Sanwa switches, Crown, which is mostly used by Korean e-sports players. Third is Hayabusa switches which you can find in the Hori brand. These 3 are on the top undeniably, but some companies do make quality switches like Qanba and Razer.
So when you are buying a fighting stick, you will see a lot of brands. Choosing the right one can make all the difference. The switch does take the beating of your tapping. But the body housing these switches needs to be just as sturdy to bear the brunt as well. When it comes to brands, we suggest Qanba, Mad Catz, Hori, MayFlash, and Ettoki. The switches can be swapped out for the ones of your choice. But the body and the circuit needs to be high quality.
As we said earlier, some fight sticks have universal compatibility. Which means they work for almost all famous consoles. But some of the models from these brands are specific to one console only. Like the Hori Fighting Edge is a model that works with the PS4. So always check compatibility for your choice of a gaming system, whether console or a PC.
Best Fight Sticks for Beginners Compared According to Price and Quality
Qanba Drone Joystick
So from the makers of pro arcade sticks like the Obsidian, Qanba Drone is a budget fight stick with amazing quality. It has an amazing design and looks to it, however, it uses its brand of switches. Which is not as great as Sanwa or Hayabusa, but still great quality.
This budget fight stick has such an amazing design, that it does not feel like a budget category pick at all. The difference comes in the parts, the switches are proprietary of Qanba. They are not using Sanwa switches in this one. However, it does not feel like a low-quality switch either. The actuation on these is great, when you press them it does not feel like a cheap switch.
The yellow color and the honeycomb pattern on it gives it a premium feel. The anti-slip wrist rest allows you to constantly stay focused on the game. It is officially licensed by Sony for use in PS4 and PS3, but can also work with the PC.
There are LED indicators for modes and Turbo, the bottom is also an anti-slip design. This allows for rigorous gameplay and heavy combos without any slips. On the bottom, you can see a screw under the stick which allows you to change the type of stick you want. Whether you are a fan of the round top or flat top you can change it with ease without opening the whole thing.
Lastly, the Qanba Drone Joystick costs around $80 on Amazon, which is a steal.
Mad Catz Street Fighter V Arcade FightStick TES+
The Mad Catz TES+ fight stick is what most professionals would choose. The Street Fighter V skin on it will fill you with Bison’s Psycho Power for motivation. With Sanwa Denshi switches, you will get the best experience possible, making this one of the best fight sticks in the market.
So Mad Catz is a fight stick preferred by the pros of Tekken 7 and Street Fighter V. This specific fight stick has SFV skin on it with the Shadaloo logo, an organization led by M. Bison. Make your enemies face the wrath of the Psycho Power.
This is a PS4 and PS3 compatible stick which also works on the PC, so it is multiplatform. It also has a touchpad on the top for games that require you to use it on the PS4. Other than that the design is pretty standard, the build though is very sturdy.
Another thing that is sure to take your game up a few notches is the use of Sanwa Denshi switches in the Mad Catz TES+. These are one of the best switches in the market and preferred by many e-sports professionals.
The action on this arcade stick feels great, the buttons sound and feel amazing. The price point is also very reasonable for the Mad Catz TES+, you can nab it for around $120 on Amazon.
First of all, Razer always has a premium price tag on its products for a reason. They provide one of the best build qualities in the gaming component industry. The Razer Panthera is a preference of many e-sports players along with other Razer products.
The first thing you will notice is the Akuma vs. Ryu stare off the skin on the fight stick. It is such a spectacle and makes this a really beautiful piece. This is compatible with PS4 and PC, so it has multi-platform support.
This expensive fight stick uses Sanwa Denshi switches, which are one of the best in the market. So you cannot miss any combo that you want to pull off with such premium quality components. Another thing you will notice is the RGB illuminated Razer logo.
The Razer Panthera is very easy to mod fight stick, so, for instance, you are not a fan of Sanwa Denshi and want to switch to Crown, you can do it with ease. This gives you more freedom than anything else.
It also has a PS4 touchpad on it for games that require you to use that with LED indicators on the top. The body of the Razer Panthera is big and is also very sturdy.
If you want this fight stick it can set you back for around $250-$350 on Amazon and Newegg, making it one of the most expensive fights sticks in the market right now.
The next fight stick comes from Hori which uses Hayabusa switches which are next to Sanwa Denshi in quality. The HORI Real Arcade Pro V Kai is an officially licensed product by Microsoft means you get quality gaming experience. This is also compatible for the PC so if you are team Xbox this is a great fight stick for you.
This is a mid-range fight stick with one of the best game experiences and many new players pick it up. You can call it one of the popular choices amongst people who want to switch from controllers. This one eases people right into the experience with its quality build.
There is a storage compartment for cable to store it inside when you carry it so you do not get any tangled cables. It is a pretty straight forward fight stick with a perfect button layout.
With a rubber sheet underneath, it gives you a more stable grip on the surface. This mid-ranged fight stick will cost you around $150 which is not that bad but you can get the Mad Catz TES+ for cheaper.
So another popular choice amongst beginners is the MAYFLASH F500 which is a universal fight stick. This means it works on almost all consoles that are used for gaming so that makes it quite handy.
This is a really budget fight stick so do not expect any proprietary switches like Sanwa, Crown, or Hayabusa in this. People have said that the switches are not that bad quality but not as great either. They usually change the switches to the ones of their choice for better performance.
The MAYFLASH F500 is really easy to mod fight stick making it really great, the multiplatform compatibility is a plus point as well and so is the price point. You can get your hands on this fight stick for just $90 on Amazon.
There is support for plugging in headsets straight into the fight stick-like controllers. The build is pretty standard but feels pretty firm and sturdy, making it a go-to for people who love modding out their fight sticks.
What brand of switches is the best?
We believe that the best switches in the market are from either Sanwa Denshi or Crown. Both of these are the preferred switches of the professionals that is why most fight sticks have them already. Hayabusas are good too, but they sound a bit louder than the Sanwa switches. Crowns are mostly used by Korean e-sports players since they are more used to their feel in arcades. But overall Sanwa is your best bet for great switches.
Are fightsticks better than controllers?
The answer to that is yes and no. Most of us grew up playing these fighting games in the arcade. So we have that feeling and experience ingrained in our muscles. As soon as you get hold of a fight stick you will start shooting combos right off the bat if you have had any arcade experience. For some players though, the controller is better than a fight stick. For instance, Lil Majin, who is called the best King player in Tekken 7 uses a controller. So in the end it depends on what feels more convenient to you. Most Asian e-sports players learned to play these games in arcades thus fight sticks are their preference.
Can I change the switch of my fight stick later?
Yes, most fight sticks have the option to change switches later on. The reason being that switches can wear off after a year or two, so you need to replace them after a while. Most brands go well with Sanwa switches. So if you want to upgrade your gaming experience you can always change switches later on.