Mortal Kombat 1 Tier List: All Fighters Ranked [Dec 2023]

Learn about the Mortal Kombat 1 tier list & understand combat styles so that you know where each character stands in the game.

In the ever-evolving Mortal Kombat franchise, all characters bring a unique flair to the fight. Whether you’re an enthusiast of the franchise or a newcomer seeking to master another MK game, understanding the Mortal Kombat 1 Tier List can be crucial. That is why this list reveals the strengths, complexities, and potential of each fighter, shaping strategies and fueling rivalries. 

Key Takeaways
  • Mortal Kombat 1 includes 23 base game fighters, with Shang Tsung as a pre-order exclusive.
  • Fighter rankings are determined by combo chain execution ease and damage potential.
  • S-tier fighters excel with high damage potential, mix-ups, and confusing opponents.
  • A-tier fighters perform well but have some flaws.
  • B-tier characters have challenging combo executions and timing requirements.
  • C-tier fighters are underwhelming due to move set flaws and lower damage potential than higher tiers.

All Mortal Kombat 1 Fighters

Here is a list of all available fighters in Mortal Kombat 1 showcased and the best playstyle feature you can get from playing them.

Serial No.FightersPlaystyle Features
1KenshiTelekinetic moves, mid-range control
2RaidenElectric zoner, fast teleporter
3Johnny CageAgile combo builder, pressure fighter
4Shang TsungShape-shifter, versatile mage
5GerasTime control, heavy-hitting brawler
6Sub-ZeroIce control, space dominator
7Liu KangFast-paced, fiery combo artist
8KitanaAgile aerial fighter, fan control
9ScorpionTeleport attacks, aggressive rushdown
10MileenaFeral swiftness, close-quarters combat
11General ShaoDominant powerhouse, brutal strength
12ReptileSneaky, acid-based attacks
13Li MeiAcrobatic, fast striker
14SmokeStealth, surprise engagements
15ReikoBrutal close combat, pressure fighter
16Kung LaoAgile hat tricks, combo specialist
17SindelSonic scream, aerial control
18BarakaFeral slashes, aggressive rusher
19TanyaDeceptive, agile acrobatics
20RainWater control, zoning specialist
21HavikChaos-based attacks, unpredictable
22AshrahDual stance swordplay, range control
23NitaraAerial dominance, vampiric strikes

Mortal Kombat 1 Tier List Table

Tier RankingMortal Kombat 1 Fighters
S-TierKenshi, Raiden, Johnny Cage, Shang Tsung, Geras, Sub-Zero
A-TierLiu Kang, Kitana, Scorpion, Mileena, General Shao, Reptile, Li Mei, Smoke
B-TierReiko, Kung Lao, Sindel, Baraka, Tanya, Rain
C-TierHavik, Ashrah, Nitara


The S-ranking Mortal combatants are the best in the game right now. They have excellent damage and an attack pattern chain that is just flawless. You can pick and play these and will hardly lose a match or two. 


Kenshi (picture credits: eXputer)

Kenshi is the blind swordsman in Mortal Kombat 1, known for his unique combat style involving a spirit buddy, Sento.

Kenshi stands out as an S-tier character primarily because of the immense damage potential he wields when combining his moves with his spirit companion, Sento. Though some of his attacks are slower compared to others, mastering his complex combos allows players to counter faster fighters effectively.

His special stance in Mortal Kombat 1 introduces a ghostly samurai who fights alongside him. This ghost can attack even while Kenshi blocks, presenting a significant challenge to opponents and often sealing their fate if they find themselves trapped between Kenshi and his spirit.


Raiden (picture credits: eXputer)

Raiden is a powerful character in Mortal Kombat 1, renowned for his electric abilities and godly status in the MK series.

Despite shedding his godly mantle, Raiden’s capabilities remain unmatched. Equipped with an impressive arsenal of low and overhead attacks, Raiden’s mix-up potential is formidable.

His ranged projectiles, complemented by abilities like the Electric Fly, give him significant screen control. Additionally, his ability to teleport keeps opponents on their toes. Although now wearing monk attire, Raiden’s lightning-charged techniques, particularly the globe of electricity attack, continue to be visually spectacular and devastating. His precision in punishing foes confirms his high-end tier placement.

Johnny Cage

Johnny Cage
Johnny Cage (picture credits: eXputer)

Johnny Cage is a versatile, flashy fighter known for his high damage, mix-ups, and iconic moves.

Johnny Cage’s blend of high damage potential, varied mix-ups, and user-friendly learning curve make him the amazing all-rounder in Mortal Kombat 1. His new Star Power system, which allows him to cancel special moves into other special moves after sacrificing health, coupled with his classic moves like the nut punch, makes him a dominant force.

His mix of simple and complex combos, boosted by his Hype ability, caters to both beginners and seasoned players, solidifying his S-tier status.

Shang Tsung

Shang Tsung
Shang Tsung (picture credits: eXputer)

Shang Tsung is the treacherous sorcerer, a key antagonist, and one of the most iconic video game villains, featuring prominently in Mortal Kombat 1.

Shang Tsung, with his unparalleled versatility, earns his S-tier status in Mortal Kombat 1. His unique capacity to toggle between youthful and elderly forms offers a dynamic and expansive moveset. This sorcerer’s expertise lies in his zoning capabilities, enhanced by his explosive blast moves.

But what truly distinguishes him is his shapeshifting talent; not only can he mimic his adversary’s moves, but he can also snatch their locked or unlocked fatality in Mortal Kombat 1.


Geras (picture credits: eXputer)

Geras is a new character in the Mortal Kombat series, first known for his unique time-manipulation powers and significant role in Mortal Kombat 11’s storyline.

Geras confronts opponents with time-shifting maneuvers, surprises them with command grabs from unpredictable angles, and employs a unique charge-up mechanic to immobilize enemies.

This feature lets Geras unleash unblockable, devastating combos. In a skilled MK player’s hands, Geras isn’t just a powerhouse; he’s a brute fighter, making him an elite choice for players in Mortal Kombat 1.


Sub-Zero (picture credits: eXputer)

Sub-Zero, a golden character in the Mortal Kombat series, is famous for his chilling ice-based abilities and controlling playstyle in MK1.

Sub-Zero, a fan-favorite in the Mortal Kombat series, firmly earns his S-tier ranking in MK1. Known best for his chilling abilities, Sub-Zero masterfully decides the pace, compelling opponents to adapt to his icy attack patterns. Mastery of his freezing techniques paves the way for aggressive approaches using moves like ice slides and diving glaciers.

Not only has Sub-Zero retained his signature moves, but his new addition, Deadly Vapours, synergizes seamlessly with the iconic ice ball moves. Though a defensive fighter, Sub-Zero’s arsenal enables skilled players to seamlessly launch and extend combos, especially when harmonized with Kameo fighter moves, easily making him a top-tier powerful fighter in Mortal Kombat 1. With that said, don’t forget to check out our guide on the Mortal Kombat 1 Best Kameo Fighters.


The A-tier fighters are not the top-tier but are second to none. You will need a little mastery to remember their combos and move sets. Know when to attack or block, but these characters are super good still. 

Liu Kang

Liu Kang
Liu Kang (picture credits: eXputer)

Liu Kang, now the god of a new universe, remains a steadfast and reliable figure in the Mortal Kombat series, recognized for his iconic kung-fu moves and fire abilities.

Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat 1 carries forward the essence of his character while receiving enhancements to his signature moves. Possessing some of the MK series’s best projectiles and fire god powers, these upgrades improve Liu’s already powerful kick combos.


Kitana (picture credits: eXputer)

Kitana, in Mortal Kombat 1, is a skilled combatant famous for her prowess in controlling match tempo with her versatile projectiles and stunning moves.

In MK1, Kitana stands out for her exceptional ability to dominate aerial combat. Leveraging her fans, she can launch opponents and execute extensive combo chains.

Although her fans might not match the sheer power of Liu Kang’s fireballs or Sub-Zero’s freezing techniques, Kitana possesses the potential to be a powerhouse in skilled hands. Notably, during the Mortal Kombat Stress Test, her infinite combo showcased her lethal capability, further stressing that she deserves to be placed in the top ranking in the MK1 tier list.


Scorpion (picture credits: eXputer)

Scorpion, iconic to the Mortal Kombat franchise, continues to be a formidable character in Mortal Kombat 1, maintaining his signature moves and playstyle from previous editions.

Scorpion, the franchise’s face of the Mortal Kombat series, retains his famous standing in MK1 as an A-tier combatant. Reflecting the reliability and fundamental nature of characters like Street Fighter‘s Ryu, Scorpion remains an excellent introduction for newcomers to MK1 as well.

With a familiar moveset—featuring his iconic “Get Over Here” spear, teleportation, and scorching flame attacks—Scorpion offers players a consistent and dependable character to master the MK1’s mechanics and combos easily. His presence and combat potential remain a force to be reckoned with in Mortal Kombat 1.


Mileena (picture credits: eXputer)

Mileena is a fierce combatant in Mortal Kombat 1, famously known for her ground-based tactics and swift attacks that more or less reflect Kitana’s aerial prowess.

In MK1, Mileena is a rushdown fighter, specializing in close-quarters combat. With a dynamic mix of teleports, dive kicks, and ball attacks, she can launch rapid attacks, constantly keeping foes on their toes. While she possesses some range, her optimal playstyle is aggressive and up-close, leveraging her many combat moves to dominate and control the fight’s pace.

General Shao

General Shao
General Shao (picture credits: eXputer)

In MK1, General Shao, once a Khan, remains a formidable giant wielding a massive war axe, known for his heavy hits and unexpected agility.

General Shao is one of the best A-ranking fighters in the Mortal Kombat 1 Tier list based on his commanding presence as a bruiser.

Capitalizing on his substantial war axe, he can deliver punishing blows that cause significant damage. With a perfect blend of brute force and speed, Shao can dominate opponents. His ability to perform strategic plays with his axe, either by embedding it into the ground or invoking an earthquake, further intensifies his threat level, making him an aggressive and tactical powerhouse in combat.


Reptile (picture credits: eXputer)

Reptile, originally Syzoth, is a unique Zaterran from Outworld, capable of shape-shifting into human form.

Making his debut as a secret boss in 1992, this agile and versatile fighter has consistently been a fan favorite in the Mortal Kombat franchise. Reptile’s prowess in MK1 isn’t solely because of his iconic invisibility.

His expansive moveset, ranging from the classic acid spit to the newly introduced falling fangs and death roll, grants him a formidable edge. His capability to attack from all angles and his sweeping range as an all-around fighter make him a tactical threat on the battlefield, reinforcing his position as an A-ranking character in the Mortal Kombat 1 tier list.

Li Mei

Li Mei
Li Mei (picture credits: eXputer)

Li Mei is a strategic character, pairing with other fighters like Jax to maximize her abilities.

Her rushdown capabilities and extensive combo options place her prominently in the MK1 roster. Li Mei ascends to A-rank due to her user-friendly gameplay and rushdown strengths.

Featuring powerful, extendable combos, her combat level rivals Liu Kang’s. Her unique set play skills with her lantern, combined with her rush down traits, create a versatile, dominant fighter, especially against slower opponents, although she remains shy of S-tier ranking.


Smoke (picture credits: eXputer)

Smoke, a member of the Lin Kuei, is a mix-up specialist in MK1, famously known for his rapid moves that attack from unpredictable angles, and is the adoptive brother of Scorpion and Sub-Zero.

Smoke’s exceptional speed and range of attack mastery make him formidable in Mortal Kombat 1. Though his flashy style demands precision, mastering his complex mix-ups, numerous teleports, and cancellable moves can be rewarding.


The B-tier fighters are not the absolute best ones, nor trash. These are currently in the middle ground. You can win matches against AI opponents or online using these B-tier fighters, but you must master their play style or get destroyed. 


Reiko (picture credits: eXputer)

Reiko, primarily a bruiser and grappler, brings a distinct blend of forceful strikes and grapple moves to Mortal Kombat 1, deviating from his traditional zoning playstyle.

In a franchise not commonly associated with grapplers, Reiko stands out, offering several means to initiate grapples. His diverse skill set, including an extended range of kicks and two main grapples—Tactical Takedown and Pale Rider—creates a dynamic play style.

These moves, paired with long normals, a deceptive Charging Pain slide kick, and a parry into combo capability, make Reiko a formidable opponent, keeping other fighters continuously off-balance.

Kung Lao

Kung Lao
Kung Lao (picture credits: eXputer)

Kung Lao, a staple in the Mortal Kombat series since its second installment, is famously known for his iconic bladed hat and diverse fighting skills, though, in Mortal Kombat 1, he faces some changes.

In Mortal Kombat 1, while Kung Lao’s strengths lie with his powerful hat throws and deadly dive kick, he has lost some of his former glory. Removing his classic teleport move, especially for his main roster version, reduces his overall likeness. Nevertheless, his iconic bladed hat moves, including finishers, uphold his reputation as a fierce contender.


Sindel (picture credits: eXputer)

Sindel, characterized by her unique abilities and attacks, is a notable zoner in Mortal Kombat 1.

Sindel’s fundamental attacks and projectiles provide her with respectable reach; her levitating ability, though aiding in dodging ground-based projectiles, leaves her vulnerable to aerial attacks.

Sindel’s latest unique moves, “Inspire” and “Queens Kommand,” demonstrate immense synergy with Kameo Fighters in Mortal Kombat 1, elevating her combat potential. However, their situational nature might limit their consistent applicability in battle. Despite this, her zoning capabilities, primarily through her hair attacks and scream stun, make her a powerful fighter, efficient at throwing opponents’ offensive tactics.


Baraka (picture credits: eXputer)

Despite being positioned as a B-ranking against some of MK’s best characters, Baraka’s blade assaults solidify his place as a significant threat. As a straightforward bruiser, he specializes in close combat, delivering devastating blows.

Particularly, he shines against enemies who are prone to frequent jumping, punishing them with his blade attacks. Baraka’s straightforward approach to combat enables him to dive into the fray rapidly, making him an amazing choice for players who enjoy aggressive playstyles.


Tanya (picture credits: eXputer)

Tanya, a cunning combatant known for her deceptive tactics, is a minor antagonist first introduced in Mortal Kombat 4.

Tanya’s classification in the B-tier is largely due to the uniqueness of her special move sets, which demand a learning curve. Moves like “Seeking Guidance” require specific conditions to be effectively used in combat, requiring frequent practice.

While these moves potentially offer advanced tactical advantages, they may be overwhelming for newcomers in MK1. Nevertheless, beyond her unconventional techniques, Tanya possesses a variety of fun and practical moves, ensuring she isn’t frequent practice. Additionally, her recent modifications in Mortal Kombat 1, despite not significantly enhancing her overall move sets, underscore her combat potential.


Rain (picture credits: eXputer)

Rain is a unique zoner who utilizes water-based attacks, mastering space control and opponent lockdown through his distinctive abilities.

Rain offers players a toolkit that ensures control and dominance, zoning opponents with his robust ranged attacks. While he excels at maintaining distance, using all his skills effectively, especially his portals, demands a learning curve.

Despite the powerful water attacks, mastering Rain’s comprehensive zonal capabilities can be challenging in Mortal Kombat 1. This complexity, in tandem with the need for strategic application, contributes to his B-tier placement, even though, once mastered, he can be a formidable enemy.


The C-ranking MK1 tier list fighters are underwhelming in the current version of the game. We may see future updates tweaking to the overall damage potential of these characters, but as of now, I’d recommend not to use these as your main characters in MK1. 


Havik (picture credits: eXputer)

Havik, the Cleric of Chaos hailing from Chaosrealm, first introduced in Mortal Kombat: Deception returns to sow discord in MK1.

While Havik is undoubtedly entertaining with his chaotic animations, his functionality in battle remains questionable. His moves, characterized by their unpredictable nature, often appear to harm him as much as his enemy.

Though Havik’s Blood Bath grapple showcases potential by crossing the screen rapidly and stunning opponents, his overall combat utility is somewhat reduced by self-harming combos. Until further tweaking or buffs enhance his viability, Havik seems destined to remain in the C-rank despite the return to the MK series after so long.


Ashrah (picture credits: eXputer)

Ashrah’s combat style, centered around her swordplay, presents certain challenges in Mortal Kombat 1. Although her blade attacks are powerful, their execution speed is a drawback. The distinguishing feature of her combat strategy, a stance change toggling between light and dark, is slow and exposes her to threats in MK1

Despite offering unique gameplay dynamics, the benefits derived from this stance change don’t seem to justify the risk involved, relegating Ashrah to the C-ranking of the Mortal Kombat 1 tier list.


Nitara (picture credits: eXputer)

Nitara, a vampiric character whose voice actor in Mortal Kombat 1 is done by Megan Fox, marks her return to Mortal Kombat after nearly two decades.

She offers a mix of moral ambiguity, fighting for her kin while reflecting a fierce and predatory nature on the battlefield in MK1. While Nitara presents a distinct playstyle, focusing on aerial mobility and unique attack vectors, she is held back by her reliance on the Dark Sacrifice ability.

This mechanic not only consumes health but also locks several of her special attacks, reducing her versatility in combat. Given that her significant abilities are tied to limited resources or present health risks, players need advanced mastery to utilize her effectively, placing her in the C-tier.

MK1 Tier List Criteria

In curating the tier list, an evaluation of all 23 fighters was taken into account based on Mortal Kombat 1 patch Update 1.000.002. The ranking prioritized the fighters’ in-game effectiveness, examining their move sets, damage potential, and versatility.

Important: Key factors included the characters’ abilities to initiate and extend combos, defensive capacities, and the synergy of their special moves. Furthermore, each fighter’s unique abilities, such as time manipulation or elemental control, were weighted for their strategic advantages.

Ultimately, the characters I ranked in the tier list were not just done so by their raw power but also by their adaptability in various in-game scenarios and their potential to counter or overpower other characters.

From the dominating S-Tier fighters to the specialized combatants of the C-Tier, every character has their place in the arena. Remember, mastery isn’t only about tier placement; it’s about you getting easy with a fighter’s style and wielding it effectively. 


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Irfan Ansari

Irfan Ansari is a Senior Editor and Guides Writer on eXputer. He has seven years of Video Game Journalism experience and has been gaming for more than 22 years. Over his editorial career, he has gained experience at multiple sites, including TheGamer and VeryAli Gaming. Irfan has also earned a degree in Writing and Editing from the University of Michigan. Learn some more about Irfan's gaming journey on his Steam, PSN, and Xbox profiles. Experience: 7+ Years || Education: Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering || Worked for TheGamer and VeryAli Gaming || Published 1000+ Guides ||

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