Mortal Kombat 1 Tier List: All Fighters Ranked

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. 

Update: Our Tier list matches up with all the character changes in the latest patch update released on March 7, 2024.
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 Ranking Mortal Kombat 1 Fighters
S-Tier Kenshi, Raiden, Johnny Cage, Shang Tsung, Geras, Sub-Zero
A-Tier Liu Kang, Kitana, Scorpion, Mileena, General Shao, Reptile, Li Mei, Smoke
B-Tier Reiko, Kung Lao, Sindel, Baraka, Tanya, Rain
C-Tier Havik, 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 Known for his immense damage potential when combining moves with his spirit companion, Sento, Kenshi is formidable with his special stance introducing a ghostly samurai. His complexity allows for effective counters against faster fighters.
Raiden Raiden’s mix-up potential is formidable with an impressive arsenal of low and overhead attacks. His ranged projectiles and teleportation abilities keep opponents on their toes, while his precision in punishing foes confirms his high-end tier placement.
Johnny Cage Johnny Cage’s high damage potential, varied mix-ups, and user-friendly learning curve make him an amazing all-rounder. His Star Power system allows him to cancel special moves into other special moves after sacrificing health, solidifying his dominant force status.
Shang Tsung Shang Tsung’s versatility earns him an S-tier status with the ability to toggle between youthful and elderly forms, offering a dynamic moveset. His expertise lies in zoning capabilities and shapeshifting talent, allowing him to mimic adversary moves and fatality moves.
Geras Geras confronts opponents with time-shifting maneuvers and employs a unique charge-up mechanic to unleash devastating combos. His time-manipulation powers and brute fighting style make him an elite choice for players.
Sub-Zero Sub-Zero’s chilling ice-based abilities and controlling playstyle firmly earn him an S-tier ranking. Mastery of his freezing techniques enables aggressive approaches, and his Deadly Vapours addition synergizes seamlessly with his iconic ice ball moves.

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 is known for his iconic kung-fu moves and fire abilities. He offers powerful kick combos and some of the best projectiles in the series.
Kitana Kitana excels in dominating aerial combat, leveraging her fans to launch opponents and execute extensive combo chains. She is a powerhouse in skilled hands.
Scorpion Scorpion offers a familiar yet reliable character to master MK1’s mechanics and combos easily. His iconic moves make him a consistent and dependable force.
Mileena Mileena specializes in close-quarters combat, launching rapid attacks with teleports, dive kicks, and ball attacks. She keeps foes constantly on their toes with her aggressive playstyle.
General Shao Dominates opponents with his commanding presence as a bruiser, delivering punishing blows with a perfect blend of brute force and speed. He is an aggressive and tactical powerhouse in combat.
Reptile Reptile’s expansive moveset and ability to attack from all angles make him a tactical threat on the battlefield, earning him a prominent position in the tier list.
Li Mei Li Mei’s rushdown capabilities rival Liu Kang’s, making her a versatile and dominant fighter. Her unique set play skills create a strategic edge, placing her prominently in the MK1 roster.
Smoke Smoke is formidable in MK1 with his exceptional speed and mastery of attacking from unpredictable angles. Mastering his complex mix-ups and teleports establishes him as a mix-up specialist.


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 Reiko brings a blend of forceful strikes and grapple moves, deviating from traditional zoning playstyle. His diverse skill set, including extended range kicks and grapples, creates a dynamic play style, making him formidable.
Kung Lao Kung Lao, known for his iconic bladed hat and diverse fighting skills, relies on powerful hat throws and deadly dive kicks. While he has lost some former glory in Mortal Kombat 1, his iconic hat moves uphold his reputation as a fierce contender.
Sindel Sindel’s zoning capabilities, primarily through her hair attacks and scream stun, make her a powerful fighter efficient at throwing opponents’ offensive tactics. Her unique moves, “Inspire” and “Queens Kommand,” elevate her combat potential, despite their situational nature.
Baraka Baraka specializes in close combat, delivering devastating blade assaults. He shines against enemies prone to frequent jumping, making him an excellent choice for players who enjoy aggressive playstyles.
Tanya We ranked Tanya in the B-tier largely due to the uniqueness of her special move sets, demanding a learning curve. While her moves offer advanced tactical advantages, they may overwhelm newcomers. Nevertheless, her variety of fun and practical moves ensure she isn’t frequent practice.
Rain Rain utilizes water-based attacks, mastering space control and opponent lockdown. While excelling at maintaining distance, mastering Rain’s comprehensive zonal capabilities can be challenging, which is why we ranked it in B-tier.


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. 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 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 || Worked for TheGamer and VeryAli Gaming

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