With The King of Fighters XV pushed back to the first quarter of the next year 2022, there’s time for SNK to consider including these characters that I’ll be mentioning in this list. These characters will either be returning casts, possible one-offs, or characters from other SNK IPs.
I will be ranking this list based on popularity, gameplay, number of appearances, and personal picks. Of course, there’s the certainty that some of these characters/teams won’t make it to the roster. But hey, if they want fans to “Shatter all expectations”, then there’s a possibility. So without further ado, here is my top 10 list of SNK Characters/Teams that should appear in KoF XV.
This article will include spoilers for all the characters and stories involving the plot of The King of Fighters.
I placed Lin in the number 10 spot due to a possible storyline involvement. To understand Lin and his purpose in the KoF series, he was once a member of a clan of assassins called the Hizoku clan. This was until his good friend and former leader named Ron decided to betray the clan by murdering many of the members and defecting to the crime syndicate NESTS.
He was enticed to participate in KoF 2000 and teamed up alongside Shingo Yabuki, Benimaru Nikaido, and Seth to find and kill his old friend for his crimes. Lin continues to find clues to Ron’s current whereabouts after the events of KoF 2001 after the syndicate went into hiding. And with VERSE‘s death in KoF XIV bringing everyone back to life, which includes the leaders of NESTS. This means Ron will return to hiding and assist the crime syndicate again.
However, he’s in the number 10 spot because he doesn’t appear much, as he only appeared in both KoF 2000 and KoF 2001 where he always appears in games that have to do with his nemesis. Since KoF XV has plans on returning familiar organizations and characters from the roster, then there’s a possibility that Lin will return and finish his job.
9. JHUN HOON
At the number 9 spot, I included Jhun Hoon in this list as a potential substitute for Team Korea. Jhun Hoon first appeared in KoF ’99 as a member of Team Korea alongside team captain and childhood friend Kim Kaphwan, to assist with his Rehabilitation Program.
What’s unique to him is that he has three Tae Kwon Do forms. However, compared to other characters, the difference is that he doesn’t require a Stock, which he can actively change positions on the fly. This is a great trait for players who prefer performing flashy combos.
With Team Kim is missing one member. He is in a safe spot as he goes well with his master, Gang-il, and Kim Kaphwan quite well since all three have different styles that can easily be distinguished from one another.
8. EIJI KISARAGI
Another fan-favorite in the number 8 spot due to his gameplay and long history with the Team Art of Fighting members. He debuted in Art of Fighting 2 as one of the game’s adversaries as well as appearing in both The King of Fighters 95 and The King of Fighters XI.
However, what sets him apart from other characters is his aggressive rush-down playstyle compared to others. Numerous game trailers have shown characters having mechanics that allow players to juggle opponents much like in KoF XIII.
Another reason he’s included on this list is his popularity among the community during his appearances. He has attracted a loyal following being the comic relief character due to his unsettled grudges with Iori Yagami and the Sakazaki family.
And with each saga always tending to be darker and serious in terms of storytelling, I included him in the number 8 spot as a way to add a bit more positivity to the series. Maybe he might settle his grudge this time, sort of.
7. ALICE NAKATA
Alice is a special case in this list as she could potentially fill the gap of the remaining slot of the Women’s Fighters Team as she did so back in The King of Fighters XIV. She immediately became a fan-favorite with her personality as well as her gameplay having inspirations from all members of Team Fatal Fury.
Also, her hit animations with casino visuals are references to her origins as she debuted in Garou Densetsu: The Legend of Wild Wolf. In terms of gameplay, she’s a great beginner’s pick as she shares a similar move set to Terry Bogard, which isn’t very complex.
If SNK decided to bring her back again as a gap-filler for Team Women Fighters now that their former member King decided to team up alongside the main duo of Team Art of Fighting, then no complaints at all. But let’s hope that Mary’s fully prepared for the fierce rivalry that she’ll be putting up with.
6. TEAM CRIMSON ASH
In the number 6 spot, I included Crimson Ash, Elizabeth Blanctorche, and Kukri together. The reason for them being part of the launch roster will have a very good reason, as this has something to do with Crimson Ash himself story-wise.
After the death of VERSE, Kukri decided to head to Ukraine and report back to Elizabeth about strange occurrences that bring everyone back to life. This includes Crimson Ash, as he sacrificed himself to save the world from destruction in The King of Fighters XIII.
With the announcement of Yashiro and Team Orochi returning, there’s a possibility that these three will return for story purposes, too. The former protagonist of the Crimson Ash saga returned to the living and potentially reunited with his friends; why can’t they?
5. TEAM VETERANS
Another team that should appear in KoF XV is the team of Heidern, Seth, and Takuma Sakazaki/Mr. Karate, due to its long history of the two veterans being part of almost every KoF tournament, mostly Heidern and Takuma.
Heidern was originally the team captain for Team Ikari alongside old-school Ikari Warriors members Ralf Jones and Clark Still. Takuma Sakazaki was originally a captain for Team Art of Fighting next to Ryo Sakazaki and Robert Garcia.
Seth didn’t appear longer, as he had a decent appearance for both a member of the Benimaru Team in KoF 2000 and Yagami Team in KoF 2001 during the NESTS saga. He later appeared behind the scenes as a supporting character for Heidern.
In terms of gameplay, the option to pick Mr. Karate for Takuma would be great as he is a unique alternative that has harder combos for those who prefer more challenging battles. Seth can fit well in the team as the Grappler of the trio with his gameplay, perfect for players who prefer going aggressive on their opponents.
Heidern can also be another character that deals with complicated inputs that are great for veteran players alike. Technically, both Takuma and Heidern have teamed up in KoF before, most notably KoF ‘02: Unlimited Match, but it was non-canonical. Thus, this could be a great time to see them canonically team-up.
4. NEW TEAM JAPAN
At number 4, the team of Goro Daimon, Kasumi Todoh, and Shingo Yabuki should appear as a team in KoF XV. Now that the two known members are in separate teams, I figured that Team Japan’s Goro Daimon would need substitutes while his teammates are away.
This would be a great time to finally bring back both Kasumi Todoh and Shingo Yabuki, two fan-favorites in the series, as intense training can come as a reason for their absence.
Gameplay-wise, Shingo shares the same move set and fighting style as Kyo Kusanagi. He can be a great alternative for players who are familiar with his move set.
Additionally, Kasumi is another great fit for the team given that her fighting style employs Japanese martial arts that focus on countering incoming attacks. There is no denying that these three should return from the roster, and if they do, then both will return stronger than ever before.
3. TEAM SAMURAI SHODOWN
Team SamSho, comprised of Nakoruru, Haohmaru, and Galford from the Samurai Shodown series is chosen for my number 3 spot as Nakoruru was a part of KoF XIV‘s roster. It would be great to see our nature-loving mascot return, but with Haohmaru and Galford, two popular characters from the beloved series, accompanying her.
Given their slow-paced, yet powerful-hitting attacks are their core gameplay in the original series, their addition will be a unique experience. Since KoF prefers fast-paced combos, Team Samurai Shodown on the other hand can focus more on their original gameplay having cautious, and heavy attacks that both Samurai Shodown fans are familiar with and KoF fans will have to be wary of.
There were plans about having the team originally participating in both KoF ’95 and KoF ’96 but unfortunately scrapped due to time constraints, and KoF XV is the best time to finally make that concept a reality for fans who are waiting for this moment to happen.
2. TEAM METAL SLUG
At number 2, I chose a Fio, Marco, and Tarma team from the Metal Slug series due to the series’ overwhelming popularity. The reason I chose them on the list is that during one of the reveal trailers, a 3D rendition of the desert mission of Metal Slug 2 is seen in the background as the main battle stage.
I figured that maybe SNK is planning something that involves this iconic series being part of the KoF series for the first time. The Metal Slug series is one of few SNK IPs that didn’t have playable characters in the KoF series, and three of the four known members of the series have only appeared as background characters and cameos.
However, Fio did technically appear in both KoF: Maximum Impact 2 as a playable character and KoF 2000 as a hidden assist character, but it wasn’t good enough for fans to accept that. Having a Metal Slug team would be a good solution for fans who want to see this iconic team battle other famous SNK IPs.
It would be great if each member had a different Super Move that would set each other apart. Hopefully this team will be given the green light for their first KoF appearance, because Team Ikari is going to have stiff competition on their hands.
1. RUGAL BERNSTEIN
Finally, for the number 1 spot on this list, the legendary Rugal Bernstein should return in KoF XV as his grand return will bring good, but mostly very bad memories of facing him.
Bernstein was the original main antagonist and the first tournament organizer for the King of Fighters series as a way for him to challenge strong fighters to defeat and kill for his own gain. He was later defeated by the main series runner Kyo Kusanagi alongside Team Japan in KoF ’94.
He later returned in KoF ’95 with the purpose of revenge and was again defeated by the same trio after stopping his plans of world domination. Later on, he only appears as a hidden boss in both non-canonical games such as KoF ’98 and KoF 2002.
As explained earlier, VERSE’s death has caused an occurrence of bringing the dead back to life, so there’s no doubt that this villainous tyrant would come back for an act of vengeance. If SNK approved the idea of the big baddy coming to KoF XV, his return would impact the game as he is undoubtedly a legend among fighting game bosses.