Mortal Kombat 11 has been out for a few weeks now and some of the best players and streamers have been creating and updating tier lists of our favorite fighters. If you are looking for the best players, check out our tier list here.
With that in mind, we have to ask a question on many people's minds: what happened to Kotal Kahn? The character has not done well in Mortal Kombat's most recent installment, and there a number of reasons why.
What Are The Issues With Kotal Kahn?
In general, Kotal Kahn's damage output is fine. He is not too weak, nor too overpowered. The problem, of course, is that with Kotal Kahn, you need to be able to reach your opponent in order to hit them. If we were to make a comprehensive list of his effective attacks that are available from midrange, we could say that the 4, 2, 4 is best for footsies. He also has a wavedash. However, that's it.
His mid-area threats are otherwise almost non-existent, and his fastest hit confirm string is over 20 frames long. That is twice as many frames compared to most other characters in the game, as they only need between 9 and 13 frames to accomplish the same thing. Because of this, many attacks can be seen ahead of time so opponents aren't caught off guard.
Because of this, Kotal Kahn lacks speed, mobility, and teleportation. In a game in which the ability to zone is king - which is something that makes other characters like Erron Black shine - not being able to respond or deal with zoning essentially puts Kahn in a vulnerable spot. Kotal Kahn has also been made physically larger in MK11 compared to previous games, perhaps to appear more imposing. The developers mentioned that he was meant to feel beefier, as though one were controlling a boss character. However, because of this, Kotal Kahn is easier to hit and the zoning tools that are useful against most characters are even more effective against Kahn, who needs to time jumps more carefully in order to avoid certain attacks.
Kotal Kahn's command grab to end combos provides a buff in damage, which in theory is wonderful. However, for some reason, it also switches sides. This is a ridiculous design, as the character is already slow to advance on an enemy. So, if you are somehow able to get a combo in place and back your opponent into a corner, you must be extra careful where you place yourself. There is nothing most opponents would like to see more than you mistakenly finishing off a combo and inadvertently giving up a corner advantage by tossing them across the screen.
What Does Kotal Kahn Rely On?
So, where does that leave Kotal Kahn in terms of playability? Essentially, he must rely on gimmicks and whiff punishes. However, this can be a problem since there is no practicality in the matter when it comes to his totems - though it might feel creative to mix the four available types and create a unique strategy. Casting a totem is slow, and once your opponent sees that you are committing time to create one, they will start attacking. Kotal Kahn relies on facing opponents who have no idea what lies within his toolkit, which obviously is not possible.
It's also ridiculous to consider whiff punishing as a viable strategy. If a character only excels in punishing the mistakes of their opponent, they aren't using any real strategy since any other character can do the same. Ultimately, this means that virtually all other characters, except perhaps D'Vorah, are better choices than Kotal Kahn.
So, how can Kotal Kahn be fixed? There are a few options, but we must remember that his gimmicks are an inherent part of his toolkit and are therefore unlikely to receive any kind of change. With that in mind, reducing the frames needed for certain animations would certainly help. Ending a combo by switching sides with an opponent is also an obvious point that needs to be fixed. If MK11 wants to keep the spirit of the animation, all it needs to do is add more spins to keep the orientation of both characters the same. Finally, there is the issue of his general sluggishness, his lack of teleportation, and the fact that he is vulnerable to proper zoning.
These issues are not easy to solve, especially since they have to do with the basic design of the character. Still, if nothing is done, Kotal Kahn is going to spend the next few years at the bottom of every MK11 tier list.