I agree to an extent. Using winrates and usage individually are useless, but most people are aware that low rank players can skew the number and exclusively look at high level play. Regardless, when ranking characters in fighting games people are analyzing them across multiple categories. How well does the character achieve their goal, how easy is it for them to achieve their goal, what can this character do for defense, how consistent are they, etc. And looking at things that way you can get a good idea of how good or bad a character is especially in relation to one another.
>what pros in fighting games choose to use depends a lot on the present meta of a game and how the community understand the games mechanics and exploits
I don't see what this is supposed to prove. Yeah, fighting game meta either changes based on what the community discovers or what the developers decide to adjust based on the current meta. You're acting as if the meta of a fighting game only changes based on the former, and then you use Melee, a game that never received any balancing, as an example when its situation is different from most fighting games.
Not even at the time the game was released, but before it even existed. Fighting games have been getting rereleases that balanced the game and added mechanics based on the current meta since Street Fighter 2 in the early 90s. And while it's true that on the other side of the coin a fighting game's meta is also defined by what the community discovers usually most of this is when a game is young. Not only is it rare when an old game has new stuff discovered, but stuff that drastically changes the meta of a game is exceedingly rare (which is part of the reason devs released updated versions or release patches because most people get bored playing a game they feel is mostly figured out).
Third Strike came out a little over 2 decades ago and Sean is considered a bad character (and if you want to know why watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjS1imDYkVM
) by virtually everyone, especially Capcom themselves who felt he was too good in Second Impact and made him worse to fit their intended goal of having him as a character to be played as a joke/handicap. Now, there's a chance that someone could discover something that changes how Sean is perceived. But you can't say the current state of a game doesn't matter because in the future it could possibly be different, especially a game that has been played, and is still actively played, to a crazy extent like Third Strike. I didn't mean for this to be so long winded, but I found a lot wrong with what you said there.
>Another example is smash bros melee where it’s been assumed fox is the best character but that isn’t true either otherwise tournaments would be fox only
No? People don't only pick characters because they're the best. Even pros have reasons for playing a character beyond them being the best in the game. Some pick a character because they like the design, others pick a character because it's who they played in previous game(s), some people pick if the character fits an archetype they like, etc. Of course there are rare situations where that does happen like Leroy in Tekken 7 occupying top 8s until he got toned down like someone ITT mentioned. Sagat in vanilla Street Fighter 4 is considered a few steps from being broken (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9ovxwGq0Ho
same guy in the embed, he gives a pretty good overview as to why everyone deems him that) but he wasn't exclusively dominating top 8s during vanilla sf4's run.
>in reality what characters get picked and actually win heavily depends on the state of the melee community and discoveries in exploits and bugs players are aware of at any time NOT the way the characters in melee behave exclusively
You're presenting this as if it's a mutually exclusive decision when in reality most players are going to look at exploits/bugs along with how a character functions on their own.
>Most characters within fighting games feel and function the same way with only minor differences in how their attacks function between two or more characters sharing the same traits to the point where those differences are insignificant
What fighting games are you playing? You used Smash and Brawlhalla as examples, but beyond clone characters most characters in smash play pretty different from one another. I never played Brawlhalla so I can't say much about it, but even if every character was functionally the same that's not the case for most games in the genre. You'd have to elaborate on what you mean by this because all you're saying is "Character in fighting games are very similar, all the matters is winning neutral and doing a combo, therefore no character is really better than the other" which makes zero sense.