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Super Smash Bros.: Why Tier Lists Dont Matter Yet

Tier lists rank characters based on their overall potential. This doesn’t certainly mean that top characters will have an unbalanced advantage over the opponent, but that they have a higher payoff when playing in tournaments.

Fighting games like Street Fighter V, Tekken 7, and Super Smash Bros. Melee possess tier lists of their own. To be able to reach a general consensus among players over the tier list takes a lot of time and even more tournament results. The game needs to mature enough to showcase characters at their highest level. Generally, at the start of a game’s lifespan, opinions vary heavily due to different perspectives and opinions. This is all until certain characters begin to show levels of consistency that can’t be disputed.

Leffen’s tier list – Image: Gamerant

Frame data, matchups, and tournament results dictate how high a character should place. With this in mind, Super Smash Bros Ultimate is about two weeks old, and it is too early to accurately predict the potential of the roster. Some characters may shine early on, consequently upsetting many players. They will call for nerfs while its too early to provide solid points over it.

Why Tier Lists Don’t Matter Right Now

It is natural for speculation to happen. At the start of a game’s timeline, everyone puts a lot of effort into figuring out how the game balances out. As a matter of fact, many professional Smash players made their pre-launch tier lists – all filled with expectations and speculations, but not accuracy.

ZeRo’s tier list – Image: Gamerant

As the game keeps moving forward, many characters will find optimal tech. It will take a large amount of labbing. Yet, Smash players are dedicated enough to embark in intense training sessions.

Because of the vast roster, learning how different matchups work will take a while. This will make the metagame development of many characters slow down as players have to find ways to deal with the different members of the cast.

With this in mind, many characters may experience periods of drought in tournament play. Still, they might rise up due to a revolutionary performance. A player might showcase new tech in a tournament, taking everyone off guard. YouTube and Reddit are also great pages to find character tech due to the involvement of the community.


Character tech is not the only element to consider – learning and overcoming the gradual changes for each character is as equally important as learning the characters as they are now. We have to take into account that the developers will provide balance patches. A lot of characters will have a significant amount of changes and their metagames will adapt accordingly.

A great example of this is how the Diddy Kong meta developed in Smash 4. At the start of the game’s life, Diddy Kong’s “Hoo Hah” combo dominated the metagame. Due to this, the game patched it out, and his metagame had to seek another route. Diddy Kong players went through a rough patch, but eventually Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios showed the world the character’s real potential. For this reason, Diddy Kong evolved from a character that depended on one cheap gimmick into one that used his banana to dominate the neutral game.


Right now, the game is at a point where experimenting is very important. Using a character that one truly enjoys will help ease the climb to greatness. Prioritizing individual progression will also add to what one can pull out of a character.

As players mature better and better gameplay pops up, everyone will develop their own guidelines and strategies. At the moment, however, we must do our best to succeed on our own, push past harsh barriers, and develop the metagame.

Agree or disagree? Feel free to join the conversation and let us know what you think.

Featured image provided by Yahoo

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1 comment

Smash Bros. Ultimate: Learning, Futility, and Sisyphus January 11, 2019 at 8:36 am

[…] The game has been out for slightly over a month now – having been released December 7th in most places -and the tier lists have already become omnipresent. Many players prominent players from a number of games, like Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios and William “Leffen” Hjelte have released multiple tier lists. ZeRo was even releasing tier lists before the game dropped. […]


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