Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has been out for about 4 months and has been heralded as one of the best smash games, or at least better than Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U.
Since its release, competitive and casual players alike have been trying to figure out the meta and the intricacies of all the characters.
The meta game is difficult to get a read on this early in a games lifetime, especially with the limited time that the game has been available to top players and with a cast of 74 characters.
What is the Meta?
If the results of the first major tournaments are any indication, there isn’t a solid consensus of what characters are considered top tier.
“Even though it’s been a few months the results have been all over the place because players are still figuring out other characters,” said Victoria “VikkiKitty” Perez, a Smash Commentator. “In no order I at least have an idea of my top five. I would say Peach, Olimar, Pichu, Wolf and number 5 is Lucina.”
Omari “AceStarThe3rd” Chaplin, a Smash YouTuber and Cosmic Arcade player, said that his tier list is similar. He said even if people think they have a read on the meta, there are still other variables to consider.
“On top of everything we are going to get patches,” said AceStarThe3rd.
With Nintendo releasing patches, powering up weaker characters and toning down stronger characters, the meta can fluctuate rapidly.
“We could have our current top ten list right now, but next month when Joker comes out and they do a balance patch it could literally fluctuate everything. We don’t know,” said AceStarThe3rd.
The addition of DLC characters is also something that could shift where the meta goes.
“The biggest challenge is the DLC fighters because something about Smash 4 with all the DLC characters, the meta was slowly shifting in a way that there was a defined cast of characters that competed at the top but then when Cloud and Bayonetta came out the meta shifted completely because they were that good of a character and dominated,” said Ryan “Ravenking” McDoough, a UGSG player.
A Counter-Picking Meta?
But as of now one thing is certain, with a cast as big as Ultimate counter-picking is going to be prevalent in the meta no matter what.
“Some people counter pick more than others, but at the top level you don’t see it as often as you would think,” said World Best Gaming player Jestise “MVD” Negron. “I think over time we will because people will just have to get good with other characters.”
An early example of a counter-pick matchup in the top level of play is Wolf countering Snake being used by Orion “Darkshad” Wolf at Full bloom 5.
“We have Darkshad using Wolf against Snake because that matchup in particular is better than if you were to go Shulk versus Snake,” said VikkiKitty.
The counter match ups that have dominated the meta so far have been sword characters and their counters.
“There’s a lot of good sword characters in this game so having a character to deal with sword characters is kind of a big deal. They don’t represent the top of the top, but you’ll see them a lot in brackets,” said Ravenking.
AceStarThe3rd said that swords are in a weird place now, they can’t be defined by traditional smash character prototypes.
“It’s unclear where they stand. You can call them zoners but they have the frame data to be rush-down characters, they can get in your face pretty easily,” said AceStarThe3rd.
With a counter-picking meta on the horizon players are going to have to expand their pool of playable characters, not only to find counters but also to expand their knowledge of the cast.
“I think if you’re going to be somebody who wants to do well competitively you should at least have two to three characters obviously you can specialize and skitter around your weaknesses, but counter-picking is very strong very advisable,” said AceStarThe3rd.
Another thing with a game so young is the theory of certain characters and what is possible within the game. Ravenking said that while certain combos and inputs are possible for certain characters, for example Pokémon Trainer and the cycling of the three playable characters it provides, the practicality of these ideas are underwhelming.
“Let’s break it down, you have to set it up correctly and then you only have this much percent window to achieve it. I still think the character is very good, I just don’t think Pokémon Trainer is top 5,” said Ravenking.
While the meta is still uncertain, the consensus is that the game is balanced, and that Nintendo is doing their best to only buff characters that need it and nerfing characters that it finds too oppressive.
“I think that will make for a healthy meta and I think the tier list will constantly change but I think it won’t be anything polarizing like previous smash games,” said AceStarThe3rd.