Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s characters that are normally considered worse offline have gotten their share of the spotlight due to online tournaments continuing throughout COVID-19.
Smash Ultimate’s online is often deemed mediocre to competitors of the game. The buffer system and six frame input-delay are further hampered with online having an additional minimal five frames.
The end result is characters like Joker and Pikachu, who often rely on close combat, to struggle more online. The metagame online shifts to those who are the least affected by the higher input delay, or better yet can play to its advantage. There are two categories of characters who improve online. Camping characters or zoners such as R.O.B., Young Link and Sonic are improved. In addition, heavyweight characters or those with larger hitboxes such as Donkey Kong, King K. Rool and Cloud are also buffed.
Camping Characters and Zoners
Camping characters and zoners are effective at exploiting the increased frame delay online because they can keep opponents out without having to engage up close.
As a result, R.O.B., Young Link and Sonic have seen a spike in results online. Gabriel “Epic_Gabriel” Romero, who ranked 12 on the WiFi Warrior Rank v5, has achieved it using R.O.B. Tanner “SKITTLES!!” Jordan, who ranked 13 on the WWR v5, has achieved it using Young Link. Carlos “Sonix” Perez and Carrington “Wrath” Osborne are ranked second and sixth on the WWR v5 respectively, both with Sonic. All of these players were never ranked in the PGRU Fall 2019 ranking, which was the last offline official ranking before the pandemic.
Young Link, like Pikachu or Joker, is a combo-heavy character. Young Link, however, has three projectiles to work with: his fire arrows, boomerang and bombs. Because of this, he can effectively zone out opponents despite nerfed combo potential and still force an approach. When Young Link does get the chance to combo, he can still do so thanks to his decent frame data, albeit not to the level he can offline.
R.O.B., who is sometimes considered top-tier even offline, has shown to be formidable online as well. His camping and pressure abilities with gyro, laser, neutral air, up-b stalling and back air all don’t require him to closely engage, are buffed online. However, R.O.B. retains the ability to kill opponents early with his back air and side b, even if it is more difficult to reliably confirm into them.
Alongside Epic_Gabriel, R.O.B. has top 50 WWR v5 ranking from four other players: Brett “8BitMan” Esposito (24th), Grayson “Grayson” Ramos (26th), Benny “Benny&TheJets” Navarro (30th) and Raffi “Raffi-X” Azar (31st).
Sonic, to many players, magnifies what online can do to buff characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. He can camp opponents with the highest run speed in the game as well as using his spring and spindash to mix up and often escape from aggressive opponents. Therefore, often the main incentive of Sonic in a match will be to time opponents out. Players can find campy Sonic annoying because players are often rewarded for minimally interacting.
“[When playing] online, timeouts are extra easy because aggression is nerfed,” said Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman, a professional Smash Bros. Player spanning multiple titles in his video about Sonic online.
Heavier Characters or Those with Larger Hitboxes
Other characters have gotten their spotlight in the online environment as well. This includes larger sword characters such as Cloud, who previously had fewer results to show off prior to quarantine. Additionally, heavyweight characters such as Donkey Kong and King K. Rool who had even fewer results, are also seen. Although these are two different types of characters, they often go hand-and-hand. Typically, heavier characters come with bigger hitboxes, and large sword characters are heavier than average.
What both of these characters have in common, however, is they often have punishable moves. Due to punishing being more difficult online, these characters are buffed, while retaining their attributes.
Edgar “Sparg0” Valdez placed fourth on the WWR v5 using primarily Cloud, Leonardo “MkLeo” Lopez Perez, who is the best-ranked player offline, still managed to achieve 11 on the WWR v5 with some use of his Cloud. Notably, the first ranked player on the WWR v5, Kolawole “Kola” Aideyan, uses Cloud along with Roy.
As for heavyweights, Rylan “ChunkyKong” Silva has gotten high placings online with Donkey Kong, and Luke “KirbyKid” Andrew Richmond has placed high with King K. Rool. Both of these characters are considered bottom tier offline.
Overall there are clearly some characters and even players who have thrived during this time. The required online tournaments are giving them their time in the spotlight while the more technical and close combat fighters are having to cooldown for a bit. As long as COVID continues, so will online play with these fighters and players dominating. Consider trying out some of these fighters at least until COVID is gone and offline tournaments can begin again.
“From Our Haus to Yours”