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Super Smash Bros Ultimate: The Counterpick

Tournaments bring the community high-pressure environments. There, they all challenge themselves to prove their worth as a player. Winning a tournament means being the best player currently in the venue – a glorious feeling that every player should experience at least once.

There are a lot of ways to get good at Smash. Many cogs work to ingrain a great player, each carrying different fundamentals. Some simple elements, like spacing and basic punishes. Others are niche, like reading and counterpicking.

Counterpicking isn’t a widely discussed topic, mostly because players themselves have biased opinions. This happens naturally, as Smash offers many options for competitive players. Generally, players pick according to whatever is most comfortable for them and what they believe is the objectively best option in a given situation. There isn’t a definitive way to counterpick, but there are ways to make it easier.

Character Counterpicking

Matchup knowledge is one of the most polarizing elements of competitive Ultimate. Currently, there are 71 different characters in the roster. This creates a total of 5,041 possible matchups in the whole game. Some are pretty even, while others leave certain characters at a disadvantage.

Snake is a character whose opponent needs to get crafty against due to his unpredictable matchup. Image: Nintendo

When optimizing the chances of victory, there are many ways to approach this issue. Some people decide to stay with one character. Their game plan is learning all 71 different matchups, and coming out on top. This approach works when the player is good enough. Normally, players should only do this if they already have the core fundamentals developed.

Counterpicking with characters works to a player’s skill set. It’s a great way to throw off a comfortable opponent, all by pouring a wave of new ingredients to the mix. Now, this doesn’t magically guarantee victories. To counterpick effectively, a player needs to know their characters inside and out. Underdeveloped characters leave a player on a fundamental disadvantage.

When players use multiple characters, they need to know when to counterpick. Sometimes, it’s better to stay with the most comfortable option.

Stage Choice

In a tight set, stage selection makes a big difference. Some characters do better in “tri plats” (such as Battlefield and Yoshi’s Story), while others take advantage of stages like Final Destination and Kalos Pokémon League. It all depends on the matchup.

Making good counterpicks depends on two variables: the enemy character and the player’s pick. Through previous experiences, a player needs to analyze the advantages of taking characters to certain stages, contrast it with the abilities of their character and then make a decision accordingly. A poor decision will only increment the difficulty a bit. However, it doesn’t take away the possibilities of victory.

Stages don’t matter as much as other fundamentals, yet they give players a push whenever the skill gap is small enough.


Counterpicking can’t be broken down to a science. Adding players into the mix takes away the possibility of absolute optimization. In Ultimate, there isn’t anything that ties players down. Competitors’ flexibility keeps amazing the community time and time again.

Some people win with a solo main, while others take all the advantage of counterpicking. However, there isn’t an objectively best way to get an advantage over the opponent – only raw talent can really carry a player.



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Featured image provided by Nintendo

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