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Super Smash Brothers

The fragility of the SSB Metagame

The smash community constantly speculates about who is the best character in the game. Opinions throughout the community vary, as players all have different experiences with the game.

The metagame is stable at the current moment. Most people have their picks for the top five characters of the game. On the other side, there’s also a list of lackluster low tiers. Or so it seems.

Low tiers stay at their spot until someone proves otherwise. Early in the game, William “Leffen” Hjelte, believed Snake wasn’t that good. On paper his frame data is lackluster, but his unconventional style makes up for it. Currently, Snake has proper representation in the metagame and finds success at the hands of talented players.


All it takes is one tournament to make everyone question the tier list. When Leonardo “MKLeo” Lopez won Smash Conference United, the community started looking at Ike.

At the start of the game’s lifespan, everyone thought he was good. However, nobody found success with him. That is until Leo picked him up. He showed the world how ridiculous Ike was by using Nair to combo into almost anything and still coming out on top. An amazing feat, yet he wouldn’t stop there. On April 17, Joker from the Persona franchise joined the cast. Initially, the community didn’t think much of him. However, that wouldn’t last long. Not too much after his release, Leo picked him up. In the next few weeks, his Joker would evolve at an unprecedented rate. He showed the community what Joker is capable of.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: The fragility of the metagame
Tyler “Marss” Martins singlehandedly developed the Zero Suit Samus metagame, showing everyone she is still a solid character on this game – Image: fanbyte

To this date, Leo has won five different majors with Joker, having a massive impact on the metagame. Furthermore, players constantly find themselves putting Joker on top of the tier list. Leo himself previously tweeted that Joker is overrated. However, his results speak louder than his words.

Every character has an innovator. A player that proves what is possible. Many of them are easy to spot. Yet, others are still in the making. It isn’t easy developing a characters metagame, but its a job that a selected group of players hold in their shoulders.

The player factor

Characters are a cornerstone in the game’s meta. Without them, there would be no Smash Bros. Yet, when a player is talented enough he brings out the best out of anything he touches. Recently, “Brood”, a Japanese player, got second place at Umebura SP 4. Furthermore, this major tournament had 517 entrants. This achievement is even more impressive because he did all of this with solo Piranha plant. Before this tournament, nobody expected this character to achieve any real results. On paper his tools are lackluster, but in the hands of this player, the plant shines.

Japan has a reputation for providing the world with talented innovators that reshape the tier list with their performances.

Ishiguro “Raito” Tetsuya is another great example of this occurrence. He is ranked number 20 in the PGRU Spring 2019 with Duck Hunt Dog. This character is an unconventional pick. He has odd tools and takes a lot of refinement to play. However, Raito found a way to push past all these barriers and achieve relative success.


The metagame is fragile. At first glance, it may seem established, but at any moment a great showing may change everything. Many characters, posses hidden potential that only certain players tap into. This leaves a lot of room for many great plays in the future.



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Featured image provided by Nintendo

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