Greninjutsu - An in-depth Guide to Learning Greninja!

Greninjutsu - An in-depth Guide to Learning Greninja!

Applicable Games
Smash 3DS, Smash Wii U

Greninja – Character guide

Written by FS | Ludi (Colorado/Michigan)

Table of Contents:

I. Overview

II. The Neutral

III. Advantage and Edge Guarding

IV. Disadvantage

V. Shadow Sneak Hitstun Canceling

VI. Hydro Pump – Recovery

VII. Hydro Pump – Offense

VIII. Bread & Butter Combos/KO Setups
- Other Moves Damage Values

IX. Defining Match-Ups (MUs)

X. Notable Greninjas

For All Frame Data and Other Stat-based Info:

With the drop of patch 1.1.5, almost the entire meta of Smash 4 as we knew it was shaken up. Sheik fell from her throne atop the tier list with severe kill setup nerfs, the new DLC characters faced some tweaks that toned down some of the things people complained the most about, and several new threats emerged from mid-tier and beyond. Among these new challengers, a duo of Pokemon dusted themselves off from months and months of neglect. Mewtwo, a character long considered to be too light, floaty, and slow to properly keep up with top tiers, proved his worth with Abadango. The two of them took Pound 2016 together over some big names such as Ally, Tweek, and Mr. R. The other was a long forgotten character, only ever dusted off by his loyal players and those who reduced him to meme status after three patches worth of nerfs. Over a year later, the character has received nothing but buffs since summer 2015. Who’s that Pokemon? It’s Greninja!

During and after iStudying’s eye-catching 2nd place performance at BEAST 6 in Europe, many people learned more about Greninja than they had the entire year the game had been out previously. Among these newly educated were top American players MVD and Esam, who had themselves been eliminated by iStudying’s faithful frog. Viewers were astounded by the insane things this character could do, and the commentators frequently asked themselves why more people had not given this character a shot. Footstool combos, insane hydro pump shenanigans, blistering mobility, and patient zoning alike had twitch monsters firing up Oddshot to watch the action again and again. After it was all said and done, many new eager faces flocked to the character to see what he’s all about.

Unfortunately, these hopefuls only found frustration. Common complaints of “no safe moves,” “bad neutral,” “terrible grab,” and “a worse Sheik clone” came from those unfamiliar with or quick to dismiss Greninja. My purpose in writing this piece today is to not only debunk several of these rumors and make a case for Greninja to be considered a top 15 character in this game, but to also lay the basic framework for anyone interested in picking up the character, both as new players to the game and veterans alike.

I. Overview

Let’s begin with a basic look at Greninja, himself. As a low-profile, slender, ninja-esque character, Greninja boasts one of the top mobility kits in the game. Featuring the sixth fastest dash, second highest jump, and third fastest falling speed, Greninja has no trouble getting wherever he needs to go quickly. On the surface, many are quick to compare Greninja to Sheik due to having several similar moves. They are not completely wrong, however, I would describe Greninja’s playstyle as a combination of Sheik, Fox, and Zero Suit Samus. He possesses the zoning game of Sheik, the risky neutral and big grab conversions of Zero Suit, as well as the speed, tenacity, and raw kill power of Fox. Those who like what those characters have to offer but are looking for something a bit different should look into picking him up.

Greninja is one of the flashiest characters in this game, and an absolute joy to watch and play. He is a momentum-based character (akin to Fox) in that once a good Greninja gets rolling it is very hard for the other player to get away. However, once the opponent puts a Greninja in disadvantage it can also be very difficult for Greninja to return to the stage safely. His fall speed allows him to combo and be comboed effectively, and his recovery, which features no hitbox, is a welcome invitation to some characters to try to gimp him. Greninja can somewhat return the favor, but his lack of quick aerials and non-committal offstage moves can make edge guarding require more craftiness than some other characters.

Let’s begin by looking over a Greninja main’s playstyle bit-by-bit.

II. The Neutral

Greninja’s neutral requires patience and careful planning. Because of his aforementioned lack of quick moves, most actions you can take in neutral with Greninja are a medium to large commitment and can be punished. However, he is blessed with one of the best long range tools in the game.


Water Shuriken (Neutral B)

Water Shuriken (Neutral B) can be fired uncharged at a very quick rate, charged to maximum in which it automatically launches itself, and released anywhere in between. The longer the shuriken is charged, the larger it is, the more damage it does, but trades off the distance it travels. The Full Charged Water Shuriken (FCWS) is a useful tool in many match-ups, especially vs characters who do not like to jump and/or do not close distance very quickly. FCWS traps an opponent inside it, unleashing a barrage of 0.5% hits before dealing a 9% final blow that pops the opponent out at about a 45-degree angle. Because this move traps an opponent so long, it is ideal for Greninja to run behind it and hit the trapped opponent with a nasty follow up. At low percents, this can combo into many things (mainly up smash, neutral air, and dash attack) depending on the opponent’s fall speed and weight, and at mid percents can almost always combo into forward air. Try playing with this move in training mode and see what sort of follow-ups you can create. There are countless ways to mix up water shuriken, and they all have their usefulness. You can also short hop with it, which is great for air stalling and hitting tall characters such as Rosalina & Luma. You can B reverse it to mix people up, you can wavebounce it, and even use it offstage. Use it early and often, as it is one of Greninja’s most useful tools. Be cautioned that uncharged shurikens do not true combo into anything. Many Greninja players, including myself, have a bad habit of using an uncharged shuriken and trying to dash grab from it. This only works against opponents who shield the shurikens a lot. Examples of Shuriken combos can be found at 3:48.

Once the opponent has begun to close the gap on Greninja, the situation shifts to mid-range. However, he has some tools to use in these scenarios.


Forward Air (Fair)

Forward air (Fair) uses one of his long water blades to slice the air in front of him. This attack has a lot of knockback, deals 14% damage when fresh, and also has good range. When spaced correctly and hitting with the tip of the blade this attack is incredibly safe on shield. When landed, it can also create some follow-ups such as dash grab or dash attack. Make sure to practice short hop fast fall (FF) Fair in training mode. Try retreating with it and just jumping in place with it (be aware that this move is usually not safe if you approach with it unless spaced perfectly) to get a good feeling for this move. The hitbox should just barely be coming out in full before Greninja lands on the ground. If you’re seeing the whole blade come out and then almost immediately auto-cancel, or landing on the proper frame (in Fair’s case, 40 or later) that you get landing lag from the jump (the soft landing, which is 2 frames) instead of the Fair (15 frames), you’re doing it correctly. This is a great option to bait out whiffs and poor choices out of your opponents for you to punish. An example of Fair’s spacing is at 1:06.

Greninja’s dash grab is arguably one of the best in the game and has fantastic range. It, as well as his pivot grab, is the optimal punish for an opponent’s whiffed move at midrange, and helps Greninja close gaps as well as win neutral consistently. Greninja’s combo throws are his up and down throws (U throw and D throw, respectively), but all four are useful depending on where you are on the stage. We’ll talk more about throw combos in the Bread & Butter, or B&B, section. Greninja can also kill with his up throw at very high %, which sounds weak but is actually one of his trustiest ways to end a hard-fought stock.

Neutral Air (Nair)

Neutral air (Nair) is Greninja’s best combo starter aerial and possibly his best aerial in general. While the timing on this move can be tricky when trying to use it optimally, Nair offers a fairly large hitbox with decent shield stun that is useful in several situations. While not safe on shield unless spaced well, Nair is a solid approach option when you read the opponent throwing out a grounded move or using a defensive maneuver. It has a sweet- and sour-spot, and both string/combo into different moves depending on the opponent’s percentage. We’ll discuss Nair combos in both B&B and KO Setups. To get the timing of Nair correct for optimal use, try short hopping in training mode. At the apex of your short hop, input the A button and then immediately fast fall it. If the hitbox is auto-cancelling when you hit the ground, you’re doing it correctly. Below is a guide to the differences between the two hitboxes and when/how to use them to your advantage.

- Sweet-spot Nair: Your best combo tool at low %. This will pop the opponent up for many of Greninja’s crazy setups, including the fabled footstool combo. This can combo into a lot of things, but at low % grab is optimal while mid % is up smash. The B&B footstool combo is best but hardest to do, which we’ll discuss later.

- Sour-spot Nair: One of Greninja’s best KO setup tools. At high %, this hitbox can combo into up smash or fair, netting you fairly early kills. The hardest part about landing it is understanding the spacing necessary. Go into training mode and try to hit just the corner of your opponent’s hitbox with the Nair (you do not have to fast fall until the hit lands). You will see what I mean in the video at 0:00.

Forward Tilt (F-Tilt)
Down Tilt (D-Tilt)

Both forward tilt (F-Tilt) and down tilt (D-Tilt) are quick moves with deceiving range that are great for poking at shields or getting an approaching opponent off of you. These two moves round out the rest of Greninja’s tools to try and use while the opponent is at mid-range. F-tilt has a small chance of tripping the opponent, can be angled up down or neutral, and can also jab reset when the hitbox inside of Greninja's thigh is used. D-tilt in particular creates lots of opportunity for follow-ups, including KO setups into Fair or Usmash. We will discuss those more later.

Dash Attack

Greninja's Dash Attack was the target of buffs in patch 1.1.5. Some of the move's cooldown was removed, making it an even better approach option than before. While not as safe as someone like Fox's, Greninja's Dash Attack is a quick and low-profile move that allows you to close some distance and put shield pressure on your opponent. When spaced at max distance, this attack's low cooldown and extended reach allow you to avoid shield grabs and retaliate with a quick punish of your choice. It also has really nice knockback for follow-ups, including fair and RAR bair.


Greninja struggles the most when the opponent has finally closed the distance and is pressuring Greninja in his face. His close quarters combat is outclassed by a lot of the cast, and he only has a few quick options for punishes on close-range whiffs. Here are some examples of what you should be using when the fight gets too close for comfort.


Greninja's jab comes out on frame 3 and is his best option to relieve pressure when an opponent has broken his zoning. Greninja’s jab features a 1-2-3 combo as well as the option to forgo the third hit for a multi-hit finisher. The final hit of either option has solid knockback, and will send opponents that approached unwisely packing. Greninja’s jabs 1 and 2 are also incredibly easy to cancel, and can be used to bait a bad reaction to punish with a grab, smash attack, or an aerial chase. While the multi-hit is tempting due to its increased damage from the three hits, fast-falling opponents and those at low % can often shield during the combo or fall out of the hits, giving them a free punish. Most often it is optimal to just take your third jab or go for a mix-up. Jabbing is Greninja’s fastest out of shield option, as well.

Up Tilt (U-Tilt)

Up tilt (U-Tilt) has a small hitbox on the ground near Greninja, but its best use is as an anti-air, boasting a large disjointed hitbox. If an opponent ends up behind you or whiffs something directly in front of you, U-Tilt is a good way to pop them up for follow-ups. A perfect-pivoted U-tilt can also be used to lengthen strings that would normally just end with an aerial.

Grab (Standing)

Although it was buffed in startup by three frames in 1.1.5, Greninja’s standing grab is still one of the slowest to start up in the game. At 11 frames, it is only one frame slower than jab out of shield and has become a relatively decent punish option. It has good range and leads to great follow-ups. This move is usable, but not abusable, as trying to grab too often can lead to Greninja getting punished, instead.

Substitute (Down B)

QUICK NOTE ON SUBSTITUTE: Substitute is Greninja’s down B. It acts as a counter and can be angled in 8 directions, but is incredibly slow and easy to block, not to mention incredibly punishable on whiff. Use this move only in extreme mix-up situations, as it’s a very poor option but does have a spike hitbox if used downward and kills very early in most directions. Upward substitute can sometimes combo into a jumping up air.

This is about where Greninja’s close quarters options end. Jabbing is going to get you out of a ton of situations. Besides these moves, Greninja’s movement is probably his strongest aspect in neutral and keeping in his favored range. Use your superior mobility to run circles around your opponents and make them commit to try to hit you. Bait and punish with movement and zoning (shuriken, Fair), and make your opponents make mistakes while approaching you.

That is a summation of Greninja’s useful tools in neutral. The character requires a very patient neutral due to his lack of quick moves. Practice spacing your moves and zoning with shurikens, and use his quick movement to bait out responses that you can punish. Most of all be patient: you can get so much reward off of a good punish that it’s tempting to force one, but know that you will get punished just as hard for doing so.

III. Advantage & Edge Guarding

Greninja, when he’s in his preferred range and with momentum, can deal a lot of damage to an opponent and potentially overwhelm them. Here are some of Greninja’s best tools for extending on a reeling opponent or guarding somebody offstage.

Up Air (Uair)

Up air (Uair) is probably Greninja’s best juggling tool. When active, Greninja’s feet do not have a hurtbox (his feet can’t be hit) and will beat out attempts to come down with an attack unless the hitbox reaches past the feet. This attack is also amazing at catching jumps, and with proper reads and platform aid it’s easy to take a stock off the top at really early percentages. This attack true combos out of up throw at low to mid %, and kills on its own around 130% (much sooner depending on ceiling and Greninja’s rage). This attack is actually very good for platform pressure, as short hop Uair will put 5-6 hitboxes on the opponent and will sometimes prompt an early shield drop or poke through an opponent’s shield. The disjointedness of the attack also keeps Greninja relatively safe while doing so.

As a multi-hit move, Greninja can also use up air as a means to drag down the opponent for extended strings. If the opponent misses the tech on the ground at high % he gets a free down smash, and at mid % U-Tilt to drag down Uair combo into each other very nicely for a long string. To perform a drag down Uair, simply connect Uair and fast fall it before the later hits connect. If done properly, your opponent should end up dropping to the ground and the last hit should not connect. An example of drag-down Uair can be found in the video at 3:16.

Up Smash (Usmash)

Now we get into the big boy stuff. Up smash (Usmash) is 100% Greninja’s best move, period. It has great range above him, covers multiple options, can be comboed into by certain moves, and kills around 90% across the cast regardless of the stage’s ceiling using the second hit. With rage and a full charge, this attack is capable of taking stocks around 60%. It’s also one of the best anti-air moves in the game. Usmash wields a massive sour spot that, if charged, can kill around 120% horizontally. Usmashing immediately to cancel a jump, which is known as a jump cancel, makes Greninja slide a good distance while using it. This allows you to cover even more area while using it. It beats jumps if used instantly, and air dodges if charged. The uses for this move in Greninja’s metagame are near endless. Use it early and often, though remember that this attack does not connect properly through most platforms in the game. You will get only the first hit, which does not have much knockback. If the opponent blocks the first hit and releases shield, or you carry them off the platform with it, however, the sweet spot will connect normally.

Forward Smash (Fsmash)

Forward smash (Fsmash) is a very quick, disjointed smash attack with solid range. I feel it’s very underrated and has a lot of use. It can true combo out of Nair at low %, and it’s very good at catching poor landings. Pivot (a technique used through canceling a dash in the first few frames of the dash itself to use attacks such as F-tilt instantly) Fsmash is super quick and hard to see coming. It’s also very good at catching jumps onto the stage from the ledge. It’s especially dangerous against characters like Yoshi or Ness, as it’s good at covering the space they need due to their poor snapping abilities. This attack is relatively punishable, and contains a dead zone at Greninja’s hands so you must mind your spacing. Overall, a pretty good tool for a quick punish.

Down Smash (Dsmash)

Down smash (Dsmash) is a bit slower and weaker than Fsmash, but hits on both sides of Greninja and covers lower ground. It's good for punishing an air dodge into the ground or a predicted roll around Greninja. This attack also hits below the ledge and can punish a regrabbing opponent very hard.

Edge guarding is another area in which Greninja, with his range and quick vertical coverage options, excels at. Using the following moves, he can end an opponent’s stock, especially if they’re not paying attention.

Back Air (Bair)

Greninja’s back air (Bair) is his fastest aerial, coming out on frame 5 and dishing out 4 hits. The knockback of the last hit is fairly weak and is better used for gimps than raw KOs, but at high % it can still get the job done. This attack is disjointed, quick, has solid range, and is pretty harmless to throw out vs a recovering opponent. Be careful, though – dropping off the stage, fast falling and bairing MAY cause an SD (when you accidentally fall off the stage and can’t recover). Practice the spacing so you will not die by using this in a match.

Fair is an okay move offstage. Because of its high endlag, you must be careful of how high you use the move. Drop-off fair is sometimes useful for catching a diagonal recovery but is a bit slow. Use it sparingly.

Just because Greninja’s Bair and Fair are good for edge guarding does not mean all of his aerials should be used! Nair in particular is very bad to use offstage and you should never do it. If you fast fall while Nairing off stage you are 100% dead. It has way too much aerial end lag to be reliable. Down air (Dair) is also a confirmed SD if you do not hit an opponent or use it high enough. Don’t use these moves offstage.

Shadow Sneak (Side B)

Despite still being a very large commitment, Shadow Sneak is a lot harder to see coming offstage due to the lack of shadow. Opponents familiar with Greninja can still tell it is coming by the reduction of Greninja’s falling speed, though. This attack kills very early offstage but carries large risk if you miss. Use this as a mix-up to seal a stock early or to keep your opponent honest and looking for it. That way you can hold stage control even more effectively by having them fear this option.

Shurikens are actually quite good vs a recovering opponent. Uncharged shuriken is often true out of forward throw (F throw) and can sometimes eat an opponent’s jump if they try to mash it out. However, the true star (no pun intended) of edge guarding is the fully charged variant. This attack eats low recoveries for breakfast, making it an excellent option against characters that must recover low in most situations (Captain Falcon, for example). It kills around 50-60% if landed off-stage and covers air dodges, making it arguably Greninja’s most effective edge guarding tool. You must still only use this as a mix-up, however, due to it containing a high amount of risk and commitment. Characters with reflectors can also reflect it back at you, which can stage spike or straight kill you depending on %. Always be cautious when using this, but don’t be afraid to try it every now and then.

Ledge trumping is a good option in Greninja's kit because of how quick he is. Ledge trump bair is solid, but tricky to land. It is good for tacking on extra damage and conditioning early ledge inputs from your foe. Greninja's ledge trump input is a bit harder to get to work consistently than most characters. Try holding towards the ledge, then snapping the control stick back as soon as you see Greninja start to roll off the edge. Then press back, jump, and back air. Empty trump is also a good option, if you cover the high recovery you can get a d smash from their regrab which will end stocks very early.

IV. Disadvantage state

As a fast faller, Greninja himself is subject to being comboed pretty hard and falls into more KO setups than other characters. However, he can be hard to hit due to his small frame and high jumps. If you are hit or grabbed, the best choice is not to panic. Greninja does not have many tools to flip a disadvantaged situation in his favor, and your best options when knocked into the air or offstage are going to be defensive ones. Your opponent will almost always get to take their guaranteed follow-ups; your role is to simply minimize that damage and get back to the stage and reset. Even then, he does have some helpful tools to try and get himself out of danger.

Greninja’s best tool in disadvantage is no doubt his crazy high double jump. Unless the combo is specifically designed to catch jumps or is a 50/50, you are going to want to jump out of almost every situation. Most characters will not be able to catch it if you get it out early enough.

Greninja’s air dodge is about average, but his already small frame and good mobility makes him hard to hit when he uses it. Air dodges in general are risky commitments and you should only use them sparingly though, especially when you have jump as your primary option. Especially be wary of air dodging into the ground if you can help it, since it’s one of the rare instances that he can get heavily punished!

Down Air (Dair)

Throwing out aerials while trying to get back to the stage is almost always a poor choice for Greninja (max spaced Bair/Fair is probably his best option), and Down Air (Dair) is almost always no exception. This move is a large commitment and has a lot of punishable end lag. If you’re using Dair every time you’re above someone, it is going to get you killed. However, vs opponents who like to block landings or have committed to a laggy move to try to cover your landing, this move is actually pretty good. It can quickly flip the situation in your favor, as the late hit of Dair combos into things like Bair and Fair depending on which side of the opponent you land on. If they block it, you will bounce harmlessly off their shield and only characters with the highest jumps (Falco, Greninja) will be able to punish it on block. Use this move as an occasional burst option to return to the stage or an opponent who has overcommitted trying to juggle you, but only very occasionally.

And finally, the disadvantage tool that deserves its own section:

V. Shadow Sneak Hitstun Canceling(SSHC)

Shadow Sneak (SS) is one of Greninja’s stranger moves. In neutral or almost any other situation, this move is super laggy and predictable (you can see the shadow move on the stage’s ground when you use it) and should be used with extreme caution. On the defensive side of things, however, Shadow Sneak can be used to cancel Greninja’s hitstun and get him out of precarious situations that would make many match-ups otherwise bad for him. Technically, Shadow Sneak can be used to escape any combo or multi-hit move that has some sort of space between its hits. As long as the move does not lock you in for a final hit (Sheik Uair for example), using Shadow Sneak with the correct timing should remove you from the situation. For a few examples, here are a few common situations you can escape with the help of Shadow Sneak, as well as the timing for the input. Practice them with a friend or in training mode.

Zero Suit Samus: Boost Kick – Input SS during the gap between second-to-last and last hits. You should be able to get out every time. However, mashing may not work so it’s best to do it precisely.

Meta Knight: Shuttle Loop – Noticeably harder to get out of due to how quick the attack is, but if you’re expecting shuttle loop input SS directly after the first hit and you should get out.

Mario/Kirby/Fox/Pikachu: U-Tilts of Doom – Only attempt this if you have a safe platform to escape to directly above you. SSHC has enough end lag to where it will be punished if you use it to get on the ground without landing on a platform, but otherwise you should be able to input SS to escape these combos at any time.

Bayonetta: After-Burner Kick – It is nearly impossible to SS out of Witch Twist, but mashing it out should easily get you out of ABK. Be aware that a Bayonetta knowledgeable in the MU may still be able to continue her combo, but you will probably never die off the top until very late % using this tool.

This also works for multi-hit smashes, such as Diddy’s Usmash, Cloud’s Fsmash, and Link’s Usmash. You just need to be aware of these moves and input in time to avoid the last hit. Note that this is not foolproof. Even if you get the SS off, you may end up in a location where you get hit anyway or you may be punished by someone with extensive Greninja MU knowledge. There are also certain locations in some of these hitboxes that lock you in for the final hit and there’s nothing you can do, so don’t fret if you don’t get it 100% of the time. If it always worked Greninja would be pretty dumb.

And the star of the show, which will get two sections:

VI. Hydro Pump/Shadow Sneak - Recovery

Hydro Pump (Up B)

Hydro Pump (Up B/HP) is arguably Greninja’s most versatile move, and its main use is recovery. While not having a hitbox, the many ways HP can be angled to get back to the stage/ledge is the best tool Greninja has to keep himself safe while recovering. The move itself works a bit like Pikachu’s Quick Attack, in that you can input it in two different directions. Unlike QA, however, you are able to use the move in one direction and still get the maximum distance of recovery. Below are several examples of recovery. Mix these into your game for the maximum ability to return to stage or ledge.

- Straight up (Up B Then hold up): A solid method of snapping to the ledge from directly below it. This recovery is the easiest to pull off, but is the most unsafe. You will be vulnerable to stage spike attempts and drop-off attacks.

- Diagonal (Up B then hold diagonal towards ledge): A bit tougher but a bit safer than the vertical method.

- “L” Technique (Up B, then horizontal to vertical): The trademark Hydro Pump recovery angle of aMSa, this style of recovery has been adopted by almost every Greninja player in the world. It is incredibly safe, has good recovery range, but is more difficult to pull off. This may require practice to pull off consistently. You can also use this diagonally from below the ledge. Examples below.

- “Push” Technique (Up B above ledge, hold back then forward): Probably the most technical HP technique. This method is for use against opponents charging something at the ledge, such as Ike’s Eruption or Lucario’s Aura Sphere. This method shoots a stream of water onto the stage, pushing the opponent far enough to where they won’t be able to harm you. If done correctly this will snap the ledge safely, too. This will take a lot of practice to pull off consistently.

- Video examples of these at 4:10

SS can also be used for recovery, too. If you are far from the ledge horizontally, the use of shadow sneak can help make up for Greninja’s poor air mobility. If used all the way to the edge, this attack may also surprise or punish an opponent’s attempted edge guard. The back hit can be used to take stocks off of greedy edge guarders, and it KOs consistently around 50-60%. The front hit is not as strong but is still a good method of making an edge guarder respect your space. Because Greninja drops so far so quickly below the ledge after the attack is used, it’s very difficult to punish on reaction. It is, however, easy to punish on read, so don’t get greedy. Use it to give yourself a chance to HP to the ledge, and mix it up as an offensive tactic now and then.

As of patch 1.1.5, Hydro Pump Bouncing used to be the bane of Greninja mains everywhere. If done directly into a wall or misplaced off the ledge slightly, HP would bounce Greninja off the stage and make him fall to his death (you could perform any action besides another HP, which was especially cruel). After the mentioned patch, the bounce angle was fixed to snap the ledge more easily. You can still SD this way, but you have to be holding away from the ledge. It is still best to properly space your HP, however, as bouncing can provide a valuable second where you are open to punishes from your opponent. Just don’t fear SDing if you bounce. Hold towards the ledge and you will grab it.

Finally, we will discuss Greninja's wall jump and cling. On stages with walls, like Duck Hunt, or even just a slight wall, like Smashville, Greninja can add his wall jump into his recovery for an extra mixup. Because the ledge jump is so small, it cannot be used to simply kick himself onto the stage, but it provides a quick way for Greninja to snap the ledge without exposing himself with Hydro Pump.

Greninja is also able to cling to walls for a short time (about 4 or 5 seconds), giving him extra time to wait out an edge guard attempt. From wall cling you can choose to wall-jump (push away from the wall and you will kick off it, this does not use your second jump), jump off the wall (press jump while clinging, burns your second jump but is higher vertically), or drop off the wall (press down). You can also attack off the wall, but this is not useful and is often suicidal due to Greninja's laggy aerials. One of the best uses for wall cling is to jump up and bair the opponent, and then safely snap to ledge if missed or blocked. This is a good method for punishing laggy edge guard attempts.

VII. Hydro Pump – Offense

HP’s offensive uses almost outnumber its recovery uses. It can be used in neutral to pester an opponent that is struggling to approach, push a high recovery up and mess up spacing, and, most usefully, gimp several recoveries. HP’s water will always send the opponent at a 58-degree angle in the opposite direction. It acts similarly to Mario’s FLUDD, but can be used offstage with great effectiveness and can be angled several different ways.

HP beats several recoveries, as it can cover many members of the cast’s up specials and push them just far enough to not be able to make the ledge. By dropping off and pumping up to the ledge, or by simply pumping towards the ledge while on the stage, you may be able to punish a misplaced recovery and take a stock very early. Here are some examples of situations where a HP gimp is optimal:

Cloud/Little Mac: HP at the ledge when you predict his up special to come out. He will have to use wall jumps or space himself perfectly to wait you out to avoid the hydro pump taking his stock incredibly early.

Ike: Aether is beaten by standing HP towards the ledge.

Almost all other sword characters: Their up specials are beaten by drop down HP.

Kirby: Same as Ike for Final Cutter.

Ness/Lucas: PK Thunder offstage is beaten by HP. It will push Ness/Lucas far away but they will still have the chance to recover with proper maneuvering of their thunderbolt. Only the best PK kid players will be able to adapt in this situation.

Pikachu: Quick Attack, if caught before ledge snap or recovering high, gets beaten by HP.

See what recoveries you can beat by using Hydro Pump. Hydro Pump can also be used to kill off the top at very high %. U throw usually sets this up pretty well, and then all you have to do is jump and angle Hydro Pump accordingly to their DI to send them over the top. This gets some pretty comical results and reactions if you get good at it. A video example is included below at 5:12.

With that, we conclude the large write-up sections of the guide. We will now cover combos, matchups to watch for, and notable Greninja players for your own research.

VIII. Bread & Butter Combos/KO Setups

In this section, moves will be listed and then a list of true follow ups will be placed with them. If the setup/combo is not true, I will list the conditions. Make sure to practice these like crazy! As always, combos vary by rage, opponent’s weight and fall speed, and of course training mode. Bolded = Most effective/common option.

Nair (Sweet-spot): 0:18
(11% fresh)

Low %

- FF Nair -> Jab 123 or finisher combo (123: 18%, Finisher: 21-%)

- FF Nair -> Grab (w/ up throw up air end 25%)

- FF Nair -> D-tilt -> Grab (w/ up throw up air end 32%)

- FF Nair -> Fsmash (25%)

- FF Nair -> footstool -> Dair -> Shuriken (to stall fall speed) -> Nair -> Usmash/Another footstool (optimal, but difficult) (44%)

Mid-High %

- FF Nair -> Usmash (25%)

- FF Nair -> Fair (25%)

- FF Nair -> Reverse Aerial Rush(RAR) Bair (21%)

- FF Nair -> Sour-spot Nair (can get several but must read air dodges or other poor responses)

Nair (Sour-spot): 0:18
(6% Fresh)

Mid-High %

- Nair -> Usmash (KO CONFIRM) (20%)

- Nair -> RAR Bair (16%)

- Nair -> Fair (KO CONFIRM) (25%)

Fair: 1:23
(14% Fresh)

Low %

- Fair -> Grab (w/ up throw up air 28%)

- Fair -> Dash Attack -> Fair (35%)

Mid-High %

- Fair -> Fair (28%)

Bair(With last hit): 1:46
(10% Fresh)


- Bair -> Dash Attack -> Fair (27%)

Bair(Without last hit): 1:46

High %

- Bair -> U-Tilt -> Uair (KO CONFIRM) (16%)

- Bair -> Turn-around grab (w/ up throw up air (15%)

Uair: 2:40

(8% Fresh)

Low %

- Uair -> Uair (16%)

Dair (first few frames/spike hitbox): 3:36

(8% Fresh)

Low %

- Chance to trip, can follow-up with Dair or Nair

High %

- Dair -> Footstool -> FF Bair (first few hits jab lock) -> Fsmash (KO CONFIRM IF THEY MISS TECH ON DAIR) (30%)

- You can also set up this combo by getting a footstool on a standing opponent

Dair (late hitbox): 3:36
(8% fresh)

Mid-High %

- Dair -> Bair/Fair depending on which way you are facing (18-22%)

U-Tilt: Various

(4% Fresh)

Low %

- U-Tilt -> Usmash (18%)

- U-Tilt -> Uair (12%)

- U-Tilt -> Bair (14%)

Mid-High %

- U-Tilt -> Drag down Uair x3 (Ranges)

- U-Tilt -> Uair (KO CONFIRM) (12%)

D-Tilt: 2:04

(7% Fresh)

Low %

- D-Tilt -> Grab (w/ up throw up air (19%)

- D-Tilt (Read air dodge) -> Fsmash (21%)

- D-Tilt -> Dash Attack -> Fair (28%)

- D-Tilt -> RAR Bair (17%)

Mid-High %

- D-Tilt (Read air dodge) -> Jump Cancel Usmash (SOMETIMES TRUE) (KO SETUP) (21%)

- D-Tilt (Read jump) -> Fair (KO SETUP) (21%)

Up throw: 2:40

(5% Fresh)

Low-Mid %

- U throw -> Uair (13%)

- U throw -> Bair (15%)

High %

- U throw (Read air dodge) -> Wait -> Uair (KO SETUP) (13%)

- U throw (Read jump) -> Uair (KO SETUP) (13%)

Down throw: 3:19

(5% Fresh)

Low %

- D throw -> D tilt -> Regrab x3 (Fast fallers only) (~30%)

- D throw (Read air dodge) -> F smash/tilt

Mid-High %

- D throw (Read air dodge) -> Usmash (KO SETUP) (19%)

- D throw (Read jump) -> Fair (KO SETUP) (19%)

- D throw (Read air dodge) -> Wait -> Fair (KO SETUP) (19%)

Forward Throw:

(5% Fresh)

Most %

- F throw -> Shuriken (8%)

Full Charged Shuriken: 3:48

(12% Fresh)

Low %

- Full Shuriken -> Nair -> Footstool combo (56%)

- Full Shuriken -> Dash attack -> Fair (33%)

- Full Shuriken -> Usmash (lighter/floatier characters) (26%)

Mid-High %

- Full Shuriken -> Fair (26%)

Dash Attack:

(7% Fresh)

Low-High Mid %

- Dash Attack -> Fair (21%)



Jab 1:
(2% Fresh)

Jab 2:
(2% Fresh)

Jab 3 (Finisher):
(3% Fresh)

Multijab (Finisher):
(6% Minimum Fresh)

(7% Fresh)

(14% Fresh)

(14% Fresh)

Up Smash (Sweetspot):
(14% Fresh)

Shadow Sneak (Front Hit):
(11% Fresh)

Shadow Sneak (Back Hit):
(11% Fresh)

Back Throw:
(8% Fresh)

(2% Fresh)

(14% Fresh)

IX. Defining Matchups

GRENINJA DOES WELL – In matchups where he is able to out mobilize and/or outrange the opponent and is not beaten at the zoning game. (Example: Heavies, Mario Bros., characters with poor range or mobility)

GRENINJA DISLIKES MATCHUPS – Where the opponent can keep up with his mobility, out-frame-data him up close, or out zone him. (Examples: Sheik, Fox, Sonic)

Here is my current opinion on Greninja's matchup spread (UPDATED 11/2016):
Screen Shot 2016-11-11 at 1.01.53 PM.png

For more information about Greninja’s matchups, visit the Greninja matchup thread on the character boards on Smashboards.

X. Notable Greninjas

iStudying (Netherlands)

What to watch:

- BEAST 6 + 7

- Avalon Tournament Series

- Syndicate

- Eclipse 2

Currently Active


DarkAura (Canada)

What to watch:

- Canada Cup 2016

- Frostbite 2017

-SmashLoft Series

Currently Active


Elexiao (France)

What to watch:

- MARS 2016

- Pandali's Pandemonium Tournament

- Neokan #2



Some (Japan)

What to watch:

- Frostbite 2017

- Umebura Series

Currently Active


Venia (USA – New York City)

What to watch:

- Nebulous Prime Weeklies

- Nebulous Prime Monthlies

- Xanadu #153

Currently Active



Stroder (USA - Arizona)

What to watch:

- 2GG West Side Saga
- Rise 2016
- Revolt

Currently Active

Honorable Mentions:
Oiisitofu (Japan)
Waveguider (Australia)
P2P With Gibus (DFW, TX)
Illusion (San Antonio, TX)
Eddy (Netherlands)
Shinjoebi (Minnesota)
Lightarrow (New England)
Upchuckle (New Mexico)

So concludes my guide on Greninja. It is a lot of info to take in, but please do not let it deter you from playing the character! He is such a blast to play and watch alike, and I look forward to your take on the character. Please contact me on Smashboards @Ludiloco or on Youtube @Ludi Loco if you have questions, I would love to chat.

Thank you so much for reading.

- FS | Ludi

April 11th, 2016
First release
Last update
4.89 star(s) 18 ratings

More resources from Ludiloco

  • Greninjuts-Two
    A Beginner to Intermediate Guide for Learning Greninja in Ultimate

Latest reviews

Very thorough. Nice job.
Very nice Guide.
very good guide
Hey ludi. I'm the guy that peer reviewed your guide previously. You already know I think it's great. Another thing I noticed is that you should add late dair-Uair spike-dsmash as a combo/kill set up. Otherwise, it's a pretty fantastic guide. One can really see the effort and time you put into it.
Best Greninja guide. If you're still going to make changes though, I would suggest adding a section on the usage of perfect pivot.
Thank you for the kind words. Unfortunately I don't believe PPing to be a vital part of Greninja movement or strings (yet!), so I've decided not to include it in the guide.
This helped me a lot! The guide was helpful along with the video, which showed me many of the combos! Great work! :)
An excellent and comprehensive guide, a great solution to the prior lack of up-to-date, high-quality Greninja guides!
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