Momentum canceling (MC) is a set of advanced techniques used to stop momentum during a wavedash or when sliding from a hit. It can be performed with any character; however Luigi has by far the best and most useful MC due to his traction and incredible wavedash. He can put himself in a situation to use one of these options anytime he wavedashes. The other characters uses for these tools are much less overall and I would rather focus on how it can impact Luigi specifically. MC is extremely useful and can allow for extremely precise, fast movement and good spacing. It also provides a lot of options as there are several ways to do this technique and many more applications for it in the neutral and punish game. Practicing many of these is vital as some can be very difficult to perform consistently. You should avoid this guide if you are relatively new or unfamiliar with melee as I wrote it assuming fundamental knowledge and most of these techniques are only applicable if more basic techniques are mastered first.
Part 1 - Pivots
There has been a lot of discussion about pivots recently in the Luigi forums and for good reason. Pivoting allows us to precisely space attacks and is much safer vs shields as Luigi slides away after. For those unaware pivoting occurs on one exact frame during a dash dance turnaround. I highly recommend watching PewPewU’s pivot video [link]
To perform a pivot one can either perform an attack or grab, or reset the stick to neutral during the single pivot frame. This means all pivots are frame perfect, meaning it is difficult technically and is very timing specific. Pivoting will stop your momentum immediately and resetting the stick will put you in a neutral stand, called an empty pivot. Empty pivots cancel momentum and put Luigi in neutral so all options are available afterwards. I think they should mainly be used for approaching and retreating at safe ranges. It can also be used to precisely position you for an optimal punish while tech chasing though using it in this manner requires very high precision and reaction speed. There are alternatives for positioning that can be easier to perform more consistently which I'll get into later.
For pivot attacks the best options are down smash, up smash, forward tilt, grab and jab. Pivot up tilt is very hard to do and not incredibly useful. Down tilt is almost always bad and should pretty much be ignored. Make sure that if you dash the opposite direction you're facing that you don't input the pivot too quickly or you will get a smash turnaround and just stand still.
I can’t really offer an easy way for learning these, they are extremely precise maneuvers and they took me a very long time to even come close to being able to perform consistently. I do have a few tips to share though. When first learning to do pivots it may be beneficial to practice in slow motion and break down each individual aspect (dashing, pivot frame, attack input etc.) then working your way up to full speed practice. Also make sure that when you dash in the opposite direction you face when standing still , that you hold the stick slightly longer as you will get a smash turn around if you do not. Lastly using all of these in each direction out of any wavedash is important so practice each direction individually.
Down smash - I input the smash with the c-stick and you can also use z to charge the smash. The important part is to input the c stick as soon as your control stick is in the opposite direction of the dash.
Up smash - Same timing as down smash and you can hold z as well. If you dash away from a direction you're moving in and input a jump cancelled up smash it causes MC as well this is NOT a pivot, see the next section for more info on this.
Forward tilt - There's a major problem with using the A button for pivots and it is that it causes you to dash attack, which is disastrous for Luigi. There is a slightly better option to make it less risky to attempt if you press Z immediately after A you can both charge an FSmash if you mess up the control stick input, and if you mess up the timing and dash attack you will instead get a boost grab. These are both significantly better options even if you whiff. When doing this be sure to understand the difference between the tilt and smash input as it is very easy to get FSmash instead.
Grab - Press Z same timing as FTilt.
Jab - input an empty pivot except press a when you reset the stick.
Part 2 - Dash MC options
There are several ways to MC with a dash (the initial running animation). If you shield-stop: a dash and shield (be sure to reset the stick to neutral or you might roll instead) in any direction you will always stop your momentum. Similarly dash dancing always cancels momentum after the first dash. Both of these are extremely useful as Luigi. If you shield you can jump, wavedash, or JC USmash/grab/up B at any time so really being able to use your OOS options quickly is important. Dash dancing allows you to pressure your opponent after a quick wave dash in and you can dash away with retreating bairs or dash dance outside their range. You can also do any jump cancel option or wavedash. These are almost always just as good as an empty pivot and significantly easier to perform.
The last way to MC only works if you dash in the opposite direction from the one you are moving in. If you input a jump-cancelled up smash or grab or do a foxtrot with that dash you will MC. These are actually very useful and I’ve seen Blea Gelo use the grab several times in some of his more recent sets. You can for example wavedash through a shielding enemy and grab them on the other side with this. You can also space an up smash on an enemy with the initial hitbox if you space it well while wavedashing in. I personally use the foxtrot to stop my wavedash when moving to the ledge and then time another wavedash to grab ledge to use my invincibility to edgeguard or ledgedash.
Some of these can be used as replacements for pivots in certain scenarios. Shield-stop and reverse dash grab is similar to pivot grab and is easier. Dash jump cancel up smash is extremely useful when retreating a short distance then punishing. Dash shield jc up smash could be used as a replacement for pivot up smash if done quickly.
Part 3 - Other
There are a couple other ways to use MC, one is with forward smash. Whenever you do a Dash-cancelled (dash+A immediately) FSmash you will always MC. FSmash is an underused killing tool especially useful against spacies and falcon, lower angled forward smash sends at a low angle and makes early KOs and edgeguarding easier. This MC makes it much safer and easier to combo into potentially. It also makes it somewhat pointless to use pivot FSmash as this is much simpler to perform. It is important to note which direction you are facing before you start your initial dash as it is harder to perform if you dash in the opposite direction you face.
The last way to MC is a little different, it is with down B, however it cancels both horizontal and vertical momentum providing some unique options. Tornado is an unsafe move generally however it's hitbox comes out fast and lingers and it provides strange and tricky movement options. Using it after a double jump or full jump or when approaching or retreating can mixup the way you use this move a lot. This is unrelated but you can jump out of shield and immediately input it and you will stay grounded which can also be a nice oos option after a shield-stop MC or just in general.
Also if you teeter cancel, either by edge canceling while facing the edge or by moving towards a ledge while facing it; you will always cancel your momentum into the teeter animation.
Part 4 - Neutral game uses
To fully maximize the potential movement of Luigi there are several techniques that need to be nearly perfected. Mastery over wavedashing at or near max length consistently. Perfect ledge dashes with invincibility. And being able to effectively combine your wavedash with the correct MC option, this includes spacing pivots, mixing up defensive MC and MC attacks/grabs, shield-stop vs empty pivot vs dash dance, and constantly out maneuvering and pressuring your opponent. (this requires patience and consistent tech skill)
This is definitely a significant amount of tech that needs to be at a high level, I would recommend avoiding utilizing MC until you are very comfortable with wavedashing, especially with different lengths. Dash, FSmash and down B MCs are pretty easy to do, make sure you are comfortable with jump canceling and wavedashing out of both dash dance and shield.
The whole thought process behind this movement is what BluEG talks about in his guide Everywhere at Once [link]. If Luigi retains stage control outside of the opponent’s range he should be able to move faster and react to the opponent’s movement and either approach with a pivot attack or retreat and use a defensive MC or a dash MC up Smash or grab. This allows Luigi to frustrate and put a lot of pressure on the opponent just by threatening their space and confusing them with movement. When at further ranges the best way to get closer to the opponent is to wavedash in (max) and dash dance/shield or empty pivot somewhat near the opponent.
Shorter wavedash lengths should only be used for precise spacing and punishes. The max length is the best in almost every situation. MC makes the length of it irrelevant so the speed becomes more important. By moving at max speed while having control and safety with MCs, Luigi has the tools to have a potentially amazing neutral game.
Part 5 - Gfys!
These gfys were recorded on my phone sorry about the quality.
Reverse Dash MC
Part 6 - Final Thoughts
It is difficult to use these techniques well. They require precise timing and spacing and some are highly technical. I have only recently been able to start implementing these into my play regularly so I can not give a ton of advice on the best and most practical ways to use these. I recommend a lot of experimentation when learning and using these techniques. Practice is key. These can fundamentally change the Luigi meta game and specifically the neutral game.
Thanks for reading I think using these tools could give Luigi far more control on the ground than most characters in the game. I would like any ideas or criticisms you might have so please comment if you have anything to say or add.