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Brawl Central Presents: Character Viability in Brawl


This article was written by the Brawl Central community, check us out over on: https://brawlcentral.carrd.co/

Brawl is not exactly seen as a very balanced game. Its best character is commonly considered the best character in Smash history, and its worst character is commonly considered the worst in Smash history. However, Brawl actually has numerous viable characters (characters who are able to win a major solo). But who are these characters, and how many of its 37 characters are viable? If we go down the tier list, we can get a good idea of who these characters are. This was inspired by Asumsaus’ video on Melee’s viable characters, make sure to check that out as well. How Many Characters Are Viable in Melee?

Generally, as you go down the tier list, characters generally become less viable. Some characters have already won a major, and in this case they are proven as viable. Any other characters may be viable in theory, but they haven’t proven themselves just yet. We’ll start with the characters who have been proven as viable.

Note that this is going off of SSBWiki’s list of majors.

The characters who have won more than one major:

Meta Knight
Ice Climbers

No explanation needed for these two characters

Diddy Kong
Diddy Kong has won numerous majors. ADHD has won 4 different majors, dating all the way back to S.N.E.S. in 2009, and Gnes also won MLG Dallas 2010. These have all shown that Diddy has what it takes to win. Having decent matchups vs both Meta Knight and Ice Climbers, Diddy is easily the 3rd most viable character on our list. While this isn’t considered a major by SmashWiki, Player-1 did win CEO Dreamland 2020, which is only not considered a major by them due to its lower entrant count. Diddy Kong is a very strong character who has shown he can win and in my opinion is the most viable character after Meta Knight and Ice Climbers.

Like Diddy Kong, Snake has won numerous majors. Ally won 7 majors, 5 of them using only Snake, and the other two using Snake and other characters. DSF also won a major using Meta Knight and Snake. The most recent major Ally won was GOML 2016, using Snake. Snake has been a staple character of Brawl since the very beginning, and has certainly been proven as viable.

The characters who have won only one major
Despite being a consensus top 4 character, Olimar has only ever won a single major solo, which is very surprising. This was Numabura 7; a 110 entrant Japanese major, which was won by Nietono with players such as Otori, Kakera, Brood, Shogun, Mikeneko, and El. There are other times that Olimar has been close, such as when Brood got 2nd at Apex 2010, or Nietono got 2nd at Apex 2012 and Sumabato X6. However, this tournament is the only time that an Olimar main has actually managed to finish in 1st.

Falco is a very proficient character in Brawl…except when he isn’t. The bird has two problem matchups, these being Ice Climbers and Pikachu. While these aren’t completely unwinnable, they make it very hard for Falco to win a major if you can’t avoid them (and in today’s day and age, you’re probably not avoiding Ice Climbers to win a major). Despite this, Falco has won, once, Thanks to the one and only Does Everyone Hate Falco, also known as DEHF or Larry Lurr. Larry won Apex 2010, a huge tournament with players such as Brood, Mew2King, Ally, lain, and RAIN in attendance. Is it possible for Falco to win a major solo? Yes, and Larry proves it. However I feel that in modern majors it will be very hard due to the prevalence of Ice Climbers at the top level (assuming 686M and Hoenn return to the game), and not to mention Gunnermaniac’s Pikachu.

Zero Suit Samus
One of the most iconic moments in Brawl’s history was Salem’s run at Apex 2013. He was a wifi-warrior who emerged out of nowhere. He defeated Mr. R, Otori, Mikeneko, and Mew2King, using a character that not only had never won a major before, but was considered C tier at the time. However, this is the only time that ZSS has won a major solo. The next closest thing is Cody’s run at Return to Subspace 2, where he used ZSS in Winners Quarters and Winners Semis. He switched off ZSS for Winners Finals and Grand Finals, meaning he did not win with solo ZSS. V115 also got 2nd place at a long string of tournaments from 2016–2019, including Super Smash Con 2016 and CEO Dreamland 2017, but was unable to pull out a victory. Even though it hasn’t happened since, with Salem’s run ZSS has been proven as viable.

Edit: Choco also won KVO 2014, over Edge, 9B, and more. This tournament had over 100 entrants, and could arguably be considered a major as well. It was a single elimination bracket, not double elimination. If this is considered a major, then ZSS would have 2 majors wins, not just one. However being single elimination makes it harder to count as one.

Wario is the last character to have won a major solo. In 2010, Glutonny won Bushido Brawl Impact, the only European major so far, with players such as Ally, Mr. R, and Leon in attendance. Wario is on the low end of high tier, and can often struggle in certain matchups such as vs King Dedede, who can chaingrab Wario, and Marth and Meta Knight. Glutonny has proven that it is possible, but it may take a good bracket for a Wario to win again. Fiction also won Winter Game Fest IV, which was a very large tournament but does not have the top-level talent to be considered a major, which means Glutonny is left as the only Wario major winner.

The Weird Case: Marth
Marth is a top 6 character in Brawl. So why isn’t he on this list? Well, there are two events that are close, but in different ways, and both of them end up in a way that leaves Marth in a weird situation. At Return to Subspace 2, Cody defeated Pelca in Grand Finals with a 3–0 as Marth. He also used Marth against Mikeray4 in Winners Finals. However, during his run of the tournament, he also used Zero Suit Samus, and pulled out Meta Knight vs Mikeray4. This means we can’t really classify it as a solo major win for Marth. Mikeneko also won Piosuma, a 2012 Japanese tournament, with players like Otori, Kakera, Shu, Brood, Abadango, RAIN, and Nietono in attendance. Unfortunately, the details about this tournament, including the entrant numbers and results beyond 13th, are not very well known. Based on calculations I did going off of VOD titles, there could have been 17–32 players present. If the round names in those titles did not include pools, things are a lot more complicated and the number of people that attended may be lost to time. The later tournaments in the series are considered regionals, however, so it could be fair to assume this one is as well.

Despite all my blabbering, the real question here is “Can Marth win a major?”. And yes, I think he absolutely can. With Cody’s run at RTS 2, and Mikeneko at Piosuma, I think it has definitely been shown that it is possible for Marth to win a major solo. Marth is a hard character to pilot at the top level, with spacing being very important, but with the right player, Marth could certainly take a major without any help.

The Final Top 10 Character: Pikachu
No, Pikachu has never won a major, and depending on how you consider Marth might be the only one. ESAM has been close before, with 2nd place finishes at both SKTAR and Super Smash Con 2015, and a 3rd place at MLG Dallas 2010, Apex 2014, and SKTAR 3. He also won WHOBO 4, but this tournament was not stacked enough to be considered a major, and it had Meta Knight banned, although players like Ally and Gnes were in attendance. I think with results like this it is certainly possible for Pikachu to win a major, it just hasn’t been proven yet. Pikachu is one of, if not the most technical characters in Brawl, and very hard to play at the top level. However, I think with results like this it is definitely possible for Pikachu to win a major. It will take a very skilled player who can consistently utilize Pikachu’s advanced tech and movement, and may also necessitate avoiding Ice Climbers and Olimar, Pikachu’s two worst matchups. Pikachu clearly has the potential to win a major.

The Mid-Tiers
So now that we’ve gone through the entire top 10, it seems like they all are viable, and either have been proven to be so, or can in theory win a major but it just hasn’t been proven yet. These are all good characters, but as we leave high tier, things become a lot more iffy and it becomes a lot harder for a character to win a major. I think, looking at the modern Brawl Community Tier List, that the characters in the B+ tier, King Dedede and Lucario could in theory win a major, if they had a very skilled player piloting them and a good bracket. I think of these two, Lucario has a better chance, due to his worst matchups not being as bad, as well as having less horrible matchups overall. King Dedede is in this weird position where he struggles vs a lot of the top tiers, many of whom he can’t chaingrab, but beats most everyone below him, many of whom he is able to chaingrab. He has good matchups vs Marth and Snake because of the chaingrab. However, he has a very hard time with Meta Knight, Ice Climbers, Olimar, Falco, and Pikachu (Going off of the BBR matchup chart, these are all -2 or -3). Going off that same chart, Lucario only has -2 matchups vs Meta Knight and Falco, and no -3 matchups. Lucario seems to have more matchups that are reasonably winnable, and so I think he is more likely to win a major.


The B and B- tiers are in a similar boat. I think it is possible for the characters in these tiers to win. However, it would take a player who is far ahead of the rest of the field and maybe a good bracket path as well. Each of these characters have some troubling matchups, which are very hard to win especially at the top level. Notably, Pit’s matchup spread is not very bad, with his toughest matchup being Meta Knight. Earth, the best Pit main, beat Mew2King at Sumabato X15, showing that the matchup is winnable. Toon Link also struggles with Meta Knight, but notably has a good matchup vs Ice Climbers. At Apex 2022, Cody won the last game of Grand Finals with Toon Link against Hoenn’s Meta Knight. These two characters probably would have the best chance of actually winning a major, among the B and B- tier characters. Fox and Sheik both have terrible matchups vs Ice Climbers, and they along with Wolf struggle heavily against Pikachu as well. Wolf also struggles with Wario and King Dedede, and Fox also struggles against Sheik. Despite doing well against Ice Climbers, R.O.B., Peach, and (as mentioned) Toon Link have hard matchups vs Meta Knight. There are more matchups as well. These make it hard for characters from these tiers. But, if they could avoid their worst matchups, and outskill the other top players, it could be possible.

Finally, I think some of the characters in C tier are the last characters who reasonably have a greater than miniscule chance of winning a major. Sonic struggles vs Meta Knight, Lucario, Falco, and Olimar, but a very good Sonic player could feasibly win these matchups at the top level, as long as they are very optimized and utilize Sonic’s speed to play very defensively. Kirby also could have a chance. He has a strong punish game at low percents, but it would take out-skilling Meta Knight and out-maneuvering Ice Climbers, which is hard with Kirby’s low range and low speed. The only other character in this tier is Donkey Kong, and honestly, despite being the highest character in the tier, might have the hardest time winning a major. He has incredibly difficult matchups vs King Dedede and Olimar, and has a hard time vs Falco, Meta Knight, Ice Climbers, basically all of the top ten except Marth (and to a lesser extent Snake), and some mid tiers as well. I think it would be nigh impossible for DK to win a major at the current top level. He has so many matchups that are very hard to win, and so defeating players of these characters at the top level to place 1st at a major would be virtually impossible to do.

Overall, it seems like there are 10 characters who likely can or have won a major, these being the top 10 characters on the tier list. Beyond this, it becomes significantly harder. I think it is possible for 12 more characters to win a major, these being Lucario, King Dedede, Fox, Pit, Toon Link, Peach, R.O.B., Wolf, Mr. Game and Watch, Sheik, Kirby, and Sonic. I think for any character lower than Sonic, while it could happen, is extremely unlikely to win a major. This gives us 22 possibly viable characters, and 10 likely or proven viable characters, which seems to be a pretty fair number. Now is the best era for mid tiers in Brawl, with a solo R.O.B. in the top 10 and a Pit and King Dedede in the top 15, but only the top 2 players, 686M and Cody, have been able to win majors recently. It seems unlikely that a mid tier would win in the current meta unless piloted by one of these two players, but it’s definitely possible someone could rise up to that level with a mid tier. Will this happen? Only time will tell.

If you’re interested in more Brawl, make sure to check out Brawl Central at https://discord.gg/brawlcentral

Writing: ninja1167 ninja1167
Proofreading: @Four Sword
Thumbnail Graphic: Zerp Zerp
Mitchell "Zerp" Brenkus


Can these characters win majors? Sure.

Will there ever be another Brawl major? That seems unlikely, but you never know. Higher chance of a Brawl major than a Smash 4 major, at least!
Can these characters win majors? Sure.

Will there ever be another Brawl major? That seems unlikely, but you never know. Higher chance of a Brawl major than a Smash 4 major, at least!
There have been plenty of Brawl majors since 2014. Every super smash con, a couple GOMLs, Apex 2015 and 2022, Return to Subspace 1 and 2, etc. Super Smash Con 2023 is even considered a supermajor on smashwiki, or a premier on liquipedia, the first since Apex 2014 or Apex 2015, respectively.
Fun fact about Wario. Any character taller than him gets a guaranteed grab release due to how the grab animation works. So even match ups like :zerosuitsamus:, :falcon: and :ike: can result in weird early deaths.

I miss this game. Definitely my favorite Smash game competitively. Smash 4 and Ultimate try to hard to be esports lite and it took a lot of the charm out of the grassroot experience.
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Fun fact about Wario. Any character taller than him gets a guaranteed grab release due to how the grab animation works. So even match ups like :zerosuitsamus:, :falcon: and :ike: can result in weird early deaths.
It is more specifically that his air release animation sends him up vertically that allows the cast to get unique follow-ups against him.
My favorite of these examples is :ganondorf:, who gets a guaranteed up smash after air releasing Wario.

Random fun fact: this air release thing was actually present with :4wario: at the very launch of SSB4, but was fixed fairly quickly at patch 1.0.4, before even the Wii U version of the game came out. Even before it was fixed, it was far less exploitable in SSB4 due to various new grab release mechanics.
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