Official Competitive Character Impressions 2.0

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Nemesis561

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I think what Tri Knight said was exactly that. Flaws are also part of a character's potential.

Anyway, I still like to compare Zelda with Sheik in that context and it seems that most players, aside from a few (Samsora who ranked them very similarly, Glutonny) think that Sheik has a higher potential than Zelda, even before both receiving buffs.
Why is that? Is it because Sheik players (VoiD) are more vocal about their character being busted and that she has a higher followership on websites like Twich and Twitter because of her combo-orientated playstyle? Because result-wise, they are very similar. Yes, VoiD received 13th at Frostbite but sadly that is still a single placement and there isn't much data of 7.0 characters because everything is frozen because of the virus. In other words, there's no way of telling if VoiD can get these results on a more consistent basis now. VoiD did fairly well with pre-patch Sheik at one tournament but couldn't replicate this good placement again.
Meanwhile, ven is getting 33rd almost everytime with mostly pre-patch Zelda. That is very consistent and has the honour of running into very good players (Samsora and an upsetted Glutonny at Frostbite).
Tierlists should. to some extend. reflect potential but when two characters receive very similar results I wonder why there is a nearly two-tier difference between said characters on tier-lists. Dabuz's tier-list is a great example of that.

And no, I don't think Sheik is misplaced in the upper echelons of a tier-lists, it seems that certain characters are very underrated.



Speaking of tier-lists, Meru is mentioning something really interesting and that is:
Why is :ultpikachu:almost everywhere considered the best character (I don't agree with that, imo it's ZSS):

So yeah, why is everyone ranking Pika so highly when his results, as Meru puts it, are similar to Tea and :ultpacman:.
Wow what an original question. This has been answered many times, pikachu is very hard to master and most people are not willing to put in the time when other characters are just much easier to play.
 

Lacrimosa

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Wow what an original question. This has been answered many times, pikachu is very hard to master and most people are not willing to put in the time when other characters are just much easier to play.
Then why is he considered the best?
There is no logic behind that if that's your reply.
Being hard to play is a huge hindrance for a character because it's a blow to the char's consistency: They can explode you (apparantly) but you can also just not get the kills and the opponents lives to very high percents. Like, what good are Pika's combos when he can't consistently kill you?
 
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$.A.F.

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Wow what an original question. This has been answered many times, pikachu is very hard to master and most people are not willing to put in the time when other characters are just much easier to play.
Which is exactly why we have no good peach mains, snake mains, Olimar mains, Greninja mains, Link mains etc. am I right?
 

Nemesis561

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Which is exactly why we have no good peach mains, snake mains, Olimar mains, Greninja mains, Link mains etc. am I right?
So we don't have good pika players? Did esam, DM, captain L, enki, tachyon all disappear? And basically all those characters you just mentioned have a handful of players getting very high level results, aside from probably snake, maybe peach. The amount of people on this site who complain about pikas placement on tier lists is annoying, the character clearly has tons of attributes that most characters hate, yes esam is the only one doing it at the highest of levels, but hes clearly showing what the character is capable of doing when mastered.

EDIT: also, let's revisit this in a few months if Cosmos decides to stick with Pikachu (maybe he doesnt because the character is EXTREMELY PRECISE AND DEMANDING). But if he does end up sticking it out, we'll have another player getting top level results with Pikachu. And the character will be getting better results simply because a top level player decided to dedicate the time to learning pikachu, which most dont. Let's see then if you guys are still complaining about his placement on a tier list
 
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Gleam

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I think I found the difference between :ultpikachu: and :ultfox::ultgreninja::ultinkling::ultjoker::ultlucina::ultpalutena::ultpeach::ultpokemontrainerf::ultrob::ultroy::ultchrom::ultken::ultsnake::ultwario::ultwolf::ultzss: and nearly everyone else in Top 20 or better.

In that, unlike :ultpikachu:, I don't need a PhD in Smash just to get relative high tier results with everyone else.
 

Nemesis561

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I think I found the difference between :ultpikachu: and :ultfox::ultgreninja::ultinkling::ultjoker::ultlucina::ultpalutena::ultpeach::ultpokemontrainerf::ultrob::ultroy::ultchrom::ultken::ultsnake::ultwario::ultwolf::ultzss: and nearly everyone else in Top 20 or better.

In that, unlike :ultpikachu:, I don't need a PhD in Smash just to get relative high tier results with everyone else.
Just curious, do you attend locals in your region? How many pikachu players do you see? Now how many palutena players, wolf, joker, lucina, inkling etc do you see? Do you think people arent playing him for any other reason other than his level of difficulty? Personally, I live in a huge region with hundreds of players, 5 or 6 weeklies, and to my knowledge there is 1 pikachu player here. It's pretty simple why the character doesn't get results, lack of rep. That's it
 

Firox

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It sounds to me like we've got a "chicken or the egg" dilemma going on here. Are characters considered "good" because they're represented? Or are they represented because they're "good"? I've seen people in tournament manage to be pretty dangerous with virtually every character in the game (except Lil Mac), so regardless of professional representation, shouldn't we be seeing more of other characters at a more local level? If not, that means one of two things:

1) Said character has a skill floor much higher than your average tournament player can/is willing to handle
or
2) Said character just isn't that good compared to more commonly seen characters
 

Gleam

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It's funny, all it usually takes is one good player to push a character's results. Yet even ESAM, the arguably best Pikachu in the world can barely get Pikachu's results up.

A guy who got
3rd Solo :ultpikachu: at Glitch8
4th Solo :ultpikachu: at Genesis 7
9th Solo :ultpikachu: at Dreamhack
13th Solo :ultpikachu:at BigHouse9

If anything, ESAM has gotten better and better results through each Major Tournament he's been in and yet all of this can barely push Pikachu into the Top 20 and Pikachu's results have actually faltered.

And in terms of rep? Pikachu is the 24th most used character according to SSB World. It actually paints a relatively "High Tier" character. He's got High Tier popularity and that makes for High Tier placement. So this idea that :ultpikachu:doesn't have rep is an utter load of malarkey imo.


1) Said character has a skill floor much higher than your average tournament player can/is willing to handle
or
2) Said character just isn't that good compared to more commonly seen characters
Pretty much. The most Pikachu has ever done to prove himself Top Tier is through ESAM, the same way Maister did with :ultgnw:. A certainly admirable impression that definitely paints the potential of the characters. But even if you consider :ultpikachu: Top Tier because of this, every other candidate for Top Tier requires far less technicality that just makes them better.

It's like this.

There are two families going to the same vacation spot. One of them takes the car and gets there in 8 hours.

The other decides to walk and it takes a week to get there.

Both achieved the same result, they got to their vacation spot. But one of them did it in a far better manner, with far less effort, time and problem.

That's :ultpikachu:, the tedious, tiresome, fully effort character who even with the best of his players, can barely push himself into Top 20 while everyone else gets the exact same result with less than half the effort.

On top of that, I think it's too common to look at a narrow picture (say just ESAM's results) which is why when I made my mini-Tier List a page back, I tried incorporate the idea of both an average and highest potential. If I had done Pikachu at the time, he'd most likely have fallen between Low High to High, (maybe even Upper Mid but I doubt that) with a potential of Top Tier thanks to people like ESAM.

But even at the best case scenario, I feel I'd be hard pressed to say Pikachu was the 2nd or 3rd best character in the game.
 

Arthur97

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Personal preference is a factor here as well. Take Lucina. Clearly good, but often deemed "boring" so she was often relegated to a secondary (partially also due to perceived ease of use). Admittedly, she still got use, but it has fallen off.
 

Gleam

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Personal preference is a factor here as well. Take Lucina. Clearly good, but often deemed "boring" so she was often relegated to a secondary (partially also due to perceived ease of use). Admittedly, she still got use, but it has fallen off.
On this point as well (though kind of beyond the Pikachu debate) I do think it's too common to try and incorporate so many characters into a singular area.

:ultfox::ultgreninja::ultinkling::ultjoker::ultlucina::ultgnw::ultpalutena::ultpeach::ultpikachu::ultpokemontrainerf::ultrob::ultroy::ultchrom::ultshulk::ultsnake::ultwolf::ultwario::ultzss:

All of these characters have in some form been painted as a "Top Tier" but I'd argue there's still significant differences in applicability between many of them. If these character's are Top Tiers, than I feel it's necessary to break such a tier into sections of "Upper Top, Mid Top and Low Top. Personally

Some of them, such as :ultlucina: I'd feel far more comfortable ranking in "High Tier" and others who may be Top Tier, I may still create a slight gap between them.
 
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Firox

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Personal preference is a factor here as well. Take Lucina. Clearly good, but often deemed "boring" so she was often relegated to a secondary (partially also due to perceived ease of use). Admittedly, she still got use, but it has fallen off.
I agree that "flashiness" of moveset has a role in representation as well. Take :ultsonic: for instance: Many would agree that he's got potential and his homing attack in Ultimate makes a lot of opponents want to slit their wrists, but when you consider his usual game plan of spin dash, rinse, repeat + Homing attack, spring, Dair, reset, I have to say that his fighting style is repetitive AF. In fact, as much as I've wanted to be good with him, he's got two major turn-offs for me.

A) He has to work WAY harder for kills than a lot of other characters do
and
B) It's just not fun to play him even if I win. He feels super cheesy to me and requires way more practice to be competitively good with imo

It gets back to the investment/reward argument. Can a character be good? If so, how hard to you have to train to get the desired results? If the answer is, "10x that of Lucina", then most players will simply take the path of least resistance. (though, ironically, I'd say Lucina is pretty one-note as well)
 
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NairWizard

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Characters like Lucina and Palu definitely beat Pika because they have hitboxes to shut down tjolt pressure (Fair, Bair) that Pika can't hope to beat, as well as the ability to antiair him more or less for free. A lot of people respect tjolt (and Pika's aerials) more than they actually need to imo.

But nobody focuses on that part of the matchup for some reason.

I agree with the spirit of your post, but I don't think this is true, because that part of the matchup only happens when you're only learning the matchup for the first time. You don't see ESAM using tjolt against those characters because he already knows that they can swat it away. Once you start swatting tjolt away, Pikachu's gameplan has to change.

Pikachu's yomi layers in the :ultpalutena: matchup are kind of like this. At first, he's going to try to tjolt you and air-to-air you when you jump to beat it--if you clank with tjolt with an aerial, you're frozen for a bit during which Pikachu can weave around your hurtbox and hit you where you're not striking. Palutena pulls back during her f-air but Pika has the air acceleration to aim at her head, for example. If Palu starts fading back her f-airs, this stops working, so Pikachu switches tactics--since she's not gaining ground while f-airing, he can dash in and shield. Now he has access to some very fast OOS options (f3 nair, f4 bair) which lead to combo routes, and Palutena doesn't have any fast options besides dash attack and standing grab. She can't use short hop aerials as neutral mainstays because he's so short that the timing becomes trivial to parry.

Nairo thinks Pikachu is Palutena's worst matchup. He says that the Inkling matchup is -2, and the Pikachu matchup is even slightly worse than that. Now, I know I just got done saying that people overrate how well Pikachu does against their character, but this isn't true in Nairo's case. In Smash 4, everyone believed that ZSS lost to Pikachu, but Nairo was saying that she won, or that it was even at worst--Nairo is not the kind of person to let his emotions or losses dictate his view on a matchup (he lost to Kola recently and got taken to game 5 but still thinks the Roy matchup is even despite his brother/coach trying to convince him otherwise).

I think the matchup is actually really bad for Palutena on paper and in practice. The thing is, Palutena doesn't have any tools in disadvantage that Pikachu needs to worry about. Up close, she can't respond to mashing pressure since he mashes too low to the ground for her OOS options to matter. Whiffing grab is too punishing for her in this MU because Pika can edgeguard Warp.

:ultlucina: is another one that I think Pikachu definitely beats or at least goes even with, mainly because of Quick Attack. ESAM theorycrafted a long time ago that because of Lucina's lack of burst range, you could just Quick Attack every landing on reaction to punish it. I didn't believe it, because I didn't think that the frame data was there to support it--but then you saw him do it against MKLeo's Lucina and Marth. ESAM's one of the only players to ever take down MKLeo's Lucina in bracket (and this was an elimination set, too, in Losers). Zackray also went Lucina against ESAM and met with the same fate. Lucina doesn't have a good enough disadvantage state against Pika combos.

Both Palutena and Lucina do really well against Pikachu's opening strategy, but as you peel back the layers of and get to his other tactics, they fall apart and run out of answers.

What Ness, Game and Watch, and Mario all share is this:
1) they beat tjolt cleanly, no need to trade with it, since they can reflect/absorb it
2) they have lingering hitboxes that prevent easy whiff punishes
3) they get out of disadvantage quickly with big aerials
4) they have options up close when Pika is approaching on the ground
5) they have great grab games off of low-to-the-ground grabs
6) they are short
7) they have free answers to quick attack when Pikachu uses it offstage to recover (FLUDD, Chef, PK Thunder).
8) they are hard to kill

Matchups that I think Pikachu loses:

:ultzss: as a starter. She has the movement to avoid getting trapped up close, and also has the options to contest him if it does happen (f4 up-b OOS is scary, jab is f1). She has z-air and side-b to go through tjolt without actually having to extend her hurtbox far enough forward for Pikachu to hit her, and both her aerial drift and jump height are huge so she can do the fadeback thing like Palu can, only ZSS can do it out of a full hop or double jump too.

Pikachu's airspeed is actually pretty mediocre, but in matchups like v. Palutena he doesn't feel it because Palutena has about the same speed. But in this matchup he definitely feels it. He can't land using Quick Attack because ZSS can burst so fast that she's only ever one initial dash or flip jump away from covering the landing position and possibly killing him at 60, and he gets edgeguarded, something that he's definitely not used to castwide.

Finally, her disadvantage is pretty good in this matchup, again because Pika doesn't have the air speed to consistently catch flip kick out of a bad situation. She does get edgeguarded a bit harder here than in most other matchups though, and Pika can ledgetrap her pretty well.


:ultwolf: is another matchup that I think Pikachu loses. Wolf can play the same type of style Lucina can, with a reflector to boot! When Pikachu switches to second-level tactics and approaches on the ground, Wolf has dash attack and also a transcendent blaster to deal, unlike Lucina who doesn't have the midrange burst. Wolf being a fastfaller also means that it's much harder for Pikachu to punish his landings, so Wolf has all the things that Pikachu hates about Lucina but several neutral options that cover her weaknesses.

Wolf's n-air is a huge lingering hitbox that makes it hard for Pikachu to always catch Wolf's landings, and Wolf's air speed is actually pretty great (1.281). Finally, even though Pikachu edgeguards Wolf pretty well, and doesn't get ledgetrapped that hard due to Quick Attack, Wolf has way more reward than other characters in the MU, and doesn't really mind spacing moves low to the ground (f-tilt, d-tilt, dash grab, grab, low f-air, n-air).

:ultpokemontrainer: is up next, mainly because of Charizard. Charizard doesn't care about Pika combos because he comes out at percents where he's no longer getting combo'd, and so instead of just juggling a heavy, Pikachu has to look to take a stock off of one. This is true of every character in the Charizard matchup, but some characters have easy confirms on Charizard, or have easy ways to get in and bully him, or can just react to whatever Charizard tries to set up at a distance, or can camp him. But Pikachu can't do most of these things. He can tjolt, but tjolt isn't leading to kills. Charizard outranges him, and is very fast on the ground, and has access to some really broken OOS options that cover both sides of his hurtbox (f5 up-smash) that can strip Pikachu of a stock. If Charizard stilll had Rock Smash this would be a -3 matchup, but it's still really hard regardless. As Pikachu in this matchup you're looking to kill Ivysaur or Squirtle before they can switch to Charizard, because Charizard is just a nightmare matchup.

I also think that Pikachu loses to :ultzelda: and :ultpacman: because zonebreaking is actually not easy for him in those matchups and he's vulnerable to a single lingering f-smash read at percents where he's not yet ready to kill but the other character is. Pacman also has some of the best escape tools against Pika combos and Zelda's up-b can eviscerate him for making small spacing mistakes.

So I think overall he has like 6 more losing matchups than is commonly believed, and probably a lot more even than anyone will admit. Luigi's a good call out; that matchup can be hard, though it's easier than Mario just like it was in 4 because of Luigi's overall worse mobility and recovery--the hardest part of the Mario matchup is actually getting the KO on Mario. You'll see ESAM spamming dash attacks against Wizzy because he just doesn't know how to open up Wizzy to get a kill. Against Luigi you don't have to do this since you have a couple of strong vertical tools to end him as he's getting back to the stage (Thunder/d-air). :ultdoc: is in a similar boat.
 
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The_Bookworm

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ESAM tier-list:
I like how he posts this list just as we were talking about :ultpikachu:.
Anyways, back when we were talking about Maister's tier list, I mentioned that ESAM and Maister were the two top players who believe in :ultjigglypuff:.
Seeing Puff rank that high in ESAM's list does not come as a surprise.
It is interesting that he thinks that there are only 8 characters he considers to be low tier, and out of all the choices to be those 8 characters, :ultlucario: is one of them.
 
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$.A.F.

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So we don't have good pika players? Did esam, DM, captain L, enki, tachyon all disappear? And basically all those characters you just mentioned have a handful of players getting very high level results, aside from probably snake, maybe peach. The amount of people on this site who complain about pikas placement on tier lists is annoying, the character clearly has tons of attributes that most characters hate, yes esam is the only one doing it at the highest of levels, but hes clearly showing what the character is capable of doing when mastered.

EDIT: also, let's revisit this in a few months if Cosmos decides to stick with Pikachu (maybe he doesnt because the character is EXTREMELY PRECISE AND DEMANDING). But if he does end up sticking it out, we'll have another player getting top level results with Pikachu. And the character will be getting better results simply because a top level player decided to dedicate the time to learning pikachu, which most dont. Let's see then if you guys are still complaining about his placement on a tier list
If Esam is the peak, that’s not a good case for best in the game.
 

Firox

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Top 10-15 player with wins on Nairo MKLeo tweek etc isnt good enough? Wow if you say so.
To be fair though, wouldn't a top 10-15 player who exclusively uses a given character mean that that character is only top 10-15 material? Did you see that Mario player that destroyed MKLeo a couple tourney's ago? Does that mean Mario is the best character? Even MKLeo would argue Joker isn't the best character despite his results being the best in the game overall thus far. I think too often people associate the character tiers with PLAYER tiers. If MKLeo decided to start cleaning house with Krool, would that make Krool top tier? In my opinion, it should be the aggregate of MOST tournament players, not just the pros, that determine the overall comparison of characters since those numbers would be more indicative of CHARACTER potential rather than PLAYER potential.
 

NotLiquid

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Cosmos has a set win against MKLeo's Lucina as well, beating him 3-2 in MSM Grands from winners side. One of the games was a 3-stock. Leo ran that set back the next month at WNF though
 

Megamang

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Pikachu tends to have a saving grace in his really tough MUs.


Wolf, is scary but a single win in neutral can lead to an edgeguard, an edgeguard on a spacie that we have mostly been doing for decades. His moves swing from above and are pretty easy to parry; Piks OoS starts hard combos so wolf committing to dash attack can be pretty scary if you just shield. Dair is slow and nair loses to uair so juggling him isn't too bad.


Charizard (haven't heard this one before but...) has the same issue as palu to an extent. Yea, bair and fair are scary... but they all have to have the same timing unless he air to airs you, and here you can mix it up with autocancels / empty hops / quick attack to the point where he will whiff if he is using the timing to assume you'll, say, fair. His nair is ok in neutral but it really isn't a get-off-me move proper. Edgeguarding is also scary here because going high is thunder to re-edgeguard territory. Going low with him and he'll probably drop down with you and jump fair. Bair lasts forever and if he jump-bairs it will probably sneak in below fair, if you dair... well, you better have great timing and the pika messes his up a bit. The multiple jumps are good but really getting around pika is more about an obnoxiously good escape option like flip jump.


Ness operates at pika's level, its tough. And he kills pika really really early. And absorbing your tjolt in a really close game is a much larger setback than simply reflecting it, if your timing is crisp you can even run right under most reflects and get a guaranteed punish. His hitbox coverage is really good and if you try and escape from disadvantage with a quick attack you are liable to eat a bair/uair and just explode really early, vs wolf its more like 'if he is facing away don't try it here'. And it is all pretty darn safe. I think the biggest difference is air accel for ness, he can throw out kill moves and weave back and its really hard to run in and get a punish.


The most common ace in the hole for pikachu is edgeguarding though. Ult is balanced that way; lots of these really strong on stage characters are rather weak offstage and pika thrives here.

What is the biggest difference here? Pika has always been a terror offstage. But it has gotten significantly stronger, fair now kills which is great. Half the issue with bayo in 4 was fair'ing her a ton and then she barely makes it back. Now, if you hit that fair/dair far enough out she will die, outright, and no more barely recovering. But the biggest thing is how well pika can get you into that situation. Captain falcon and mac have nightmare matchups because you whiff something centre stage or get stuffed by a bair, and pika is getting bair bair bair uair bair and you're offstage already. He can initiate his edgeguards from almost anywhere. He can do them from a grab now. A technical pika harkens back to smash 4 mario, a grab and you're at a certain damage depending on character that you can do nothing about. Having kill confirms out of multihit aerials is also a great great thing to have, SH uair to cover aerials then land with a nair and you can kill off of it!


But, the shields... oh the shields. That was a big nerf to pika actually. His bair ate shields really easily before, most characters couldn't shield a tjolt and a bair, and if you hit all the hits and then FF'd for the landing hitbox THAT would hit them anyways a lot of the time. Not so much anymore. I really wanted to see where ESAM stood after that castwide change, but alas that hasn't happened. And the timing of that is a bit tough, I was seeing more (even wifi) players starting to tilt their shield up, which was already hurting, now the chance to SS is considerably lower with that good habit already in place. You can sometimes fall and hit their feet with the landing hitbox but it isn't the same as having an aerial that beats block cleanly in a ton of scenarios.
 
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PK Bash

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Appreciate the time invested for the detailed, thought-out response. NairWizard NairWizard

Pikachu's yomi layers in the :ultpalutena: matchup are kind of like this. At first, he's going to try to tjolt you and air-to-air you when you jump to beat it--if you clank with tjolt with an aerial, you're frozen for a bit during which Pikachu can weave around your hurtbox and hit you where you're not striking. Palutena pulls back during her f-air but Pika has the air acceleration to aim at her head, for example. If Palu starts fading back her f-airs, this stops working, so Pikachu switches tactics--since she's not gaining ground while f-airing, he can dash in and shield. Now he has access to some very fast OOS options (f3 nair, f4 bair) which lead to combo routes, and Palutena doesn't have any fast options besides dash attack and standing grab. She can't use short hop aerials as neutral mainstays because he's so short that the timing becomes trivial to parry.
I appreciate you taking the time to elaborate on this. Excuse the cop-out, but I stand by the original point: regardless of character, this is where you always start with the matchup. A point worth a reminder oftentimes when people take exception to Pikachu, I'm sure you'll agree.

With regards to the Palu matchup, was probably trigger happy on that one but it is a very clear and easy illustration of my main point. Don't really find anything to disagree with until you start talking about Nairo's opinions - Nairo is far and away one of the players I respect the most throughout Smash history, but this is a dangerous rabbit hole to explore and you'll quickly find Dabuz and Seagull Joe don't agree with Nairo (both have it slight loss and not her worst MU). (Disclosure: Dabuz's is Feb 2019, but still the most recent I could find in a hurry.)
I also can't help but think that a) I could have sworn Nairo had the exact opposite opinion on the ZSS-Pika MU in 4? (he was definitely ranking that -1 at some point) and b) that Marss has a wildly different opinion and thinks Pika was/is a counter for ZSS. Neither here nor there, but again - this is an awkward rabbit hole to explore, not least because top player opinions are very prone to change and disagreement, just like the rest of us.
Aside from that, your Palu writeup is solid.

Lucina's a funny matchup and I can buy even, but I don't see Pika win unless perhaps the stage is FD or Kalos (maybe an unpopular opinion to some, but Lucina has a sore disadvantage vs Pika here). ESAM vs swords gives me shades of Gackt against swords (permit me to make a relatively niche comparison, but one very familiar to my knowledge base) - i.e. the player is exceptionally good at knowing how to play against them (we've seen this from ESAM especially in recent years) despite the character matchup not being all that on paper (I am aware you think otherwise). We can agree to disagree on this one, I'm not nuts about it. Again, she's a very good example of basic Pika counterplay.

What Ness, Game and Watch, and Mario all share is this:
1) they beat tjolt cleanly, no need to trade with it, since they can reflect/absorb it
2) they have lingering hitboxes that prevent easy whiff punishes
3) they get out of disadvantage quickly with big aerials
4) they have options up close when Pika is approaching on the ground
5) they have great grab games off of low-to-the-ground grabs
6) they are short
7) they have free answers to quick attack when Pikachu uses it offstage to recover (FLUDD, Chef, PK Thunder).
8) they are hard to kill
Points 2-7 are the reasons as to why Pika can't just mash on these guys' shields (and can't mash on them in general).

Matchups that I think Pikachu loses:
I'm only going to comment on a couple of matchups here.
:ultzss:: willing to admit I know nothing about this character in this game, but if you're interested in top player MU opinions, which is the impression I got earlier, Marss might disagree - https://twitter.com/Marss_NE/status/1150975299460485121
:ultwolf::ultzelda: could be unpopular opinions, but for my money, I 100% agree with you on these, and I nearly used Zelda as a case study over Luigi but decided Luigi was a bit more interesting.
:ultpokemontrainer:(:ultcharizard:)The Charizard analysis is an interesting one - not a matchup I ever much thought about, but Charizard is secretly a good counterpick to a few characters when you play to his strengths - an interesting one to think about. I would think :ultsquirtle: causes Pika trouble as well though, no? Waterfall OOS, a low and rewarding grab, lengthy vertical combos that can force a landing with QA, and Water Gun.

I think you're a little off base with Luigi in regards to his recovery, though I reckon I know what you were thinking of when you brought it up. It depends on how Luigi's been put in the position, if you're there off of a NAir combo and close to the ledge it's a lot harder to recover than it is if you're further away. DAir is a threat as you drift low from afar, but you can cover with Fireball or even a DJ aerial. It's very hard to hit Luigi when he's going for Up B with DAir and even fadeback Thunder (not as easy as it may seem) because he can go reasonably deep and rises very fast. I'm aware this opens up some offstage yomi (this is also true when edgeguarding Mario, we may not see it often but ESAM can get those edgeguards), but in general, it's not necessarily too bad for Luigi. I see Mario having the edge in the mu, but that would mostly be for reasons of stature, up smash being slightly better at the front, OOS in general and cape rather than recovery imo.
 

Zachmac

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:ultpokemontrainer: is up next, mainly because of Charizard. Charizard doesn't care about Pika combos because he comes out at percents where he's no longer getting combo'd, and so instead of just juggling a heavy, Pikachu has to look to take a stock off of one. This is true of every character in the Charizard matchup, but some characters have easy confirms on Charizard, or have easy ways to get in and bully him, or can just react to whatever Charizard tries to set up at a distance, or can camp him. But Pikachu can't do most of these things. He can tjolt, but tjolt isn't leading to kills. Charizard outranges him, and is very fast on the ground, and has access to some really broken OOS options that cover both sides of his hurtbox (f5 up-smash) that can strip Pikachu of a stock. If Charizard stilll had Rock Smash this would be a -3 matchup, but it's still really hard regardless. As Pikachu in this matchup you're looking to kill Ivysaur or Squirtle before they can switch to Charizard, because Charizard is just a nightmare matchup.
Just a small nitpick, but Charizard's Up Smash actually comes out on frame 6, and generally its only able to punish cross ups on tall opponents. He still has a frame 9 Up B for cross ups though, its just a much higher commitment. It does have frame armor on frame 4 which can really come in clutch against shield pressure though.

I think you hit the nail on the head though. Pikachu can get stray hits in against Zard but if the PT player knows which moves to look out for he can make getting a kill hell for the rat. Rage helps amplify this weakness and can sometimes net Zard a stupid early kill to.

Too bad most PT mains simply say "he gets comboed" and leaves it at that.
 

SwagGuy99

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w tier, and out of all the choices to be those 8 characters, :ultlucario: is one of them.
I completely agree with his ranking of :ultlucario: to be completely honest. The universal changes from Smash 4 along with some of his direct changes kind of killed him as a character.

He did benefit from some things that happened in the transition from Smash 4:

  • Significantly faster air speed compared to Smash 4.
  • His initial dash is significantly faster compared to Smash 4, still being among the best in the game.
  • D-tilt has less lag
  • F-smash and up-smash have have better range compared to Smash 4.
  • Lucario's n-air can hit opponents multiple times.
  • Most aerials have less lag, with f-air especially benefiting from this change.
  • Extreme Speed (up-b) has less end lag and landing lag.
  • Force Palm (side-b) has more range on the grab portion of the move.
  • Despite Lucario's counter having less active frames, it activates faster, has less endlag, deals more damage, and is more reliable overall.
  • Lucario arguably benefits from the nerfs to certain characters like :ultdk::ultsheik::ultbayonetta: and :ultryu: who aren't able to kill him as early or as reliably as before.
Despite these buffs, there were a few specific changes that arguably butchered this character far more than anyone expected when Ultimate released:

  • Lucario's aura (which he relies on to kill at reasonable percents) was rebalanced, becoming significantly less effective at mid and high percents, despite being slightly more effective at low percents.
  • The nerfing of rage also hurts Lucario's ability to kill.
  • Lucario's weight was nerfed, taking him from a heavy middleweight, to a light middleweight.
  • Lucario's d-air has more landing lag.
  • B-air doesn't kill as early as before.
  • Lucario's up-b is much more finicky to control and doesn't travel as far.
  • Lucario can't shield immidiatly out of Aura Sphere (neutral-b) and can't use grab out of it.
  • Lucario is arguably indirectly nerfed by the buffs to :ultdoc::ultshulk::ultwario::ultroy::ultbowser: and :ultbowserjr: among others.
  • Lucario is also indirectly nerfed by the additions of characters like :ult_terry::ultchrom::ultincineroar: and :ultridley: who are capable of killing him at earlier percents.
Despite the nice buffs Lucario got, the weight nerf, aura nerf, and rage nerf all combined make it extremely hard for this character to kill his opponent, since Lucario has to rely on living to 120% to 150% in a decent amount of matchups in order to land a kill. Racking up damage can also be hard due to the low damage his moves deal at low to mid percents, and the fact that they launch too far away to combo at high percents. His aura sphere is also not as threatening due to the more aggressive game engine and the fact that Lucario oftentimes won't survive long enough for the projectile to be large enough to cover a lot of area. He also lacks good OOS options and most of his moves are generally unsafe on shield as well. Combine all of that with a flawed recovery that is hard to control and easy to punish if Lucario messes up even slightly and you have yourself an incredibly flawed character.

In my opinion, there's a reason that Tsu picked up other characters and there's a reason that this character has had very minimal representation at larger events and it's all down to how hard he is to use properly compared to Smash 4 and the fact that he's very inconsistent due to being more glass than cannon in this game.
 
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Megamang

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ZSS had a major major change. Fair. Fair combined with ftilt being generally better for pressure puts him in a scenario where he can contest pikachu on the ground right now, vs having to think too far ahead with landing nair (and is therefore much more reactable), or going for the ever-risky grab. Also bair is an incredible tool for killing pikachu, you can zone around him pretty effectively then snap him with a bair if he tries to fair you. Boost kick is hit or miss, literally, since it misses decently frequently on anyone who leans back (or maybe im just slow at it) I cannot imagine it would hit pikachu that well unless there is a serious callout, spacing mistake, or hard read on a jump in. That said, all those things do happen in a game and when they do happen, pika is going to die very early. I think the new consistency of boost kick means a whole lot here, getting a hit on ESAM is hard and actually being fairly sure it will link properly and net you that kill is also huge, especially when you make a hard read and go to intercept him in the air / on a platform / etc.


So while pika received reasonable buffs, I think it could be fair to say that ZSS lost in 4 and wins or goes even now. She has a pretty darn good button for low profilers now, and that being in the bag of tricks makes nair a better button here too.
 
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The_Bookworm

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In my opinion, there's a reason that Tsu picked up other characters and there's a reason that this character has had very minimal representation at larger events and it's all down to how hard he is to use properly compared to Smash 4 and the fact that he's very inconsistent due to being more glass than cannon in this game.
Well Tsu's less frequent picking with :ultlucario: actually started all the way back in SSB4, during the 2018 metagame.
We all know about Tsu's success in the 2017 metagame with :4lucario:, especially during the first-half of it. However in 2018, Tsu's attendance in bigger tournaments waned down and his tournament results became inconsistent. He also began to resort on using secondaries like Cloud and Ryu more often.
Lucario as a character sort of fell out of favor towards the end of SSB4 in favor of other current C tier ranked characters (again, still confused on why we didn't get a final update to the official SSB4 tier list before Ultimate's release).


Now in Ultimate, things got weirder for Lucario.
Honestly, I consider the Aura change more beneficial for Lucario, as he still hits like a freight-train at high percents. A stronger low-percent presence, after all, is one of the many reasons on why :lucario: was such a good character.
Combined with Lucario's mobility, one of his keys weaknesses from previous iterations, getting much better, as well as other QoL improvements you mentioned, things on paper looks better than ever for Lucario.

Then you factor in the fact that Lucario's weight got notably nerfed in Ultimate, as well as certain KO setups from SSB4 getting nerfed as well. Similar to Mewtwo, Lucario's changes are rather minimal in comparison to the buffs, but the nerfs he did get is significant enough to be less effective overall than in SSB4. His representation already being hilariously low in SSB4, as well as Tsu using him even less lately, doesn't entirely help his case out.

Now I don't think Lucario is that bad (I can name 15 characters ranked higher than in ESAM's tier list that is worse than him), since he still retains a lot of the same stuff he had in the previous games (plus better mobility), especially since Tsu was at the PGRU at one point with the character.

He is not great, but not that bad either.

Sigh... they nailed Lucario's design in Brawl, I have no idea why they had to change him to be such a polarizing character in SSB4...
 

meleebrawler

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Well Tsu's less frequent picking with :ultlucario: actually started all the way back in SSB4, during the 2018 metagame.
We all know about Tsu's success in the 2017 metagame with :4lucario:, especially during the first-half of it. However in 2018, Tsu's attendance in bigger tournaments waned down and his tournament results became inconsistent. He also began to resort on using secondaries like Cloud and Ryu more often.
Lucario as a character sort of fell out of favor towards the end of SSB4 in favor of other current C tier ranked characters (again, still confused on why we didn't get a final update to the official SSB4 tier list before Ultimate's release).


Now in Ultimate, things got weirder for Lucario.
Honestly, I consider the Aura change more beneficial for Lucario, as he still hits like a freight-train at high percents. A stronger low-percent presence, after all, is one of the many reasons on why :lucario: was such a good character.
Combined with Lucario's mobility, one of his keys weaknesses from previous iterations, getting much better, as well as other QoL improvements you mentioned, things on paper looks better than ever for Lucario.

Then you factor in the fact that Lucario's weight got notably nerfed in Ultimate, as well as certain KO setups from SSB4 getting nerfed as well. Similar to Mewtwo, Lucario's changes are rather minimal in comparison to the buffs, but the nerfs he did get is significant enough to be less effective overall than in SSB4. His representation already being hilariously low in SSB4, as well as Tsu using him even less lately, doesn't entirely help his case out.

Now I don't think Lucario is that bad (I can name 15 characters ranked higher than in ESAM's tier list that is worse than him), since he still retains a lot of the same stuff he had in the previous games (plus better mobility), especially since Tsu was at the PGRU at one point with the character.

He is not great, but not that bad either.

Sigh... they nailed Lucario's design in Brawl, I have no idea why they had to change him to be such a polarizing character in SSB4...
Doesn't rage kind of make everyone Brawl Lucario on a surface level?
 

The_Bookworm

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Doesn't rage kind of make everyone Brawl Lucario on a surface level?
Not really.
The multipliers for :lucario: are 0.7x (lowest) to 1.4x (highest), with aura ranges being 0-74% (min to low), 75-169% (average to high), 170%+ (max).
The multipliers for SSB4 rage are 1.0x (lowest) to 1.15x (highest), with its effects starting at 35% and caps at 150%.
The multipliers for Ultimate rage are 1.0x (lowest) to 1.1x (highest), with its effects starting at 35% and caps at 150%.


In SSB4, they nerfed Lucario's low aura to 0.66x (lowest), but buffed high aura to 1.7x (highest) which doesn't even count rage.
However, they also nerfed Lucario's combo abilities, hitbox durations, and overall endurance in that game, which combined with his weaker aura at low percents, ended up in Lucario ending up as a less effective character overall than in Brawl when SSB4's metagame came to an end.

In Ultimate, they semi-reverted the aura changes SSB4 provided thanks to 1v1 and rage changes, even if the actual aura multipliers are relatively unchanged (outside of max aura slightly dropping from 1.7x to 1.6x, although this is mostly inconsequential), but ended up making him noticeably lighter.
So despite having a bunch of QoL changes, as well as big mobility boosts, the change to his weight and to his KO confirms has resulted in Lucario dropping off even harder in Ultimate.

Hopefully that clears some things up.
 
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DougEfresh

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Hey guys, I'm new to the boards here but I've been lurking this thread and some others for quite some time. I thought I'd make my first post about :ultlucario:, since he's recently come up in discussion from ESAM's latest tier list and I'm probably one of the very few people in ultimate who main him and could perhaps share a unique perspective on Lucario.

He's easily among the most demanding characters to play in the game and has a very high skill cap, and I'll start by saying I personally don't believe that giving him the buffs he needs (I'll get to these later in this post) will do much to alleviate those things about Lucario. His weaknesses, as SwagGuy99 SwagGuy99 said, are his lighter weight compared to the previous two titles, aura and rage being nerfed in ultimate, a general lack of moves which are safe on shield and poor OOS options (f7 dair but it barely has any horizontal range, so the opponent has to be VERY close to you for that to work, and a f10 sh rising fair that only works on taller characters). These are fairly glaring issues, but he does have good strengths and work-arounds that help make up for it to a considerable degree imo.

His ledge trapping with aura sphere is very good, and it's usually the primary way he'll be trying to get kills when he's in advantage state since otherwise, he's much better at resetting to neutral than capitalizing off of his advantage state. Aura sphere can also be an effective conditioning tool to get opponents to shield provided they don't have reflectors or anything else that nullifies/uses the projectile against you in some way, and this is good because lucario does get a lot off of grabs (he has a few different routes you can get for combos from his up throw; with fair>fair>nair and fair>fair>uair generally being the most common). His fantastic air speed is great to have to get these combos and follow ups with relative consistency, and then, neutral is reset. Once that happens, Lucario is admittedly pretty linear here; it's a lot of aura sphere charging/throwing and nair's, the latter of which is one of the safest nair's in the game being just -2 to 0 on shield depending on aura and your timing. Other common tools used in neutral are sh rising fair, utilt and ftilt also sees some use. High levels of proficiency with b-reverses and wavebounces is absolutely essential to using:ultlucario: well in neutral and in pretty much all other aspects of the game, and it's the knowledge and intuition of when and how best to use his great movement that largely contributes to the high stress and learning curve that he has.

He lacks range, so spacing has to be on point or else you're likely eating a punish and being put in disadvantage; either is neither notably good or particularly bad (since his movement mix-ups can make it manageable to land), but it does put you ever closer to death which is never a great thing as Lucario. However, his very fast initial dash does allow him to retreat quickly to allow him to camp and charge aura sphere and space around burst options, disjointed landing aerials and other offensive options that can be baited out and punished accordingly if your spacing and timing of your movement is used well.

Another tool he has at his disposal to help mitigate his poor OOS game is charge storage cancel. By using this tech that was introduced in ultimate, lucario is able to avoid over-reliance on shielding and allow him to move freely or immediately cancel the aura sphere charge into any attack of your choosing. Using CSC in combination with smart b-reverse/wavebounce AS movement is the key to his neutral and to winning it to pursue tech chases, and it's the key to optimizing his movement and bait and punish playstyle that makes very hard match ups for him on paper tolerable most of the time (his MU spread is actually rather interesting, but I'll save that for another post).

Now for fixes/buffs I'd hope to see:

1) Fix force palm grab and make the command grab itself more consistent. It would be nice having a f9 command grab, but despite the buff to its range in patch 3.1.0, it still has some janky interactions with shields such that it whiffs at close range when it should obviously connect. At high aura when this move can actually be a valuable kill move (especially after conditioning to shield from aura sphere), this is really unfortunate since it has MASSIVE endlag (54 frames)!

2) Reduce the start-up lag and/or cool-down on some of his moves (particularly aura sphere, and his tilts to give him some semblance of a "get off me" OOS option(s)). It takes 9 frames to release aura sphere when fully charged, which means he gets stuffed out a lot when he's about to throw it out to hit the opponent for a kill or reset to neutral to get some space. Ftilt is frame 12, so I think that's the best one to reduce the start-up on. The cooldown after throwing AS is also too great to get any follow ups or combos off of it like :ultmewtwo: Or :ultsamus: can off of their charge shot projectiles; this change could be big because it would potentially open up new follow ups that could make his advantage state more threatening.

On a broader scale, it also doesn't make sense that so much of his kit is as risky to use as it is. I get that the aura mechanic does need to be balanced somehow and giving him the frame data the likes of Mario or Fox is dangerous, but the fact that he's lighter in this game should have his moves be somewhat faster as a trade-off (but I'm trying to be realistic with what changes could be potentially expected in a future patch and prioritize the most important ones I think he needs). Overall, despite his flaws and struggles, I still think :ultlucario: is a mid-tier who does have the tools to be very threatening and competitive in most MUs in the hands of a player with the right dedication and mindset to use them optimally. I don't think he's solo-viable, but can do well alongside a strong high or top tier character for a secondary. There's a lot more to cover and I'm happy to try answering questions if any of you have them but I fear I've gotten quite lengthy in this post. If you've made it this far, thanks for taking the time to hear me out!
 
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Thinkaman

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Thought of the day: If Pikachu was actually better, he'd be widely rated lower; more people would actually play as him and there'd be a more universal understanding of his limitations.

If we had a bunch of not-ESAM-but-run-of-the-mill-top-300-players trying to make Pikachu work, instead of continuing to think Pikachu is top 3 in theory but 30 in results, people would probably accept him closer to #10/#20 respectively.

As it stands, Pikachu continues to serve as example #1572 of public perceptions of balance being heavily confounded by (self-perpectuating) cultural factors.

There's an alternate universe where MKLeo or someone like him pushed the Inkling meta super hard in the beginning and created a permanent impression of the character based on overperformance, where everyone sees Inkling as #1 to this day. This might sound suspect, but reality--where the overrated character is Pikachu and MKLeo made us all overrate Ike--is more surreal.
 

Nathan Richardson

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Just a small nitpick, but Charizard's Up Smash actually comes out on frame 6, and generally its only able to punish cross ups on tall opponents. He still has a frame 9 Up B for cross ups though, its just a much higher commitment. It does have frame armor on frame 4 which can really come in clutch against shield pressure though.

I think you hit the nail on the head though. Pikachu can get stray hits in against Zard but if the PT player knows which moves to look out for he can make getting a kill hell for the rat. Rage helps amplify this weakness and can sometimes net Zard a stupid early kill to.

Too bad most PT mains simply say "he gets comboed" and leaves it at that.
Charizard is actually excellent at countering certain character movesets. His moves are a mix of 'committal but with good reward if landed' to 'noncommittal but the reward for landing it isn't so high'. Charizard's up smash is an example of latter. Quick, safe, covers both sides above him, however it tends to be overused and it's BKG AND KBG isn't as high as charizard's other smashes.
His upb is the former, leaves charizard vulnerable, forces him into the air when his strength is on the ground, and it HURTS when it connects. His upb is even stated in the game tips to be a better offensive maneuver than a recovery.
 

PURGE THEM LIKE THE

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Here are the top tiers whose prominent mains (or at least one prominent main) believes that the character loses to Pikachu:

:ultjoker: :ultzss: :ultpalutena: :ultrob: :ultroy: :ultsonic: :ultchrom: :ultmegaman: :ultinkling: :ultfox: :ultwario: :ultpokemontrainer: :ultwolf: :ultlucina: :ultshulk:
My thoughts about pika vs shulk since no one talked about it yet

First of all keep in mind that anytime pika touches shulk, he can take stage control. Pika's abundance of multihits eats through shield art and carries shulk to the ledge. If shulk decides to combo break with smash art instead, sure he might get to take less damage, but he still gets put offstage.

I don't know if I'd necessarily call it a bad matchup, mainly out of inexperience, but the combination of tjolt and quick attack are definitely enough to disrupt shulk's normal gameplan. In neutral pika will drop a tjolt and follow behind it on the ground. At this point, if shulk isn't already in the air, the mixup is in pika's favor. Tjolt hitting shulk's shield will give pika an easy grab, which is why shulk needs to jump over it. However, shulk's fastest aerial is frame 13. It's almost trivial for pika to stuff a jump at this point.

So let's say shulk was already in the air and is coming down with a reverse nair as pika is trailing a tjolt. Nair eats the tjolt and stalls shulk for a very brief moment, long enough for pika to shield and determine whether he wants to use an out of shield option. If pika incorrectly decides to use an oos option when the nair was safe, he eats an airslash, which is about 15% and might not even take away stage control. If pika lands the oos option, shulk gets carried offstage. As for shulk in this situation, the next action he makes (after pika blocking the nair) is always punishable but requires a read; that's ok and is simply a fact of using shulk (i can give more detail for this specific part if requested but it's beyond the point here).

In the above situation, if pika has been making the wrong choice too many times, he can stop following the tjolt early and zip in with quick attack to disrupt whatever shulk was about to do and possibly start a combo. Shulk would have to do a buffered rising nair to consistently stop quick attack. This type of nair is always unsafe on shield, so getting shulk to use it at a bad time will allow pika to run in, put up shield, and then carry shulk offstage.

Quite frankly, I haven't been able to come up with a good way to stop those two mixups.

Another issue shulk has with pika is that pika gets back on stage past shulk fairly easily. Quick attack gives pika a lot of room to go around shulk if he tries to chase offstage with fair. At the ledge, in addition to the usual 4 options, pika has quick attack, which, when combined with ledge jump, gives pika enough mixup potential to make ledgetrapping an unreliable way for shulk to catch up.

Extra stuff that doesn't really fit anywhere else:
  • Speed art in neutral is a very bad idea because of the lowered jump height. It's much harder to get over tjolt.
  • Jump art could maybe work in neutral, but you generally want that available for when you inevitably are put offstage.
  • Tjolt's bounces make bair an unreliable way to clank them out, which sucks because bair would totally make it easier to keep pika away.
  • Tjolt's bounces will also make dtilt, ftilt, and dash attack miss at clanking it out most times.
  • On maps with low platforms up tilt will clank out tjolt on the platforms but puts shulk in a long animation that will let pika easily grab him.
  • Low platforms are actually kind of restrictive because of tjolt bouncing on the underside of the platforms. Shulk is tall, so this will very readily hit him, forcing him to use an early aerial or just back off.
  • Pikas like to use a lot of rising aerials on shield. Airslash oos will always be able to punish these except maybe if he fast falls the nair or fair. It is still only about 15% without being guaranteed to gain stage control.
  • In buster art airslash actually isn't an option for a good while because its knockback is so low that it's unsafe on hit. I don't remember the exact %s, but I think pika needs to be at about 50-60 before airslash becomes safe on hit.
 

VodkaHaze

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Hey guys, I'm new to the boards here but I've been lurking this thread and some others for quite some time. I thought I'd make my first post about :ultlucario:, since he's recently come up in discussion from ESAM's latest tier list and I'm probably one of the very few people in ultimate who main him and could perhaps share a unique perspective on Lucario.

He's easily among the most demanding characters to play in the game and has a very high skill cap, and I'll start by saying I personally don't believe that giving him the buffs he needs (I'll get to these later in this post) will do much to alleviate those things about Lucario. His weaknesses, as SwagGuy99 SwagGuy99 said, are his lighter weight compared to the previous two titles, aura and rage being nerfed in ultimate, a general lack of moves which are safe on shield and poor OOS options (f7 dair but it barely has any horizontal range, so the opponent has to be VERY close to you for that to work, and a f10 sh rising fair that only works on taller characters). These are fairly glaring issues, but he does have good strengths and work-arounds that help make up for it to a considerable degree imo.

His ledge trapping with aura sphere is very good, and it's usually the primary way he'll be trying to get kills when he's in advantage state since otherwise, he's much better at resetting to neutral than capitalizing off of his advantage state. Aura sphere can also be an effective conditioning tool to get opponents to shield provided they don't have reflectors or anything else that nullifies/uses the projectile against you in some way, and this is good because lucario does get a lot off of grabs (he has a few different routes you can get for combos from his up throw; with fair>fair>nair and fair>fair>uair generally being the most common). His fantastic air speed is great to have to get these combos and follow ups with relative consistency, and then, neutral is reset. Once that happens, Lucario is admittedly pretty linear here; it's a lot of aura sphere charging/throwing and nair's, the latter of which is one of the safest nair's in the game being just -2 to 0 on shield depending on aura and your timing. Other common tools used in neutral are sh rising fair, utilt and ftilt also sees some use. High levels of proficiency with b-reverses and wavebounces is absolutely essential to using:ultlucario: well in neutral and in pretty much all other aspects of the game, and it's the knowledge and intuition of when and how best to use his great movement that largely contributes to the high stress and learning curve that he has.

He lacks range, so spacing has to be on point or else you're likely eating a punish and being put in disadvantage; either is neither notably good or particularly bad (since his movement mix-ups can make it manageable to land), but it does put you ever closer to death which is never a great thing as Lucario. However, his very fast initial dash does allow him to retreat quickly to allow him to camp and charge aura sphere and space around burst options, disjointed landing aerials and other offensive options that can be baited out and punished accordingly if your spacing and timing of your movement is used well.

Another tool he has at his disposal to help mitigate his poor OOS game is charge storage cancel. By using this tech that was introduced in ultimate, lucario is able to avoid over-reliance on shielding and allow him to move freely or immediately cancel the aura sphere charge into any attack of your choosing. Using CSC in combination with smart b-reverse/wavebounce AS movement is the key to his neutral and to winning it to pursue tech chases, and it's the key to optimizing his movement and bait and punish playstyle that makes very hard match ups for him on paper tolerable most of the time (his MU spread is actually rather interesting, but I'll save that for another post).

Now for fixes/buffs I'd hope to see:

1) Fix force palm grab and make the command grab itself more consistent. It would be nice having a f9 command grab, but despite the buff to its range in patch 3.1.0, it still has some janky interactions with shields such that it whiffs at close range when it should obviously connect. At high aura when this move can actually be a valuable kill move (especially after conditioning to shield from aura sphere), this is really unfortunate since it has MASSIVE endlag (54 frames)!

2) Reduce the start-up lag and/or cool-down on some of his moves (particularly aura sphere, and his tilts to give him some semblance of a "get off me" OOS option(s)). It takes 9 frames to release aura sphere when fully charged, which means he gets stuffed out a lot when he's about to throw it out to hit the opponent for a kill or reset to neutral to get some space. Ftilt is frame 12, so I think that's the best one to reduce the start-up on. The cooldown after throwing AS is also too great to get any follow ups or combos off of it like :ultmewtwo: Or :ultsamus: can off of their charge shot projectiles; this change could be big because it would potentially open up new follow ups that could make his advantage state more threatening.

On a broader scale, it also doesn't make sense that so much of his kit is as risky to use as it is. I get that the aura mechanic does need to be balanced somehow and giving him the frame data the likes of Mario or Fox is dangerous, but the fact that he's lighter in this game should have his moves be somewhat faster as a trade-off (but I'm trying to be realistic with what changes could be potentially expected in a future patch and prioritize the most important ones I think he needs). Overall, despite his flaws and struggles, I still think :ultlucario: is a mid-tier who does have the tools to be very threatening and competitive in most MUs in the hands of a player with the right dedication and mindset to use them optimally. I don't think he's solo-viable, but can do well alongside a strong high or top tier character for a secondary. There's a lot more to cover and I'm happy to try answering questions if any of you have them but I fear I've gotten quite lengthy in this post. If you've made it this far, thanks for taking the time to hear me out!
I think this highlights why :ultlucario:gets poor representation overall: he is a difficult character to play due to being highly technical and gimmicky, and the rewards aren't that good due to being risky and inconsistent. My personal experience with the character was frustrating because I found it difficult to escape disadvantage, and also many combos won't happen depending on your aura. So you not only have to lab combos and set-ups at different percents, but also at different auras.

I think ESAM is wrong to claim Lucario is a contender for bottom 8. I think people willing to put in the effort like Jeda and Tsu will show that Lucario isn't an abysmal character because he can be quite scary at times. But because the character still has massive problems, I think he will see a reduction in tournament representation.
 

DougEfresh

Smash Apprentice
Joined
Mar 23, 2020
Messages
141
Wanted to make my follow up post on :ultlucario:, this time focusing on his MU spread and why I think it's interesting (though also polarizing, much like everything else about the character).

Lucario may just have the largest amount of "even" and "losing, but manageable" MUs of any character in the game, which is why this is yet another element of him that is polarizing. Because of his lack of range and good frame data, he can struggle a good bit against swordies, but the fact that he has a projectile allows him to reliably camp most of them out in neutral (except for :ultshulk:, which is a volatile MU I'll touch on in just a bit). Many of the swordies also have linear and exploitable recoveries that he can gimp with dair, nair (an underrated edgeguarding tool imo) and even getting potential stage spikes with double team given precise timing; and all of these can alleviate the burden of dealing with their greater range and superior buttons. Of them all, I think :ultroy: is the scariest to face as lucario. Better ground AND air speed make it easy for Roy to suffocate him, and his sweet-spot attacks make it extremely difficult to live long enough to use AS effectively and take advantage of his greater kill power.

While :ultchrom: also has the same all around mobility advantages over :ultlucario:, I'm much less intimidated by him comparatively speaking because I can usually live to 120-140% consistently if I play my cards right; enough aura to hopefully use AS to great effect in exploiting his poor and very reactable recovery. Most in the lucario cord think :ultlucina: is one of our worst MUs since she's far more consistent than:ultmarth:, which is true, but Idt Lucina is as bad for lucario as many think. She can struggle to land and another strength of aura sphere is to catch poor landing options. This combined with our ability to camp with AS, using our fast initial dash to space around her and look for opportunities to gimp her make it more of a -1 imo than -2 even with her more consistent kill power.

Now for :ultshulk:: because of his ability to change game plans through cycling the five Monado arts, this can be a tough one but his slow start up helps Lucario stuff him out in the air a bit more compared to other swordies. Buster can dish out a ton of damage, but its low knockback effect means we don't have to worry about dying just yet and if he screws up, we can also blow him up with our now high aura if he stays in this art for too long (not only does aura obviously make Lucario's attacks stronger, but the added damage shulk takes while in buster means we can dish out as much, if not more, damage than he can). Keeping a good, calm mindset is key in navigating this MU, and I'd call it -0.5 to -1 for Luc just because his range and edgeguarding is very scary for us, while everything else is volatile enough for either one to not have such a clear advantage over the other.

For heavies, I'd say all except for :ultdk: and :ultbowser: are even or winning for us; they all have a range and kill power advantage, but these two have that plus good mobility and edgeguarding which makes it hell for us. Another pair of -1 MUs there.

He does decently well against many of the relevant high and top tier threats that several other high/top tiers can really struggle with: :ultmegaman:,:ultpacman: are winning, and imo he goes even against :ultinkling:, :ultpeach:/:ultdaisy: and :ultpikachu:. :ultsonic: is on the rise lately, and he's either even or winning for Lucario imo too. Also does ok against :ultyounglink: :ultduckhunt::ulttoonlink::ultbanjokazooie: :ultsamus:/:ultdarksamus: :ultsnake: and:ultrob: as long as we're patient and maneuver around the projectile walls and traps/setups they have. :ultryu::ultken: can also be camped pretty hard, so we can work around their somewhat poor approach options and take advantage of their predictable recoveries rather well. Palu can be rough simply because of up air and up smash (which can really make recovery very difficult, but his extreme speed bonk tech can help avoid 2-frames on FD and battlefield). Otherwise, it's more or less manageable to deal with.

The only MUs that can be absolutely brutal for :ultlucario:, in which I would use a secondary for, are :ultwario::ultwolf: and possibly:ultfox:. These 3 have a combination of mobility, range, frame data and priority on moves that can just delete lucario and make mistakes even more punishing than they already are usually. If it weren't for his very high learning curve, I'd say he would be more effective as a CP character but by the time you know how to use him effectively for those relevant MUs, he might as well be a main or co-main.

Some other closing thoughts: lucario also has a hurtbox issue similar to mewtwo with his tail in that his ears poke out above the ledge, making him more susceptible to 2-frames. I hope that's another fix that Sakurai and co. can make down the road. While it's unfortunate Tsu has moved onto:ult_terry:and other characters more, I do think Jeda's results in the EU, and Vivi's decent success at a high level in the tri-state region do lend legitimate support to my contention that :ultlucario: is still a mid-tier capable of being a meta threat. Needing a secondary doesn't detract from this with just how many MUs there are in this game, there are bound to be some MUs for almost anyone that are a struggle for them that require a secondary/CP. That's all for now, thanks again for reading my essay!
 
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Vyrnx

Smash Ace
Joined
Oct 11, 2014
Messages
639
Location
KY/NC
To add on to the Pika discussion, top Peach players actually consider Pikachu a losing MU or even (Samsora and Muteace consider it -1, LingLing thinks it's even) because "what if Pika just camps." This makes no sense to me at all, because float obliterates tjolt camping. Look at this set as an example (you shouldn't have to watch much to get the idea):


Half of ESAM's game plan here seems to be "spam tjolt"--the only times this worked during the set are at the beginning of game 1 when Samsora is warming up and at the beginning of game 2 when he tries to outcamp ESAM with turnips. ESAM's stubborn tjolt camping is what made this an easy 3-0 for Samsora. Peach can jump, float directly above the tjolt, and then punish with any aerial besides uair. If you're fast enough then this is all easily achievable within tjolt's 51 frame FAF. Look at 6:07 in the above set, or the last hit of the set at 12:25.

Some other points on the MU:

-Peach combos are easy on Pikachu. Combo starters like dtilt, ground float aerials, or falling aerials are unaffected by Pikachu's height. He's kind of a fat character when airborne too--compared to ZSS or Joker this makes landing nair trains and air to air combo starters (uair, dair) relatively easy. Dthrow bair works forever. For this same reason combined with Pikachu's air speed, he's fairly juggleable too, and Peach's anti airs do a lot of damage. In some cases he may be able to QA to a platform but will forfeit some stage control in the process.

-The stage control gap is huge in this MU--Peach is in my opinion the best ledge trapper in the game, compared to Pikachu who's... okay at it? Peach can also sometimes bypass ledge trap scenarios entirely with high floats. The risk:reward is favorable for Peach here as long as you avoid getting thundered. But Pikachu usually has no way to bypass a ledge trap vs. Peach. Look at 6:32 in the above set as an example. Samsora lands one bair on Pikachu when he's at 39 and it ends up leading to the stock (with the help of a horrible directional AD from ESAM that puts him in the ledgetrap). Jumping is usually a pretty good option vs Peach when on the ledge, below fair kill percents at least, but it just puts Esam into a juggle situation and he's back off stage. When he eventually tries to bypass the ledge with side b he gets up b'd. If Pika tries to just QA to mid stage from off the ledge, this is still easily punishable by Peach--look at 1:08, 1:58, and 8:08.

-If Pikachu is going for a mostly tjoltless aerial for aerial neutral I still don't see how he can do much--then you're playing in Peach's almighty float cancel aerial bait and punish zone. QA is punishable on reaction with ground float nair. Grounded options are pretty much off the table (ground float bair is a wickedly fast option that shreds everything in its path, and raw dtilt can also callout a dash), as are falling aerials (as usual for Pikachu, his non-nair aerials have relatively high landing lag and are all lacking in range). Rising aerials are okay--you can callout a float with Pika's frame 4 uair and get a small punish, or bair oos to start up a good combo. There are still considerations here, though. If Peach baits something like a rising fair, then she's getting a ground float bair. Let's say you're going blow for blow with Peach by calling out her floats with uair. You're still probably losing because the difference in reward from landing an uair vs getting baited out is in Peach's favor.

-One last (important) thing to think about is what happens when Pikachu combos Peach. Peach being able to jump out of a combo and immediately float is a disadvantage trait unique to her--she can frame 1 jump out of a combo and stay in range to punish you, or cancel into a fast fall and instantly regain stage control. This is something I never see talked about, so I'm going to list several examples from the above set so that it's obvious how prevalent this actually is: 0:17 Sam jumps out go a combo and regains center stage, 0:35 he jumps out and avoids a ledge trap, 4:35 he jumps out and nearly lands in time for a dtilt punish, 4:40 he jumps and punishes with dair, 9:20 ESAM lands an uair anti air and tries to followup, Sam jumps out, floats, and punishes with fair. These timestamps were easy to find because I just looked for ESAM to start a low percent combo--basically every single time he did Samsora just jumps out (because she's floaty), floats, and ESAM gets almost nothing from his combo--not enough damage relative to Peach combos, no stage control, or he himself gets punished back. It's actually crazy how good of an option jump out float is.

There's an alternate universe where MKLeo or someone like him pushed the Inkling meta super hard in the beginning and created a permanent impression of the character based on overperformance, where everyone sees Inkling as #1 to this day. This might sound suspect, but reality--where the overrated character is Pikachu and MKLeo made us all overrate Ike--is more surreal.
Who is someone like MKLeo? Inkling has been mained by some legendary players who've built characters' metagames from the ground up--Abadango with like four different characters in Smash 4, Cosmos with Corrin--Armada also obviously counts here even without a strong Smash 4 background. In Cosmos' case he was practicing the character the majority of hours in a day vs a top 3 player in the world for the first few months of the game. Would also like to point out that Leo mained Ike at the beginning of the game and for less time than it took Diddy to become the consensus best character in early Smash 4--in other words, almost no time at all.
 
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Lacrimosa

Smash Lord
Joined
Mar 31, 2019
Messages
1,171
Location
Germany
Another one-liner but Samsora and MuteAce are some of the worst people when it comes to MU charts.
Meru also has a MU chart that actually reflects her spot as a top-tier.
 

SwagGuy99

Smash Ace
Joined
Dec 28, 2016
Messages
571
Another one-liner but Samsora and MuteAce are some of the worst people when it comes to MU charts.
Meru also has a MU chart that actually reflects her spot as a top-tier.
For Reference:

It also has no losing matchups though, which I don't believe is true. While she doesn't lose 21 matchups and go even with half of the roster (like Samsora thinks), I do think she loses at least a few matchups.

Characters like :ultpacman::ultsamus: and :ultvillager: have good enough options to keep Peach away from them and Peach can often have trouble dealing with all of their zoning tools, setups, range, and traps. :ultduckhunt: also fits in this category, but his noticeable lack of reliable kill options makes this matchup closer to even than losing.

:ultshulk: is able to easily outrange Peach with his sword and his Monado Arts allow him to adapt to various situations (Shield/Smash Art make him harder to combo, jump art makes him hard for Peach to hit, etc.).

:ultcloud: is able to easily outrange Peach, his juggling options on her are solid, his up-smash and up-b OOS are good options if Peach is trying to pressure (his shield) up-close, his edgeguarding options on her are passable (not as good as any of these other characters since going offstage is always going to be a risk for Cloud) and since she's light, his slight issue with killing isn't as bad as it is on heavier characters.

:ultluigi: and :ultgnw: are somewhat difficult for her to combo due to their floaty nature, and both characters get pretty solid reward off of landing a hit. Luigi has better combo breaking options than G&W (thanks to n-air and down-b) and better frame-data to combo her with, while G&W has a much better recovery and better range than Luigi. I'm not sure If I'd consider Luigi to be a losing MU for Peach (Peach mains opinions seem to heavily fluctuate with that MU, Luigi mains think it's even or slightly winning) but Game & Watch probably is.

I'm guessing there are some other more troublesome MUs for Peach, but these tend to be among the more commonly agreed on ones that I've seen (from both Peach mains and the mains of these characters). Overall, I don't really think she loses more than 10 matchups, but she probably goes even with a decent portion of the cast (but nowhere near as many as Samsora thinks).
 
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The_Bookworm

Smash Champion
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
2,606
This is going to be the next event we are going to look out for.


I am glad that the metagame isn't going to be completely stagnate through these difficult times.
At least it is a good substitution for the major events that would've taken up this weekend.


Edit (3/25): OrionStats got updated yesterday, but pretty much nothing has changed. Just to let you guys know.
 
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NairWizard

Somewhere
Joined
Oct 28, 2014
Messages
1,513
And now for something new!--pop quiz time! Since we're all stuck at home anyway.

Today's question is: why is Roy considered faster than Lucina?

Background:

  • Roy is most famed for his initial dash, since 2.2 is indeed enormous--but Lucina's is ever so slightly higher, at 2.255.
  • She has 60% higher air accel (0.08 vs. 0.05).
  • Her startup is also lower on key moves like f-air. Roy has lower endlag.
  • Lucina has a super fast OOS option
  • Roy leads in air speed (1.3 vs. 1.0) and run speed (2.145 vs 1.964), but you rarely use these in neutral.
    • Mostly, the air speed helps Roy land and recover, but Lucina is already way better at recovering by virtue of their up-bs.
    • The run speed difference won't be noticeable in a real game, except sometimes to trap landings and reach the ledge in time to ledgetrap. Their initial dashes are so huge that they just use that instead anyway.
  • Now you might be thinking that maybe Roy's reward creates the illusion of speed, but Lucina actually gets similar reward--a Lucina b-air does 11.8% whether tipped or bladed, compared to a Roy b-air that does 12% bladed. Roy gets more confirms onstage, but Lucina gets more edgeguards, so that shouldn't be the difference-maker either.
  • The last thing worth noting is that Roy falls fast and Lucina is floaty.

Out of this entire list of comparisons, Roy is only "faster" in one important way--fall speed. That alone shouldn't create the impression that Roy is faster. So what's going on here? What is it about Roy that makes him seem so much faster?

Hint: it's not just that Roy players are aggressive. It has something to do with the numbers.
 
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