This piece features Michael Kelly’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tier list for January 2019. Characters’ placement on this list is derived through a combination of professional results and the author’s personal opinion. There are certain characters whose placement on the list is fitting of a deeper explanation. You may find them below the list.
Peach/Daisy (S Tier)– In my opinion, Peach is the strongest character in the game as of right now. Her ability to string combos together and provide pressure at any point in the game is essentially unmatched. Additionally, with a strong recovery that pairs well with a nice air game, Peach is a serious threat both on and off the stage. Essentially, your playstyle has to change immensely whenever you’re faced up against her, as she punishes aggressive behavior, but thrives once you’re on the defensive. Additionally, with strong showings across national tournaments so far in 2019, Peach and Daisy are already proven winners, and in my eyes, they’re already the uncontested Queens of Ultimate.
Cloud (S Tier)– In a meta dominated by “sword characters”, Cloud is far and away the most versatile (and quite possibly the strongest). First and foremost, it’s important to note that Cloud has a ridiculously fast dash speed of 2.167, making him one of the most intimidating characters on the ground. However, once you’re in the air, there’s really no coming back– he’s probably already beaten you. A combination of N-air’s and F-air’s will often allow Cloud to dominate the air, setting him up for a beautiful set of specials and smashes once he gets you back onto the stage. With a plethora of moves that are easily spammable and can often abuse any opponent, Cloud is the strongest swordfighter in all of Ultimate, placing him firmly atop my tier list.
Mewtwo (S Tier)- Mewtwo is definitely an interesting pick to place in the S-tier of this list, but in the hands of a skilled player, he’s certainly one of the deadliest characters in all of Ultimate. He’s able to perform really well both on and off any stage, as his edgeguarding ability is incredibly strong, and his air game is also a major focal point of his strength. Personally, I feel as though Mewtwo is one of the most slept on characters in the game right now, as his strengths are deceptively solid and the character finds serious success in matchups against fighters who are both exceptionally slow and/or lack a decent air game. Although he may represent the average “high-tier character”, Mewtwo excels when it comes to matchups. At the very worst, Mewtwo will end up being even or at a minimal disadvantage to his opponent, giving him plenty of room for capitalization.
Greninja (A Tier)– Greninja might just be the most polarizing character to come out of the initial stages of Ultimate. Over the course of the past month, pros have ranked him anywhere between a top-10 character and one that barely breaks the top-50. In my opinion, Greninja should be an undisputed top-15 character at the very least. He racks up damage on his opponents ridiculously fast and is able to string moves together at an insane pace. Greninja is perfect for players who love to move around and look for the perfect opportunity to strike. Once he gets in the mix, he can start to go to work, only to slip into the shadows and return to a neutral state. There’s really no “wrong” way to play Greninja. As long as you know how to land combos and play with a sense of versatility and unpredictability, you probably have a good shot at unlocking his true potential. He’s a seriously well-rounded character with many more strengths than weaknesses, and if you can take advantage of those strengths, you’ll be in a good spot. If you’re looking for a fighter on the roster that emulates the classic feel of a fighting game, while integrating what makes Smash so unique, Greninja is the one who embodies it all.
Snake (A Tier)– Yet another polarizing character, Snake is one of the most unique fighters in all of Ultimate. You cannot say that anyone plays like Snake. He’s genuinely in a league of his own when it comes to gameplay, style, mechanics, combos, nuances, and everything in between. You could definitely argue that Snake is by far the most interesting and one-of-a-kind character in the entire game. Often, Snake is ranked quite low on plenty of tier lists, but in my experience, I’ve found him to be a really entertaining character with a serious amount of potential. He’s definitely easy to pick up, and grasping the basic foundations of the character could be done in an afternoon. However, it will probably take you months on end to master him. But still, if you did take that time, it would certainly pay off. Snake is able to find strength at all levels of play, and by the time Ultimate is in full swing, I have no doubts that he’ll be much more than a nuanced pick.
Bayonetta (B Tier)– As the unquestioned Queen of Smash 4, Bayonetta reigned over the game and dominated the entire roster. She sat at the top of every tier list for an ungodly amount of time and made her claim as probably the strongest character in the history of Smash. However, in Ultimate, she’s just slightly above average at best. She’s nowhere near as strong as she used to be, but she’s definitely still playable. She’s still exceptionally strong when it comes to combos and keeping your opponents consistently battered down, despite the gutting of her kit. Chances are, if you mastered Bayonetta during the days of Smash 4, you’re probably not going to have missed a step and you’ll still be able to find solid results with the character. However, this time around, she’s actually balanced.
Luigi (B Tier)– I originally thought Luigi was one of the worst characters in all of Ultimate as I perceived his kit to be generally weak with little to no abilities that impressed me. However, after a little bit of playtime on the character and a lot of tournament-watching, specifically after seeing the masterful Luigi play of Matt “Elegant” Fitzpatrick, I’ve come to the conclusion that Luigi isn’t bad at all. He’s really just alright. There’s nothing that stands out about Luigi, and that’s perfectly fine. He’s the very definition of an average Smash character. If you can master Luigi, you can succeed with him. He’s a genuinely balanced character, and for that reason, along with the aforementioned ones, he falls directly in the middle of my tier list.
Ice Climbers (C Tier)– The only reason the Ice Climbers are this low on my tier list is only because not many players have truly figured them out yet. The ability to desync with them is more prevalent than ever, as their combined strength can lead to some devastating combos in literally any matchup. The Ice Climbers exceed in environments where they can continuously pummel their opposition, and of course, the whole “two lives” thing is a major advantage that can be capitalized upon in any game. As the year goes on and more tier lists come out and more importantly, more players are able to master the Ice Climbers, they will move up through the ranks without a doubt. I’m looking forward to keeping my eye on the Ice Climbers more than any other character in Ultimate throughout 2019. They’re definitely on the rise, and once they’re mastered by some of the game’s top talent, they will certainly be a force to be reckoned with.
Little Mac (C Tier)– Many professionals and writers alike have written off Little Mac by now, claiming him to be a consensus-member of the “garbage tier”. He’s consistently ranked in the bottom 5 of the roster with little to no explanations except “he’s bad”. I personally feel as though Little Mac is definitely an interesting character with a seriously unique playstyle. Sure, his recovery is awful and his air-game is pretty underwhelming, but he still runs like the wind and hits insanely hard. A good Little Mac player is definitely deadly. However, there are still plenty of better options.
Sheik (C Tier)– It speaks wonders to the caliber of characters in Smash Ultimate why Sheik, a historically above average character in Smash history is quite low on my list. And although Sheik is definitely a serviceable pick and can often be capitalized on in the hands of a seasoned player, the character hasn’t exactly looked like her once-prevalent self in Ultimate. It’s not that Sheik is bad, she’s just underwhelming. If you were eating out at a restaurant and the Ultimate roster was the menu, Sheik would probably be a plain hamburger- boring, rehashed, and paling in comparison to the rest of your options.
Duck Hunt (D Tier)– I have always liked to keep an open mind about Smash characters. I’ve always held the mindsets that “any character can be mastered” and that “anyone can win with anything”. However, Duck Hunt is straight up awful. The character doesn’t move well, they’re not intriguing, and it genuinely feels like they don’t do anything. I would avoid this character at all costs if you’re trying to succeed in a tournament setting. It would probably take you hundreds of hours of practice just to be on par with everyone else.
Photo Credit: Nintendo, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate