Throughout the course of the entire year, each character on the Smash Ultimate roster played their own role in the competitive meta. Some played a bigger role than others. These are the five characters who completely stood out in competitive play this year.
From the beginning of 2019, all the way to the year’s final major tournament, Wario played a massive role in the Ultimate meta. At nearly every point of the season, the character was getting results at the top level of the professional scene. Whether he was in the hands of Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey, William “Glutonny” Belaid, or anyone in between, Wario was easily one of the most influential characters on the meta this season. Mainly, this was due to his unmatched comeback mechanic in Waft, and his ability to combo most characters to the end of the earth. With favorable mechanics and a high-skill cap in mind, it’s obvious as to why Wario had such an impact on competitive play as he did.
While there weren’t too many full time Joker players at the top level of the competitive scene outside Leonardo “MkLeo” Lopez, his abilities and results on the character were enough to spark a movement across the entirety of Smash. Throughout the course of 2019, MkLeo showed exactly what Joker was capable of as a character, inspiring countless mid-level and low-level players to pick up the Phantom Thief in hopes of achieving some better results in bracket. In fact, Joker posted a presence rate of 2.3%, the 13th highest in the game. Not too bad for a character that missed out on the first 4 months of the game’s lifespan. So, while MkLeo’s Joker dominated much of the top level of competitive play with some cold hard results, the character’s popularity factor was immense everywhere else.
Perhaps the earliest, most definitive character to emerge from the roster as a prominent S-tier contender, Wolf held down the competitive meta through its formative phases and still has a ton of influence even today. Back in the earlier months of 2019, Wolf was sweeping across the world of professional Smash. By the time the first Ultimate Summit came around, it felt like anyone at the event who wasn’t maining the character kept him in their pocket. And while he’s fallen out of serious contention here in December, there’s still a couple of great Wolf players out there as Tweek and Sota “Zackray” Okada are known to bust the character out from time to time. Although he doesn’t quite have the same sway that he did over the game a few months ago, Wolf’s impact on the 2019 Smash Ultimate meta as a whole can’t be ignored.
During the Summer of Smash, it felt like everyone was playing Pokemon Trainer. This character made waves throughout all of 2019, and during the warmer months of the year, Trainer had reached their apex. With players like Tweek (this guy plays everything), William “Leffen” Hjelte, Eric “Pandarian” Lund, and so many countless others picking up the character and turning him into a force within the game’s competitive meta, it’s obvious that Pokemon Trainer was an incredibly popular member of the roster when it came to professional play. In fact, this year, Pokemon Trainer was the most popular character in competitive play, posting a play percentage of 4.7%, the highest in the scene.
It feels like everyone plays Palutena. From top level talents like Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada and Samuel “Dabuz” Buzby, all the way down the competitive ladder. There’s a really good chance that if you show up to your local next week, you’ll bump into at least 3 Palutena mains. This character is everywhere – and rightfully so. With reliable bread-and-butters, incredible mobility, and unrivaled kill potential, she’s one of the strongest characters in the game on a fundamental level. With a pick presence of 4.1%, Palutena was the third most popular character in competitive Smash this year, and it wouldn’t be out of the question to predict that she will remain incredibly relevant moving forward. It’s hard to go wrong with her those factors of reliability and fundamental productivity will always be present.
Photo Credit: Nintendo, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate