Hello folks! We’re back with a Super Smash Bros Ultimate guide that will help you climb the ranks of the SSBU competitive scene – or just let you beat all of your friends for breakfast! 😁 I promise you’ll definitely find neat information in it, as we cover basic mechanics for the neutral game that every player needs, as well as advanced tactics that will give an edge to experienced players.
We’ll start with the basics – using your character moves efficiently, how to start winning in the neutral game, as well as how to get back on stage with a safe recovery. Later on, we will focus on your opponent, knowing your matchup, how to improve your decision making and what’s the best stage to go for depending on the characters fighting.
Table of Contents
- 1 Picking Your SSBU Character
- 2 Guide to Winning the Neutral Game
- 3 Recovering When Off The Stage
- 4 Knowing Your SSBU Opponents / Matchups
- 5 Improving Your Results With Good Decision Making
- 6 SSBU Stages You Should Pick / Ban
- 7 Conclusion
Picking Your SSBU Character
I know this is kinda obvious but that doesn’t mean is not important. The first thing you should start with is picking a character you like for and practice either in Training mode, Smash mode vs CPU, go Online to play with real people or if you have friends that can help you with, it’ll be amazing! The main thing is: you have to play with your character until you familiarize with the range, speed and lag of each attack and specials, damage and shield damage, movement speed, jump height and strings/combos. Watching game-play videos about the character you are interested in, is also a good way to recollect data and get used to it’s playstyle.
Is very important that you know the difference between a string or a combo:
Combo is a true attack combination that once you start it, you will land all the following hits while a String gives your opponent the chance to dogde your moves, so you have to be prepared to catch your opponent off guard when they feel pressured and try to panic dodge out of your attacks.
Keep in mind that each character has unique playstyle. Practicing different characters and tactics will make you wiser on tactics of the whole roster and their possible combos’. For example, Ike is a powerhouse, with very nice disjointed range because he uses a sword, so you’ll always want to take advantage of said range.
Ike’s bread and butter for starting combos and then killing is Nair (Neutral Air) because it has ridiculous coverage and speed, and leave your opponent defenseless for enough time so you can land another hit. Nair’s also a safe move but don’t spam it too much or it’ll be predictable.
At lower percent you can chain Nair into Up Tilt or Side Tilt, I prefer Up Tilt because it’s more consistent and it does more damage. In training mode you can check if it’s a true combo or not, as in the image below. But if your opponent is a bit far from you, then Side Tilt should be your follow up!
When at high percent, neither side nor up tilt will connect BUT now you can combo with aerials, Fair and Uair are Ike’s best options. Bair‘s an excellent follow up too and one of the best attacks for taking stocks because of it’s incredible speed and knockback, but is a bit harder to land.
This was a simple explanation of some of Ike’s combos and their variations. Now I want you to start training combos/strings with your character(s) so it’ll be easier to execute them in a real match. At this point you will know: the total damage of every attack, grab, which attack combination should be followed depending on how damaged your opponent is, and even when you can get a stock off of a combo! You need to practice for hours and can get tedious at certain point, but trust me, your dedication will pay off.
Guide to Winning the Neutral Game
Now that you feel comfortable with your character, the next step is taking control of the neutral game.
What is the Neutral Game?
Is when you try to win terrain on the stage and gain an advantage over your opponent, cutting their options while you force them to make a decision. In simple words, winning the neutral means taking control of the match.
How can you win the Neutral Game?
For achieving this, you need to know each move/attack of the entire roster or at least have a thought about their playstyle. For example: Ryu and Ken both excels at short range combat while having the Hadouken for poking or finish combos, so they’ll always want to close the distance between the opponent but without just rushing into the attack. And now we have Snake, which is ok at short range but he has Granades, C-4 and more to harass opponents from the distance and then approach when seeing an opening.
Having this in mind will help you think in a strategy to follow against each fighter, but every person plays their character in a different way, meaning that you need to know your matchup and then adapt to your opponent’s playstyle. I will make a whole section about this subject later in this article, one thing at a time.
What’s the best way to build damage?
Strings/combos are your best damage options, but making a safe attack, even if it’s just one hit, is better than YOU getting damaged simply because one hit can be more than enough to gain control of the neutral, or lose it if you take that hit. Grabs are an excellent way to rack up damage. Most of them can either chain into a combo or even get a stock, depending on your character and which throw you use.
As you can see in the image above, Wolf’s Down Throw can chain into Wolf Flash (Side B) angled down, both the knockback and damage of this simple combo are huge. However, this combo only works on opponents at around 50-75% damage (or even more %), so always be aware of your choices for combos depending of how damaged your opponent is. For knowing the exact percentage for execute a certain combo, simply go to training mode and play against characters of different weight, this way you’ll be more than prepared against any fighter you face!
How can you connect a clean hit?
This is where mind games come into action – in fact every move you make counts to distract or leave your opponent open for an attack.
Spotting your rival’s habits and punishing them are a big part of mind games. When you attempt an aerial attack and you know your opponent will shield and grab, then you can either space your attack correctly so the fail grab will be punishable or do an empty short hop/jump and grab your shielding opponent before you get so.
Another easy way to build up damage is juggling, and combined with mind games, can grant you an easy stock or big damage numbers. At this very moment, when you manage to send your opponent upwards, you just have to keep the pressure on it as long as you can in the air. When you’re sure an air dodge is coming, wait for it and punish when the invincibility ends.
I know these explanations are very simple and lack of more information, but what I just wanted to give you a couple examples for understanding how to start noticing the decisions your opponent make and the way you should respond to them, all depends on the experience obtanined as you keep playing.
Recovering When Off The Stage
This so tricky considering your character’s recovery options. It will take riskier decisions when trying to get back to the stage, for example: Marth has one recovery option: Dolphin Slash (Up B). Even though is only one move, it is way too fast to react against, making it difficult to interrupt and it covers a pretty good distance. You can also use the first slash of Dancing Blade (Side B) to stop for a bit your falling momentum, this could mess up the opportinity of your opponent to catch you off the stage.
Now, let’s take a look at Ganondorf: Dark Dive (Up B) and Flame Choke (Side B) are your alternatives when recovering. Both of them are susceptible to attacks because they’re kinda slow and it is not that hard to anticipate any of them, but Flame Choke can be fatal if you manage to grab your opponent at the edge of the stage, as it will take both characters down to hell (Ganondorf will lose the stock first or even release the opponent out of the grab).
If you always recover the same way, your opponent will figure how to intercept you. So try to make it back in multiple ways each time, and don’t forget using the directional airdodge. This requires a lot of practice to successfully grab the ledge, and this is because if you fail your directional airdodge to make it back, then you’ll probably lose that stock, as they leave you unable to make any move for a certain traveled distance. This distance is the same for every fighter, the diference is the falling speed, meaning for example that Kirby will be defenseless for a longer time than Fox, with the exception of Jigglypuff that was buffed on this matter in patch 6.0.0, as the traveled distance was shortened just for her.
When you manage to grab the ledge, you have plenty of options to recover also: normal get up, roll, jump, attack or release the ledge (input the opposite direction of where the stage is), jump forward and do an airdodge or an attack, for example. That last option is really risky because you’ll lose your midair jump and will be harder to recover if your opponent manage to send you off stage. Mixing the way you recover from the ledge is important too, otherwise you’ll be predictable and your opponent can take advantage off of it.
As a side note, I’m not just describing attacks and/or specials or saying obvious things, what I want to point out in this section are pros and cons of each move so players take in consideration every detail about recovering and, at the same time, know how your opponent could try to recover, this is very important when at Competitive.
Knowing Your SSBU Opponents / Matchups
The more you play against “x” fighter, the more you get used to its playstyle and the options it has when at certain situation. Additionally, you have to spot your opponent’s habits to take the lead and control of the match but we’ll get into that later, for now, we will focus only on characters rather than players. I’ll give you an example: Ness. This character is a real pain because his hitbox is small, so it’s harder to hit. Also he has a projectile that can start a combo, weird mobility in the air, aerials with pretty nice priority and his B-Throw has insane knockback, among other things.
Let’s say you are using Chrom, which is a good counter versus Ness. So, you manage to grab Ness, you do a D-Throw followed by a short hop Uair (true combo) and then you fast-fall. Now consider about Ness’s options while he is in the air: he can either jump, perform an air-dodge, attack with Fair or Dair or use his Down B to stop a bit his falling momentum and then attack or jump.
At the same moment you have in mind all of this, you need to be preparing the best course of action possible, and there you have two options. You can wait for him and try to connect an Up-Tilt, but Up-Tilt has some end-lag, so if you fail, you can get punished and/or lose control of the neutral. Your other option is to do a short hop, Uair and then fast-fall, which is better because either you land the hit or not, Chrom will recover mobility faster than with the Up-Tilt, giving you the chance to not lose control of the neutral and keep the pressure going.
But there is still one more option: just do an empty short hop and/or start running around to see how your opponent will react. Simply by chasing down you’ll keep pressure and will force your opponent into taking, maybe, a bad decision. This way you could cut your opponent’s options while you hunt him down, waiting for the right moment to attack. The previous option was also good but more aggressive, while the last one is passive as you’ll react depending on what your opponent chooses to do.
For doing this, you have to pay attention to every move or decision your opponent makes, that way you will more likely understand how he/she thinks and/or reacts to every option you take, making you go one or two steps ahead. This is really hard to accomplish and is frustrating not reading your opponent at all, or read your opponent but making a bad execution of what you want to do. You need to practice aim and timing on your attacks and also play a lot and with different people to improve this kind of skill.
This section is similar to the previous one, the difference is that now we’ll combine the character’s options with your opponent’s habits, like spamming a move, the timing of the special move for recovering, how he responds mid-distance, etc.
If you recognize that your opponent jumps to attack or feel safer every time he is against the ropes, then punish those jumps. When he starts shielding a lot, use your grab. When you know a step dodge or roll is coming, then wait for it. Studying this kind of information from your opponent will extend your options and at the same time reduce the risk of losing the neutral game. Every good player adapts to a situation, so be careful when your opponent starts adapting to your answers. Changing a bit your strategy is mandatory for each encounter.
This time we’ll study a player that uses Link. This fighter is nice at harassing from distance and has a good disjointed range thanks to his Master Sword. How do Link players fight? Well, they spam his projectiles while at long-mid distance, but at close range they tend to take defensive position, using moves like Nair, which is fast and it’s hitbox lasts longer, Up-Tilt as an anti-air, Fair when they notice you’re jumping a lot (and is a strong attack too), Up B as an out of shield option when getting shield pressured because is fast and covers both sides around Link, or Smash Attacks when they see the opportunity. This sounds very simple for start thinking in a strategy to respond against but in reality is not that easy, especially versus a good Link player that knows how to mix his attacks.
When you manage to get close to Link and he starts throwing random moves, it means that he is marking the distance and doesn’t want you to get even closer. What you need to do is calculate the range of his attacks and respect them, particularly if you’re playing a fighter with a shorter range, like Mario. Put extra attention to the end-lag of each attack, as it will be the opening you are waiting to make your move. There will be times when an opponent knows if an attack is safe on a shield or fast enough to recover before you can hit or grab him and he will use that to bait you. When that happen, change it into your favor, making your opponent think you’re taking that bait but in reality, he’s falling in your trap!
Another thing I want to point out regarding good players is that they also know about players’ habits and how to manipulate the opponent. Let’s say you’re using Simon/Richter and you use the same attack pattern 2 or 3 times: Side B (Cross), Neutral B (Axe) and Down B (Holy Water). By that time your opponent figured out a couple of strategies to get closer and punish, maybe he thinks “I will jump or roll through that Cross, run and attack even before the Holy Water comes out”, and that’s because Richter’s animation when throwing the Axe has a long cooldown. You have to be prepared for that. Changing the attack pattern will catch your opponent off guard or at least maintain the distance between you and him/her.
A really good method to improve your decision making is watching your replays. By doing this, you will recognize any bad habit you might have that your opponent could utilize in his favor. You need to pay special attention to every decision you make, take some time to think why you made that decision and take into serious consideration about what you did right or wrong. Then you have to try out different strategies and see how they work, this way you can assemble a unique playstyle of your own with nice rewarding results.
SSBU Stages You Should Pick / Ban
First of all, not all stages are available to play in tournaments, in fact, they vary depending on which tournament you are. The reason behind this is to not benefit certain fighters, so always check stage availability before starting a match. I’m going to list playable stages A.K.A. Legal Stages that you will often see in tournaments and their category:
- Final Destination
- Pokemon Stadium 2
- Town and City
Counter Pick Stages
- Yoshi’s story
- Yoshi’s Island (Brawl)
- Lylat Cruise (Can be a Neutral Stage)
- Unova Pokemon League
- Kalos Pokemon League (Can be a Neutral Stage)
Mixed (Stages Rarely Seen in Tournaments):
- Castle Siege
- Rainbow Cruise
- Warioware, Inc.
- Frigate Orpheon
- Wily Castle
Note: In every tournament, stage hazards are off and stage morph is disabled to prevent any RNG (Random Number Generator) that could benefit or prejudice any player.
How to Choose a Stage
In tournaments, stages are picked after a coinflip or rock, paper or scissors. The player who loses will strike 2 Neutral Stages and the winner will select one of the remaining Neutral Stages from the list. For the rest of the match, the player who wins a fight will strike 2 of all available stages, and the player who lost will pick a stage to play.
Which stage to Choose
Depending on the character you are using, and how comfortable you feel in the stage you picked, as well as the advantage you can have against your opponent, are the main factors to follow when choosing a stage. If you pick Fox then you should choose a stage with a lower Top Blastzone like Final Destination, Lylat Cruise or Pokemon Stadium 2, as Fox’s best killing attack is Up Smash which sends you upward.
Besides how early you will end stocks when picking a stage, also think about how good you are using platforms or if they will help you gain control of the Neutral, as well as if you can use wall-jumps for mixing your recovery. As an example, if you’re fighting Snake, then you should pick a stage where the C-4 is easier to spot.
Now, about striking a stage: if you struggle to take a stock because your killing options are not that good in that stage, and you see your opponent feels so comfortable in it, like in a fight between Cloud VS Megaman, if you’re using Cloud then you should strike bigger stages so he wouldn’t have much space to run or escape from you and pick stages with platforms or something you can use at your favor to approach him getting as less hits as you can.
Thank you so much for making it to the end of this guide! Hope this helped you out to analyze stuff that can make the difference between winning or losing in a match and grow as a better player. If you like this guide and want to see more stuff like this, please share this with your friends and in social media, it will be a tremendous help for us!