There is no bigger crossover in gaming (and pop culture, in general) than Masahiro Sakurai and the team’s Super Smash Bros Ultimate – or SSBU.
As the fifth installment of Nintendo’s beloved fighting game franchise, SSBU is truly a celebration of gaming throughout the years. It has the most fighters out of any Smash Bros game (currently at 81, with 5 more DLC characters coming). It has over 100 stages and a thousand music tracks available, all pooling from iconic game franchises like Pacman all the way to Metal Gear.
The uniqueness of each fighter is what makes tier lists for SSBU not only interesting but, to a certain extent, almost an obvious need in the community. The better player wins in SSBU, but nobody can deny that there are certain fighters objectively successful in competitive matches.
This tier list will rank the best fighters in SSBU and will provide adequate context as to why they are placed in their tier.
Table of ContentsShow
Tier List Methodology
It’s important to note that each fighter in SSBU is uniquely tailored by the developers to provide a good experience for every audience. The game is balanced enough that you can enjoy playing as anyone and still see some wins.
That being said, competitive play in SSBU factors in several complex mechanics; most of which were considered in making this list. Here are some of them:
- Fighter win/loss stats in pro play: Competitive play is the ultimate end goal for anyone looking to get serious in SSBU. As such, it is only fitting to factor a fighter’s record in pro tournaments (the highest competitive standard) when evaluating him/her. Smash pro players also have a heavy influence on the current meta because they can let a fighter’s max potential shine in a tournament for the community to see.
- Difficulty – payoff ratio: In other titles, characters that are difficult to master end up being overpowered. SSBU is a little different. There are fighters that prove to be top tier because they are easier to master/get comfortable with. It’s important to weigh the trade-off between these aspects as players will likely want to main only a handful of fighters.
- Viability in accordance with game mechanics: Being a fighting game, winning in SSBU pulls heavily from success in the genre’s staple mechanics like teching, zoning, defense, punishing, and so on. The fighters will also be ranked depending on how well they perform in these areas.
With that out of the way, it’s time to dive right into the tier list. Note that this list is consistent with SSBU’s latest patch: version 8.1.0, which includes Min-Min in the roster.
You can also skip ahead to a summarized form of the tier list here.
These are the fighters you mostly see dominating in tournaments because of how good they are in every facet of the game. While using them isn’t a guaranteed win (especially if you don’t practice!), they objectively provide an advantage over other fighters.
|Fighter||Usage Difficulty||Description||Used by (Pro Players)|
|Peach||Very Difficult||Peach has tremendous potential if you’re willing to spend the time with her. Both her aerial and ground combos are crazy good, and her turnip throw is good for zoning and follow-up attacks to the opponent. Her floating animation does leave her open to attacks, but once you get around that, you’ll find that she’s one of the best fighters in the game.||Samsora, Captain Zack|
|Pikachu||Difficult||Everyone’s favorite little electric mouse is actually a pain to fight against. Pikachu has very fast combo mix-ups that can rack up damage early. He has a projectile attack with a good range so more cautious players can take advantage of this. On top of all this, Pikachu has lightning(hehe)-fast movement and recoveries that increase his survivability.||Esam|
|Joker||Intermediate||Since his release as a DLC fighter, Joker has consistently been at the top – and for good reason. He has excellent mobility because of his quick dash animations. His offensive game is very fast but lacks damage. When Arsene comes out, however, his offense skyrockets, making Joker a veritable killing machine.||MKLeo|
|Palutena||Intermediate||Palutena’s main strength is her unpredictability. She has a variety of mid and long-range moves that hit very hard. She’s invincible on her dash attack and can teleport to throw the enemy off their combos. As if that’s not enough, she has a barrier THAT’S ALSO a reflective ability.||Nairo|
|Zero Suit Samus||Difficult||There are players who are thrown off by Zero Suit Samus’ blinding speed and there are those who thrive in it. Her ranged grab is effective for zoning and recovery. Add a potent combo potential and you have yourself a mobile fighter that can deal massive damage within a short time.||Marss|
|Lucina||Easy||Lucina proves that the best fighters don’t need to be overly complicated. She has fast strikes, decent aerials, and overall solid attacks. Lucina has an innate advantage because of how easy her fundamentals are. The next level comes when mastering her moves to make sure that you adjust to any matchup you’ll have.||MKLeo, Nairo, Mew2King, Salem|
|Shulk||Very Difficult||If Lucina’s beginner-friendly, then Shulk’s the opposite. Because of his unique Monado Arts mechanic, Shulk has one of the highest skill caps in the game. It requires players to constantly switch between arts depending on the situation. At the hands of a skilled player, Shulk is a versatile swordsman who can easily adapt to any situation he’s backed in.|
|Pokemon Trainer||Intermediate||Like Shulk, Pokemon Trainer requires constant shifting but, this time, for three pokemon. Squirtle is good for building up damage with combos. Ivysaur excels at aerials, harassment, and that nasty down spike. Charizard can keep you alive using recoveries and flamethrower, which is a decent zoning ability.||Leffen|
|Wario||Intermediate||Wario hits hard. Really hard; to the point where he can take stock in low percentages. Outside that, he has good aerial combos and good recovery because of that extra jump when dismounting from his bike.||Tweek, Gluttony|
These fighters are pretty much “overpowered” when used by a skilled player. There’s a clear distinction between these fighters and those at S-tier, but that gap closes slightly when the player’s experience is accounted for. These fighters still build up on SSBU’s meta by all means.
|Fighter||Usage Difficulty||Description||Used by (Pro players)|
|Inkling||Very Difficult||Inkling has a complete arsenal. Her side-B can catch enemies unaware, then rush into a smash attack. Her ink bombs keep opponents cautious, and she can enhance her damage as long as she keeps the enemy inked. Her greatest strength, however, is her extremely low dash that enables her to avoid most attacks.||Cosmos, 8BitMan|
|Fox||Very Difficult||Fox’s toolkit revolves around his quick execution of attacks and mobility. He can easily rack up damage because his move set is straightforward, but he struggles to finish opponents off even at 100+ percentages.||Light, Larry Laur|
|Wolf||Easy||Wolf plays similarly to Fox, but his moves hit harder at the cost of being slower. He also has more range than Fox – his projectile is effective for chip damage or forcing the opponent to roll towards you for timely punishes. One thing players, especially beginners, have to watch out for is not accidentally flying off the stage because of a poorly-placed side-B.||Zackray, Tweek, K9|
|Snake||Very Difficult||Solid Snake has extremely varied moves that come in handy both in zoning and close quarters. He has manually controlled missiles to force opponents out of position. He can lay trap C4 that can be punishing for enemies who are caught unaware. When all that range fails, Snake also has strong melee combo potential and finishing ability.||MVD, Ally, Yeti|
|Mr. Game & Watch||Intermediate||Don’t let MGW’s weird animations fool you. This fighter has great aerial juggle, and fast smash attacks. One of MGW’s strengths is ledge-trapping using his frying pan food projectiles.||Bulby, Zackray|
|Greninja||Difficult||Greninja has a variety of tools that will likely confuse opponents – especially those who aren’t familiar with him.||Venia, MKLeo|
|Pac-Man||Very Difficult||Pac-Man is great at aerial attacks and wreaking havoc with his unique skill combos. His fire hydrant + fruit plays are still one of the most entertaining in the SSBU community. The catch though is his high skill cap. Pac-Man mains will only start to see success with a dozen or so hours of practice under their belt.||Tea|
|Olimar||Difficult||Olimar is one of the best zoners in the game if you play your cards right. He has a strong aerial game and devastating smash attacks. The downside to all this is how much thought and micromanagement it takes when playing him. Cycling through Pikmin while avoiding damage is a challenge all to itself.||Dabuz, Shuton|
|R.O.B||Easy||R.O.B has tremendous killing potential because of his flashy combos, strong smash attacks, and a laser for zoning. He has a big hitbox, which makes him take more damage than other fighters, but he compensates for it with ridiculous recovery distance.||WaDi|
|Mega Man||Difficult||Mega Man is good under the right players. He has three zoning abilities – all at varying distances, and his up-B can catch opponents unaware. Mega Man does struggle in close-ranged fights though, and that prevents him from being at the top tier.||Kameme|
|Roy||Easy||Anyone who picks up Roy for the first time will have no problem getting comfortable. He’s the swordsman archetype, so his moves aren’t complex. He has decent speed coupled with strong damage in his attacks. This is perfect for getting fast stocks against the opponent. His main drawback is his weak recovery which makes him easy to kill by players who know how to ledge-guard well.||Kola, Goblin|
|Ken||Very Difficult||If you’re experienced in Street Fighter, chances are you’ll be comfortable with Ken. In one-on-one fights, Ken always faces the enemy (a nod to the SF series) so that’s something you have to get used to. He has a high skill cap because you can only pull off his best combos through manual input, like in the Street Fighter games.||Sandstorm, Takera|
|Ryu||Very Difficult||Unsurprisingly, Ryu plays similar to Ken but with better tools for zoning. Ken has the better combos, though.||Sandstorm, Munekin|
B-Tier fighters are good in a lot of situations. They will have trouble with higher-tier characters, but enough practice can help rectify that.
|Fighter||Usage Difficulty||Description||Used by (Pro players)|
|Chrom||Easy||Chrom plays similarly to Roy, albeit with a less than useful recovery option. He’s a more consistent offensive fighter because unlike Roy, his damage is equal regardless of which part his sword hits. He’s also a bit faster than him.||Mr. R|
|Mario||Intermediate||Nintendo’s poster plumber sits comfortably in B-Tier. He is friendly for beginners but has a complete arsenal that proves to be difficult to deal with the better the player gets.||Dark Wizzy|
|Pichu||Very Difficult||There was a time when Pichu was a little electric ball of death. The speed is still there, but in everything else, Pikachu far outshines him. Pichu has a high skill cap because he doesn’t deal a lot of damage but takes a lot of it (when you add his self-damaging abilities). He’s also the lightest fighter so finishing him off isn’t hard. His combo and speed potential, however, is among the best the game has and that’s reason enough to sit him in B-Tier.||VoiD, RFang|
|Terry||Very Difficult||Like Ryu and Ken, Terry has a high skill cap because his moves rely on manual inputs and proper positioning. He’s a relatively new character though so players aren’t accustomed to playing him yet. There’s also a risk of making the wrong inputs with Terry so make sure you spend hours practicing him.||Riddles|
|Adult Link||Difficult||Out of the three versions of Link, this one’s the best. His remote bombs are great for zoning and recovery (provided you’re good enough to pull it off). He has good damage potential and great smash attacks so you don’t have to worry about taking stocks while you play as him.||Salem, Izaw, T|
|Young Link||Intermediate||Young Link has fast attacks and the fastest arrow nock out of the three Links. He plays similar to Adult Link, while not quite having the same firepower.||Fatality|
|Cloud||Easy||Cloud has good combos and heavy hits. What prevents him from being top tier is his unreliable Limit mechanic. It’s simply too slow and too much of a chore to manage, especially in the competitive arena where the opponent is always harassing you.||Kola, Sparg0|
|Samus/Dark Samus||Easy||Samus and her echo, Dark Samus have very good defensive capabilities partnered with good zoning skills. This means that their opponents have to play a slower, more deliberate pace than usual lest they open themselves up for severe punishes.||Quik, YB|
|Ness||Hard||It’s frustrating to play against a good Ness player. PKFire is a deadly zoning tool and PKThunder is good for ledge-guarding. More than that, Ness’s weird hitbox and janky movement make connecting combos hard. He’s also difficult to control, however, to the point of feeling gimmicky.||BestNess|
|Sonic||Easy||To the untrained eye, Sonic’s moves would seem repetitive and spammy. That’s the point. Sonic’s speed can punish enemy mistakes instantly, then move on to extending the punish through combos. Be careful darting around the stage though because Sonic is just as easy to punish when he messes up.||Wrath, Ken|
|Bowser||Easy||Because of his size, many people think Bowser is a slow character… and they’re right. But Bowser’s calling card is his strong damage output and killing potential, even without connecting combos. He may have a simplistic play style, but sometimes that’s what gets you wins in competitive play.||Leon, Mew2King|
|Hero||Difficult||When Hero was released, a lot of people thought that he’d break the game’s meta because of his numerous skills and magic. That didn’t pan out in the competitive arena because of his slow move and attack speed, and the added mechanic of having to cycle through the command menu in the middle of battle. Overall, Hero is pretty good but maybe the community just needs to use him more.||Salem|
|Sheik||Difficult||Sheik has some of the best combos in the game. The downside is that she can die even early on in the match and she can’t finish off opponents with her weak smash attacks. Once you master Sheik, however, you’ll quickly rack up that damage with flair.||VoiD, Mr. R|
|Zelda||Easy||Zelda’s strength is that she has potent combo potential and a powerful zoning/finishing move. The downside to this is her limited attack variations which make her very predictable.||Ven, Mysterica|
|Yoshi||Intermediate||Yoshi has a strong aerial game and a unique shield mechanic that is forgiving even to inexperienced players. He has decent zoning by throwing eggs, as well as a good ledge-guard arsenal||Suarez, Yoshidora, Seth|
These fighters struggle with matchups more frequently. That doesn’t mean they don’t get picked in professional lay, though. On the contrary, several pro players pick these as their secondary because not a lot of players are accustomed to fighting them. If you put the time into learning these fighters, you might just surprise your next opponent and take that win.
|Fighter||Usage Difficulty||Description||Used by (Pro players)|
|Rosalina and Luma||Very Difficult||Rosalina and Luma are really tough to master because you control both of them in the fight. Sometimes, that doesn’t even pay off because Rosa and Luma aren’t known for their consistency in fights.||Dabuz|
|Toon Link||Intermediate||Toon Link plays similarly to his other two versions, but with a smaller hitbox. The upsides end there, unfortunately, as Toon Link doesn’t have as much damage and killing potential as the other two.||Ri-ma, Sigma|
|Luigi||Difficult||Under the control of skilled players, Luigi absolutely wrecks opponents with his combo setups into up-B. That’s the thing, however, you really need to invest a lot of time practicing him to achieve this.||Elegant|
|Duck Hunt||Difficult||Duck Hunt has excellent zoning, but there’s a certain randomness to its position. Duck Hunt also has surprisingly good mobility and recoveries using hover. Overall, this fighter will perform will if the player is experienced, and the opponent isn’t familiar with this matchup.||Raito|
|Ike||Easy||As a swordsman archetype, Ike is easy to pick up and play, regardless of your experience level. He doesn’t have versatility outside his basic combos, which is why players pass up on him in competitive play.||Ryuga|
|Marth||Easy||Marth plays similarly to Lucina, so why are they placed so far apart? The answer: Marth’s sword tip mechanic. The sword tip deals more damage, and the hilt does significantly less. Lucina does not have this quirk, which makes her far more consistent with her damage. There’s a reason why Lucina is called ”Better Marth” in the Smash community.||MKLeo|
|Wii Fit Trainer||Difficult||Wii Fit Trainer is a quirky fighter to play as and against. Her projectile needs to be shot at an angle to be effective, and her healing meditation skill is complex and inconsistent. She has good combo and killing potential but it’s not worth it in exchange for how hard she is to play.||WaDi, Sinogara|
|Min-Min||Very Difficult||The newest DLC fighter still has much to prove to be considered in the upper tiers. Right now, players are still getting accustomed to her very unique and quirky C-stick control scheme. In a glance, her moves seem effective, and there’s no glaring flaw to her style.|
|Banjo & Kazooie||Intermediate||Banjo Kazooie has great killing potential because of Wonderwing. You have to be careful though because this skill only has 5 uses per stock. It’s very powerful and can kill even early on, but Banjo Kazzoie’s lack of good combos draws him back.||Raito, Trela|
|Lucas||Easy||If Marth is a worse Lucina, then Lucas is a worse Ness. His PKFire isn’t nearly as good as Ness’s, and his hitbox and frame data are janky. Lucas’ only redeeming quality over Ness is his PKFreeze skill, but that also requires significant practice to execute in high-level matches.||ChocoTaco|
|Falco||Very Difficult||Falco’s style lies between Wolf’s and Fox’s. This is to his detriment because he ends up being middle-of-the-pack. He has great aerial combos and a zoning laser, but are offset by broken hitboxes and attack frames in combos.||Juice|
|Diddy Kong||Difficult||Diddy Kong’s glory days lasted only up to the Wii U days. In SSBU, Diddy struggles to finish off foes even when you set up a perfect combo chain.||ZeRo, Tweek|
|Ridley||Difficult||Ridley is a weird one. With a hitbox that big, you would think Ridley would weigh almost similar to Bowser. That’s not the case. He’s extremely light, which means he can get launched off the stage pretty quickly – leading to some quick deaths. Other than that, Ridley’s offensive game is decent.||Nair^, Vreyvus|
|Captain Falcon||Easy||Who doesn’t love connecting a good Falcon Punch to their enemy’s face? Captain Falcon is a speedy fighter who likes getting up close with enemies to unleash deadly combos and finishes. Sadly, the Captain struggles in competitive mainly because of poor recovery and zoning options.||Fatality, NickC|
|Mii Gunner||Intermediate||Of the three Mii fighters, the gunner has the best utility in fights because of varying ranges of mix-ups and finishing moves. Expect to surprise several opponents with your unique skill setup when playing this fighter.||Katakiri, Deon|
|Byleth||Intermediate||Byleth has a complete arsenal of moves to toy with. He/she has quick poke attacks, slow heavy attacks, and a long-ranged smash arrow. Byleth is a new addition to the roster which is why we don’t much from him/her in top-level competition.||MKLeo, Zackray, Pink Fresh|
It’s hard to justify using these fighters in competitive play. They just don’t have the same toolset needed to excel like the other fighter. On top of that, some of them have glaring flaws that are easily exploited by decent opponents. Hats off to you if you want to main these fighters. But be prepared to put serious time into training to be successful.
|Fighter||Usage Difficulty||Description||Used by (Pro players)|
|Mewtwo||Intermediate||Mewtwo’s move set is versatile and his combos are good enough. The big issue with this pokemon is his massive hitbox. Even when an opponent is far away, it seems like they hit Mewtwo with relative ease. It doesn’t help that Mewtwo’s aerial game is so floaty that it leaves him vulnerable in most situations.||WaDi, Zenkai|
|Meta Knight||Difficult||Remember when Meta Knight was destroying the meta in Smash Bros. Brawl? Pepperidge Farm remembers. Nowadays, Meta Knight falls into the bottom tier because nobody can quite rack up a good combo with him. There’s also a small room for mix-ups in his arsenal, which means opponents are often ready to counter you.||Jaye, Lickey|
|Lucario||Intermediate||Lucario has the Aura ability which lets him do big damage if he’s taken big damage as well. To those who like to clutch things out in matches, Lucario would fit right in. Otherwise, he’s just too risky to play in the competitive scene.|
|Jigglypuff||Very Difficult||Don’t be surprised if Jigglypuff climbs way higher in the next iterations of tier lists. She currently has good tools for finishing off opponents and dealing massive damage. However, she is easy to kill and has a very high skill cap so she doesn’t perform well in matches.||Hungrybox|
|Ice Climbers||Very Difficult||Like Rosalina and Luma, Ice Climbers have amazing potential once you master using them at the same time. It is extremely hard to do this, however, so the returns you gain won’t be worth it.|
|Robin||Intermediate||Robin has good mechanics that are hampered by their limited use. You’ll be in trouble if your Levin Sword runs out of charges mid-fight.|
|Simon/Richter||Difficult||The Richter brothers boast good zoning and quick-hitting combo potential, but ultimately fall back because of weak recoveries.|
|Villager/Isabelle||Difficult||Both these fighters play similarly albeit some minor quirks. It’s hard to win games with them because of how positional combos are with them.|
|Dr. Mario||Intermediate||The weaker Mario version struggles because of a short-ranged move set and slower animations, making it feel sluggish to play him.|
|Donkey Kong||Easy||Donkey Kong has good killing potential hampered by weak combos and a poor recovery.|
|Ganondorf||Intermediate||When you’re up against professional Ganon players, you’ll get beaten quickly. This is a rare case because Ganon is hard to pull off for those who don’t practice his combos and slow smash attacks.|
|Pit/Dark Pit||Easy||Both these fighters have a fast offensive move set and good recovery, but that’s all there is to it. They struggle in taking stocks because of weak combo/damage output.|
|Incineroar||Difficult||Incineroar’s variety of grab and throw moves make him fun to play. You’ll have a worse experience in competitive matches because of his slow speed and weak recovery.|
|Piranha Plant||Intermediate||Piranha Plant’s best offering is his neutral-B. It’s great for ledge-trapping and combos well into other attacks. In other areas, Piranha Plant doesn’t perform as well and that pushes him down a few tiers.||Brood|
|Corrin||Intermediate||Corrin is cool for casual play because of unique and flashy skills. In competitive, she struggles because of weak damage, slow attacks, and a below-average projectile game.|
|Bayonetta||Difficult||Bayonetta at her best is an extremely infuriating opponent. This is rarely the case though because her success is largely dependent on pixel-perfect combo execution.|
|King Dedede||Intermediate||King Dedede struggles against most of the cast because they’re faster than him, and their combos beat him most of the time. If you can somehow find a way to squeeze in some of his hard-hitting attacks in matches, then maybe you’ll take a few wins.|
|Bowser Jr.||Difficult||Bowser Jr. is very gimmicky to use. As such, you’ll almost always catch your opponent off-guard when using him. To those familiar with his tricks, however, it’s very easy to take him down.|
|King K. Rool||Difficult||King K. has a decent offensive game but is extremely easy to kill because of his slow animations and large hitboxes. It will take a lot of practice to find success with him.||Ben Gold|
If you’ve been following the Smash community then you won’t be surprised by who’s on this list. These fighters need serious buffs in order for them to get used more often in competitive play.
|Little Mac||Easy||Little Mac has no aerial game potential at all, which puts him at a disadvantage in almost every matchup. As if that’s not bad enough, his recovery is also a joke compared to other fighters.|
|Kirby||Intermediate||Kirby’s not that much better than Little Mac but suffers from the same problem. He’s too light which means he dies easily. He’s too floaty which means he accumulates damage easily. Then his combos aren’t particularly impressive.|