Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the latest Super Smash Bros. game, released in 2018 by Nintendo. It’s a unique competitive game where, instead of classics like Tekken and Street Fighter, players can freely move throughout the stage. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate creator, Masahiro Sakurai, said that Ultimate is different from 2D fighting games because it’s more about your location than your spacing from the opponent. This game is rated E10+ for “Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief, Mild Suggestive Themes.”

What's the game objective of Super Smash Bros.™ Ultimate?

Unlike a game like Street Fighter where you’re trying to drain the opponent’s health bar, competitive Ultimate is all about getting your opponent to high health points (HP). This is done by attacking the other player. Each hit is worth a different amount of damage, which accumulates over time.

The more damage a character has, the easier they are to knock out (KO). Higher damage makes it easier to knock an opponent further off the stage. Players with high damage will often be knocked too far from the edge to get back on.

Each fighter has three stocks when they start the match. Every KO will eliminate a stock. Whoever is KO’d three times loses and the remaining fighter wins.

How does Smash compare to traditional sports as an esport?

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a very unique fighting game. Instead of long combos and multiple-button combos, Smash has very simple mechanics that allow just about anyone to pick up the game and learn the basics! Just like boxing or sumo wrestling, it’s two fighters attempting to read the other’s moves and react to them properly. The goal? Knock them out!

What's the league structure?

The most common way to play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is one versus one. Professional and competitive tourneys will also have no items on and can only be played on certain stages. PlayVS allows Battlefield, Final Destination, Pokemon Stadium 2, Town & City, and Smashville.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is played on the Nintendo Switch™ System. If you are having your team practice or compete online, pace may vary due to the internet connection.

Which characters can I choose from?

There are currently over 80 playable characters in the roster, from classics like Mario and Yoshi to third party favorites like Pac-Man, Ryu, and Banjo & Kazooie. Each fighter has a unique set of attacks and a specific fighting style that helps them excel.

What are some key fighting strategies?

New players should learn how to excel with a certain fighter or two. This fighter will be their “main,” allowing them to learn everything about this fighter from their playstyle to their strengths and weaknesses. You will begin to see combos and attack sequences that overpower opponents or realize which part of the stage is best for this fighter (like remaining on the ground or maybe guarding the “edge” of the stage).

There are a few main fighting styles in Smash that players can attempt to master:

  • Rush down fighters focus on close-range combat, exploiting openings and punishing missed attacks (whiffs) with high damage combos.

  • Zoners focus on controlling the stage and outrange their opponents. They wear down opponents from a distance but can sometimes fumble when in close-range combat. These fighters often have “projectile” attacks that reach opponents from afar.

  • Glass cannon fighters are powerhouses with insanely strong attacks but many exploitable weaknesses, like slow attacks or movements.

Beginners should also learn how to block. A lot of new players will become too focused on attacking and forget about the power of defense. There are multiple types of blocking in Smash that can switch up your play style, keeping your next move unpredictable. You should also keep unpredictable movement in mind when you recover. Don’t just jump back onto the stage. Switch up your approach to keep the opponent on their toes and avoid incoming attacks.

What key terms are used in the game?

  • Combo: There are a few “true” combos in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but a lot of combos are actually just strings of attacks that work well together. While the opponent can escape these combos with some tricky maneuvering, a good player will predict this movement and be able to react with a follow up attack.

  • Smash attack: These are stronger attacks that are often slower but more impactful than “specials.” Smash attacks are usually performed by holding the “A” button. They are often short-ranged, making them melee in style. A lot of times they are used to “punish” an opponent who “whiffed” an attack.

  • Specials: These are more stylish attacks that are unique to the fighter. Often inspired by their own games and abilities, these are one-of-a-kind moves that define the fighter’s play style and strengths. These are usually performed with the “B” button and can have various ranges, from Wolf’s blaster to Piranha Plant’s poison cloud.

  • Stock: Term used to describe the number of “lives” a player has left.

  • Recovery: This is essentially how your fighter gets back onto the stage. Depending on a character’s jumping abilities and Up “B” attack, fighters range in how good they are at recovering. For example, Kirby has no problem floating back to the stage while Lil Mac is doomed if he is not near the ledge anymore.

  • Punish: “Reading” is very important in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Reading is when you predict your opponent’s next movement, location, or attack. Punishing is when you attack your opponent after dodging an attack or landing somewhere obvious. Some characters are easier to punish than others due to longer lags after moves and attacks.

  • Delay: A lot of fighters have “delay” after certain attacks or moves. This leaves them vulnerable to incoming attacks. Slower fighters have even longer delays after stronger attacks. You’ll notice that each fighter has a different amount of delay after landing on stage as well, meaning some faster fighters can immediately dodge or attack while others will take a few frames to recover.

Any practice recommendations?

For many Super Smash Bros. Ultimate players, practice comes way before even turning on the game. Many competitive players and pros will tell you that they have a preferred controller. Some players use the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con, Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, or even the Nintendo GameCube controller adapter. This is most often about what is the most comfortable to the player.

Before going into a battle, many pros will begin in training mode. This will allow you to get used to the fighter of your choice. You can see exactly how high they can jump, how well they can recover, how far an attack reaches, and even the exact amount of damage their attacks do. You can also study stages while training, paying attention to platform interaction.

Advanced players can take it even further and see how far a fighter is knocked back from an attack based on the amount of damage they have. This can help you read where an opponent will be on the stage after an attack and figure out what it takes to KO almost any opponent.

Where can I find more resources to improve my play?

Most top Super Smash Bros. Ultimate players will provide tutorials and useful information on YouTube. This can range from extensive guides on specific fighters to general beginner’s guides to the gameplay. Top players will also show their matches on YouTube and Twitch to explain their mindset and reasonings.

After your own player’s fight, watch the match clips (VOD’s) back so you can discuss techniques with your team. Show them moments where they can better read opponents or point out times when they had great reaction times. Watching VODs will help your team better understand what their strengths are and what they need to work on.


About PlayVS

PlayVS is building the infrastructure and platform for amateur esports, starting with high schools. We work directly with game publishers and states to build and operate sanctioned leagues across the country. Through the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), PlayVS is empowering students to compete in esports on behalf of their high school, with the opportunity to win a championship, just like any other youth sport. Contact your local school’s principal or athletic director to get a program started and learn more at www.playvs.com. Questions? Email us at hello@playvs.com.

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V3.0 - 12/6/21 // Reformatted to match FAQ style article & image added

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