Smash Bros. Melee is considered one of the greatest fighting games ever made, so when it comes to playing the game, knowing which fighters are stronger is key to outperforming your opponents.
Are you looking to compete? Are you rediscovering your retro glory? Or are you looking to keep track of all things Smash Bros. and keep tabs on the meta? Then do we have a tier list for you!
We’ve put together a comprehensive tier list based on competitive play, character statistics and the metagame to give you a fighting chance. A tier list is a list of playable characters in a video game ranked by their respected viability in a competitive setting. Characters are listed by most powerful and therefore are most likely used in competitive play.
Keep in mind that Smash Bros Melee doesn’t get updated at all because it was made for the Nintendo Gamecube, a system that has no online capabilities (it was released back in Nov. 21, 2001).
The list will unlikely move unless a competitive player is able to make a lower tier fighter win multiple tournaments in a row.
Fox is in a league of his own. An extremely efficient fighter with fast attacks and excellent combo and damage output, his entire kit is way overpowered. He’s the game’s best fighter due to his strong neutral game and multitude of KO options.
Falco has a lot of combo openers that can be easily extended to punish an opponent. He has great edge-guarding mechanics and can zone opponents from afar with his standard blaster.
Marth’s attacks are disjointed, meaning they hit a larger range than they appear to. Add to that his potent juggling and combo ability and you have a fighter that can KO opponents with ease.
Sheik is an all-around fighter that is quick and nimble. Sheik is primarily a throw fighter that can produce excellent combos in the air. She can punish fighters who over-commit to an attack, but can be somewhat predictable.
Jigglypuff is a dangerous edge guarder due to her rest technique which can instantly KO foes if she times the activation correctly. She’s a fighter who can’t be easily comboed due to her floaty nature and can punish on the counter attack.
Peach has one of the best aerial games in Melee. Add to that her strong recovery and projectile—which is arguably one of the best in the game—and you have a fighter with tons of options at her disposal.
The two-in-one fighter, Ice Climbers can wrack up double damage and combo their foes in half the time as other fighters. Ice Climbers are the best grab game fighters in Melee as they can continuously grab and deal damage in frame-perfect windows.
A fast fighter who uses dashes to punish his opponents, his ground-to-air combo is unreal and can quickly perform short hops to do aerial combos from the ground. The ability is known more commonly as an SHFFL or “short hop fast fall L-cancel” in the Smash community.
Pikachu is a strong edge-game fighter with quick aerial moves that can punish players looking to recover. He’s also a hard fighter to edge-guard against due to his quick mobility and ranged recovery options.
Samus has numerous effective projectiles that can zone her opponents well. Add to that her strong recovery game and her moveset, which allows her to approach her enemies with ease for simply stylish KOs, and you have the makings of a strong fighter.
As a clone of Mario, Dr. Mario has an unusually high combo ability compared to his counterpart. With his projectile and long wavedash moveset, he has great approach options to counteract his poor recovery.
Yoshi’s air game and airspeed is complemented by his unique double jump ability. Yoshi players can easily punish foes looking for quick recovery with unique button presses to grab hold of a ledge while throwing an egg in the opposite direction.
Luigi has impressive ground movement. A variety of powerful attacks in his abilities give him an extremely solid early game with high combo potential that can cause foes to gain insane knockback.
For being a Captain Falcon clone, Ganondorf takes none of the character’s strengths. Poor dash and movement options as well as slow movement altogether make the character poor compared to his counterpart.
Mario is your average balanced fighter with a utility kit. He only shines during close combat with decent grab/combo abilities aimed at punishing other fighters in short bursts but struggles to KO opponents.
Young Link is gifted with tons of projectiles to help him zone away opponents. Add to that his light weighted movements that make him a few frames faster than his other Link counterpart and you have a just oK character that has trouble KO’ing opponents.
As a heavyweight, DK is hard to KO off the screen and has excellent ranged moves mixed in with powerful attacks. Being big in size, however, leaves him open for easy chained combos to rack up damage.
Like Young Link, Link has a large range of projectiles at his disposal. He is a weighted fighter and falls to the ground quickly to other fighters making him an easy target to punch and KO due to the lack of recovery options.
Mr Game and Watch
Extremely powerful KO moves don’t help this fighter. He is slow, clunky and is very easy to predict in a fight and has one of the worst shields in the game, as it fails to cover his entire body, leaving him open to damage.
Laggy attacks coupled with one of the worst recovers make Roy a lackluster character. He has trouble KO’ing foes and leaves himself open to numerous counter matchups.
Mewtwo is a safe fighter that can fight from a decent range but suffers from being, unusually, a large target that takes less hits to KO. Giving opponents a lot more to hit with easier chances to KO from a low percentage of damage.
In comparison to her alter-ego, Sheik, Zelda is weak. She has poor movement with a lack of recovery options. She is primarily used in the counter matchup to Dr. Mario but is easily zoned away in fights.
Most of Ness’ abilities can be easily intercepted and dodged by foes. The fighter has weak KO options and is one step away from the F Tier, but is saved by his fantastic throw game and double jump cancel ability.
Apart from Pichu’s surprisingly good grab game all of Pichu’s attacks are significantly weak in comparison to Pikachu’s. Poor range, poor sustain and prone to hitstun make Pichu a character that should be avoided in any competitive matchup.
Aside from a few powerful attacks and, like many other heavyweights, being hard to KO, Bowser suffers from the usual heavyweight weakness of being too big. He is extremely easy to combo and moves very sluggish.
Kirby is the worst character in the game. He has a good recovery option but that is about it. Slow attacks, low latency and ineffective projectiles and abilities make it difficult for Kirby to approach foes. He struggles against nearly all enemies, with most being unwinnable.