Basics of Getting Better at Smash Bros. Scott's Thoughts: 17 Days to Smash Ultimate

Hello, Super Smash Beginner! You must be excited to get your hands on Smash Ultimate in a few weeks, but also a bit nervous about getting destroyed online.

You’re in luck, because I’ve written a quick guide! This won’t make you a pro in an instant, but it will begin to transform your mindset!

  • Spend half the time in the air. Your aerial A moves are your fastest attacks, and are a great way to rack up damage! While jumping, you are less predictable and harder to hit as well.
  • Don’t forget grabs. When not pressuring with aerials, grab your opponent! You can throw and often follow up with an aerial. Whenever the enemy has their shield activated is a perfect time to go for a grab.
  • Smashes and specials are situational. In general, B moves and Smash Attacks are for kills (once you’ve racked up damage with aerials and throws). They are also for punishes; say your opponent whiffs a laggy move like Falcon Punch, you’ll be able to punish that with a stronger attack.
  • Hold onto your double jump. You only get one double jump before touching the ground, so treat it like an emergency fund you don’t want to spend unless you need it in order to get back to the stage. You’ll often be able to recover with just your Up-B, so hold onto that second jump in case you get edge-guarded. It’s also not very safe to use on-stage, because once it’s expended the other player knows you’ll have to land, and can get an easy projectile hit on you.
  • Don’t roll to move around. Rolls seem like a fast way to get from point A to Point B, but they’re actually quite predictable because your character travels the same distance every time! And in Smash Ultimate, if you roll too much the animation actually starts to slow down (as if rolls weren’t punishable enough already). Instead, run or jump to a safer spot.
  • Learn. If your opponent hits you with something, they will more than likely attempt the same attack again. Don’t be discouraged that you took damage once, but remember to avoid the same setup the next time. You’ll be ready to strike back.
  • No Johns. That means don’t make excuses. It’s easy to call a character “cheap” or a move “overpowered,” but this mindset lands you in the blastzone. Super Smash Bros. is a giant collection of rock-paper-scissors scenarios, so you can always find an answer to whatever challenge you’re facing.
  • Play every character but specialize with a few. It’s important to know how everybody plays so that you can anticipate strategies from the whole cast. But trying to master a 75-character roster is a waste of time. Hone in on a couple of your favorite characters and put the most practice in with your mains. It doesn’t matter if your selections are the most popular or “high-tier”—there will be so many balance patches that the best strategy is to stick with characters you’re comfortable with and ride the waves of nerfs and buffs.

If you have any specific questions, I’d love to respond in the comments!

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Scott is an author and a lifelong fan of video games. Conqueror of punishing platformers such as Celeste, Super Meat Boy, N+, The Impossible Game, and Super Mario Bros. 2: The Lost Levels. You can find him constantly changing his main character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, stuck inside a VR headset, or helplessly addicted to Fortnite.

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