It has been approximately 5 years since the most recent edition of the PAL Melee tier list. A tier list is first and foremost a reflection of the metagame, something that indicates the solo main potential or general tournament utility of the cast. It is a staple for any competitive fighting game and something both veteran and casual players have thoughts about. With that in mind, the PAL tier list was heavily outdated. SmashEurope hereby presents an official update to the 2010 list, endorsed as such by SmashBoards. In the future, we shall update the list more frequently as needed.
For this endeavor we selected smashers from various European countries, primarily those with high placings and extensive travel experience. While some of the people asked succumbed to traditional smasher personality flaws and failed to get a vote in, we managed to get significant regional representation. Including our PAL brethren from Australia again was a brief consideration, but made little sense due to the limited interaction between the European and Australian communities and SmashEurope being a platform for the European scene specifically.
Special thanks go out to Armada, Ice, Jolteon, King Funk, Rocky and Slhoka for their help in collecting the votes. Slhoka once again went above and beyond by processing the data and Reyson kindly provided the image for the tier list.
Detailed information and the 36 individual votes can be found here.
Tier gaps were placed where the difference in mean score between characters was larger than 1. However, we decided against single character tiers past the top 10 characters and opted to group characters with those closest to them from there on out, the main reason being that Luigi, Ganondorf and Mario would all end up with their own tier if we didn’t. This makes primarily Luigi’s grouping a little arbitrary, which is no surprise considering he did have his own tier in 2010. The labels were directly derived from the votes and implemented where the statistical gaps were larger than 2. We believe to have done justice to the votes with the decisions made.
The previous tier list was largely determined by the European metagame, as can be seen from Sheik’s high placement at #2. At the time Amsah was still one of Europe’s most dominant players, although the more internationally oriented players tended to vote Jigglypuff as high as #1 with the Pound 4 grand finals on their mind. Since then tournament coverage has greatly expanded and this time around the voting is not just indicative of trends in Europe. Overall, the list seems like a good reflection of the global metagame and high level consensus.
Examining the top 8
Fox topping off the list shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The top 3 in Europe consists of three Fox mains and the character makes up roughly 25% of the top 200 on smashranking, which, while not being a perfect ranking yet, is indicative of trends. It can be argued that the nerfs from the NTSC version make Fox’s life significantly harder, but this does not seem to affect his capacity to place well. Most voters who commented seem to agree that Marth and Falco are his biggest challengers.
The international perspective shines through in Marth’s placement, with the young prince rising from #5 to #2. While no Marth has dominated Europe since Ek (2005-2006), several people went as far as placing him first. This tends to come down to their evaluation of his matchup against Fox in the PAL version and their belief in his potential. While he received some nerfs, he also benefits from Sheik having a significantly less devastating grab game against him and not having particularly bad matchups in general. At this point in time, there are several succesful Marth mains in Europe, with Salepate from France leading the pack.
“I think most people don’t understand that in the realm of perfect play, Marth never loses. As long as he is quick enough to realize what question his opponent is asking of him, he has all the tools, range and disjointed hitboxes to respond to them. He also has the movement and pressure tools to force the tempo into his advantage, and force the opponent to pick moves that he then, in turn, has a response to.
Marth is the embodiment of ‘be water, my friend’ in SSBM.”
Voters were overall consistent with the placement of Falco, who was never voted higher than second and lower than fourth. The bird still has presence in Europe, with players like Baxon and LLL.Remen solo maining the character. Several voters indicated that they believe both space animals have no disadvantaged matchups, and a few felt that Falco does better than Fox against Marth in PAL.
Jigglypuff is unchanged from the NTSC version, making her life a good bit easier in PAL. She is however considered to still have a bad matchup against Fox, which is problematic considering his popularity. The most notable Jigglypuff main in Europe is Tekk from France, who is also considered among the best of his country.
Sheik is significantly nerfed in the PAL version, losing her chain grabs and guaranteed downthrow follow-ups. It should be mentioned however, that most of her relevant competition is also worse than in NTSC. The changes primarily add an uphill matchup against Peach, who no longer can be killed from a grab, to an already rough spread against Jigglypuff, ICs and arguably the spacies. Amsah, Android and Over still tend to place well with Sheik, though it is of note that Amsah has at certain times switched to Fox and Europe has very few notable Jigglypuff and ICs mains.
“In today’s game, where people primarily play reaction based, rarily make technical mistakes, punish the smallest mistakes as hard as their characters are technically capable and where people study characters to know the do’s and don’ts in every matchup, Sheik loses most of her effectiveness.
She has nothing to offer against crouch cancels on reaction except grabs, but unlike in NTSC, those don’t set up combo or techchase opportunities nearly as well, if at all. Combine that with the fact that Sheik arguably has the least versatile, easily edgeguardable and worst recovery of the top characters and you get a character that simply doesn’t have the tools to deal with the current metagame at the highest levels.”
This tier list comes in the wake of Armada mainly using Fox rather than his signature Peach at APEX 2015, marking the end of an era. Though he already used Young Link to overcome the Jigglypuff matchup, he for a long time toughed out every other matchup with Peach. While Peach maintained her #6 position as opposed to the 2010 tier list, the voting indicates that many people feel she can not be grouped with the characters above her.
“I have two views when I look at a tier list: for good characters it’s important to win as many matchups as possible, especially against other good characters, and to not have any very bad matchups. For bad characters it’s important to have any winning matchups at all, because losing 20-80 or 10-90 should mean losing all the time anyway.
This way of thinking means that some characters might end up in a weird spot that most people don’t agree with, but for top characters it is very important to not have any very bad matchups. I think Peach falls on this list because Jigglypuff is too much of a nightmare and camping potential against her is very big, among other factors.”
As a Peach main myself, I agree with this reasoning. At this point she has a disadvantaged or even bad matchup against most of the top 8 characters and can only go down as she is arguably one of the most fleshed out characters, while lacking a real answer against platform camping. I do feel she has it somewhat easier in PAL than NTSC due to mainly the nerfs of Fox and Sheik.
Captain Falcon is another character who held his position, at #7. With some people voting him as high as #5, there seems to be optimism surrounding the popular bounty hunter. Every major European Smash country seems to have at least one Falcon solo main among the higher ranking players and he is another character who benefits from the PAL nerfs of mainly Fox. In addition, the well-known gentleman does not require the timing of the NTSC version.
“Captain Falcon is able to beat the whole cast. I believe he is able to take tournaments in PAL, if the Falcon player manages to avoid getting hit at the dangerous spots. He lives long, and it is a character with whom it is okay to make some mistakes. He can take a beating. Positioning is key and therefore movement is as well.”
“Captain Falcon has a bit of a better future, according to me, than many have thought before. Because of his speed, he does not have any impossible matchups and although he has some glaring weaknesses, they are not as big as Peach’s. A more reaction-based punish game will help him a lot against many characters, mainly spacies, which will be crucial for the future.”
The Ice Climbers are relatively uncommon in Europe, which seems to be a global trend for the chilly duo. While the variance of their placing was low among voters and they sit comfortably in top 8, those who commented agree that they are held back by various bad matchups, most notably Peach.
“I feel ICs has a better chance of winning tournaments than Falcon despite the ICs’ bad matchups against Peach and Falcon. ICs’ matchups against the top 5 characters are winnable (even-ish; losing to Fox), whereas Falcon struggles hard against Fox, Falco and Sheik (which are probably the most used characters in tournament play).”
Pikachu deserves special mention for going up 5 places. Because Europe has zero notable Pikachu mains, most voters referred to Axe’s placements and how they felt the character’s top tier matchups are solid enough where he deserves to go up. This is a prime example of taking an international perspective, though we are also getting into the realm of characters that are difficult to rate by virtue of having very few champions.
The biggest star of this tier list is Yoshi, who rose by a stunning 8 places. While it is of note that Yoshi is better in PAL due to being heavier, as well as simply being another character that benefits from Fox and Sheik being nerfed, his rise mainly seems to coincide with aMSa’s performances. For this iteration of the tier list, he also turned out to be the most controversial character, being voted as high as #3 and as low as #19.
“I think aMSa has shown the world the great potential of Yoshi, but at the same time I know that to do that you need insane tech skill. I feel that it’s way harder to do what aMSa has done with Yoshi than what Westballz has done with Falco, for example. So, while the character has decent potential, you need to be incredibly smart with the parry game and to be able to pull off long combos to use him in a viable way.”
“Yoshi is absolutely no longer bottom tier. Amsa has shown this and I also don’t believe that it’s just someone ‘really good using a bad character’, I think he’s just publicly revealed the underdeveloped aspects of the character.”
There were two characters who fell from grace in an unsightly manner, by a whopping 4 places. The first of these is the king of evil himself, of whom several people felt the need to point out that he’s not that good.
“Incredibly overrated. Considered putting him under Mario, but he’s pretty bad too.”
“Ganondorf is the most overrated character in the game and is for sure a low tier. He just sucks. He has no movement speed, slow attack start-up, aside from a few moves, and also lots of end lag on his moves. This is one of the worst combinations to have, because it means you have several punish windows on him at all times (whiff punishing, abusing his awful movement and stuffing moves during their startup animation). He has zero options against dash dancing, one of the most dominant techniques in high level Melee, which makes him totally unviable and he also gets shut down by needle camping and Falco’s lasers. He is bad at dealing with shields, awful at escaping juggles and is an awful combo weight, and has a really crappy recovery and no out of shield options on top of that. He has one of the worst grabs in the game, making his godlike downthrow moot, and his punish game on characters that he can’t chaingrab sucks, because he has to make reads instead of punishing on reaction, like good characters do.”
Finally, time has also not been kind to the boy of fire.
“Roy can literally only hold a candle to spacies on FD, which still isn’t by any means a good matchup. He loses every other matchup on every other stage, due to the fact that he can do NOTHING against an airborne or platform camping opponent. His arials and his recovery are a joke. His only kill move (fsmash) needs a gimmick setup, like the opponent messing up the DI on dthrow or dtilt. Dtilt is his only good move. He even makes Pichu look good. Bleh…”
“Roy is fucking trash.”