Could Link be a sleeper high tier in Super Smash Bros. 4? Let's analyze this character's attributes

Posted by Justin 'AdaptiveTrigger' Gordon • April 18, 2017 at 8:12 a.m. PDT

Link is a character that has generally been accepted as a low tier character throughout the entirety of the Super Smash Bros. series. Despite being the main protagonist of one of the most popular Nintendo franchises, Link has never really been considered a viable character.

With the recent 3rd place finish for the player known as T during 2GGC: Civil War, one of the most stacked tournaments in Smash 4 history, perhaps there's a bit more to the character that most have written off as being bad, like in previous iterations.

Could Link be a high tier character in Smash 4? I do think it is fair to say that Link is stronger in Smash 4 than he has ever appeared in any other Smash game.

What attributes have been holding Link back in the Smash series? Could the improvements he has received in Smash 4 be enough to push the character into high tier?

Let's analyze the character's capabilities.

Tether Grab

Typically, tether grabs in the Super Smash Bros. series tend to have more cons than pros. While that isn't completely untrue in Smash 4, a lot of the disadvantages of tether grabs have been toned down.

In particular for Link, the total number of frames in which he can't do anything after a whiffed grab has been reduced by over 20 frames. Punishes against Link are a little weaker compared to previous titles.

Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Brawl had it so that tether grabs were handicapped in which they were unable to grab airborne opponents, unlike normal grabs. This handicap has been removed in Smash 4.

Thanks to patches, Link's down throw serves as a good combo starter. At early percents, this can lead to up-tilts and up-smashes, while at higher percents it can lead to up-airs.

The main downside now is the longer than average startup, which still exists for Link.


Link's bombs in Smash 4 have seen a pretty significant improvement compared to previous entries. For one, if the bomb connects with the opponent then the explosion won't hurt Link even at close range.

This equates to giving Link more combo opportunities and makes for a good OOS (out of shield) option. This is because Link is able to throw bombs while holding shield while skipping the 7 frames of shield drop frames.

The bomb's shorter fuse helps Link in a variety of ways, such as improving his recovery. This, in addition to Link's up-special giving better distance than previously, makes Link's recovery just simply better.

It's also pretty nifty that bombs can be dropped without exploding on the ground, more easily. I feel as though this benefit hasn't been explored enough by players.

Link's (and Toon Link's) bombs in general are also just very versatile projectiles. These projectiles have the tendency to absorb and beat out most other projectiles without prematurely exploding.

Sword and shield

While Link is certainly no Marth in terms of the range and speed of his sword, Link's sword is a fantastic footsies tool once the opponent gets past his projectiles. This can give trouble to characters without their share of disjointed hitboxes.

Given, Link's attacks can feel a bit slow at times but improved movement options make it so that Link can space them out a little better than previously. This is thanks to both a better set of jumps and faster ground speed.

Armed with a couple of double slashing type attacks, the opponent won't always be able to punish the first slash out of having to respect the incoming second slash.

Thanks to the mixups that are possible thanks to how Link's forward-smash functions, this is one of the safest and most damaging forward smashes in the game.

As for Link's shield, it allows him to completely negate projectiles without having to block. New to Smash 4, Link is able to utilize his shield against projectiles even while walking forward.

As an overview, a big part of Link's problems in previous entries was his lack of mobility. In Smash 4, he jumps higher and moves faster.

Better mobility options makes for a better zoning game by allowing him to throw projectiles from better angles more often. Also thanks to how his boomerang and bombs work now, he is able to convert stray projectile hits into combos.

Link's landing lag frame data is basically as good as Sheik's, and is even armed with a long ranged Zair. While these moves can't really be used in such a way as Sheik's moves to carry the opponent across the stage, they do prove useful for poking purposes.

Another problem that Link is perceived to have is the lack of ability to punish opponents who attack the back of his shield. Both back-air and Link's up-special may be good options to cover this perceived blind spot.

What this comes down to is a zoning character that can beat other zoning characters and a poking character that will give characters without disjoints of their own trouble. Link hits hard and has the potential to have very powerful stage control abilities.

While it's true that Link will likely always have trouble against characters like Rosalina thanks to how powerful some anti-zoning tools are, Link could be seeing a rise with enough dedication from players like T.

Source: 2GGaming.


BlueFast said on April 18, 2017 at 8:17 a.m.

I've always felt that Link has all the tools to do well in this game except maybe speed, so I'm hoping we can see more of this character in tournaments

celeon said on April 18, 2017 at 8:26 a.m.


XykesUnderOath said on April 18, 2017 at 8:38 a.m.

In smash 4, low tier does not mean unviable in tournaments.

That being said, link is not high tier in this game.

brosrodrigues said on April 18, 2017 at 8:39 a.m.

High tier banner

seckspanther said on April 18, 2017 at 8:45 a.m.

Woah. An in depth article about not street fighter.

Velanovania said on April 18, 2017 at 8:47 a.m.

There's a TON of characters that have good tools and are strong, but have a lot of flaws that the top tier characters can exploit. Link is one of these characters.

For example if a Shiek or Cloud camp Link and force him to be aggressive, the game is in their favor. Villager, Bayonetta, Fox, Diddy and Mario have so many ways of dealing with or getting around Links zoning. And Rosalina? Lol down b.

Link is good, his tools are strong and he's got decent combos and kill options. Check out Izaw's "Art of Link" videos (his whole art of series is so good I'd recommend it easily.) if you want to know his strengths and weaknesses in depth. But he's counter picked very hard, even by some lower tier characters. I'd say he's low-b high-c but in a game with 50+ characters he's still very viable.

SirRetro08 said on April 18, 2017 at 9:02 a.m.

Well, the Japanese's metagame is different from the rest of the world, so the way they discover characters considered low-tier is really interesting. That being said, I'm willing to bet that most of the players did NOT expect a Link (let alone one at a high level) to be used in the tourney. So they had little to no knowledge of MUs and how Link could be used in a way to way to maintain advantages while avoiding the disadvantages.

Similar scenario happened with Tsu and his Lucario back at Frostbite. Zero probably did not expect to encounter a Lucario or at least to make it far. Tsu took advantage of providing setups Zero had no clue of (as well as commentators and the audience) and knocked the #1 player to losers.

Or even Kusoru (Frank West/Rocket Racoon/Viewtiful Joe) in UMVC3 at Final Round 15 (Man, that's one tourney I can never forget)

Same thing with any other fighting game, I think the concept of tier lists is not tested consistently. The characters are not fully explored enough. The amount of times characters like Link, Shulk DK, and others in that low-tier list are not frequent enough to provide a solid conclusion on MUs and metagame. Then the players who use them don't go to as many tournaments. And of course, the seeding of players in tourneys. So unless we see T (and other Link mains) more often AND take sets off high level players, then I don't think there's a solid answer.

Nevertheless, seeing Link and other low-tiered chars at Civil War was super interesting to watch.

SpiderShinobi said on April 18, 2017 at 9:07 a.m.

I honestly jumped on the Link band wagon after civil war, Link and Toon Link are actually better than I thought

SunThunda74 said on April 18, 2017 at 9:22 a.m.

I hope that when the Switch version of smash comes out that they start doing more consistent patches again. I need them to stop looking at the top tiers and focus on some of the glaring problems that the low tiers have. Link getting some of his flaws fixed was necessary, but he still has several problems that need to be slightly fixed, but not entirely. I am happy that characters like link are getting the representation they deserve. I am a firm believer that if you put in the time and work with a character you like then you will be fine. I know that match ups play a huge role, but If more balance comes to the characters that need it then things will change.

SunThunda74 said on April 18, 2017 at 9:36 a.m.

I have to disagree with you on that completely. Low tiers are low for a reason and the reason you don't see them in that many major tournaments is because they are unviable. Their tools are good, but too many flaws. If you do see low tiers being used then you notice that they do not get that far in bracket. The only thing that they are good for is match up knowledge confusion. Since not that many players see those characters they don't know how to approach the situation and in turn might lose a match or even a set, but if we know anything from recent history those characters get studied and their weaknesses will be exploited to the fullest. I do agree that link is not high tier yet, but if more balance comes we could see that change. But I am happy to see the love link is getting. The more tech and stuff builds for him the more of a threat he'll be in this current meta.

thisRalf said on April 18, 2017 at 10:29 a.m.

Well said.

Owlflame said on April 18, 2017 at 11:40 a.m.

T kinda proved that Link has what it takes to be high tier. You know... he made it to top 8 of a super major.

Owlflame said on April 18, 2017 at noon

Low tier, to me, means you'll never make it to top 32.

Mid tier means you'll never make it to top 16.

High tier means you CAN make it to top 16 and even top 8.

Top tier means you're going to be winning a lot of tournaments.

SS tier means other tiers are meaningless.

SunThunda74 said on April 18, 2017 at 1:48 p.m.

T proved that practicing with the character you like and preforming amazing reads can net you where you want to be. He did not prove that Link is top tier because he is not. Again when you play a character that players barely see being played by default you have the upper hand. It's now up to the opponent to adapt to it. I'm really happy that he made it to top 8, but there is more pressure to preform and players will study his tech and how does things with Link. T can pull off another top 8 or even win, but it'll be twice as tough.

Strunkjuice said on April 18, 2017 at 2 p.m.

You miss one thing in your argument. Low tiers are low for a reason but it often takes many years to prove who TRULY is low tier.

I say this looking at puff in melee. At this same point in melees lifespan she was considered bottom of the barrel and it wasn't until great players put time into her that she was proven to be among the top in the game.

We get our tiers from people playing, not from accurate algorithms. It takes a lot of time with a roster this big to prove every characters place.

JamStunna said on April 18, 2017 at 2:32 p.m.

I'm really enjoying these Smash articles. Keep up the good work!

SunThunda74 said on April 18, 2017 at 2:51 p.m.

I agree that it will take some time for the low tiers to manifest themselves and some will probably move to low-mid tier, but ssb4 has been out for 2 years and some months now and the low tiers are still there. The thing is that melees mechanics are different from 4 in terms of stun. Puff can do multiple bairs and fairs and be fine because of stun and her air mobility. Now look at puff in ssb4. You do not need years to see that she is low tier. She has none of the things that made her good in melee so she is low tier and hasn't been patched once. That is something that is vastly agreed upon. Now if she was patched to match her melee counterpart she would be mid-high tier no questions asked. The thing is patches are the only things that can save low tiers in 4 not time. It's cool to see player play their favorite characters that are low tier and pull of some amazing wins, but one thing is true. Not one low tier has one a major tournament in ssb4 life cycle and it won't happen until they are balanced and patched properly.

A2ZOMG said on April 18, 2017 at 2:57 p.m.

Bruh, if Rosa grav pulls and Link does a Bombslide, she dies. T doing bad against Dabuz was more him being exhausted and autopiloting than the matchup being bad for Link (it really isn't).

Bombs *wreck* Grav Pull because the cooldown for a bomb toss is drastically lower than Grav Pull itself, meaning any time Link holds a Bomb, Rosa basically is literally forced to sit in shield (and the Bomb will still blow up Luma when she does this).

And Link is actually good because like Cloud, his win conditions are easy. He just wants you offstage, and then he has the advantage and can kill you. Cloud does this with Limit. Link does this with F-tilt and his other retardedly good edgeguard tools.

Strunkjuice said on April 18, 2017 at 4 p.m.

I'm not saying puff is high tier in 4. But it is not beyond reason that there is undiscovered potential in some of the low tiers that could lead to some tier changes without patches.

Owlflame said on April 18, 2017 at 8:59 p.m.

I agree. Link isn't suddenly top tier because he was in top 8 of one tournament.

Good thing I wasn't arguing that he's top tier now.

Good thing I'm not doing that.

Remember when I didn't do that? Yeah? Me too.

I argue that you can't be in top 8 of a super major (2 years into a game's lifespan when everyone knows this game) without being at least high tier. You just can't. It's why pac-man hasn't been in a top 8 forever and why you can't name any big Jiggly players.

Vulgun said on April 18, 2017 at 9:20 p.m.

Honestly, Link could end up having a positive match-up against Rosalina. Rosalina is sort of like a better Mewtwo. She's better in many aspects, but she's still a big glass cannon. Link can easily take Luma away with a Dash Attack or other means, and Rosalina players can't do much in those 12 seconds except go ahead and run; once a player knows that, they can punish accordingly, rinse and repeat.

Rosalina has a light weight and a heavy hitbox, but the only thing keeping her from being beaten up as much as Mewtwo isn't the frame data (which is actually god awful), but the disjoints in some of her attacks, as well as Luma's power and frame data. Remove Luma, and the MU is good for Link.

As for Link's tier placement, it makes sense that he's likely a high tier. I doubt the Smash 4 Backroom would place him that high right now, because they usually end up making very bad decisions (including putting Bowser in 25th place for no reason despite the character not deserving that rank), but it may happen in the tier list after the next, possibly. If Link players can place top 8 in other super major tournaments, then yes, he'll be guaranteed to make high tier in the next tier list.


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