Here are the biggest winners of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's recent 3.1.0 balance update

Posted by Justin 'AdaptiveTrigger' Gordon • May 31, 2019 at 7:51 p.m. PDT

Recently, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was updated to version 3.1.0 with an extensive list of patch notes. As this is basically the most impactful patch for the game in terms of fighter adjustments, we have reset our tiers section for the game.

There's no doubt that there's going to be some shifting in the meta this time around. Let's take a moment to analyze which characters were the biggest winners of this patch. Later, we'll look at the "biggest losers" of version 3.1.0 as well.

It's possible that Nintendo has started to pay attention to the tournament scene and have made adjustments accordingly. Notably, many of the characters that received major buffs are those that appear infrequently at events.

Many have noted that fighters like Bayonetta, Diddy Kong, Ryu, Ken, Captain Falcon and Little Mac were underutilized in the 3.0.1 and earlier metas.

Some of these fighters have received a long list of changes to overhaul their capabilities. Is it possible that there's a new top tier?

Following this patch, it seems likely that some of these characters may see an increased presence at tournaments and online play. It's definitely important to understand how these fighters have been altered, even if you have no plans to play them yourself.


Although Bayonetta was undeniably the best character from the last game, Super Smash Bros. 4, she's been paying for that in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The character has been struggling quite a bit since release.

To help the Umbra Witch function a little better, Nintendo has increased the knockback power for her jab ender and dash attack.

Her up tilt is more likely to combo into itself correctly now in order to prevent her from being punishable on hit. In addition to this, the landing lag penalty for using her side special and up special in the air have been toned down a little bit.

Finally, one of the most hated specials in Smash 4, Bayonetta's Witch Time, has seen improvements to the amount of time the counter will trigger from attacks, the Bat Within detection, and Witch Time's recovery duration.

Although on paper these buffs probably won't be enough to push Bayonetta to the top end of the tier list, they'll certainly make a difference.

Captain Falcon

Captain Falcon's knockback power has seen some improvements in patch 3.1.0. Forward tilt, forward air, and back air will now secure stocks a little more easily.

In addition to this, Captain Falcon's up tilt has seen an increase in its attack speed. Hitting opponents with a surprise spike from the stage should be a little easier now.

Side special has had its armor enhanced, given faster attack speed once Captain Falcon reaches his target, and stuns opponents for longer. Overall, this move is better in neutral and will allow for combos for a longer period of time.

Finally, Captain Falcon's down special will now linger just a little longer. Whiff punish ranges will need to be adjusted for opponents of Captain Falcon.

Overall, nothing too major for Captain Falcon, but the quality of life changes does make him more of a threat now.

Diddy Kong

Diddy Kong is one of the characters that has received the best set of buffs. Up until now, Smash 4 Diddy Kong mains have been very underwhelmed by the Ultimate version of the character.

The changes to Diddy Kong's dash attack makes it way easier to set up juggles with. Along with Diddy Kong's combo throws, this means Diddy Kong effectively has a true 50/50 scenario that sets up into combos whenever he dashes towards opponents.

His up air attack will now recover faster while in the air and after landing on the ground. This will further supplement Diddy Kong's already improved combo potential.

After racking up enough damage, Diddy Kong can now secure kills more reliably with his up smash. Opponents are now way less likely to fall out of the multiple hit properties of the attack.

If all that wasn't enough, Diddy's projectile will now deal additional damage. In other words, his zoning is something to be feared when he's ahead.

Finally, the quality of life for his stocks has seen a dramatic increase. While charging his up special, he'll be less susceptible to gravity and will be able to achieve greater vertical distances for his recovery.

Overall, it seems likely that Diddy Kong could be a high tier in the new meta. This is quite an improvement compared being one of the weaker characters in the game.

Ryu and Ken

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's two Street Fighter representatives might've received the greatest package of buffs. It also appears that the development team has taken Ryu and Ken in different directions.

True to how he plays in the Street Fighter series, the focus of Ryu's buffs appear to encourage his usage of projectiles more than previously. They're now more damaging which makes him a greater threat from afar.

In addition to this, the light versions of his projectiles and the heavy versions will now travel slower and faster respectively. Ryu has now effectively picked up a trick from Guile where he can walk behind his slow fireball as a form of pressure.

While using the fast versions of his projectiles, Ryu is now actually permitted to outzone certain fighters that he previously was forced to approach against. With the right timing and situation, Ryu can effectively combo a red fireball into a red fireball from a distance.

As for Ken, his Dragon Punch now connects all hits more reliably and has become one of the best KO moves in the game. All three of Ken's "crazy kick" command specials have also been noticeably buffed.

In a certain sense, Ryu and Ken have also received a new move altogether. Their close standing heavy jabs no longer function as an identical version of their heavy up tilt.

Opponents will now essentially suffer a set amount of knockback after getting hit by their close standing heavy jabs. They effectively go no where, which makes it extremely easy to cancel into their Dragon Punch specials.

Both characters have also effectively been improved across the board. It's now easier to cancel into specials from certain attacks and they hit a lot harder.

While Ryu's zoning capabilities are a lot better, Ken's damage output has overall seen dramatic rise. These characters will very likely see a greater presence in the tournament scene.

Little Mac

Little Mac's one dimensional gameplay style has been a problem since Super Smash Bros. 4. Strangely though, a lot of Little Mac's depth and tools were weakened a bit during the transition to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. This has made him one of the worst characters in the new game.

Patch 3.1.0 has increased the range of his down tilt and made combos into his forward tilt on airborne opponents far more reliable. Considering that his down tilt is a move that starts up in four frames, this is a deadly combination on the ground.

His one frame jab sounded good on paper, but its lack of range didn't make it that useful. The recovery and reach of his basic jab string has seen dramatic improvements.

Little Mac is effectively allowed to combo his jab 1, 2, 3 string into yet another jab 1, 2, 3 string against most of the roster now due to its reduced recovery. This also opens the door to a number of new kill confirms with his side special.

Up smash has a lot more armor frames which means opponents will need to respect Little Mac more while they try to land on the ground. Finally, his neutral special and KO Punch have way less commitment attached to them as they recovery way faster now.

With this latest update, Little Mac probably won't become a top tier threat but he's no longer the joke he was in version 3.0.1.


Technically speaking, Marth received no changes in this patch. So why is he a "winner" of patch 3.1.0?

Lucina's forward smash and forward aerial were both reduced in knockback. These are both key attacks for both Marth and Lucina.

Since Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was released, Lucina has overshadowed Marth — which is quite the change of pace considering their tier placements in Smash 4.

Marth's presence in the tournament scene has basically been... non-existent. This isn't necessarily because Marth is a bad character, but Lucina is just recognized as the better option.

With these nerfs to Lucina, there might be a reason to finally choose Marth over his Echo Fighter while at high level events.


We'll be talking more about this later, but many of the game's top tiers received some notable — but seemingly fair — nerfs. Snake on the other hand... did not.

As things were before, Snake was becoming the most used successful character at major events. Now that other characters have been toned down, Snake may rise even further up the tier charts.

Is Snake now the best character in the game? There's a good possibility that may be the case. Only time into this new meta will give us the answer.

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