Byleth might initially be low tier in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate due to a number of problems that were shown during the breakdown

Posted by Justin 'AdaptiveTrigger' Gordon • January 22, 2020 at 6:53 p.m. PST

It turned out that Byleth was the Fighters Pass' final challenger for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Like it or not, he (or she) is the 80th character to join the roster and the eighth playable Fire Emblem rep.

Of course, Byleth doesn't simply fight with a sword like Marth, Lucina, Roy, Chrom, and Ike. This particular character is armed with the Sword of the Creator, Amyr (ax), Failnaught (bow), and Areadbhar (lance).

Problems with Byleth were revealed quite early during the demonstration as Masahiro Sakurai explained that Byleth is only a little faster than Robin — who has the second slowest run speed. In addition to this, their grab range is said to be lacking.

To make up for these faults, Byleth is supposed to excel at fighting from afar — aka, "distance demon." Using the legendary weapons from Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Byleth does appear to boast considerably above average reach.

We see this in action when Byleth competes against Marth while airborne. It is quite clearly demonstrated that Byleth's forward aerial outreaches Marth's forward aerial. Of course, this only highlights the attack's horizontal reach.

A closer inspection of the trailer seems to suggest that Byleth's forward aerial is capable of auto-cancelling if performed immediately during a short hop. This will be good to use against tall characters and for keeping opponents out of the air.

Unfortunately, initial estimations indicate that this attack has a considerable amount of recovery if you land before the auto-cancel window. It doesn't look like this move will be very effective in match ups against short characters.


Click image for animated version

While Byleth's forward smash also appears to have a lot of range, the attack appears to only be effective on the blade part of the lance. It's too bad that it requires more than 20 frames of start up before the attack comes out.

Byleth's side special is shown to have some pretty extreme reach as well, but it's also very unsafe on block. Honestly, I find myself comparing this to Shulk's forward and neutral aerials.

Shulk's attacks allow him to effectively control the same space as Byleth's side special (especially when equipped with the Speed Monado). The difference is that Shulk can remain safe and even pressure opponents if they block these strikes.

As Byleth's grab is described as being lacking in terms of reach, it means that we'll have to explore other out-of-shield possibilities. Even in this department, it really feels like Byleth is going to struggle.

It's been estimated that his up special will start up in 12 frames, his up smash in 13 frames, and his neutral aerial in 9 frames (counting the three pre-jump frames). While it might sound like his neutral aerial will be his go-to option for stopping pressure, its hitboxes don't seem like they'd be particularly effective against smaller characters.

Byleth's Failnaught neutral special... seems almost completely useless. This is due to the fact that it requires more than 40 frames before the weakest version of the projectile comes out. Shielding or simply evading it on reaction will be a relatively simple task in most situations.

During the breakdown, it was demonstrated that the neutral special can be be shield cancelled on the ground. If it's somehow possible to cancel the charge while airborne, then this might end up being a useful tool for escaping disadvantage when combined with b-reversing.

As Byleth's only means of recovering is their up special tether, Byleth will essentially be that type of character that will lose a stock if you're able to edge guard them once off stage.

On the brighter side of things, Byleth's up aerial looks like it can make escaping disadvantage against them very difficult. This is thanks to how active the attack appears.

In addition to this, Byleth's down aerial seems to be particularly effective at breaking shields.

While Byleth appears to have access to a number of attacks that have excellent reach, I feel like they will struggle with approaching, camping, edge guarding, and pressure. It really feels like there are a lot of strikes against Byleth's potential right now.

Do keep in mind that all the clips of Byleth were recorded back in November 2019. This means that it's possible that Byleth's pool of moves have gone through minor revisions since then.

In truth, we won't know the full extent of Byleth's potential until the character drops. Who knows? Maybe something broken will be discovered for the character that proves them to be the best fighter in the game on day one.

As of right now, I wasn't really impressed by anything Byleth was able to do in the breakdown. I hope I'm wrong, but I suspect that the Fire Emblem: Three Houses rep will be low tier upon release due to the problems that were highlighted.

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