Dabuz's Ultimate Tier List

April 19 2019

Look at this tier list. Samuel “Dabuz” Buzby created it, so you know it’s legit. You can trust it. It’s accurate. Yes, Diddy Kong is supposed to be down there. But don’t bother memorizing this screenshot. The Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tier list is about to change again. In fact, it’s already slowly changing now. Right as you’re reading this paragraph.

That’s the nature of Ultimate. Maybe it’s because it’s a new game. Then again, the pros are still discovering new techniques and strategies in Melee, over a decade later. So what makes the Ultimate tier list so fluid? Why does it keep changing?

Who better to ask than Dabuz.

I spoke with our newest Smash player about how the pro scene shapes this ever-changing tier list, and also discussed if you should even care about tier lists to begin with.

Your mains are Olimar and Palutena. Where are they on the Smash tier list?

Olimar is certainly a top tier character. I put him in top 10. And she’s fringe top tier. Maybe top 20 area, still high tier.

How did you come up with these placements?

It’s my personal opinion based on what strengths the characters have. I can look at a character like Olimar and see all these good attributes. Then I compare them to a character like Bowser Jr, who has a lot of flaws, and work like that with all the characters. I look at tournament results as well, to get my theories validated or not.

Which fighter are you surprised to see in the top tier?

I was pretty surprised by Wolf. He’s the best character in the game right now. When Ultimate first came out, I thought of him as just a good character. Nothing spectacular. He didn’t seem broken. Most top tiers have something ridiculous, like Peach having crazy float aerials. Inkling is hard to hit. Pichu can kill you in one hit. Snake has ridiculous combo break tools. Wolf is kind of just pretty solid, but nothing seemed disgustingly broken.

So how did he end up so high up on the tier list?

People found out that his down smash is absurd. The hit box is bigger than you think. Most of his moves do, actually. And he has a lot of unexpected kill confirms. His air speed is amazing, so he can just keep jumping to avoid his slower ground speed. And his grab combos. When people found that out… His grab set ups to kill you off grabs... It’s just broken.

What’s interesting is that Wolf wasn’t really being considered this broken character at first. How did you guys all of a sudden realize these attributes?

A lot of times all it takes is just one player showing off some stuff. Zackray was winning Japanese tournaments with Wolf. He came to America and started destroying people at Genesis. I beat him, humble brag. But people started jumping on that bandwagon. It just develops so fast.

People just saw him going off.

Olimar is another example. Shuton, Myran, and me were playing him in Smash 4, and then we carried over to Ultimate. The moment we started beating people with that character, people start seeing what they do.

What made you initially start playing Olimar, before there was hype surrounding him?

I was kind of fortunate that since I played him in previous games, I had a reason to try him out. A lot of times it’s finding a character you like. I liked Olimar in Brawl and wanted to find out more about him. That’s how MKLeo was about Ike. He probably just thought he was fun and wanted to find out more. Everyone is scrambling at first to find a character that feels fun to them for some reason. And then they start looking into what they can do. It’s a quick build up.

Which fighters did everyone expect would be good, but they ended up being low on your tier list?

Diddy Kong is low tier. He was very good in every Smash game except this one. Isabelle, we thought she was going to be good. I may be biased because I liked her design. And when I played her, she was so fun. But when I started labbing her I found out she doesn’t have a lot of good stuff. Ice Climbers being bad is surprising. Ridley, too.

In a case like Diddy Kong, what caused him to drop so low?

There’s a lot of reasons for characters becoming low tier. Sometimes it’s simply tools being taken away from their kit. Nerfing hit boxes. Diddy has all the same tools, same combos, the banana, recovery mix-ups. But a lot of these things were made worse. His hitboxes are smaller. His recovery is slower, and covers less distance. The banana toss is slower. They’re just worse because of hitbox changes and frame data.

But then look at Shulk. It’s the opposite. He has the same tools as before, big hitboxes. But his Monado Arts has improved. His Buster is better, you can do more combos with his Speed Art. His landing lag is better. Changing the game’s mechanics like that, buffing those tools, helps a character so much, even if they’re initially flawed.

Link is now a completely new fighter, too.

Link is the most interesting returning character in the game. They completely changed him. He has completely new tools, like the detonation bomb, and being able to pick up the arrow. He has great punishes. His nair is amazing now. In the demo, there was a lot more Link footage. People were super excited. The bomb was one big toy and people wanted to play with it so much. People like characters that are creative. Lucina is one of the best, but she’s viewed as a boring, non-flashy character. Pokemon Trainer is just worse, flat out, but so many people are trying them out all the time. It’s just so much fun and so flashy.

So, should people consider these tier lists when choosing a main?

It depends what your goals are. If you’re not a competitive player, not going to tourneys, then who cares. But if you are going to locals, it does start to matter. But it matters more to the higher level players. People who can top 8 their locals, top 32 regionals. That’s when a tier list is relevant. That’s where the players are taking advantage of a character’s strengths and weaknesses.

Why do you like making tier lists?

People just like opinions from top players. It’s a joke on my streams, ‘I want to get some clout today. I am making a tier list!’ But it really is good to discuss this stuff. It’s good to see how the meta progresses. It gives a basis for people to talk about the game’s meta. I’m a very analytical player, as everyone knows at this point, and this is the perfect stuff to analyze. Plus, everyone loves having and sharing their own opinion! And to see opinions change over time. My next tier list will look so different from last tier list.

Writer // Olivia Richman

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