Smash Bros Online Tier Lists – Lag Reinvents Game’s Balance

Smash Bros Online is notorious for its terrible gameplay. There is considerably lag and the game stutters to such a point that it renders the normal high-tier gameplay styles ineffective. What happens when you combine a game with horrendous online with the cancellation of all in-person Esports tournaments? A complete mess. Smash Bros online is how the game has to be played at the moment with in-person tournaments shut down due to the coronavirus, which is driving different characters to the top of the tier lists.

Smash Bros Online Tier Lists - Lag Reinvents Game’s Balance

© Smash Bros Online

Smash Bros online has never been all that good. Brawl’s online component was a selling point, but the gameplay was pretty hard to tolerate. Smash 4’s ‘For Glory’ and ‘For Fun’ where an equally frustrating headache. Ultimate’s infrastructure has been a big improvement, but Nintendo is still nowhere near the level of online that comes with other Esports fighting games. It isn’t even at the level of casual games’ online. This makes Smash Bros online pretty frustrating at the best of times. Pro players have always emphasized that practicing online isn’t the best way to get good at the game since it handles completely differently.

Online play is frustrating for top players like MKLeo. With online play now the norm, we’re looking at a completely different game. Characters that were previously mid-tier are more viable due to the way online plays, and the same goes for those previously on the top.

Smash Bros Online Tier Lists – Which Characters Play Better Online?

With tournaments pushed online, different strategies are now winning out. Projectiles throwers and campers are coming out ahead. Smash’s online makes small adjustments and timings difficult, so these players that can just throw out moves are becoming pretty useful. Heavy hitters are also seeing a bit of a resurgence. With their less precise areas for landing a hit, the lag and slowdown isn’t effecting them all too much.

A good example here is Sonic. Normally a standard if dull character, he has become a skillful exploiter of Smash Bros online’s quirks. His moves resemble each other which limits the chance for opponents to anticipate his movement. He also has ridiculous speed, allowing him to steal one stock then avoid you for the duration of the match. His homing attack lets him do damage then run. In normal Smash Bros, this would be easily countered and he’d be locked into a combo. In Smash Bros online, he gets away and the entire match becomes very frustrating. The Sonic problem has actually gotten so bad that he’s been banned from some casual tournaments.


Villager has won Japanese tournaments, despite not being relevant for a long time. Other projectile players like Richter are also seeing a resurgence. Their playstyle of spamming projectiles and throwing out long-distance aerials with their whips don’t suffer from being online. Kirby has even won some titles in Japanese online tournaments. While central to the game’s marketing and story mode, Kirby is hardly one of the better characters in the game.

Is Smash Bros Online Going to Improve?

Super Smash Bros Online is making the professional scene of the game difficult, so is it going to improve? Almost certainly not. You won’t be seeing any Super Smash Bros news about online play springing back to life.

Nintendo has acknowledged the frustration with the online service. However, given how long Nintendo has been making the smallest improvements with their online-only, this isn’t going to change soon. It is unlikely that the Switch will ever a significant improvement in its online capabilities. Since this is what we have to work with, for now, players just have to make the best out of it. While Sonic matches are beyond frustrating both to play and watch, it can be interesting to see some other characters have their moment in the sun. While in-person tournaments are shut down, we can finally see a bit more of that huge roster than just the top tier characters.

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