The tier list is a list that ranks all characters in a certain game in order of their potential to win under tournament conditions, assuming equal skill on the part of each player, based on analysis of the current metagame. Tier lists are most commonly made for fighting games that are played at a high competitive level, though games with large character pools, such as the Pokémon series, can also have their own tier lists.
How tier lists are made
A character's placement on the tier list is based on a variety of factors:
- The current metagame of the game itself;
- The current metagame of the character in question;
- The character's matchup spread;
- The character's tournament results.
Metagame of the game itself
The metagame's current state involves what tactics, characters, stages, and other factors make up the most common "decisions" made in tournament play; in other words, how the game is generally being played (fast, slow, powerful, combos, etc). In the tier lists, these decisions help to rank characters, based on how useful they may be in tournament matches shaped around these decisions. Metagames based on either the players' collective actions or a tournament organizer's rulesets can result in characters being ranked higher or lower on the tier list. Powerful but slow characters who are easily KO'ed are typically lower tiered. Faster characters with quick attacks are normally higher tier.
Individual character's metagame
The metagame of individual characters is determined by how the players of a specific character use the character within the tournament setting, often in response to the general metagame. In general, characters with "deeper" metagames, or, more options in the game's overall metagame, rank higher than characters with "shallow" metagames, or, fewer options in the game's overall metagame.
Examples of a character's metagame advancing and causing them rise in the tier list are Zelda and Sheik in v0.9b. They were initially ranked 10th and 14th in the A tier respectively, but as their meta changed and people started using Zelda and Sheik interchangeably, their position rose to 3rd and 9th when separated, respectively, but to also 1st when used in conjunction.
Characters' matchup spread
A character's matchup spread analyses how well they can perform against other characters in the game. In general, higher-tiered characters have more matchups that are in their favour compared to lower-tiered characters, with matchups against higher-tiered characters having more weight behind them than matchups with lower-tiered characters. In Brawl, for example, one of the biggest factors when determining a character's viability was their matchup against Meta Knight.
Tournament results of a set character
In general, higher tournament results for characters yields higher tier placings, as winning major tournaments implies that a character has more tools to compete, and thus, a "deeper" metagame. The top characters in all tier lists have all maintained large playerbases and excellent results in tournaments at their time, while characters directly below them also generally perform well or have large playerbases. Top-tiered characters are also, most often, used by the game's top players.
For example, again in demo 0.9b, Bomberman was initially ranked 17th in the B tier. When WRXJoey appeared and started winning multiple tournaments as him, his position rose to 11th, in A tier, even though Bomberman ended up falling slightly on the tier list after that.
Super Smash Flash games' "viability"
The first Super Smash Flash is considered to be competitively unviable, primarily because the camera follows only player 1, giving player 2 an unfair disadvantage that breaks the symmetry necessary for a true competition. Looking beyond that, the meta is still extremely hard to measure, given the game's primitive engine which is prone to suffering from game-breaking glitches that render most of the differences between characters moot. Still, it is not impossible to determine how the characters would fare from a theoretical standpoint, but special measurements have to be taken into account to construct a tier list.
Super Smash Flash 2, on the other hand, is more refined and provides a much more authentic experience that encompasses techniques and strategies that have proven useful during tournament matches. Thus, the tier list for the game ranks and measures the expected competitive performance of every character, based upon analysis of these techniques and strategies from the current demo. The tier lists were previously produced by the Smash Flash Back Room, a small subforum in the McLeodGaming Forums, but are now handled by the Super Smash Flash 2 Union.
Super Smash Flash tier list
This is the tier list made by the CSFBR that corresponds to December 23, 2015:
|Super Smash Flash tier list|
This is the second tier list created for Super Smash Flash to be officially recognized. However, unlike the previous tier list, this was instead created by the CSFBR, a group who focus on datamining the game and providing matchups, as well as discovering exploits in the engine. The same factors were taken into consideration by the new people who made the tier list, who were Nathan Greenwood, Ironed Sandwich, and Skailler. Once again, the veracity of the tier list can be placed on doubt.
Super Smash Flash 2 tier list
On the May 3, 2019, the SSF2 Union released the first tier list for Beta 1.1. This tier list corresponds to version 18.104.22.168 of Beta, so any future updates may cause the tier list to be significantly altered.
|Super Smash Flash 2 Beta 1.1 tier list|
The tiers are divided into S (Top), A (High), B+, B, B- (Mid), C (Low), and D (Bottom) with F having characters that are the only truly unviable characters unless one has truly mastered said characters' move set.
Existence of tiers
Tier lists have been made for all of the competitively viable Super Smash Bros. games, from the original Super Smash Bros. to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and even to fan games such as Super Smash Flash 2. The tier list's intended function is to report which characters, when played at the highest possible level, will win under tournament conditions.
Despite this, there are still misconceptions about the tier list, which lead to sometimes unwarranted criticism of it. There are many people in the Super Smash Bros. communities, including the SSF2 community, who disagree with the idea of tier lists. They commonly see the tier list as a "popularity contest" in which the creators just put their personal best characters at the top, or they may think that the list is written to deter players from choosing low-tiered characters. In the latter case, these people, known as "anti-tiers," argue that each characters' individual strengths and weaknesses balance them out. They state that tier lists should not exist because all characters can be played equally. More inexperienced anti-tierists will often boast that they can beat a level 9 computer player with a character on the bottom of the list, and use that as a reason why tier lists are inaccurate.
To counter these claims, competitive players have created some counterarguments to the issue. A common counterargument against anti-tierism is that it is extremely difficult to perfectly balance a cast as diverse as that in SSF2 for competitive play. Even if measures had been taken to balance the game, the variables included would still cause the game to become at least slightly skewed towards characters whose strengths overshadow their weaknesses. Another counterargument is that since the tier list only predicts which characters would win if they were played at the top level under tournament rules, it should not affect any player who does not play in these conditions. Thus, many players should not care too much about the tier list if they're playing just for fun. Citing that one can defeat a computer player with a low-tier character is a weak claim because the artificial intelligence in Smash games, including SSF2, have poor habits and do not properly utilize advanced techniques or mindgames, forcing players to learn the AI's specific flaws to defeat them, which can actually deter them from performing well against real players and reinforcing cerebral ability. Finally, even the lowest-tier characters have professionals dedicated to using them, constantly finding new things about those characters that make them strong. With all these factors weighed in, tier lists are controversial and some players see it in a negative light.
However, because the official tier list of Super Smash Flash 2 is always changing, it does not get as much controversy. While there are some people that may dislike the tier list because they think it tries to dictate which characters to use, they also appreciate the tier lists for being "fairer" than the those from the official games. They generally like the ability of fighters to "take their turns" at the top of the tier lists. The latter fact is backed up by the idea that a fighter could be at the top of the tier list in one version of the game, yet the bottom of the next one. Because of this, arguments about the official tier list for Super Smash Flash 2 are fewer and farther between than those of the official games.
- List of tier lists for Super Smash Flash
- List of tier lists for Super Smash Flash 2
- Character matchup
- Tournament legal