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 most skill-based games with different playable characters, such as the Pokémon series, can 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
- Main article: Character matchup
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
- See also: List of tier lists for Super Smash Flash
|Super Smash Flash tier list 3|
It is divided in six tiers: S, A+, A, B, C, and P. Characters near the top of the list tend to have multiple Instant-KO attacks, long ranged moves or can quickly rack up damage. Fox, for example, possesses all three qualities, allowing him to have great character matchups across the board and placing him at the very top of the tier list.
Super Smash Flash 2 tier list
|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.