Edge-guarding

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Super Smash Bros. series
Mario uses his Cape against Fox trying to use Fox Illusion as recovery.
Jigglypuff's Wall of Pain is a well-known edgeguarding technique.

Edge-guarding or edgeguarding, also known as intercepting in Super Smash Bros. Melee, is the attempt to prevent an off-stage recovering opponent from reaching the stage, thus causing them to be KO'd. Players can achieve this in many ways, and the struggle between an edge-guarder and their recovering opponent often leads to many strategies and mindgames. The anti-strategy to this is the guard break.

Execution[edit]

There are two main methods of edge-guarding. One is to run or jump off the stage and attack; this is often done by characters with great jumping ability, which includes multiple jumps and good recoveries such as the Robo Burner. The other is to stay on the stage and attack the opponent when they recover should they fail to sweetspot the ledge. This is mostly done with down- smashes and tilts, and even some projectiles.

Any character can edge-guard, although some are better at it than others. A character's ability to edgeguard offstage is determined by two factors: the length and safety of their recovery, and the utility of their aerial attacks. The most prominent example is Meta Knight, as his recovery is effectively immune to edgeguarding, and because his aerials are quick and send opponents on favorable trajectories. However, some characters are strong edgeguarders despite having sub-par recoveries; Ganondorf is the best example. His recovery is slow and short, but all of his aerials are deadly offstage.

Certain characters are worse at defending themselves from edge-guards. These are generally characters with predictable recoveries (like Captain Falcon or Ike), slow recoveries (like Ness or Lucas), characters reliant on tether recoveries (like Olimar in Brawl or Ivysaur), or characters without a damaging recovery move (like Lucario in Brawl or Olimar in SSB4).

In general, the recoveries of the cast have improved across the games. In Smash 64, aside from Pikachu and, to a smaller extent, Mario, all characters have predictable recoveries, leaving them vulnerable to edgeguards, which is further compounded by the game's high hitstun.

Melee recoveries, while still rather predictable, are benefited by ledge-teching. Jigglypuff and Samus are well-known for their recovery ability, with the former having arguably the strongest edgeguarding ability in the game. Melee introduces meteor cancelling, which makes meteor smashes much less potent at securing offstage KO's. However, the increased falling speeds and gravity make semi-spikes more effective. Certain attacks, known as spikes, have downwards knockback that are not recognized as meteor smashes, and characters who posses these moves often utilize them in their edgeguarding, most notably Marth.

In Brawl, recoveries are overall longer, and the larger ledge sweetspots, as well as the auto-sweetspot mechanic, make edgeguarding less effective. The meteor smash recognition window has been expanded, removing the spikes of the previous game. Meta Knight is infamous for his immunity to being edgeguarded, due to the his plethora of recovery options, with his recovery being the best not only in Brawl, but arguably the entire series, and this grants him his powerful offstage game. Brawl's floatier physics, low hitstun, meteor cancelling and the aforementioned changes to ledge sweetspots arguably make edge-guarding in this game the least effective out of all four iterations. In these three games, edgehogging is a commonly used tactic to stop opponents who aim their recoveries to the ledge.

In Smash 4, recoveries on their own were generally buffed, and ledges were reworked to remove edgehogging, reducing the effectiveness of on-stage edge-guarding. However, meteor cancelling has been removed in Smash 4, making meteor smashes as deadly as they were in Smash 64, and planking is practically impossible. The new ledge-stealing mechanic can set-up recovering opponents for an attack, most commonly a back aerial. The longer recoveries enforce and encourage more aggressive offstage play, as offstage edge-guarding carries much less risk than before, since an edge-guarder can no longer be edge-hogged if their attempt is unsuccessful. Also, the improvements to recoveries are not consistent across the cast. Marth's recovery is largely unchanged from before; Fox's recovery is twice as long as in Brawl, as Fox Illusion and Fire Fox can now be used in tandem; and Ganondorf's recovery is even worse due to his lowered air speed and the removal of grab-armor, and Charizard suffers severely with the loss of gliding. Most notably, Smash 4 introduces Little Mac, whose recovery is undoubtedly the worst in the entire series.

Lastly, in Smash 4, teching cannot be performed during hitlag, causing certain stage-spikes to be un-techable, and the new ledge mechanics make stage-spikes more common than in past games. All these changes have contributed to more offstage battles in competitive play, as edge-guarding is much safer while still rewarding if successful. As in Brawl, Meta Knight is noteworthy for his edge-guarding ability, along with characters who possess useful meteor smashes, particularly Captain Falcon and Ganondorf.

Edge-guarding strategies[edit]

On-stage guarding[edit]

The simplest and safest way to edge-guard is to stand at the edge and throw attacks - often a powerful forward smash, down smash or down tilt that can hit even an edge sweet spotting enemy. While this method of edge-guarding requires the least set-up, it is often thwarted by sweet-spotting or ledge-teching.

Using projectiles[edit]

In a similar strategy to sitting on stage, a character with projectiles (especially projectiles affected by gravity, like Peach's turnips or Mario's fireballs) can stand by the edge and try to interrupt a faraway, recovering opponent. This strategy is very safe, in that players are very unlikely to be hit while edge-guarding in this fashion, and it can be combined with both edge-hogging and attacking from on-stage.

Off-stage guarding[edit]

A risky, but deadly, way of edge-guarding is to jump off-stage and interrupt the opponent in mid-air. The recovering enemy has few options by which they can defend themself, such as using aerial attacks, air dodging or directing themself away from the edge-guarder. When using this style of edge-guarding, most characters put their own life in jeopardy, being so far off-stage. If, however, the edge-guarder is able to land a powerful aerial attack (like Captain Falcon's Knee Smash) far off-stage, their enemy will almost certainly get KOed. Even if unsuccessful, the edge-guarder can often edge-hog the recovering opponent anyways, pre-SSB4.

With most characters, it is best to avoid using the second jump before hitting the opponent. Many characters will not be able to make it back without it. Characters such as Jigglypuff, Kirby, and Meta Knight are very useful characters to use for this strategy. Their multiple jumps allow them to go far off stage and deliver an aerial attack.

Edge-hogging[edit]

A common way to edge-guard is to edge-hog, or grab the ledge so that the opponent cannot. There are several ways to reach the ledge when standing on-stage. The two most common ways are to face away from the ledge and either short hop or wavedash backwards. Many players, when wavedashing backwards, make the mistake of standing too close to the edge before wavedashing, thereby air dodging off-stage and self-destructing. Note also that with some characters, it is possible to fast-fall the wavedash off the stage and in effect grab the edge sooner.

Usually, an edge-hogger rolls the moment the recovering enemy uses their third jump, gaining invincibility frames and defending themself against damaging up special moves. Edge-hogging is effective against sweet-spotting, but can be beaten by an enemy that comes fully on-stage in their recovery.

When an enemy lands fully on-stage they are often caught in the lag of their third jump. Edge hopping is often the method to keep them off the stage. This causes one to return to the starting position of choosing which edge guarding technique to use, but the opponent has slightly more damage, leading to a constant edgeguard game.

Edge-hogging is not possible in Super Smash Bros. 4 because of the new ledge trump mechanics.[1].

Ledge Trump[edit]

Only possible in Super Smash Bros. 4, grabbing onto a ledge that has already been grabbed by another player will gently remove them from the ledge. While ledge trumping was intended to negate edge-hogging, it can still be used as an effective edge-guard; an on-stage player ledge trumps a recovering player by running off-stage and fast-falling onto the ledge as soon as the recovering player grabs it. This causes the recovering player to automatically let go of the ledge and they cannot take any action for a moment, allowing for an easy combo, such as Sheik's back air. In addition, the removal of ledge re-grab invincibility can be exploited by a ledge trump edge-guard.[2]

To avoid getting ledge trumped, one can simply buffer an attack, a jump, or a roll from the ledge the moment it is grabbed. A regular get-up and dropping from the ledge cannot be buffered, making it much easier to trump someone attempting these ledge options, and waiting too long to buffer the previous options will still result in getting trumped. These can all be mixed up for mindgames.

Deterrence[edit]

A somewhat underutilized ability, deterrence, is basically fake off-stage guarding. The player would make to jump towards the opponent trying to recover, but instead return to the stage without ever engaging the enemy. If done convincingly, the opponent will attempt to evade the non-existent attack and hopefully miss the ledge or dodge right into a different attack.

While this strategy works against newer players, it usually requires a twist against more advanced combatants. In this case, doubles play is usually necessary.

For example, one possible strategy involves Marth attempting a spike on an oncoming enemy from an above platform, while having Roy charge a Flare Blade below. From here, one of four things happen:

  • Marth connects the spike and KO's the enemy
  • Marth spikes the enemy into Roy's Flare Blade
  • In attempting to evade Marth's spike, the enemy lands in the hitbox of Roy's Flare Blade
  • In attempting to evade both attacks, the enemy completely misses the edge.

Notable edge-guarders[edit]

SSB64[edit]

  • Captain Falcon: his down aerial is a quick and powerful meteor smash.
  • Kirby: his back aerial has low start-up, is disjointed, and has a lingering hitbox, dealing high knockback during the first few frames.
  • Pikachu: with a long, quick, and safe recovery, Pikachu can go far offstage, where its fast, disjointed, and powerful back aerial is deadly.

Melee[edit]

  • Captain Falcon: his forward aerial, the Knee Smash, is an extremely strong semi-spike.
  • Falco: down aerial has quick start-up and a lasting hitbox, and spikes powerfully throughout the entire move.
  • Fox: his Reflector has no start-up and semi-spikes opponents with high hitstun.
  • Ganondorf: he boasts the most powerful meteor smash in the game in his down aerial, which is difficult to survive even with meteor cancelling. His up aerial semi-spikes during the late hitboxes.
  • Jigglypuff: it can perform the Wall of Pain, which involves chaining its back aerial into itself and carrying the opponent offstage.
  • Marth: his down aerial has low start-up, a large hitbox, and spikes with high knockback, and is used as the finisher of the famous Ken Combo.
  • Pikachu: the middle hitbox of its up aerial is a weak semi-spike that can be chainted into itself.
  • Sheik: her forward aerial has quick start-up and is a strong semi-spike.

Brawl[edit]

  • Falco: his down aerial has quick start-up, and meteor smashes powerfully in the first few frames.
  • King Dedede: his back aerial is quick, disjointed, has a lingering hitbox, and is relatively strong.
  • Marth: his forward aerial is quick, has long reach, and deals moderate knockback.
  • Meta Knight: with an incredible recovery and fast aerials, he can perform a pseudo Wall of Pain with his forward and back aerials. His down aerial is a moderately strong semi-spike, and his neutral aerial deals relatively high knockback. Aerial Shuttle Loop is a powerful semi-spike as well.
  • Ness: his back aerial has fast startup, is easy to land, and deals strong knockback.
  • Peach: with her float ability, strong aerial game, and high priority, all of her aerial moves are excellent both on the stage and off the stage, although they aren't reliable KOing options (excluding down air as interrupt move).
  • Wolf: his back aerial is quick, long-ranged, and strong.

Smash 4[edit]

  • Bowser: all of his aerials (sans down aerial) are useful off-stage, moreso due to Bowser's greatly enhanced recovery. Back aerial in particular is among the most powerful in the game, and is also very fast with good range. Forward smash can hit ledge-grabbers if spaced correctly, and Fire Breath can be used to push opponents down and away from the ledge.
  • Captain Falcon: his down aerial is relatively fast, has a large hitbox, and is a powerful meteor smash.
  • Fox: his back aerial is quick, and is a strong semi-spike if sweetspotted.
  • Ganondorf: the removal of meteor cancelling makes his down aerial meteor smash even deadlier than before.
  • Greninja: Hydro Pump is effective at disrupting recoveries, as the water does not cause flinching.
  • Ike: his back aerial is quick, long-ranged, and deals high knockback. Eruption has a deceptively large hitbox which can also hit ledge-grabbers.
  • Jigglypuff: can perform a Wall of Pain by chaining forward aerials and finishing with a neutral aerial. Its neutral aerial is also effective for blocking recoveries.
  • Kirby: forward aerial is effective as a wall of pain, and all aerials are effective to chase opponents off-stage with.
  • Lucario: with enough Aura, it possesses the strongest back aerial in the game.
  • Mario: F.L.U.D.D. and Cape are very useful tools against recovering opponents, the latter being very quick and able to reverse most up-special moves. Forward aerial is a powerful meteor with a large hitbox.
  • Marth/Lucina: forward aerial is useful offstage, due to its speed, range, and decent power. Dolphin Slash is also useful against opponents near the ledge, since it can stage-spike very easily. Marth's tipped forward smash is also capable of hitting opponents on the ledge if spaced correctly, almost guaranteeing a KO if it does.
  • Meta Knight: his back aerial is deceptively strong, and has relatively long range and duration, and his down aerial is a quick semi-spike. Neutral aerial is also very quick and useful off-stage.
  • Shulk: using the Jump Art, Shulk can easily take wing after his opponents and perform what would normally be extremely risky attacks such as his F-Air to push opponents back before safely returning to the ledge. While it's possible to air dodge through the attack, his art allows him to attack multiple times depending on altitude, and he can quickly return to the ledge to try again if need be.
  • Villager: can use forward smash or Timber to drop a powerful projectile from the ledge, and has effective aerials along with a long, reliable recovery.

Demonstration video[edit]