List of SSBM tier lists (NTSC)
The Smash Back Room tier list has changed many times since its inception. Previous versions of the list are as follows. In later tier lists, characters are broadly ranked by their tier, and further ranked by the order in which characters are listed within the tier list. For instance, Falco is ranked above Samus in the fourth Melee tier list. Earlier tier lists use numerical rankings, and characters with the same numerical value are listed alphabetically. Prog hinted that a new Melee tier list is going to be released in early 2015.
First tier list (October 8, 2002)
Though this was the first tier list, Smash World Forums was rife with discussion about tiers long before the Melee Back Room released its "MBR Tier Averages". The term "F/F/S" (short for "Falco, Fox and Sheik") was popular as a quick reference to Melee's top tier. Members on Smashboards, perhaps in backlash against novice sentiment towards Roy and Link, generally disdained those characters, and generally favored the game's fastest characters.
Members on Smashboards largely contested this tier list's placement of Mewtwo, which they felt to be too low. Many Smashboarders considered Mewtwo a low- or even middle-tier character and were bothered that it, despite its great recovery and powerful throws, was placed at the bottom of the tier list, where most people believed Bowser belonged.
Second tier list (December 19, 2002)
For the second tier list, the Melee Back Room created two tier lists: one made from the average (mean) of votes, and another from the mode.
Third tier list (June 23, 2003)
This tier list was released soon after Ken Hoang won Tournament Go 4. Before Ken, Marth strategy largely encompassed rolling and C-stick smashing symptomatic of low-level play today, but Ken introduced to the community the uses of dash-dancing, chain throwing and aerial attacks, all techniques that largely improved Marth's metagame and moved him to top tier for years to come. Ken's focus on aerial combat also caused significant movement for some characters; Zelda, for instance, fell from 14 to 20.
This is the first tier list that officially ranks characters into tiers.
Fourth tier list (July 1, 2003)
This tier list has an interesting property: had the number of tiers and number of characters in each tier remained the same as the previous list, no characters would have moved from one tier to another.
Fifth tier list (September 29, 2003)
In this list, Captain Falcon jumped up four places. This remains the only official tier list where Fox is not in the top 2 of the list. Ice Climbers and Donkey Kong dropped to 18th and 22nd respectively, the lowest they have ever been.
April Fools' Sixth tier list (March 31, 2004)
This tier list doubled as an April Fools' joke and a lesson to the community to not blindly swallow the Melee Back Room tier list as the truth. Though most people suspected this tier list was a hoax, it set a precedent to criticizing the tier list that had not existed before.
To defend this hoax during the two tumultuous days it was the official tier list, Melee Back Room members provided rebuttals to most criticisms of the list: Marth and Peach were too slow to remain in the top tiers; Link, Roy, and Luigi had untapped aerial prowess; and that Mewtwo's throwing game was too effective to keep it in the bottom tiers. Most notably, the Back Room claimed that Jigglypuff, through its aerial speed and the Wall of Pain, ruled the air to the point of domination. Years later, this then-outrageous claim would become true in the post-Brawl metagame.
The Melee Back Room forgot to include Yoshi in this tier list; once people realized he was missing (six hours after the list was posted), the MBR put him in at 16th.
Sixth tier list (April 2, 2004)
The real 6th tier list, released after April Fools' Day. Compared to the fifth tier list, Jigglypuff rose three places, Yoshi fell six places, the Ice Climbers rose three, and Pichu replaced Bowser as the lowest-ranked character.
Seventh tier list (March 19, 2005)
Four significant changes: the Ice Climbers rose from 15th to 12th, Pikachu fell from 14th to 17th, Donkey Kong rose five places from 21st to 16th and Dr. Mario rose to 9th, ranking higher than the character he is a clone of, Mario.
Eighth tier list (July 8, 2006)
The names of these tiers were originally God Tier, Top Tier, High Tier, Middle Tier, and Low Tier; these names were changed to the ones shown above on July 10, two days after the tier list was released.
This tier list marks the first time Sheik was not in the top tier, and contains the biggest bottom tier of any Melee tier list thus far. The list also marked the first time Mewtwo had fallen back to the bottom of the tier list. The balance of the tier list was a point of contention amongst many smashers, who felt that it was too bottom-heavy and that the lower tiers should themselves be split, or the high tiers merged (particularly the top two).
Ninth tier list (October 14, 2008)
For the first time since June 2003, the Smash Back Room published each character's numerical scores. This tier list was originally intended to be the final tier list for Melee, with the expectation being that players would move over to Brawl and result in the Melee metagame becoming static, similar to the tier lists for the original Super Smash Bros. However, Melee's tournament scene, remained strong even as Brawl's tournament scene grew, and Melee's metagame experienced drastic changes (such as Jigglypuff dominating as well as or more than the top-tier characters); as a result, the tier list ultimately did change two times even after this supposed "final" revision.
Original tenth tier list (September 14, 2010)
This list was originally publicized as the tenth tier list despite having qualities that made it seem incomplete or rushed in some way. It was heavily criticized for its very large number of ties - it has not only the most ties of any tier list, but the biggest tie, involving the entire Negligible tier. In addition, this list was claimed to have been mostly the work of the single user KirbyKaze, which was then slightly modified by the Back Room. Likely spurred by the topical Master Hand glitch, the Back Room also included a "Gengar" tier in the list as a joke, where "Master Hand and other glitches" are placed.
Despite this, however, Mewtwo and Jigglypuff have risen significantly from the previous tier lists, with Jigglypuff now in the top tier alongside both Star Fox characters (marking the first appearance of a floaty character in the top tier of Melee's metagame since Peach in the fourth tier list) and Mewtwo being a whopping 5 places above its previous best. This is the only tier list to include a tier below the Bottom tier.
Tenth tier list (December 31, 2010)
This is the first Melee tier list that uses lettered tiers instead of words. Sheik is once again placed in the highest tier with Fox, Falco, and Jigglypuff. The Ice Climbers and both Links are also placed in their own tiers, and Kirby and Pichu are placed at the bottom of the tier list. Both Pikachu and Mewtwo also rose 4 spots in this tier list from the previous ninth version.
Eleventh tier list (July 26th, 2013)
This is the current Melee tier list which is based on votes from various smashers. The biggest rise on the list was Yoshi moving up three places. Pikachu and Young Link both moved up two places. Young Link now ranks higher than Link for the first time, joining Dr. Mario as clones who are ranked higher than their original characters. Jigglypuff, Ganondorf, and Donkey Kong each dropped two places. Kirby is now at the very bottom of the list for the first time.
The MBR decided to organize the characters into more general categories instead of rigid tiers. The S tier consists of characters who are generally always tournament viable and can consistently place high in significant tournaments. The A tier consists of semi-viable characters who can place high in very competent hands, but have significant disadvantages that keep them from consistently placing high in significant tournaments. The B tier consists of characters who may have situational use, but are generally not viable for tournament use and will probably never place high when used alone, even in minor tournaments. Lastly, the F tier consists of characters who are never viable in tournament play.
Tier list chart
This table shows the ranks of each character through all of the tier lists, as well as a numbered description of their change in rank each time. "Change" lists how much a character's position changed between the two tier lists it is in between. "Highest" represents a character's highest position, "Lowest" represents their lowest position, and "Difference" lists the difference between the highest and lowest position. "Overall change" represents a character's change between the first tier list and the current tier list. The mode version of the 2nd tier list, the April Fools tier list, and the original 10th tier list are not included in this chart.