An approach is the offensive method a player uses to get close enough to their opponent to land an attack or start a combo. Approach methods vary from built-in special moves (Bowser Jr.'s Clown Kart Dash, R.O.B.'s Arm Rotor), to dash attacks, projectiles, or highly technical techniques (wavedashing, shuffling, or using short hop lasers). The simplest (and least safe) forms of approach are simply walking or dashing up to the opponent.
Types of approaches
- Walking is slow and can be punished. However, this method can be unpredictable due to its rarity, and allows the use of any other attacks, or to start other approach methods. Characters with a fast walk speed (for instance Fox, Falco, Pikachu, Marth or Sheik) can efficiently use walking to microspace against slower characters.
- Dashing is both faster than walking and grants the potential for the use of dash attacks, dash grabs, pivot grabs, jumps, shielding, forward rolls (back rolls are also possible from an initial dash but require more precision), up smashes, side specials and up specials. However, this prevents immediate usage of any tilts, neutral attacks, forward smashes, down smashes, neutral specials or down specials. In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, it is possible to perform any grounded action from a full run but not from an initial dash.
- Jumping allows the player to put out any aerial attacks while moving toward the opponent. This aggressive approach method can be difficult to defend against, especially with characters that have high aerial mobility or large auto-cancel windows; for example, Jigglypuff can easily attack while retreating if the player senses danger, while Sheik's generous auto-cancel windows allow her to throw out aerials aggressively. However, as many aerial attacks are unsafe on shield if spaced incorrectly or performed too high in the air, this approach can often be countered by out of shield options or capitalizing on landing lag. It is also risky in all games except for Brawl and SSB4, due to defensive options in the air generally being inferior to their counterparts on the ground, making it difficult to avoid being hit by a properly-aimed attack from the opponent.
- Projectiles can cover an approach that would otherwise be vulnerable. They force the opponent to dodge, shield, or take the hit, all of which can be capitalized on. Some such projectiles are Peach's Vegetables, Falco's Blaster, and Mario's Fireball. This is countered by reflection.
- Shielding can be a surprising mix-up when combined with other approaching methods. For example, if a player simply dashes up and puts out their shield, it can force a reaction from their opponent, allowing for a grab. This technique is a definite mindgame.
- Pivoting is a similarly advantageous mix-up while approaching, due to the ability to capitalize on an opponent's reaction and microspace. Characters which can use pivoting effectively include those with long, disjointed tilt attacks, far-reaching pivots, or a long pivot grab, such as Meta Knight's pivot grab in SSB4. This technique cannot be performed safely in Brawl due to the risk of random tripping, and is largely absent in Ultimate (aside from pivot grabs) due to the removal of perfect pivoting.
- Approaching attacks are character-specific special moves that vary wildly in their style and application. They all share the same characteristic of moving the player while having a hitbox or grabbox out, and this allows them to be used to approach with minimal danger of punishment.
- Floating is a technique exclusive to Peach (and also Daisy in Ultimate) and a very effective method of approach. It allows players of either character to move toward or away from the opponent completely at will, while putting out any of their aerials. With the addition of float canceling (an advanced technique only present in Melee), this technique can prove deadly.
- Boost grab, or dash attack canceled grab, is present in Melee, Brawl, SSB4 and Ultimate. It sees less use in SSB4 and Ultimate than in Melee and Brawl, however, and only specific characters within each game benefit from it, most notably Sheik in Melee, Snake in Brawl and Wolf in Ultimate.
- Dash dancing is an unpredictable, commitment-free method of approach. It has all of the same advantages as a regular dash, but allows to the player to quickly retreat to a defensive position and gives further control over spacing.
- Extended dash-dancing is a replacement of this technique in Brawl and SSB4, combining dash dancing and fox-trotting. This lets a player make the most of a character's mobility by potentially confusing opponents and pressuring them to approach or dodge. Extended dash-dancing is most prominent in SSB4, due to the risk of tripping in Brawl.
- SHFFLing is a jumping technique with all the benefits of a standard aerial approach, but is quicker and therefore harder to punish should it fail.
- Wavedashing provides the option of an aggressive grounded approach. Most attacks can be used during a wavedash, with its speed and often unpredictable behavior allowing the player to quickly sneak in during a lapse in defense.
- Waveshining is a Fox and Falco-specific technique utilizing their Reflectors to approach before wavedashing away with a jump cancel. Due to the effectiveness of their wavedashes and their Reflectors' utility as extremely fast combo starters/breakers, waveshining is a very effective approach tactic, albeit difficult to master.
- The DACUS, or dash attack canceled up smash, is an expansion of dash attacking, which carries the momentum of a canceled dash attack to boost a character forward while using an up smash. While most characters can perform the technique, few get a noticeable momentum boost when doing so, and for those characters, the technique allows an up smash to function similarly to an approaching attack.
- Gliding is a rather unseen method of approach that can only be used by three specific characters (Meta Knight, Pit, Charizard). Like jumping, it grants the use of aerial attacks, along with the unique glide attack. It is not as easy to retreat while in a glide, but a glide attack can be canceled by initiating it right before landing, canceling all of the glide's lag while leaving the player free to perform any input while covering some ground.
Disrupting an approach
Often, it will either be advantageous for a player to wait for their opponent to approach, or they will have no other option but to deal with their opponent's aggression. The defending player will often allow the aggressor to put out their attack(s) and wait for an opening, either while defending themselves via shield, jumping, or other dodging techniques. Shield grabbing is a common counter to reckless approachers.
It is also possible to stop an approach in its tracks by by hitting the opponent out of it. However, this requires that a player have a range advantage on their opponent by using attacks such as Marth's down tilt or Falco's blaster.
In competitive play
Approaching techniques play a major role in the competitive metagame. A poor approach leaves the player vulnerable, so players must pay careful mind to how they attempt to take control. Prior to approaching, players are often in what is referred to as the "neutral game". During this period, neither player has a clear-cut advantage over the other, and both will be looking for a way to safely approach their opponent while also maintaining their presence and defensive structure. The way each player chooses to approach is important, as it is heavily dependent on the current situation (the matchup, stage positioning, and damage on each player).