Charizard (リザードン, Lizardon) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. Its return to the series was announced during a Super Smash Bros. Direct on April 8th, 2014, during which its fellow Pokémon representative Greninja was also revealed. Shin'ichirō Miki reprises his role as Charizard's voice actor, albeit via re-recorded voice clips that match how it sounds in the Pokémon anime.
Charizard is currently ranked 43rd out of 55 on the tier list, placing it in the E tier. This is roughly on par with Pokémon Trainer's placement in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, where he was ranked 29th out of 38. Due to now being a standalone character, Charizard's playstyle is much more consistent, and its moveset is no longer burdened by stamina. Fittingly for a super heavyweight, Charizard boasts an array of strong KOing options and impressive endurance, which are supplemented by rage and its varied recovery, respectively.
Charizard also boasts a potent grab game that allows for combos, KO set-ups, and even KOing outright; its up throw, in particular, is the second strongest throw of any kind in the game. Lastly, Charizard's overall mobility is quite fast for a super heavyweight. Its walking and dashing speeds are among the fastest in the game, while a number of its moves boast minimal start-up lag alongside respectable utility.
However, Charizard has some very noticeable weaknesses. Despite having a number of regular moves with minimal start-up lag, its overall frame data is nevertheless below-average compared to most of the cast. Unsurprisingly for a super heavyweight, Charizard is susceptible to combos and juggling; although it has options to escape from a disadvantaged state, they are easily exploitable.
In the early stages of SSB4's metagame, Charizard endured very poor tournament representation and results, to the point of being widely considered the single worst character in the game. Thanks to consistently receiving very useful buffs via game updates, however, Charizard's tournament presence has considerably improved at a very gradual pace, particularly in regional tournaments outside of North America. This success has been reflected by Charizard's current status as a mid-tier character.
Unlike the other playable Pokémon, who are either lightweights (Pikachu, Jigglypuff and Mewtwo) or middleweights (Lucario and Greninja), Charizard is a super heavyweight. Although its overall damage output and endurance are fittingly very high, it deviates from its weight class' archetype in a few ways. The most noticeable of these differences are its hurtbox and mobility. Like Mewtwo, Charizard's hurtbox has a deceptive size: due to its model's z-axis position, its hurtbox does not extend to its wings, and only covers slightly more than the base of its tail. As a result, Charizard's wings and the majority of its tail are effectively immune to opposing hitboxes.
In regard to mobility, Charizard's dashing speed is the ninth fastest in the game, whereas its walking speed is tied with Mewtwo's for the fifteenth fastest in the game. Like Pit and Dark Pit, it has below-average falling speed and multiple double jumps: the former makes it floaty in spite of its weight and thus enables it to avoid certain set-ups, whereas the latter assists its recovery. However, Charizard's mobility also has very apparent flaws. Its traction is tied with Mewtwo's for the second lowest in the game, while its rolls are among the slowest in the game. By extension, Charizard's below-average air speed hinders its otherwise varied recovery, and its falling speed makes it more susceptible to combos and being KO'd vertically because of its high gravity.
Charizard's greatest strength is its KO potential: thanks to its plethora of KOing options, it can easily and/or reliably KO opponents either on the ground or in the air. Sweetspotted forward smash, sweetspotted back aerial, and Flare Blitz are Charizard's strongest attacks: while near the edge of Final Destination, each of them KO middleweights below 85% and 75% in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, respectively. Alternatively, Charizard possesses a few safer, albeit somewhat weaker KOing options in sweetspotted forward tilt; up tilt; down smash; sweetspotted forward aerial; up aerial; up smash and up throw.
Out of these weaker KOing options, up smash and up throw are the most effective. Up smash hits grounded and aerial opponents on frame 6 and 7, respectively; deals respectable damage; and reliably KOs either grounded or aerial opponents. Conversely, up throw is the second strongest throw of any kind in the game (surpassed only by Ness' back throw), which enables it to KO reliably, even without the aid of a platform.
Another of Charizard's strengths is the utility of its moveset. Neutral attack is a prime example of this utility: it is among the most damaging of its kind in the game; possesses deceptive speed and range; and is decent at jab canceling. Down tilt, neutral aerial and forward aerial have significant ranges and fairly minimal lag, which make them useful for spacing like neutral attack. These three particular attacks also have specific perks: down tilt and sweetspotted forward aerial are useful edge-guarding options thanks to being semi-spikes, whereas neutral aerial is a useful combo starter from low to medium percentages, yet decently safe on shield or when missed thanks to its auto-cancel window and hitbox placements.
Forward smash and up aerial grant intangibility throughout their durations, which essentially enables Charizard to use them to retaliate against incoming attacks. Up tilt and up smash are reliable anti-air attacks, thanks to their ranges and Charizard's wings being unaffected by its hurtbox. Down smash simultaneously hits in front of and behind Charizard. When coupled with its quake hitboxes and its sweetspot being a semi-spike, it is very useful for punishing rolls and edge-guarding. In addition to up throw's aforementioned KO potential, the remainder of Charizard's grab game possesses respectable utility: its forward and back throws have decent damage outputs and are reliable for setting up edge-guards, whereas its down throw is a reliable combo starter from low to medium percentages.
The respectable level of utility within Charizard's moveset also extends to its special moves. Flamethrower is a short-ranged projectile that can be angled to safely rack up damage; intercept approaches and some other projectiles; or gimp recoveries. Rock Smash grants 18 frames of super armor beginning on frame 5, which makes it useful against incoming attacks, and a somewhat safe landing option. Lastly, Flare Blitz and Fly are both highly protective recovery options. Flare Blitz covers a great amount of horizontal distance, and grants 30 frames of armor that begin on frame 23 and can withstand a maximum of 15%. Conversely, Fly has fairly minimal start-up lag, and grants 11 frames of super armor beginning on frame 4.
However, Charizard has significant flaws. Like its fellow super heavyweights, it suffers from a lack of reliable landing options; when coupled with its slow air speed and air acceleration weakening its landing mix-ups, Charizard has only neutral aerial and Rock Smash as fairly safe landing options. Charizard's neutral game is also limited because of its lack of safety on shield. Although its neutral game has decent defensive potential, it suffers against opponents that can pressure it safely and force it to approach unsafely, such as Zero Suit Samus.
Although a number of Charizard's normal moves have minimal start-up lag, its overall frame data is below-average compared to most of the cast. This is especially apparent with several of its most useful and/or potent attacks: up aerial and Flamethrower have considerable amounts of start-up lag, whereas forward/down smashes; back/down aerials; Flare Blitz and Rock Smash each have considerable amounts of start-up and ending lag. In addition, some of Charizard's most useful and/or potent attacks have specific flaws aside from lag. Flamethrower's decay can prevent it from spacing effectively when used frequently. Flare Blitz's recoil damage makes it best used strictly as a punishment option. Forward smash, forward aerial, back aerial, down aerial and Rock Smash require their sweetspots to KO reliably, whereas up throw's KO potential can be hindered via directional influence.
A few of Charizard's custom moves alleviate some of its weaknesses. Dragon Rush is effectively its best custom move: although it deals slightly less damage and has very minimal KO potential, it hits multiple times, cannot be blocked by opponents when recovering, has less lag and lacks recoil damage. Rising Cyclone is drastically stronger, to the point that it is capable of KOing most characters under 80%. However, it covers much less distance, to the point that it travels roughly as high as Rising Uppercut. Fly High covers slightly more distance, but at the cost of not dealing any damage. Lastly, Sinking Skull is slightly faster, buries grounded opponents and, when sweetspotted, meteor smashes aerial opponents. However, it does not have any super armor, so it worsens Charizards already poor landing options.
Overall, Charizard is essentially an "all-rounder" version of a super heavyweight, yet it is also comparable to Bowser in certain ways: its air physics and a number of its moves are similar to his, while its grab game is very useful for combos and KOing. Unlike Bowser, however, Charizard possesses faster grounded mobility, greater moveset utility, and a better recovery at the cost of raw power and balanced aerial mobility.
These traits make Charizard's playstyle require patience like Bowser's, yet deviate from his by requiring an appropriate balance of offense and defense, instead of being largely defensive. Reads and baits can also be very beneficial for Charizard's most potent punishment options, particularly its smash attacks and sweetspotted back aerial. However, its other useful assets enable it to not be as dependent on mindgames like Bowser is.
From a competitive standpoint, Charizard is currently placed in the lower portion of the mid-tier. While it had been previously regarded as a bottom-tier character, and even the single worst character in the game prior to update 1.0.6, the substantial buffs it consistently received from game updates lead it to be widely regarded as a potential low-tier or mid-tier character even before its improved results and official tier reassessment.
Despite being well-rounded for a super heavyweight, many players cite Charizard as one of the more complex heavyweights to utilize, which was reflected by its generally below-average tournament representation in North America prior to 2017. Nevertheless, Charizard has managed to achieve sparse, but notable results in tournaments outside of North America, such as winning some regional tournaments. In addition, its tournament success in North America began to show improvement in 2017, as shown by Bloodcross and Sharpy placing 17th and 33rd, respectively, at CEO Dreamland.
Changes from Brawl
Charizard has received a mix of buffs and nerfs in the transition from Brawl to SSB4. Direct comparisons to its appearance in Brawl are somewhat abstract because of the fact that it could not be played as an individual character; however, it is generally agreed that Charizard itself has been buffed. Charizard's playstyle is drastically different from that of Pokémon Trainer as a whole: in general, the loss of its teammates makes its playstyle much more consistent than Pokémon Trainer's, but less capable of adapting to matchups.
Charizard has received some notable buffs. The removal of stamina grants its moveset consistent power, which is further supplemented by the rage mechanic enabling its wide array of KOing options to become even more potent. In regard to individual buffs, Charizard's grounded mobility has greatly improved: its already fast dashing speed has become the ninth fastest in SSB4, while its walking speed has gone from being the slowest in Brawl to being tied with Mewtwo's as the fifteenth fastest in SSB4.
Charizard's grab game has also improved: up throw is now a reliable KOing option and the second strongest throw of any kind in the game, whereas down throw has been re-purposed from a KOing option into a reliable combo starter at low to medium percentages. Lastly, Rock Smash now grants super armor and Flare Blitz, its new side special, boasts KO and recovery potential.
However, Charizard has also received nerfs. The removal of gliding has greatly weakened its recovery, while Flare Blitz is not as flexible for horizontal recovery like gliding was. Flare Blitz is also burdened with recoil damage, regardless of whether or not it hits a target. In regard to individual nerfs, Charizard's heavier weight; faster falling speed; and slower air speed collectively make it more vulnerable to combos and juggling. While some of its moves deal more knockback and are thus able to KO earlier, this in turn makes them less suitable for combos past medium percentages. Lastly, Charizard's overall grab range has been shortened, although it is still above-average compared to most of the cast's.
Initially considered one of the worst characters in the game, Charizard has been buffed significantly via game updates. Update 1.0.8 granted Charizard arguably its most beneficial buffs: it improved neutral attack's reliability; increased back aerial's range; and re-purposed up and down throws into a viable KOing option and Charizard's best combo starter, respectively. Although the buffs granted by update 1.1.0 were not as prominent in comparison, they nevertheless improved the utility of Charizard's moveset.
The changes to shield mechanics brought about by updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1 are a mixed bag for Charizard: they make its high hitlag attacks safer and more threatening against shields, yet worsen its out of shield options. Lastly, update 1.1.5 followed a similar route to 1.0.8 by granting very beneficial buffs for Charizard: it increased its air speed; increased the damage outputs and decreased the landing lag of its aerials; and gave Flare Blitz an additional hitbox that can allow it to punish a wider variety of maneuvers.
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Due to its sluggish moveset; predictable and exploitable recovery; very slow air speed; susceptibility to combos; and newfound lack of teammates, Charizard initially garnered a very poor reputation by the majority of players during SSB4's early metagame. Update 1.0.8, however, began a trend in which game updates consistently granted Charizard buffs that were substantial at best and decent at worst. The buffs from this particular update noticeably improved Charizard's KO potential, combo game and frame data to the point that it lost its candidacy for the worst character in the game. Although some players even argued in favor of Charizard now becoming somewhat viable, it was still widely attested that these buffs were not sufficient enough to significantly improve its representation and results. As a result, Charizard was ranked 49th on the first tier list, confirming its status as a bottom-tier character.
Despite this placement, Charizard's viability became heavily contested ever since update 1.1.5, thanks to its sporadic instances of success and strengths as a character. Numerous professionals, including ZeRo and ESAM, believed Charizard to be somewhat viable and labeled it as a potential low-tier or even mid-tier character. This perception persisted into the second tier list, but was not reinforced by the second tier list itself, as Charizard was ranked 51st and thus placed at the top of the bottom-tier.
Despite this placement, many players kept arguing in favor of Charizard's viability. Notably, MkLeo has claimed that Charizard can fare well against top-tier characters, thanks to it having some niche matchups against some of them, such as Cloud. Arguments in favor of Charizard's viability were further supplemented by its tournament results slowly, but noticeably, improving; dedicated players like Chuck Nasty, Sharpy and Serge would go on to actually win regional tournaments while exclusively using Charizard.
Thanks to its newfound success, Charizard was ranked 45th on the third tier list, which reassessed it as a low-tier character. International players like Tosshi, Fire and SilentDoom would also achieve significant wins and results while using Charizard, such as the latter placing 25th at B.E.A.S.T 7 while using both Charizard and Cloud. Although Charizard's results in North America have been more sparse than other regions, they eventually improved in a similar manner. Notable examples include Bloodcross and Sharpy placing 17th and 33rd, respectively, at CEO Dreamland, and Chuck Nasty placing 13th at Low Tier City 5. Thanks to this steady amount of tournament success, Charizard has been ranked 43rd on the fourth and current tier list, which has reassessed it as a mid-tier character.
In Event Matches
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