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, although he re-recorded Charizard's voice clips to match how it sounds in the Pokémon anime.
Charizard is currently ranked 45th out of 58 on the tier list, placing it in the E tier, and making it the third highest ranked super heavyweight. This is a slight improvement from Pokémon Trainer's placement in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, where he was ranked 29th out of 38. Due to becoming a standalone character, Charizard's playstyle is much more consistent, and its moveset is no longer burdened by stamina. Charizard also boasts overall fast mobility for a super heavyweight: its walking and dashing speeds are among the fastest in the game, while a number of its moves boast the useful combination of respectable utility and minimal start-up lag.
Fitting for a super heavyweight, Charizard boasts an array of strong KOing options and impressive endurance, which are respectively supplemented by rage and its varied recovery. It also boasts a potent grab game that allows for combos, KO set-ups, and even KOing outright. Charizard's up throw is particularly notable, as it is the second strongest throw of any kind in the game.
However, Charizard has some exploitable 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. Charizard also suffers from a vulnerability to juggling, a common problem among heavyweights and super heavyweights; although its options to escape from a disadvantaged state exist, they can also be easy to exploit.
In the early metagame, Charizard endured very poor tournament representation and results, to the point of widely being considered the single worst character in the game. However, thanks to consistently receiving very useful buffs via game updates over the SSB4's lifespan, Charizard's tournament presence, particularly in regional tournaments outside of North America, has considerably improved at a very gradual pace. As a result, it has managed to rise from initially being at the middle of the bottom-tier to currently being in the upper portion of the low-tier, which reflects the general consensus of its tier status even prior to its tier reassessment.
Unlike the other playable Pokémon, who are either lightweights (Pikachu, Jigglypuff, and Mewtwo) or middleweights (Lucario and Greninja), Charizard is a super heavyweight. Fittingly, its overall damage output and endurance are both very high, although it deviates from its weight class' archetype in a few ways. The most noticeable differences are its grounded 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. Its aerial mobility is also distinct a super heavyweight: like Pit and Dark Pit, Charizard has the combination of below average falling speed and multiple double jumps. The former makes it somewhat 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 as the second lowest in the game, whereas its below average air speed hinders its otherwise varied recovery. Charizard's falling speed also does more harm than good: in addition to making it more susceptible to juggles, it also results in it being more susceptible to being KO'd vertically because of its above average gravity.
Charizard's greatest strength is its KO potential, as its plethora of KOing options enable it to easily and/or reliably KO opponents either on the ground or in the air. Charizard's sweetspotted forward smash, Flare Blitz, and sweetspotted back aerial are its 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. Although sweetspotted forward tilt, down smash, up aerial, sweetspotted down aerial, and Rock Smash are weaker in comparison, they KO easily regardless while near the edge (down smash, forward tilt and Rock Smash), the upper blast line (up aerial), and off-stage (down aerial). Alternatively, Charizard possesses a few faster, albeit somewhat weaker KOing options in the forms of up tilt, up smash, sweetspotted forward aerial, up throw, and Fly. Out of these weaker options, up smash and up throw are the most effective. Up smash hits on frame 6, deals respectable damage, and KOs reliably regardless of whether it hits 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, with its neutral attack being a prime example of this. In addition to being among the most damaging of its kind in the game, Charizard's neutral attack can be jab canceled to set up into up smash or down tilt, while its deceptively long range also makes it useful for spacing and as a punish out of shield. Down tilt, neutral aerial, and forward aerial have respectable ranges and decently low lag, and are thus useful for spacing like neutral attack. When cleanly autocanceled, neutral air has minimal ending lag; this and the ending positioning of its hitboxes make it generally safe on block and whiff. Down tilt, sweetspotted down smash, and sweetspotted forward aerial are semi-spikes, which makes them reliable for setting up edgeguards, whereas up tilt and up smash are reliable anti-air attacks. In addition to up throw's KO potential, the remainder of Charizard's grab game possesses significant utility: its forward and back throws have decent damage outputs and are reliable for setting up edgeguards, whereas its down throw is a reliable combo starter from low to medium percentages. Despite its low traction, Charizard also has strong utility in its out of shield options; the high range of jab lets it punish many things out of shield, while Fly can be performed out of shield to punish misspaced attacks and cross-ups hard.
The respectable level of utility within Charizard's moveset also extends to its special moves. Flamethrower is a short-ranged projectile that can safely rack up damage, intercept approaches and some other projectiles, or gimp recoveries. Rock Smash grants super armor beginning on frame 5, making it a powerful but unsafe reversal or landing option. Lastly, Flare Blitz and Fly are both highly protective recovery options and supremely risky but rewarding KO options: the former covers a great amount of horizontal distance and grants armor that can withstand a maximum of 15%, whereas the latter quickly covers a decent amount of vertical distance and grants super armor, and they both kill well without rage and very early with high rage.
However, Charizard has significant flaws. Although a number of its normal moves have low start-up lag, its overall frame data is below average compared to most of the cast. This is especially evident in its aerials, as its fastest aerial comes out on frame 8. Several of its most useful and/or potent attacks have significant lag: Flamethrower and neutral aerial have considerable start-up lag, while back air and forward air have significant ending lag that can be punished when whiffed. In addition, some of Charizard's most useful and/or potent attacks have specific flaws aside from lag. 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. Charizard also suffers from poor landing options like its fellow superheavies. Its low air speed and air acceleration weaken drifting, and its slow and laggy aerials and specials give few landing options other than neutral aerial. Lastly, Charizard's neutral game is limited because of its lack of safety on shield; while it has a decent defensive neutral game, its neutral suffers against opponents that can pressure it safely or force it to approach unsafely regularly.
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. Fly High covers slightly more distance, but at the cost of dealing any damage. Conversely, Rising Cyclone covers noticeably less distance, but is significantly stronger, to the point that it can KO most characters around as low as 56% while near the upper blast line. Lastly, Rock Hurl has more range and speed alongside super armor that is active upon start-up, but at the cost of dealing less damage.
Overall, Charizard is essentially an "all-rounder" version of a super heavyweight, yet it is also comparable to Bowser in both moveset and playstyle: it has similar air physics, has a number of moves with similar uses, and uses on its potent grab game for combos and KOs. Unlike Bowser, however, Charizard exchanges grab utility and power, balanced aerial mobility, and raw power for faster grounded mobility, more rounded defensive and offensive options, and a better recovery. These traits result in Charizard's playstyle require patience like Bowser's, but deviate from his by requiring an appropriate balance of offense and defense instead of being largely defensive. Reads and baits can also be pivotal for Charizard's best punishment options, such as its smash attacks and back aerial, although its other assets enable it to not be as dependent on mindgames as Bowser is.
From a competitive standpoint, Charizard is currently placed in the upper portion of the low-tier. While it had been previously regarded as a bottom-tier character, and even the single worst character in the game prior to version 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 improvement in 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, and this 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, to the point that it has even won some regional tournaments. In addition, its tournament success in North America began to show improvement in 2017, which was especially evident 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 percents. Lastly, Rock Smash and its new side special, Flare Blitz, grant super armor and thus improve its defensive presence, while Flare Blitz also 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. While some of its moves deal more knockback and are thus able to KO earlier, this, in turn, makes them more difficult to use for combos past medium percentages. Lastly, Charizard's overall grab range has been shortened, though it is still above average compared to most of the cast's overall grab ranges.
Initially considered one of the worst characters in the game and arguably the worst among the cast, Charizard has been buffed significantly via game updates. Update 1.0.8 granted Charizard arguably its most beneficial buffs: it made neutral attack connect more reliably, 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 potential. 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
Upon the initial release of SSB4, Charizard was poorly perceived by the majority of players due to its very sluggish moveset, predictable and exploitable recovery, very slow air speed, and susceptibility to combos. Its negative perception led some players to view it as being heavily nerfed since Brawl even when not including Squirtle and Ivysaur, and many considered it to be the single worst character in the game up until update 1.0.6, with its representation throughout most of SSB4's lifespan being notoriously poor in spite of its consistent popularity within its home series. However, Charizard began to receive a consistent amount of substantial buffs in game updates beginning with update 1.0.8, which noticeably improved its KO potential, combo game, frame data, and mobility. While some players argued that Charizard had become 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, perpetuating its perception as a bottom-tier character.
Despite its bottom-tier placement, Charizard's viability became heavily contested ever since update 1.1.5, thanks to its sporadic results and overall 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. While this perception persisted into the second tier list, where it was ranked 51st and thus placed at the top of the bottom-tier, many players kept arguing in favor of Charizard's viability. MkLeo, in particular, has even claimed that Charizard can fare well against top-tier characters, such as Cloud. Arguments in favor of Charizard's viability were further strengthened by its tournament results slowly, but noticeably improving, with dedicated players such as Chuck Nasty, Sharpy, and Serge even winning regional tournaments while exclusively using it.
Thanks to its newfound success, Charizard is ranked 45th on the third and current tier list, which reassesses it as a low-tier character. This tier rise is also notable for signalling the end of Charizard's status as a bottom 10 character, similarly to Samus and Palutena. International players such as Tosshi, Fire, and SilentDoom have also achieved 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. While Charizard's results in North America have been more sparse than other regions, they eventually improved in the same manner; numerous players have achieved notable placements at national tournaments while exclusively using Charizard, such as Bloodcross and Sharpy placing 17th and 33rd, respectively, at CEO Dreamland, and Chuck Nasty placing 13th at Low Tier City 5.
In Event Matches
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