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Desynching

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The editor who added this tag elaborates: Hasn't got any Brawl or Ultimate data and hasn't been updated since February 2019. Rosalina & Luma desyncs could also be worth adding. (August 2020).
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Data.png This article or section may require additional technical data.
The editor who added this tag elaborates: General technical data regarding desyncs, explanations, data for Melee, Brawl and Ultimate. A table of desync possibilities could be handy, as well as more technical data. (August 2020)
You can discuss this issue on the talk page or edit this page to improve it.
For information on the abnormality that can be seen in online matches, see Online desynchronization.
"Continuous desynch," as demonstrated in MICH's SmashBoards signature.

Desynching is an advanced Ice Climbers technique that involves separating the two Ice Climbers' states and controlling them individually.

Principles[edit]

The Ice Climbers are unique in that they are 2 characters in 1. The partner climber (Nana, by default) is CPU-controlled and follows the player's actions, attacking alongside the leader. When seperate, the AI will guide Nana to Popo. During this time, they are not synchronized, or "desynched", meaning Nana will not follow any player inputs until she gets within a certain distance of him.

Desynching can also be manually triggered without having to seperate them. This is partially due to how Nana has a several frame delay during most inputs, and from having slightly different attributes from Popo: jump height, gravity, fall speed, and dash (as of Ultimate). Specific maneuvers take advantage of these by using specific means, the most common being during grabs to allow Nana to attack a captive opponent or regrab them (though this particular method no longer applies in Ultimate due to changes made to grabs). Desynching can allow the player to perform an attack, move, jump, or wavedash with either Nana or Popo, whilst inputting a different command to the other Ice Climber, which can allow for highly damaging combos and zero-to-death strings.

Desync Subtypes[edit]

There are several kinds of desync that differ in execution. Most methods differ by game.

  • Neutral-Based Desyncs: Desyncs used in a "neutral state", i.e. not requiring an opponent to be hit or grabbed. Aerial NBDs involve Nana acting first, while Grounded NBDs involve Popo acting first.
  • Combo-Based Desyncs: Desyncs that require an opponent to be hit or grabbed. Most of them are kill confirms.
  • Miscellaneous Desyncs: Desyncs that don't apply to the categories above. They are situational, but have potential.
  • "Unconventional" Desyncs: Desyncs that have poor utility, can most likely leave any one of the Ice Climbers vulnerable, and possess little to no real practical use.

Neutral-Based Desyncs[edit]

  • Aerial Animation: Involves executing an animation (from aerials, empty hops, auotcancels, or airdodges) just before landing. Has 3 different methods:
  • "Aerial Autocancel": Performed by buffering 2 aerials back-to-back from a short-hop. Due to Nana's different jump height, gravity, and fall speed, she will be able to perform an action upon landing. Meanwhile, only Popo will suffer from the aerial's lag. The following aerial strings that can be used are:
  • Up Aerial + Up Aerial
  • Up Aerial + Back Aerial
  • Up Aerial + Neutral Aerial
  • Back Aerial + Up Aerial
  • Back Aerial + Back Aerial
  • Back Aerial + Neutral Aerial


For the aerial strings that begin with back aerial, the earliest hitbox (on frame 8) must connect first. Otherwise, the second aerial will not allow Nana to desync.

  • "Aerial Landing": If the Ice Climbers land in the middle of a synchronized aerial, buffering an input a few frames before landing will have Nana act with said input.
  • One method is to short hop and use neutral air, but just before reaching the apex of the height. Afterwards, immediately fast fall and input a move-- letting go of said move as soon as possible.
  • Another method is to fall through a soft platform and use neutral aerial-- albiet without fast falling-- and buffering a special move before touching the ground.
  • "Empty Hop": Right before landing with both Ice Climbers, if a move is buffered, Nana will perform said move immediately upon landing. Similar to Aerial Landing, except Popo will not incur aerial lag. This method is fairly difficult to perform.
  • Turnaround/Skid: Initiated by dashing in one direction until entering a run, then releasing the Control Stick to enter skid, then moving the Control Stick the opposite direction so Popo enters turn, and quickly interrupting the turning animation with a grounded move. If correctly executed, Popo will perform the move and Nana will perform a brief forward dash.

In a technical standpoint, the move input has to be made BEFORE Nana turns. That way, she will interpret the turn as a forward dash. Out of the skid, the dash interrupts as early as frame 8. This means that the player must skid, turn, and input a move at least 8 frames after the first skid, but less than 6 frames after the turn.


  • Squall: Performed by timing an input at the end of a synced Squall Hammer. This will have Nana act first. Works whether an opponent is hit or not. Autocancels as long as the Ice Climbers land within 30 frames, meaning the player should try to float the last bit of Squall Hammer to float away and autocancel.
    • Shield Pressure/Combo: If an opponent is caught, the player can try to float with the opponent slightly and Squall Desync into up tilt. Can lead into a footstool maneuver.
    • Simply Reset Neutral: When floating away to reset neutral, the opponent can input Blizzard towards the opponent and shield to obscure Nana's actions and guard against opponents.

Combo-Based Desyncs[edit]

  • Throw Buffer: One major change to the Ice Climbers in Ultimate is how Nana taunts when Popo throws an opponent. This desync method focuses on Nana following up after her taunt. During the down throw animation when Popo slams the opponent on the ground, as soon as the shockwave flashes green (frame 33), there is a 3 frame window to input any move with Nana. The only requirement is that the player also buffers an action with Popo immediately after Nana's input and release. Nothing happens if the input is too early, but the Ice Climbers will do the same action if the input is done too late. Below are a few examples of combos that can be done with this desync method:
  • 0-7% (Character dependent)
    • Forward roll with Nana; upward-angled forward tilt with Popo. Can follow up with Nana Squall Hammer, Nana forward tilt, or another grab. Works on all characters, except "feather" lightweights (i.e. Pichu and Jigglypuff); fails during Rage.
    • Forward aerial with Nana; up aerial with Popo. Requires use of 2 different jump buttons (in other words, another button also set as "Jump"). Only works against some characters; might not work during Rage.
  • 8-25% (Character dependent)
    • Forward roll with Nana; neutral aerial with Popo.
    • Forward roll with Nana; up aerial with Popo. Can be followed up by Nana up aerial to do an "alternating ladder" on certain "ball-like" characters (such as Jigglypuff and Wario).
  • Cheer Cancel: These methods are due to animation canceling through IASA frames. Includes but us not limited to: rolling, spot dodging, dash back, and foxtrot dash dance.

One exception that doesn't use IASA frames is standing grab and/or dash grab. Once initiated with either of these, the player should buffer grab. The moment Popo's hand goes for the grab, the Control Stick should be set to neutral, the grab button released, and a buffered pummel be inputted. Then, immediately pres and hold any button while smashing the stick in any direction. This takes a single input for both Ice Climbers, meaning any direction the player wants to smash in they must also throw.

Below are a few examples of combos that can be done with this desync method:

  • Down throw + spot dodge: Offers combo potential.
  • Down throw + down smash: Requires timing.
  • Forward throw + forward smash: Can be charged.
  • Forward throw + forward aerial
  • Up throw + up smash: Requires timing.
  • Back throw + forward smash
  • Nana can combo by buffering spot dodge during down throw; canceling her taunt.
  • Hitlag: Requires either the Ice Climbers or the opponent to be hit. Takes the idea of a single Ice Climber attacking/getting attacked to desync. Has 2 setups: Before-Type Setups and After-Type Setups.
  • Before-Type Setups: Setups that interrupt animations and have Popo himself attack before Nana does.
    • Jab: Pressing and releasing the first hit of neutral attack within certain frames of any animation can desync the Ice Climbers to have only Popo attack, while Nana can perform her own input.
      • Pressing and releasing neutral attack within the first 4 frames of a dash input, shield release, or crouch can have Popo attack alone. Other animations have different timing windows:
        • Dash input: used during a jab lock. By jabbing once normally with both Ice Climbers, the player can dash jab cancel to have Popo jab for the third jab and have Nana use Squall Hammer to attempt a regrab.
        • Shield Release: Is as slow as grab, post shieldstun (15 frames); shield release jab is 11 frames for the shield release, plus 4 frames for the jab.
        • Crouch: Has the most potential, but is the most difficult to input. By running and canceling the dash with a crouch and immediate jab, the player can cancel Nana's jab input with a special move. A good pressure tool if executed correctly.
  • Up Smash Out of Shield
  • When up smashing out of shield, by releasing and holding the attack button again, the player can have Popo up smash alone while Nana continues charging her up smash. Useful against opponents that try to grab Popo out of shield; when they try to grab him, Nana loses control and immediately strikes the opponent. This can be countered by the opponent using an attack to knock Nana out of her charge, but Popo is free to release it whenever.
  • Short-Hop Neutral Aerial: By connecting with a buffered short-hop neutral aerial on frame 6, the player can cancel Nana's jumpsquat into any special move. Good for out-of-shield neutral aerial (frame 9) on tall characters.
  • After-Type Setups: Setups performed at the end of synced attacks that connect.
    • With a synced forward aerial being +3 on shield, or a synced neutral aerial being +2, using jab (which comes out on frame 4) allows for a frame trap of -1 and -2, respectively. This can bait out out-of-shield aerials and shield grabs. After hitting synced jab 1 and 2, the player can time a solo Ice Shit with Popo and Nana for a jab lock, or a tech chase. If they miss a tech, this can usually lead to a guaranteed forward smash.
    • During up aerial strings, the player can buffer a second up air during Nana's hitlag, and while Popo is in the animation of his second up air, Nana can be made made to use forward aerial from a double jump.

Miscellaneous Desyncs[edit]

  • Ledge: First initiated after recovering to the ledge by use of Belay or Squall Hammer as both Ice Climbers. During the 2 frame animation of grabbing the ledge, an action must be inputted, and after that, an additional input. The first input is for Popo, and the second is for Nana. The only exception is that making Popo jump will cause Nana to jump as well, albiet she will still perform whatever her input was. For example:
  • Ledge jump + Nana Squall Hammer: This will drop Nana on top of the opponent, providing cover for Popo to get onstage.
  • Neutral getup + Nana ledge attack: Nana will cover Popo with her brief invincibility frames, as well as the hitbox from her ledge attack.
    • If an opponent is shielding, this maneuver can be used to incite shieldstun and give Popo an opportunity to grab them. Since she is already desynced from the ledge attack, this can lead to a combo involving Popo using back throw and Nana using forward smash backwards.

"Unconventional" Desyncs[edit]

  • Foxtrot: Performed by producing multiple foxtrots. At the end of a foxtrot, whiff grab and continue to foxtrot with Nana instead, causing her to continue to move. Although this can be used for Ledge Trumping, it offers the risk of vulnerability on Nana's part. Compounded with her knockback rate being higher than Popo's, this is a very situational desync.
  • Button Hold: When charging a smash attack with Nana, it can be released and confirm the hit into a grab before the opponent is launched.
  • Can be executed by either holding Shield, or quickly timing a grab.
    • By holding and angling the shield, pressing and holding the Attack button will cause both Popo to whiff his grab, and Nana to charge a smash attack.
    • By pressing the Grab button (while simultaneously inputting a smash attack), the same result can be achieved as the first aforementioned method.
  • Down Smash: An easy method. Upon performing down smash, the player can buffer a dash forward near the end of the animation, causing Nana to dash the opposite direction. During this time, however, the player has no control over her. This method is slow, so the player must be wary when using it.

Continuous desynch[edit]

As demonstrated in Two Climbers, Two Hands, it is a technique and strategy which involves keeping the Climbers desynced for extended periods of time. In addition to making the Climbers much more powerful offensively, they also become harder to approach with continuous desynch. Due to the extreme difficulty of timing and maintaining a continuous string of attacks, the in-combat potential of this approach is clearly substantial, but largely untapped.

There are 2 rules when keeping the Ice Climbers continuously desynched:

1. Avoid having Popo use Blizzard; it will end the desynching process.
2. Always wavedash with Popo in order to move both of the Ice Climbers around.

Impact[edit]

Since its inception, desynching has become synonymous with the identity of the Ice Climbers as characters. The technique's impact on their metagame cannot be understated, with it revolutionizing their neutral and combo game. Many believe they would be completely unviable without them, with ChuDat popularly describing his use of them as "controlling two characters at once". The prevalence of desyncs in every aspect of Ice Climbers gameplay has given the characters a reputation for being exceedingly hard to use at a competitive level, often being looked at as a challenge by budding players. However, it has also caused some to dislike the Ice Climbers, usually citing the reward not being enough for getting good with them.