Ganondorf (ガノンドロフ, Ganondorf) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. Alongside R.O.B., he was officially revealed as a playable veteran on October 15th, 2014, although he was leaked four times prior to his reveal: via video footage from ESRB, outside the in-game stage boundaries in an official video (later replaced with a nearly-identical video sans Ganondorf), in Twitch livestreams and even a mention in Masahiro Sakurai's Pic of the Day five days before his official reveal.
Ganondorf is ranked 53rd out of 55 on the tier list, placing him in the G tier and tying him with Zelda. This is a very slight improvement from his ranking in Brawl, where he was the game's lowest-ranking character. As in previous games, Ganondorf remains as the game's archetypal super heavyweight, boasting high endurance, slow yet powerful moves that can KO very early, along with a capable edgeguarding game courtesy of hard-hitting aerials. This is further enhanced by the buffs to his mobility, combo game and already high power, in addition to the general changes to game mechanics patching up several key weaknesses he had in Brawl. Altogether, Ganondorf's high power allows him to deal ruthless punishes when the opportunity arises, in addition to being capable of ending stocks with very few hits.
However, Ganondorf still remains significantly disadvantaged by his slow mobility, very sluggish frame data when compared to the cast, and large target, making him exceptionally susceptible to rushdowns, combos and projectile camping, in addition to giving him a linear approach. His grab game, outside of Flame Choke, is also very lackluster, while his recovery is still easily exploitable due to being slow, linear and predictable. Finally, Ganondorf has a fair number of unrewarding moves that can neither combo or KO reliably, despite his overall power.
As a result of these factors, Ganondorf still relies primarily on punishes and hard reads, and his weaknesses from Brawl are still prominent; however, he is commonly considered to fare better against difficult matchups, despite still being lackluster overall. This has resulted in Ganondorf gaining a low amount of representation in tournaments, in addition to attaining below-average success. Nevertheless, he is popular in the SSB4 community due to his extremely strong, over-the-top, and extravagant punishment options that can easily KO unaware opponents, with a number of dedicated players such as Gungnir, Vermanubis and Ray Kalm, some of which even use him as a solo main in tournaments despite his standing on the tier list.
How to unlock (3DS version only)
After completing one of the two methods, Ganondorf must then be defeated on Gerudo Valley.
Ganondorf is the epitome of the archetypal heavyweight: he sacrifices speed and mobility for power and endurance, and has a tall frame. Aside from being tied for having the sixth highest traction, Ganondorf's archetype is reflected in his other attributes: he is the fifth heaviest character, has the second slowest walking speed, the third slowest dashing and air speeds, moderately high falling speed, high gravity and is tied for the third lowest air acceleration. However, while he has the third lowest jump and double jump heights, he still has the worst total jump height overall due to Kirby and Jigglypuff, the other lower height jumpers, possessing multiple midair jumps to counteract this. As such, Ganondorf is the least mobile character in the game due to his poor speed on both the ground and in the air being ranked among the lowest, as well as having the worst jump heights in the game.
Ganondorf's greatest trait is his raw power. He possesses attacks that are on par with Bowser in terms of damage and knockback, with almost his entire moveset granting him the ability to KO under 150% or even 100% with ease, even if the opponent is in the middle of Final Destination. This becomes especially evident with rage, making his punishes some of the most potent in SSB4, while several other moves have the ability to KO at exceedingly low percentages, such as an aerial reversed Warlock Punch (which one-hit KOs Mario with rage) and sweetspotted up tilt (which KOs middleweights at 33% near the ledge). While Ganondorf's combo game is limited when compared to the majority of the cast, his followups make up for it by dealing high amounts of damage in a short time, such as sourspotted dash attack to up aerial, or the followups from Flame Choke (either from opponents missing their tech, or through predicting their reactions). Because of his strength, Ganondorf has one of the strongest KO abilities in the game, as he is capable of racking up damage and KOing opponents in less than a few hits.
In addition, his previously mentioned attributes give him high survivability and allows him to use rage to full effect, further boosting his already powerful moves at high percentages. Ganondorf's strength also makes mistiming or overusing a shield incredibly deadly, with multiple attacks capable of dealing massive shield damage or outright breaking shields with a single hit. Notable examples of this are up tilt's sweetspot, which can break full shields, his forward and up smashes and aerial Wizard's Foot. He can also play mindgames to make opponents with low shield health play more carefully as a single hit from one of his attacks can break their shield or KO them at relatively low percentages.
Ganondorf is among the best edgeguarders in the game, as his powerful aerials are relatively fast for their immense power (excluding forward aerial and down aerial) and send foes far away from the stage even at medium percents, spelling trouble for any fighter without a long-distance recovery. His down aerial is the most powerful meteor smash in the game with low ending lag, and his up aerial's late hitbox is among the best gimps in the game with its semi-spike angle and high hitstun. Finally, his back aerial is a deceptively fast, safe and powerful KO move, as it starts up as fast as Captain Falcon's with relatively little lag and can autocancel in a short hop, despite its immense power. His grounded moveset is also useful for punishing impromptu recoveries, such as using an up tilt against badly positioned fighters or an up smash against horizontal recovering characters like Ike. Ganondorf also has the lowest and safest ledge grab, allowing him to camp on the ledge effectively and giving him decent protection from opponents when hanging from a ledge.
However, Ganondorf possesses many notable flaws. His shield is very vulnerable to shield stabbing due to its small size relative to his height. Also, small characters, such as Kirby, can easily avoid his attacks due to the majority of his moves having short range, poorly placed hitboxes with low durations, while also extending his hurtboxes and makes him vulnerable to trading or simply being grabbed out of an attack despite being visually out of range. Although Ganondorf's frame data is similar (albeit slightly slower) to Captain Falcon in terms of start up (barring neutral attack, up tilt, and Warlock Punch), his attacks are very difficult to land while being easily punished due to high ending lag and/or landing lag; most notoriously, his forward aerial has the highest ending lag out of all of his aerials, and cannot autocancel even from a full hop, forcing Ganondorf to enter the landing animation. As a result of his high end lag, some of his moves are completely unsafe on shield, making it very difficult to take full advantage of his extreme shield breaking capabilities.
Additionally, Ganondorf's overall physics leave him with very poor mobility and approaching options, which makes closing the distance or creating space considerably difficult for him, and he is easily zoned out by projectile characters due to him lacking a projectile himself. Also, his high knockback and sluggish moves, his poor range as well as his terrible air speed all give him a very poor combo game, as he cannot easily or reliably pursue his opponents in the air while his aforementioned high power moves will almost always knock his opponents too far away for follow-ups. However, Ganondorf himself is very easy to combo; his heavy weight, tall stature, low air speed, and unsafe landing options make him very susceptible to combos and juggling, and his poor out of shield options gives him difficulty protecting himself against rushdowns. Overall, this makes Ganondorf rely heavily on proper spacing and mindgames, as he cannot afford to whiff a single move.
Another prominent weakness is his frame data. As mentioned before, all of his moves are burdened with extreme amounts of lag, with very few moves being active before frame 9 (with those moves being limited to up aerial, neutral aerial, standing grab, and neutral attack), while some of his moves do not come out before frame 30, such as Warlock Punch and his notoriously powerful up tilt. This offsets Ganondorf's powerful KO ability by forcing him to rely on reads and hard punishes, with few effective setups to end stocks via combos. When considering his overall poor speed and frame data, this also makes it difficult for Ganondorf to close the gap between him and an opponent should he be going against a speedy foe, such as Sheik. As a result, he is collectively considered to have among the worst frame data in SSB4, along with Shulk, Palutena, and King Dedede.
Other issues include a poor grab game. Ganondorf's grab range is surprisingly short despite his size, while his physics, ineffective angles, and high knockback result in his throws having little follow-up, but are not strong enough to KO reliably. However, his forward throw does very high damage and can decently lead into down aerial meteor smashes off-stage, while down throw has fairly low knockback to decently combo (albeit not as good as other character's combo throws). Flame Choke can also work against Ganondorf due to it enforcing unreliable hard reads, especially if teched, with incorrect reads likely putting Ganondorf in a vulnerable position.
His recovery remains very lackluster and one is of the worst in the game due to its low distance, low air speed and high vulnerability to edgeguarding and gimps. Flame Choke's and Dark Dive's lack of speed, distance and resilience allows Ganondorf to be knocked away by even the weakest of moves, despite the former's fearsome sacrificial KO potential. Even if Dark Dive is landed and lets him reuse the move, it's high ending lag also makes it highly susceptible to being teched and punished, with opponents being able to act before Ganondorf can.
Finally, despite his status as a powerhouse, Ganondorf still possesses some moves that offer little reward due to their inability to combo reliably or KO at realistic percentages (with some not even KOing past 200%), such as his neutral attack's sourspot, neutral aerial's late hitboxes, Dark Dive, and all his throws.
Ganondorf drastically benefits from some of his custom moves; most notably, Wizard's Dropkick and Dark Fists. While Wizard's Dropkick is weaker, cannot meteor smash, and has slightly more ending lag when performed in the air, it is excellent against projectiles and for recovery, acting as a superior version of Flame Choke's recovery that does not leave him helpless while allowing Ganondorf to fly over projectiles while attacking. Dark Fists is a two-hit attack with better horizontal reach, armor, and very potent power, giving him impressive protection against edgeguarders if used as a recovery and a very effective out-of-shield option, something that he lacks. When using both of these moves on his moveset, Ganondorf is granted a very efficient recovery and improved offensive prowess, as he can travel high distances while being exceedingly difficult to edgeguard without being punished. For other notable customs, Warlock Blade offers better utility over Warlock Punch due to its lower start-up, increased range, transcendent priority, and high shield damage, but replaces one of Ganondorf's best punishing options due to its reduced strength. Flame Chain and Flame Wave are semi-viable alternatives to Flame Choke, with the former being a multiple hitting attack with decent horizontal knockback and the latter having high damage and strong KO power; however, both are laggier and sacrifice powerful combos, while the latter covers significantly less distance, to the point where it only reaches opponents directly in front of Ganondorf. The rest of his custom moves are ineffective as they offer very little bonuses over the default or other custom moves; the best example is Warlock Thrust, which has extremely minimal KO power and high ending lag to overwhelmingly outweigh its benefits of a larger hitbox and faster start-up. However, while his custom moves address his recovery issues and make him a more dangerous character with better staying power, they are not allowed in the standard metagame.
All in all, Ganondorf is a powerhouse who can deal large amounts of damage in only a few hits and just as easily finish off an opponent with a single, well-placed attack, though he suffers from lackluster mobility, poorly placed hitboxes and reach, frame data, recovery, and lack of approaching and zoning options, forcing him to rely almost completely on punishes and mindgames. As such, he still must play very cautiously like in Brawl, patiently waiting and reading the opponent's movements before striking; additionally, the player should not be afraid to allow Ganondorf to trade blows due to his high endurance, but should also keep him onstage as much as possible due to his poor recovery. However, his improved power and miscellaneous buffs have made Ganondorf significantly more effective than in Brawl. As such, Ganondorf is a high risk, high reward character; while he struggles in consistent high-level play, players that are very skilled with reads and mindgames can use his raw power to their advantage and end matches in a flash with the right strategy. Due to these reasons, Ganondorf has among the highest tournament representation out of the G-tier characters and slightly better results than them, but they are still lackluster overall, with most of his success only coming from minor tournaments. Throughout the game's lifespan, Ganondorf has been consistently buffed, though they have not brought him up to speed in comparison to most of the other veterans; thus, he remains in the lowest tier of the current tier list.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Given that he was regarded as quite possibly the worst character in Brawl, Ganondorf has been buffed in the transition from Brawl to SSB4, albeit not enough to raise his standing among the cast. Aside from a few minor animation changes and different custom moves, Ganondorf is still a semi-clone of Captain Falcon, having even been slightly re-cloned with his down aerial and neutral aerial's first hit functioning almost exactly like Falcon's, albeit the latter having no set knockback and an added hitbox on the foot with increased knockback. Outside of this, some of his moves are faster (notably neutral attack, dash attack, and neutral aerial), have even more power (most notably down smash, back aerial, and Wizard's Foot), or deal more damage (notably up smash, forward aerial, and Flame Choke). His dash attack's sourspot has vastly improved combo potential, while the sourspots on some of his attack are less of a hindrance now due to either having consistent knockback on all their hitboxes and/or deal more damage. Ganondorf's overall damage output is higher which is especially beneficial as most other returning veterans had their damage output reduced. Unlike many other characters who got increases in landing lag, Ganondorf's aerials have less landing lag, most prominently forward and down aerials, while the others are still noticeable as well. His slowest but most rewarding moves, such as his up tilt and Warlock Punch, are much easier to land and are even more powerful. His grab game has been slightly improved, though it remains very poor. One of the most notable changes is that the use of Flame Choke for Ganonciding now consistently KOs the opponent before Ganondorf, allowing it to be used as a guaranteed win if both players in a one-on-one match are on their last stock.
Ganondorf also benefits from the general changes of SSB4. The removal of chain grabbing, which heavily plagued Ganondorf in previous games, improves his survival, while the changes to hitstun canceling, now only being possible after 40 frames, slightly improves Ganondorf's combo potential (notably from down throw) and makes opponents less capable of attacking him right out of Dark Dive (though it is still very capable of being attacked out). The removal of damage reduction on shields and increased shieldstun allows many of Ganondorf's attacks to break them more easily, the introduction of edge-stealing which allows Ganondorf to edge-hog more effectively while limiting his opponents' ability to do the same (which is only helped by his ledge grab animation being the lowest and safest in the game). Additionally, the new rage mechanic greatly strengthens his already high overall knockback, which he can benefit from even further due to his heavier weight.
However, Ganondorf also received noteworthy nerfs. His forward smash no longer has extra reach when pivoted, and while Warlock Punch was improved overall, it is laggier when reversed and much weaker unless reversed or performed in midair. Despite being infamous for his poor recovery, Ganondorf is even easier to edgeguard due to the removal of grab armor and his low air speed being nearly reduced to what it was in Melee. He can no longer perform the Flight of Ganon, noticeably hindering his aerial game. His down aerial is also significantly weaker, lasts shorter, and no longer auto-cancels in a short hop, drastically weakening its utility despite having significantly less landing lag and greater reach. The biggest nerf Ganondorf received was to Flame Choke, his staple move in Brawl: it not only lost its grab armor, but when grounded, it can now be teched before Ganondorf can act. This enforces unreliable hard reads, and if Ganondorf reads incorrectly, his slow attack speed will ensure he can get punished. In addition to his nerfs, his glaring flaws, outside of universal changes, from Brawl were not properly addressed, such as his extremely poor mobility and frame data and poor recovery, while the only issues that were addressed were his unusually low attack power in spite of his character archetype. Lastly, while the changes to hitstun canceling slightly improve his combo potential, it is nowhere near as much as some other returning veterans and it also makes him much more susceptible to combos himself and it removes momentum canceling which when combined with rage, hinders Ganondorf's endurance.
Overall, Ganondorf is considered a better and more rewarding character overall compared to how he was in Brawl as his damage output and KO potential are greater overall. However, this has barely helped his standing on the tier list, due to his weaknesses not being properly addressed. His speed is still abysmal despite being improved and his recovery is still highly exploitable despite the changes to air dodges and the ledge mechanics. Ganondorf's down aerial and Flame Choke (his two best moves) have also been considerably nerfed and the changes to the game's mechanics do not benefit him as much as some other characters. His overall matchup spread, while not as poor as it was in Brawl, is still very bad as he still loses a large majority of matchups. As a result, Ganondorf is still one of the worst characters in the game although it is generally agreed upon that he is no longer the worst overall.
Ganondorf has been significantly buffed via game updates. Update 1.0.4 started with making aerial Flame Choke no longer be techable like the grounded version, while update 1.1.0 greatly strengthened his previously ineffective down smash, and all aerial attacks have been improved overall; possessing either less landing lag, better hitbox placement, or more damage. The changes to the shield mechanics in updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1 gave Ganondorf the biggest, albeit indirect, buffs yet by enhancing his already excellent shield breaking capabilities and making his hitlag heavy attacks significantly safer on shield. However, this came with the weakening of his own already small shield, necessitating and encouraging a more offensive playstyle with fewer flaws in defending. Update 1.1.3 strengthened Dark Dive, which was previously considered one of the weakest and most situational moves in the game (although it is still one of Ganondorf's weakest moves), and made reverse Warlock Punch safer to use with the addition of armor, among other moderate buffs.
Update 1.1.5 improved Ganondorf's neutral game by making his infamously slow neutral attack significantly faster and adjusting its hitbox positions, which gives it slightly more reach and reduces the probability of hitting a blind spot. His dash attack had its lag reduced, which vastly improves its sourspot's combo potential. Flame Choke and Flame Wave had their grab box ranges increased, while his previously ineffective Wizard's Foot and its custom variations were improved by having their damage outputs increased and their hitbox placements widened. Aside from KOing earlier, these changes to Wizard's Foot and its custom variations enables them to out-prioritize weak projectiles and makes them safer overall. As a result, he is considered a much better character than he was in the initial release of SSB4.
Technical changelist 1.1.3
For a gallery of Ganondorf's hitboxes, see here.
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Public consensus on Ganondorf in Smash 4 has risen and fallen throughout the game's history despite his numerous direct buffs. Hopes were high when the game was released due to the very noticeable buffs and the very large benefit of the change of mechanics, with some players often drawing comparisons to his Melee self. Players such as Gungnir and Matt Hazard were already earning impressive results, with the latter even defeating Mew2King in a now-infamous 3DS set. This excitement, however would gradually die off following the Wii U release, as while many characters like Sheik and Diddy Kong benefited from the discovery of new tech and a better controller setup, Ganondorf proved to not be as mechanically intensive as many would have thought. Even despite numerous buffs between game updates, the metagame continued to develop, leaving Ganondorf behind for the most part, which inevitably led to his 54th placing in the bottom tier of the first 4BR tier list.
Despite this, Ganondorf proved to be surprisingly popular in competitive play for a bottom-tier character, gaining a reputation as a "disrespectful" character thanks to his low tier standing and extravagant punishes. As such, he has garnered much better results than most other bottom-tiered characters (and even outplacing most low-tiered ones such as Dr. Mario and Wii Fit Trainer), especially in Japan and Eastern Canada, both places of where there is a surprisingly large number of Ganondorf players. This resulted in Ganondorf holding the third-worst position on the second tier list, at 56th (due to the inclusion of Corrin and Bayonetta). Thanks to big advancements to his metagame, as well as still having good results for a poorly regarded character, Ganondorf was ranked 53rd on the third tier list, allowing him to rise out of the "bottom five" position; furthermore, with the abolishment of the "bottom" tier ranking, Ganondorf was then ranked as a low-tier character. However, while Ganondorf gained a notable result in Umebura Japan Major 2017 with Gungnir placing 17th with solo Ganon (also upsetting Earth during the tournament), and he retains his placing at 53rd on the fourth and current tier list, this placing is now notable for not only having Ganondorf share the spot with Zelda, but also dropping back to being the second worst character alongside her, after the exclusion of Miis from the most recent tier list.
Altogether, Ganondorf has improved notably from his Brawl incarnation, where he was not only considered the worst character, but he was indisputably a bottom-tier character and his worst matchups were far more difficult to win than most bad matchups in the game. While Ganondorf keeps being consistently ranked either among or barely outside of the "bottom five" characters on the Western and European scenes, the Japanese scene is still more optimistic about the character, especially after Gungnir's high placing. As such, Ganondorf's true tier placing is still debatable.
In Event Matches