Ganondorf (ガノンドロフ, Ganondorf) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. He was officially confirmed on June 12th, 2018 alongside the rest of the returning roster. Ganondorf is classified as fighter #23.
Takashi Nagasako reprises his role as Ganondorf after having previously voiced the character in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Super Smash Bros. Melee, providing new voice clips, replacing Hironori Miyata from Brawl and Smash 4.
How to unlock
Complete one of the following:
With the exception of the third method, Ganondorf must then be defeated on Bridge of Eldin
Ganondorf is the epitome of the archetype of super heavyweight: he is the fifth heaviest character in the game and possesses great power in exchange for slow mobility and poor frame data. Despite his high traction and above average falling speed, he has the seventh slowest walking speed, fourth slowest dashing speed, third slowest air speed, sixth slowest air acceleration, and fourth lowest jump and double jump heights. As a result, he is among the least mobile characters in the game, but his high endurance lets him survive very high percentages and benefit from rage.
Ganondorf's most defining trait is his incredible power and damage output. Almost all of his moves inflict 10%-25% damage and are capable of KOing under 150% or even 100% with ease, even from the middle of Final Destination, giving him one of the strongest punishment games in the roster. His forward tilt and down smash are very powerful semi-spikes, while his forward smash and up smash have impressive disjointed hitbox as they utilize a large sword that covers around Ganondorf's body while being able to hit ledgehangers, with the former being the third strongest of its kind that KOs well below 65%. His Warlock Punch, in spite of being his slowest move, also KOs exceedingly early, especially when used in the air and reversed, which can one-hit KO middleweights. Thanks to his strength, Ganondorf has one of the strongest KO abilities in the game, as he can rack up damage and KO opponents in less than a few hits.
Ganondorf's shield-breaking capabilities are very potent. His forward and up smashes, Warlock Punch, and aerial Wizard's Foot can bring down shields to a sliver of health, while his Volcano Kick (up tilt) has vacuum properties, deceptively large reach, and does immense shield damage allowing it to shatter shields outright over a large distance. 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, allowing him to punish their mistakes. As such, mistiming or overusing shields against Ganondorf is incredibly deadly, as his aforementioned powerful moves allow him to capitalize shield breaks.
Despite his power, Ganondorf has excellent combo starters, some of which are potential kill confirms. His down throw can combo into every aerial except down aerial or dash attack up to middle percentages. His dash attack is versatile, with its early hit leading into neutral aerial, up aerial, or Dark Dive at early percentages while possessing high KO power, and its late hit granting followups into neutral attack, forward tilt, grab, all aerials except down aerial, and Dark Dive, with the latter two being potential kill confirms at high percentages. Neutral aerial's set knockback on the first kick as well as the late hit of the second kick can lead into neutral attack, grab, forward tilt, down tilt, or dash attack right after landing on the ground. Sweetspotted down aerial's high hitstun combos into neutral attack, grab, forward tilt, down tilt, every aerial, up smash, or down smash up to middle percentages. Perhaps Ganondorf's best combo starter is grounded Flame Choke: it is a command grab that meteor smashes opponents into the ground which leads into a myriad of followups such as neutral attack, forward tilt, down tilt and dash attack, or create a read situation and follow with aerials, smashes, Wizard's Foot, or another Flame Choke. While Flame Choke can be teched, its low ending lag allows Ganondorf to tech-chase with the move, with some followups hitting short-distanced techs such as forward tilt covering Bowser's inward tech, up smash or turnaround down smash on Snake's inward tech, down tilt on Inkling's tech away, or neutral attack on all of Piranha Plant's tech options. Some characters can even be trapped at the ledge, where they move no distance from tech away and are hit during their neutral and inward techs.
All of Ganondorf's aerials are very useful, as they are fast for their immense power (except his forward aerial and down aerial), and are guaranteed to knock opponents off the stage even at medium percents, giving him one of the best edgeguarding capabilities in the game. His sweetspotted down aerial is his highest damaging aerial and the strongest meteor smash in the game, and when sourspotted has the second strongest horizontal knockback out of all his aerials (after his sweetspotted back aerial). His up aerial is his lowest damaging aerial, but is his second fastest aerial, can autocancel from a short hop, and its late hitbox is a very potent gimp with its semi-spike angle and high hitstun. His neutral aerial has the lowest knockback out of all his aerials, but is his fastest aerial consisting of two hits that naturally combo into each other with damage rivaling his sweetspotted down aerial, while doubling as long-lasting sex kicks, and has the greatest horizontal reach out of all his aerials allowing it to wall out approaches. His forward aerial boasts good reach in an arc that also hits slightly behind him, while his back aerial is a deceptively fast KO move that can autocancel from a short hop. Aerial Flame Choke is a chokeslam that lacks guaranteed followups, but does more damage than when used on the ground and can still tech-chase. Aerial Wizard's Foot is Ganondorf's only aerial with vertical knockback, making it a good anti-air that punishes juggles. Finally, Dark Dive is a command grab that does multiple weak electric hits that make it difficult to interrupt, which leads into a very powerful throw that can reverse edgeguard situations, especially when facing away from the stage, while also not causing helplessness and letting him reuse the move; if the grab misses, the move performs an uppercut at the end to deter edgeguards.
In spite of his strengths, Ganondorf has glaring flaws. He is highly vulnerable to combos, juggling, and shield stabbing thanks to his heavy weight, very large size, low air speed, and small shield size, and his slow mobility hinders his approach and ability to close distance or create space. His lack of projectile or reflector also leaves him susceptible to projectile camping and zoning.
Arguably Ganondorf's biggest weakness is his lack of defensive options, courtesy of the issues within his moveset. His frame data is very sluggish and among the worst in the game: he has very few moves that are active before frame 9 (these being neutral attack, neutral aerial, up aerial, and standing grab) and some not even coming out before 28 (such as forward smash, Warlock Punch, and Volcano Kick), along with many of his moves having extremely high ending lag (most notably Volcano Kick, all his smashes, and all his special moves). As a result of his abysmal frame data, many of his moves are unsafe on shield unless fully spaced, despite his aforementioned shield breaking capabilities. Combined with his poor mobility, Ganondorf struggles to compete with faster characters like Mewtwo, and forces his punishment game to heavily rely on proper spacing and mindgames.
In contrast to Ganondorf's tall size, some of his attacks have poor reach and often have problematic hitbox placements, causing them to have noticeably large blindspots. His neutral attack, forward tilt, back aerial, Dark Dive, and Wizard's Foot, some of which are considered Ganondorf's fastest attacks and best out of shield options, all suffer from a combination of short reach, short hitbox duration, small hitboxes sizes, and/or high hitbox placements. Neutral aerial's two hits often fail to link properly, especially against grounded opponents, likely resulting in Ganondorf getting punished if he whiffs the second hit, and the second hit itself is difficult to land due to its high hitbox placement. His foward smash, despite its impressive reach, completely lacks any active hitboxes during the downward swing, giving it a notoriously large dead zone above and in front of his head. Ganondorf's numerous blind spots allows many small characters such as Pichu to easily exploit and weave through his attacks, especially when crouching.
Outside of down throw, Ganondorf's grab game is also lackluster. His grab reach is notoriously short despite his tall stature, and despite their high damage the rest of his throws have little follow-up while being unreliable KO options, with up throw being a prime example. Flame Choke likewise has deceptively short reach and an absurd blindspot as it completely lacks any grabboxes on the hand. The ability to tech Flame Choke also works against Ganondorf, as it forces hard reads, and incorrect reads can put Ganondorf in a vulnerable position.
The other major weakness is his poor recovery, which is considered to be one of the worst in the game. Ganondorf's slow air speed and low jump heights, as well as the helplessness-causing Flame Choke and Dark Dive having low speed, distance, and resilience, makes his off-stage movement linear and predictable while leaving him very vulnerable to edgeguards and gimps. His recovery specials also work against Ganondorf; aerial Flame Choke can be escaped by button mashing and KOs Ganondorf first when used as a sacrificial KO, while Dark Dive's throw can be teched and punished due to its very high ending lag and also causes him to leap back a large distance and away from the stage. As such, it's possible to edgeguard Ganondorf by even intentionally getting hit by his aerial specials, leaving him in a position where his abysmal mobility prevents him from recovering.
Ganondorf also has considerable trouble landing safely. Despite his aerials having relatively low landing lag, the aforementioned poor hitbox placements fail to properly defend him from directly underneath, while down aerial and Wizard's Foot have noticeable start-up. While Wizard's Foot is Ganondorf's fastest option to return to the ground and can anti-air intercepting opponents with its vertical knockback, its landing possesses a small and very brief quake along with large landing lag, making it highly punishable.
Overall, Ganondorf's raw power lets him rack up damage quickly and close stocks early, but he has little means to defend himself which forces him to play cautiously. Ganondorf relies heavily on a bait-and-punish playstyle and mindgames, but his slow frame data and poor reach means he cannot afford to make any careless mistakes, where his ineffective recovery allows his opponents to remove his stocks just as early.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. 4
Likely due to his status as a bottom-tier character in Brawl and Smash 4, Ganondorf has been buffed in his transition from the latter game to Ultimate, though he fails once again to make significant rise among the cast.
Ganondorf's primary strengths, his extreme damage output and power, have been further improved since the previous game. A vast amount of his moves deal even more damage, and some of his moves (whether they were already strong or among the weakest) are more powerful such as his dash attack, back aerial, Dark Dive and Wizard's Foot; notably, dash attack has become as potent as it was in Brawl, whereas Dark Dive and Wizard's Foot have had some of their lost KO power restored from Melee. Forward aerial, a move previously considered inferior to his back aerial, has improved range, making it a far safer KO move. His smash attacks are now sword swings that possess increased range and power, with their power also becoming more consistent. Up tilt, notorious for shattering full shields, is also much easier to land with its faster startup and stronger windboxes, and its sourspot has been strengthened to match its sweetspot. Ganondorf's notoriously weak grab game was also substantially buffed, with his grabs having a longer duration and greater range (although it still remains rather short), and his throws receiving improved utility such as higher power (forward throw, although it still remains rather weak), damage (up throw) or combo potential (down throw). Lastly, Ganondorf is heavier, further improving his endurance.
Ganondorf notably benefits from most of the universal gameplay changes. The increase in mobility (most notably to his running speed, although it still remains quite slow), his faster jumpsquat, and the reduced landing lag on his aerial attacks all improve his neutral game and approach. His faster jumpsquat and landing lag reduction also improve his combo ability, thus further strengthening his damage racking game. The increased shieldstun on attacks heavily benefits Ganondorf, as it makes his entire moveset much safer on shield due to its very high damage output (and the reduction on his aerial attacks' landing lag compensates for the lowered shieldstun in aerial attacks), thus making him far harder to punish out of shield unless his attacks are improperly spaced, and significantly improving his ability to shield pressure.
Despite these notable buffs, Ganondorf is not without nerfs, some of which counterbalance said buffs. His forward and up smashes, despite having disjointed range, have increased ending lag, making them less safe to use and removing the latter's ability to bait approaches. His down tilt's vertical angles on its close hitbox now render it incapable of starting combos while being a much less effective KO option, especially out of Flame Choke. His up tilt is weaker overall, and has gained an incredibly weak late hitbox with no KO potential. Hitbox adjustments and/or reductions on his forward tilt, up tilt, back aerial, Dark Dive and Wizard's Foot make them harder to land. His grabs also have more startup and ending lag, toning down some of the improvements to his grab game as a whole. Among his biggest nerfs were to his up aerial, which has more startup and its sourspot no longer hits underneath him, thus removing most of its gimping effectiveness and lock combos, and the Ganoncide technique, now being escapable and KOing him first, making it more risky and situational. Lastly, despite gaining massive improvements from the game's engine, Ganondorf is also hindered by some of the universal changes; the universal increase to mobility makes it slightly harder to catch up with some characters. Meanwhile, the changes to air dodging are a mixed bag for Ganondorf, as they improve his great edgeguarding ability, but make him easier to edgeguard in return, worsening his infamously poor recovery and ineffective defensive game. Finally, the weakening of rage slightly hinders Ganondorf's KO power, though due to Ganondorf's increased damage and power, this change is a minor issue.
Overall, Ganondorf is considered to have improved over Smash 4, for as his strengths, such as his already great power, damage racking and shield pressure capabilities, have been further improved. However, his weaknesses remain highly exploitable, and his nerfs, while not as significant, counteract some of his buffs. Initially, Ganondorf was believed to be a mid-tier character and one of the best super heavyweights due to his significant improvements, as some players had achieved a few notable results with him such as Rickles and Smokk; most notably though, Nairo would counterpick Light with the character, beating him. However, Ganondorf's overall tournament representation remains very low, and he hasn't achieved any other notable results, which combined with his polarizing traits and lack of notable improvements in game updates have resulted in Ganondorf still being considered a low-tier character, with some opinions relegating him to a bottom-tier. Overall, while Ganondorf is unarguably much better than he was in Brawl and Smash 4, his true viability remains debatable.
Throws and other attacks
Ganondorf received a small bag of mixed changes over the game's updates. 1.1.0 removed one of his edgeguard deterrents and best punishment options by making his Flame Choke Sacrificial KO kill Ganondorf first, which further worsens his already poor recovery. 3.0.0 adjusted his hurtbox so that he is more consistently hit by multihit attacks.
On the upside, 2.0.0 allowed forward aerial to autocancel out of a double jump, which was infamous in Brawl and SSB4 for not cancelling even out of a full hop and would almost always force him to enter the landing animation. Ganondorf also benefits from the universal nerf on projectiles dealing less shield damage in 3.0.0, improving his approach against projectile camping.
For a gallery of Ganondorf's hitboxes, see here.
Note: All numbers are listed as base damage, without the 1v1 multiplier.
In competitive play
Public opinions on Ganondorf has risen and fallen. Ganondorf mains such as Vermanubis expressed optimism, with some comparisons even made to his Melee self. However, Ganondorf's standing in the metagame has fallen since Ultimate's release, as issues regarding his gameplay, such as blindspots on his smash attacks, his poor recovery being retained, difficulty in approaching, as well as most of his matchups still being very poor despite his buffs (such as Pikachu and Greninja). While he has seen success in local tournaments, his representation in regionals and majors have been poor due to his flaws still being prominent. His viability, however, is still debatable.
Any number following the Smasher name indicates placement on the Spring 2019 PGRU, which recognizes the official top 50 players in the world in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from February 1st, 2019 to July 7th, 2019.
Classic Mode: Encroaching Darkness
Ganondorf fights against the heroes and protagonists of various series.
Role in World of Light
Although Ganondorf does not appear in the World of Light opening cutscene, he was vaporized and later imprisoned alongside the rest of the fighters (except for Kirby) when Galeem unleashed his beams of light.
Ganondorf was one of the many fighters that fell under Dharkon's control upon Galeem's first defeat. He is unlocked in the Sacred Realm in the Dark Realm on the top of the land which makes up the Triforce of Power. This land can only be accessed after interacting with the Master Sword (just after the Cloud unlock). Unlocking Ganondorf will briefly reveal the Triforce of Power in the center of the map before disappearing to reveal Ganon's castle and his boss battle.
Ganondorf's Fighter Spirit can be obtained by completing Classic Mode. It is also available periodically for purchase in the shop for 500 coins. Unlocking Ganodorf in World of Light allows the player to preview the first spirit below in the Spirit List under the name "???". As a Fighter Spirit, it cannot be used in Spirit Battles and is purely aesthetic. Each Fighter Spirit has an alternate version that replaces them with their artwork in Ultimate.
Additionally, Ganondorf makes appearances in various Primary Spirits, including a few as Ganon.
In Spirit Battles
As the main opponent
As a minion
Character Showcase video