Ganondorf (ガノンドロフ, Ganondorf) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. He was officially revealed alongside Ryu and the rest of the returning roster on June 12th, 2018 during E3 2018. Like in games prior to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, he is unlockable, instead of being available from the start. 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 that sound more akin to the former game, 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 super heavyweight archetype: he is the fifth heaviest character in the game and possesses extreme power in exchange for terrible mobility and frame data. Despite his high traction, above average falling speed, and moderately high gravity, he sports the seventh slowest walking speed, the fourth slowest dashing speed, the third slowest air speed, the sixth lowest air acceleration, and fifth lowest jump and double jump heights. As a result, he is among the least mobile characters in the game, but his high weight grants him exceptional endurance, allowing him to survive at very high percentages and benefit from rage.
Ganondorf's most defining trait is his incredible kill power and damage output. Almost all of his moves inflict 10-25% damage and are capable of killing under 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 and up smashes are massive disjoints that utilize a large sword to cover Ganondorf. In particular, these two smash attacks can not only hit below the ledge, but the former is generally the third strongest of its kind in the game, having the potential to KO most opponents well below 65% (even at the center of Final Destination). His neutral special, Warlock Punch, has the most startup out of his entire moveset, but it also deals ludicrous knockback and damage (especially when B-reversed in the air), being capable of instantaneously killing middleweights and lighter (if it connects before touching the ground). Ganondorf’s sweetspotted down aerial and aerial Wizard's Foot are extremely powerful meteor smashes that can easily KO opponents offstage at exceptionally low percents. Thanks to his strength, Ganondorf has among the highest KO potential in the game, as he can rack up heavy damage and KO opponents in very few hits.
Ganondorf's shield-breaking capabilities are potent and fearsome. His aforementioned forward and up smashes, Warlock Punch, and aerial Wizard's Foot can bring shields down to a sliver of health, while his Volcano Kick (up tilt) has vacuum properties, deceptively large reach, and can shatter shields in a single hit. These options also allow Ganondorf to play mindgames to make opponents with low shield health play more carefully around him, as he can punish any mistake extremely hard. As such, mistiming or overusing shields against Ganondorf can be 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 mid-percentages. His dash attack is versatile; not only does it possess extreme KO power at high percentages, being the third strongest dash attack, but its early hit can potentially lead into neutral aerial, up aerial, or Dark Dive at early percentages. Even better, it has a late hit sourspot that grants followups into neutral attack, forward tilt, grab, all aerials except down aerial, and grounded Dark Dive, with the latter two options 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, which is is a command grab that meteor smashes opponents into the ground, leading into a myriad of followups and reads. These follow ups include, but are not limited to: neutral attack, forward tilt, down tilt, dash attack, grounded or aerial Wizard’s Foot, any smash attacks or aerials, or even 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 (excluding 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 second 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 and juggling thanks to his heavy weight, very large size, above average falling speed and gravity, and low air speed, and his slow mobility hinders his approach and ability to close distance or create space. His lack of a 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. To begin, 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 Fox, slow projectile users like Ivysaur, and long-ranged characters like Simon and Min Min. This forces Ganondorf's offense 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 forward 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. His up smash has a blindspot directly in front of him, and its rear hitboxes end just above the ground. Ganondorf's numerous blind spots allows many small characters such as Pichu to easily exploit and weave through his attacks, especially when crouching.
Ganondorf's grab game is also lackluster. His grab reach is notoriously short despite his tall stature, and, outside of down throw, his throws have little to no followup potential. None of them are consistently viable KO options either, despite dealing respectable amounts of damage; while his forward and back throws deal passable knockback, even they are rather weak and can't KO Mario under 200% from center stage, while his up throw lacks KO potential altogether. His down throw, despite being a decent combo starter, loses much of its combo potential very quickly past low percentages. 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 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 allows him to deal heavy damage quickly and close stocks early, but he has little means to defend himself which forces him to play cautiously, enforcing a bait-and-punish playstyle. His playstyle is a high risk, high reward character: a single mistake can lead to either player losing a stock, even at 0%. He cannot afford to make any careless mistakes himself, where his exploitable recovery allows his opponents to remove his stocks just as early as he can remove theirs.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. 4
Despite his low placement in Smash 4, Ganondorf has received a mix of buffs and nerfs in Ultimate. While considered to be buffed overall, he also received notable nerfs that further affect his disadvantage.
Ganondorf's primary strengths, such as his already strong damage output and knockback power, have been further increased since the previous game. Most of his moves deal even more damage, and some of his moves (whether they were already strong or among the weakest in Smash 4) are more powerful, like 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 most 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 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 has also been 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 some of the universal gameplay changes. The increase in mobility (most notably to his running speed, although it still remains very slow), his faster jumpsquat, and the reduced landing lag on his aerial attacks all improve his very poor neutral game and approach. His faster jumpsquat and landing lag reduction also improve his combo ability, thus further strengthening his damage racking game.
Despite these notable buffs, Ganondorf is not without nerfs, especially toward his infamously poor recovery, hitbox placements and ineffective defensive game, exacerbating his glaring weaknesses even further, and counterbalancing his buffs. His forward and up smashes, despite having disjointed range, have significantly 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 make it a much less effective KO option, especially out of Flame Choke. His up tilt is weaker, 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, his new smash attacks, Dark Dive and Wizard's Foot make them harder to land and further worsens his blindspot issues. His grabs also have even 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. Dark Dive also pushes back Ganondorf after he launches the opponent away, making his already terrible and exploitable recovery even worse.
Despite gaining considerable 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. The increased shield drop frames impairs his poor out of shield options, and the universally increased traction which reduces shield push makes his attacks, especially his aerials, even less safe unless perfectly spaced. The increased tech window, as well as the restoration of buffering techs during hitlag, makes Flame Choke easier to escape from, and makes Dark Dive much easier for opponents to survive from being launched under the stage and retaliate. Although Ganondorf’s heavier weight allows him to survive even longer, he is also easier to combo. 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. Finally, the weakening of rage can slightly hinder Ganondorf's KO power at high percents, though due to Ganondorf's increased damage and power, this change is fairly negligible.
Overall, Ganondorf is considered to be superior to his Smash 4 incarnation; though in spite of improvements toward his strengths, his weaknesses are even more exploitable, making him even more polarized then previously. Initially, Ganondorf was believed to be a high mid-tier character and one of the best super heavyweights due to his improvements, as some players had achieved a few notable results with him such as Rickles and Smokk; most notably, 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. In addition, the majority of his crippling flaws from previous titles haven't been addressed properly, if not at all (and in some cases, namely his recovery, made even worse). Additionally, multiple other low-tier characters from Smash 4 have received bigger improvements. This is made even worse with the lack of notable improvements given to Ganondorf from game updates unlike other low-tier characters in Smash 4, making him fall behind the cast even further. Because of this, Ganondorf is usually still considered a low or bottom-tier character, with multiple players considering him to be a contender for the single worst character in the game, which could be potentially be even worse than his already very low placement in Smash 4.
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 and negates the viability of Ganoncide tactics. 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.
Due to his key weaknesses not being addressed from updates, he is considered to fare worse compared to the game’s release.
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 have risen and fallen. At Ultimate's release, hopes were high, as some Ganondorf mains such as Vermanubis expressed optimism, with some comparisons made to his Melee self. In addition, Nairo managed to defeat Light with Ganondorf, which also contributed to people believing that Ganondorf is potentially moderately viable, or at very least much better than what he was in previous two games.
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, Greninja, and Mr. Game & Watch). Despite his setbacks, Ganon has still garnered a good amount of regional results and a a few national results from players such as Litany and Rickles.
Ganondorf is also indirectly hurt from patches, as most other potential low-tier characters have received significant buffs, while Ganondorf has received mostly minor changes. Because of this, his competitive reception has become worse as of recent, with most professionals universally believing him to be low tier, with some of them considering him to be one of the worst characters in the game. Multiple professionals, such as ESAM, Mr.R, and Fatality, the latter who has used Ganondorf as a secondary, goes as far as believing Ganondorf to be the worst character in the game.
Any number following the Smasher name indicates placement on the Fall 2019 PGRU, which recognizes the official top 50 players in the world in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from July 13th, 2019 to December 15th, 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 Land 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 Ganondorf 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