Ike (アイク, Ike) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. His return to the series was announced in a Director's Room Miiverse post on May 23rd, 2014, which coincided with the ninth anniversary of the North American release of Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. Jason Adkins and Michihiko Hagi reprise their roles as Ike's voice actors in the English and Japanese versions, respectively, albeit via voice clips recycled from Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Ike is currently ranked 40th out of 55 on the tier list, placing him at the top of the E tier. This is a moderate drop from his placement in Brawl, where he was ranked 23rd out of 38. In addition to largely retaining his renowned power and range, Ike's overall mobility has noticeably improved, thanks to his faster dashing and air speeds, and higher double jump.
Ike's frame data has also become fairly better, with the most obvious improvements being to his tilt and aerial attacks. Ike also benefits from the changes to gameplay mechanics: rage supplements his power; the changes to hitstun canceling have made his up and down throws into very useful combo starters; and the updated edge mechanics supplement his recovery.
However, Ike retains his flaws from Brawl. His heavy weight renders his overall mobility as below-average at best in spite of its improvements; he is vulnerable to rushdowns, combos, and camping because of his very small number of sufficiently fast moves; and his recovery is still easily predictable because of its linearity.
Ike has also gained new weaknesses: his already large hurtbox is slightly larger; several of his attacks have slightly lower damage outputs, less knockback and shorter ranges; and his jab cancel is now extremely situational at best because of his neutral attack's higher lag.
Despite having mediocre representation, Ike has attained some success at various levels of play, thanks to the likes of Ryo, Rango, SM, San, and Waldo. Due to his playerbase's success stagnating after 1.1.6, however, Ike's current tier ranking has become disputable.
Ike is a heavyweight, being tied with Wario as the eighth heaviest character in SSB4. Unsurprisingly, he has below-average walking speed and air acceleration; slightly below-average dashing speed; above-average falling speed, air speed and gravity; and a low jump and double jump.
Ike's good approach is a noticeable divergence from the heavyweight archetype, though it is a trait shared with his fellow heavyweight swordsmen Shulk and Cloud. His sword, Ragnell, grants him a very long and disjointed range that is surpassed only by Shulk's Monado and Cloud's Buster Sword. Neutral, forward and back aerials are good approach options: in addition to their ability to auto-cancel with a short hop, the former has low landing lag, whereas the latter two are safe on shield thanks to their high shieldstun. Forward aerial, in particular, boasts a good damage output, high knockback growth, and large range in front of Ike. Aside from being his most reliable approach option because of these traits, it also makes him a surprisingly difficult character to punish when it is used properly. In addition, his aerials' speed and ranges make him capable at pressuring opponents.
Ike's combo game consists of numerous moves that are able to flow consistently with each other up to medium percentages. His down tilt, SHFF'd neutral aerial, up throw and down throw all launch opponents at favorable angles, allowing him to follow up with his aerials and thus perform short, yet impressively damaging combos. Up throw is particularly notable, as its low knockback growth enables it to combo into forward or up aerials even at high percentages, which provides Ike with a few invaluable KO set-ups. Although not as consistent as his aforementioned moves, up tilt, forward aerial and back throw also have combo potential: up tilt is a useful anti-air attack that can also be used for juggles; forward aerial can combo into itself up to three times at medium percentages when auto-canceled; and back throw can tech-chase into dash attack at low to medium percentages.
All of Ike's smash attacks are among the strongest of their respective kinds; his clean tipped forward smash, in particular, is notably the seventh strongest forward smash in the game. Forward and up smashes both have long ranges, which also grants them utility against both grounded and aerial opponents. Up smash, in particular, covers a wide, overhead arc around Ike; when coupled with its long duration, it is a deadly option while at the edge and for punishing rolls. Although Ike's smash attacks suffer from extreme amounts of start-up and ending lag, he is not reliant on them to KO.
In addition to their aforementioned approach potentials, Ike's forward and back aerials boast impressive power, making them safe KOing options while near the edge or especially while edge-guarding. On a related note, Ike also has an effective edge-guarding game: in addition to forward and back aerials, down aerial's tip is an impressively damaging meteor smash, while Eruption is a chargeable move that boasts a large hitbox regardless of its charge, and devastating power even when it is only partially charged. Furthermore, Ike's excellent endurance enables him to use rage effectively, which boosts his already high power.
However, Ike has a number of flaws. His size, weight and falling speed leave him vulnerable to combos and rushdown-oriented characters, which is further compounded by his lack of options to quickly and reliably break out of them. As he is a melee-oriented character, Ike lacks a projectile, putting him at a disadvantage against camping tactics. Ike's weak out of shield potential further compounds his susceptibility to pressure: his below-average grab range and very low traction hinder his otherwise great grab game, while he lacks options to immediately retaliate because the overwhelming majority of his grounded moves have moderate start-up lag. By extension, the lag issues within Ike's moveset hinder his overall approach: it renders his grounded approach as comparatively poor and overall predictable, whereas his aerial approach requires proper spacing and timing in order to be effective.
Ike's recovery is also problematic. Aether and Quick Draw are highly predictable because they function strictly as vertical and strictly horizontal recovery options, respectively. In addition to rendering Ike susceptible to semi-spikes, both of these moves are further compounded by specific faults. Quick Draw must be charged in order to cover more distance, and unless it hits an opponent, it renders Ike helpless and thus cannot be used in tandem with Aether. In comparison, Aether's horizontal distance is almost nonexistent even with directional input, which can lead to an invariable self-destruct if it is used too far from the edge.
Ike gains some benefits from his custom moves. Both Tempest and Furious Eruption improve his already good edge-guarding potential, yet possess noticeable traits. Tempest charges faster and, like Cape, stalls Ike's descent when used in the air and can gimp recoveries. In comparison, Furious Eruption is noticeably stronger than Eruption, has more vertical range and launches opponents vertically, which makes it a very potent KOing option on stages with low ceilings. Close Combat grants transcendent priority during its dash, which allows it to ignore projectiles and shields, making it even better for recovering.
Aether Drive functions as a diagonal recovery option unlike Aether and Quick Draw, but covers less vertical distance. Aether Wave is executed faster, making it harder to gimp. It is also an excellent edge-guarding option, as it slings an energy wave upon landing. However, it covers slightly less vertical distance, has little trapping potential, and cannot meteor smash. Paralyzing Counter functions almost identically to Disable: it allows Ike to stun the opponent instead of counterattacking, but deals minuscule damage as a trade-off. Lastly, Smash Counter functions oppositely: its much higher damage multiplier enables it to one-hit KO many strong moves, although its lag is significant enough that many moves with low ending lag will allow the opponent to block the counterattack.
Overall, Ike's optimal playstyle is largely the same as it was in Brawl: he is still effective at spacing and punishing, and must utilize his useful combo game to deal damage and set up KOs. Like Luigi, Ike's weaknesses are exploitable, but circumventing them with careful play can result in him being a formidable character, as shown by players such as Ryo.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Ike had received a mix of buffs and nerfs from Brawl to SSB4. Ike's mobility has improved: he has noticeably faster dashing and air speeds, as well as a higher double jump, the latter of which also improved his neutral game and recovery. His overall frame data is also fairly better, with his forward aerial in particular now being a very useful approach option thanks to its range, lower start-up lag, and ability to auto-cancel with a short hop. By extension, his forward, back, up and down aerials also have significantly reduced landing lag. Lastly, Ike benefits from the changes to gameplay mechanics. The changes to hitstun canceling significantly improve his combo game; the removal of edge-hogging improves Aether and Quick Draw's recovery potentials; and rage boosts Ike's already high power, while his heavier weight makes him a very effective user of it.
However, Ike has also received some nerfs. To compensate for the general improvements to his frame data, his renowned power has been somewhat toned down via decreases to his damage output and the knockback of the majority of his moveset. Ike's overall range has also been decreased, making it slightly more difficult for him to space out his opponents. Ike's jab cancel, which was an essential aspect of his playstyle in Brawl, is now extremely situational because of his neutral attack's higher start-up and ending lag.
Aside from Counter, his other special moves have been nerfed in particular ways. Eruption has been the most noticeably affected, as it now deals less damage, has less knockback, and only grants super armor when it is fully charged. Ike's aerials have also lost their transcendent priority, which results in his auto-canceled forward and back aerials becoming slightly less safe for approaching. Lastly, Ike's already large hurtbox is slightly larger, and he is slightly heavier. When coupled with the changes to hitstun canceling, these changes collectively make him more susceptible to combos than in Brawl.
Overall, Ike has been re-balanced with his weaknesses becoming less severe at the cost of his previous strengths being noticeably toned down. Ike is faster both in terms of mobility and frame data and has a better recovery in exchange for less range and power (especially when relative to the cast). While he gained a few new useful tools (most of which due to the changes to the game's mechanics), he also lost one of his most vital tools in the form of his jab. His representation in competitive play: despite initially being minimal, it has expanded over time thanks to the numerous buffs he received from game updates, while his still relatively small playerbase has managed to achieve average results at regional and even national tournaments.
Ike has been buffed significantly via game updates. Update 1.0.4 made neutral attack and forward tilt safer; re-purposed down tilt into a useful combo starter; decreased forward aerial's start-up and ending lag, but also decreased the move’s hitbox duration, and slightly improved back aerial's KO potential. Update 1.0.6 noticeably increased Counter's knockback growth to the point that it is much more rewarding when successful.
Ike's most notable buffs were brought about by update 1.0.8. It made neutral attack and forward aerial more reliable; improved dash attack to the point of making it safer and granting it KO potential; and decreased the lag of several attacks. The changes to shield mechanics brought about updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1 both help and hinder Ike: they make his most powerful attacks safer on shield, yet they also slightly hinder his out of shield options because of his poor traction.
Technical changelist 1.0.8
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Upon SSB4's release, players noted both Ike's buffed mobility and nerfed power. Eventually, the general consensus agreed that his improved mobility did not properly compensate for his weakened power, unaddressed flaws and loss of some options from Brawl, like combos, inferior smash attacks, worse hitboxes and inferior autocancel windows on most of his aerials, making him considered nonviable in the metagame. However, game updates (most notably 1.0.8) would significantly improve Ike; he gained consistent and strong throw combos, improved hitboxes on many moves, and his lack of a midrange option was avelilated by giving his dash attack KO potential. As such, he began achieving respectable results from dedicated players such as Rango, Ryo, Ryuga, San, and Waldo. As such, he was ranked 26th on the first tier list, a fairly noticeable improvement from his tier placement in Brawl.
Although game updates considerably improved Ike's perception and were pivotal for his success, Ike has since achieved lower and more average placings at tournaments despite his talented playerbase continuing to advance his metagame. This is due to the improved results of other characters who were positively affected by balance changes (notably Bowser, Marth and Lucina) and the inclusion of viable DLC characters (notably Corrin, Mewtwo and Bayonetta), who would eventually start to surpass Ike in regard to overall representation and results. In addition, some of his best players, such as Ryuga and Rango, dropped Ike in favor of Corrin and Cloud, respectively. These in turn saw him drop to 35th on the second tier list, and retained this 35th ranking third tier list.
Ike's perception became rather mixed: some players claimed that his standing was accurate, or should be slightly higher because of his results improving; evidence stems from Ryo and San, who have earned solid results while taking sets off top players as of 2017, the latter even achieving 4th place at Get On My Level 2017. However, others claimed he should be ranked lower because of his glaring issues alongside overall mediocre representation and results, citing that he also lacks the growing success of characters ranked below him (such as Duck Hunt, Link, Samus, and Shulk), and putting him among the standing he initially had in Brawl. As a result, Ike continued to drop even more now ranking 40th on the fourth and current tier list, a far cry from his initial placement. To this day, Ike's true tier standing is still greatly up for debate as some smashers like ZeRo, ESAM, and Raito claim that Ike should be ranked lower (the latter claiming that Ike is among the bottom 5 characters in the game) while other smashers like Dabuz believe that Ike should be ranked slightly higher due to his strong throw combos and fantastic ledgetraps.
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