Infinite throw trap
The Infinite throw trap, abbreviated as ITT, is a technique in Super Smash Bros. where Donkey Kong grabs the opponent without throwing them, allowing for easy regrabs in the right scenarios. It is also possible in Super Smash Bros. Brawl against Lucas and Ness, abusing their unusually long grab release animations.
The technique was effectively removed and obsoleted in Melee through a series of factors, including nerfs to Donkey Kong's grabs, changes to how breaking out of a cargo throw functions and other universal factors. Even if Donkey Kong does successfully regrab the opponent, both Donkey Kong and the victim take 10% from a grab release, instead of the victim taking 8% for DK transitioning to the cargo throw stance. In return, Donkey Kong gained new up and down throws, both possessing decent utility, and the addition of pummels gives Donkey Kong some flexibility in how damage is dealt. For the purpose of chain grabs, Donkey Kong can use cargo up throw against fast fallers, or use down throw to force a tech chase. Further changes to breaking out of cargo throw were made in following games, with the introduction of a regrab lockout timer in Smash 4 ultimately removing any kind of throw trap in modern Smash titles.
In Super Smash Bros.
After grabbing an opponent, Donkey Kong can use his unique forward throw—the cargo throw—to begin carrying the opponent over his shoulder, an action which deals 8% damage. During the cargo throw, Donkey Kong can walk around with the opponent and can choose to perform a proper forward or back throw. The opponent can escape this through button mashing, and multiple inputs can be used at once to escape more quickly. Escaping the cargo throw requires at least 14 inputs which increases as the opponent's percent increases (as a sidenote, the opponent required six extra inputs to break out of cargo throw in the Japanese version). The cargo throw pickup's damage never scales, so it will always deal 8% regardless of how many times it has been used.
Once the opponent struggles free, both characters are put into hitstun for a period of time. Donkey Kong is put into a consistent 19 frames of hitstun but the amount of hitstun the opponent is put into depends on their percent. At 0%, Donkey Kong is at a 1 frame disadvantage against most of the cast although Donkey Kong's frame advantage increases as the opponent's percent increases. How quickly the opponent's hitstun increases depends on their weight, with lighter characters gaining hitstun more quickly. This scaling hitstun for the opponent is the main thing which makes the throw trap viable. Donkey Kong has a frame 6 grab, so the throw trap becomes a true hitstun combo once the opponent is at a six frame disadvantage, which occurs somewhere above 100% for a majority of the cast. Depending on the oppponent's potential escape options, the throw trap can become guaranteed with a lower frame advantage if the opponent lacks a frame 1 escape option.
The main goal of the throw trap is to grab the opponent before they get the chance to avoid the grab. How effective this is depends on the matchup as there are numerous factors which affect the throw trap. The first thing which can affect the throw trap is whether the opponent recovers grounded or aerial after the grab. If the opponent is grounded, they have access to all of their ground options. The fastest universal escape option for grounded opponents is a shield jump which is a frame 2 option (as shield jumps have intangibility). Rolls can also work but they are slower so they are less viable as escape options, especially at higher percents. The opponent can also use fast attacks to beat the cargo throw with some characters possessing frame 1 escape options. If the opponent is in the air, their escape options are more limited. There is no universal intangible aerial escape option so an aerial opponent can either jump, throw out an aerial or use an intangible/fast special move to escape (if they have the option). The opponent might also be able to land and use one of their grounded options although this is highly situation dependent.
Whether the opponent recovers grounded or airborne depends on how floaty the character is. Floatier characters will recover in the air while faster fallers will land on the ground. For some characters, it is also percent dependent whether they recover airborne or grounded. It is important for the opponent to know how they are going to recover to ensure the best possible chance for them to escape.
Some characters will recover behind Donkey Kong after he releases them. When this happens, Donkey Kong is unable to land a grab although he can potentially hit his opponent with an up tilt or Spinning Kong in this scenario. Donkey Kong can get these opponents to recover in front of him if he moves around before the opponent breaks out of the grab, which can let him set up the throw trap.
Donkey Kong does have other options to counter the opponent's attempts to counter his throw trap. He can simply shield the opponent's attempted punish (and then punish afterwards) or he can perform a faster followup, mainly up tilt or Spinning Kong. These followups can potentially be guaranteed in scenarios where the throw trap is not guaranteed, mainly being effective when the opponent recovers behind DK.
All of these factors combined make the throw trap a rather complex trap with numerous factors both players have to consider. The trap's effectiveness is not only percent dependent but it is also matchup dependent. The trap is strong against certain characters as they may lack strong ways to escape but other characters have fast and consistent ways to avoid the move. Both players require great execution in order to make full use of the trap (due to the lack of buffer) and depending on the matchup, the trap is largely a matchup/execution check. The trap can be very powerful against a less experienced opponent although it can be harder to take advantage of against a more experienced opponent, especially at lower percents. Against most of the cast, the "infinite throw trap" does not even become guaranteed until the opponent is over 80% or even over 100%. Once the throw actually becomes fully guaranteed against characters with frame 1 escape options, the opponent is most likely in a position where back throw can KO them although if the opponent is too far away from the blastzone to be KOed, Donkey Kong can do the throw trap once to turn the opponent around and then KO them with the back throw.
Given the variance in tools, hurtboxes, and timing in which they land, each character has different levels of counterplay to the Infinite throw trap. This table summarises how vulnerable each character is to the trap. This table assumes that cargo throw is used on flat ground.
|Jigglypuff||Jigglypuff is the most vulnerable character to the throw trap. With Jigglypuff being the lightest and floatiest character, Jigglypuff always recovers airborne and its knockback scales the most out of the entire cast. Jigglypuff's most viable escape option is to jump out although this only works at very low percents. Jigglypuff does have Rest as a frame 1 escape option although it will rarely connect and it will leave Jigglypuff in an even more vulnerable position if it misses.|
|Kirby||Kirby is very light and he will usually recover airborne. Kirby's most viable escape options in the air are to jump or throw out a neutral aerial although he has no intangible escape options in the air. Kirby is overall one of the more vulnerable characters to the trap.|
|Pikachu||Pikachu always recovers grounded and it possesses a frame 1 escape option in Quick Attack although as Pikachu is light, the throw's knockback scales quickly. Becomes fully guaranteed at 89%.|
|Ness||Ness will usually recover grounded and he largely has to rely on roll and shield jump in order to escape. Ness' jab is fast although it does not have enough range to hit DK.|
|Mario||Mario may recover standing or airborne depending on the percent although he always has Mario Tornado as a frame 1 escape option. Super Jump Punch can also be used as a fast escape option. Becomes fully guaranteed at 104%.|
|Luigi||Luigi recovers airborne and he has Luigi Cyclone as a frame 1 escape option. Super Jump Punch can also be used as a fast escape option, which can KO Donkey Kong in the right scenarios. Becomes fully guaranteed at 104%.|
|Fox||Fox has Reflector as a frame 1 escape option although it will usually not connect and it will leave Fox open for a punish since he always recover grounded. Fox otherwise has to rely on roll and shield jump as defensive escape options.|
|Link||Link always recovers grounded and he has to rely on roll and shield jump in order to escape. If Link has a Bomb in hand, it can potentially help him escape the throw trap although Link has no fast offensive options outside of Bombs.|
|Captain Falcon||Captain Falcon always recovers grounded and he has to largely rely on roll and shield jump in order to escape. Up smash can be an effective punish option at lower percents.|
|Samus||Samus recovers airborne and she has Screw Attack as a frame 1 escape option. Becomes fully guaranteed when Samus is over 110%.|
|Yoshi||Knockback sends Yoshi behind the player if Donkey Kong doesn't move. Yoshi always recovers grounded and he has shield as a frame 1 escape option.|
|Donkey Kong||Knockback sends Donkey Kong behind the player if the grabbing Donkey Kong doesn't move. Donkey Kong always recovers grounded and he has Spinning Kong as a frame 1 escape option. As Donkey Kong is the heaviest character in the game, the throw's knockback scales the least against him, with all these factors overall making the trap the least viable against another Donkey Kong.|
|Metal Mario||Metal Mario always recovers grounded with his escape options being identical to Mario's.|
|Giant Donkey Kong||Giant Donkey Kong is lighter than regular Donkey Kong so the throw's knockback scales faster against him as opposed to regular Donkey Kong. The throw trap otherwise works identically to regular Donkey Kong.|
Banning & reinstatement
The Infinite throw trap was historically banned in competitive play, usually due to stalling. As of 2023, however, the technique has been allowed, presumably thanks to counterplay being more adequate and more precise rulings on stalling in general; specifically, deriving intent from the opponent's percentage and gauging the trap's necessity. In general, it is possible to button mash out of the throw trap: The player merely needs to be quick, and if applicable, escape with a proper move. Most high-level Smashers can escape the Infinite throw trap, making it largely a "rookie killer" technique; resultantly, major events tend to ignore the tactic altogether.
Once the Infinite throw trap is started, it is very difficult to escape. Donkey Kong has the largest and widest and non-tether grab range, allowing him to even grab short hopping opponents. This means that even in the event of escape, it is very easy for Donkey Kong to regrab the opponent. Dealing 8% each time, this is a relatively easy way for Donkey Kong to slowly tack on damage before swinging for a KO. Despite appearances, the actual grab release, despite dealing knockback, doesn't actually deal damage. Keyboard players will typically struggle more against the technique due to the button layout.
Over time, counterplay to the strategy has evolved. Some players chose not to button mash, wherein they will stay latched on until Donkey Kong initiates a throw. This leads to a stalemate in which the Donkey Kong, intending to infinite, waits for the opponent to button mash, and the grabbed character, not wanting to deal with escaping the infinite, waits for the Donkey Kong to throw. Should Donkey Kong be at a damage deficit, the throw is forced, lest the player simply time out. In modern times, players will use multiple buttons to mash efficiently and use their best escape options, usually only allowing Donkey Kong to get a few reps in. Therefore, high-level Donkey Kong players will typically focus on a strong combo game involving up aerial and other attacks, rather than relying on the Infinite throw trap.
It is important to note that the technique is escapable through strong button mashing and use of one's proper escape options. Even at high enough percentages, the victim will get knocked down from the release, allowing them to tech.
In future installments
In Super Smash Bros. Melee
In Melee various changes to both Donkey Kong and the game effectively removed the infinite throw trap. Donkey Kong's grab itself is significantly slower and laggier, in addition to having considerably less range, which overall makes it grab a less effective and more punishable followup. This is amplified even further with Donkey Kong's new dash grab which is even slower.
Cargo throw itself has also been altered. Donkey Kong no longer deals 8% to the opponent when picking them up although he does deal 10% to the opponent when they break out. Donkey Kong himself also takes 10% damage however, punishing him for letting the opponent escape his grab. Outside of the damage changes, the cargo throw break has also been altered. Donkey Kong now receives a set 15 frames of knockback although the opponent also receives a certain amount of set knockback. How much knockback the opponent receives is weight dependent, with the lightest opponents receiving 18 frames of knockback (giving Donkey Kong 3 frames of advantage).
The fact that the opponent receives a set amount of knockback means that the throw trap is never guaranteed. While Donkey Kong actually has a larger frame advantage at lower percents against some character, that frame advantage no longer increases, making the throw break less advantageous at higher percents. Donkey Kong's worse grabs also make it harder to get a regrab and even if he gets a regrab, he still loses 10% for allowing the opponent for escaping the previous grab. A universal factor which hindered the throw trap's viability was the inclusion of new defensive options. Spotdodge is a frame 2 (for most characters) defensive option which is hold bufferable, giving grounded opponents an easy way to avoid a regrab. The addition of air dodges also gives aerial opponents a universal option to escape the grab. Additionally, when landing out of hitstun in Melee, the hitstun will be cancelled into the character's landing animation. This is especially bad for Donkey Kong against fast fallers as they can potentially recover before he can, with certain characters even being able to punish Donkey Kong on hit. Additionally, cargo throw has been expanded in other ways which have ultimately made the throw trap obsolete. In particular, Donkey Kong now has a Cargo up throw which is an incredible combo starter. This can lead to significantly higher consistent damage compared to going for a throw trap, in addition to not damaging Donkey Kong himself.
Overall, the Infinite throw trap was not only effectively removed in Melee, but it was also made obsolete, due to the introduction of Cargo up throw. The throw trap is not only never guaranteed but it is actively harmful to go for, due to DK damaging himself when the opponent breaks out of his cargo throw.
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl
In Brawl, breaking out of cargo throw has been altered. It is now possible for the opponent to break out of the cargo throw without doing anything. If Donkey Kong waits too long to cargo throw the opponent, they will break out naturally, just like with a normal grab. Instead of both characters going into hitstun, both characters now go into a grounded grab release animation. The throw break now only deals 6% to the opponent although it no longer deals damage to Donkey Kong. The opponent can also adjust their aerial drift when breaking out of the cargo throw. As the cargo throw functions the same way as a grounded grab release, Donkey Kong has a one frame advantage against almost the entire cast after a cargo throw break. This does not give Donkey Kong enough time to get a guaranteed followup, led alone a guaranteed regrab.
There are two exceptions to this however. The first exception is against another Donkey Kong, who recovers 10 frames faster than other characters. This gives the throwing Donkey Kong a 9 frame disadvantage, allowing the escaping Donkey Kong to get guaranteed followups against the throwing Donkey Kong. In theory, two Donkey Kongs can do an infinite throw trap to each other, with each Donkey Kong taking turns with performing a guaranteed Cargo throw setup.
The second and more notable exception however is against Ness and Lucas, which this time it can be performed by both Donkey Kong and Marth. As these two characters recover 10 frames slower than the rest of the cast, they have an 11 frame advantage against them. This means that against Ness and Lucas specifically, Donkey Kong and Marth get a guaranteed regrab on them, giving them a true "Infinite throw trap" against them. They can try and drift away from the grab but if the grabber does not let them drift away, it is a fully guaranteed infinite, which players can close the stock with a guranteed down smash from Donkey Kong or Marth's foward smash. This is quite useful as Donkey Kong has no other guaranteed followups out of his grabs in Brawl, due to various universal changes. The "Infinite throw trap" Donkey Kong has against Ness and Lucas in Brawl is a contrast to the "Infinite throw trap" in Smash 64 which was not guaranteed at lower percents and it stopped working at higher percents when the cargo throw break dealt too much knockback, not being a true infinite at all.
A thing to note is that Donkey Kong is not the only character who has an "Infinite throw trap" against Ness and Lucas. Since they have extra ending lag against any grounded grab release, multiple characters (such as Marth and Charizard) can potentially infinite them by pummeling them, forcing them into a grounded grab release and then getting a guaranteed grab on them to continuously repeat the process.
Overall, while the Infinite throw trap is mostly not present in Brawl, it has returned in its most devastating form yet against Ness and Lucas.
In Super Smash Bros. 4 onwards
In Smash 4, breaking out of cargo throw is largely the same as in Brawl although it has been negatively affected by universal changes. Donkey Kong now has no frame advantage against any member of the cast after they break out of cargo throw (including Donkey Kong, Ness and Lucas). This gives Donkey Kong less time to set up a mixup than in Brawl. Additionally, the game introduced a regrab lockout timer so went the opponent breaks out of cargo throw so Donkey Kong is completely unable to regrab the opponent if they break out of cargo throw, further hindering its ability to set up mixups. This completely removes any kind of throw trap in Smash 4, making going for an intentional cargo throw break completely pointless.
In Ultimate a cargo throw break now only deals 4% instead of 6% but otherwise functions identically to Smash 4, having no kind of throw trap under any circumstances.
Smasher Isai demonstrates the Infinite throw trap around the 0:14 mark.