Link (リンク, Link) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. His return to the series was announced during the E3 Nintendo Direct on June 11th, 2013. He was also among the first wave of amiibo that are compatible with SSB4. Akira Sasanuma reprises his role as Link's voice actor, albeit via voice clips recycled from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
Link is currently ranked 31st out of 55 on the tier list, placing him in the D tier. In addition to rendering Link as the second highest ranking mid-tier character, this is a significant improvement over his bottom-tier placement in Brawl, where he was ranked 35th out of 38. Link possesses multiple projectiles in the form of his Hero's Bow, Gale Boomerang and Bomb, each of which serve as great tools for combos, camping, gimping, and disrupting approaches. Aside from his projectiles, Link's Master Sword grants him disjointed range and above average power.
In addition to his retained strengths, his recovery has been greatly buffed from Brawl, thanks to Spin Attack and Clawshot covering noticeably more distance, and Bomb's shorter fuse improving its recovery potential. As a heavyweight, his respectable durability allows him to take advantage of the rage mechanic introduced in SSB4, which further bolsters his already powerful attacks.
However, Link remains held back by his relatively sluggish frame data. He has moves that are quite easily punishable if they are whiffed, while his heavy weight and slow mobility without Bomb Sliding render him vulnerable to combos, especially from the fast, rushdown-oriented characters that are prevalent in the metagame. Despite Link's new assets, several of his fellow veterans gained more significant buffs, which downplays the effects that his own buffs grant him in competitive play.
While Link's early tournament results were mediocre at best, he has managed to attain a dedicated playerbase that consists of professionals such as Izaw, Scizor, Sova Unknown and T, who have managed to achieve top 8 and 16 placements more frequently, even at the national level. T, in particular, has demonstrated Link's viability: in addition to placing 3rd at 2GGC: Civil War, one of the most competitive SSB4 tournaments in the world, he was ranked 32nd on Panda Global Rankings' v3 list.
Link is one of the handful of characters in SSB4 with a tether grab, with his Clawshot being a useful supplement not to his recovery, but also to his zoning and combo games. Although its damage output has been lowered since Brawl, Clawshot still boasts impressive range, has no landing lag, and comes out even faster than before as an attack. It also assists his combo game, due to his down throw's impressive combo potential, while his up throw possesses KO potential. Lastly and most importantly, Clawshot is a pivotal part of Link's recovery, especially due to his sluggish mobility.
Link's special moves all have their uses. Hero's Bow is a strong option against characters who struggle at approaching and is good for providing long-ranged pressure. Gale Boomerang is a decent spacing option and has follow-up potential upon contact or via its wind-based drag effect. Gale Boomerang's drag effect also grants it gimping potential in the form of Gale Guarding. Spin Attack's overall recovery distance has noticeably improved since Brawl, while its already impressive power has been further increased, which in turn improves its KO potential or as a way to punish rolls. However, Link's Bomb is perhaps the most versatile weapon within his arsenal due to its utility. Throwing a Bomb at an opponent can cause enough hitstun to help Link's approach and/or set up combos. Conversely, if the opponent shields it, the Bomb simply bounces off, allowing it to be used for spacing. Even holding a Bomb long enough for it to explode can be useful; while doing so damages Link, it gives him a small vertical boost and removes him from being helpless, aiding his recovery and/or allowing him to break out of combos. Like in Brawl, his bombs can also be used for a technique called Bomb Sliding, which noticeably supplements his ground mobility. When combined with the overall fastest item throw animations in the game, Link's Bomb allows him to pressure opponents at a deceptively fast speed.
Despite his benefits, Link retains some of his flaws from his previous appearances. Even though his recovery has been noticeably improved after formerly being one of his most significant flaws in Brawl, it still limits how far he can go offstage safely. Link is also still susceptible to combos from faster characters, such as Sheik. As a result, he must make good use of reads, spacing camping to avoid giving the advantage to such characters. His neutral aerial also allows him to break out of many combos, although its start-up lag is merely average for a sex kick. As a tether, his grab is quite slow and punishable when whiffed. In addition, Link's KO potential is hindered by lag, particularly in regard to his forward tilt, dash attack, forward aerial and down aerial.
Overall, Link is a beginner-friendly character that is capable at both spacing and camping. However, unlike his fellow beginner-friendly characters Mario, Pit and Cloud, Link is a generally defensive character who relies on appropriate use of both camping and his combo game to be successful, which is often dependent on the matchup. Additionally, his techniques can be difficult to utilize at higher levels of play, especially because of the speedy and combo-oriented characters that are prevalent in the metagame.
Changes from Brawl
Link has been buffed significantly in the transition from Brawl to SSB4. As he received many faster and stronger attacks in exchange for slightly lowered damage outputs, these buffs overall outweigh the nerfs. Both his ground and aerial games have been improved, and his combo game has strengthened as a whole. His grab game has also considerably improved, with some grabs having better angle placements or knockback altogether. He also is a potent edgeguarder, with his down aerial now being capable of meteor smashing to go alongside his other offensive options against opponents on the edge. Additionally, significant buffs to Spin Attack and Clawshot improve his recovery, which in turn further improves his excellent endurance. Lastly, his camping game has also been improved due to his projectiles, most notably Bomb, being buffed in certain ways.
Link also benefits from the general physics changes brought about by SSB4. The edge trump mechanic further improves his recovery, while the rage mechanic further boosts his power and can be utilized well due to his excellent endurance. Lastly, Link is one of the only characters to not be noticeably affected by the general nerf to camping. Ultimately, Link is significantly better than how he was in Brawl and is arguably better than he was was in Melee, although his current viability is somewhat debatable due to the majority of the returning cast having also been buffed to varying degrees.
Link has been heavily buffed via game updates. In update 1.0.4, the knockback of the first hit of his forward smash was lowered, allowing it to connect better into the second hit. In update 1.0.6 though, he received a mix of buffs and nerfs, which hindered his KO and damage racking potentials, but improved his range and combo game. However, update 1.0.8 brought Link significant buffs in the form of a much more effective grab game and better KOing options, the latter of which helped mitigate the nerfs to his KOing potential that update 1.0.6 brought. In update 1.1.0, his grab game was buffed by slightly decreasing the start-up lag of his dash and pivot grabs. Updates 1.1.3 and 1.1.5 also brought several buffs, which further increased his already high KO potential. Lastly, he was indirectly buffed due to the changes on the shield mechanics in updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1, as the increased shieldstun and the fact that hitlag modifiers now apply on shielding opponents improve Link's close-range game by making his moves safer on shield. Altogether, these buffs have resulted in Link being viewed as a better character than how he was in Brawl and even better than during the initial release of SSB4, much like Samus.
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Since SSB4's release, Link's nimbler mobility, stronger projectile game, higher power and improved range saw him perceived as noticeably better than his appearance in Brawl and, according to some players, a mid-tier character like his ancestor was in Melee. However, opinions on Link started to decline in light of more developed metagames and higher popularity of certain other characters, whereas Link's representation in competitive play remained rather poor. This culminated in him being ranked 42nd on the first tier list.
Opinions on Link, however, started to improve after certain respectable placings by dedicated mains, such as Izaw and Scizor. This resulted in him being ranked 43rd on the second tier list, after the inclusion of Corrin and Bayonetta. Thanks to T notably achieving strong results with Link after the second tier list, Link was ranked 39th on the third tier list. This resulted in him being reassessed as a mid-tier character, while his placement itself was also very similar to his ancestor's in Melee.
After T placed 3rd at 2GGC: Civil War, one of the most competitive tournaments in SSB4's lifespan, Link's perception has further improved, to the point that he is viewed as deserving to be in the upper portion of the mid-tier. This has been reflected in the fourth and current tier list, in which Link is ranked 31st.
In Event Matches
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