Link (リンク, Link) returns as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl at E3 2006. He was one of the original 4 members to be confirmed as returning playable character at E3 2006, with the other three being Mario, Kirby, and Pikachu.
Akira Sasanuma, who previously voiced Link in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, reprises his role as the character in Brawl, with recycled voice clips from the game, replacing Nobuyuki Hiyama in 64 & Melee.
Link is currently ranked 35th on the tier list, placing him in the middle of the F tier, a vast drop from his position of 18th in Melee, and his second worst placement in the series. He is the lowest ranked of the original eight. Link is equipped with a useful DACUS that helps his mobility, camping ability, some of the best overall reach in his attacks, great momentum cancelling, the third-best potential vertical endurance, and many KO moves. Like his Melee incarnation, he still has multiple projectiles, all of which are effective for spacing. Gale boomerangs can be used to apply pressure, he can fire arrows and allow characters to approach, and bombs can be used for edgeguarding. Despite his various projectiles and DACUS, Link has atrocious mobility due to poor dashing speed, air speed, and jumping ability. In addition, Link has lackluster frame data throughout his moveset (his fastest grounded attack, jab, and his fastest aerial, back aerial, have startup lags of 7 and 6 frames, respectively), giving him almost nonexistent out of shield options, one of the worst aerial games, and an unremarkable neutral game. Perhaps his recovery is his most crippling flaw, which has been heavily nerfed from Melee to being arguably the worst recovery in Brawl, often preventing him from fulfilling his amazing endurance potential. Spin Attack doesn't grant him much horizontal distance (and barely any without prior momentum), his bombs are less effective for bomb recovery, and his hookshot can no longer wall grapple (instead targeting only the edge, making it easily edgehogged). Overall, Link has unimpressive match-ups against most characters (especially in the top tiers) and terrible tournament results.
Link may be a character of poor speed, but he makes up for that with power. His sliding DACUS also helps his slow mobility and his BDACUS is very effective due to his fast sidestep. Link is moderately heavy, having the same weight as Captain Falcon. Link is also one of the heavyweight characters that has good directional influence and momentum canceling, especially vertically, which along his extremely quick fast fall allows him to survive almost as long as Snake onstage, though he arguably has the worst recovery in the game and sometimes his fast fall can also give him problems recovering. His heavy weight backfires, however, by making him extremely vulnerable to chain grabs that force him offstage. Link's tilts are fast and powerful, and his down tilt is particularly good for getting opponents into the air. It can also meteor smash at the tip of the sword or hitting behind Link, making it respectable for edgeguarding. His up tilt is fast and good for juggling, and his forward tilt can easily KO at high percentages. Link's forward smash can become a two hit natural combo at low percentages. It is also a great KO move, depending from where the sword connects. His down smash is an easy KO move at fairly high percentages, and is Link's quickest smash attack. However, it is predictable making it easy to read at higher percentages, and has some ending lag. Link's up smash doesn't KO easily, but it racks up decent damage. Link's aerial attacks are also good, as both his neutral aerial and grab aerial (zair), combined with a short hop and fast falling, is a great option for approach. Link's back aerial is good for spacing when needed. Link's forward aerial is fairly fast, is a good set-up move and its second hit is powerful, but this KOing move is hard to land, since the first hit only set ups the second hit at very low percentages and the first hit lacks KO power. Link's up and down aerials are some of his best KO moves, having high duration and high knockback, but have high ending and landing lag. Even though his aerial attacks are effective, his slow aerial speed, fast falling speed, and small jumps give Link a very weak aerial game. His grab, like all tether grabs, has good range but has a high ammount of startup lag (12 frames) and is laggy if missed. Specials for Link are also good for keeping distance, racking up damage, and great for survival. On the ground, Link can charge his up special. It is a good edge guarding tool, but is predictable. Spin Attack can also deflect projectiles if used in the air. His neutral special is a bow that charges and shoots quick projectiles. If activated in the air, just before hitting the ground, an uncharged arrow will shoot instantly, making it a fast attack that will often hit unsuspecting enemies. Link's down special allows him to pull out a bomb as an item and throw it, which can be used for mindgames, but his own bombs can be caught during the throw and used against him. His side special move, Gale Boomerang has fairly good range and can gimp some opponent's recoveries. Inputting the command like a smash attack will cause the boomerang to reach farther. Link's shield, which he holds to his front while standing, can act as a shield on its own: when Link doesn't move, many projectiles coming from the opposite direction he's facing can't hit him. Crouching can also block most attacks as well, but leaves his upper hitbox open. He also has a great spot dodge.
Link's critical problem is his abysmal recovery, being arguably the worst recovery in the game, on par with Ganondorf's Dark Dive; this makes him easy to KO despite being a heavyweight with great momentum canceling. Although his projectiles, particularly Gale Boomerang help it somewhat, his poor jumping, quick fall speed, slow air speed, and poor distance on the Spin Attack make his recovery arguably the shortest in the game both horizontally and vertically and also very predictable, so it's suggested that all Link mains have good directional influence. Link's spin attack is also a slow recovery move, with predictable trajectory, making it fairly easy to edgeguard, mostly with moves that out prioritizes his projectiles, and due to the poor distance of his recovery he can get KO'd offstage with a fairly low amount of hits and not being able to recover, especially when he loses his 2nd jump, and due his poor vertical distance that also means meteor smashes are devastating for his recovery. Link's most effective mode of recovery is to first throw the Gale Boomerang to disrupt the opponent, then use his up special right after doing his second jump to give more momentum so he can gain more height, but even this is a poor recovery option. Using Spin Attack immediately after being hit while recovering makes it give no horizontal distance at all. His Clawshot is also useful, being the second longest tether grab in the game, but, like all tether recoveries, it is easily edgehogged. Another method of recovery is where Link pulls out a bomb, uses his Spin Attack, and his bomb blows up on him for little damage but gives Link another Spin Attack. At higher percentages the knockback from the bomb can be used for additional height. Although, Link has a large ledge sweetspot, but due to his poor recovery, Link heavily relies on edge grabbing, leaving him vulnerable to edgehogging (though, this can be prevented with his projectiles). If Link is lucky, the Gale Boomerang can carry the opponent out far enough so they can't recover, but this happens rarely, making it very unreliable.
Changes from Melee to Brawl
Link has received some significant power buffs and is overall a much more powerful character in Brawl. Many of his attacks have had an increase in power resulting in him having access to a lot more kill moves with his overall KO potential and damage output being better relative to the cast. His grab aerial is a lot more useful as an attack as it no longer suffers from a lot of landing lag giving him a new spacing tool which could be used to flow into other attacks. Additionally, the introduction of DACUS gives him a new much needed approach option although his DACUS is poor as while it covers a large distance, his up smash remains a fairly poor move especially with its higher ending lag.
However, he has received some significant nerfs in other more important areas, that have made him an even slower and less mobile character. His already poor out of shield game was made even worse as all of his out of shield options (including Spin Attack, grab and neutral aerial) are all slower than they were before and his lower traction only increases this issue. His aerial game is also worse. His air speed is much slower hindering both his aerial approach and recovery. Up aerial is much slower and is non viable for combos and the removal of L-canceling drastically harmed both his up and down aerials. Lastly and most significantly, his recovery has been drastically nerfed, almost close to being as bad as it was in Smash 64. His grab aerial can only be used as a tether recovery significantly reducing its utility and his Spin Attack covers less horizontal distance and is more reliant on prior momentum which is especially poor considering his worse air speed and acceleration. Link can also no longer destroy Bombs with Spin Attack which also hinders his recovery.
This overall makes him a worse character in Brawl than he was in Melee where he was already a non viable character.
For a more detailed information regarding Link's moveset and attack hitboxes, see this page.
In competitive play
Link has among the worst matchup spreads in Brawl. He soft counters two characters, Ganondorf and Zelda, and is even with three, but is soft countered by seven, countered by 20, and hard countered by four. He suffers against characters who can outspeed him such as Sonic and Sheik, characters who can outcamp him such as Falco, or characters that can chaingrab him to death such as Ice Climbers and King Dedede. Overall, Link has very few advantageous matchups, and his positive matchups are rarely seen in competitive play.
Tier placement and history
Despite the considerable power buffs he received in Brawl, his amazing momentum cancelling, and being given a usable DACUS, Link has perpetually hovered among Brawl's bottom four characters since the first tier list. Link's terrible and extremely gimpable recovery has always significantly limited his survivability even in the early inexperienced Brawl metagame, and his very sluggish attacks and terrible mobility significantly inhibited Link's ability to effectively compete since day one. Link has had some renowned players, such as KirinBlaze and Legan in the United States, Izaw in Europe, and Scabe in Australia, but none of these players have ever achieved much beyond the local level, and they have all since dropped Link for a better character (such as Izaw dropping Link for Sheik), or stopped playing Brawl competitively altogether. As such, Link's competitive prospects have never gotten any better over the years, and while he is not usually thought of as a candidate for worst character, it is extremely unlikely Link will ever rise beyond the bottom tier, as he has a minuscule player base and Brawl's metagame has become mostly stagnant.
Role in The Subspace Emissary
Link's role begins with him walking through a forest with his fairy companion, Navi. Upon reaching the Master Sword's resting place, Link pulls the sword from its pedestal, wielding it once more. In a clearing of the forest is a napping Yoshi, who Link at first pays no mind to. However, the Halberd soon flies over the clearing, dropping Shadow Bugs which soon form into Primids. At this point, Link and Yoshi form a team and battle through the enemies while in pursuit of the Halberd, only to lose their aforementioned target as it flies far off into the distance, though they quickly continue their pursuit.
Link's next appearance plays out depending on which princess is saved earlier on in the story. If Peach was saved, Link and Yoshi do battle with a Shadow Bug clone of Peach (who had recently been turned into a trophy by Bowser) after she attempted to turn an unsuspecting Mario and Pit into trophies until Link prevented the attack by slicing the Dark Cannon in half. Upon defeating the clone of Peach, Link is attacked by Mario, who witnessed the defeat of Peach's copy as it reverts into Shadow Bugs and drifts away, apparently mistaking it for the real Peach. Then Link and Yoshi fight him and Pit. If Zelda is saved earlier on, then it is she who is cloned, and Mario and Pit fight the clone of her, and must then fend off an attack by Link and Yoshi, whom Link thinks Mario killed the real Zelda. After the defeat of Mario, Pit/Link and Yoshi, King Dedede arrives in a cargo, and snatches the trophies of the fallen duo with an arm attached to it. Fortunately, Kirby (who had accompanied Peach/Zelda earlier) appears and frees the two trophies, and revives them as well. Upon revival, Pit/Link fires an arrow at the incoming cargo, slowing it down a little. The five characters then form an alliance and pursue Dedede.
During their pursuit, they find Dedede's cargo (now empty) parked outside of a cave, and decide to enter it. After getting out of the cave, they find Dedede's trashed hideout, and, upon finding a hole in the wall, they decide to enter it. After they get out of the hole, they find Bowser, who Mario tries to attack until Bowser raises Peach/Zelda's trophy as a shield, forcing him to miss. Pit then fires an arrow at Bowser, which he barely dodges, before escaping in his Koopa Clown Car.
They then pursue the Ancient Minister in a desert, trying to stop him from detonating another Subspace Bomb. Mario and Link begin to approach the Minister while dodging the lasers he fires at them. Despite their best efforts, the Subspace Bomb still explodes while the heroes barely escape the blast.
Link later appears after the team makes its way to the desert, where they aid another group (consisting of Marth, Ike, the Ice Climbers, Lucas, and the Pokémon Trainer) in fighting off the Subspace Army. Later, Link and Zelda are both present when meeting Tabuu, but they are defeated by Tabuu's Offwaves. If Link and Zelda's trophy forms are retrieved after the initial attack by Tabuu, they will both be shown agreeing to revive Ganondorf (who was turned into a trophy earlier on when he tried to attack Tabuu on his own), at which point they show him where their common target is. Link helps the other heroes throughout the rest of the story.
These stickers can only be used by Link, or a select few including him:
In Event Matches