List of SSB4 tier lists
The Smash Back Room Super Smash Bros. 4 tier list was published just at the end of patch 1.1.3. All versions of the list are as follows. Characters with the same numerical value are listed alphabetically.
First tier list (February 1, 2016)
This is the first tier list released by the Smash 4 Back Room. It was based on votes from 53 high-level players, most of them Back Room members. In accordance with the most common tournament rulesets, custom special moves were not taken into account, with the Mii Fighters and Palutena assumed to be restricted to their default movesets. A follow-up article was released on February 16, 2016, offering further explanation on the voting process, as well as insight from the Back Room about specific characters.
The tiers in this list were split into groups: Top (S); High (A, B); Middle (C, D, E); Low (F, G), and Bottom (H, I, J).
Many members of the Smash 4 community thought that this tier list was created too early, as version 1.1.4 was only two days from release, which would add Bayonetta and Corrin as playable characters, as well as likely contain a variety of balance changes; ZeRo, considered the world's best Smash 4 player at the time, notably abstained from voting due to this. After the release of 1.1.4, two further balance patches were also released, leading to further dispute over the legitimacy of the tier list.
Second tier list (August 21, 2016)
This is the second tier list released by the Smash 4 Back Room. This list sees drastic shifts as a result of the three balance patches and two new characters that released between the first list and this one. Diddy Kong's consistently high placings and popularity around the world have led to him securing the top spot--this is the fastest in Smash history that a top character, in this case Sheik, has been replaced. Thanks to his outstanding results, Mario rose three places, putting him at the top five of the list. The most outstanding improvement is Mewtwo's unprecedented 27-spot rise thanks to its buffed speed, strength, and hitboxes, leading to high tournament placings thanks to players such as Abadango. Marth also saw a great jump, courtesy of buffs to his speed and hitboxes as well as the work of mains such as Leo, Mr.E, and Pugwest. The character with the biggest drop is Roy, who, despite being technically buffed from Melee and receiving some slight lag reductions in 1.1.4, has had very limited tournament representation due to his glaring flaws: limited approach options, laggy attacks, high vulnerability to combos, and poor recovery. Bowser Jr. also saw a noticeable drop due to Tweek switching to Cloud and therefore having almost no high-level tournament representation. Jigglypuff is now dead last due to its almost nonexistent representation, attributed to its abysmal survivability, range, and combo ability.
As with the first tier list, a follow-up article was released.
As before, the tiers are split into groups: Top (S & A), High (B & C), Mid (D & E), Low (F & G), and Bottom (H).
Third tier list (March 1, 2017)
This is the third tier list released by the Backroom.
As with the previous lists, the tiers in this list were split into groups: Top (S & A), High (B), Mid (C & D), and Low (E & F). Unlike other tier lists, there is no "Bottom" group.
The distribution of top tiers changed drastically in the transition. Bayonetta rose 10 places to claim the top spot over Diddy Kong, the second time in a row that the top character has been replaced and causing her own growth over the game's lifespan to reflect Diddy's (as both characters gained a reputation for being "overpowered", were eventually nerfed and ranked in lower high tier, and claimed the top spot on the following tier list). However, the S tier shrunk to only include four characters - Bayonetta, Diddy, Cloud and Sheik. Due to their below-average playerbase and dearth in results compared to other top tiers, Rosalina & Luma notably fell from S to A tier for the first time. However, Marth's results continued to improve drastically, causing him to rise into the top tiers at 10th place, finally continuing the trend that he set in Melee and Brawl, and giving him the highest cumulative tier rise over all three tier lists. Sonic rose 1 place, making him top of A tier.
Many character placements are similar to how they were in the second tier list, with numerous characters remaining adjacent to each other in the same order. However, results for many lower-ranked characters (especially in the low and bottom tiers) have improved drastically, causing a reduction in the number of tier groups and the abolishment of the "Bottom" ranking. The greatest improvement was Lucina by 18 places, placing her in high tier and showing almost the same degree of improvement as her template Marth. Bowser and Charizard also saw significant improvement, with Nairo using Bowser to cause some major upsets and Charizard's results gradually but notably outpacing those for other bottom-tiers, causing super-heavyweight characters in general to be more evenly distributed across the lower half of the tier list. Many other low-tier characters rose in the rankings as well, with some (such as Link, Shulk and Duck Hunt) ascending to mid tier.
Tier drops were not as notable as rises, with the most drastic being Ness by 8 places. This is mainly due to a drop in the number of Ness players entering tournaments (specifically, after EVO 2016 to 2GGT: ZeRo Saga). Despite Ness slowly gaining results on Winter 2016 and 2017, such as FOW's 17th placement in 2GGT: ZeRo Saga and S1's 5th placement in B.E.A.S.T 7, it didn't compensate his stagnant results he had suffered from mid to late 2016, causing him to drop from middle of high tier to top of mid tier.
A follow-up article was later released on April 3rd, 2017.
Fourth tier list (December 11, 2017)
The Backroom released the fourth tier list on December 11, 2017, as announced the day before in a tweet. It is the first tier list for the 1.1.7 version, the final version of the game. However, no balance changes were made between 1.1.6 and 1.1.7.
Dark Pit was treated as the same character as Pit due to being commonly agreed to share nearly identical characteristics while being inferior to Pit. All three Mii Fighters were excluded for the first time due to their rarity in the meta and having unstable legality, leading to insufficient voting input. Characters who differed by less 0.1 in average score were considered to be tied in placement. This led to five ties: Fox and Sonic tied for 7th, Marth and Ryu tied for 11th, Ness and Lucas tied for 28th, Robin and Samus tied for 37th, and Ganondorf and Zelda tied for 53rd. Strangely, despite being only .02 apart in their scores, Diddy Kong and Cloud were not tied. While the letter-tiers weren't grouped into high, mid, and low, the Backroom stated that they considered tiers F and lower suitable for low tier events, and tiers D and lower suitable for mid-tier events, resulting in a much higher proportion of high-tier characters than previous tier lists.
As a result of improved representation and results, Luigi, Link, Olimar, Donkey Kong, and Duck Hunt saw large improvements in placement. In addition, following continuously lower placements with each tier list, Zero Suit Samus returned to the top 10 thanks to better understandings of top tier matchups. Conversely, Mega Man and Villager suffered large drops due to declining representation and results from their best players, while mid-tiers Yoshi, Ike, and Wario saw noticeable dips as well due to continuously sub-par results and troubling matchups against higher-tiered characters.
Despite these changes making the list more accurate, most competitive Smashers still consider some of the placements to be inaccurate. For example, Duck Hunt and Peach were considered underrated and worthy of a higher placement. Conversely, Pikachu was considered overrated and deserved a lower placement. Notably, Illusion noted that Greninja would've been ranked higher had the voting period not ended before an explosion of Greninja results, and expected the character to see a rise in the future.
Tier list chart
This table shows the ranks of each character through all of the tier lists, as well as a numbered description of their change in rank each time. "Change" lists how much a character's position changed between the two tier lists it is in between. "Highest" represents a character's highest position, "Lowest" represents their lowest position, and "Difference" lists the difference between the highest and lowest position. "Overall change" represents a character's change between the first tier list and the current tier list.
* = tie N/A = Not Available