A lock is a technique in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. 4 where one character can repeatedly use a move or sequence of moves to place another character in an infinite after a character hits the floor while tumbling. The term is also used for the repeated usage of a single move that traps a character (ex: Sheik's forward tilt, Zelda's down tilt, and Snake's forward tilt).
A lock is caused due to certain moves causing a character to bounce when they are on the ground after a missed tech, preventing them from using one of their wake up options long enough for the other player to hit them again with another move that can cause a lock. Also, after a character has bounced, they cannot use any wakeup options other than the standard get up, leaving them completely vulnerable to attack.
This only works in Brawl and SSB4 because in previous games characters instantly stand up when hit by a weak attack.
Starting a lock
Starting a lock is often the hardest part, as most skilled players will tech before hitting the ground. Surprise attacks or other means of causing a character to fall to the ground can work, as well as taking advantage of Brawl's tech mechanics. Footstooling an airborne opponent at the right height will prevent them from being able to tech, though the upwards momentum can cause the footstooler to be unable to follow up with a lock depending on their character. For some characters, it is possible to fast fall an aerial with lock properties to cause a single bounce, then follow up with a jab lock or repeatable move.
Types of locks
The most common type of lock is the jab lock, which can be performed by multiple characters. As the name states, it is done by hitting a fallen character with a jab, stepping forward, and hitting them again. The locked player can be moved to the end of the stage, where the active player generally hits them with a charged smash attack as they stand up. Generally it is done with only the first hit of the jab, but some characters can do it with the second hit as well. If one attacks too soon after each bounce, or use a move without lock properties, the character will snap to a standing position. In Smash 4, the jab lock only works up to three times.
Other moves besides jabs can cause a character to bounce in the same way. Some of them are fast enough to be repeated like the jab locks, while others cannot be repeated fast enough to keep the opponent in the locked position or have knockback scaling that causes the opponent to be launched at higher percents, allowing for a charged smash attack or other powerful attack as the character stands up. Some moves will move a character across the stage faster than others, causing smaller damage buildup.
A commonly used lock is Falco's laser lock, which, unlike other locks, has enough range to hit and lock characters on level ground with Falco regardless of distance (assuming tournament legal maps). Larger stages like Bridge of Eldin can cause a character to move far enough away that Falco's lasers cannot reach them. There are many followup options that Falco can use, such as his BDACUS. The easiest and most effective way to set up a Laser Lock is to land a down throw or grounded down aerial and immediately buffer the first hit of Falco's jab. Falco cannot always follow up with a KO move because of distance, reducing the effectiveness of the laser lock to damage building only. It should also be noted that the laser lock only works at percentages equal to or exceeding 80% as Falco's moves will not cause a tumbling animation until said percentage.
Not all characters can be laser locked, due to the height of their character model while lying down. For other characters, it is dependent on which way they fall, since the height of the hitbox can change if they fall on their face or on their back.
Kirby using Falco's lasers will shoot them lower, allowing him to lock more characters than Falco can.
Most moves with a burial effect are able to lock an opponent indefinitely (one notable example being Villager's down smash), giving the possibility of 0-death combos in team battles. It is important to note, however, that a lock cannot be started using a burying move, as the opponent will get up before the lock is able to be continued.
Many throws have a hitbox that collaterally damage nearby opponents. With proper positioning and timing, some of these throws are able to lock opponents.
Jab Locks are still possible in SSB4. However, in most cases, the opponent can only be hit three times before being freed. Moves that bury opponents are exceptions to this rule as most of them can lock infinitely. Moves that "lock" must hit the opponent within 25 frames of hitting the ground.
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