Meta Knight (SSBB)
Unveiled at E3 2006, Meta Knight (メタナイト, Meta Knight), commonly abbreviated as MK, is a character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Originally from the Kirby universe, Meta Knight joins the Brawl as a starter newcomer who wields a sword, Galaxia, as his primary weapon. Meta Knight is voiced by Eric Newsome in the English version and by Atsushi Kisaichi reprising his role from the Kirby: Right Back At Ya! anime in the Japanese version.
Meta Knight is notable for being at the top of the Brawl tier list (that being 1st out of 38 characters, putting him in the SS tier, thus being his best placement in the series) due to numerous advantages. Meta Knight is a very fast character with fast ground speed, five mid-air jumps, multiple air options which give him great mobility and he has excellent frame data all around. Meta Knight also possesses many disjointed attacks with great range and transcendent priority, which along with the speed of his attacks, easily allows him to keep out opponents and interrupt their approach without much risk, especially since Meta Knight is a small target. Meta Knight overall has an excellent set of ground moves and aerials which are complemented greatly with Meta Knight's mobility, attributes and overall range. Meta Knight's edgeguarding and recovery are both unarguably the best in the game due to the sheer amount of options MK has. With five mid-air jumps, excellent aerials, the ability to glide both manually and out of Shuttle Loop and having an entire set of special moves which can be used to recover, Meta Knight can easily make it back from anywhere off stage (while also being extremely difficult for the opponent to edgeguard him) and he can go incredibly deep for edgeguards. These factors also naturally give Meta Knight a very strong camping game as he can utilise his multiple jumps and aerials to stall either at the ledge or in the air which is very difficult to deal with. He also has many great combo setups, with a very strong combo game due to easily being able to string many of his attacks together due to his quick speed and frame data. His KO moves are quick, powerful, and reliable in addition to often being long ranged and even completely safe in some cases. Meta Knight also possesses two incredible special moves in Mach Tornado and Shuttle Loop. The former is an incredible mobility/recovery option which is very difficult for most characters to challenge/punish while the latter is not only a fantastic recovery move (putting MK into a glide) but it is also a fast, safe and powerful long ranged attack with a great amount of utility. The grounded version is excellent for shutting out approaches or punishing unsafe moves while the aerial version is a very powerful semi-spike which can lead to some very early KOes off stage, especially if the opponent does not DI it correctly.
Meta Knight does have a few weaknesses, however. Meta Knight is a lightweight character, meaning he is knocked out fairly easily, especially against characters with many high-power attacks such as Snake although he does have strong horizontal momentum cancelling. Meta Knight also lacks any sort of projectile or reflector, which can give him trouble against projectiles although his small size, fast ground speed, multitude of jumps and Mach Tornado give him strong options to play around projectiles, especially if they lack transcendent priority. Meta Knight also has poor air speed and while he can work around this in numerous situations, there are scenarios where poor air speed limits him, particularly in tight juggle situations. He also has a small shield which makes him somewhat vulnerable to shield stabbing from certain characters. Meta Knight's combination of high gravity and air friction also give him a fairly exploitable aerial grab release animation, which multiple characters can exploit, especially since Meta Knight can be forced into the animation by multiple characters. Marth for example, can put Meta Knight into an aerial grab release and then followup into a variety of guaranteed moves, including forward aerial, dash attack, Dancing Blade, short hop Dolphin Slash, buffered down aerial, buffered up aerial, or buffered neutral aerial. Although Meta Knight has a great array of recovery options, they all leave him helpless so when used at the wrong time, they can be exploitable, although this can easily be avoided by strong players. He additionally may have trouble KOing against good DI and/or momentum cancelling, particularly if his best finishers are getting stale. He also has many multi-hit moves that are susceptible to SDI, which can limit his ability to rack up damage easily, along with most of his moves having unspectacular raw damage output. These weaknesses however are either very difficult to exploit (especially for lower tiered characters) and/or Meta Knight can easily work around them.
Overall, Meta Knight is an incredibly potent character with a large array of very strong attributes including his excellent mobility, range, frame data and aerial game while his weaknesses are difficult to exploit and can often be worked around, making them relatively minor overall. Meta Knight in general is a character with an excellent offensive and defensive game. He can play very aggressively, utilising the speed and range of his attacks to chip away at his opponent before he can KO them but he can also play very defensively with MK being able to take the life lead and camp for a long period of time, with Meta Knight being able to utilise his frame data/range to shut out his opponent's approaches.
As a reflection of this, Meta Knight has an incredible matchup spread, with Meta Knight arguably winning every single matchup in the game. Meta Knight's attributes and toolset overall give him the tools he needs to overcome or even dominate other members of the cast and while some characters can exploit Meta Knight's weaknesses, he can also exploit their weaknesses to an even greater degree. The only matchup which is arguably considered not winning for Meta Knight is Ice Climbers as a single mistake from Meta Knight should result in a stock loss for him with the Ice Climbers' incredible grab game. Meta Knight however can play around the Ice Climbers well and if Meta Knight separates the Ice Climbers, he can easily KO the partner climber from there, and a solo climber is helpless against Meta Knight. This matchup overall is often considered to be slightly in Meta Knight's favour although the matchup is close and an argument could be made for the Ice Climbers winning or at least going even. Pikachu was also once considered to be a potentially even matchup for Meta Knight (even being listed as such on the 2013 Smash Back Room matchup chart) although by the end of the game's life, this matchup was considered winning for Meta Knight.
As a result of all of this, Meta Knight received the most representation and success in tournaments in the game by far, to the point of over-centralization of the metagame, reflected by Meta Knight being placed in his own tier, SS, at the very top of the 2013 tier list. Meta Knight's general unpopularity in the Super Smash Bros. community (he was and is considered "broken" by many players) led to him being the first character in any Smash game to be banned, between January 9th, 2012 and April 16, 2012, at which point the Unity Ruleset which enacted the ban was disbanded. This makes Meta Knight, Cloud, Bayonetta and Hero the only characters in the Super Smash Bros. series who have been banned from a standardized tournament ruleset, although Bayonetta and Hero's respective bans were far less prominent and Cloud was exclusively banned in doubles. Overall, Meta Knight's incredible strengths and minor weaknesses have led many to consider him to be not only the best character in the game, but also arguably the best character in the entire Smash series.
Meta Knight is a small character, roughly the same size and shape as Kirby, and with the same weight as Pikachu. He also boasts the sixth fastest dash speed, fast walking speed, average falling speed (although he does have above average gravity), and average air acceleration, though his air speed is very low, tied for the third worst.
Meta Knight's greatest asset is his extremely fast frame data. Almost all of his moves have little startup and ending lag. The best example is in his up aerial, which can be performed three times within a short-hop, with it coming out on frame 2 and the move can be cancelled as early as frame 14. The reach of his attacks, though average overall, is disproportionate to his small hurtbox. As Meta Knight has a sword, many of his moves are disjointed, and many of his moves possess transcendent priority, except for Mach Tornado, Drill Rush, dash attack, and glide attack. When combined with his incredible attack speed, this makes Meta Knight's attacks very difficult to challenge and punish, giving him a powerful neutral game and approach, even though he lacks a projectile. He can easily pressure with his aerials and tilts, and his neutral special, Mach Tornado, covers a long horizontal distance and offers great protection, making it a potent approach option that is difficult to counter. All of his aerials are also capable of auto-canceling in a short hop, making them excellent tools to approach or retreat with. Though Meta Knight's air speed is poor, he is gifted with five midair jumps and the ability to glide twice, allowing him to weave in and out of danger.
While Meta Knight's moves deal fairly low damage, their speed and low power allow them to easily chain into one another, giving him a strong combo game. Again, this is demonstrated by his up aerial. Combined with his jumps, his up aerial combos into itself for as much as 30%, due to its speed and low knockback, and it can lead into other moves as well, such as Mach Tornado and Shuttle Loop. His KO power is also solid, especially for a lightweight. Though his forward smash has high startup and it is not very strong for a forward smash, it is his strongest finisher and it has low ending lag, potentially making it impossible to punish in some situations. Shuttle Loop has high knockback (especially at low percents), quick start-up, and is difficult to punish, as he can glide away to safety. Down smash is quick, hits on both sides, and has high power, making it his most reliable grounded KO move. His glide attack is fast, and can KO early near the upper blast line, though it is rather telegraphed.
Contributing to Meta Knight's strong KO power is his offstage game. Aside from up aerial, all of his aerials are viable finishers offstage. Neutral aerial is very fast and has relatively high knockback, his forward and back aerials can be used to perform a pseudo-wall of pain, and his down aerial is a deadly semi-spike. Aerial Shuttle Loop is a semi-spike with very high base knockback, making it a very powerful tool to stage-spike recovering opponents and unwise edgeguarders. His incredible recovery compliments his superb air game. He has five midair jumps and the ability to glide twice. Mach Tornado offers great horizontal distance, decent height, and protection. Drill Rush is horizontal and can be angled. Dimensional Cape allows him to vanish and move in any direction before reappearing. Finally, Shuttle Loop grants high vertical distance, and transitions into a glide. Altogether, these factors give Meta Knight the best recovery in the game as it can theoretically travel an infinite horizontal distance, it is extremely difficult to punish and Meta Knight has many ways to mix his recover up. Despite lacking a meteor smash, his recovery and dominating air game make him a terror to face offstage, as he is capable of gimping and edge-guarding almost any foe.
However, Meta Knight has notable weaknesses. Being a lightweight, he has very poor endurance, though his quick momentum cancel in his up aerial aids him slightly. His above average gravity and air acceleration also gives him a rather exploitable aerial grab release animation, which leaves him vulnerable to grab release followups, notably against Marth, who can combo him into a variety of moves, including a down aerial meteor smash. His poor air speed, while easily worked around in some situations, can give him a hard time avoiding moves like Pikachu's Thunder. Meta Knight has many multi-hit moves that can be SDI'ed out of, such as his forward/back aerials, limiting his ability to rack up damage against strong players, and this compounds his damage output, which is average at best. Though his neutral and approach games are strong, he has trouble fighting against competent campers, such as Snake and Falco. Meta Knight has a rather long 32-frame delay before he can meteor cancel. Combined with his light weight, this gives him trouble against characters with useful meteor smashes, particularly Falco. However, his extremely effective recovery negates much of this issue.
Overall, Meta Knight has overwhelming combat prowess, and his weaknesses are hard to exploit and can be worked around. His mobility, attack speed, range, priority, and recovery allow him to play both aggressively and defensively, give him a variety of ways to play depending on the situation, as well as giving him plenty of room for error against most characters.
In competitive play
Meta Knight has by far the most favourable matchup spread in Brawl, with a weighted total of 252 (more than twice the amount of Ice Climbers, the character with the second highest weighted total) on the current SmashBoards matchup chart. He has one even matchup, soft counters nine characters, counters thirteen, hard counters eleven, and has two close to unloseable matchups. Against other top and high-tiered characters, he has one even matchup, soft counters seven matchups, and counters one matchup. Even his one even matchup (against Pikachu) is highly disputed and even proven to be wrong, and many players, even Pikachu professional ESAM, believe it to be in Meta Knight's favour. The other closest to even matchups against Meta Knight include Falco and Ice Climbers, the former due to his ability to projectile camp against Meta Knight, and the latter of course due to their 0-death chaingrabs, but even then, they're heavily stage dependent, only coming close on neutral stages. Meta Knight is considered the hardest matchup for many characters, with certain characters, such as R.O.B. and Luigi, having their positions on the tier list significantly dropping in large part due to their poor matchups against Meta Knight. Meta Knight can easily beat every character in the game and is the toughest matchup for almost every other character.
Most historically significant players
Tier placement and history
Meta Knight has been ranked 1st on the tier list since a few months after the game's release, commonly in his own tier above the rest of the cast. Players initially believed Snake was the best character, but as the metagame evolved, Meta Knight's advantages in combat became more evident, and Meta Knight mains such as Mew2King began dominating tournaments, leading to him becoming the game's most commonly used character by far. Meta Knight has significantly better tournament results than the entire roster: many Meta Knight legal tournaments had Meta Knight players taking up more than half of the top 8, and Meta Knight won almost three times the amount of money in tournaments than the second-most successful character, Snake. In the later stages of the game's scene, innovations in the Ice Climbers' metagame, especially their chain grab setups capable of annihilating any player given a single opportunity, led some players to challenge Meta Knight being the undisputed best character in practice. Despite this, Meta Knight remained in first place, with the Ice Climbers in the spot below him.
Ban from competitive play
Due to his perceived "brokenness" and over-centralization of the metagame, Meta Knight's tournament legality was disputed at length for the entirety of Brawl's lifetime. This started with a well-known rumor in the Smash Bros. community that Meta Knight was banned in Italian tournaments. Although the rumor was false, the Italian Smashboards had asked Smashers if they believed that Meta Knight should be banned. However, this rumor triggered another surge of players who wanted to ban Meta Knight in other regions. The controversy reached the point where the Smash Back Room held a poll in the middle of 2009 to see if Smashers wanted to completely ban the character. "Pro-Ban" won the poll, but did not win a super-majority of at least 66%, and Meta Knight was not banned on a large scale. 
Talks about banning Meta Knight later surged again, owing to Meta Knight's rapidly increasing dominance and Meta Knight players primarily being those who won tournaments and/or took up the top results. Such an example was KTAR 6, where five of the top eight placers used Meta Knight. In addition, data compiled by John Numbers showed that Meta Knight had won over 50% of total tournament earnings in tournaments that had more than thirty entrants. Meta Knight in total won $42,394.32 in 2011 U.S. tournaments when money is split in character usage (and $59,490.07 when not split), while the next most successful character, Snake, had only won $12,125.33 when split (and $20,860.29 with no split). The overall increasing centralization of Meta Knight was also said to have caused Brawl's metagame to shift too radically; some characters, as mentioned above, significantly dropped down the tier list in large part due to poor matchups against Meta Knight.
The Unity Ruleset Committee introduced experimental rules in a later ruleset update; one of the new suggested rules was a ban on Meta Knight, with another poll conducted in early September 2011. "Pro-ban" again won the poll, but this time with a super-majority of 75%; with this in mind, the Unity Ruleset Committee subsequently announced its official ban of Meta Knight from both singles and doubles play on September 30th, 2011. The ban itself started on January 9th, 2012. 
The decision to ban Meta Knight, however, immediately proved controversial. Although a large number of smashers had voted for his banning, a number of top professionals who mained Meta Knight later stated they would not attend tournaments where Meta Knight was banned, and a number of tournament organizers stated that they would ignore the Meta Knight ban, as to keep tournaments profitable by allowing top professionals to enter. Regional differences also began to play a role in how Meta Knight was banned; while a number of powerful regions, such as the Tristate Area, featured numerous top players that used Meta Knight, some smaller regions featured fewer top players who used Meta Knight and they subsequently adopted the ban. As a result, while Meta Knight was banned in some areas, he was not in others, leading to the subsequent fractures in the Brawl competitive scene; with the differing legality of Meta Knight, different regions had different banned stages, as some stages gave too strong a benefit to Meta Knight while not extremely buffing other characters. Furthermore, some top professionals refused to travel to other regions in response to the ban on Meta Knight or lack thereof.
The controversy surrounding Meta Knight and his ban was derided by the Melee community; following his ban, in a newer ruleset update, the Melee Back Room sarcastically added that Meta Knight was banned from all Melee tournaments.
The Unity Ruleset Committee later disbanded on April 16, 2012, with Marc stating that "it is up to individual TOs to decide what is best for their events." As a result, Meta Knight's ban is not considered universal, and tournament organizers may choose whether or not to ban the character. Since then, a majority of Brawl tournaments have allowed Meta Knight.
Although the singles ban is controversial, teams consisting of two Meta Knights are universally considered far too powerful and are officially banned in doubles.
Role in The Subspace Emissary
It is revealed that before the events of the Subspace Emissary, Meta Knight was attacked by the Subspace Army, who had the intent of taking the Halberd. He was able to hold them off until King Dedede attacked him, causing him to lose his ship.
When Meta Knight is first featured in the Subspace Emissary, he attacks a lone Marth outside of a large castle. He quickly realizes that Marth is not his enemy when they are both surrounded by Primids. After a successful battle, both warriors chase the Ancient Minister, who is carrying a Subspace bomb. Both are unsuccessful in their attempts in destroying the bomb (Meta Knight's left wing was shot by the Ancient Minister's laser, forcing him to land and change to his cape to extinguish the flame); luckily, Ike appears and uses his Aether to catch the Minister off guard and destroy the bomb. With the bomb destroyed, all three head back to the castle to clear out any remaining Primids.
Later, they are all seen traveling the wastelands together and battling Galleom. Meta Knight then saves Lucas and an unconscious Pokémon Trainer from a giant free-fall after they defeat the same boss. Meta Knight then begins to ascend a large cliff face, followed by the Ice Climbers (who see his ascent as a racing challenge), in order to reach the Battleship Halberd. At the summit, Lucario challenges Meta Knight to a sparring duel. To the relief of the Ice Climbers, the winner revives the loser, having no hostile feelings. The Halberd then crashes into the side of the mountain in an attempt to destroy the defeated Great Fox, which is being held by the arm of the Combo Cannon. Meta Knight and Lucario quickly board the Halberd, while the Ice Climbers fall off the summit, into the canyon.
The pair run into Snake while on board and join forces with him to take back the Halberd. After rescuing Peach and Zelda, the trio continues on to the control deck. There they discover that the ship is being piloted by a gang of Shadow Bug Mr. Game & Watches. Snake runs towards them and throws them all out of the window and onto the bridge, who fuse together to form a gigantic metallic monster called Duon. Once Duon is defeated, Mr. Game & Watch joins the group, along with Peach, Zelda, Fox, and Falco. Meta Knight remains in the Halberd's control center and does not take part in the battle.
Meta Knight takes back control of the Halberd and reunites with the members from other groups. The aircraft of the other heroes is placed inside the Halberd, which heads towards the Subspace Gunship with most of the Super Smash Bros. heroes on board. After using the Subspace Battleship's main cannon to create another Subspace portal, Ganondorf and Bowser spot the Halberd on the horizon and orders the battleship to open fire. The Halberd is struck down, but the heroes are able to escape on board Samus's Gunship, Captain Falcon's Falcon Flyer, Olimar's Hocotate ship, and Fox's Arwing. Kirby destroys the Subspace Battleship by slicing through it with the Dragoon air ride machine and the heroes enter Subspace to pursue Ganondorf and Bowser.
Meta Knight is turned into a trophy by Tabuu along with the rest of the Super Smash Bros. heroes upon their entrance into Subspace. He is later revived by Kirby. He rejoins the others in the fight against Tabuu.
The following stickers can be used only by Meta Knight or by a select few including him:
In Event Matches