Meta Knight (SSBU)
Meta Knight (メタナイト, Meta Knight) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. He was officially confirmed on June 12th, 2018 during E3 2018, alongside Mewtwo and the rest of the returning roster. Meta Knight is classified as Fighter #27, the first fighter number of the Super Smash Bros. Brawl veterans.
How to unlock
Complete one of the following:
Meta Knight combines several unusual traits. He has multiple jumps, but unlike other characters who share this ability, he has strong mobility, comprising fast dashing and walking speeds, high falling speed and gravity, and average air speed. He is also the only small character to use a sword, which gives his attacks a bit more range relative to his stature. Overall, unlike other characters with multiple jumps, Meta Knight is neither wanting for speed nor range.
As expected, Meta Knight's playstyle relies heavily on his speed, both in terms of mobility and frame data. His low, quick short hop and fast, low lag aerials allow him to continuously apply pressure to opponents at close range. He is not lacking in grounded pressure either, having a fast down tilt that can trip, and a dash attack that can cross-up shields, and both of these moves are capable of setting up combos. If Meta Knight finds himself on the defensive, he has several options to relieve pressure, such as a fast, decently long-ranged forward tilt for countering aerial approaches, a fast, long-lasting, and strong neutral aerial, and the 2nd fastest down aerial in the game. For attacks that are poorly spaced, he can opt for a grab, from which he has a down throw that can start combos up to mid-percentages, a back throw to set up edge-guards and KO at very high percentages while near the edge, and an up throw that can also KO at very high percentages (especially on platforms).
While his damage output per hit is not impressive, Meta Knight's speed and jumps allow him to rack up damage through combos at lower percentages and chase opponents through the air through to higher damages, punishing their escape options. His dash attack and down throw can combo into an up smash or aerials at lower damages, while his up aerial can link into other aerials or his up special. Even after his opponents are launched too far for a true combo, he can continue pressuring them by punishing their air dodges and landing options through effective use of his aerials, dash attack, and up tilt. Thanks to his flexible aerial mobility, he has little trouble chasing opponents offstage, and his aerials are well-suited to edge-guarding. Neutral aerial has a lingering hitbox and strong knockback, back aerial is fast with high power, and down aerial is a safe semi-spike than can gimp deceptively early.
Meta Knight's edge-guarding prowess is mainly courtesy of his recovery, which is arguably the best in the game. In addition to having five jumps and passable air speed, his special moveset is full of recovery options. Shuttle Loop, his up special and main recovery method, is fast, offers high vertical recovery, and has a large hitbox. Mach Tornado and Drill Rush travel far horizontally and with long-lasting active hitboxes, and the latter can be angled. Dimensional Cape allows Meta Knight to cover the distance in any direction while invisible, and offers the option to attack upon reappearing. Such options grant him the ability to vary his recovery to make it incredibly difficult to punish him offstage, let alone gimp him.
Meta Knight does have several weaknesses. His attacks generally have very few active frames, forcing him to be extremely precise with his moves lest his opponent punishes him. Despite being a lightweight, Meta Knight's falling speed, gravity and unusually round hurtbox make him highly vulnerable to combos, which combined with his low weight grants him poor overall endurance. Though he has a strong, safe finisher in his forward smash, a fast, powerful back aerial and up smash, he has difficulty landing these moves. Forward smash has high startup, making it easy to avoid, up smash is risky due to its ending lag, and back aerial has trouble connecting on grounded opponents. Furthermore, his up and back throws require rage and favorable positioning to KO at reasonable percentages. While Meta Knight's neutral game is fairly good, his lack of a projectile can be a thorn in his side, especially against zoning characters such as Mega Man.
Overall, Meta Knight is at his best so long as he has his opponent in a disadvantaged state, being able to rack up damage well at lower percentages, before keeping the pressure on them through juggles and edge-guards. A player must be patient in finding an opening, as he cannot sustain much damage himself, and such patience is especially needed when his foe is at high percentages where Meta Knight may find difficulty in landing his finishers.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. 4
Meta Knight was infamous for being the best character in Brawl, to the point where he was universally considered to be broken. Although SSB4 nerfed him drastically at launch, Meta Knight managed to secure a spot as a high tier character (16th out of 55 characters), thanks to the combination of his excellent mobility and recovery, great edge-guarding potential, numerous buffs from game updates and, most notoriously, his deadly punish game that allowed him to perform zero-to-death combos with his up aerial and Shuttle Loop. Possibly as a result of these strengths, Meta Knight has been nerfed in the transition from SSB4 to Ultimate, albeit not to the degree of his transition from Brawl to SSB4.
Meta Knight's already quick mobility has improved even further, and his aerials have considerably decreased landing lag, even compared to most other characters' aerials, improving his neutral game and combo game. Some of his moves such as his tilts and aerials also have increased range, with his down tilt notably no longer possessing blind spots, and his neutral attack is more effective as a close-range option to rack up damage, due to having faster startup and linking much more reliably. Moreover, the changes to air dodging greatly complement his attributes, offering more opportunities to exploit his strong offstage game, while his recovery remains among the best.
However, the changes to Meta Knight's dash attack, which he relied on in the previous game, have worsened his combo and punish games. Due to the move having higher knockback and ending lag, follow-ups are unreliable beyond low percentages. On an extended note, dash attack's nerfs also hamper Meta Knight's KO potential, as it can no longer combo into Shuttle Loop at high percentages. The nerfs to rage exacerbate this: while Meta Knight's endurance is slightly improved, he can no longer abuse the mechanic to secure early vertical KOs due to Shuttle Loop's first hit now having set knockback, and he has a harder time finishing off opponents in general.
Like Captain Falcon, Meta Knight's increased traction also hinders his dash grab as an effective approach, punish, and burst option, and virtually removed his forward throw's combo potential. Furthermore, Meta Knight does not benefit from the expanded dash-canceling mechanic as much as other characters, since none of his tilts are reliable for KOing, down tilt is only decent at best for starting combos, and his smash attacks are unsafe.
Overall, Meta Knight's changes have generally toned down his most powerful tools and setups from SSB4, and thus heightened his learning curve noticeably in the transition to Ultimate. Meta Knight's biggest downfall, however, is that other characters with similar game plans to him (such as Mario and Zero Suit Samus) have benefitted from Ultimate's mechanics much more than he has. In addition, other characters that once struggled against him (such as Peach and Bowser) received noticeable buffs that allow them to fight on par with Meta Knight or even overwhelm him outright.
Due to the combination of these hindrances, Meta Knight's buffs from updates not being as noticeable as those received by numerous other characters, and his failure to attain the same level of success he had in SSB4 (even in spite of the efforts of players such as Abadango), Meta Knight is considered to be noticeably worse than he was in SSB4. Although Meta Knight's perception initially fluctuated between that of a lower mid tier to a low tier character, he has nevertheless continued to achieve a respectable amount of success in tournaments, thanks to the likes of BONK!, Yei, and Lickey. As a result, the general consensus is that Meta Knight is not only a mid tier character, but also potentially underrated. Because of this, Meta Knight's overall viability is currently debatable.
Throws and other attacks
Meta Knight received a mix of buffs, a single nerf and a single glitch fix via game updates, but was buffed slightly overall. Update 1.1.0 increased his dash attack's ending lag, which made it slightly less safe on shield and slightly exacerbated its already worsened combo potential. After an absence from game updates, Meta Knight was buffed slightly in update 7.0.0, which enlarged his shield as part of a near-universal buff.
However, update 8.0.0 granted Meta Knight his most useful buffs. Most notably, forward aerial, back aerial and Shuttle Loop each received hitbox and/or knockback adjustments; these changes not only improved their consistency (especially Shuttle Loop's), but also improved forward and back aerials' combo potentials. On an extended note, forward aerial auto-cancels earlier and its ending lag was decreased; both of these buffs not only further supplement its improved combo potential, but also improve its utility for approaching and edge-guarding. Aside from these changes, neutral aerial's range was increased via enlarged and repositioned hitboxes, while clean Mach Tornado gained more active frames.
Following this, update 9.0.0 made neutral attack slightly safer by granting its finisher transcendent priority as part of a near-universal buff. Lastly, update 13.0.1 improved up smash's consistency, slightly increased forward and back aerials' damage outputs, and increased up throw's knockback to the point that it now functions as a situational KO option (especially on platforms).
Overall, Meta Knight fares slightly better than he did at the launch of Ultimate.
For a gallery of Meta Knight's hitboxes, see here.
Note: All numbers are listed as base damage, without the 1v1 multiplier.
In competitive play
When Ultimate was released, many players believed Meta Knight to be a strong character. This was due to his outstanding recovery, great frame data, and great mobility. Due to many smaller characters getting emphasized more, Meta Knight had better matchups against fighters who struggle against short characters, such as Wii Fit Trainer. Because of this, many players considered Meta Knight as a solid high tier character who was not as strong or broken as he was in Brawl, but just as good as he was in SSB4, if not better.
As the metagame advanced, however, players recognized the exploitable weaknesses of Meta Knight: his terrible endurance, watered down punish game, lack of effective finishers outside of forward smash, below-average overall damage output, poor range compared to other swordfighters like Cloud, and moves unsafe on shield. This resulted in him being worse than initially imagined, with many professionals calling him a mid tier or even a low tier character. Despite this, he has amassed a respectable playerbase and achieved notable results from players such as Jayy, Abadango, Slither2Hunter, BONK!, and Yei. As a result, several major players now believe Meta Knight to be a lower mid tier character, though with potential to rise to a more solid mid tier.
Most historically significant players
Classic Mode: Two Sides of the Same Coin
Half of Meta Knight's opponents consist of duos (for every even round), while the other half (for every odd round) consists of free-for-all rounds of characters fighting their dark counterparts.
Role in World of Light
Meta Knight is absent from the World of Light opening cutscene, though he was vaporized and later imprisoned alongside the rest of the fighters (except Kirby) when Galeem unleashed his beams of light.
Meta Knight was one of the many fighters that fell under Dharkon's control upon Galeem's first defeat. He is found in the Mysterious Dimension sub-area, making him an obligatory unlock. After rescuing him, Ike and Greninja, the player can advance toward the boss.
Meta Knight's fighter spirit can be obtained by completing Classic Mode. It is also available periodically for purchase in the shop for 300 Gold, but only after Meta Knight has been unlocked. Unlocking Meta Knight in World of Light allows the player to preview the spirit below in the Spirit List under the name "???". As a fighter spirit, it cannot be used in Spirit Battles and is purely aesthetic. His fighter spirit has an alternate version that replaces it with his artwork in Ultimate.
In Spirit battles
Conditions in italic aren't listed on the Spirit Battle preview screen.
As the main opponent
As a minion
Fighter Showcase Video