Toon Link (SSB4)
Toon Link (トゥーンリンク, Toon Link) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. His return to the series was announced on the official website on September 26th, 2013, the same day that The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD was released in Japan. Sachi Matsumoto reprises her role as Toon Link's voice actor, albeit via voice clips recycled from Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Toon Link is currently ranked 20th out of 58 on the tier list, placing him in the B tier. This is roughly comparable to his placement in Brawl, where he was ranked 13th out of 38, although he is now assessed as a high-tier character instead of a mid-tier character. Toon Link has multiple projectiles, which grant him a powerful zoning game and enable him to follow up into different moves; his Bomb in particular is his most notable set-up for combos and KOs. Toon Link's Hookshot has also been improved: his grabs now have much less ending lag, his back throw is now among the strongest throws in the game thanks to its significantly higher knockback, and his tether recovery has much more range.
While Toon Link's ground game is potent, his overall damage output has decreased, which has weakened his smash attacks' KO potentials. Additionally, his air game is rather unimpressive despite his floatiness, as his aerial attacks' high ending lag prevents them from partaking in long combos. Lastly, as Toon Link's combo game largely relies on his projectiles, reflection-based moves can both significantly hinder his combo game and turn his projectiles against him.
Toon Link has achieved impressive tournament results, thanks to the efforts of professionals like Zan and Hyuga, the latter of whom placed 9th at GENESIS 3 and 5th at CEO 2016. However, after Hyuga was banned from competing in tournaments following EVO 2016, Toon Link's results plummeted significantly, to the point that he has achieved respectable results only at the regional level. Although Hyuga returned to the competitive scene in January 2017 by winning Hail Smash VIII: The Return of the Hero of the Wind, and then winning Smash Pendiente 68 a few days later, Toon Link's tier placement has nevertheless become debatable.
As in Brawl, the majority of Toon Link's attributes noticeably differ from those of his alternate timeline counterpart. Toon Link is among the lighter middleweights and boasts above average dashing speed and air acceleration, as well as the ability to wall jump. However, his falling and fast falling speeds are both slow, while his gravity is low. While they differ on the majority of their attributes, Toon Link and Link both have above average walking speeds and slow air speeds. Overall, Toon Link's attributes render him as a fairly quick, yet fairly floaty character.
Like Link, Toon Link is a very zoning-oriented character, thanks to his Hero's Bow, Boomerang and Bomb. In addition to forcing approaches, his projectiles grant him a strong camping game, which is further supplemented by his ability to block an opponent's projectiles with his Hero's Shield. Another benefit that Toon Link's projectiles possess is their combo potential. Bomb is effectively the best combo starter out of Toon Link's projectiles, as it can grant him a number of follow-ups at low percents, such as into his neutral aerial and dash attack. Bomb can even combo into his up smash or forward aerial, both of which are among his most viable KOing options, while its combo potential is further supplemented by jump-canceling. Boomerang is also useful for his combo game, as it can combo into his up tilt, grab and various other moves depending on its positioning. While largely reliant on his projectiles, Toon Link's impressive combo game is not exclusively limited to them. His up tilt can combo into itself repeatedly, a short hopped neutral aerial, an up smash or Spin Attack at low percents, and then into aerial attacks at medium to high percents.
After previously possessing arguably the worst grab game in Brawl due to his grabs having very high ending lag and his Hookshot being the shortest ranged tether grab, these faults have been noticeably improved. His grabs are less punishable due to having significantly decreased ending lag and are now capable of grabbing airborne opponents, while Hookshot is much more effective as a tether recovery due to its range being significantly increased when used as such. Additionally, Toon Link's back throw is now one of his most viable KOing options and among the strongest throws of any kind in the game, thanks to its increased knockback values. Toon Link's throws can also supplement his projectiles, as he can use them to launch an opponent into the trajectory of a previously thrown Boomerang or Bomb, such as his up throw into a descending Bomb. Aside from this, his up throw can also combo into a short hopped up aerial or short hopped Spin Attack at low percents.
However, Toon Link has some weaknesses. His overall damage output has been decreased, with his smash attacks being the most prominent examples. While his smash attacks had their knockback values increased, they were not sufficient enough to fully compensate. Thus, Toon Link is effectively forced to use them later rather than earlier when attempting to score a KO. While Toon Link's combo game is potent, it is heavily reliant on his projectiles, up tilt and grab aerial, as the rest of his close-ranged attacks cannot reliably combo most of the time. His throws' aforementioned combo potentials with Boomerang and Bomb are also very situational, since Toon Link needs to have precise timing and positioning in order for said combos to be performed properly. To compound this, his grabs still have considerable ending lag, despite having been improved in that regard.
Toon Link's floatiness is also problematic in various ways. It makes his recovery quite predictable, especially since Spin Attack can be easily gimped due to its overall recovery distance being average, while Toon Link himself is susceptible to strong vertical attacks. However, unlike other floaty characters, he cannot use his floatiness to perform long aerial combos, due to most of his aerials having considerable ending lag. This is most evident with his back aerial, which is much less effective at combos than it was in Brawl due to its significantly increased ending lag.
In regard to custom moves, Toon Link has a number of notable ones at his disposal. Fire Arrow is an incredibly useful tool for spacing, as it allows him to greatly hinder an opponent's approach. It is also capable of functioning as a jab lock at any percent, or act as a set-up into a number of options and finishers from an arrow on the ground. Floating Boomerang is a very useful combo option to catch opponents off guard if used correctly, making it excellent for combos due to the large amount of hitstun it deals. Flying Spin Attack is an excellent KOing option and is even more reliable at snapping the edge. Lastly, Short-Fused Bomb is useful for ranged punishment and starting combos, in addition to functioning as a powerful KOing option.
Ultimately, Toon Link's lowered overall damage output necessitates using his useful projectiles and combo game to continually rack up damage before he can attempt to score KOs with his smash attacks, back throw, forward aerial and clean up aerial. While his potency has been lowered somewhat since Brawl, Toon Link is still an effective character when his strengths are properly utilized. This is evident by Xorn, Ri-ma and 3xA achieving respectable placings at regional tournaments, while Hyuga has won a number of regional tournaments and, like Zan, has achieved above average placings at national tournaments.
Changes from Brawl
Toon Link received both buffs and nerfs in the transition from Brawl to SSB4, but was slightly nerfed overall. He gained some important buffs to his mobility, Boomerang's and Bomb's utility and, most noticeably, his Hookshot. All of his grabs have significantly less ending lag, his back throw is now one of his most viable KOing options, and Hookshot covers much more distance as a tether recovery. Bomb also no longer damages Toon Link on contact with an opponent, making it very useful in melee combat when combined with his Boomerang, particularly when followed up with KOing options like his forward aerial.
However, Toon Link has also received some noticeable nerfs, particularly to his power and combo game. His smash attacks' damage outputs have been decreased, which forces Toon Link to deal more damage before attempting to score a KO with them. His back aerial, which was an incredibly useful combo option in Brawl, now has much more ending lag, making it very hard to combo with. While his down aerial can now meteor smash when sweetspotted, it no longer bounces on opponents, making it much harder to use for both spacing and damage racking. Lastly, Spin Attack's overall recovery distance has slightly decreased, which necessitates using his wall jump and tether recovery more often than not.
Toon Link has been slightly buffed via game updates. Update 1.0.6 saw his Hero's Shield become capable of blocking Fox and Falco's Blasters, resulting in Toon Link now being capable of properly blocking any characters' projectiles so long as he stands still or walks. Update 1.1.0 saw his grab game improved even further, as his pivot and dash grabs' start-up lag were decreased.
Unlike his alternate timeline counterpart, however, Toon Link is neither helped or hindered by the changes to the shield mechanics brought about by updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1. Lastly, update 1.1.4 improved his forward smash by enabling its first hit to connect better with its second hit.
Technical changelist 1.1.4
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Upon SSB4's release, players had high expectations of Toon Link, due to his success in Brawl. While players realized he his power has been toned down since Brawl, the adoption of a new playstyle that is more reliant on his Bomb allowed him to attain roughly the same potency that he did in Brawl. Despite not achieving many tournament results, professionals like Hyuga, Zan, Anaky, and Sigma have achieved very favorable tournament results in their respective regions, with Hyuga in particular placing 3rd at the national tournament Smash Factor 4. Opinions of Toon Link became even more positive when Hyuga announced his participation in GENESIS 3, where he placed 9th. As a result of his early success, Toon Link was ranked 22nd on the first tier list.
Expectations of Toon Link remained high thanks to Hyuga placing 9th at Pound 2016, 4th at 2GGT: Mexico Saga and 5th at CEO 2016, while Zan and some Japanese smashers also achieved respectable placings at 2GGaming and local Japanese tournaments, respectively. As such, Toon Link ranked at 17th on the second tier list. However, after Hyuga became inactive after EVO 2016, Toon Link's representation and success at the national level noticeably decreased. While 3xA, Ri-ma and Xorn managed to achieve respectable placings at the regional level throughout 2016, with Ri-ma also managing to place 13th at the national tournament The Big House 6, Toon Link's tier placement was still considered to be a bit too high. Additionally, even though Hyuga made his return to the competitive scene in January 2017 by winning the regional tournament Hail Smash VIII: The Return of the Hero of the Wind, and continued that success by winning Smash Pendiente 68 a few days later, Toon Link dropped three spots to his current ranking of 20th on the third and current tier list.
In Event Matches
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