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Tournament rulesets (SSB)

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This is the US ruleset in Smash Bros. 64. For other rulesets and general info on tournament legal settings in Japan, see Tournament legal (DSB). For other rulesets and general info on tournament legal settings, see Tournament legal.

Please note that as per mid/late 2015 all stages outside of Dream Land were banned after a collective effort by TOs of the community along with members of the backroom. Prior, Kongo Jungle, Hyrule Castle, and Peach's Castle were occasionally legal. The ruleset below is for post these years. Please see Apex 2012 an an example of an pre-backroom ruleset


  • Matches are only played on Dream Land, the only neutral stage. Tournaments with Smash Remix or 19XXTE may have alternative versions of this ruleset.
  • Sets between players are played best 2 out of 3 matches.
    • 3 out of 5 matches apply for all (or occasionally most) of Top 8, which is Winner's Semis, Loser's Semis, Winner's Finals, Loser's Finals, and Grand Finals. In most majors, top 32 is also 3/5 as long as time permits. As Waterfall brackets (see below) exist, occasionally Division 1 is also best 3/5.
  • Double Elimination.
  • The banning of cargo stalling is up to the tournament organizer's discretion.
  • Each match is played with stock and 4 lives.
  • The Timer is preferably set to 8 minutes if 19xx or another mod in usable.
    • Players can request to wait for a setup with a timer.
  • Items are turned off.
  • For the first match, characters are chosen double-blind - at the same time, so that neither player knows their opponent's character beforehand. In practice, this rule is often ignored, but players always reserve the option to force a double-blind pick.


  • Rules that apply to 1-on-1 apply to team tournaments. Occasionally other stages are legal in regionals such as Final Destination and the aforementioned Dreamland clones and Smash Remix stages.
  • Team attack (sometimes called friendly fire) is on.
  • Players are allowed to steal lives from their teammates.
  • Overclocked N64s are preferred as otherwise there is lag in doubles.
    • Due to an even greater reduction in lag, some tournaments will allow for 19xx versions of Dreamland such as Fray's Stage or Zebes Landing as they lag less in doubles.
    • Less commonly, some tournaments will run an offline emulator setup for similar lag reduction.
  • Due to Pikachu and Kirby's domination in doubles, occasionally there are character bans. The formats are as follows:
    • ZPK (meaning Zero Pikachu (or) Kirby) Doubles is a format that bans the use of Pikachu or Kirby. Rarely, tournaments that utilize this format have also added more legal stage. For example, Genesis 6 used Kongo Jungle, Hyrule Castle, Peach's Castle and a modded version of Yoshi's Island that removed the offstage clouds from the stage. However, this has become more uncommon post 2020 especially after Smash Remix and 19xx became more popular and allowed for more stages.
    • SPK (meaning Single Pikachu (or) Kirby. This is usually more common in international events as many foreign players main Pikachu. This also usually results in Kirby being less common as Pikachu is a much more common choice. Pikachu and Mario or Pikachu with Luigi as well as Mario/Luigi has become the preferred team.
    • If the tournament has enough time, both ZPK/SPK and "regular" doubles can be ran together (with ZPK generally being a side event but occasionally being the main doubles event.)
      • Due to these names, people have jokingly named normal doubles DPK as Pikachu Kirby/Double Pikachu is an expected and very common team. An example of their dominance can be seen at the various Super Smash Cons such as 2019 and 2022 where players.

Low tier ruleset, emulation legality and other various rules[edit]

  • "Low tier" characters are considered to be in the C tier: Samus, Donkey Kong, Ness, Link, and Luigi.
  • Gameshark stages are in general banned as they are hard to set up and many of them have glitches or oddities that don't occur on normal stages
  • Examples of this are:
  • Duel Zone- DI'ing into the ledge causes characters to die via being pulled to the center of the stage. The other main issue with the stage is that the platforms are too high for characters to platform cancel.
  • Final Destination- There are glitches occasionally that cause the game to freeze. An example of this can occur after 5 minutes (possibly due to Master Hand's timer in 1 player games. 4 player games occasionally freeze. The stage also has issues due to it being flat as multiple characters thrive on platforms.
  • Debug only stages- All of these stages have either invisible walls, excessively large/small boundaries far beyond, and/or weird ledge physics.
  • A Nintendo 64 console is strongly recommended over using a Wii (due to frame skipping) or laptop, though laptops aren't discouraged, particularly if there are special requests. A lagless laptop in particular is usable, as it has no frame skipping or input delay, but console is still strongly recommended.
  • Suitable PC adapters may be used if they are connectable to the Nintendo 64. Every controller is therefore usable from keyboard to Gamecube to PS4 as long as there are only as many buttons as controls on a Hori Minipad.
    • In certain other regions, controllers outside of traditional N64s (including Horis) are banned. This includes Japan at most events.
  • Disrupting your opponent physically or intending to disrupt their play will result in a warning. Repeated action will result in disqualification from the tournament. Observers who physically disrupt players are to be dealt with as the Tournament Organiser sees fit. Disqualification is recommended if possible.
  • Pausing is discouraged, and should only be done at the end of a stock, if at all. At other times, the pauser loses their current stock. If the pause causes the opponent to lose their stock, the pauser loses two stocks.
    • For this reasoning, the tournament mod of 19xx and Smash Remix has a hold to pause feature enabled as it is unfortunately common for people to accidentally press pause when they are trying to DI.
  • Extreme stalling is disallowed. Any reported case of such will result in a warning, followed by automatic forfeit of the match. If this is reported again, automatic forfeit is enforced without a warning. If there is no movement from either player, the player with fewer stocks/loser percentage is considered to be stalling.
  • Pausing and resetting (A+B+Z+R) should not be done unless both players have given consent prior. It is strongly recommended all tournament matches are left to finish, without any resets, even for the sake of saving time. This clearly shows who would have (and did) win a match. If resets do occur and there is a valid dispute, the person who reset forfeits.
  • Late player DQ is enforced. When a match is called, both players must promptly arrive. If a player is 2 minutes late, they receive a warning. At 4 minutes late, they lose the first game of the set and forfeit counterpick rights. At 6 minutes late, they forfeit the entire set.
  • Pool play should preceded brackets play if the number of participants is suitably large. This is left to the Tournament Organiser's discretion.

Waterfall Bracket[edit]

The Waterfall Bracket (otherwise known as the WTF Bracket) is a bracket style designed to let everyone attending the tournament be able to play a lot of matches against players of similar skill. It was created by Shears and Dark Gentleman and became popular in 2017 and was used in most majors since then.

There was an option to start off with a Placement Pools where pools of 5 to 8 people play Round Robin style. The pools are designed to contain 1 elite player, a couple well respected players that aren't elite yet and the rest of the players beginner level. The lowest seeded players / worst players in placement pools are put into the pools lowest division (for example division 4), the highest seeded players start in the first division (1). More recently, these brackets have been ran without the Placement Pools due to players (such as SuPeRbOoMfAn and others at Shine 2018) sandbagging to get extra practice.

After that placement pool - or by seeding if there is no placement pool - the attendees are put into different rounds of round robin pools: The tournament is then separated into multiple divisions (for example 4 divisions, usually named by numbers 1-4) with multiple round robin pools in each division (for example 4 pools, named 1A-1D for division 1). Players are seeded by conceived skill (and separated by region) and advance as per above to the next pool if they do well enough in their division. Usually 2-3 players advance per division and occasionally people have advanced multiple divisions but this is less common. The matches of the lowest divisions are played first then and the best players in each pool make it into the next highest division (for example from division 4 to division 3) and the other players are out of the tournament. Then the next divisions are played one after the other and the best players of division A's pools usually play a top 8/16/24/32/64 double elimination bracket.

External links/Example stage lists[edit]

See also[edit]