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Tournament rulesets (SSB4)

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This is the ruleset for SSB4. For other rulesets and general info on tournament legal settings, see Tournament rulesets.

Tournament legal describes the rules and settings that are accepted for use in competitive Smash tournaments. In SSB4, while many elements of tournament rulesets are generally consistent across major tournaments, some details vary from tournament to tournament.

General rules[edit]

  • 2 or 3 stock.
  • 6 or 8 minutes.
  • Items are turned to off and none.
  • Pause is disabled.*
  • Stalling is banned.
  • If time runs out, the winner is determined by remaining stock, and then by ending damage percentage.
    • If both stock and percentage are identical, or a game ends with both players being KO'd simultaneously, then a tiebreaker is played. A tiebreaker is a 1 stock, 3 minute match with the same characters and the same stage.

*This rule isn't strictly enforced, and as such, a rule regarding accidental pausing is enacted.

Doubles rules[edit]

  • 3 stocks.
  • 8 minutes.
  • Team attack is on.
  • Sharing stocks is allowed.
  • If the clock expires and the total number of stocks of each team is equal, use the sum of the final percentage of the players on each team as the tiebreaker; whichever team has a lower sum wins. (A player who has been eliminated has 0 stocks and 0%.)

Miscellaneous rules[edit]

The following are miscellaneous gameplay rules that see usage at tournaments.

  • The Gentleman Rule: The most basic form of the rule dictates players may play on any stage, including banned stages, if all players in the match agree to it. While rarely actually used to play on banned stages (as even if a player wanted to play on a banned stage, it's highly unlikely the opponent would agree to it), the rule is often used by players in game one of sets to bypass stage striking (by a player suggesting a starter stage to just go to, such as Smashville, which the opponent then agrees to or refuses and stage strikes). The rule also sees frequent use when a player faces off against a player of a much lower skill level (and usually much younger), where the player allows the lower skilled player to choose any stage they want to play on, whether as a sign of courtesy and/or the player not seeing their opponent as a threat and thus not caring about the stage chosen. The rule is near universally seen, and even if the rules don't explicitly allow it, players often enact the rule regardless of if it's written in the rules or not. While TOs usually don't impose any restrictions on the Gentleman Rule, they may occasionally explicitly disallow banned stages from being played on at all regardless of the rule; extending or shortening the amount of games to be played in a set is generally disallowed as well.
  • The Suicide Rule: If a match ends by both remaining players losing their last stock at the same time due to a suicide move (such as by Bowser's Flying Slam), then the initiator of the suicide move is considered the winner of the match regardless of what the results screen says, and no tiebreaker is played. While the rule is often used, it's not universal, as some players maintain that the winner of the match should be what the game declares. In comparison to previous games, which had many suicidal KO moves choose the winner inconsistently, it's less necessary for SSB4 as moves are normally consistent with who is KO'd first — but there is still inconsistency between moves (for example, Bowser's Flying Slam always causes Bowser to lose, while Ganondorf's Flame Choke always causes Ganondorf to win).

Custom special moves and Mii Fighters[edit]

The tournament legality of custom special moves varies across tournaments. Approaches include:

  • Banning custom moves entirely.
  • Allowing custom moves only with specific combinations, as in the Official Custom Moveset Project.
  • Allowing any combination of custom special moves.

Tournament rulesets vary significantly on the subject of the implementation of Mii Fighters. Approaches include:

  • Banning Mii Fighters entirely.
  • Allowing Mii Fighters using guest Miis (which are a consistent size), with any combination of special moves.
  • Allowing Mii Fighters using guest Miis only with specific special move combinations, such as 1111 only.
  • Allowing Mii Fighters of specific preset sizes and/or move combinations, as in the Official Custom Moveset Project.

Equipment is universally banned in competitive play.

Set format[edit]

Tournament sets typically progress in the following manner.

  1. Player priority is agreed on (or determined).
  2. Each team selects players' controller ports. In doubles, the teammate of the player that picks first must pick last (i.e. selection is in the order 1-2-2-1).
  3. Each team selects a character. Any player may enforce a double-blind pick (where all players tell a third party their character choice or write their character choice down, and then select the character they said they would choose, where the third party then enforces the prior announced character choices).
  4. The first stage is selected from the list of starter stages, either through mutual agreement, or by stage striking.*
  5. The first game is played.
  6. The loser of the game may opt to re-pick controller ports, starting with themselves.
  7. The winner of the game may ban a stage if they have not already done so in the set.**
  8. The loser of the game chooses a stage from the list of starter and counterpick stages. A stage cannot be chosen if the other side has banned it or the chooser has already won on the stage in this match.***
  9. The winner selects their character.
  10. The loser selects their character.
  11. The next game is played.
  12. Repeat from step 6 until the sufficient amount of games have been played to determine a winner.

*Stage striking either proceeds in a 1-2-1-2-etc. order, or a 1-2-2-1 order, with the players each getting one more initial strike for every 2 stage increase in the starter list.

**Tournaments will occasionally implement two stage bans, especially if a larger stage list is being used and/or Dave's Stupid Rule isn't being implemented.

***Known as Dave's Stupid Rule, a player cannot choose a stage they won on prior. While often used, sometimes an additional stage ban is used instead of enforcing Dave's Stupid Rule.

Player priority[edit]

The team that initiates the stage-striking procedure is always the team that did not initiate the controller port selection. If there is a dispute over who does which, then either rock-paper-scissors, a coin flip, or seeing which player gets the higher number from Judge in-game, will determine it - the winner gets to choose whether they wish to pick ports or start the stage striking.


For an explanation as to why stages are counter-picked or banned, see Stage legality.

Stage lists vary by tournament due to a variety of factors, such as how many counterpick stages are available or what downloadable content stages are allowed (or released). This section covers stages used in competitive Super Smash Bros. for Wii U play; for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS stages, see below.

Stages are divided up in tournaments into starter, counterpick, and banned. Starter stages are the only stages that are used in the first game of a match. After that, the loser may pick any stage, starter or counterpick, that is not banned. Each player also gets to ban the opponent from choosing a stage throughout the whole set, as explained prior in the set procedure.

Some tournaments eliminate the distinction between starters and counterpicks, and instead just have players strike from the entire legal stagelist for game 1, though this is much less common than standard stage striking.

Universal starters[edit]

The following stages are on the starter lists of virtually all tournaments.

Common starter/Universal counterpick[edit]

  • Lylat Cruise
    • Was briefly retired, but brought back in a poll.

Universal counterpicks/Uncommon starter[edit]

The following stages are universally tournament legal, usually as a counterpick. Some liberal stagelists may have them as a starter.

Retired counterpicks[edit]

The following stages were once tournament legal as counterpicks, but are now universally banned in tournaments. Due to their former legality and the banning of certain stages being controversial decisions, they may still see some tournament play via the gentleman's rule.

Banned Stages[edit]

The following stages are almost never seen in tournaments.

Triples or Squads[edit]

When 5 or more characters are fighting in 8-Player Smash mode, some usually banned stages have their hazards or some feature that caused the ban removed completely, or its size, which is considered too big, becomes acceptable for 3 vs 3 or 4 vs 4 competitive matches.

These banned stages in Singles and Doubles are usually allowed in competitive Triples or Squads battles.

3DS stages[edit]

Since the release of its Wii U counterpart, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS has had minimal tournament presence. The following stages are used by Anther's Ladder for 3DS netplay and most online 3DS tournaments:

General universal player conduct rules[edit]

The following are general rules tournaments have regarding player conduct. How strictly they're enforced depends on the TO however.

  • Players are expected to bring their own controller and be prepared for every tournament set (often known as BYOC; Bring Your Own Controller), though tournaments may occasionally have a few controllers that players can borrow.
  • If pausing is left on, and a player pauses, the pausing player generally must forfeit their current stock immediately; some tournaments only require players to forfeit upon their opponent's request, while other rulesets force any pausing player to forfeit regardless of the opponent's request. There are a few tournaments, however, where a TO must resolve the situation in the following way. Unpausing before a TO arrives and without the opposing player's consent typically results in a loss of stock for the unpauser.
    • If the situation is neutral, the match is resumed with no further action once all players are ready.
    • If the player who paused is at a disadvantage, once the game resumes they are to be placed either on the edge of the stage or in an opponent's grab if they were being grabbed.
    • If the player who paused is in a "death situation", their current stock is forfeited immediately.
  • Players who use wireless controllers are responsible for turning off and de-syncing their controllers to prevent interference. Some tournaments ban wireless controllers entirely to avoid this problem.
  • Players are responsible for their own controls and name tag. Any malfunctions (including battery power) is the player's responsibility. Both sides must agree to restart a match because of such a problem.
  • No substitutions are allowed for singles or doubles.
  • DQ Rule: Arriving too late for a match will result in a DQ. Player(s) will usually have between 5 to 10 minutes to show up, and if they fail to do so without getting prior TO consent to be late, will result in a loss of the first match. 5 to 10 more minutes without showing up results in a loss of the entire set. For doubles, both players on a team need to be present in order to play.
  • The tournament organizer has the right to save/record any tournament match if possible and has the right to upload said match.

Other player conduct rules[edit]

The following rules are commonly seen in tournaments, though TOs may opt against implementing one or some of them however.

  • Intentional forfeiting, match fixing, splitting, and any other forms of bracket manipulation is not allowed and punishable by the TO.
  • During gameplay, any coaching parties must remain a finite distance determined by the TO away from the players in order to give players equal access to all coached information. Ear-side coaching may be prohibited during games but acceptable between games. Failure to adhere to this will lead to punishment at the TO's discretion, which could include the coach's removal from the venue or a call to replay the game that the coaching interfered with.
  • Disrupting an opponent physically or intending to disrupt their play (through something such as screaming in a player's ear) will result in a warning. Repeated action may result in disqualification from the tournament and possibly ejection from the venue. Observers who physically disrupt players are dealt with as the Tournament Organiser sees fit. Disqualification is the most common recourse, as well as ejection. While physically disrupting another player is never allowed, the TO may not enforce against disrupting an opposing player through nonphysical means (such as via shouting).

General handling of pool ties[edit]

In the event two or more players are tied at the conclusion of a round of pools at a tournament, the following is the typical procedure TOs follow:

  • Players will be compared with each other on various criteria in this ordered precedence: Set Wins, Head to Head, Wins, Losses, and One Game Rematch.
  • If players are still tied on a step, the TO moves down to the next one. For instance, if Player A and B both go 3-2 in sets in a round of pools, the TO will then proceed to the Head to Head step (who won the set between those players). Whoever won vs the other will proceed at the top of the tie.
  • If Head to Head can not decide a tie, then the TO would move down to the Wins step. This may occur in a three way tie where all three players defeated each other (however note that if one person in a three way tie defeats both other players, then the Head to Head comparison will be used).
  • If the tie breaker reaches all the way to the One Game Rematch step, this game will play out similar to the first game of any set (though doing best of one), where users will stage strike for the stage, and may double blind characters.
  • If at any point a tie of three or more players is partially resolved, still leaving two or more players tied, the tie between the remaining players will be decided by starting the tie breaker process over for them. For instance, if in a three way tie in the Wins step, one player has six wins while the others have 5, the player with 6 wins will be the top of the 3. The remaining two players will start back at Sets Wins to determine who is higher between the two instead of proceeding onto the Losses step right away.

amiibo Tournament Rules[edit]

No official ruleset exists for amiibo tournaments, though this is the most commonly used ruleset:

  • 3 Stock.
  • 10 minutes
  • All amiibo must be Level 50
  • Equipment is allowed, however, “Explosive Perfect Shield” and “Critical Hit Capability” are banned in most tournaments.
  • All items (including Smash Ball) are banned
  • All battles are on tournament legal stages.
  • Sudden Death is used to determine winners if time runs out.
  • Custom Moves are allowed on amiibo

See also[edit]