Wario currently ranks 10th on the tier list (the second highest ranked sub-series Mario character and the second highest ranked heavyweight, otherwise his best placement in the series bar Ultimate). Wario has unique attributes as a fighter, as he has a small frame, high weight, and great air speed, which allows him to survive longer periods of time but not be as vulnerable to combos as other heavyweights and move through the air and approach effectively. His very fast air speed and strong aerial attacks give him a great air game. Additionally, he has a great recovery when all recovery options are present (his Wario Bike provides great vertical distance when hopped off of and a fully-charged Wario Waft is one of the farthest-reaching vertical recoveries), effective approach options using his air speed and DACUS, and effective finishers, such as forward smash, up aerial, and his notorious half-charged Wario Waft. However, Wario suffers from major grab release problems; his air release sends him upward vertically unlike any other character, therefore leaving him vulnerable to almost any aerial attack with 20 or less frames of startup lag, as well as ground attacks with significant reach. Almost every character can grab-release-combo Wario into a string of aerial attacks, or even a KO (King Dedede is particularly notable in this aspect). Wario's attacks also have mediocre range; his range makes him especially vulnerable to characters with good range such as Marth and Meta Knight. Additionally, Wario's recovery is among the worst in the game if multiple elements are absent from it, most notably his Wario Bike, as his Corkscrew provides very little vertical distance and can't sweetspot the edge (which is also the case with his midair jump). Regardless, Wario has very good matchups against most of the cast, possessing only four disadvantageous matchups and three counters, and has achieved strong tournament results. Wario's ranking in all regions is superb, and is considered to be high tier.
Wario is a unique, unorthodox addition to the Smash Bros. series. While he is a heavy character, he has by far the best aerial mobility in the game, with the third-fastest air speed and almost triple the aerial acceleration and over double the air friction of any other character. Combined with his solid aerial attacks and air dodge, his ability to change aerial direction and speed almost instantly gives him a great camping game despite his lack of a reliable projectile, even to the point of being able to time out certain characters should he gain a lead. Wario's amazing aerial maneuverability also makes him a great punisher, being able to swoop in, bait an attack, back away, and move back in to punish with one of his many fast aerials. He also has one of the best recoveries in the game when all options are available, combining his mobility with the Wario Bike and Wario Waft for a bevy of possibilities. Finally, Wario's aerial mobility also shines in approaching, able to fly all over the place while his small size (unusual for a heavy character) makes him difficult to hit.
Wario has a good grab game, able to chain throw several characters with his down throw into KO percent, while his forward throw does 13% damage and can act as a KO move once the opponent gets into the 160% range. Chomp also acts as a grab and can be used to beat sidesteps and eat certain projectiles and items. The Wario Bike has many uses, including approaching, camping, blocking projectiles, and usage as an edge-guarding projectile; once broken Wario can use the tires as throwing items to further enhance his keep-away game. As expected for a heavy character, Wario's KO moves are brutal, with his forward smash KO'ing in the 70%s and a perfectly-timed Wario Waft KO'ing as low as 50% with minimal startup lag. He also boasts one of the best DACUSes in the game, allowing him to cover great distances with most of his body covered in hitboxes and following-up attacks such as a Chomp at low damage. Wario can even juggle with his up aerial, or simply save the 17%-damage move as another KO option.
Wario does have his weaknesses. While his KO moves are powerful, he doesn't have a lot of them, so he must be careful about using them simply to deal damage should they turn out to be too stale when needed. The Wario Bike is generally useful in all situations, but he cannot use it if it's elsewhere on the stage or has just been broken. Without his bike, Wario's poor range becomes more apparent, and his recovery is downgraded from "varied" to "lackluster" - indeed, without either the Wario Bike or Wario Waft, Wario's recovery is rather poor, with the Corkscrew having bad range and being unable to grab the edge during its ascent. Wario also has significant problems with being grab released: his high air friction robs him of horizontal momentum when air released, leaving him in a prime spot to be clobbered or infinitely regrabbed. A Wario player has to stay very deceptive and slippery to avoid getting nailed by his poor range and getting grabbed by those who have a grab release option on him.
In competitive play
Wario has strong matchups all around. He is countered by three characters, soft countered by one, has 8 even matchups, soft counters 14 characters, counters 8, and hard counters 2. Wario's superb air game and air speed allow him to have amazing mobility (especially for his weight class) and his aerials are all either fast, powerful, or both. His air game allows him to counter characters like Zero Suit Samus, Lucario, and Toon Link, beating all of them in the air. Wario also possesses a very powerful chain grab with his down throw which is particularly effective against characters such as Wolf and Bowser. However, characters with disjointed hitboxes, such as Marth and Meta Knight in particular outrange him on all fronts and can space him out for the entire game. King Dedede also shrugs off his relatively weak aerials (except for Uair) and can chaingrab him forever. Peach also can float past Wario's aerials and she can combo his grab release into a guaranteed up smash negating one of her biggest weaknesses (her poor kill power). Even some lower tiered characters such as Sheik can heavily abuse his aerial grab release. Overall, Wario has good matchups and is a threat to many characters.
Tier placement and history
Wario was initially ranked at 8th place in the high tier on the first Brawl tier list. However, as the metagame developed, Fiction, TheReflexWonder, and other dedicated Wario mains began achieving dominance at nationals, such as FAST 1 and GENESIS; these players demonstrated the usefulness of his great aerial mobility and powerful KO options, and as a result, Wario quickly shot up the tier list, reaching as high as 3rd in June 2009. Although he was considered one of the best characters in the game at this point, his position at the top of the tier list did not last for long. Meta Knight's continuing prominence in competitive highlighted Wario's trouble versus the character due to his lack of disjointed reach, and many Wario mains, such as Fiction, became inactive in the scene or dropped Wario for other characters. Wario has since dropped down to 10th place in the high tier.
While Wario is considered a borderline viable character today in singles, he remains an extremely powerful threat in doubles play. He is considered one of the best doubles characters in the game, because his aerial mobility serves as a powerful disruption tool, allowing him to easily maneuever among a field of four players. He also possesses two of the most reliable combo and KO setups in his down throw and forward throw, and his half-charged Wario Waft has become notorious for swinging the momentum of a match with an extremely early kill. Wario remained one of the most popular doubles picks throughout Brawl's competitive lifetime, and many players, most notably Ally, brought out a pocket Wario in doubles to great success. False and Nakat's double Wario team in particular was feared as one of the strongest doubles teams in the United States in 2013 and 2014, with victories over ADHD and Nairo and a second place finish at SKTAR 2.
Role in The Subspace Emissary
Wario is the tertiary antagonist in The Subspace Emissary. After Kirby does battle with Petey Piranha to free the princesses, one of the cages in which Petey holds Zelda and Peach will break, depending on which cage the player damaged more while battling Petey. The Princess who the player saves will escape with the player; the other will be injured and trapped beneath their wrecked cage. Wario drops heavily into the stadium with a Dark Cannon. Blasting the princess, Wario traps her in the form of a trophy and takes off with the trophy on his shoulder. He is revealed to be a member of the Subspace Army.
Wario then hunts down Lucas in an abandoned zoo, dispatching Porky to corner and weaken him. Porky is defeated by Lucas with the help of Ness, but Wario appears and captures Ness, who is hit defending Lucas.
Upon finding the trophy of Luigi, Wario lets his guard down and picks up the trophy. Wario is ambushed by Waddle Dees and then loses his trophies to King Dedede, who steals his Cargo. Wario tracks Lucas and his partner, the Pokémon Trainer, down and fights them. Wario is defeated and left behind. When Galleom's Subspace Bomb detonates, the area of Subspace expands and absorbs Wario's trophy. After being revived by Kirby, Wario confronts King Dedede later on the steps to the Great Maze seeking revenge on Dedede for stealing his Cargo. However, he is stunned to see Luigi and Ness beside him. King Dedede, Luigi and Ness point to the Great Maze to show it to Wario, who thinks that they are pointing to his nose (Wario was standing between King Dedede and the Great Maze), thus making him start to pick his nose. Realizing that he can't fight all of them, he instead drives his bike to the top and aids the heroes in their battle against Tabuu.
Although he works for the Subspace Army, he had no specific allegiance to Master Hand, only following his orders because he enjoyed doing so.
Wario makes numerous appearances in Subspace Emissary such as Midair Stadium, The Ruined Zoo & The Path to the Ruins. There is a short cutscene with Luigi, King Dedede & Wario after the player completes The Battlefield Fortress. After he is defeated in The Ruins, his trophy is shown being sucked up into a Subspace Portal after Galleom's 2nd defeat in The Ruined Hall, and is never seen again until he is rescued by Kirby in Subspace (Part II), when he attacks King Dedede.
In Event Matches