Wobbling is an infinite combo exclusive to the Ice Climbers in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Opponents cannot break out of Popo's grab and will continuously get hit by Nana. The technique can be performed on all characters in the game except against another pair of Ice Climbers. Wobbling received its name as a reference to American smasher and Ice Climbers main Wobbles, with Ken coining the term after Wobbles claimed 9th place in NCT2 with considerable use of the technique.
While his name is attached to the technique, Wobbles did not actually discover Wobbling; he learned of the technique's existence after watching videos of Japanese Ice Climbers players.
Although only the Ice Climbers can perform true wobbling, the term "wobble" is sometimes used by competitive players as a pejorative term for any guaranteed, powerful combo that is very easy to perform.
In team games, a team wobble can be performed by having one player grab the enemy while the teammate attacks, in a similar fashion to the normal wobble. However, this can only be done reliably in a 2 vs. 1 situation and requires good spacing from the attacker; it is therefore uncommon.
In Super Smash Bros. Melee
Wobbling begins with a grab by Popo. Following this, the Ice Climbers player must use one of many methods to desynch the Ice Climbers, and have Popo pummel while Nana forward tilts or down tilts. While these two moves are easiest and most dominant for wobbling, wobbling can also be done with staled forward smash and down smash, back air, neutral air in conjunction with back air, back air in conjunction with up tilt, or any other move that allows for proper rhythm to be had to keep the opponent in a special form of grab hitstun during the grab. If done correctly, Popo and Nana will hit the enemy repeatedly in an alternating rhythm which cannot be escaped. This can lead to a KO if Nana performs a non-stale smash attack after sufficient damage has been inflicted.
In addition to standard Wobbling, a variation called Blizzobbling can also be performed, where Nana instead uses Blizzard to attack opponents instead of using a tilt. Like Wobbling, it is also inescapable.
Wobbling works by the existence of a mechanics exploit in Melee. When an opponent is grabbed, they cannot get out of the grab while they are in a special form of grab hitstun. In conjunction with any move that does damage and can go in rhythm with pummels, easiest with ftilt and dtilt, the opponent will constantly be in this form of hitstun and unable to escape the grab, allowing the wobble to work.
In later titles
Wobbling is impossible to perform in Brawl, due to changes in the game's grab mechanics. Despite this, the Ice Climbers gained a new, infinite chain grab that, while more difficult to perform, still guarantees a KO if properly performed. As such, the loss of Wobbling is an inconsequential nerf to the Ice Climbers.
In Ultimate, however, Nana can no longer act at all when Popo grabs opponents (and instead cheers for him) unless she is in the air, meaning that even if the grab mechanics were unaltered from Melee, wobbling would be impossible to perform.
In competitive play
Due to its perceived overpowering potential, Wobbling has been a controversial technique within the Melee community, and there is debate over whether or not the technique should be banned. Stalling is universally banned when done to explicitly delay tournaments, and as such, wobbling performed past a percent which guarantees a kill is forbidden.
Supporters of a ban claim that the technique is too powerful, as it is inescapable and almost always leads to a KO; supporters of a ban also note that there are other ways for the Ice Climbers to punish off a grab, such as their hand-off chain grabs. They also claim that Wobbling is an uninteresting technique to watch in matches, potentially deterring spectators from wanting to view streamed matches where Wobbling is taking place.
Opponents of a ban claim that Wobbling is a legitimate tactic, acting no different from infinite combos found in other fighting games, such as those found in Marvel vs. Capcom 2, or even Melee's other chain grabs. As Wobbling itself requires falling into the Ice Climbers' below-average grab range, consistently being Wobbled or losing matches solely to Wobbling also reflects poor fundamental play and match-up experience. Opponents of the ban also argue that Wobbling compensates for the many weaknesses that the Ice Climbers have at top-level play, such as their poor aerial combat, and that all characters, Ice Climbers included, should be allowed to have as many advantages as possible to succeed. They also note that while the Ice Climbers do have other options as to punish via a grab, these techniques are extremely difficult to reliably perform. Opponents of a ban also point out that Wobbling can allow for upsets to occur in tournaments, improving character diversity at top-level play; at EVO 2013, for instance, Wobbles defeated several top-level players en route to a second-place finish, including Lord, Shroomed, PPMD, Hungrybox, and Mango.
The most recent Smash Back Room ruleset for Melee does not have a specific rule dealing with Wobbling; as such, it is generally up to the discretion of the tournament organizer to decide whether or not to ban the technique. That said, most tournaments have allowed Wobbling, as seen in the Apex and Avalon series, and some tournaments that have previously banned Wobbling, such as the Big House series, now allow the technique.
In early 2019, a number of US states banned wobbling from tournaments. These states include Colorado, Kentucky, Montana, South Dakota and Tennessee. However, Memphis and Chattanooga remain unaffected from the Tennessee ban and do allow wobbling.
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