How GOOD is Incineroar ACTUALLY?

Introduction to Character Crisis

I am suffering from a character crisis in Super Smash Bros Ultimate.

Ever since Smash came out I have mainly played only one character. But with how large Smash’s cast is, could I be missing out on someone?

This week I’m getting my claws dirty with Incineroar, a character who hits so hard you’d think he smuggled Z-Crystals into Smash!

Character Crisis Logo

Preconceptions on Incineroar

What starts off as little more than a kitten eventually grows up to be the WWE superstar we all know and love. Before Smash Ultimate came out Rowlet was my favorite of the three Alolan starters. But after seeing Incineroar strike a pose every time he hit you I couldn’t help but root for him. Incineroar has been a fascinating character to watch throughout competitive Smash Bros. He has many qualities that you would look for in a top tier. Excellent frame data, absurd kill power, the best command grab in the game, and a counter that gives you the opportunity to deal up to 70% in only one hit! But all of this comes with the catch that Incineroar is the literal slowest character in the game. In a genre where speed is king, many players wrote off Incineroar as a low-tier.

For years Incineroar was regarded as one of the worst characters in the game. He received a lot of love throughout all of Smash Ultimate’s patches improving his recovery and kill power but the community still regarded him as a low tier. Earlier this year Barnard’s Loop published the first official Smash Ultimate tier list which had Incineroar ranked as the 19th worst character in the game. Less than two weeks after that tier list was posted Skyjay would make a monumental run at Collision 2023 and placed 2nd out of 1149 competitors. Proving it wasn’t a fluke he then followed it up by placing 5th at the last Smash Ultimate Summit to ever happen.

My Smash Ultimate Tier List Vs Official Smash Ultimate Tier List

As surprised as many people were to see Incineroar do so well, I doubt my region was as shocked as everyone else was. We’ve been saying for years that if you gave Incineroar’s moveset to any other character in the game they’d become a better character. I created my own tier list just a couple of weeks before the official one released and I placed Incineroar at the bottom of high tier. I had faith that Incineroar’s weaknesses could be compensated for by his extreme strengths and all it took was Skyjay double eliminating Spargo to prove it. Does this mean Incineroar is actually a good character in Super Smash Bros Ultimate? It’s time for me to find out for myself.

Incineroar Training Mode

Training to become an Incineroar main was very different compared to what I needed to do for Steve and Kazuya. Incineroar doesn’t have crazy long combos or any character specific techniques. The only things I really needed to practice was follow-ups for landing Down-Tilt at ledge and mastering my Alolan Whip timings. If I wanted to get good at Incineroar I had to learn how to hit my opponent.

For many characters this is a simple question to answer just run at them and mash some buttons. When Incineroar tries to do this your opponent can simply move out of the way. Being the slowest character in the game without a projectile can be incredibly frustrating when Zero Suit Samus is just flip jumping from one side of the stage to the other. However, what Incineroar lacks in speed he more than makes up for with raw power.

Incineroar’s Hidden Ability – Intimidate

Incineroar Intimidate

The key to playing Incineroar is to know that you’re playing one of the most intimidating characters in the game. Players, especially in a tournament setting, should be terrified of getting hit by Incineroar. If they don’t respect you, you’ll easily destroy them in close quarters thanks to having some of the best moves in the game. So when an opponent purposefully stays out of range of Incineroar this gives you an opportunity. Stage control is a concept which implies that when you control center stage, you have more options than your opponent, which therefore gives you the advantage. If all your opponent wants to do is run away from you, swagger on forward and take the stage for yourself. Do this little by little until your opponent puts themselves in the corner for you.

It’s more than just stage control though. In many situations involving Incineroar interacting with him imposes some kind of risk. If you misspace a move on his shield you can get demolished from his fast out of shield options. Run in and shield a little too close and the burst range of Alolan Whip will give you whiplash. Try to jump over him and you’ll get juggled for ages by his Up-Air. As the Incineroar player your job is to try and identify what your opponent fears most. Once you learn that, cover the space that they’re trying to escape to. After you punish their escape options enough eventually they’ll try to not get hit by that, which gives you the chance to hit them with what they were afraid of in the first place.

I hope my Incineroar was able to put fear in the hearts of my opponents this week.

Tournament Report as Incineroar

I was excited to play Incineroar at my local. He’s a very fun character to play as and I felt like my Incineroar was competent enough to get the job done. Incineroar is in many ways an excellent tournament character. As the one playing Incineroar I feel like the underdog which is great for my mentality. My opponents are afraid of me because if they make one mistake I can destroy their stock. Add onto this the pressure of a tournament setting and it’s clear to see how Incineroar can take advantage of his powerful strengths.


R1 Winners Elay

Sonic Head

Pairing the slowest character in the game against the fastest for my round 1 is a funny coincidence. Elay and I go back and forth in sets and it took me some time to learn the Sonic matchup as Daisy. As Incineroar, it quickly became apparent that I would struggle to get my hands on him. There were moments when I would stack up revenge and then not be able to touch him for the next 30 seconds. I lost game 1 and in game 2 I actually SD’d twice in a row. It was the first match of the day and I was playing rusty. Despite that, I still managed to bring it to last hit last stock and if we hadn’t traded hits I would have won the game right there. Surprisingly, even though that matchup is supposed to be awful it felt doable and I imagine that if I were to get the runback as Incineroar I could figure out a way to beat him.

R2 Losers Stocky

Lucas Head

Stocky is a Lucas main who I have never played against. Lucas is pretty uncommon to see, but so is Incineroar to be fair. I open up game 1 playing hot and take his stock with only 1% on mine. I win game 1 and in game 2 I barely miss the ledge trying to recover too quickly. I’m behind pretty significantly but a revenge into Alolan Whip swings the momentum back in my favor. I’m playing from behind but I guess correctly several times in a row and am able to take the set with a clean 2-0. Incineroar with momentum is one of the scariest things to deal with because all it takes is one mistake.

R3 Losers Focus

Roy Head

Up next I get to fight a Roy player. Finally, a matchup where I don’t have to do all of the approaching. Revenge is my greatest tool in this matchup stopping any mashing and letting me deal massive damage. I take game 1 and in game 2 I steal his first stock in less than 20 seconds. Nair then becomes Focus’ downfall as I use it to edgeguard his next two stocks taking another set as Incineroar.

R4 Losers Z-NIX

Zelda Head

Z-NIX is strong Zelda player who usually attends different locals than me. However, we got paired up against each other and it became a battle of the low tiers. Zelda proved to be really difficult for me to fight because Z-NIX did an excellent job of changing the timings on his phantom. Game 1 I got bodied while I was trying to figure out the matchup. I take him to Smashville where there is less room for him to make phantoms. It’s a lot closer and on his final stock I read his jump getup and steal his stock at 73% taking the game. Game 3 is going even until I mistime a revenge which leads to a brutal sequence from Z-NIX that ends with me not being able to make it back to the ledge. Phantom was really difficult for me to deal with because I couldn’t maneuver around it and if I guessed wrong with revenge I would get punished.

Final Results

Incineroar is some of the most fun I’ve had since I’ve started this series. No other character in the game plays quite like him thanks to him being the only true grappler in Ultimate. In many ways, playing as Incineroar feels like I’m trying to solve the puzzle that is my opponent. Because of his weight it’s usually ok to make mistakes going for reads. And when you guess correctly your reward is watching your opponent explode.

It can definitely be difficult to play Incineroar though. Spending a minute or more chasing an opponent who does not want to interact with you sucks. If you autopilot in disadvantage you can eat so much damage that even a full power revenge won’t bring it back to even. But as long as you keep your cool, remember that they are more afraid of you then you are of them, every game becomes doable as Incineroar.

After my experience playing as Incineroar I feel confident with where I put him on my tierlist. In many ways he is a very powerful character with only one major flaw holding him back. However, in many matchups being slow is not a huge deal as every character will eventually put themselves in range of your claws. And once you get your hands on them they may as well kiss their stock goodbye. As fun as he was it’s time for a new character. Sorry, I meant characters.

Roy/Chrom Poll

See you on Tuesday!

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