This week I played as Meta Knight, a character that has all the traits of a top tier but is almost never seen at the top level.
Preconceptions on Meta Knight
If you ask competitive Smash Bros players who the most broken character in the history of the series is, most would say Brawl Meta Knight. In Meta Knights debut game he was so powerful that he was put in a tier of his own. His moves came out so fast he could do 3 Up-Airs in a single short hop. Meta Knight’s blisteringly fast frame data stood in stark contrast to the rest of the Brawl cast and allowed Meta Knight to dominate the competitive scene. The viability of your character was directly related to how well they did against Meta Knight. Moving into the next Smash game Meta Knight was significantly toned down but was still good enough to be considered a high tier and was the first main of the greatest Ultimate player of all time.
In Smash Ultimate however Meta Knight seems to not exist for the most part. For a character who didn’t lose much going from Smash 4 to Ultimate his position on the tier list has shifted from high to low-mid. His recovery is arguably one of the best in the game, he has a great disadvantage state thanks to 5 mid-air jumps, and he can 0-Death most of the cast off a fantastic dash attack. His F-Smash is -6 on shield making it nearly impossible to punish and his edge-guarding is among the best in the game. Yet despite all of these amazing strengths Meta Knight is nowhere to be seen.
His highest placing at a supermajor was at the hands of Yei where he placed 13th at Smash Factor 9 losing only to Maister and Sonix. With all of those tools and fantastic frame data to boot what is holding Meta Knight back in Ultimate? As far as I can tell the only thing holding him back is time. Meta Knight is not an easy character to pick up and play. His combo game, while deadly, is different based on each character in the cast. Meta Knight is also a character who lacks a lot of top level talent with his best player being Abadango, who doesn’t travel very often anymore. Meta Knight has all the traits to one day be considered as strong as a top tier. But with a high learning curve and lack of representation it’s easy for many people to put Meta Knight in mid tier and forget about him. But as the metagame progresses and Meta Knight mains continue to get better we could see Meta Knight reclaim his throne as one of Smash’s greatest characters.
Meta Knight Training Mode
While I could teach you about Meta Knights advanced combo game there are plenty of other resources out there that do a better job of that. Instead I’d like to talk about another great aspect of Meta Knight, his incredibly hard to pin down neutral. Thanks to having one of the most fearsome Dash Attacks in the game (provided you know the combos) Meta Knight can play around his opponents fear of it. Condition your opponent to shield either by killing them off a Dash Attack or by jabbing them until they get sick of it. Once they start shielding you can then mix in a grab which can either combo, kill, or set up for a ledge trap.
Meta Knight is a scary opponent to face while on the ledge. With a plethora of options at his disposal all it takes is one wrong move to be sent off stage where Meta Knight can then attempt an edge guard something which he excels at. If your opponent spends too long at the ledge choosing an option you can do what’s called a ledge trump and force them off the ledge prematurely setting up for a Back-Air. His Back-Air is one of the strongest in the game and when you combine that with how deep Meta Knight can go to land it your stock could easily explode if you aren’t careful. When you combine that with the safest Forward Smash in the game and a terrifyingly quick Up-B out of shield it’s easy to make the wrong decision.
A key element of what makes Meta Knight’s neutral so tricky is his Down Special Dimensional Cape. While you’re no longer capable of disappearing for the entire match like you could in Brawl, Dimensional Cape is still a very powerful tool. If you input the move once you’ll disappear for a second and then reappear wherever you hold your control stick. You have very little endlag when you do this making it an excellent way to move around the stage or deny your opponent a ledge trap. What makes this move scary to challenge is that if you decide to press the B button a second time you’ll unleash a powerful sword attack that has massive range. Use this move to punish your opponent for using projectiles and keep them guessing on when you’ll let it rip.
Meta Knight may take a lot to master but his fundamental gameplan is not difficult to execute. And even if you’re not very good with the character you can still land some cool stuff as him. I hope you enjoy this combo video I put together from when I mained Meta Knight.
Meta Knight Combo Video
Meta Knight Tournament Report
Meta Knight proved to be a difficult character for me to play as. My previous character Ridley shared a lot of qualities with Meta Knight. They’re both fast, have great dash attacks, and are excellent at edge guarding. The difference came down to how those tools were used. Ridley has very large and easy to use moves especially compared to Meta Knight who despite having a sword can feel quite stubby at times. Meta Knight also requires a good understanding of his combo game to use effectively which is simply not something I can easily learn in the span of a few weeks.
That isn’t to say I can’t do well with him, however. Day 1 of playing Meta Knight I streamed my Coinbox attempt where I was able to take a set off a Cloud player. While the rest of the tournament didn’t go so well a Meta Knight based purely on fundies still has what it takes to win sets. Let’s see how I did at my local tournament.
Round 1 Winners – Skrate
Skrate plays Mii Brawler, a character I learned not that long ago myself. He played the first game well but by the end of it I had a good sense of the kind of gameplan I wanted to use against Brawler. I’m able to win game 2 playing to my win condition of whiff punishing. In game 3 it comes down to the wire. I get a kill spark on his final stock only to realize that he’s still alive. I then get hit by a Shotput during the loop of my Up-B making me lose an incredibly close and fun set.
Round 2 Losers – MattBro
To follow up my narrow loss I then got to fight MattBro the best Ganon main in the state who got knoced into losers unexpectedly. This unfortunately was nowhere near as close as my set with Skrate. While Meta Knight should do well against Ganondorf I kept mistiming the techs from his flame chokes leading me to tilt and quickly lose the set.
I was disappointed that I had such a close set with another player only to immediately get knocked out of the tournament. While I knew Meta Knight wasn’t my best character I still felt like I could get some decent wins with him. I wanted revenge. So I decided to enter another tournament with Meta Knight to see if I could do any better.
Round 1 Winners – Malfunky
My first opponent at this new tournament was Malfunky a Min-Min player who I hadn’t fought yet. Meta Knight is a great character against Min-Min who is capable of rushing Min-Min down and edgeguarding her very effectively. But I as a player struggle against Min-Min and even with a great matchup Malfunky proved to be too much for me.
Round 2 Losers – Skrate
I couldn’t have asked for a better opponent. Skrate knocked me into losers 2 days before this tournament and now we were both fighting to stay in the bracket. It was time to get my revenge. I take game 1 convincingly but in game 2 he adapts to my air camping and hits me with multiple Thrust Uppercuts. In our final game I start using Dimensional Cape to punish him for throwing out Shotput. And while he played well I ultimately got the revenge I was looking for.
Round 3 Losers – [0.0]n11ChaN^.^ -A- wOw
Last time I fought [0.0]n11ChaN^.^ -A- wOw I was devastatingly close to defeating him, only losing because of two self-destructs. If I were to take a set off of him my revenge would feel complete. Unfortunately, Meta Knight was a lot more difficult than Chrom and I was unable to win a game.
Meta Knight has challenged a lot of the assumptions I have about this game. Meta Knight has all the tools a top tier would want in this game and is arguably best of class in some categories. His ability to whiff punish is unmatched with how fast his moves can come out and how deadly they can be. Multiple times while maining Meta Knight I would land a Dash Attack and realize my opponent was dead. But due to inexperience on my part I was rarely able to finish the combo.
Meta Knight may have everything you’d want in a character but when there’s such a steep learning curve associated with it, it’s easy to pass him by for another fighter. But don’t be fooled into thinking this character is mid-tier. In the right hands Meta Knight can be one of the most dangerous characters in the game. While there is something to be said about playing such a difficult character in a tournament setting I believe in Meta Knights potential to rise up the ranks. Give Meta Knight players enough time and they will show you why this character should still be feared.
However, my Character Crisis is far from over. You can vote for the next character I play in the poll linked down below and can catch me streaming my Coinbox run with the winner tomorrow on this YouTube channel. But for now I have a vision of my future and in that timeline I’m a Shulk main. I’ll see you on Tuesday!