A tier list is a concept originating in video game culture where playable characters or other in-game elements are subjectively ranked by their respective viability as part of a list. Characters listed high on a tier list of a specific game are considered to be powerful characters compared to lower-scoring characters, and are therefore more likely to be used in high-level competitive settings like tournaments.
Tier lists are a popular method of classifying the cast of playable characters in fighting games such as the Street Fighter and Super Smash Bros. series; multiplayer online battle arena titles such as League of Legends and Dota series; hero shooter titles such as Overwatch and Apex Legends ; and action role-playing games with playable party members like Genshin Impact .
Tier lists have been used to rank elements from other subjects aside from video games, such as films, sports teams, logos, animals, elements of tabletop games and private housing estates.Tier lists have been a popular phenomenon on the livestreaming platform Twitch since 2015–2016.
When a competitive game gets an update, a question that arises is how the changes in the game will affect the tier list. Even when no balancing changes actually took place, the inclusion of new characters or new systems can affect tier lists. In fighting games, the strength of a character is always held relative to that of other characters, meaning that something that is strong in one fighting game does not necessarily have to be strong in another. The metagame may shift over time as dominant strategies get overturned using less popular characters.
Tier rankings may be listed using letter gradings. The competitive community surrounding Guilty Gear Xrd , for instance, ranks characters as 'S', 'S-', 'A+', and 'A', where 'S tiers' are particularly powerful and 'A tiers' less so. "Exemplary" (秀, shū), and originates from the widespread use in Japanese culture of an 'S' grade for advertising and academic grading.Major video game news websites such as The Daily Dot , Kotaku and PC Gamer have published their own tier lists for popular games. 'S' tier may stand for "Special", "Super", or the Japanese word for
For a game like Super Smash Bros. Melee , which was released in 2001 and has not been updated since, but is still popular in tournament settings, characters originally overpowered tend to remain that way, due to their inability to receive character balancing updates. However, characters initially believed to be poor can climb in later tier lists if new techniques are discovered that improve their viability. Different versions of the game may have different tier lists as well. The website Smashboards bases its yearly tier lists for the Super Smash Bros. series on polling results.
Writing for Kotaku , Maddy Myers noted that characters that are considered low-tier have an advantage over higher-tiered characters, as players have less experience dealing with low-tier characters and often underestimate them. Myers stated that "the element of surprise can only get you so far, but it's still an undeniable asset. And one that the bottom third of every tier list enjoys." Already popular characters may also rise in tier lists because high-level players establish and iterate on their combos and techniques. Myers also noted that tier lists are less useful in team-based games, because character roles and team composition introduce a complex set of variables.
Waluigi is a fictional character in the Mario franchise. He plays the role of Luigi's arch-rival and accompanies Wario in spin-offs from the main Mario series, often for the sake of causing mischief and problems. He was created by Camelot employee Fumihide Aoki and was voiced from 2000 to 2023 by Charles Martinet, who described Waluigi as someone who has a lot of self-pity and would "cheat to win".
Falco Lombardi is a fictional anthropomorphic bird from the Star Fox series of video games. He was created by Shigeru Miyamoto and designed by Takaya Imamura. Falco acts as the wingman and best friend of the titular Fox McCloud for the majority of the series.
Roy is a fictional character from Nintendo's Fire Emblem video game series , alongside Marth, first appeared in the 2001 crossover fighting game Super Smash Bros. Melee as a representative character from the Fire Emblem series. He is the lead character of Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade; within the story, he is the son of Eliwood and heir presumptive of Pherae, who eventually becomes a major military leader. Roy's inclusion in Melee has been noted by video game publications for its role in increasing brand awareness for the Fire Emblem series as a whole outside of Japan, which encouraged Nintendo to localize the series for international distribution. Roy continues to make recurring appearances in subsequent Fire Emblem media, such as a manga series and spinoff video games.
Super Smash Bros. is a crossover fighting game series published by Nintendo. The series was created by Masahiro Sakurai, who has directed every game in the series. The series is known for its unique gameplay objective which differs from that of traditional fighters, in that the aim is to increase damage counters and knock opponents off the stage instead of depleting life bars.
Super Smash Bros. Melee is a 2001 crossover fighting video game developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo for the GameCube. It is the second installment in the Super Smash Bros. series. It features characters from Nintendo video game franchises such as Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox and Pokémon, and Donkey Kong among others. The stages and gameplay modes reference or take designs from these franchises as well.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U are 2014 crossover platform fighter video games developed by Bandai Namco Studios and Sora Ltd. and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U video game consoles. It is the fourth installment in the Super Smash Bros. series, succeeding Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The Nintendo 3DS version was released in Japan on September 13, 2014, and in North America, Europe, and Australia the following month. The Wii U version was released in North America, Europe, and Australia in November 2014 and in Japan the following month.
Project M is a mod of the 2008 fighting game Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii, created by the community group known as the Project M Development Team. It is designed to retool Brawl to play more like its two predecessors, Super Smash Bros. (1999) and Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001), in response to fan objections to Brawl's physics, slower-paced gameplay, larger use of chance elements, and mechanics of certain attacks. Project M reintroduces Dr. Mario, Mewtwo, and Roy, who were present in Melee but were cut from Brawl due to time constraints. In addition, it features a new art style for in-game menus and allows players to choose certain characters individually when they are only accessible as transformations of other ones in Brawl.
Apex is an annual esports tournament held in New Jersey that is focused on Super Smash Bros. The event's first incarnation was in 2009 with Jesus "Jman" Fernandez as the champion of Super Smash Bros. Melee and Elliot "Ally" Carroza-Oyarce as champion of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Each year the event grew with more competitors entering. Apex 2014 garnered 629 entrants and was the 2nd largest tournament for Melee at the time after EVO 2013. Though the tournament initially focused on Brawl, the feature game has since switched to Melee due to its popularity. In 2010, an event for Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64 was added. In 2014, the fan modification of Brawl, Project M was added for singles only. Project M has recently been removed as an official event out copyright concerns under Nintendo of America sponsorship and Third Party relations.
William Peter Hjelte, better known by his gamer tag Leffen, is a Swedish professional fighting game player and streamer. Although mostly known as a Super Smash Bros. Melee player, he has also competed in Dragon Ball FighterZ, Guilty Gear Strive, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. In Melee, Hjelte plays the character Fox, and is considered one of the best players in the world, having been ranked as one of the top seven Melee players in the world every year since 2014. A 2021 list compiled by PGStats ranked Hjelte as the sixth greatest Melee player of all time.
Professional Super Smash Bros. competition involves professional gamers competing in the Super Smash Bros. series of crossover fighting games published by Nintendo. Organized tournament competition began in 2002 with Super Smash Bros. Melee, released for the GameCube in 2001; however, in the series' native Japan, there have been tournaments as early as 1999 with the original Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64. Later tournaments have featured the other games in the series, with the two largest and most popular Smash Bros. scenes revolving around Melee and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch. Smaller scenes exist for the original game and Project M, a popular fan modification of Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii, and to a lesser extent, Brawl itself. Major Smash Bros. tournaments include the GENESIS, Evolution Championship Series (EVO), Super Smash Con and The Big House annual series. Major League Gaming (MLG) has also previously included Smash Bros. games in its Pro Circuit.
Smashboards is an online forum centered on games from the Super Smash Bros. series, founded in 2002. The community hosts discussions of techniques, news, and professional competition of the Super Smash Bros. games and is used to announce Smash tournaments. Users on the website also discuss tournament rules and create tier lists that rank playable characters in all five games of the Super Smash Bros. series.
Super Smash Land is a fan-made demake of Super Smash Bros. released on September 14, 2011, by Dan Fornace. The game features six playable characters and 11 stages. The game's visual design resembles the graphics for the Game Boy and was developed with GameMaker 7.
The 2016 Evolution Championship Series was a fighting game event held in Las Vegas on July 15–17. Being hosted on the twentieth anniversary of the Evolution Championship Series, the event offered tournaments for various video games, including Street Fighter V, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Pokkén Tournament. Participation reached record-breaking numbers, with over 5,000 people registering for the Street Fighter competition alone. 2016 was the first time the Evo Grand Finals were held in an arena and were broadcast by ESPN2 in addition to Twitch.
The 2015 Evolution Championship Series was a fighting game event held in Las Vegas on July 17–19. The event featured a major tournament for nine fighting games, including the largest Super Smash Bros. tournament up to that point and a highly popular Ultra Street Fighter IV tournament. The Street Fighter IV tournament was won by Yusuke Momochi, defeating GamerBee in the Grand Finals.
Community Effort Orlando is an annual fighting game event held in Daytona Beach, Florida. Prior to 2018, CEO was held in Orlando, Florida. Introduced in 2010 and organized by Alex Jebailey, the event is known for its strong ties to the fighting game community. Fighting game players compete in a wrestling ring during the event's tournaments, and CEO has been a mainstay of the Capcom Pro Tour since its establishment in 2014. An annual side-event titled CEOtaku was initiated in 2015.
The Smash Box controller is a custom arcade controller designed by Dustin Huffer and developed by Hit Box from 2014 to 2017. Specifically designed for competitive play of Super Smash Bros. Melee, the Smash Box controller replaces the GameCube controller's analog stick with a button layout. This controller may allow more precise and rapid input, though it has a steeper learning curve than the traditional controller. Moreover, the Smash Box controller may have various health benefits, as it puts less stress on the hands of its user. The Smash Box is currently a legal controller for major Super Smash Bros. and fighting game tournaments, with it and other all-button controllers finding more acceptance and use throughout the communities.
The 2018 Evolution Championship Series was a fighting game event held in Las Vegas on August 3 to 5 as part of the long-running Evolution Championship Series. The event offered tournaments for various video games, including Street Fighter V, Tekken 7, and Dragon Ball FighterZ. Over 10,000 people registered for the event with Dragon Ball FighterZ receiving the most entrants.
Robin, also known in the game as Avatar, is a player avatar from Nintendo's Fire Emblem video game series, who first appeared in Fire Emblem Awakening as its lead character. In the story of Fire Emblem Awakening, the Avatar awakens in a grassy field and is found by Chrom and his sister Lissa, but suffers from amnesia. Despite this, Robin is a skilled fighter and serves as the main tactician in the army. Robin is the eventual parent of Morgan and the child of Validar. Following their appearance in Awakening, Robin received more widespread attention from their playable appearances, including the Super Smash Bros. series.
Byleth Eisner is a fictional character in Nintendo's Fire Emblem franchise. They first appeared as the player character and main protagonist of Fire Emblem: Three Houses (2019), and have since appeared as a playable character in the crossover games Fire Emblem Heroes (2017) and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (2018), being added as DLC in 2019 and 2020 respectively, and as a recurring antagonist in Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes (2022). In each game, players can choose between a female or male version of the character. The male version of the character also appears in Fire Emblem Engage (2023) as an Emblem alongside other Fire Emblem protagonists.