A tier list is a list of playable characters or other elements of a video game, subjectively ranked by their respective viability in high-level competitive settings. 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 during tournaments. Tier lists are popular in fighting games such as the Street Fighter and Super Smash Bros. series, and multiplayer online battle arena titles such as League of Legends and Dota 2 , in addition to hero shooter titles such as Overwatch and Paladins .
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.Major video game news websites such as The Daily Dot and Kotaku may publish their own tier lists for popular games. 'S' tier may mean "Superb" or "Super".
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 remain that way, due to their inability to receive character balancing updates. 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.
Super Smash Bros. is a series of crossover fighting video games published by Nintendo, and primarily features characters from various Nintendo franchises. The series was created by Masahiro Sakurai, who has directed every game in the series. The gameplay objective 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. The stages and gameplay modes reference or take designs from these franchises as well.
The Evolution Championship Series, commonly known as Evo, is an annual esports event that focuses exclusively on fighting games. The tournaments are completely open and use the double elimination format. As with Super Battle Opera, contestants travel from all over the world to participate, most notably from Japan. The first Evolution was originally held as a Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Street Fighter Alpha 2 tournament called the Battle by the Bay. It changed its name to Evo in 2002. Every successive tournament has seen an increase of attendees. It has been held at various venues across the Las Vegas Valley since 2005.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is a group of two 2014 crossover fighting video games developed by Bandai Namco Studios and Sora Ltd. and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U video game consoles. The Nintendo 3DS version was released in Japan in September 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 the characters Dr. Mario, Mewtwo, and Roy, who were present in Melee but were cut from Brawl. 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 extensions of other ones in Brawl.
Apex was 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 as Leffen, is a Swedish professional gamer who competes in Super Smash Bros. Melee, Dragon Ball FighterZ 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 six Melee players in the world every year since 2014. Hjelte is the first of two players to have beaten each of the "Five Gods" of Melee—Juan "Hungrybox" Debiedma, Joseph "Mango" Marquez, Adam "Armada" Lindgren, Jason "Mew2King" Zimmerman, and Kevin "PPMD" Nanney—in a tournament set and was also the first person outside the "Five Gods" to win a major tournament since 2010 when he did so in 2015. Hjelte has won several major Melee tournaments, including EVO 2018, Super Smash Con 2015 and 2019 and Community Effort Orlando 2015. He is sponsored by Team SoloMid.
Joel Isai Alvarado, known as Isai, is an American Super Smash Bros. 64 player widely regarded as the greatest of all time. He is credited with developing the modern metagame and is formerly among the ten highest ranked Super Smash Bros. Melee players in the United States until retiring in 2007. In the competitive gaming community, he is known simply as "Isai" or by his gamer tag "malva00." He is regarded as a team specialist in Super Smash Bros. Melee and garnered an almost three-year winning streak with his teammate, Ken Hoang. The team won the Major League Gaming Las Vegas 2006 Melee doubles championship. His primary character in Melee was formerly Captain Falcon and used multiple secondary characters such as Sheik, Fox, and Marth.
Professional Super Smash Bros. competition involves professional gamers competing in the Super Smash Bros. series of crossover fighting games published by Nintendo. Competition began in 2002 with multiple tournaments held for Super Smash Bros. Melee, released for the GameCube in 2001. Later tournaments also featured the original Super Smash Bros. (1999), Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008), Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and for Wii U (2014), and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (2018). Major Smash tournaments include Community Effort Orlando, DreamHack, Evolution Championship Series, Genesis, Super Smash Con and The Big House. From 2004 to 2006, Major League Gaming (MLG) included Melee in its Pro Circuit, and then supported the MLG Smash Series in 2007. In 2010, MLG had Brawl in its Pro Circuit. The MLG Anaheim 2014 and MLG World Finals 2015 championship also featured Melee and Wii U events. Super Smash Bros. games also have a large, widespread grassroots scene that supports tournaments at the amateur and local level.
Smashboards is an online forum centered on games from the Super Smash Bros. series. 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.
COGnitive Gaming was a professional esports team based in the United States. They had teams in Smite, League of Legends, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Heroes of the Storm.
Tempo Storm is an American esports professional video game team that has teams competing in Age of Empires II, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, Fortnite, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege,World of Warcraft, FIFA, fighting games, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Magic: The Gathering, Shadowverse, Smash, and Brawlhalla.
Mercy is a player character appearing in the 2016 video game Overwatch, a Blizzard Entertainment–developed team-based first-person shooter, and its related animated and literary media. Lucie Pohl voices Mercy in English-language Overwatch media.
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.
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. After a "test period" of half a year, various prominent tournament organizers have decided that the use of the Smash Box controller and similar alternative controllers are not legal in high-level tournaments for the foreseeable future.
Combo Breaker 2017 was a fighting game event that took place in St. Charles, Illinois on May 26–28, 2017. 20 different tournaments were held during this event, including a 2017 Capcom Pro Tour Premier Event for Street Fighter V, which was won by NuckleDu. Combo Breaker was the debut of the Injustice 2 Pro Series, a tournament which was won by SonicFox.
The 2018 Japanese Evolution Championship Series, commonly referred to as Evo Japan 2018, was a fighting game event held in Tokyo, Japan on January 26–28. As mentioned in its namesake, the event was the first Evo event to take place in Japan and outside of the United States. The event offered tournaments for various fighting games, such as Street Fighter V, Tekken 7, and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Over 5,000 people registered for the event with Street Fighter V and Tekken 7's entrant numbers being on par with their respective Evo 2017 numbers.
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.
Jeffrey Williamson, known professionally as Axe, is an American professional Super Smash Bros. Melee player. As of 2020, he is ranked as the fourth best Melee player in the world, and has finished in the top ten of formal rankings presented by Red Bull every year since 2016. His highest placements at major Melee tournaments include first place at Smash Summit 8, second place at Genesis 6, and fifth place at Evo 2014.