How does Sakurai feel about the notorious King K. Rool? What’s surprised him so much about the online character usage statistics? His latest Famitsu column is probably the most interesting yet. Buckle up, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fans.
As the faithful among you will already know, the substantial 2.0.0 update has just arrived in Smash. It adds the outlandish Piranha Plant character (for those who pre-ordered the game and registered their code), for one thing, while also taking the chance to throw in some buffs and nerfs to various characters (full details in our in-depth feature).
Buffing and nerfing in a fighting game is always a controversial business, isn’t it? Balancing an average fighting game roster of around 25 characters is difficult enough, but when you’re talking 75+ fighters? That’s a headache and a half. When it comes to Smash, then, lots of us are dependent on the tier lists created by professional players to determine who’s hot and who’s not.
Tournament results from the best players, who are using every little trick and technique the character is capable of, are key here. Tiers mean precious little to the rest of us mere mortals, and casual online play doesn’t really factor in. Most interestingly, the performance of particular characters in Elite Smash really goes against the grain. Which brings us to Sakurai’s latest Famitsu column.
This time around, he’s been authorised to share a little snapshot of the online usage statistics and fighter win rates with us, insider information that Nintendo doesn’t tend to reveal. In a handy-dandy translation of the column provided by Nintendo Everything, he states,
“As for 1-on-1 victory rates, no fighter is lower than 40% and no fighter exceeds 60%. In terms of Elite 1-on-1 matches, the character with the lowest percentage sits at 43.7%, while the character with the highest win rate is at 56.8%. There’s a noticeable difference there but considering that those percentages are for the highest and lowest of 74 fighters, overall you could say that the characters were fairly close to each other.”
He goes on to note that ‘player-created estimations of each character’s strengths’ (ie, tier lists) tend to differ a whole heck of a lot from the win rates and usage stats from the game itself. Of course, the percentage of online players that are tournament pros is very low, but it’s certainly interesting to think about.
Elsewhere, Sakurai shares his feelings on the controversial King K. Rool. As lots of more experienced players have been finding, the slow, laggy Donkey Kong villain is a nightmare for newer players to deal with, but struggles to perform at high level. His win rate was just 51.9% (48.9% in Elite Smash) for the week of December 30 2018 to January 5 2019, the week from which all of this data is taken.
As the man himself said, “The general consensus seems to be that King K. Rool is strong, but I imagine that there are also people that think “no fair!” when they lose to him. Looking at our records, though, I don’t really see any need to adjust him.” Be that as it may, though, he goes on to say that there are many players who will be upset if K. Rool isn’t adjusted, a mindset that surely led to the nerfs from the recent patch.
Other noteworthy pearls of wisdom from the column include the fact that Cloud was the most used character overall that week, while Ganondorf was the most popular in Elite Smash (albeit with a sad win rate of 47.9%, which is lower-end rankings-wise).
Finally, Peach’s win rate (54.4%) is a good deal higher than Daisy’s (50.9%), which just goes to show… something.