We have yet to cover this on the Youtube channel, but amiibo can now generally jab in addition to using counters. I’ve focused significantly more on the counters because they have KO potential and will make a big difference for some of the lower-tier amiibo, but jabs are also a major development for the meta.
But there’s a problem.
I have no idea what kind of impact they’ll have on the meta, besides being a big one. There’s a few ways I could see jabs go down in theory:
5 theories for how the AI will handle jabs
- They become a nuisance for many amiibo, because the AI is hardcoded to use them, and it becomes a “Ganondorf Up tilt” situation
- The rapid jabs become a multihit asset
- The Standard jabs become a knockback asset
- 2 & 3 both end up true
- They’re useless and the amiibo isn’t hardcoded to use them
Overall, I’m optimistic about the possibilities of jabs in amiibo. I think #3 is the most likely, and I’ve started to see some evidence of that in my labbing videos. If you look closely at the Ike amiibo labbing video, you’ll see that he also started to jab periodically, and make use of his Gentleman (the third hit of the jab that sends opponents flying). That could potentially be useful: if an opponent misses the parry on the first or second hit of Ike’s jab, then they’re susceptible to the third hit, which has moderate knockback.
What purpose will jabs serve?
Ike’s jab is a great example of what I believe a solid jab would look like in the amiibo meta: it’s a free 10% if the opponent doesn’t parry the first hit, it has moderate knockback for kills at high percents, and the first hit comes out on frame 4. That’s pretty good as far as jabs go, especially considering the massive range of Ragnell. Jabs like Ike’s demonstrate what I think the long-term utility of jabs will be: a close-range stage-control option.
Historically, jabs served the same purpose in Smash 4. Amiibo were able to jab flawlessly, and would use them at close-range to their benefit. The best jabs came out quickly and had enough knockback that the opponent would lose stage control and get forced to the edge, and that kept Smash 4 is a very defense-based meta. Any opponent who approached would be dismissed with a jab or two.
I don’t anticipate that jabs in Ultimate will necessarily contribute to a defense-based Ultimate meta: unlike Smash 4, aerial options a requirement for optimal tournament-winning amiibo, and jabs can’t reach opponents in the air. Given that info, I think their utility be limited compared to Smash 4, but it’s still a game-changer.
So who will probably have the best jab?
Well, not Mega Man, that’s for sure.
The “best” jab really depends on the category of jab that it falls into – is it a rapid jab, a Standard with a Gentleman at the end, or a choosable, which has options for both? (We’ll ignore Mega Man’s jab, because he’s already been able to use it, but it’s also a hardcoded projectile.) We’re not sure yet about how the AI handles jabs, let alone how it determines how to use choosables, so the only thing we can go off of is the characteristics of the moves according to its category.
This is what I’m prioritizing as what will make a good Standard jab:
- Good base knockback or knockback scaling
- Not-awful damage
- First hit leads into second hit consistently (if it has multiple stages)
The Smash Ultimate Amiibo Jab Tier List
I think this will be the list of characters with a good or great Standard jab – if it has these three traits or something approximating it, I considered it for the list. Do note that this isn’t necessarily a recommendation of which characters should learn to jab – the optimal Bowser and Incineroar is already well-defined, and they don’t jab. Also, it’s not intended to be exhaustive of all Standard or Standard-Choosable jabs, and I’m writing this in class, so I left out several characters:
I don’t anticipate that the Rapid jabs will be significantly different than each other in terms of amiibo usage, so I’ve not made a tier list for them – there’s a lot more variance in Standard jabs than Rapid jabs, ironically.