Is Kazuya a Better Amiibo Than Incineroar?

by Doc – Owner, Founder, Would Have Abs Like Kazuya if He Could Just Run For Ten Hours
A Day Like He Always Dreamed of Doing

$5.99

Every time a wave of DLC amiibo is released, a chunk of the amiibo training community raises the same question: is XYZ amiibo better than Incineroar? I can’t blame them: the thought that an amiibo could somehow outmatch the single most broken option in any Smash game in history is tantalizing.

Right now that question is being aimed at Kazuya. Kazuya has been blessed with several
“$5.99” attributes, all of which lend themselves to reasonably placing Kazuya in S tier without
much need for testing. Kazuya has:

  • 113 Weight, at the level of Piranha Plant
  • Full access to all of the many combos inherent in the character on-stage and above-stage
  • A full smorgasbord of low-percent KO moves, ranging from grabs to smash attacks
  • “Final Smash”-esque command grab (Rage Drive) to close out stocks at low percents
  • Phenomenal semi-ungimpable recovery
  • Arguably the best at-ledge edgeguard moves in the game, with Down Smash at ledge for instant KO and Devil Blaster for long-range safe gimping
  • An unhealthy amount of hairspray

It’s easy to argue that Kazuya will be the best legal amiibo in the game, and may be so good that he shouldn’t be legal at all. I would even be comfortable putting him in U tier alongside Incineroar. But I wouldn’t put him above Incineroar. Incineroar has also been blessed with $5.99 attributes, all of which lend themselves to placing Incineroar in U tier without much need for testing. Incineroar has:

  • Alolan Whip

You might look at the Kazuya list and compare it to Incineroar’s list and conclude that Kazuya has a lot more going for him. After all, I lined up six great points in Kazuya’s favor and humorously put Incineroar’s single point against Kazuya’s six. If you were to stop reading this article now, I’d forgive you for walking away with the conclusion that Kazuya is indeed better than Incineroar. But, y’know… keep reading.

The 3 Factors of Better amiibo

There’s three factors that have to be considered when comparing two amiibo to determine which one should place higher on the “20XX” tier list:

  • Ability to exploit amiibo AI
  • Lack of matchup weaknesses
  • Ease and replicability of optimal training

Ability to Exploit amiibo AI

Incineroar’s major strength blooms from the ever-present command grab issue with amiibo AI. Amiibo don’t know how to respond to moving grab hitboxes: such hitboxes are rare in Smash Ultimate, but when they exist they’re typically the best move on that character. Incineroar’s the poster boy of moving grab hitboxes thanks to Alolan Whip, which the amiibo opponent literally doesn’t avoid. Alolan Whip is, practically speaking, a “free hit” on the opponent. This AI problem extends to every amiibo in the Smash roster.

Further, Alolan Whip requires only three connections to KO an opponent in most cases, because a grounded Incineroar will always hit with the strongest timing on the move. If it can’t KO in three hits, that’s okay: the fourth hit is just as free as the first three.

Kazuya has nothing that can measure up like this. Rage Drive is close, being a moving grab hitbox, but it has nothing close to the range that Alolan Whip possesses. Even if Rage Drive were an unavoidable move, Kazuya gets one use per stock before being reset to his normal Down Special. It’s still pretty powerful without Rage – but it’s not Rage Drive. Thus, Kazuya takes more than three hits to KO his opponent, and none of those hits are free.

Incineroar: 3 free hits = 1 KO
Kazuya: Several not-free hits = 1 KO

Incineroar wins.

Lack of matchup weaknesses

Amiibo aren’t built by their strengths, they’re destroyed by their bad matchups. While matchup data is still sparse due to the unreleased nature of Kazuya, we can already come to a few conclusions about the amiibo based on what we’ve seen thus far.

Kazuya is obviously dominant against even the rest of the top tier cast. Much like Terry, his moveset is exactly what is required to curb-stomp a heavyweight: he’s got combos, built-in super armor and excessive KO power. Against the slow heavyweights of the roster, Kazuya wins with ease.

He doesn’t have as much luck against faster opponents, or opponents with range. As I explained in my “I think I figured out Bayonetta” post, my Forward Smash-spamming Bayonetta has gone 33/66 against the variety of Kazuyas I’ve put her up against. Given that Kazuya is top of S and Bayonetta is in D+ by herself, this kind of matchup simply shouldn’t happen by traditional reasoning. It happens because Bayonetta is around the same speed as Kazuya, but can easily outrange him with her Smash attacks. He can’t easily get close.

When he does get in close, typically by shielding/parrying a smash attack and dashing in before she can unleash another one, the tides will turn to Kazuya’s favor. Kazuya’s sheer brokenness as a character allows him to out-KO opponents who, if they had just a bit more power, would otherwise stomp him into the ground. His ridiculous damage and knockback output carry him, but being outranged by large melee attacks (i.e. swords and Bayo’s Forward Smash) or projectiles put serious doubt on his ability to win the day.

Range isn’t Kazuya’s only problem. When Kazuya is too slow relative to his competition, things change: he’s suddenly on his back foot for most of the match. Amiibo opponents that are both fast as a character (i.e. Inkling, Mega Man, Pichu) and are trained to stay aggressive often put Kazuya in a real struggle. Just this morning I was sent an Inkling amiibo that beat Kazuya in a best of 3 set because the Inkling simply never stopped moving, and Kazuya’s slow attacks couldn’t keep up with the sheer speed of Inkling. To be fair, it’s one of the top 3 Inklings that I’ve ever seen: we couldn’t expect every low-tier amiibo to be of this quality. But the fact that Kazuya can be beaten by low tier amiibo still drags his matchup considerations through the mud.

Incineroar, however, doesn’t have bad matchups beyond Mii Gunner, and possibly Min Min. I’m careful to suggest Min Min because I haven’t tested the matchups myself, so we’ll stick with saying that Mii Gunner is Incineroar’s bad matchup. Mii Gunner’s ability to constantly keep Incineroar at bay with missile spam or Forward Smash spam means that there’s just not much the furry-bait can do.

Incineroar = 1 really bad matchup, maybe 2
Kazuya = Probably several bad matchups among the usually-ignored lower tier characters

Incineroar wins.

Ease and replicability of optimal training

My first draft of the Incineroar amiibo guide read in its entirety as follows:
“Use Alolan Whip on the stage, use Down Smash at the ledge, and don’t jump or go offstage.”
Proofreading it was a tremendous undertaking.

This is really all it takes to train an optimal Incineroar, because that’s everything that’s required. If amiibo training were more well-known, Geico would be making reference to it in their commercials: it’s so easy a caveman can do it.

Kazuya is similarly easy, but not as linear. Kazuya’s AI is so strong that right out of the box, it’s already a top contender. I’d go so far as to say that the worst Kazuya amiibo in the world bottom out at A+ tier performances. He’s so good you can’t mess him up. If you want your Kazuya to favor some of the more advanced combos, then you’d certainly need to be able to do them – but beyond that, he’s not going to present any hassle at all.

Incineroar = Super easy to train
Kazuya = Basically super easy to train unless you want even more advanced combos

I’d say it’s a tie between the two, although technically Incineroar would slightly edge out Kazuya.

The Conclusion

That’s two out of three squarely in Incineroar’s favor. I think it’s safe to say that, prior to his official release, Kazuya is not better than Incineroar.

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