…and December 2018, but that would look awkward in the title.
The amiibo metagame has progressed a massive amount since the early days, and all I can really say to sum up my feelings is: Wow. If you had shown the tier list today to little noob Leaf from January, I would have said you were crazy. The metagame has shaped and shifted, sometimes from under my feet and sometimes at my fingertips, and I think this is as good a time as any to take a look back at the amiibo who have helped shape our weird little world.
This list is certainly my own work, however it was heavily influenced by me asking the opinions of other top trainers, and I tried to minimize any bias I could.
These amiibo have contributions that would be criminal to understate, and as such they have been given some attention despite not making it to the top 10 – note that this does not mean they are #11, #12, or so on – just that their contributions deserve the special recognition.
Super NES (Cloud’s Ness)
Super NES was rated the #1 most influential amiibo in Smash 4’s influential list, so it’s no surprise we were going to see him again in Ultimate. Super NES is a true story of zero to hero; Cloud struggled with him incessantly during the early stages of Ultimate, trying to find any training recipe or spirit setup that would give him the edge he needed to at least claim a spot in mid-tier. It took five months, but he finally claimed a tournament with Ness– who would go on to claim several trophies in Smash Ultimate, and many additional high placements. While no other Ness has even come close to his level of success, the sheer potency of this amiibo alone deserves a spot in the Honorary Mentions.
MACMACMAN (Leaf’s Little Mac)
Being a case of “A taste of your own medicine”, Little Mac‘s claim to fame in the amiibo metagame was as the sole counter to the juggernaut Bowser, This discovery is mostly due to MACMACMAN, who used amiibo’s weakness to unflinching mechanics against the king of them. Before his rise to fame in early April 2019, Little Mac had only been entered to tournaments four times. Now at the time of writing, Little Mac boasts a whopping 41 entries – meaning the surge caused by MACMACMAN decupled Little Mac’s presence. This character has since established himself as a top amiibo, briefly being in the S tier before Bowser’s banning knocked him down a peg. Little Mac’s potency has not decreased with this, but the likelihood of running into one has decreased greatly, especially with Incineroar‘s introduction to the meta.
CHOSEN ONE (MiDe’s Inkling)
A crowd favorite from day 1, CHOSEN ONE was always an underdog no matter what match he was in – despite being the best Inkling in the format. Due to MiDe‘s seemingly being the “peak Inkling” and never putting up results, Inkling was regarded as the worst amiibo in the game – until Ice Climbers were released. And yet, CHOSEN ONE was always there, always being rooted for. Towards the end of April, CHOSEN ONE begin to not only upset some matches – he began to take high placements. It was only a matter of time until, finally, he claimed his first tournament. CHOSEN ONE is not only a hero to the people, he is a hero to all low-tier trainers, and lives on as a beacon of hope to all trainers who remember his debut days.
Venus/Rooty (Smitty’s Piranha Plants)
Venus and Rooty are simultaneously infamous and beloved – they were the most active Plants during the late Spirits metagame, and furthered the character’s already proven dominance, running two wildly different setups and still managing to be top contenders anywhere they appeared. These two alongside Smitty proved Piranha Plant was not just carried by one setup or another – it was just made to dominate the Spirits metagame no matter what.
Hard DK (Alpharad’s Donkey Kong)
This one probably caused a few of you to double take, because not only did Hard DK not contribute to the metagame at all, but he has never entered a Dojo tournament, and Alpharad himself is not even a member of the community! Nonetheless, the wave of interest in amiibo caused by Hard DK has surged the community with new members, new viewers, and given us a lot of secondhand interest. For that, I think it would be fair to give Hard DK a spot in the Honorary Mentions. Alpharad’s capitalization on the casual aspect of amiibo, one we admittedly overlook too often, is something we should all look to for a reminder of how fun this format truly can be.
Now that those are out of the way, time for what you all came for: the list.
10. Red (Latios’ Pokemon Trainer)
Red has a lot to boast in the amiibo metagame. Pokemon Trainer is the second most entered character of all time, and yet did not claim a single tournament until late August. Red, since his debut, has always been the very best Pokemon Trainer, and cemented this legacy by finally claiming a win, after so many silver medals. However, Red’s claim to fame continues. Not only is Pokemon Trainer the second most entered character, Red himself is the most entered amiibo ever. He has been in more tournaments than any other amiibo, and that paired with his triumph over the other trainers deserves a spot in this list.
9. Yarnold (Blank’s Yoshi)
Winner of the 2nd amiibo tournament in Ultimate and the first successful amiibo to prioritize air combat, Yarnold’s legacy is felt even today. If you go back and watch Clash of Chumps I or II, you will notice how hard a lot of the trainers clung to Smash 4’s training methods, and Yarnold capitalized on this to remind us we were playing a new game. By use of his offstage gimps and spikes, and a lot of aerial rushdowns, Yarnold led the pack on seeing the potential of the new and improved Ultimate AI. Yarnold’s influence didn’t stop there, however – he went on to earn many more high placements and inspire many more Yoshi‘s, as well as cemented the Additional Midair Jump as Yoshi’s best spirit bonus option, due to how well the amiibo utilized it.
8. Brighteyes (Clockwerk66’s Kirby)
Brighteyes came out of nowhere, winning his debut tournament and going on to win many more, becoming a top contender immediately out of the gate. He was not the first Kirby to do well, but he was the first repeatable Kirby, inspiring a few more that fought similar to him and even the ones before him to change. His usage of Up Special wasn’t something that had been explored prior, but Brighteyes proved the move was more than useful – it was essential. He continues to be a top contender today, and the inspiration for all Kirby’s. At the time of writing, he has earned 6 tournament wins, making him one of the most dominant amiibo ever, and helping to establish a consistent meta for the character, earning lots of match up data to a character that was previously under represented.
7. Leaf ψ (Leaf’s Lucas)
This amiibo is my pride and joy, so pardon me if I gush a little too much. Leaf ψ started his climb due to inspiration taken from Yarnold and other amiibo who would often go for spikes, and was the first top amiibo to prioritize offstage fighting over any other type – in fact, his entire gameplan was to get the opponent offstage and spike. His offstage prowess also inspired other top contenders such as Fluffy Mac’s Dark Pits, who joined him atop the Spirits metagame. In total, Leaf ψ’s peak lasted two months, and during this time he helped to polarize the Spirits metagame, making good recovery a must-have for top contenders. He was also the first character to consistently stand up to Mii Gunner, being a long awaited hard counter to this menace. Quite a few Lucas‘ followed his footsteps, however none were able to win tournaments. He retired a crowd favorite, known for defying the Defense based meta by running an even split of attack and defense, even when it was not optimal.
6. Entourage (TMac’s Olimar)
Many people know about the Olimar Bug during the first few days of Ultimate, where spirits would cause his Pikmin to be insanely powerful and multiply his damage by way more than intended. Few, however, know that the bonus also applied to the Amiibo Damage Multiplier. This meant that even in Vanilla, Olimar hit like a truck – he had the speed of a middleweight with the range of a swordfighter and the firepower comparable to Ganondorf. Entourage was the first Olimar that caused us to realize this after he obliterated a tournament of top contenders. It’s important to note, however, that Entourage was not the first Olimar entered during this period – he was the first Olimar competent enough for us to realize the issue. After this was discovered by watching Entourage’s sets, a wave of Olimar’s followed until he was temporarily banned short after. Once the bug was fixed, however, Olimar’s fury was not yet sated. Entourage himself would go on to take many more high placements, and a few Olimars originally inspired by him would go on to take many tournaments, even without the additional buff. Needless to say, without Entourage, there could still have been a top tier left forgotten by the other trainers.You may even recognize Entourage, as he was the best Olimar in Smash 4, given much love and training by the legendary TMac. Seeing him appear in Ultimate was predictable, however nobody expected his raw power and influence – and certainly not for Olimar to be a top tier.
5. Mr. Mallet (Dreamy Jay’s King Dedede)
There’s a certain part in me that feels immense pride seeing Mr. Mallet so high up on the list, as I still remember the days where Jay struggled to get any results with him. Now, he’s gone above and beyond any hopes or expectations. Mr. Mallet is, without a doubt, one of the best amiibo we’ve ever seen, being extremely dominant in his current form and winning many high profile tournaments. As a direct result of this, a wave of King Dedede’s has emerged in his wake, taking their own shot at wielding the hammer. As such, King Dedede has proven a top tier amiibo – and yet none have matched the skill or the dedication behind Mr. Mallet.
4. Musket (MiDe’s Lucina)
It was only a matter of time before we reached one of the Four Titans, and Musket should feel no shame coming in fourth – this was a close race, at least for the bottom three. During the early metagame, Lucina was easily one of the most popular fighters, and this is partially due to the fact that she was the best amiibo in Smash 4. Even today, she is the 4th most entered amiibo of them all – and it all started with Musket. She was the first Lucina to enter a tournament, the first Lucina to get a tournament win, and the first to secure an early spot as one of the Four Titans. Despite not winning many tournaments, Musket’s incredibly consistent high rankings kept her at a top spot throughout all of early Ultimate, until she retired. Even today she is regarded as one of the best Lucina’s currently existing, and was a large source of inspiration for another of them – Sharon. Musket had a very simple yet effective fighting style, that MiDe calls “For Glory Lucina”. So many Lucinas have taken inspiration from her, and almost any top Lucina can trace their training origins to Musket.
3. ¿Qué Ota? (Leaf’s Link)
¿Qué Ota? (Also referred to as Ota) was not the first Link to show his potential, nor was he the first to win a tournament. However, he carried the character to new heights, mixing tactics from Smash 4 with the new kit given to him to create a truly impressive and consistent fighter, who kept Link as a character atop people’s tier lists for the entirety of Ultimate’s lifespan. His many different iterations were also a major point of interest – not only did he prove Link could function as both a melee and a ranged fighter, but his shifts in Style prompted a lot of research in the subject, and because of him we were able to predict how personalities worked with almost 100% accuracy. Additionally, Ota proved the potential of the Armor Knight bonus, although he is not the originator of it. Despite not having strong recovery or offstage presence, he was always able to make a name for himself in Spirits tournaments when other Links fell short. Due to his seeming omnipresence in all aspects of the game, his spot at #3 is well deserved. While I personally am more proud of my success with Lucas, it’s not exactly debatable that Ota had a much more massive impact on the meta, and will forever be the amiibo I am most known for.
2. Flara (Vintro’s Mii Gunner)
Flara was the latest addition to the aforementioned Titans, but not for lack of results – she just simply wasn’t there yet. In her debut tournaments, she stunned the tournament hosts with her rhythmic and calculated dissection of the opponent using almost nothing but her side special, Gunner Missile. She would claim her first win not long after, and following this was a large wave of other Mii Gunners. However, like any other rhythm, it’s only good for so long – Mii Gunner became a pretty universally and comically hated amiibo for it’s simple method of dominance. The power behind Mii Gunner was not exactly hard to get, as spamming Gunner Missile is a habit it picks up easily. Despite the amount of gunners that followed in her footsteps, however, none reached her level of blanket dominance, and even today she is a contender anywhere she goes. Her reign does not end here, however – in the Spirits metagame, she popularized the use of Autoheal spirits. After their universal usage in Smash 4, we expected this bonus to be good, but were disappointed when we saw it – at least, at first. Flara showed us something that should have been obvious – Autoheal is overpowered if you barely ever get hit! Continuing her reign even into the Spirits meta, Flara has cemented her spot as one of the most influential amiibo of all time, and her name will be feared by all trainers, old and new. Important to note is that Flara more than just came out of nowhere – before her, Mii Gunner had never even been entered to a tournament before. She had absolutely zero to go off of, and came in meaning business – perhaps the suit is fitting after all.
1. Redbull (Blank’s Bowser)
It should surprise nobody to see Redbull on the top of this list – his resume is seemingly endless. For starters, he is the first amiibo to reach 9 official tournament wins in Smash Ultimate, and is without a doubt the most dominant amiibo ever to grace the format. Redbull has never missed a semifinals, earning at least 4th in every single tournament he has been in. That statement alone is absolutely terrifying when you think of how many tournaments this amiibo has seen. A few Bowsers had come before him, but none of them had put up numbers worth noting, meaning Redbull had little to nothing to go off of. Regardless, he came out swinging, claiming 3rd at his debut tournament and winning the one immediately after this. He proved that Bowser was without a doubt the most powerful amiibo, and cemented his #1 spot on the tier list in early January, and the eventual decision to ban Bowser from the metagame a year later all started with him and his prowess. It is important to note that, while Redbull is majorly responsible for the banning of Bowser, not a single other Bowser has even come close to his dominance, and as such none of his wins should be devalued. On that topic, Bowser isn’t the first thing Redbull got banned – he is also the main reason for the banning of the Super Armor and Slow Super Armor spirits from the Spirits metagame. With these spirits, Redbull didn’t even give other fighters a chance, and completely obliterated anyone who was not a direct counter – although no such thing ever truly existed for Super Armor. Redbull has been retired for a long time, and yet no amiibo has reached his tournament win count. It would not be too bold to say that Redbull will remain the best amiibo of all of Smash Ultimate.
We’re only a year into Smash Ultimate and the amiibo metagame has shifted so much, I am beyond excited for what this next year will bring – both in competition, and in content (I have big plans for this year.) Thank you all so much for reading, and for being part of this community I have grown so fond of. Here’s to many more years of amiibo!