Young Link first appeared in Super Smash Bros. Melee as a clone of Link! Ten years later, he’s finally back and ready for action in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Link has received a number of moveset changes – most notably, a lack of tether and a change to his down special – so Young Link maintains the status quo of a non-Breath of the Wild Link. Unfortunately, his Figure Player is plagued with a critical flaw that holds him back from greatness — today, we’re going to talk all about Young Link and how to make him work in our competitive environment!
In Smash Ultimate’s competitive scene, Young Link is (arguably) the strongest of the three “Links”, though his adult counterpart is close behind. In terms of amiibo training, the inverse is true: Young Link is, in fact, the worst of the three. His character design involves landing quick projectiles and capitalizing on them accordingly; this can be done through combos or by abusing the opponent’s disadvantage state. As you might know, Figure Players are not capable of stringing together freeform combos, and certainly lack the game sense to capitalize on their advantage state. This leaves Young Link as an “incomplete” character missing a key game plan. To top it all off, he is riddled with prominent AI flaws that drag him even further down our tier list.
Young Link struggles with a problem that other fighters with tether recoveries don’t have: missing the ledge and self-destructing. This tendency cannot be ironed out through training (but can be corrected with the use of an Additional Midair Jump Spirit). Many of Young Link’s tournament matches end in self-destructs; as a result, he is stronger in Stamina matches, though Stamina competitions are far and few between.
Creating a powerful Young Link amiibo requires trial, error, and a lot of care. He tends to struggle in the amiibo metagame’s most common formats, but there is one consistent fact about his character: he’s fast, and the best Young Link FPs will abuse this trait. The Hero of Time is best trained as a close-ranged fighter, but this causes him to struggle against heavy-hitters (Bowser, King K. Rool, etc.) and projectile-based opponents (Mii Gunner and Link). Young Link does lose to a majority of the cast; unfortunately, this is the harsh reality of his placement in our metagame. His best hope is to get in quick, land a hit, and repeat this until the game is over — there isn’t much room for depth here.
As you might expect, Super Armor won’t help a fighter as light as Young Link; Autoheal isn’t great either due to his rushdown playstyle. Armor Knight, then, is the only bonus from the big five he benefits from, as his only standard tournament win was carried by the effect. Armor Knight pairs well with Trade-Off Ability ↑.
Outside of the big five, Young Link has a few setups that can work. Additional Midair Jump is highly recommended on the character, as it completely negates his recovery issues. It does take up two slots, which is a hefty price, but without it, the FP risks losing a stock every time it leaves the stage. Weapon Attack ↑ works well alongside Additional Midair Jump, as it buffs Young Link’s main damage-rackers and finishers. Landing Lag ↓ erases almost all of Young Link’s landing lag, allowing him to land safely regardless of the aerial he uses. A setup including Additional Midair Jump and Landing Lag ↓ makes Young Link an excellent air fighter.
Young Link needs to close out stocks quickly to prevent his light weight and poor recovery from catching up to him. Running more Attack than Defense (2800 / 1400) comes highly recommended, but a balanced spread (2100 / 2100) has been proven effective as well.
Like most characters, you are going to want to mirror match your Young Link amiibo all the way to Level 50. I recommend playing matches on Ω-form stages with either Stock or Timed rules. When fighting your FP, be sure to focus on the following set of moves:
- Forward tilt: By far and away Young Link’s greatest neutral move. It’s quick, does a decent bit of damage, and provides anti-aerial coverage with its overhead arc. Use this move frequently.
- Forward smash: Slightly slower and more straightforward than forward tilt. It does more damage and KOs earlier, so it’s recommended to mix this move in as well.
- Up smash: The damage done by this trio of swipes (and the advantage earned by it) is very useful to Young Link. A patient Young Link amiibo will try to catch the opponent with up smashes as they try to land.
- Neutral aerial: Just like Link’s neutral aerial, Young Link’s version of the move does it all. Its deceptively large hitbox provides the FP with a safe landing tool, a good out-of-shield option, and even a kill move close the ledge. Use this move often, especially if you train your Young Link as an air fighter.
- Forward aerial: It’s used strangely well by the AI. It uses it for defense, catching enemies on platforms, and edgeguarding. Train your Young Link amiibo to use its forward air on airborne opponents.
Those five moves are Young Link’s strongest options, but there a few more to consider. They shouldn’t be used as often, but are still worth looking into and using every so often.
- Down tilt: Quick and safe to throw out. Young Link’s AI even follows up with a forward air from time to time! However, the FP does tend to rely on it a bit too heavily, and often opts to use it at kill percentages when forward tilt or forward smash would have done the trick.
- Down special: A massive double-edged sword. The AI will throw Bombs at the opponent and attempt to follow up with an air attack, but he has no concept of the Bomb’s fuse timer. More often than not, it’ll simply explode while the FP is still holding it. I’d recommend avoiding it, but it might be possible to further optimize Young Link’s Bombs.
- Back aerial: The FP won’t have many opportunities to use this move, so I don’t recommend going out of your way to teach it. That being said, it is a good move that should be used once or twice. My personal favorite use of back air (that the AI will replicate) is to drop while hanging on the ledge and use it to attack a recovering opponent.
- Grab & throws: Young Link’s tether grab is a wonderful grounded tool, but overusing it causes issues due to his lack of a reliable kill throw. The absolute best use for this move is ledge trapping, but it’s fine to teach it in other situations too. As long as the FP doesn’t spam it, grabs will be an excellent addition to his kit.
- Dash attack: It can be used in a pinch to catch an enemy’s recovery, but it’s important to keep its usage to a minimum. The AI might get in a habit of spamming its dash attack; this is easily predicted by opponents who can then move in and punish.
Young Link’s projectiles suffer from issues that make them mostly non-viable. His Fire Arrows are the worst offenders, as the AI attempts to shoot them at enemies even if they’re approaching from above. The AI doesn’t understand their range, either, and won’t use them until the opponent gets too close. Boomerang is arguably more useful, but the FP spams it at point blank even when it should be using one of its kill moves. This causes killing problems in the long run of Young Link’s game plan.
If a move you’re thinking of wasn’t listed in this guide, its usage is not recommended, but isn’t advised against either. At the end of the day, you can train your amiibo however you see fit. Slight deviations from the “norm” aren’t always a bad thing — sometimes, they can even be game-changing!
It’s a shame, but Young Link is objectively outclassed by his older incarnation. Don’t let that deter you, though! Young Link is still a unique fighter with plenty of strengths. We’ve got a wiki page on Young Link that talks more about his character design and metagame placement, so give that a read if you’ve got a moment. Otherwise, feel free to join our Discord server with any additional questions you might have. Thanks so much for reading, and until next time!
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